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Danny Song talks punk rock and Korean culture

Gaja co-founder and Dinos Boys frontman sticks to the basics

IMG 7468
Photo credit: REBEL WITH A CAUSE: Danny Song takes a break at his East Atlanta restaurant, Gaja.
Ryan Bell

Danny Song is a Korean punk rocker. The frontman for Atlanta-based garage punk outfit Dinos Boys is preparing to play the final evening of the Down South Showdown, a four-night festival (Jan. 17-20) celebrating the release of Down South Spaghetty Accident, a compilation album featuring performances by like-minded groups from around the country. Dinos Boys has one song on the LP, called “Ready When You Are,” and is currently writing material for their second record.

Song is also a restaurateur. He and his brother Tim own Gaja in East Atlanta, the “only Korean punk bar on earth” according to a sign on the wall inside. In early December, he opened another Korean restaurant, Babo, in Nashville with Tennessee-based musicians Joseph Plunket and Sara Nelson.

For Song, Korean culture and punk music are both essential parts of his identity, and his desire to showcase these elements alongside each other, stems from his experiences as a young outsider.

“Growing up Korean, I always felt different or alienated because I looked different and ate weird food compared to the majority,” Song says. “Almost everyone who chooses punk felt this in some way regardless of their race, whether it’s their home, family, life, class, education, or lack thereof.”

Like many punk rockers, a used guitar was his entrance to a larger world. When Song was in fourth grade, his parents brought one home from a garage sale.

Discovering new music in guitar magazines changed the course of his life, says Song. “Guitar is what saved it all and got me into an alternative lifestyle through skateboarding and punk rock.”

As a teen, he felt pressure to conform at school and in his Korean household, and conformity is a cardinal sin for a young punk. He refused to eat with chopsticks at the dinner table. “Everyone had metal chopsticks, and my place had a fork,” he says. “I was also vegan for seven years, which my grandma hated.”

Life wasn’t easier outside the home. His white peers, who outnumbered his Korean friends, understood his clothing and music about as well as they understood the Korean language. It didn’t help that every band he started sounded “terrible,” as he puts it. He refocused his efforts toward a more virtuosic sound. “I wanted to be Keith Richards,” Song says, “so I tried to dress like him, act like him, party like him, and play his guitar style.”

After moving to New York in his early 20s, Song lived a musician’s life, bartending for work while constantly writing and performing with several different groups, most notably a psychedelic garage band called the Runaway Suns. He enjoyed exploring different songwriting possibilities. Musically, however, he still felt restless.

Exhausted after a string of long tours with the Suns, Song returned home feeling that somewhere along the way he had forgotten why he loved music in the first place. “I’d write all these 12-string melodies and put sitar on it and all this stuff that was just showing off, and I wanted to get back to the basics,” he says. So he wrote a new batch of songs — simple, energetic numbers.

The process revived his enthusiasm for music. “It was probably the easiest six songs I have ever written in my life, I did it in about a week,” Song says. “Practicing it was even more fun than writing it, and playing it in front of people was even more fun than that,” he adds. “I forgot how fun playing basic punk rock was.”

Dinos Boys was born. It’s good-time rock music, just sped up and stripped-down. On hits like “Play Dead” and “She Cut Me,” Song delivers big hooks with rough-edged charm and driving melodies, qualities which he maintains even throughout more aggressive numbers.

Song moved back to Georgia in 2013, reforming the band with accomplished Atlanta musicians. Dinos Boys recorded the Last Ones album the following year. Since then, his approach has not changed. “No frills” is how he describes the band’s new material, which is slated for recording in early 2019.

When Song opened Gaja in 2015, he employed the same ideals that guide his songwriting. “We took the food back to basics,” he says. “When we started, we were maybe showing off more with our first chef, Allen Suh, who is an amazing chef. He is also a Korean punk rocker… since then, we just took it down a notch.”

He likens Gaja to a pojangmacha, a street-side tent that serves food and drinks in a casual setting. For Song, Gaja is an inviting place where anyone can have a good time without pressure or judgment. In a city that’s constantly growing and gentrifying, attitudes like his are in danger of disappearing. For the sake of food and music, don’t forget the basics.

Down South Showdown feat. Dinos Boys, Dirty Fences, RMBLR, and more. $10-$12. 8 p.m. Thurs., Jan. 17-Sat., Jan. 19. Star Bar, 437 Moreland Ave. N.E. www.starbar.net. $10-$12. 8 p.m. Sun., Jan. 20.The Earl, 488 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.



More By This Writer

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Article

Monday February 18, 2019 11:45 am EST
Down South Showdown MVPs on wax | more...
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Every once in a while, a band sprouts up from within the local music scene exhibiting a sound and character that exists beyond time, place, and musical genre.

On New Year’s Day, 2019, Solar Flower released You Are, an eight-song LP that defied expectations, with a mystifying spiritual bent wrapped in dark waves of psychedelic rock billowing in long, sustained moments of rhythm. Songs with titles such as “Feel It Grow,” “Sonic Bloom,” and “Here I Am” transcend the aural cues and ego-driven dynamics that most burgeoning acts project.

But it’s in the “The Work,” when guitarist Dorothy Stucki and drummer Sidrah Mahmood sing, “Separate out the dregs of your life / Use consciousness as the sword / Cloaked in the veil of nothingness / Annihilate the ego self and separate yourself from fire,” that she pinpoints a key concept behind Solar Flower’s sound and vision. While the lyrics allude to the process of alchemy, or turning base metals into gold, they also outline how the band approaches its music.

Solar Flower operates in a democratic, communal manner; there is no hierarchy. The band members seem to consider the means more important than the ends. The songwriting process is an exercise in egalitarianism between guitarists Stucki and Bo Orr (Arbor Labor Union), bass player Rob Sarabia (Dasher, Mutual Jerk), and drummer Mahmood. The group writes the music together, finishing each other’s ideas, and composing lyrics as one unit.

“We would sit in Rob’s car at the practice space and listen to what we had just recorded and then figure out the lyrics,” says Stucki. “It helps because we are all singing,” Sarabia says. “We have no front-person. Someone brings a skeleton of lyrics, and we just fill in the spaces.”

It helps that all members agree on what guides their songwriting. “We’re all interested in spirituality in general,” says Stucki. Sarabia adds, “You know, things that people experience beyond their personal realm that we’re just trying to hint at.”

From the opening gong in the album’s title track, the force that envelops the listener is so complex that it can’t originate from a single source. As Orr puts it, “It sounds like four different people contributing to something. I get stoked on that when I hear it.” Indeed, the power of You Are comes from the subtle variety of tone in its hypnotic, fuzzed-out instrumentation, meandering from solemn to acerbic to uplifting.

The subject matter explored throughout many of the albums’ songs touches on self-affirmation, friendship, and love on planet earth, as the group’s hooks and melodies lend an emotional weight to the subdued, mantralike chants through which the lyrics are delivered.

Since the group’s inception in the summer of 2017, Solar Flower has performed live in Atlanta only four times, while making brief tour stops throughout the Southeast — although the lack of live shows stems from an ear-related medical condition from which Sarabia suffers.

In the meantime, Solar Flower has two shows booked in February and March. That’s it. “We might take a break after that and write some new stuff,” Stucki says.

Given the mystery surrounding the group and the esoteric subjects they explore, listeners are liable to come away from Solar Flower’s music having gleaned unintended meanings. This doesn’t seem to bother the band, who feel that anyone is entitled to their interpretations of the music. Says Stucki, “It can be whatever they need it to be.”

All the Saint, Solar Flower, and Hospice play the Earl on Fri., Feb. 22. $12. 9 p.m. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com."
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Every once in a while, a band sprouts up from within the local music scene exhibiting a sound and character that exists beyond time, place, and musical genre.

On New Year’s Day, 2019, Solar Flower released ''You Are'', an eight-song LP that defied expectations, with a mystifying spiritual bent wrapped in dark waves of psychedelic rock billowing in long, sustained moments of rhythm. Songs with titles such as “Feel It Grow,” “Sonic Bloom,” and “Here I Am” transcend the aural cues and ego-driven dynamics that most burgeoning acts project.

But it’s in the “The Work,” when guitarist Dorothy Stucki and drummer Sidrah Mahmood sing, “Separate out the dregs of your life / Use consciousness as the sword / Cloaked in the veil of nothingness / Annihilate the ego self and separate yourself from fire,” that she pinpoints a key concept behind Solar Flower’s sound and vision. While the lyrics allude to the process of alchemy, or turning base metals into gold, they also outline how the band approaches its music.

Solar Flower operates in a democratic, communal manner; there is no hierarchy. The band members seem to consider the means more important than the ends. The songwriting process is an exercise in egalitarianism between guitarists Stucki and Bo Orr (Arbor Labor Union), bass player Rob Sarabia (Dasher, Mutual Jerk), and drummer Mahmood. The group writes the music together, finishing each other’s ideas, and composing lyrics as one unit.

“We would sit in Rob’s car at the practice space and listen to what we had just recorded and then figure out the lyrics,” says Stucki. “It helps because we are all singing,” Sarabia says. “We have no front-person. Someone brings a skeleton of lyrics, and we just fill in the spaces.”

It helps that all members agree on what guides their songwriting. “We’re all interested in spirituality in general,” says Stucki. Sarabia adds, “You know, things that people experience beyond their personal realm that we’re just trying to hint at.”

From the opening gong in the album’s title track, the force that envelops the listener is so complex that it can’t originate from a single source. As Orr puts it, “It sounds like four different people contributing to something. I get stoked on that when I hear it.” Indeed, the power of ''You Are'' comes from the subtle variety of tone in its hypnotic, fuzzed-out instrumentation, meandering from solemn to acerbic to uplifting.

The subject matter explored throughout many of the albums’ songs touches on self-affirmation, friendship, and love on planet earth, as the group’s hooks and melodies lend an emotional weight to the subdued, mantralike chants through which the lyrics are delivered.

Since the group’s inception in the summer of 2017, Solar Flower has performed live in Atlanta only four times, while making brief tour stops throughout the Southeast — although the lack of live shows stems from an ear-related medical condition from which Sarabia suffers.

In the meantime, Solar Flower has two shows booked in February and March. That’s it. “We might take a break after that and write some new stuff,” Stucki says.

Given the mystery surrounding the group and the esoteric subjects they explore, listeners are liable to come away from Solar Flower’s music having gleaned unintended meanings. This doesn’t seem to bother the band, who feel that anyone is entitled to their interpretations of the music. Says Stucki, “It can be whatever they need it to be.”

''[http://www.badearl.com/events/5039/All-the-Saints|All the Saint, Solar Flower, and Hospice play the Earl on Fri., Feb. 22. $12. 9 p.m. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.]''"
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Every once in a while, a band sprouts up from within the local music scene exhibiting a sound and character that exists beyond time, place, and musical genre.

On New Year’s Day, 2019, Solar Flower released You Are, an eight-song LP that defied expectations, with a mystifying spiritual bent wrapped in dark waves of psychedelic rock billowing in long, sustained moments of rhythm. Songs with titles such as “Feel It Grow,” “Sonic Bloom,” and “Here I Am” transcend the aural cues and ego-driven dynamics that most burgeoning acts project.

But it’s in the “The Work,” when guitarist Dorothy Stucki and drummer Sidrah Mahmood sing, “Separate out the dregs of your life / Use consciousness as the sword / Cloaked in the veil of nothingness / Annihilate the ego self and separate yourself from fire,” that she pinpoints a key concept behind Solar Flower’s sound and vision. While the lyrics allude to the process of alchemy, or turning base metals into gold, they also outline how the band approaches its music.

Solar Flower operates in a democratic, communal manner; there is no hierarchy. The band members seem to consider the means more important than the ends. The songwriting process is an exercise in egalitarianism between guitarists Stucki and Bo Orr (Arbor Labor Union), bass player Rob Sarabia (Dasher, Mutual Jerk), and drummer Mahmood. The group writes the music together, finishing each other’s ideas, and composing lyrics as one unit.

“We would sit in Rob’s car at the practice space and listen to what we had just recorded and then figure out the lyrics,” says Stucki. “It helps because we are all singing,” Sarabia says. “We have no front-person. Someone brings a skeleton of lyrics, and we just fill in the spaces.”

It helps that all members agree on what guides their songwriting. “We’re all interested in spirituality in general,” says Stucki. Sarabia adds, “You know, things that people experience beyond their personal realm that we’re just trying to hint at.”

From the opening gong in the album’s title track, the force that envelops the listener is so complex that it can’t originate from a single source. As Orr puts it, “It sounds like four different people contributing to something. I get stoked on that when I hear it.” Indeed, the power of You Are comes from the subtle variety of tone in its hypnotic, fuzzed-out instrumentation, meandering from solemn to acerbic to uplifting.

The subject matter explored throughout many of the albums’ songs touches on self-affirmation, friendship, and love on planet earth, as the group’s hooks and melodies lend an emotional weight to the subdued, mantralike chants through which the lyrics are delivered.

Since the group’s inception in the summer of 2017, Solar Flower has performed live in Atlanta only four times, while making brief tour stops throughout the Southeast — although the lack of live shows stems from an ear-related medical condition from which Sarabia suffers.

In the meantime, Solar Flower has two shows booked in February and March. That’s it. “We might take a break after that and write some new stuff,” Stucki says.

Given the mystery surrounding the group and the esoteric subjects they explore, listeners are liable to come away from Solar Flower’s music having gleaned unintended meanings. This doesn’t seem to bother the band, who feel that anyone is entitled to their interpretations of the music. Says Stucki, “It can be whatever they need it to be.”

All the Saint, Solar Flower, and Hospice play the Earl on Fri., Feb. 22. $12. 9 p.m. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.    Flournoy Holmes ANTHEMS OF THE SUN: Solar Flower is: Bo Orr, (from left), Sidrah Mahmood, Rob Sarabia, and Dorothy Stucki.                                   Solar Flower: Psych-spirituality "
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Article

Tuesday February 5, 2019 03:40 pm EST
Psych rock outfit proves collaboration is the spice of life | more...
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  string(71) "Bryce Franich reflects on 10 years of big parties and rock ’n’ roll"
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  string(5981) "Since 2008, Bryce Franich and a select crew have operated Colonel Records, releasing albums from good-time rock ’n’ roll bands all over the country and spurring the careers of groups like King Tuff and Atlanta’s All Night Drug Prowling Wolves. On Friday, Sept. 7, the label celebrates its 10th anniversary with a show at the Earl.

Why did you start Colonel Records?
I moved back to Brooklyn after living in LA and working as an office manager for this label called Hydra Head. Hydra Head was a great label to work for because they taught me art and the business side of things.

As Hydra Head started getting bigger, we started releasing weirder shit like Merzbow — harsh noise stuff. I was listening to a lot of ’60s country stuff — Flying Burrito Brothers, Byrds-type stuff, so I felt like, “I dig what you guys are doing art-wise, but musically I’m on a different path.”

So I quit and moved back. I met up with Joseph Plunket who had been there for a few years plugging away with the Weight. I saw them in the park and it blew my mind. It was everything that I wanted in that ’60s country-rock sound. Joseph’s ability to turn a phrase was unbelievable.

I talked to them later and Joseph asked, “Do you want to manage us? We have this new record, we’re trying to sell it.” He gave it to me and I listened to it and I loved it. And I pushed it.

I had a lot of contacts, but no one seemed interested. It just didn’t match what was going on at the time. All the feedback I got was, “It’s too country for rock ’n’ roll. It’s too rock ’n’ roll for country,” so I told Joseph I would put it out. Joseph, Wes Duvall, and I started Colonel Records to do that. The Weight Are Men was our first release and right after that we released King Tuff. 

What did you want to do with the label?
When we started we spent some time talking about labels that had a look that we wanted to use as a model, labels like Dischord or Touch and Go, labels that you just know by the logo it’s going to be quality, but you don’t necessarily know what it’s going to sound like. Wes did that and created a look for the label that elevated us.

We wanted to escape the pitfall of doing just one genre. Guitar was the only stipulation that we had. So we’ve gone from on the one hand the Goddamn Rattlesnake, which is just brutal bluegrass recorded by one microphone in the middle of the room, to Tournament — noisy, dark punk. I’m glad that we can look at what we’ve done and it’s not a simple line, we bounce around.

That poses a difficulty, though. If everything we did sounded the same, odds are we would be able to sell things a lot easier. I don’t know how to sell a record that’s got fiddle on it to a dude with a butt-patch. You have to work different markets, and it’s weird. I wouldn’t change that. If I could go back, knowing that if I just make every release sound like the Wipers we’ll sell out, it’s not as fun for me. 

How has your approach changed over the years?
My tastes change with the weather. I’ll be super into a sound and then everyone gets into and I’m like, “Well, this is played out. I’ve got to find the next thing.” But the root of what we’re trying to do has always been rock ’n’ roll — guitar music. One of the things we like doing as a label is throwing big parties, so having bands that would make people happy when they play facilitated the whole thing. All Night Drug Prowling Wolves: party band. The Weight: party band. King Tuff: party band. 

I will say that we have moved into some of the darker sounds. We were always heavily influenced by what was happening in Atlanta… I always wanted more punk and hardcore crossover, but it was a tough sell to Joseph and Wes. But they’re just picky people in general. 

You moved to Atlanta several years ago. How did that affect Colonel?
I was expecting to move and be a punk label in a punk town and be surrounded by art and the community. There is an aspect of that, but what I’ve noticed is that it’s much younger now. It’s much younger than our peer group, so I don’t really know how to approach any of this awesome punk. I feel like a weird old man going up to some 18 year old who just killed it onstage and saying, “Hey, I’m Bryce from Colonel Records. Let’s Talk.” Everything I’ve done before has been through friends or mutual acquaintances. I’ve never cold-called, and down here I am definitely doing more of that. It’s good but it makes me uncomfortable.

Your wife Jen is part of the Colonel team, too, right?
Yeah! She moved up to New York with me in 2010, and Joseph had just moved away and stopped doing the label. We weren’t sure if Colonel could continue, and it took a lot of help from Jen to keep the label going. She had ideas on how to expand and avoid pigeonholing ourselves. 
Having her touch with the label helped open other people’s eyes to what we were doing. She grew up in punk, but she had a different viewpoint, so we’d bounce ideas off her and she would come up with shit that I would never think of.

We got married in 2012 and she’s a major part of everything we do. She handles the online stuff and the web store. When I’m like, “Why won’t this picture load?!” screaming and trying to throw the computer, she’s types a bit and is like, “Okay, it’s all set.” I get so frustrated and she’s a wiz with all that shit.

It’s now the two of us 100%. She has to be stoked for us to do something. The first thing that was 100% her call was the Sick Bags 7-inch, and of course we put it out and sold out immediately. She has great taste and I’m lucky to have her involved.

Colonel Records 10-year anniversary feat. All Night Drug Prowling Wolves, Subsonics, Fletcher C. Johnson, Country Westerns, Vincas, and Spodee Boy. $10-$12. 8 p.m. (doors). The Earl. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com."
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~~#000000:__Why did you start Colonel Records?__~~
I moved back to Brooklyn after living in LA and working as an office manager for this label called Hydra Head. Hydra Head was a great label to work for because they taught me art and the business side of things.

As Hydra Head started getting bigger, we started releasing weirder shit like Merzbow — harsh noise stuff. I was listening to a lot of ’60s country stuff — Flying Burrito Brothers, Byrds-type stuff, so I felt like, “I dig what you guys are doing art-wise, but musically I’m on a different path.”

So I quit and moved back. I met up with Joseph Plunket who had been there for a few years plugging away with the Weight. I saw them in the park and it blew my mind. It was everything that I wanted in that ’60s country-rock sound. Joseph’s ability to turn a phrase was unbelievable.

I talked to them later and Joseph asked, “Do you want to manage us? We have this new record, we’re trying to sell it.” He gave it to me and I listened to it and I loved it. And I pushed it.

I had a lot of contacts, but no one seemed interested. It just didn’t match what was going on at the time. All the feedback I got was, “It’s too country for rock ’n’ roll. It’s too rock ’n’ roll for country,” so I told Joseph I would put it out. Joseph, Wes Duvall, and I started Colonel Records to do that. ''The Weight Are Men'' was our first release and right after that we released King Tuff. 

~~#000000:__What did you want to do with the label?__~~
When we started we spent some time talking about labels that had a look that we wanted to use as a model, labels like Dischord or Touch and Go, labels that you just know by the logo it’s going to be quality, but you don’t necessarily know what it’s going to sound like. Wes did that and created a look for the label that elevated us.

We wanted to escape the pitfall of doing just one genre. Guitar was the only stipulation that we had. So we’ve gone from on the one hand the Goddamn Rattlesnake, which is just brutal bluegrass recorded by one microphone in the middle of the room, to Tournament — noisy, dark punk. I’m glad that we can look at what we’ve done and it’s not a simple line, we bounce around.

That poses a difficulty, though. If everything we did sounded the same, odds are we would be able to sell things a lot easier. I don’t know how to sell a record that’s got fiddle on it to a dude with a butt-patch. You have to work different markets, and it’s weird. I wouldn’t change that. If I could go back, knowing that if I just make every release sound like the Wipers we’ll sell out, it’s not as fun for me. 

~~#000000:__How has your approach changed over the years?__~~
My tastes change with the weather. I’ll be super into a sound and then everyone gets into and I’m like, “Well, this is played out. I’ve got to find the next thing.” But the root of what we’re trying to do has always been rock ’n’ roll — guitar music. One of the things we like doing as a label is throwing big parties, so having bands that would make people happy when they play facilitated the whole thing. All Night Drug Prowling Wolves: party band. The Weight: party band. King Tuff: party band. 

I will say that we have moved into some of the darker sounds. We were always heavily influenced by what was happening in Atlanta… I always wanted more punk and hardcore crossover, but it was a tough sell to Joseph and Wes. But they’re just picky people in general. 

~~#000000:__You moved to Atlanta several years ago. How did that affect Colonel?__~~
I was expecting to move and be a punk label in a punk town and be surrounded by art and the community. There is an aspect of that, but what I’ve noticed is that it’s much younger now. It’s much younger than our peer group, so I don’t really know how to approach any of this awesome punk. I feel like a weird old man going up to some 18 year old who just killed it onstage and saying, “Hey, I’m Bryce from Colonel Records. Let’s Talk.” Everything I’ve done before has been through friends or mutual acquaintances. I’ve never cold-called, and down here I am definitely doing more of that. It’s good but it makes me uncomfortable.

~~#000000:__Your wife Jen is part of the Colonel team, too, right?__~~
Yeah! She moved up to New York with me in 2010, and Joseph had just moved away and stopped doing the label. We weren’t sure if Colonel could continue, and it took a lot of help from Jen to keep the label going. She had ideas on how to expand and avoid pigeonholing ourselves. 
Having her touch with the label helped open other people’s eyes to what we were doing. She grew up in punk, but she had a different viewpoint, so we’d bounce ideas off her and she would come up with shit that I would never think of.

We got married in 2012 and she’s a major part of everything we do. She handles the online stuff and the web store. When I’m like, “Why won’t this picture load?!” screaming and trying to throw the computer, she’s types a bit and is like, “Okay, it’s all set.” I get so frustrated and she’s a wiz with all that shit.

It’s now the two of us 100%. She has to be stoked for us to do something. The first thing that was 100% her call was the Sick Bags 7-inch, and of course we put it out and sold out immediately. She has great taste and I’m lucky to have her involved.

''[https://creativeloafing.com/event-412642|Colonel Records 10-year anniversary feat. All Night Drug Prowling Wolves, Subsonics, Fletcher C. Johnson, Country Westerns, Vincas, and Spodee Boy. $10-$12. 8 p.m. (doors). The Earl. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.]''"
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  string(6410) " ColonelRecordsPhoto 6  2018-09-05T22:14:11+00:00 ColonelRecordsPhoto-6.jpg     Bryce Franich reflects on 10 years of big parties and rock ’n’ roll 8771  2018-09-06T04:00:00+00:00 Colonel Records turns 10 chad.radford@creativeloafing.com Chad Radford Ryan Bell  2018-09-06T04:00:00+00:00  Since 2008, Bryce Franich and a select crew have operated Colonel Records, releasing albums from good-time rock ’n’ roll bands all over the country and spurring the careers of groups like King Tuff and Atlanta’s All Night Drug Prowling Wolves. On Friday, Sept. 7, the label celebrates its 10th anniversary with a show at the Earl.

Why did you start Colonel Records?
I moved back to Brooklyn after living in LA and working as an office manager for this label called Hydra Head. Hydra Head was a great label to work for because they taught me art and the business side of things.

As Hydra Head started getting bigger, we started releasing weirder shit like Merzbow — harsh noise stuff. I was listening to a lot of ’60s country stuff — Flying Burrito Brothers, Byrds-type stuff, so I felt like, “I dig what you guys are doing art-wise, but musically I’m on a different path.”

So I quit and moved back. I met up with Joseph Plunket who had been there for a few years plugging away with the Weight. I saw them in the park and it blew my mind. It was everything that I wanted in that ’60s country-rock sound. Joseph’s ability to turn a phrase was unbelievable.

I talked to them later and Joseph asked, “Do you want to manage us? We have this new record, we’re trying to sell it.” He gave it to me and I listened to it and I loved it. And I pushed it.

I had a lot of contacts, but no one seemed interested. It just didn’t match what was going on at the time. All the feedback I got was, “It’s too country for rock ’n’ roll. It’s too rock ’n’ roll for country,” so I told Joseph I would put it out. Joseph, Wes Duvall, and I started Colonel Records to do that. The Weight Are Men was our first release and right after that we released King Tuff. 

What did you want to do with the label?
When we started we spent some time talking about labels that had a look that we wanted to use as a model, labels like Dischord or Touch and Go, labels that you just know by the logo it’s going to be quality, but you don’t necessarily know what it’s going to sound like. Wes did that and created a look for the label that elevated us.

We wanted to escape the pitfall of doing just one genre. Guitar was the only stipulation that we had. So we’ve gone from on the one hand the Goddamn Rattlesnake, which is just brutal bluegrass recorded by one microphone in the middle of the room, to Tournament — noisy, dark punk. I’m glad that we can look at what we’ve done and it’s not a simple line, we bounce around.

That poses a difficulty, though. If everything we did sounded the same, odds are we would be able to sell things a lot easier. I don’t know how to sell a record that’s got fiddle on it to a dude with a butt-patch. You have to work different markets, and it’s weird. I wouldn’t change that. If I could go back, knowing that if I just make every release sound like the Wipers we’ll sell out, it’s not as fun for me. 

How has your approach changed over the years?
My tastes change with the weather. I’ll be super into a sound and then everyone gets into and I’m like, “Well, this is played out. I’ve got to find the next thing.” But the root of what we’re trying to do has always been rock ’n’ roll — guitar music. One of the things we like doing as a label is throwing big parties, so having bands that would make people happy when they play facilitated the whole thing. All Night Drug Prowling Wolves: party band. The Weight: party band. King Tuff: party band. 

I will say that we have moved into some of the darker sounds. We were always heavily influenced by what was happening in Atlanta… I always wanted more punk and hardcore crossover, but it was a tough sell to Joseph and Wes. But they’re just picky people in general. 

You moved to Atlanta several years ago. How did that affect Colonel?
I was expecting to move and be a punk label in a punk town and be surrounded by art and the community. There is an aspect of that, but what I’ve noticed is that it’s much younger now. It’s much younger than our peer group, so I don’t really know how to approach any of this awesome punk. I feel like a weird old man going up to some 18 year old who just killed it onstage and saying, “Hey, I’m Bryce from Colonel Records. Let’s Talk.” Everything I’ve done before has been through friends or mutual acquaintances. I’ve never cold-called, and down here I am definitely doing more of that. It’s good but it makes me uncomfortable.

Your wife Jen is part of the Colonel team, too, right?
Yeah! She moved up to New York with me in 2010, and Joseph had just moved away and stopped doing the label. We weren’t sure if Colonel could continue, and it took a lot of help from Jen to keep the label going. She had ideas on how to expand and avoid pigeonholing ourselves. 
Having her touch with the label helped open other people’s eyes to what we were doing. She grew up in punk, but she had a different viewpoint, so we’d bounce ideas off her and she would come up with shit that I would never think of.

We got married in 2012 and she’s a major part of everything we do. She handles the online stuff and the web store. When I’m like, “Why won’t this picture load?!” screaming and trying to throw the computer, she’s types a bit and is like, “Okay, it’s all set.” I get so frustrated and she’s a wiz with all that shit.

It’s now the two of us 100%. She has to be stoked for us to do something. The first thing that was 100% her call was the Sick Bags 7-inch, and of course we put it out and sold out immediately. She has great taste and I’m lucky to have her involved.

Colonel Records 10-year anniversary feat. All Night Drug Prowling Wolves, Subsonics, Fletcher C. Johnson, Country Westerns, Vincas, and Spodee Boy. $10-$12. 8 p.m. (doors). The Earl. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.    Ryan Bell NO SHADE: Colonel Records owners Bryce (left) and Jen Franich.                                   Colonel Records turns 10 "
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