Thursday, April 15, 2010

Breakfast of Champs Records

Syrup slides down the fretboard of a guitar and fills in the crannies of the waffle resting in the acoustic's sound hole. Pancakes are impaled on a high hat, hash browns bounce on a snare drum, and bacon and sausage are lined up along the keys of his synthesizer. Or, at least that's one way of imagining how Breakfast of Champs began.

Jimmy Hughes was smoking a cigarette on the
porch of the Whitehuas in Jamaica Plain when he explained that, no, unfortunately BOC isn’t a Kurt Vonnegut reference, they all just really like breakfast. He's in the synth based, acoustic-loop, reggaeton infused Turtle Ambulance and explained it seemed that breakfast time was always when he and his two other cohorts ended up chatting about their music business."We wanted to get serious with our own releases, so the best way to do that was to start our own label," Hughes explains. The other guys are Caleb Johannes of digi-psychonaughts Truman Peyote and Jake Yuhas from the trip beat Bug Eyes (formerly Dropa). The label currently has over ten artists, all of whom are either just their friends or bands they’re into, like the Cleveland based Cloud Nothings.

What makes BOC unique is that none of the recordings are made in a studio. Four tracks, garage band, practice spaces, bedrooms, the artists use whatever they can get their hands on to record. “The whole process from writing to recording is really intimate with the artist,” Hughes said. “From the run of 100 cassettes to the fact that it’s all hand packaged by the artist.” The closest a band got to a studio was when recording the ethereal and cavernous electric guitar vs. banjo trio, Quilt. "We recorded it in a basement with 8 mics and Jake's rig,” Hughes said. “It’s what was appropriate to capture Quilt." Shows always have a good attendance and the bands are gathering quite a following. I was playing a song by Quilt as a realtor was showing my apartment and a potential renter (and complete stranger) stopped to say, "Are you listening to Quilt? I LOVE Quilt!" Hughes explained, "Right now the tours are supporting the label. The merch response is great."

The charm of BOC is that it’s extremely DIY, not because it's trendy, but because it has to be. Despite the fact that pitchfork proclaimed the cassette comeback and even mentioned BOC in the article, the label releases tapes and 7" vinyls, because they're cheap to produce. "The goal is for us just to pay for everybody's releases," Hughes said. "That's where we're at, but we're not really making a return yet. We're working our jobs and just trying to put out records." The base of operations for the label is just the suitcase of records they bring with them to shows. "Other than our website and the things that we put online, the label exists wherever we are," Hughes says. "It's not like there's a storefront...yet."

Upcoming releases from BOC are a Quilt 7”, Ppalmm/Woven Tales split cassette and Total Slacker/Weekends split cassette. And look out for the touring bands all over Boston.

Download the BOC compilation Mozart Park All Stars here.

1 Weekends – Psychedelic Mice
2 Truman Peyote – Numbjob
3 Dropa – Dusty City Organ
4 Turtle Ambulance – Cubierta
5 Semya – Slumtown Bike Ride
6 PPALMM– Acid Cops
7 Cop Magnet – Benched
8 Cloud Nothings– Crying Underwater
9 Philip Seymour Hoffman – everything in my cupboards is moldy
10 EASYBOY – Supercop
11 Milochondria – Quiet Remix
12 Woven Tales – Handful of Fireflies
13 Ming Ming Dance Co.– Seniors
14 Psychedelic Family – Black Horse Knight Rider (Live @ The Wedge)

Published in Performer Magazine, May 2010 issue.