Gunning for Sub Pop, again

“All politics is local.” That, of course, is an aphorism coined by Tip O’Neill, the late Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives.

When it comes right down to it, a lot of things are local. Music, for example, usually is created by local acts for local consumption—even though many of us may now believe that all new music originates in London; New York; Nashville, Tenn.; Los Angeles; or Doktor Frankenstein’s Mouseketeer Faktory in Orlando, Fla.

Many localities with strong music scenes also have regional independent labels that act as conduits to the larger world. It’s one thing to have a bunch of bands, and another when none of those bands can move their CDs beyond the local-music consignment racks at area record stores. An example of a well-known regional indie is Sub Pop in Seattle, which released records by Green River, Soundgarden, Nirvana and others early on. Kill Rock Stars and K, both labels in nearby Olympia, Wash., are two other well-known examples.

Throughout the years, Sacramento has seen a number of its bands put their own records out or get signed to majors or independents located elsewhere. And, occasionally, a regional indie label here has looked as though it might emerge, such as Rusty Nail and Mad Rover in the 1980s, Poprockit in the 1990s and Dig! Music more recently (not to mention the Davis-based Lather and Omnibus labels).

In April 2000, Lynn and Sonny Mayugba started Blackliner Records, with Wendy Powell and Dave Garcia as silent partners. Lynn had worked for major distributor PolyGram for eight years; she exited when it was acquired by Seagram and merged with Universal. Then, she worked for Tower Records’ corporate office. And now she is regional sales director for Innovative Distribution Network, a national indie distributor owned by Alliance, a huge “one-stop” record distributor. In her spare time, she sang for the Skirts. Sonny was publisher of Heckler magazine and played with Phallucy and Daycare. Blackliner has national distribution through Innovative.

Blackliner started with CDs by the Skirts and Daycare. During the past year, it released discs by Magnolia Thunderfinger, the Brodys and Phallucy. In January, the label will release a new CD by Luxt; the following month, it will release the new Milwaukee disc. In addition, Blackliner is distributing Doppler Records, the label owned by designer Keara Fallon and Deathray bassist Victor Damiani. Doppler re-released Deathray’s debut CD—which got lost in the shuffle when its original label, Capricorn, was a victim of the Universal-PolyGram merger—and followed that with an EP from the group, along with the debut of Nevada City band Golden Shoulders.