We checked in with Toby (Red Scare Industries) and Rob (Friend Club Records) on how they spent 2020, what they learned, and their thoughts and hopes for what 2021 will hold, as part of our New Year’s Evolutions Series!
Toby – Red Scare Industries
Toby of Red Scare Industries had to give up the island dream life in the West Indies when COVID hit, and, like a reverse Fresh Prince, ended up in West Philly.
My gal is in medicine and we were living in the West Indies at the start of 2020. We got evacuated in March at the height of all concern, but fortunately we had a place to stay in West Philly. Then she got placed in a hospital in Chicago, so we moved here in September. We’re lucky to have landed in places we like, but it sucks we couldn’t see any friends or do anything!
I’m a label guy, so it’s my job to find avenues for others to share their work. We stick to the usual methods of getting the word out: print, online, and social media. What’s depressing in all of this is that the gatekeepers in the music press didn’t do much to help the underground. No disrespect to Foo Fighters, but how many stories do we need about Dave Grohl’s Zoom calls? Times are tough, throw the little guys a bone!
Red Scare is a very Spartan operation, so I don’t have to worry about any crazy expenses. That’s by design. Our primary concern is to make sure bands get paid their royalties. We went a step further and did some fundraising stuff in 2020 to get some more money to help the bands. I hosted a variety show on May Day and we generated a ton of dough. That all went to band folks. That was stressful, but thanks to anyone who donated! It really helped.
I got a writing certificate through my alma mater! Old man on campus! I read more books too. Including Walden by Thorough, which is about isolation. Going with the theme, ya know? I’m of the opinion that not everybody NEEDS to get a PhD or lose 40 pounds during the pandemic. Yes, you should always be working on yourself, but everyone’s different in terms of their coping process, and that’s okay!
I’m starting to book a small tour for the summer where all the shows will be outdoors and/or distanced. I’m hearing the goal is to vaccinate a million people per day, so maybe we can pull this off? Like everything, it’s all very touch and go, but I wanna do our small part to bring joy to folks and maybe a return to some normalcy, whatever that means in 2021.
I feel confident in saying that some form of The Fest will happen in 2021. Not as confident about Riot Fest or Punk Rock Bowling, but fingers crossed. Much of it depends on how the vaccination process goes and how much WE (yes, you and me!) tackle all this shit with a collective spirit.
Look after your friends, family, neighbors, and everyone else… and we can plow through this weirdness! There will be shows and there will be buddies at some point. First round’s on me.
Rob Froese – Friend Club Records
Rob Froese took the time off and got a new label off the ground: Friend Club Records
For us 2020 ended up being the chance to culminate a dream we’d been talking about for years. We’ve been throwing around the idea of starting a label since basically the day we met, but never had the bandwidth to pull the trigger. Being forced into quarantine allowed us the opportunity to seek out just doing this as a creative outlet. Daniel also was able to complete an EP for his band and get about 90% of the way done on their next LP.
This whole venture was an idea until April. We gave ourselves the freedom to release ourselves from trying to release the perfect things and instead just do it. Turns out we were able to release an amazing run of tapes from our friends and blessed to be able to support them and some important charity work. We basically learned how to run a business. From promoting to doing design work, to working with bands. All of this was new to us.
Will masks ever go away? What will the impact be on our kids? How will it impact their kids? These questions are things we can discuss at length but aren’t super rock n’ roll. As to what will the new normal be for rock music, I think it’s going to be a weird year. Every band in the world is going to want to hit the road at the same time, while that will be great for the consumer, it’s going to be tough for smaller bands to get their space. How that shakes out on creatives will be interesting to watch.