Interview of Tolga Özbey for Plak Mecmuası with Peter Menchetti also known in the Garage/Punk world as the “Sticker Guy”.
I don’t admire them much as people or support their business practices. And some of their lyrics are really uninspiring. I’m just talking about the music right now. In my early teens I was a metalhead. My first concert was Iron Maiden when I was 13 years old. I headbanged so much that my neck ached the next day. But already at the age of 14 I was getting into punk rock. My first concert was Circle Jerks & 7Seconds in my hometown of Reno. I went to all the shows I could (there weren’t many – and in the USA a lot of shows happen in bars, and you have to be 21 years old to enter). Finally I altered my driver’s license so it looked like I was of age, and I started going to loads more shows. I was making fliers for a bar called the Icehouse. They were having all the shows — bands like NOFX, Screeching Weasel, SNFU, MDC — and I was making fliers for all of them with my computer. Looking back, the designs are really terrible! But I learned to use the graphics software we still use today at Sticker Guy. And saw a lot of shows! One band came through town with really cool vinyl stickers and I thought, “I gotta help my friends get some of those for their bands!” So I started looking into making them. And now, 25 years later, we’re still at it…
When I was 19, I wanted to move out of my mom’s house. A friend and I found a house with a basement and started doing shows. Bands came from all over the place, we had 3-4 shows per month. Our neighbors called the cops on us all the time. We started buying them tickets to the cinema for the nights we had shows! We had all kinds of bands — garage, punk, hardcore, power violence, pop punk. The most notable bands that come to mind are The Drags, Citizen Fish, Scared of Chaka, Motards, Queers, His Hero is Gone, Spazz, Avail… and loads more! Five years of gigs until they kicked us out.Shortly after I moved out of my mom’s house, Sticker Guy started to work well and for the first time in my life I had $1000 in the bank. A band called Tunstin Gat came through and after their show they were telling me they had a recording and wanted to make a 7″ but didn’t have any money. I heard it and liked it so I made the record — and that’s how I started making records.
The biggest difference between the 90s and now that comes to mind is that, unfortunately, people don’t buy records the way they used to. It used to be easy to sell 1000 copies of a decent record. Nowadays it’s hard to move that many of even well known bands. It’s a pity. Don’t be fooled by the “resurgence of vinyl” — most of what’s selling is mainstream major label stuff being repressed.
Behind the world-wide success of Slovenly Recordings is this punk business network that you have set up the truth is being spoken. Is it a international partnership and how is it running?
Yeah we have offices in Reno, Pennsylvania, Berlin, and Tokyo. (I closed our Amsterdam office). It’s running pretty well, thanks!
Since I know you are doing this with an incredibly emotional connection. May i learn what are the records that you published on Slovenly Recordings that were the peak points for you?
Obviously The Spits 2nd album (which we released originally) and all of the other records we did for them (which were reeditions). The Spits are probably our best known band. Subsonics! They were one of my favorite garage bands for years, I wore out my Get Hip LPs… and now we’ve done their last 4 albums. The new one just came out now. Spits & Subsonics are both playing the Oakland Boogerlou this year, looking forward to that. Others that come to mind that are high points for me: Acid Baby Jesus, J.C. Satan, the We’re Loud comp, Wau y los Arrrghs!!!, Ridiculous Trio, Magnetix, PyPy… newer bands: Cavemen, Lullies, and wait until you hear Tommy and the Commies! (coming this fall)
Let’s go with the first thing that comes to mind. I have to say it was the three tours I did in Europe with The Spits. I love those guys. So many laughs.
-Until today, you have released albums of Cavemen, Penetrators, Subsonics, Anomalys, Spits and many more amazing groups. If you think about all the history of Rock’n’Roll and if we can give you a magical chance, What band or artist would you like to publish an album on Slovenly Recordings?
First band that comes to mind: The Drags! But if I can go all the way back in history? The Monks (USA)! Or this unknown band from Mazatlan called Los Crazy Kings.
-I had the opportunity to participate in an incredible evening that you organized as DJ Peter Slovenly. You have a Great double vintage turntable system how did you get it? You only play 7 “which is very valuable to me because I love 7″s . As a DJ what can you say about nights you’ve played and musical choice, What do you really love to play on this events?
I bought a pair of Columbia GP-3s and a little mixer and then had a friend design & build the case for it. I play only 7″s because I’m always traveling and LPs are too heavy! I’ve had a lot of great nights playing records for people. I like to play records I love that make the dance floor move! 50s rock’n’roll / 60s garage & soul / 70s punk & other fun junk!
-What are the best pieces of your vinyl collection? What are the most important 7 “and LPs do you have?
I’m not sure, there are too many of them! I just got a GREAT record I’ve been looking forever for in the mail by The Kings from Italy – “Trovane un Altro”
Do you like compilation albums? Best compilation albums do you think?
Everyone loves Crypt for Back From the Grave, but my favorite comp on the label is Talkin Trash Lookey Dookey! And the Shaftman comp could possibly be the most perfect record ever made.
-Unfortunately, the number of publications printed on records and music is very low nowadays. You can direct us what kind of magazines and fanzines do you like to follow?
Yeah unfortunately people aren’t buying magazines like they used to, either. I used to read Maximumrocknroll back in the 90s. I used to write for them too. Nowadays to be honest, I don’t read much music press, aside from some of the stuff written about our bands. I think that has something to do with what I’ve learned from trying to get coverage for our new releases — you would think that if you send a promo copy of a good record to a music magazine, they’ll write a review. But it seems that if we don’t pay a publicist who has “a good relationship” with writers at the magazine, they won’t cover it. I imagined that anyone running a music magazine is looking out for good new music. I can’t understand why they have to have someone they know call them
and tell them to listen to it. It doesn’t make sense — or maybe it does, for reasons they’ll never tell us. I always wondered if payola could be involved…
Musically, 50s, 60s, 70s, what period better fits your soul? Or would you really want to be there when you could do time travel?
My friend’s son asked me the other day if I could travel backwards or forwards in time, which would it be? I said back, to 1958-1966, to see some of my favorite bands. That’s when the best music was being made.
I know you travel very often and you are in many parts of the world, the most surprising on earth what were the record shops? And what did you find out there?
Coincidentally, I’ve found LOADS of great records in Istanbul, and I definitely did not expect that. I’ve got a Turkish press of a great Bo Diddley record.
Traveling is a bit of a world cuisine. What are the favorites? Do you like to taste foods you never tried before? Your food poisoning experience?
Mediterranean food is my favorite! Of course I like to try new things, but I’m not big on eating weird parts of animals (or eating a lot of meat in general). For me it’s all about pasta, vegetables, and really good olive oil.
Let’s talk about “We’re Loud Fest” a bit, you are preparing to conquer Istanbul in October. What surprises are waiting for Istanbul?
Well, if I tell you, they won’t be surprises, will they? I think what makes this edition of the festival extra special is that since I’m going to have to be away, organizing from a distance, a lot of the festival will be made by local Turkish friends. That’s the way it should be — I don’t come to a town to take over, or to take… I come to collaborate and to give. The rock’n’roll scene around the world is small. To me it’s almost like family.
What’s waiting for garage passions in the future of Slovenly Records? Do you have any upcoming albums to be released soon?
There is loads of great music in Canada right now, and we’ve got several killer Canadian bands coming out. We’re repressing Gino & the Goons latest LP, and doing a 7″ for a new band by Peter Aaron of the Chrome Cranks!
Thank you so much for this wonderful interview, Peter, is there anything you want to say?
Nope! thank you again and see you in Istanbul 19-21 October for We’re Loud Fest