If you’ve been an active participant in the Phoenix music scene, you have undoubtedly seen the good, the bad and the absolutely whack. You’re sure to have heard the usual complaints from bands and artists as well, such as not getting paid, poorly arranged shows, the always classic complaint of “the sound guy sucked,” or how Phoenix’s music scene is weak — all the typical grumblings of a local band struggling to make it big.
Fortunately, the recently formed Black Cactus Records has devoted itself to the resolution of these issues within the Phoenix music community.
The record label was formed in early 2010 by a few local bands and musicians with the intention of creating a more tight-knit music community in Phoenix while also assisting other bands with the responsibilities of booking, promoting and other taxing chores.
The way in which Black Cactus Records operates is simple. One member from each band is designated to attend label meetings and carry out specific tasks in order to keep things moving steadily.
Dan Somers of Lisa Savidge said, “Former Friends of Young Americans needed a website to send people to, well, I built a page for them, and when Lisa Savidge went on tour, Toby booked all my dates. It’s just that much easier, you just play to everybody’s strengths.”
It also helps when you have other people relying on you to keep things in motion. Former Modified Arts promoter Leslie Barton said, “Nobody wants to look stupid in a meeting with ten eyes looking at them like ‘you’re a (f-word) up.’”
Black Cactus Records’ roster consists of the Necronauts, Tremulants, Former Friends of Young Americans, High Horse, Lisa Savidge, The Premiere and Amen Cowboy.
All involved with Black Cactus Records stress the importance and effectiveness of working together rather than individually. “The idea was, we continue to do the things we’ve always done, but we do them together and we share our resources,” said Toby Fatzinger of Former Friends of Young Americans.
Building relationships with venues, bookers and promoters has been easier as a group rather than individually for the record label. They also share a wealth of knowledge, which can be helpful in avoiding some of the troubles that come with doing things on your own.
“We have collectively made almost every mistake that you can make in this business,” Somers said. “So there’s some consolation in that every screw-up is a step forward for somebody else.”
While part of their priorities are aimed at helping bands on Black Cactus Records, the label’s efforts also expand outside of their immediate circle. “There’s a lot of great bands in this town and we are fond of them. I can go to a show on a random night in Phoenix and get blown away,” Fatzinger said.
Their second compilation CD can be expected early next year and will feature 16 songs, with many of the tracks coming from bands they admire and not directly affiliated with the label.
In addition to supporting bands not on Black Cactus Records, the label understands that one of the more irritating things that a band can experience is a poorly booked show. Toby Fatzinger said, “That’s kind of been our cornerstone — putting together the right shows, the good shows.”
“When you work with a lot promoters, they’re like ‘what’s your draw?’ That’s all they wanna know, so, they’ll put a metal band with a folk band and it makes for bad shows,” Somers added.”
Black Cactus Records also recently made an ally with the like-minded San Francisco-based label 20 Sided Records during a recent tour for Former Friends of Young Americans. They are working on getting a booth set up at the next South by Southwest Festival to showcase both labels.
Upcoming tours as well as the new compilation are on the way, but in the meantime, Black Cactus Records encourages you to check out their website and watch for any of their bands playing shows at a venue near you.
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