Starting a record label and representing bands from across the country was never the plan.
What began from a sheer act of boredom has flourished into Warped Your Records, a label that represents acts from Arizona, California, Pennsylvania and more.
Col Bauer, a senior mathematics major, runs the record label and for them, it's less about putting out limited-run cassettes, dealing with opportunistic social climbers or even appreciating music — it's about cultivating a community in the local underground music scene.
“I didn’t want to make music," Bauer said. "I decided to help my friends put their music out on cassette tapes, and that’s how it started in August of 2015.”
In addition to putting music on digital platforms such as Bandcamp and Spotify, Warped Your Records releases physical copies of records on cassette tapes.
“What’s the point of having a label if it just goes digital, and does nothing else?” said Bauer. “I never listen to CDs, I still really don’t. I have a cassette duplicator that I bought at Goodwill when I lived in Pennsylvania, and it’s really cool, so I did that.”
Bauer is also the frontperson of Closet Goth, whose most recent record "Friendship Village" is the latest release from Warped Your Records. Bauer said the album has caused them to put the label on hold for the time being.
“I ran out of money by putting it out on vinyl. It’s kind of a nuisance putting out your own music,” Bauer said. “It’s definitely a labor of love. You just have to reach a point of trusting yourself.”
Bauer said that running a label can be taxing at times.
“You meet cool people, but you also meet a lot of people out there to take advantage of you. That’s more common than people being nice,” they said. “People would be my friend for one week and ask me to release their album.”
Aaron Ponzo, former frontman of The Expos, played with Bauer in The Expos and Closet Goth. Ponzo said do-it-yourself shows and labels like Warped Your Records are important in today’s music scene.
“D.I.Y. is very important," said Ponzo. "It’s really sick knowing Col (Bauer) and multiple other people that have their own labels and who do it all themselves."
Ponzo also said that it’s important to have small labels in contrast to large, corporate music entities.
“You have to have the small and the big, you can’t just have the big labels," he said. "If the big labels go away, then there’s nothing left.”
Nick Kivi, who played drums on Closet Goth’s recent record, said that Bauer has an extremely admirable work ethic.
“It’s infuriating to see someone work that hard. Inspiring is maybe a better word. Col (Bauer) is such a work horse — I see what they do, and it makes me question my own output,” Kivi said. “I’ve never seen someone so dedicated and put so much work into their passion and what they do.”
Kivi also commended Bauer’s inclusivity while running Warped Your Records.
“Col (Bauer) is more than anything accepting of everybody, in making a label and in making music that is accessible and putting on shows that everyone feels safe at and included at,” Kivi said. “I think that’s the most important aspect of it.”
Along with praising the label’s inclusivity, Kivi praised to the inclusivity of the Arizona music scene in general.
“I’ve been a part of some music scenes in other places I’ve lived, and it’s nothing at all like the D.I.Y. scene (in Arizona),” he said. “In the scene in general, specifically people Col (Bauer) associates with, it was really refreshing to see people so welcoming.”
Tyler Blue Broderick, whose band Diners has put out albums on Warped Your Records, said people like Bauer are necessary in today's music scene.
“The way that music communities flourish is truly by having a few people that are willing to actually try something and try to organize,” Broderick said. “Record labels help build communities.”
Broderick also said that having local record labels encourages musicians to get involved.
“It’s that kind of attitude of ‘yeah I’m going to release this tape’ or ‘yeah I’m going to put this show together,’" they said. "It’s a reminder to other people that ‘oh, I could be doing this too.’”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow @rordanjowley on Twitter.
Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.