When Pat Dull recorded his first cassette in the early '90s, he sold it at a financial loss.
When Pat Dull recorded his first cassette in the early ’90s, he sold it at a financial loss.
“I recorded five copies, made little sleeves, and I [priced them] at negative $1,” said Dull, seated in a downtown coffee shop for an early April interview. “I gave Used Kids $5 and said, ‘If anybody comes up, give them a dollar to take this out of the store.’ [Co-owner] Ron House was like, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll do that.’ He thought it was hilarious.”
Though more than two decades have passed, Dull’s business strategy remains unaltered. For Record Store Day, the musician, who plays guitar in Betty Machete & the Angry Cougars, pressed 500 copies of Columbus Blood, a compilation featuring exclusive tracks from a dozen local bands, including Psychic Wheels, Low Men and Comrade Question, investing more than $3,000 of his own money with no intention of realizing a profit.
“That’s actually my business plan; I don’t want to make money,” said Dull, who revived his 1990s-era label Break-Up Records to press the first edition of Columbus Blood in 2014 (that nearly sold-out compilation featured the likes of Day Creeper, Bridesmaid and Hexers, which shares a downtown practice space with Betty Machete). “I don’t ever want to get in a tax situation or a business situation, and I don’t want any of the bands to ever think I’m profiting off them. It would taint what I do.”
Dull first hatched the idea for Columbus Blood in 2013 with an eye on spotlighting a local scene he’d become reinvested in following the formation of Betty Machete (the band’s launch followed nearly a decade the guitarist described as his “wilderness years”) and reclaiming Record Store Day from the major labels and online auctioneers who he believed had distanced the event from its roots celebrating local, independent music retailers.
“I think [Record Store Day] is an awesome thing, but it’s also been co-opted by companies,” Dull said. “I don’t need Aerosmith’s Rocks — which is a fantastic album — on some $30 [vinyl] pressing. You can buy it anywhere; it’s not special.”
The response from the local community — record retailers, bands and music fans included — has been tremendous.
Comrade Question guitarist Patrick Koch said the band was eager to contribute to the project (the crew’s urgent “Quitter” is among the comp’s highlights), saying, “We were psyched right from the beginning.” It’s a feeling echoed by singer/guitarist Tommy Young of Low Men, which contributed a song (“Suffocate”) that was initially slated to be the title track off its digital-only full-length Yet to Be Broken, from 2014.
“Being part of something like this … is a dream come true,” said Young, who will be among the performers during three nights of Columbus Blood-themed shows at Spacebar Thursday-Saturday, April 16-18. “You get a Record Store Day release, in your hometown, at all your favorite record stores. Lost Weekend, Used Kids, Magnolia [Thunderpussy], these are the places all of us have been shopping at forever. It really doesn’t get any cooler than that.”
Photo by Meghan Ralston