Thursday, July 22, 2010
Q&A with Suzy Shaw from Bomp! Records
I've been a fan of Bomp! since I started collecting records. Bomp's been around since the early 70's and is the oldest independent record label in the U.S. Since Greg Shaw's unfortunate passing in 2004, his right hand (wo)man, Suzy Shaw, has continued to run the show as Bomp's mail order guru and vinyl goddess. So here it is, everything you always wanted to know about Suzy Shaw *but were afraid to ask. Enjoy!
Kelly: Suzy, tell us about your background: Where are you from, how did you get into music and what were some of your early musical influences growing up?
Suzy: I'm originally from a small town in Illinois, but I lived in Palo Alto California when I was a teenager and ran away to the Haight Ashbury when I was 16. I was a big fan of the Who, the Kinks, and the Beatles. In fact when I was 14 I ran away from home to go to a Beatles concert in Los Angeles, but they caught me that time. I would have just stayed there going to the clubs if I'd had my way. There were a lot of great bands playing on the Strip at the time.
K: How did you meet Greg Shaw?
S: You can read the full story in the first Bomp book, but I was living in the streets of the Haight and saw him in a store called the Print Mint and asked him for a quarter. The next thing I knew I was helping him mimeograph the very first rock fanzine ever, Mojo Navigator.
K: What inspired you to start the Bomp Fanzine with Greg? Were there other fanzines that competed with Bomp and if so, what set Bomp apart from the competition?
S: Bomp magazine was started in 74, Greg always had a magazine or two going, ever since he was 12 years old. Bomp was never financially successful, not at all, but Greg really had a vision, always way ahead of his time. The quality of the magazine was pretty impressive, all of the early rock writer greats were on board and the writing was top notch.
K: What was the very first record you and Greg put out?
S: The Flamin Groovies single, You Tore me Down.
K: What are your top 5 favorite Bomp albums (or singles)?
S: I always liked Stiv Bators a lot, and of course, Nikki Corvette, Shoes, 20/20. And we just put out a full length LP of one of our early Bomp bands, the Poppees.
K: What are your top 5 favorite NON-Bomp albums (or singles)?
S: Hard to pick really, it changes all the time, but right now Im playing a lot of the Black Keys and some of the other ALIVE titles... I love the Buffalo Killers, The Plimsouls, and we just did a Paul Collins CD that's a warehouse hit.
K: Now for the juicy stuff: What's the most exciting and/or strange Bomp-related story?
S: Most of the "exciting" Bomp stories are so exciting that I've done my best to forget them. Greg was never dull, that's for sure. I've written a little chapter in the first Bomp book called "Inquiring Minds Want to Know" about the various boyfriends and the like, if it's juice you want, look no further!
K: Out of all the interesting people you've met through Bomp, who was the one person you were most excited to meet?
S: That would have to be Patrick Boissel; he used to be our distributor in France. We met at a record convention and now we're married and he helps me run Bomp, in addition to running his own label, ALIVE Records. You can’t get more exciting than that!
K: Although it's very helpful in getting your band name out to the world, I personally feel like the internet and modern day pop culture has destroyed music's charm (for lack of a better word). What are your thoughts on modern-day bands along with the pros and cons of the internet, downloading, etc?
S: I wouldn't go back to the pre-internet days; I think it's a great tool for getting music out there and networking with like-minded people.
K: Say there's someone reading this right now that isn't familiar with Bomp. What is the one record out of all the others on the label you'd recommend to buy first?
DESTINATION BOMP, it's a double CD featuring the highlights from the label, plus it comes with a free CD called Straight Out of Burbank, which is another double CD of Bomp and ALIVE tunes. And of course they should get the Bomp books.
K: According to Billboard Magazine, vinyl sales (as well as single-song digital downloads) are at an all-time high, and have doubled in sales from the previous year. Why do you think vinyl is making a comeback? Do you think this is something that will continue to gain in popularity or do you think it's just yet another music trend?
S: It’s hard to predict if the trend will continue, but I get the usual comments from my customers... they like the sound, they like the nice big covers, and it's somehow become hip to have vinyl. There's even a cassette revival, but I'm not sure how far that is going to go! Hard to imagine, really.
K: You recently released the new Loons album. What are some other recent releases and are there any future releases you can talk about?
S: Bomp is NOT an active label in terms of signing new bands.... I feel very strongly that Bomp was Greg's artistic vision and I wouldn't presume to add to it. The Loons was the first and last exception. Mike Stax is a very dear friend and he helped me out on the second Bomp Book. He told me that it was his dream to have his record on Bomp and I knew Greg would have approved, so I did it. That will be the end of it though, we will just work with the back catalogue from now on. ALIVE is the active label, under the leadership of Patrick. I do the mail order exclusively. Even the new remastered and restored Kill City (Iggy) will be on Alive rather than Bomp.