Interview with Bill & Lisa from Trouble in Mind Records
Trouble in Mind Logo
Bill and Lisa are expecting a baby soon. As in probably this month. But it didn't stop them from putting out kick-ass records or responding to this interview - they ended up doing both. I've been a big fan of Trouble In Mind Records for a while - they ended up putting out the amazing Mikal Cronin LP of 2011 and got me into France's Limiñanas, and don't forget about that amazing four-way split they did for record store day. Unreal. And Bill even works at Permanent Records on top of that. They're totally rooted into pop songs, which is something that I especially appreciate. They put out a LOT of 7"s, which are always really cool and also a bunch of really cool LP's like that Limiñanas one I mentioned earlier and the Paperhead LP. I really enjoy their releases and the way that they package their records.
There's not a whole lot that I can say that they don't answer in the interview so I'm going to let them talk and I'm not going to say anything more.
Jordan: How long have y'all been in Chicago?
Bill: I have lived here since 1992 - I moved here from Weatherford, Tx to go to college at The Art Institute of Chicago... Lisa: I moved here in 2001 from Columbus, Ohio.
Jordan: Do you have much of a focus on local acts?
Bill: I don't know if I'd say we "focus" on local acts - we just release music by bands that we love, first & foremost no matter where they're from. We just released the second awesome album by local band Hollows called 'Vulture'.
Paperhead LP Cover
Jordan: Do you get to work with Chicago record shops like reckless often?
Bill: Well, I work at Permanent Records so if we work with any one record store more often than another it would be Permanent. Great store! I shopped there even before I worked there. A couple of bands we've released have done instore performances there (Moonhearts, Ty Segall, Limiñanas, Night Beats, Apache Dropout, Mikal Cronin). Lisa: Our hearts belong to Permanent but Reckless definitely supports the label too and the staff there is super nice, especially to Ronnie so that is cool.
Jordan: What role do you think you all play in the Chicago music scene?
Bill: That's a difficult question to really answer ourselves. It's almost like asking a band "what do you sound like?", because the role you play (or whatever) could seem different to you & to someone else. I hope we have some sort of impact on the local scene, be it from releasing great local acts, or releasing a record that people love, listen to & draw inspiration from.
Jordan: When did you start the label?
Bill: the label started in August of 2009 with (what would prove to be) our old band CoCoComa's last single "Ask, Don't Tell". We actually had plans to release The White Wires' "Pretty Girl" single (TIM002) first, but we thought since our band had some sort of a name out there (being on Goner Records & all) that it would help build a nest egg to release more records... it did, & here we are...
Jordan: How did you and your wife decide to start the label?
Bill: Our band had just gone on hiatus & Lisa was pregnant with our first child, Ronnie - we were unsure if the band would continue after she was born, so in our minds starting a small label seemed like a way of sorts to keep music in our life. Not sure if that was a romantic or idealistic (or naive) notion...but it made sense at the time. It very quickly became bigger than we'd anticipated, so that was a nice surprise.
Jordan: Your website says you believe in the 2.5 minute song. That's awesome. I believe it too. But what did that belief come out of?
Bill: I guess it was just a mission statement I made up (or needed to have) when we started the label. We just wanted to focus more on the MUSIC. That's why our singles come in "company sleeves"... no band artwork, no pretty pictures to distract you or influence your opinion on the music contained therein. All you have to go on are the tunes. But I really think that the 45rpm single is a powerful medium. It's the ideal & ultimate statement a band can make - You have 2 to 4 minutes per side to make your case. When it works - it's fucking awesome.
Jordan: Is that a central belief to releasing records on the label?
Bill: Lisa & I have to agree on each thing we release 100%... if there's any doubt from either person, then we don't do it. We need to be able to stand by & believe in everything we release. Lisa: the 100% vote thing is one of the toughest parts of doing the label together because there have been times that one of us is really sold on something and the other just doesn't hear it...ultimately, I think we'd both agree that even though it causes a little momentary tension sometimes, it's been for the best.
Jordan: How do you determine who you release on the label? Do you go for a certain style?
Bill: We just keep our eyes & ears open. When we hear something we like - we pay attention. Again - we don't look for any particular style or genre really, just music we love. Our tastes align with a very small segment of the general populace, but we're grateful for those people, because they buy vinyl & have great taste! Lisa: I really feel like there is a common thread through all the releases though some may be more strictly pop or psychedelic, they all speak to us somehow and we hope that the folks that consistently buy our records hear it too.
The Awesome 4-way Split 7"
Jordan: What is yalls background in music? Were/are you in bands or has it always been a releasing thing?
Bill: I've played in bands of a serious & not-so-serious nature since I was about 18 years old... CoCoComa was our band we started together after we were married in 2004. It started out as a duo (Lisa on guitar & myself on drums & lead vocals), but we added our friend Mike Fitzpatrick soon after whom I played with in a band called The Latest & Lisa played with in their awesome band, Headache City. Lisa & I actually met at a show one of my bands (Stag Party) was playing. Lisa: I was raised on music. My parents owned a record store and have some pretty insane stories about their pasts in the music scene in Cleveland in the 70's. I started playing in bands in my mid-twenties.
Jordan: How do you do the whole putting out of music thing? Do you basically do one release at a time or are there ever contracts?
Bill: Not sure what you mean by "how do you do it"... I guess we just researched how it was done & then just dove in head-first. That tends to be how we work (with the label & in life). We decide on something & just go for it. We were very fortunate to have had a few connections & friends that ran labels who were VERY helpful & informative. Brian from Douchemaster & Kevin from Dusty Medical Records in particular were EXTREMELY honest & open with me & all my dumb questions about seemingly obvious stuff. As for releases, we do have contracts for the full-length LPs. It's (in our minds) the most "artist friendly" contract we could muster. We tend to release our music in "batches" - 2-4 releases at a time. It helps each release sell the other. People are very open to buying multiple things to save on shipping. I'm the same way.
Jordan: What do you all do outside of releasing records?
Bill: well aside from wrangling our 3 year old daughter Ronnie, I work at Permanent Records. Lisa: we had our second kid a few weeks ago and that has been pretty time consuming, trying to adjust to life on small chunks of sleep.
Bill & Lisa Roe with Baby
Jordan: Do you have any favorite bands right now? (not on your label so as not to step on toes haha)
Bill: a few of my recent digs that we didn't release anything by; White Fence, Royal Headache, OBN IIIs, Radar Eyes, Bitchin' Bajas, Cheap Time, Total Control, The Twerps, UV Race, Straight Arrows (been on a serious Australia/New Zealand kick lately)... older stuff: Faust, Cluster, Flower Travellin' Band, Wire (for probably the 4th time in my life), The Clean, The Bats, The Byrds, Harry Nilsson, Soft Boys, Del Shannon Lisa: Alla what Bill said plus I like the Spacin' record which I know Bill likes too.
Jordan: What do you think about the trend in the releasing of music and the money from it?
Bill: well I dunno who you've talked to, but there's not really any money to be made releasing records. We both still have to work day-jobs full time. Seems like it's always been that way, at least in the genre(s) that we operate in. If you're doing this to make money, then you're in the wrong business. Lisa: I think we're just happy that the label pretty much pays for itself at this point.
Jordan: What about the trends in music? Is there such a thing?
Bill: I'm not sure what the question is. Lisa: I mean to the extent that everyone is all of a sudden into shoegaze again or psych or whatever, there do tend to be curious cycles that come and go but, yeah, what's the question exactly?
Jordan: Are your kids going to be real rock n rollers?
Bill: HA! We'll see. The running joke is that one or both will end up a Republican or something. I just hope they at least appreciate & listen to music of some sort, whether we like it or not. Ronnie asked for a "blue drumset" for Christmas this past year, so we got her one... she plays it almost every day. Her favorite band is The Monkees - she can name them all by first & last name. It's funny & cute & weird. She's the best. Not sure what our son will be like - we'll see!
Mikal Cronin LP Cover
Jordan: What can we look forward to in the future of the label?
Bill: More records, more records, more records! This summer we'll be releasing the second (awesome) album from Bloomington, IN'sApache Dropoutcalled"Bubblegum Graveyard", as well as amazing singles from Melbourne, Australia'sWoollen Kits, Chicago'sMarble Vanity, & this guyJacco Gardnerfrom The Netherlands - he makes this truly amazing baroque psych-pop... we're stoked for all of it! Lisa: And we just confirmed a new LP with MMOSS from New Hampshire which is soooooo great. We're very very excited to get to release it. That will hopefully come out this fall along with the second Paperhead LP. Jordan: Anything else to say? Bill: Trouble In Mind Records: Cop it, don't swap it!