Dangerhouse Records: Punk Recording Pioneers

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From the Deadbeats to the Avengers, and the Bags, a number of the featured artists and bands during SF Punk Renaissance are part of the Dangerhouse Family. It’s easy to gloss over the pioneers who made early punk recordings possible; without these early creative minds the face of punk history would have been very different.

So for a bit of  history, we’re including a history of Dangerhouse by David Brown (swiped from the discography of the Dangerhouse site) David Brown Writes:

Without further ado, the story of Dangerhouse Records…

Once upon a time (197?) in a magical kingdom called L.A., there was a defect in the space/time continuum known as “punk rock”. Only in such a depraved environment could Dangerhouse have existed. Dangerhouse, created by the triumvirate of yours truly, Pat “Rand” Garrett and Black Randy, was a highly naive attempt to create a politically and artistically correct playground for the unique, nihilistic talents of the L.A. punk “scene“. It was clear something needed to be done.

In the beginning there was a lot of musical talent which was going to unrecorded waste. Whereas the English musicians had been set upon by some of the top producers in the business, the very lack of commercialism implicit in L.A. punk seemed to drive away potential resources. Those were culturally weird times, Saturday Night Fever and burned-out super group remnants filled the airwaves. Clearly SOMETHING was better than nothing. The early groups (like the Screamers, Germs, Weirdos, Black Randy) were very good at manipulating the local venue owners and press, and were able to almost immediately fill clubs and halls with folks who were just plain bored and curious.

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The Masque, KROC, Farrah Fawcett-Minor’s apartment behind the dirty bookstore, the Starwood, Whisky… I refer the reader to the insane, speed-enhanced ravings of Claude Bessey in the early Slash magazine as there just isn’t enough room for that kind of background. Suffice it to say that the scene had everything: every kind of self-abuse imaginable, negative social patterns, infighting, gender-fucking, etc. What needs to be talked about here are the musicians and other creative forces at work behind the scenes on the Dangerhouse product.

Starting out, the studio was anywhere we could plug in; later, our home was the Kitchen Sync with the extremely copasetic Mike Hamilton as engineer. Here was a man who watched us accidentally pour a dark Heineken over a 16-track mixing console (installed that very day) without crying or punching out the culprit. Over the years, Mike patiently sat while irate punks insulted his intelligence, and offered great 8- and 16-track advice to Pat and I, refugees from a 4-track world. To Dangerhouse, and the fans, the sound quality was paramount. (Even KROQ demi-god, Rodney Bingenheimer, stated in a period interview that Dangerhouse put out real records on real plastic!)

The do-it-yourself aspect of the production and packaging spoke for itself. We created ideas for affordable products which set the pace for imitators, like the clear plastic-bag 45 sleeves (because traditional sleeves cost more than the records to be pressed) and the multi-color silkscreened picture disc used for YES L.A. Sad to say, the downturn of the record business in 1979 due to the soi-distant “oil embargo” hurt everyone in the record industry and made it too rough a row to hoe for Dangerhouse. Tough titty.

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These recordings still sound as powerful and relevant as the day they were cut. If you, Mr. or Ms. Consumer, care about creativity as opposed to the number of units shipped, it was a victory. And if there was ever a label that released cool shit, over which I’d rather have been A&R man/Prexy, it sure as hell doesn’t come to mind.

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