Rick Valentin and Rose Marshack started Twelve Inch Records in 1991 to highlight some of the great bands coming out of Champaign, Illinois. Twelve Inch released records by Dis-, Hum, Love Cup and Steakdaddy Six and is now home for Poster Children re-releases and PC’s alter-ego Salaryman.
Here’s an article Rick wrote in 2006 for openingbands.com on the history of Twelve Inch Records:
Back in the early nineties there were some really great bands in Champaign but no one wanted to put out their records. Rose and I decided we should do something about it. My original concept was to start a label called Ten Inch Records and only put out 6-song EPs on 10″ vinyl but no one seemed very excited about the idea. Vinyl was on its way out and bands wanted “real” albums on those new-fangled compact discs. I’m not sure why we called the label Twelve Inch Records since the first six releases weren’t released on 12″ vinyl either. I guess it was supposed to be ironic.
TIN001: Hum – Fillet Show (1991)
Andy Switzky was our roommate at the time. He had previously been in the bands Tugrik Dhugugrik and Obvious Man and had formed a new combo named Hum with Matt Talbott, previously of We Ate Plato. After a series of bass players and drummers, the lineup was filled out by Baltie De Ley (former Bad Flannel member and future Mother/Menthol founder) on bass and Bryan St. Pere on the drums and cymbals. They spent some time at Clubhouse, the world’s smallest studio, with Kent Whitesell (currently in the Greedy Loves) and came out with nine golden greats. Matt’s high school pal Darren pitched in some cash; we pitched in the rest and Twelve Inch Records was open for business. This being the era before affordable computerized graphic design, something got messed up with the color separations and what was supposed to be lovely oxblood lettering on the cover turned out bright fuschia; the first of many “learning experiences” with the label. If I remember correctly, the CDs (and cassettes!) arrived while Poster Children were on tour, so I recruited my mom to ship out promo copies of the record right away instead of waiting until the tour was over. People who heard the record liked it and Hum started playing shows outside of the greater Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area. Fillet Show sounds quite a bit different from the rest of the Hum catalog (Andy sings lead on three tracks) but you can hear inklings of the future in some of the songs. I’m not sure if Matt wants you to hear this record but the next time you see him, ask him for a copy; he’s got a couple hundred cassettes of this baby that he picked up when we cleared out our basement a couple of years ago.
We soon realized it was really expensive to put out CDs (this was when a blank CD-R cost $100 and a CD burner cost $5000 and even if MP3s had existed, they would have taken 5 hours to download from a text-based bulletin board with a 300 baud modem, so pressing CDs professionally was the only option). We decided to jump on the 7″ bandwagon. At the time SubPop had a Singles Club which you could subscribe to and theoretically get a single every month. We couldn’t pull that off (sometimes SubPop couldn’t either) but we thought we’d exploit the collector mentality by numbering our singles and enforcing a consistent cover design.
TIN002: Lovecup – Tearing Water/Juggernaut
Single of the Moment #1 (1992)
Mark Baldwin (future Mezzanine) sings and plays some kind of crazy neon green/yellow metal guitar with a built in handle, TJ Harrison (future Lonely Trailer and Glifted member) plays bass and Jim Kelly (formerly of Sixteen Tons, later of Centaur and Parasol Distribution) performs drum duties. Every scene, every era has a great unsung band and Love Cup is that band for C-U in the early 90’s. They found a perfect balance between metal and indie rock and influenced my band and had an even greater influence on Hum. This was also recorded by Kent Whitesell at Clubhouse. Did I mention that the place was tiny? As I remember, it only had one room. It was like a treehouse that was on the ground instead of in a tree.
TIN003: Hum – Hello Kitty/Roar, I’m a Tiger.
Single of the Moment #2 (1992)
Jeff Dimpsey (formerly of Bad Flannel and Poster Children) takes up the bass after Baltie leaves to form Mother and Andy makes his last appearance on guitar and vocals. Recorded in the big city of Chicago with Brad Wood at the soon to be very hip IDFUL. This single moves even closer to the now familiar Hum sound.
TIN004: Dis – Ed Was Solace/Girl Song. Single of the Moment #3 (1992)
Dis was the only 12 Inch band not to hail from the twin cities; they were a trio of Albini familiars hailing from the city of Milwaukee. Their song Ed Was Solace was their entry into the hearts and minds of the Twelve Inch family. Chris Fuller played guitar and sang, Rob Sieracki played bass and sang. Matt Morgan played drums. Recorded with finesse by Steve Albini in his home studio, dubbed Kitty Empire during these sessions.
TIN005: Steakdaddy Six – Rubber Pants/Play. Single of the Moment #4 (1992)
When seminal 80’s C-U band Bad Flannel broke up, many bands sprung up from its ashes. Jeff Dimpsey and Bill Johnson went on to form Honcho Overload. Baltie went on to form Mother/Menthol and the dual drum assault of Gordon Pellegrinetti and Chris Green reappeared in the hulking rock quintet that was Steakdaddy Six. Nick Macri (formerly of Hot Glue Gun and later of Euphone) played bass, Rod Van Huis (future member of The Great Crusades) played guitar and Jason Anderson sang whimsical lyrics about striped shirts and Guy NRG. This single was recorded by Hum drummer Brian St. Pere at his home studio. Two drummers, heavy guitar and wah-wah bass sounds like a recipe for disaster but these guys pulled it off with panache and a sense of humor. They were the figurehead band of Twelve Inch, releasing all of their music on the label.
TIN006: Dis – Small Fry Sessions 1 & 2 (1992)
Dis went back to Steve Albini’s basement to record the second full-length release on Twelve Inch. This record sold out of its first run of 1000 very quickly. We pressed another 1000 CDs, and sold approximately 5 more copies in the next 5 years. This is what having an indie label is all about!
After growing weary of calling up stores directly to distribute our records, Twelve Inch signed a distribution deal (or was it a Mephistophelean pact?) with Cargo Records.
TIN007: Hum – Electra 2000 (1993)
The first appearance of the classic Hum lineup. Tim Lash joins up on guitar and the band went back to IDFUL to record with hipster engineer Brad Wood. The first Twelve Inch release that actually came out on 12″ vinyl. This album, along with a healthy diet of touring, set the stage for the band’s breakthrough two years later. Unfortunately when “You’d Prefer an Astronaut” went ballistic and “Electra 2000” started selling like hotcakes, Cargo decided that they no longer needed to pay us. An indie label’s greatest dream is that one of their bands will go on to great success and the back catalog will start selling and the wealth generated can be used to release more great indie records. But did I mention that Cargo never paid up? I hope they used the money to put out more records…
TIN008: Steakdaddy Six – Arkadelphia (1993)
Steakdaddy makes their first full-length with Andrew Beddini. Chris Green had left the band to go on the road with Hum and others (he’s the guy driving the van in “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”) or maybe he went to Harvard, I can’t quite remember the sequence of events. Anyways, Chris was replaced by former Hardcore Barbie and WARD drummer Larry Thompson. Arkadephia is a town in Arkansas. The subtitle of the record is “Birth of the Syndicate” and the front cover features Gordon with tin foil wrapped teeth, holding a tin foil wrapped gun. A human completely encased in tin foil graces the back cover and a tin foil wrapped sneaker, guitar, human head and Millennium Falcon are featured inside. They explained the whole concept to me and it made sense at the time but it’s been over ten years now and I’ve forgotten what it all means.
TIN009: Love Cup – Grefus, Gronks & Sheet (1993)
Definitely the best record to come out of Champaign from this era, and I’m not just saying that because we put it out. Lovingly engineered by Matt Allison who had recorded a ton of stuff in Champaign during the 80’s and had moved to Chicago to pursue fame and fortune in the big city (he later produced some Alkaline Trio records). Jason Milam (now of Emotional Rec Club) took over on drums. You should buy a copy of this CD. I think Parasol still has a few copies. There was some touring when Grefus came out and there was some major label “interest” but things never materialized. One begins to question the whole music eco-system when a band like this goes unnoticed.
TIN010: Dis- M386.D57 (1994)
The band returns with a new drummer, Peter Pollack (a momentary Bitch Magnet skinsman) and adds a “-” to its name: Dis-, not Dis; it’s a prefix, not an abbreviation of “disrespect”. Rob was deeply involved with the cult of library science, hence the title, which conforms to a non-Dewey Decimal library classification system, I’m not sure which. I’m pretty sure Mr. Albini helmed this one also but he’s not name checked on the insert so I’m not absolutely positive.
TIN011: Steakdaddy Six – Houstonia: (1995)
Continuing the place names as titles trend started with Arkadelphia, Steakdaddy named this CD after a town in Missouri. This time there’s no subtitle but there’s a colon in the title continuing the surpurflous use of punctuation started by Dis-. This was recorded in at the Home of Good Shoes which was a loft that Rose and I lived in in downtown Champaign back when there was nothing around but the Blind Pig and a few abandoned department stores. Best song title ever: Hip Hop Chewbacca.
TIN012: Hum – You’d Prefer an Astronaut -Vinyl Only (1996)
We were excited for the opportunity to release the vinyl version of Hum’s major label debut. Unfortunately there were problems with the mastering and then the cover art was left unfinished for a few months. It wound up coming out a long time after the CD. We discovered that not many people buy vinyl and those who do expect to buy it before or on the day the CD comes out. There was a poster included and some copies were pressed on clear, green vinyl.
TIN012: Salaryman – Salaryman (1997)
OK. It’s not a typo. Well, I guess it’s a typo but it’s a nine year old typo. The numbering system for a record label is very important. We neglected to check the spine number on the Hum vinyl (TIN012) and wound up assigning the same number to this CD when it came out. Maybe subliminally we were trying to avoid putting out record 13. This was the beginning of a new era for Twelve Inch. We decided that we should spend all our free time as musicians, not as music businessmen/women and only release recordings we had made ourselves. Salaryman started as a lark. Jenny Toomey asked Poster Children to back her up for a show but to do something “different”. We pulled out some synthesizers, learned her songs and then improvised a set of our own instrumentals over the course of a few days. On the way to the show we decided we needed a different name from Poster Children so Rose suggested Salaryman. People seemed to like the show so we went back to our rehearsal space and recorded everything very quickly and put it out with Parasol’s help. We didn’t expect much from the CD but Christof from the German label CitySlang heard the disc, liked it and put it out in Europe. We wound being lumped into the “post-rock” scene and did a lot of touring overseas.
TIN014: Salaryman – Karoshi (1999)
Karoshi is a Japanese word that means “death from overwork”. For some reason we thought that was funny. Recorded by Mark Rubel at Pogo and mixed at home. This one’s got a lot of Enhanced CD content that may or may not work with post-Y2K computers.
TIN015: Poster Children – Flower Plower Reissue (2000)
The first Poster Children album originally released on Limited Potential Records in 1989. One of the few records of ours that we own the rights to. A majority of the rest are owned by Warner Brothers in perpetuity (which means forever).