For nearly 15 years, Madison's Crustacean Records has released records by bands from around the state and beyond. But despite an impressive catalog that includes discs by John Kruth, Mad Trucker Gone Mad, The Skintones and others, Crustacean only now makes its entry into the video market.
But in true Crustacean form, it does so with a bang.
"Drown Out the Daylights" is a two-disc set with a stunning Pat Moriarity cover design, a slew of bands and an entire disc of bonus material.
"This is our first project to come out on video," says Jake Shut, Crustacean's co-owner, who oversees sales, marketing, A&R and event booking.
"Our bands have obviously had some videos made, but we never put out a retail DVD project like this. Some of the previously existing videos by Crustacean artists ended up on the bonus disc."
After some clever opening credits filmed at the High Noon Saloon in Madison, where the onstage band footage was also shot, the first DVD has straight-up gig film by bands like Awesome Snakes, Birthday Suits, Droids Attack, Drunk Drivers, The Gusto, Ouija Radio, Peelander-Z, Screamin' Cyn Cyn & The Pons, Things Fall Apart, Kruth and Mad Trucker.
The music ranges from punk to near-metal to Kruth's renegade folk and Mad Trucker's psychobilly. All of it is high octane rock and roll. There are also tidbits of interviews interspersed.
"We had been wanting to do a label wide DVD for quite some time, but were hard pressed to figure out how to create one of satisfactory quality while living within our record label's means," says Shut.
"In May 2007 Crustacean Records volunteer Chad Ovshack introduced me to filmmaker Natalie Hinckley at a basement punk rock show in Madison. We had a similar vision of what we wanted to accomplish, we hit it off and immediately began laying plans for a DVD release for sometime in 2008. Within weeks of that meeting I was booking the shows / benefits at the High Noon Saloon that were recorded by a five camera crew and professional audio engineers and showcase 10 of our current acts as the main feature."
Disc two collects some label ephemera and if the main feature shows where the label is at musically, disc two helps explain how it got there.
There is a fabulous featurette on artist Moriarity and his long-standing association with the label and Crustacean founder Chris Langkamp offers up a tribute to his former American Death bandmate John Zysk-Buerger, who died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.
"It kind of evolved from its initial intention, and came together in the heat of battle right before closing," says Langkamp. "I just did it for fun on the side of the 'main feature,' with no real expectations.
"Originally, I was going to try and tell the label's history by piecing together interviews and footage, etc., from people in the various bands. I wanted to do it with no narrative at all, just the clips. But once I started getting into it, and with like 73 releases now, it was harder than I initially thought. It's not incredibly as complete as I would like, and I have a lot of pieces, ideas and footage left over."
Shut says Crustacean plans to follow this initial burst into video with other projects next year.
"We do have our sights set on some other video projects to be released in 2009. They are quite time and labor intensive, however, so it will probably be at least a few months before we feel up to the task.
"(Next year) will be 15 years for Crustacean Records and we plan on big things for our anniversary. There has been talk of a full-blown documentary about the label with tons more archival footage and interviews. (We'd) have it coincide the release with a series of showcases around the Midwest including our sister city by the lake, Milwaukee."
In the meantime, although there were two release parties in Madison, there isn't one planned for Milwaukee. Shut says there was talk of one, but it just didn't pan out in time.
"It was good in theory," he says, "but with all the other publicity I did not have time to set up another release party in another town. We will have (the DVDs) on sale in Milwaukee however at our two favorite independent record stores in Brewtown, Atomic and Rush-Mor."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.