Josh Cotrona had never released a vinyl album before he approached local doom metal quartet Maggot Brain roughly four months ago about doing just that.
Then again, he had never worked in a record store either before opening Fuzz Records, at 209 Lark St. in Albany, in June. “It was something that I’d wanted to do for a while, and none of the local record stores would hire me — and I felt like there hadn’t been a new record store opening up around here for a while.”
Fuzz Records, the label, came about in much the same way as Fuzz Records, the record store. In both cases, Cotrona didn’t let his inexperience stand in the way.
“Again, it was another one of those pipe dreams,” he said recently at Fuzz Records, while discussing his store’s new record label venture with business partner August Rosa, Maggot Brain guitarist Ryan Slowey and bassist Sean Fortune. “And then, catching these guys [Maggot Brain] play out a few times. We shared that pipe dream and decided to go for it.”
Maggot Brain record release show, launching Fuzz Records
With: Kowloon Walled City, Zozobra, Hush
Where: Valentine’s, 17 New Scotland Ave., Albany
When: 7 p.m. Friday
How Much: $8 (doors); $6 (advance)
More Info: 432-6572, www.valentinesalbany.com
Bumps in road
That isn’t to say that the fledgling record label didn’t hit a few bumps along the road. An issue with a sample used on one of the album’s seven tracks nearly derailed the release just under a month ago — on the day Cotrona, Rosa and Maggot Brain announced the launch of the label.
“We all kind of overlooked this small sample that was used on the album, and when it got to the pressing plant they told us we’ve got to get permission to use it,” Cotrona said. “We had to track down who had the rights to it, and we figured it out in under two days.”
“They told us at the plant that most labels this size rarely figure it out,” Rosa added.
On Friday, the hard work and trial-and-error process will pay off when Maggot Brain’s first full-length album, “Stop and Breathe,” will officially see release at Valentine’s in a limited edition of colored LPs. The bill for the release show will also feature San Francisco’s Kowloon Walled City, Boston’s Zozobra and local group Hush.
Making an impression
Fuzz Records, the store, has quickly made an impression on the local music scene in its less than one year of existence. Cotrona has been hosting acoustic shows in the small space — local country punkers Slaughterhouse Chorus headlined the store’s opening day party in June. In August, the store hosted the first discussion event by the Albany Music Coalition.
For Cotrona, who turns 34 on the day of the album’s release, turning Fuzz Records into a label seemed to be the next logical step. Rosa, 26, a musician, record collector and regular Fuzz Records customer, signed on to help Cotrona manage the label aspect of the business.
“There are a lot of talented bands in this area that deserve to be on the vinyl format, and that’s what’s driving this,” Rosa said.
Maggot Brain, which formed at The College of Saint Rose about 31⁄2 years ago, had already self-released “Stop and Breathe” on CD and the Internet before Cotrona and Rosa suggested the vinyl release. The two first approached the band after a show one night. For the band’s members, having an album on vinyl was a dream come true, just as it was for Cotrona and Rosa.
“Literally as soon as we were done playing our set, they came up to us, super-excited, and wanted to put the record out,” Slowey said. “We were honestly taken aback, and completely stoked. We’re all pretty broke, so the prospect of someone else doing it was great. And the fact that it’s these guys makes it even radder — it was cool working with them from the ground up. . . . And the fact that it’s a local label and shop.”
Slowey, who founded Maggot Brain with Fortune and drummer Jared Krak while the three were in the music industry program at Saint Rose (vocalist Mike Hait came on board later), produced the album at North Sea Studios in Albany.
The band worked with Lucky Lacquers in Wisconsin to get the album mastered to vinyl, using a special process to achieve the highest sound quality.
“We had done a lot of research, even before this,” Slowey said. “I kind of had it in the back of my mind, as far as the song sequence [for vinyl]. When we got the reference copy back before it was pressed, we sat in this room and listened to it to make sure it was up to everybody’s standards.”
The release is just the first of what Cotrona and Rosa are hoping will be multiple releases in the future, from local musicians and bands of all genres. While the unforeseen challenges and cost of releasing the record have caused the two to change their future release plans slightly, the goal is still to support local music — and break even.
“Before the whole reality of this set in, we wanted to put out a local band every few weeks — that that’s really not possible, whether because of finances or other setbacks,” Cotrona said. “But we’re all about [music], no matter what genre, and trying to support the local scene.”
Reach Gazette reporter Brian McElhiney at 395-3111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.