By Bryce Dunn
VANCOUVER — There’s a clip from the cult Canadian film Strange Brew where brothers Bob and Doug Mackenzie listen to a flexi-disc of a “British new wave band” that consists of nothing more than the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. After a few seconds, they feed it to their dog, Hosehead. I imagine this same process happens with every demo that partners in record crime Patrick McEachnie and Mike Simpson have to listen to, albeit with much better results, for their punk label, Hosehead Records.
“Punk 45s are the best format for listening to music,” claims McEachnie. “Maybe not for bedtime listening, but in general.” The love goes back to a bond he and Simpson have shared since grade school, with music being part of their adolescent growing pains. Train rides from the Toronto suburbs to record stores brought home the spoils of punk records like The Ramones and The Germs. It helped that Toronto was a hotbed of hardcore in the mid-2000s and, McEachnie states, “The best time for bands in Toronto; you had Fucked Up, Career Suicide, The Bayonettes, and all these bands putting out great records and it inspired us to start Hosehead.”
The pair bought tape duplicators from a woman who used to record AA meetings and released their first album from Simpson’s band, First Base, in 2011. McEachnie continues, “We made 100 copies and, weirdly, 50 of them went straight to Japan! After that, we knew we were on to something.” Since his move to Vancouver (while Simpson reps the east), that “something” has been a steady string of releases from Canadian bands (Sonic Avenues, Needles//Pins) and beyond (Swedish power-pop purists The Moderns).
Owning a label comes with its headaches, however, and money migraines are constant. “The worst part of releasing records is how much we have to dish out before we even have the finished product in our hands,” laments McEachnie. “But when it eventually arrives you breathe and get ready to do it all again. We have to credit labels like Dirtnap, Douchemaster, Ugly Pop, and Quintessence for getting us excited about music and keeping us going for this long.”
Five years isn’t long, and more excitement is around the corner for this dynamic duo, such as a special re-issue from late 1970s English punks The Scabs and an LP from Pale Lips, a garage-pop foursome from Montreal. So, grab your toques, pack the cooler, and let these hosers take your hard-earned money in return for some sweet tunes, eh?
Hosehead Records celebrate their fifth anniversary at the Astoria on May 7.BC, British Columbia, Hosehead Records, The Astoria