by Interviews

This sunday is the Powertone Records show case. Joe Jack talcum of Dead Milkmen is headlining an releasing the Record Store Day EP which is an expanded edition of the Record Store day hyper limited, 3-inch single that sold out in seconds. Jason Trachtenburg, Black Friday Death Count, Carl's Rock and Roll Phenomenon, and Darren Morze are also playing.

The show is at Sellersville Theatre, 24 West Temple ave in Sellersvulle, PA this Sunday. You can get more info here.

We also interviewed Carl Zenobi, who runs powertone. You can check out the interview below, right now!

How did Powertone records get started?I think like most DIY labels, it started out with me wanting to release my own music and music that my friends make and get physical copies of it out into the world.

What is the significance of a record label in 2023?It's to connect with people. Anyone can release music digitally on the internet and get "streams" and "likes", but it doesn't feel like you're making a real connection. I like the idea of hand making something and then packaging it and writing the label, knowing where it's going to go, whether across the state, country, or world, and soon someone else will be holding that exact same record listing to it and checking out the artwork. I don't think the kids today realize the connection with everything just on their phone. I remember as a kid holding a CD, cassette, or record and looking over the packaging and admiring the artwork and reading along with the lyrics while listening to the music. You really connected to what you were listening to. I think it's important for people to feel that connection.

What makes Joe Jacck Talcum so great?Musically I love the quirkiness to his music, it's very unique. A lot of people love how funny his music can be, which is true, but he also has a serious side. On the new Record Store 7" E.P. I'm putting out, he has a song called "Truth is Out There". It's a very lovely and mellow song and it's just played beautifully and then I say, "Is this the same guy that just wrote and sang Rock n' Roll in My Butthole?!". (Which is a fabulous rocker by the way!!) On the business side, Joe is very nice and easy to work with. He doesn't over complicate anything.

Hyper limited records are rad because people that have them cherish them… but a lot of people can't get them. What Is your stance?As a record collector, I always love the hunt of finding super limited releases. As a label, I know my releases for the 3" records have been super limited, but I think I've managed to (luckily) make the right amount of each release. Plus all the bands I've worked with (other than Joe) have small followings to begin with. I haven't had too many people message me after they have sold out looking for a copy. So I think everyone who initially wanted a copy got one.

What pressing plants do you like?For both 7-inch releases that I've done I have used Palomino Records. They specialize in doing smaller runs, so it suits my label. I was happy with the quality so I would definitely consider using them again. The only downside was the incredible long lead-time, but that is pretty much everywhere you go right now.

What screw ups have you had making recordsa nd what did you learn?Most of my screw-ups have happened with sleeve design and production. It's a lot of trial and error. For The Town Tryers 3" record. I had trouble duplicating the original artwork for the sleeve. I tried printing them at Staples and the color came across dull. I'm doing a small print run, so I can't have a professional print shop print me a small quantity of sleeves at a reasonable price, so I need to find alternatives. The best thing I learned was printing in black & white, like for Joe Jack Talcum & Black Friday Death Count and then hand coloring the sleeves. It's doable for small print runs like this and then it makes each sleeve unique and makes each item an art piece as well as a music piece.

What labels do you most admire?People In A Position To Know is a really great label and highly influenced me as a label. They opened up the world to me about lathe-cut records and custom artwork and limited run releases. As far as design influences, I love all those old Blue Note records, they have the best album artwork / sleeve designs. Also, as a kid I thought Grand Royal owned and operated by The Beastie Boys was the shit. I thought, "wait, you don't have to be some big corporation? A group of cool people like The Beasties can own a record label?".

What is your background and how did you get into putting out records?I've played in various bands since I was a teenager. Around the turn of the century and the birth of CD-R's it made it easy for us to self-release our music on homemade CDs. I always had fun designing the CD inserts and artwork. I always wanted to start my own label, in fact I had the name Powertone Records picked out as far back as around 2006. On the design side, I'm a mechanical drafter that uses AutoCAD everyday. I actually use AutoCAD for sleeve designs and the center labels for the records I've also designed using AutoCAD. Probably not the software people in the music industry use, but it works for me!

What is your dream release?My first concert as a kid was The Presidents of the United States. They've been a big influence. I even play a two-string bass because of them. They are also the reason I started collecting records because I wanted to find every release they put out and it was still common for bands in the 90's to make vinyl releases. I know they are no longer a band, but would love to put out a limited release for them or even work with their lead-singer, Chris Ballew, because he stays busy recording solo music now.

What can we expect fromPowertone in the future? A break. I realized I took on more than I can handle this year. My first couple releases I did one at a time. I didn't consider my next release until I finished the current one I was working on. Somehow at the start of this year I started planning several releases at the same time with different artists and it hasn't panned out as expected. I'm also a first time father with a one and a half year old running around and that has been my main focus during the year causing further delays with the record releases. My wife is also currently pregnant with our second child due this September. So I'm going to take some time off for my family and eventually in 2024 I will start planning another release.