Zamboni™ Ices Shmu

Grand Theft Zamboni becomes GTZ Records

Sam "Shmu" Chown (Photo by courtesy of Shmu)

On Friday, Shmu – drummer and vocalist in local experimental breakouts Zorch – releases Shhh!!!!, the second full-length from his side project specializing in creamy, psychedelic, dream-pop glitchery.

The 13-song effort arrives on the multi-instrumentalist’s GTZ Records, a local micro label that used to be called Grand Theft Zamboni before a certain company that manufactures ice-resurfacing machines caught wind earlier this year.

“It was a total surprise because I was under the impression that Rockstar Games [makers of the Grand Theft Auto series] was going to come after me,” says Shmu, real name Samuel Chown. “So I thought it was strange that it was Zamboni, but I guess it makes sense. They probably got a Google alert because they are the only ice-resurfacing company that exists. They have a monopoly on the name, kind of like Kleenex or Xerox.

“I just thought it was a funny record label name and also an homage to my Canadian heritage,” continues Chown. “I just like the image of some Canadian hick getting chased by police, but he’s getting away on a Zamboni so it’s a really slow-speed chase.”

If you’ve had even the slightest exposure to Shmu’s music, you’ll know that he approaches all matters with boundless creativity. It’s no surprise, then, that the musician and label operator responded to the Zamboni brand manager’s soft cease-and-desist by offering both a clever explanation of how he innocently came up with the label name and also an imaginative solution.

With the tenacity of someone who’s likely witnessed a fair share of hockey fights, the Zamboni rep gently questioned the truthfulness of Chown’s label-naming alibi and, additionally, advised him that changing his name to Sam Zamboni would not be sufficient.

Heeding the brand manager’s advice to ensure that a new label identity wouldn’t infringe on another entity’s trademark, Chown spitballed his idea for a new company name:

Which was of little concern for Zamboni.

“The whole thing was a hybrid of me toying with them and buying time while we thought about how we were going to change the name,” explains Chown of the email correspondence. “I had a couple email exchanges with my lawyer about it and it turned out to only cost $75 to change the name of the record label so it wasn’t a big deal. But also I wanted to have fun with it because it would’ve cost them money to sue us and we didn’t have any money in our account anyway.”

On Friday, Shmu ushers the release of Shhh!!!! with a blowout at Cheer Up Charlies featuring a bevy of local mindfreaks: Calliope Musicals, Botany, New Funes, Total Unicorn, Karla Manzur/ Nightblooms, Alex Napping, Fever Bones, Gloves, and Party Plants. Shmu’s set, 11pm outside, recreates the new material with a threepiece of drums, keyboard, and bass.

Dig Shmu’s single “Pictionary.”

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Shmu, Sam Chown, Zamboni, Zorch, Grand Theft Zamboni, Grand Theft Auto, GTZ Records

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