Sheiks of Industry

Austin record labels, part 2

J.D. Fanning and Josh Chalmers
J.D. Fanning and Josh Chalmers (Photo By Todd V. Wolfson)

Perverted Son: Sweatshop Surrealists

None of the bands on Perverted Son Records can say co-owners Josh Chalmers and J.D. Fanning aren't working up a sweat for them.

"If bands put out records with us, they want to see us sweat," says Chalmers. "And we do, especially with no AC."

Perverted Son is housed in an East Austin workshop nestled behind some storage units. Gig posters for Perverted Son bands like Tia Carrera, Gorch Fock, Migas, Brown Whörnet, and Oh, Beast! (Chalmers and Fanning's own band) adorn the walls. The shop is also home to Bearded Lady Printing, the duo's burgeoning screen-printing business. Even on a mild November afternoon, one can easily imagine how stultifying this place can get in August with the press all fired up.

Despite the heat, the synergy between label and print shop has proven beneficial for both pursuits.

"We do all the promotional stuff we need to print ourselves," says Chalmers. "Doing it all hand-printed makes people excited to see the CD packages, posters, and T-shirts."

Extensive touring with Oh, Beast! and the now-defunct Zulu as Kono taught Chalmers and Fanning plenty about the value of merch.

"When we went out on the road, we started realizing that even if we were only playing for 10 people, if we made those 10 people excited, they'd always buy something," Fanning says.

Starting with their first release, a 1999 split 7-inch with Zulu as Kono and Minneapolis' Sicbay, Perverted Son attempted to cultivate a graphic aesthetic befitting the axis of Middle American avant-noise they were documenting.

Sheiks of Industry

"I really appreciate the mixture of art and music when it's well-packaged and the people creating it have a good eye," says Fanning.

With a meteoric slate of new discs from Tia Carrera, Gorch Fock, and Oh, Beast! out this month, Perverted Son is emerging as the label of record for Red River rock. While they still lack the critical distribution component that enabled Trance Syndicate to help secure worldwide recognition for Ed Hall, Crust, and Trail of Dead, DIY teamwork goes a long way.

"We get the bands down here and delegate tasks," says Chalmers, who even holds weekly Perverted Son happy-hour meetings. "None of us are making money, but every band that's on the label is a friend, and we all work together."

Hopefully there's enough deodorant to go around.

Established: 1999

Kingpins: Josh Chalmers and J.D. Fanning

Notable Releases: Brown Whörnet, Radio Ablum; Migas, Cassette

New & Upcoming: Tia Carrera, The November Session; Gorch Fock; Oh, Beast!, Makin' It in the Scene EP

Average Print Run: 1,000

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