The Austin Chronicle

https://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2022-12-02/former-fine-southern-gentlemens-expansive-rebrand-to-feels-so-good/

Former Fine Southern Gentlemen's Expansive Rebrand to Feels So Good

A more inclusive name for the rising screenprinters/record label/music venue

By Carys Anderson, December 2, 2022, Music

After 15 years operating under the name Fine Southern Gentlemen, the local screenprinting company announced its rebrand to Feels So Good in August. The company's original premise of self-described "country shit," like Dolly Parton T-shirts and ATX baseball caps, has since expanded into pop culture mash-up merchandise and a record label. The Austin business' team of over 40 employees also looks a lot more diverse than the original gentlemen: Dan Henderson, Anthony Sanchez, and Justin Weems.

"People thought we were either a men's clothing store or a strip club," says FSG Director of Events and Operations Erin Riley, noting that most of the company's customer-facing retail workers are women. "So, it just didn't make sense after a while, and everyone liked the name [Feels So Good] better."

The change follows the company's pandemic-era expansion into a bigger warehouse at 211 Alpine Rd. to house production, concerts, and record label activities. Already named Feels So Good Records, the label originally served as little more than a bank for Weems' friends in Rattlesnake Milk and Loteria before growing into a short-lived vinyl shop, on East Seventh next to Barracuda, in 2019. In the last year, the business has grown into a more official imprint thanks to A&R rep Alexander Dubois, who hopes to bring in more diverse acts and connect artists with licensing deals.

Austin country artist Aaron McDonnell signed a two-album contract with FSG Records last year and counts merchandise fulfillment, publicity, and scouting for sync opportunities among responsibilities he's passed on to the label. McDonnell says he graduated from "killing [himself] in the van all over Texas, just playing all these little towns" to flying to out-of-town dates in markets across the country.

In October 2020, FSG moved operations from its longtime Eastside warehouse/storefront off Calles Street – home to cramped DIY shows director Riley recalls lovingly – to its current 15,000-square-foot South Austin home. Despite tripling their space, the team has already begun to outgrow the new building, especially as they look to add a fourth screenprinting press to their repertoire. Notable neighbors on the strip near St. Edward's University include Texas concert promoters Resound Presents and the newly relocated King Electric Recording studio.

FSG production takes place in the back of the warehouse, while the front doubles as a retail store and music venue. Riley organizes weekly Thursday shows that focus on FSG Records talent, while touring acts usually play weekends. Recently, the space has hosted gigs relocated from the Parish following its October fire and participated in Levitation. In November, the Pinky Rings, Being Dead, J.D. Clark, and more helped ring in the company's rebrand at the third annual Feels So Good Fest.

Block parties get people in the door to look at FSG's designs, so popular that even Post Malone owns an Amy Winehouse/Betty Boop hybrid tee. The company works with outside designers, the majority of whom live in Austin, in addition to their in-house team, which has recently turned their attention to crafting merchandise with the company's new name.

One designer, Nate Sakulich, found a devoted fan community for his irreverent Steely Dan pieces, which mash up the Seventies soft rockers' name with Sonic Youth and Black Flag iconography. Christiana Guzmán's Texas-shaped "Southern Pleasures" Joy Division spoof has also become a perennial favorite, while Riley points to former employee Meghan Baas' Mazzy Star T-shirt and @Tarot___1000's Björk, Nirvana, and Deftones designs as other big sellers (and great holiday gifts).

According to Riley, the majority of FSG's online sales, after Texas, go to customers in New York and Los Angeles – a testament to the still proudly Southern company's reach.

"I lived in New York for 10 years, and I know the kind of attitude people there can have, that what they're doing in this city is the greatest thing in the world," says Riley. "Having our stuff out there proves that other cities are doing really cool things, too. Talent is everywhere."

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