Ooze From The Underground - Subterranean Records
by D. McDermott
(Creep fanzine, 1980)
Last year two local NW followers, Mike Fox and Steve Tupper, got
the idea of putting out sampler EPs of Bay Area bands which aren't exactly besieged
with offers from record companies. Their idea materialized into the "SF Underground"
EP featuring Flipper, No Alternative, the Tools and the Vktms. The label: Subterranean.
Subterranean has served, and will continue to serve, the important function of
giving bands with a definite underground stance the chance to be put on vinyl
and be heard. Of other local labels not affiliated with one particular band, virtually
nil, according to Tupper, wish to fulfill such a need.
"415 (an S.F. label) appears to be primarily interested in very commercial or
very-well known bands," observes Tupper. "That means exclusion of everybody else.
"We're much more interested in experimental kinds of things - closer to street
level kind of music, the kind of music being made by hordes of kids just picking
up guitars and synthesizers and making music. It's modern urban folk music. It
reflects people's daily experiences and how they live and have to try and cope
with life in a nitty-gritty world.
"Everything we do has this edge of hard, grey feel to it. That's the way the world
is. There seems to be very little fantasy involved in the kinds of music we're
doing... it's less manufactured than played."
Upcoming releases, not yet finished but in the works, include a No Alternative
single (Make Guns Not Love, America/Sir), an X-Isles single, and an LP, "Live
At Target," containing material by Factrix, Flipper, Nervous Gender and the Uns.
"It's much less rock 'n' roll sounding," says Tupper of the Target live LP. "It's
highly experimental stuff totally pushing at the borders of what you call music.
There'll be something to offend everybody on it."
Subterranean has also just recorded the first release by Berkeley's Jars (Start
Right Now/Electric Third Rail/Psycho) with Mik Dow on lead vocals.
Profits haven't shown yet on the "SF Underground" EP but that isn't Subterranean's
overriding goal nor desire.
"Let's face it - a lot of this stuff just isn't hit material. Everyone's on the
make for money right now. If you look at the stuff that's getting signed, it's
just pitiful. It's the Pearl Harbors, the Beats, and also it's not very realistic!
"If everybody would learn to cooperate instead of competing and putting each other
down we could form a solid cultural base to produce stuff to wake up a whole lot
of people in this country."
Subterranean promotes such a cooperative attitude by aiding any bands in getting
their records distributed at cost and including them in promo mailing packages.
(Currently such a promo package containing six local records is being mailed.)
"Everybody's trying to figure out what's cool. Right now what's cool is what's
dead. I wish people would stop worrying about what's cool and start trying to
do things that are so new and challenging that they can't be ignored."'
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