If news about Riverside-based ska-punkers Voodoo Glow Skulls launching their own record label sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because a dozen years ago the band formed El Pocho Loco (a label with a terrific logo that mocked the “El Pollo Loco” restaurant chain emblem), releasing a disc of VGS early cuts (The Potty Training Years in 2000), plus noteworthy albums from Sick Sense, Tribal Lust & The Horny Natives, Still Dreadful and other locals.
Fast forward to today, where déjà vu strikes all over again and news that the Voodoos—namely the familial triumvirate of Frank, Jorge and Eddie Casillas—are back in the label biz, ready to pump out new releases from both their own efforts and other area artists. Rather than resuscitating the El Pocho Loco name, they’ve started fresh by affixing a new moniker to their operation, California Street Music, a name taken from VGS’s latest full-length which hit shelves last fall on Victory Records.
Having started (and closed) record labels in the past, it’s interesting to see that the Casillas brothers have opted to launch California Street Music, with their inaugural release coming from Riverside-based ska/reggae/punk trio Knockout this week. But perhaps it’s a good thing, as they’re better prepared, knowing the rigors of running an indie record label (particularly these days, with sales of physical releases spiraling).
First, Frank notes that he’s more aware of the artists he’s planning to work with this time around. “We’re just not going to sign a bunch of bands that think they’re getting a career handed to them by signing with us,” he says. “That was the case before, when we tried this. It takes two to tango!”
He’s also well aware of the challenges he faces on both technological and financial fronts. “CD retail sales are pretty much obsolete nowadays because of downloads,” Casillas says. “And big retail distributors don’t like to pay for their product on time. But there will always be a core underground following of people who still enjoy actually buying music at their local music retailer. So, we will seek out some independent distribution for stores. One of our main focuses behind selling actual CDs will be at the live shows. Bands gotta tour, because that’s one of the last things that you cannot really duplicate—the live performance.”
Despite the potential hurdles, Casillas feels compelled to make California Street Music a successful venture—if not for his own musical endeavors, then at least for his peers. “We just feel that it’s kind of our duty to represent where we come from, what we’ve accomplished, and possibly help out others who we feel have undiscovered talent.”
Knockout performs at Red Planet Records, 6192 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, (951) 686-9544, Saturday, July 12. For more info, check out www.calstreetmusic.com