Since its beginnings back in 2006, 75orLess Records has become one of the most vital entities within Rhode Island’s music scene and beyond. Rising from a music review site under the same name, the Warren based record label has specialized in indie, punk and garage rock while also catering to non-commercial and non-traditional music styles. Some records that have been released through the label have come from bands and musicians who perform regularly around these parts while others are strictly studio projects by folks who like to create interesting sounds. Above all else, 75orLess has always championed the weird & peculiar while supporting all sorts of sonic art in a real & genuine way. To celebrate 16 years of 75orLess’ existence, a bunch of bands will be getting together at Askew on 150 Chestnut Street in Providence for back-to-back shows on October 7 and 8.
The extravaganza was originally supposed to happen last year to ring in 75orLess' 15th anniversary, but because of COVID-19 it got pushed back. Owner and operator Mark “Slick” MacDougall then proceeded to get a bunch of bands on the bills for both nights, including his own in Six Star General who will be as part of the lineup for the second installment.
“We typically do this every five years, but due to COVID-19, it was delayed a year,” MacDougall says about putting together the shows. “I asked my favorite and most available bands to play. The 10th year anniversary was three days of bands, but this year's is only two days. A lot of bands I usually ask I had to skip this time around. My apologies to those bands that got skipped over this year.”
“Technology has put the tools into the hands of the musician, from digital distribution to Bandcamp allowing you to sell physical merch, as well as downloads,” he adds about the state of running an independent record label in 2022. “Things have become easier for the musician who has the desire to get directly involved with technology and social media. There are still those who prefer to have the label handle getting music onto iTunes and Spotify and similar streaming services. Also, CDs are less in demand overall. In 2021, we had nine digital-only releases, so that seems to be the future. Things have slowed down since the pandemic and where we used to do 10-15 releases per year, we've only done limited CD releases and more digital singles and albums, and also one or two books which is fine by me.”
Along with running the label, MacDougall has been involved with a podcast called “That’s Not Incredible” that’s recorded in Warren. He’s also recognized that 75orLess’ roster mostly consists of music scene veterans so the present goals for what’s being released are more centralized and not too far-fetched.
“For the past year, I have been spending more time doing a podcast, which functions more like an internet radio show, with Warren-based artist Will Schaff playing mostly non-label music,” he says about “That's Not Incredible”. “The label bands I tend to work with now are older, with realistic goals of what we can accomplish together. This means getting good press reviews, sending out promos and getting some radio airplay from local stations. My bands don't tour and most don't do vinyl, so there's less pressure to ‘break’ them into the big time. Vinyl costs are increasing and delays are getting longer and it's a big commitment to wait from when a recording is mixed and mastered and when it is released on vinyl.”
The first night of 75orLess’ 16th Anniversary Bash will have Hope Anchor, The Patsy Decline, Exploding Zones, Jodie Treolar Sampson, Thomas Moorecroft and Jets Can’t Land taking the stage. The latter act includes guitarist Kyle Jackson, who also plays with MacDougall in Six Star General.
“I’ve been around since the beginning of the label and have attended and performed at both the 5th and 10th anniversary shows,” Jackson says about 75orLess. “These shows are always ripping with not only a laundry list of great bands from the label playing, but also some of the most fun shows to be at as a spectator. I expect nothing less from the 16th Anniversary Bash, two nights of 75orLess bands at Askew and it will be nothing less than radical. Jets Can’t Land is very happy to be part of the label and the anniversary show. [Drummer] Keith Swist’s tattoo of the 75orLess Records logo on his leg pretty much sums up our love for ‘Slick’ and 75orLess.”
“Everyone in Jets Can’t Land has been in more than one 75orLess band,” Swist adds. “I’ve been in three myself, we may be the most 75orLess band there is.”
“75orLess is a collection of musicians and songwriters all curated by a masterful and encyclopedic music guru,” Jets Can’t Land’s guitarist & vocalist Eric Paul Meier also mentions. “‘Slick’ is, in my humble opinion, a focal point for the music scene in our small state. These shows will be a blast.”
Joining Six Star General for the second evening will be The David Tessier All-Star Stars, Baby Oil, The Matt Fraza Band, Coma Coma, The Glare, Bloodfeeder, The Wire Chimes and Foul Weather Friend. MacDougall is actually the one who came up with the name for Tessier’s band and Tessier is excited about the upcoming celebration.
“75orLess has been nothing but supportive towards any crazy ideas I’ve had,” Tessier says about his relationship with the label. “Mark is a true believer, he really loves music, he’s got a giant heart and he named my band, so what can I say? I love that guy and that guy’s label. Our shows for 75orLess events are always high points for us and we’re very much looking forward to the chance to play on a bill at a great venue with such great artists.”
The first night will start at 8pm while the following night will start at 6pm. Both times are sharp and right on the dot so don’t be one of those nincompoops who likes to show up fashionably late unless you absolutely have to. For more info on 75orLess, log on to their website at 75ofLessRecords.com. To be in the know about what’s happening at Askew, follow them on Facebook and give their page a like at facebook.com/askewprov.