diaphragm.shtml****R*chMH$pmBIN CRINGE 11.1 Local Releases This Week - Columbus, Ohio Music Cringe.com :: The Columbus Sound :: Columbus, Ohio Music Music Calendar and Resources


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Spring 2001
 ISSUE  11.1 Spring 2001 

Intro | The Lowdown | Releases | Reviews | Features


Diaphragm Records | The Independent Playground | New Bomb Turks | The Stepford Five

Cringe -- in this case Chad Painter, a tape recorder and five bucks -- sat down at the Blue Danube with local Renaissance Man Ike Midnight to talk about a little record label called Diaphragm he started. Midnight also plays guitar in A Planet for Texas and pours drinks at Little Brother's. Note to his mother: he ordered grilled cheese and milk, you should be proud.

Cringe: How did Diaphragm Records get started?

Midnight: Diaphragm got started as a drunken boast I made. Actually, I started it out kind of to help out A Planet for Texas. It still is my main forte for that. That's kind of what got me into it. I kind of did it so I had more of an identity to send out CDs for reviews and things like that and I thought they would get treated a little more seriously if I could make it look like I was genuine which for a long time I really wasn't. So I think I had had the stationary and a logo and some stickers before I ever did anything. So I started using the name and the logo when I was first sending out the first A Planet for Texas record.

And then, I don't really consider myself really doing anything until I did another one, which was the Superstar Rookie single. I saw them at Little Brother's and right away I said I want to do a record with you guys. Rey called me on it. So I had to cough up for it. So that's kind of what started it and then I got real into putting together ads like for Maximum Rock 'n Roll, Flipside, that kind of thing.

I added the Dogrocket album to everything just because I had so many of those after we broke up. So I just kind of put it on there for another piece of product. Now I'm up to seven releases. Hopefully, I'll have two more this summer. So hopefully I'll be able to get some distribution, but even the distribution doesn't always make sense. You can distribute it all over the place and if you're not actively advertising, touring with bands and things like that, you still don't do anything. I've talked to so many friends of mine who get distribution then get dropped by distributors.

Cringe: From the beginning did you have plans of releasing other bands or did you just kind of fall into that?

Midnight: I just kind of fell into it. I think part of the allure for me is setting up the Diaphragm Records logo and setting up how I want this to look. It's kind of like choosing a band name and setting up a logo for your band. It's just a lot of fun and then the more people start talking about it the more it made me want to do some records. So then I wanted to do that Creeps/Black Love split and that was a lot of fun. I haven't made a dime on anything so that's not what I'm about.

Cringe: They don't tell you that when you're signing up for it.

Midnight: I try not to lose a lot of money. For split singles I basically have bands do a show and I'll kick in the rest of it. When it's all said and done, I do something I know might not make money back, but that's part of it. After a point, especially after a release has been out for a while, I end up just giving them away anyway. So that somebody will have.


Bob City / A Planet for Texas 7
Bob City / A Planet for Texas

Superstar Rookie CD
Superstar Rookie
The Problem With Words

A Planet for Texas CD
A Planet for Texas
You Can Still Rock In America

Black Love/Creeps 7
Black Love / The Creeps

A Planet for Texas 7
A Planet for Texas
The Convent

Superstar Rookie 7
Superstar Rookie

Dogrocket CD
The More You Get, The More You Want

Cringe: It's better than having them sitting in the closet.

Midnight: That's one lesson I learned when I was in Dogrocket. It's the first CD I'd ever done and we were so cautious about where they were going. And then the band broke up and we had 300 left. You know, I probably still have about 100 left. So I've tried to learn from that and I just send them out with gusto. Places I know might never review them because I don't want to be stuck with all of them a couple of years down the road.

Cringe: Can you walk me through a Diaphragm Records release from getting the bands to the release show and beyond?

Midnight: It really depends on the project. For Superstar Rookie, when I did both their single and their CD, I kind of just bought into the projects. Just approached them with it and I just became almost like a fifth band member financially, kicked in some money on that. I learned a lot and have a lot of connections as far as printing now, getting CDs made and that kind of thing.

It might be better to talk about the split, it's more interesting. Basically, when we did Bob City/A Planet for Texas, we just set up a show -- a single usually runs about 500 copies -- costs roughly about $800 when it's all said and done. If I'm lucky, I can make $300-$400 at the show. And then the bands keep their own rights to their material and I don't rally have any say as far as what songs they put on and what they choose. I leave that up to them, their artwork for their half of the split. I just put it all together really. And then I go down to Musicol and get the vinyl working. That will take four-to-six weeks. In the meantime, I'm bugging bands for their artwork, what they want to put on it, I just really put it all together.

Then, it's usually myself and Joel Gunn, we sit together and put them all together -- stuff all the records, I keep running back to Kinkos for more record sleeves as my budget permits. Then, I usually spend two months after it's out basically mailing, I probably send out 150 copies of that to all sorts of indie 'zines. I sent the A Planet for Texas and Superstar Rookie CDs out to college radio in four states. The frustrating thing is so much of what I send out, I never know what they're doing with it. I venture to say at least half of it probably ends up in trashcans.

Cringe: Nothing ends up in trashcans, they end up in used record stores.

Midnight: Exactly, but you got to do it. A couple years later you have a sale, five for $1. I get so many awesome 'zines in the mail now, and that's probably one of the best things about running a record lately I get everything, it's awesome. I'm a lot more in touch with what's going on understand anyway because I get so much. I always have something to read. I try to do an ad that has the whole catalog, I've got ads coming out.

I see a little bit of mail order from that stuff, not much but it's awesome. I'll get letters from kids in Iowa, that kind of thing. I've gotten lyrics from kids, a bunch of bad lyrics. I spend a lot of time on the 'net, going through the racks in stores trying to find reviews of stuff I know I sent. Most of the reviews I don't even know about.

Cringe: What do you look for in a Diaphragm Records band?

Midnight: Uhh ... (laughs)

Cringe: An easier question: A band that's looking to get on Diaphragm Records, what should they do?

Midnight: First they should know, I think a lot of bands think I can do more for them than I really can. I think my strongest point is getting press. They usually feature the stuff I send them pretty well. But it's real important to me that bands are at least touring regionally. The Creeps, for example, get out of town all the time. I think they're just a great hardcore band, but I probably wouldn't do anything with them if they weren't real active. Superstar Rookie gets out of town from time to time, I was real into them because I just thought they were really talented and I was amazed at the CD. I didn't think it was as good as it is. So I'm real proud of that.

Obviously a good product. I'm a little more leaning towards the punk-pop side of things, but I like to see a band that's at least putting in an effort to promote themselves instead of looking for someone to do it for them. I'll put some money into a project, I'll take the finished stuff and I'll take care of sending it out. I'll do a one-sheet and bio for the band and stuff like that. That's about where it ends. They've got their own product if they want to send it to labels and that kind of thing.

There's a lot of bands that talk to me that I'm not interested in because they're in such an early stage that I don't think it's going to do me any good, so I usually just turn them down and say I'll talk to them next year or something like that. That's what was kind of a bummer about the Bob City breakup because I wanted to get some of their records out when they were going on tour and that sort of never happened. I just kind of want them out there.

Cringe: I know you said a lot of the bands were pop-punk, is there a certain sound that you're going for?

Midnight: No, I mean if you listen to the Creeps/Black Love record and then listen to Superstar Rookie, they're drastically different. I'm not, as a rule, all that into a lot of indie music or indie rock. But I'm not that hung up on a label identity either. I didn't look at Superstar Rookie and say 'well, how is this going to stack up next to A Planet for Texas or Black Love and that kind of thing. That doesn't really bother me that much. It's a little tricky when I want to do some shows, like a weekend or something like that, but ... what's the question again?

Cringe: Are you looking for a certain sound?

Midnight: I'm a little more into the heavy end of it since I did Bob City. I think their CD is fantastic. The next few releases will probably go more towards the heavier end of the pendulum, kind of like the Bob City sound. I could just as easily put out something more Rookie-ish, quieter.

Cringe: Where do you see Diaphragm's place in the Columbus label scene?

Midnight: The label scene, well top of the heap obviously. I don't know, I think if you look at the labels around Columbus, at the same time there's like old labels that still have good catalogs like Anyway and Burnt Sienna that just don't seem to be doing a lot at the moment. I think it's really awesome right now because you're got Red Hour with Scott, Brad with Derailleur and he's all gung-ho about everything, and we all get along great. It's really cool to share information and that kind of thing.

That's a tough question. I want to be the highest profile label, regardless of what I actually do. I want to make more stickers than anybody, I want to make more buttons than anybody. I think I can do a lot more for the scene once I get more of a catalog built up. I think distributors and magazines and things like that will take me more seriously and I'll take myself more seriously. I think that'll do everybody some good.

Eventually, I'd like to do my own little Diaphragm compilation, but also have some other regional bands that I'm friends with. And if I make a couple thousand of those and get them out to all those bands, they'll have a lot of Columbus music on it that can do nothing but good.

I started doing this for the same reason I started being in a band, just because I want people to appreciate what I'm doing to some respect and I think the only way to do that is to let them know about it and that comes with self-promotion. I'm a lot more excited about promoting other bands than I ever thought I would be. For the longest time, Diaphragm was a real selfish little venture just to get my bands a little notoriety. Now I find myself being real excited about the careers of other bands, Superstar Rookie specifically. I think those guys are awesome.

Cringe: What's the best selling album you've had so far?

Midnight: Probably the A Planet for Texas CD. I think a lot of that is due to the web site. Joel Gunn did our web site and we get a lot of traffic on that. So that's the one that's brought back the most money. But then again that's probably the one I put the most energy into promoting. But we still haven't turned a profit -- not by a long shot.

Cringe: What's your favorite Diaphragm release?

Midnight: A tossup between the two CDs -- A Planet for Texas and Superstar Rookie. The Superstar Rookie reviews are just coming back now and I think they're going to be real positive. Even Maximum Rock 'n Roll, which hates everything, loved it. I listen to that one more than any of the others.

Cringe: What would you say is your greatest accomplishment with the label? It doesn't have to be a band.

Midnight: That people know about it. Everything for me: making silly catalogs, putting stickers up wherever I can to basically sending all that stuff out under an identity. The fact that we're doing this interview is a pretty big accomplishment to me. I was really flattered when Joel wanted to put me on Cringe, I didn't see that coming. So that's awesome. He did a lot of work on the web site for nothing -- I gave him a bottle of booze.

Then again, that gets me more into it so I do more. It's real easy to sit back and not do anything -- keep pushing the stuff I've already done. I could get away with that for a long time, but again, I want to keep making records so I'm not a fly-by-night kind of record label hack. There's plenty of those.

Cringe: What would you say is the biggest disappointment you've had with the label?

Midnight: I don't think mail order is what it used to be. When I was younger, I was a lot more excited about mail order and I used to put my well-hidden cash in an envelope all the time and send it out for stuff. I think a lot of bands and labels that don't have the benefit of good distribution, just don't sell a lot. I'm not sure who to blame there. I feel I'm still getting the ball rolling, but it just doesn't seem like people are as willing to blindly buy records anymore, and I always was. That's a disappointment. They're just too damn savvy.

It's also disappointing when you put out a record and don't get local press, like out of The Other Paper or something like that. That's kind of a bummer because that's one of the few rewards. When you don't get press, it's kind of a drag. But by and large, I think the local press has been awesome -- The Other Paper, the Dispatch and the Alive especially.

Cringe: What's the next release?

Midnight: Very likely a four-song 7" from a band called Fat Ass from Ft. Wayne. They're really good friends of mine. I don't know if you remember the Beauties. Kathleen used to be in a band called the Smears years ago. And my pal Eric who I used to play with, he actually played with the Queers for a while as a second guitar player, he is so connected that I'm kind of doing this to pay him back for a lot of help he's given me. He's just one of those guys that if you need a show somewhere, he'll get it for you. So I think it's going to be a really great record. I don't know how much it's going to do for me, I'm more interested in doing something for them at this point. And they're just a really big guitar band leaning towards the punk side; big rock quartet. But we've played a lot of show with them and I think it's going to be a really great record.

After that I'm sure there will be another A Planet for Texas full-length, hopefully in the fall. I think it's time to do another full-length for a local. I'm still not sure who. I'm kind of approaching people with it. It's kind of up in the air right now, those are the only things I've got nailed down.

I'm trying to do four to five releases a year. That's how quickly I have the money to do it. I'd like to do things a little quicker, but I just don't think it's going to happen for a while.

- Chad Painter/Cringe (April 2001)

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