A Chat With
Of The New Independent Punk Label Lauren Records
by James G. Carlson
Lauren records is a newly established independent punk label out of Corona, California. As a label that has only been in effect since March of 2011, it has shown a great deal of promise, first with a compilation LP featuring such notable artists as Andrew Jackson Jihad, Japanther, Fishboy, The Albert Square, Jehovas Fitness, and Underground Railroad to Candyland; and later with a full-length album on CD format by basement noise pop and frantic punk band Pangea, titled Living Dummy, and a cassette tape version of Arizona-based folk-punk duo Andrew Jackson Jihad’s latest album Knife Man. Owner operator of Lauren Records Aaron Kovacs hasn’t stopping there, though, as he also has an upcoming 7” release from female-fronted fuzz punk and power pop outfit Cheeto Champ, as well as a 14-song cassette version of Japanther’s Beets, Limes and Rice album.
This is all quite impressive since Aaron initially had no intention whatsoever of starting up a label. During a recent interview, he explained, “I was just going to make a mix tape with some local friends’ bands, which was just going to be duplicated at home. Then, as I kept getting more bands interested in putting a song on, it went from almost being a CD to just being an LP.”
The LP Aaron is referring to in his answer is Lauren Records very first release, the aforementioned compilation, titled I Think We Should Stay Away From Each Other. A solid debut, to be sure.
In recent years there has been an excess of independent punk labels have surfaced in order to work with the excess of punk bands that have surfaced throughout the scene. Now, most of these labels are just as ephemeral as the bands, tending to release two or three CDs, LPs or 7-inches, post a farewell note on their websites about how owning and operating an independent label is a thankless job with little or no income, and then fading out as if they never existed. Sadly, many of the independent record labels that have stood the test of time aren’t so independent anymore and are either backed by mainstream record label money as a hush-hush subsidiary or have made other such compromises to remain afloat in this harsh economic climate of cut-throat capitalism and other mainstream big business practices. Quite frankly, it has become difficult to keep track of all the coming and going independent record labels.
There are a handful of independent labels that have lasted, however; labels such as Plan-It-X, Asian Man, Alien Snatch, and so on. Hopefully Lauren Records proves to be such a label. When I asked Aaron what prompted him to get into the whole independent record thing, especially considering the above information regarding independent labels, his reply was, “I think that I just like being a part of certain bands’ music. For some, it’s like helping them out slightly, others it’s as if they are the ones helping me.” And when I continued by asking him if he had any aspirations to take his label upward from the depths of the underground toward the mainstream, much to my relief he said, “Nope. Just something small and for fun.” Though Aaron prefers to release Lauren Records’ on vinyl format, he does put out material on CD and cassette tape as well. So there’s something for everybody regardless what format you personally favor. Later, when I asked Aaron which bands, singer/songwriters, labels, zines, etc have inspired him over the years, his replied, “Todd C. /Recess Records, Mountainman Records, Muy Autentico, Razorcake. All are super nice people doing super cool stuff.” I couldn’t agree more…at least when it comes to Recess and Razorcake. I am not yet familiar with the others. A lot of independent labels, punk or other, tend to set up fests and other such events to showcase their artists. Lauren Records is still in its infancy, but I was still curious if Aaron intended to do that eventually, and he said, “I would actually like to, and kind of already do. When bands come through Los Angeles, like Japanther, the show consists of some of the local bands that participated in the compilation as well. It’s not really planned but ends up that way because we’re all friends and play shows together often.” At the end of most of my interviews I typically ask the interviewee if there is anything he or she would like to express or discuss, or if there is anything I failed to cover, and when I offered this to Aaron, he simply stated, “Nothing really, just thanks to all the people/bands that have helped me out so far. It hasn’t been long and I haven’t done much but I appreciate it.” All you record nerds, obscure music enthusiasts, punks, outsiders and freaks, check out Lauren Records, get your hands on the existing releases, and remember there are more on the way in the very near future.