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On Tuesday morning All Our Noise posted an interview with Sean Gray and Chris Berry, the owners of Fan Death Records. Chatting with reporter Denman C. Anderson, the pair discussed their favorite bands, the history of their label, and their plans to release a comedy record.
They also voiced a few rankling opinions about the D.C. music scene. A few of those low blows were re-published here.
The D.C. blogosphere went sort of batshit; the post garnered more than 90 comments and briefly veered this blog’s usually modest traffic into Sexist territory. Some people concurred with Fan Death. Some were just artists sticking up for their work. Others cracked jokes about Gray’s cerebral palsy.
Gray and Berry were unmoved.
When Baltimore’s Bmore Musically Informed asked them for a comment, they supplied this statement:
“Go orioles and white sox. Oh and PS, Tejada… bad move. Baseball is more important than shitty bands. Especially shitty bands in DC.”
Contacted by City Paper, they were happy to elaborate further. “We stand 100% behind what we said,” Gray and Berry say via e-mail. “We are just 2 record nerds. And the fact that 2 nerds who run a no-name punk label that isn’t even in D.C. can shit on 2 soft targets and make tons of people butt-hurt is telling of how lame the city actually is when it comes to crappy ‘indie’ music/culture or whatever it is those bands are into.”
“But it’s neither here nor there,” writes Gray. “We put out records and that’s our bottom line. This soap box, or whatever, is for fun it doesn’t fucking matter. I just cant believe so many people cared. They had some funny zings, too.” This isn’t the first time Fan Death has made its true feelings about D.C. music known. Gray was just as down on D.C. when he spoke with the Washington Post‘s Dave Malitz.
“I have no patience for bad music,” he says matter-of-factly. And that means most of the bands currently playing in D.C. “To me, there’s nothing going on. There are maybe three bands that you can solidly say are good.”
They named names, too, but Malitz didn’t publish that. “They said similar things about bands when i talked to them. They’d say the same thing to you if you were talking to them anywhere, even if they weren’t being interviewed. That’s how they roll,” explains Malitz in an e-mail. “But mostly, I chose to play up the stuff they were really into. Because that’s the thing about them—-yes, they will hate all over tons of stuff, but the bands they are into, they love equally as much. It’s not just hate for the sake of hating, there’s a balance there. Those dudes seriously love Taco Leg more than most people love their favorite band, and to me that’s more interesting than just rattling off the names of a bunch of predictable bands to hate on.”
When they unloaded a similar wave of bile on Anderson at All Our Noise, he chose to leave it in the interview, but he played down the negativity. “I wanted to be able to put something like that up and couch it in a way that people would be more receptive to (Don’t get me wrong, I knew what I was posting),” Anderson e-mails. “It just seemed like it got freight trained into, I suppose, more of a controversial piece than I had wanted. I thought what they said was humorous, and a rather sharp point of view that DC might need to hear, regardless of my personal feelings on the matter. So, I kept it all in.”
Denman’s strategy worked. The offending statements—-which didn’t arrive until 10-minutes into the first interview—-were pretty much buried. Until the quotes were singled out and posted on Arts Desk, nobody raised much of a ruckus.
But in the larger scheme of D.C. music, what do the words of two angry nerds really mean? “If someone doesn’t like your music, or if someone disses your faaaaavorite band, just move on and keep doing your thing,” wrote Food For Animals front man Andrew-Field Pickering in the post’s comments section. “Dudes gave a run-down of how they feel about some shit, it ain’t like its some surprise in 2010 that some people don’t like the same music that other people do.”
Gray and Berry say no one whose feelings were hurt have actually gotten in touch with them. To be fair, it could be that the actual members of US Royalty, The Dance Party, and Ra Ra Rasputin were simply not irked enough by Fan Death’s statements to give the issue much thought. But somebody was. “We did get an anonymous email threat,” says Gray. He passed along the e-mail:
If you want to talk shit about DC music and the people, be men and drive on down I-95 and let us know what you think. Are you even men enough to reply? Have fun working in the factory when your shitty label fails. By the way, I need some sugar in my coffee… go grab me some from Domino before you head down. Oh and one more thing… who’s top and who’s bottom?
That’s a pretty good question. Who really is on bottom here?