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LIVING THE INDIE ROCK DREAM
Gathered in a dimly lit, sparsely decorated living room in southeast Fresno, Joshua Tehee, Rachel Olmstead, Brad Basmajian, and Matt Orme debate the exact moment when their mutual love of local music will officially transform into a record label.
"I think it becomes official when we get our PO Box," said Rachel Olmstead.
"When we get our first receipt," said Orme.
While their record label has yet to release its first album, Basmajian and Orme have garnered considerable recording experience via their audio/visual company, Gardenside Productions. Several months ago they began assembling a CD compilation of local acts. The excitement around the project grew and continued to snowball until the current incarnation of Greytank records began meeting earlier in the summer.
"I thought the idea was there was all of this stuff here -- there was recording equipment there were people that were putting on shows, people were doing web sites for labels. We had a lot of people that were able to do it," said Tehee. Jason Olmstead, of Transport Productions, does web design for several Los Angeles-based labels and will do the same for Greytank.
The DIY ethic involved in the project extends far beyond the four twenty-somethings sitting cross-legged in the living room. Greytank has recruited some of the best and brightest hipster minds in Fresno to assist with every aspect of the company's development -- including web design, distribution, and tour management.
"Ian (from Bel and the Dragon) is going to do logistics - Andy (from PinkEye) will be doing the marketing and promotion to college radio, because he was the program director for KFSR," said Orme. " Mike Burnett (ex-Montecore) is working on distribution."
One of the gnarliest limbs of record label business, distribution companies (which labels lobby to distribute their CDs to record stores) are notoriously pompous and often downright crooked. Difficult territory for even established labels to negotiate. Greytank seems undaunted and while they seek widespread commercial distribution, they are also planning to use more old-fashioned routes.
"It's a matter of selling ourselves to different distributors. In the beginning we're going to do a ton of road trips and consignment, just right off the bat to get it actually out there," said Basmajian.
"We're definitely going to give out free comps to the coolest twenty kids we meet at River Park," adds Orme.
Armed with lofty ambitions, the group is also tackling a series of local shows and releases - which leaves them little time for anything else.
"There's so much stuff to do. It's mind boggling," said Olmstead. "The comp will be released on the 3rd. No Cello will be released shortly thereafter."
The long anticipated compilation that fertilized the whole idea for the label will be hitting local record store shelves on September 3rd - which will coordinate well with the showcase and tour kickoff they are planning for No Cello at the Starline.
"No Cello is the band we're starting with. There are some other bands we've talked to, but we're starting with one band," said Basmajian.
Grey Tank feels that No Cello, a young rock trio based out of Fresno, has a good shot at getting airplay and finding commercial success.
"They're just nice, good looking kids," said Basmajian. "Jordan (the guitarist) tells me that he wants me to be his dad."
The No Cello tour kicks off at the Starline and they will begin touring the West Coast on September 10th.
"I think there's so much talent right now in Fresno that may just sit and do nothing if a few people don't try and take the initiative and try and get things done. This may not be the perfect way to do it and we may not be the best people, but there are all these bands that could do something and why not have a venue for them to be able to do that that's in Fresno so they don't have to play in Fresno with the hope of moving to San Francisco so they can get on a label."
The Grey Tank's first record release party will be held September 3rd at the Starline. Their compilation will be available in all local record stores. Visit their website at www.greytank.com.