Rich Evans started his record label, Florida's Dying, in his ex-girlfriend's apartment "because he was bored." And since 2005, the project has kept him entertained, becoming a pillar (alongside labels like Hozac and Woodsist) of the 2000s garage rock explosion.
While Florida's Dying has produced records for international rock 'n' roll acts like France's Yussuf Jerusalem, the label is also known for its homegrown talent. And despite being based out of Orlando, the biggest Florida's Dying act to date is none other than Miami's Jacuzzi Boys.
Evans admits he met the Boys on MySpace. ("Lame but true," he says.) And after some initial internet courtship, he invited the band to Orlando to celebrate the release of the first single from South Florida peers Electric Bunnies. As Evans details, "They got here a day early, lied and told me their names were Timmy and Billy, played an awful set, and we all slept together."
Now in its third pressing, No Seasons, the debut full-length by the Jacuzzi Boys, is a genuine landmark record of the nu-garage era. It's rock, but it's also party music you can dance to. The songs are rooted in surf jams, and exude a punchy, Stooges-like energy featuring bright, clear production, while guitarist/vocalist Gabriel Alcala invokes the nasal sass of Mick Jagger with less blueshound cadence.
The newest release on Florida's Dying is another full-length debut by a South Florida ensemble. This time it's Held Hostage On Planet Chill by Lake Worth's Cop City/Chill Pillars, an album that collects material the group has been performing live now for almost two years. While the Jacuzzi Boys provide a pleasant soundtrack to holding hands at a summertime BBQ, the Pillars explore darker terrain, presenting plodding, creatively heavy post-punk with '60s psychedelic overtones and inescapably clever bummer mantra lyrics.
Crossfade shot Evans some questions to get his thoughts on the rise of the Jacuzzi Boys, Cop City/Chill Pillars, and his new Total Punk imprint.
Crossfade: The label's name is pretty defeatist. Wouldn't your output be an example of Florida being alive and well? How do you feel about the name since you first founded it?
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Rich Evans: The label name came from a general attitude that came with people finding out you were in a band from Florida. People really thought there is nothing here but theme parks and their grandparents. I love Florida. I love the bands, the weather, the beaches, the weird history. It's an underrated bizarre state. I think, over the past six years of the label's existence, it has made an impact and changed people's preconceived notions of what Florida is both locally and nationally.
What, specifically, do you think accounts for the relative and still-developing success of the Jacuzzi Boys? They get lots of love from Vice. Jack White invited them to do the Live At Third Man series. As a guitar-bass-drums trio that play surf-y garage, what has made them rise above the pack? "Working hard" is too vague of an answer.
Strong songwriting, clever hooks, good looks. Some bands just stick with people and some don't. The Jacuzzi Boys are a band that do. Kids go nuts when they play. I'm so proud of my boys and how far they have come since that first show in Orlando. It blows my mind that in four years they have come as far as they have.
How is the new Cop City/Chill Pillars LP different than other records in the catalog? How is it the same?
The Cop City LP is one of the records I am most proud of. The first time I saw them I was totally blown away. And the second time I saw them I still remembered all the songs. They were a band I immediately knew I wanted to work with. Same goes for their other band the Love Handles. Cop City have a sound completely of their own. They are like something from another world. Yet they still have that Florida sound. It's crazy ... Jacuzzi Boys, Electric Bunnies, and Cop City all have such different sounds, yet they all have this unifying feel. Enlightened by the sun.
What's up with the Total Punk imprint?
Running a record label was a brand new endeavor with Florida's Dying. And now six years later, I've learned from all my mistakes. I wanted a fresh start: a label with a unified look and feel. When you pick up a release you automatically know who put it out. Total Punk was a joke label I had been talking about for like a year. All kinds of crazy ideas with fake personas and delayed releases. Real hi-art.
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Then Personal and the Pizzas asked if I would go on tour with them and wanted a single to coincide. All Total Punk singles will be traditional two-song singles with hand stamped covers, inserts, and etchings in the dead groove. The Pizzas single sold out in a matter of weeks, and I'm waiting on a repress. The next two releases come in the next ten days or so: The Sleaze, an obnoxious teenage punk band from Minneapolis, and Midnite Snaxxx, an all-girl punk band from San Francisco that includes members of the Bobbyteens, Trashwomen, and Loudmouths. That's being followed up with a release by the Outdoorsmen. And after that, I have singles coming out by the White Wires and Oil Sheiks (Davila 666 side project).
Garage rock seems to be a pillar of contemporary indie genres. What do you make of retro rock music's rise in popularity in the late 2000s and early 2010s? How did this become, alongside -- and sometimes overlapping -- with various iterations of lo-fi bedroom music, a leading style?
I think all the credit goes to Scion.