Curtis Casella, Taang! Records – Interview

07 Nov

Curtis Casella
Label: TAANG! Records

I met Curtis in July of 2008, while vacationing/visiting my Brother in San Diego, and attending geekdom’s answer to Mecca: The San Diego Comic-Con. One Saturday night my Brother and I wandered into the TAANG record shop, and stayed for hours. Curtis played stuff for us that I didn’t even know was recorded and I ended up feeling more like a student than a punk fan. Before leaving Curtis loaded me up with a box full of CD’s (which I’ve been reviewing on this site) that would best represent TAANG!

To understand TAANG! And what they’re about, read on:

On with the interview:

1. When did you start TAANG Records and what gave you the idea to start a punk label?

1984, frustrated with the scene in BOSTON with all the greatest bands in the USA I felt that there should a place they could call home. No one else was doing it. Washington, DC had Dischord, UK. had No Future Clay & Secret. & Crass, LA had SST, Boston needed TAANG!

2. Where’d you get the money to start TAANG Records (the label)?

$2,000.00 was my life savings in 1984 & put every cent into putting out a 7in from Gang Green, called Sold Out, we pressed 3,100 copies & it sold within 3 months with the profits of Sold Out we were able to press 2 other singles of 1,000 of The Last Rights & 1,000 of Stranglehold.

3. How old were you at the time?

Early 20’s.

4. Could you please retell the story about how you sold off your Misfits collection to come up with your down payment for your house (I think I got that right)?

Yes, I wanted to buy a house in 1995 & I had to sell half of my Misfits collection I needed $ so I took a handful of the rarest Misfits records on the planet & sold them to a guy who was a commercial pilot, he took a private plane & within few hours he met me & I sold some seriously heavy Misfits pieces & was able to purchase my house.

5. When did you start your online/mail order business?

From day one. I put a want trade list in the first 5 singles & achieved some of the rarest records from around the world they are now called the cream of KBD: Betong Hysteria (Norway) Rude Kids (Sweden) Fix (USA) Rock Bottom Spies & Destry Hampton & The Wolves From Hell (USA) Anarchy (Japan) Mornington Cresent (Holland) Satans Rats & The Hoax & Grout (UK)

6. Do you remember when you realized that punk was going to be a part of your life forever?

1977, 5 reasons:
Clash Buying the First Single & then seeing the first American show; it was a call to Arms
Ramones 1st LP the look of them.
Stranglers The Attitude.
Damned the record cover.
Dead Boys the lyrics.

I remember when music was part of my life I bought the single by the Surfaris “Wipe Out” when I was 8 years old.

7. Do you own the publishing rights to the TAANG recordings?

Why do you want to cover a song by someone on TAANG!?

8. What are some of TAANG’s biggest sellers in the past 10 years & what is the biggest seller of all time?

Bullet Lavolta Gift
Spacemen 3 Perfect Prescription.
Lemonheads Hate Your Friends
Gang Green Another Wasted Night
Poison Idea Best OF Poison Idea
Slapshot Step On It
SSD Power
Dropkick Murphys Mob Mentality

Biggest of all time:
Mighty Mighty Bosstones More Noise & other Disturbances over 175,000 worldwide; there are a couple titles that are getting close.

9. Are you amazed that over 20 years later, people are still buying these records?

Not at all, considering music has been so bad for the past 15 years, of course people are digging backwards to find the real shit, with punk it’ll never die & the original Hardcore is bigger now than when it was first around in the 80’s, thanks to the new bands, films coming out left & right.

Punk’s Not Dead, All That Matters is Sunday, American Hardcore.

Fuck the biggest movie in America is Iron Man & Suicidal Tendencies is the main song. Last year the film The Departed, the only song in it is the Dropkick Murphys. Yes, our time has come.

10. Where did you get the name TAANG from anyway?

A teacher from my youth, I was a bastard in school & played a prank on a teacher & was told that Teen Agers Are No Good.

11. How did you manage to get albums out by pioneers like Battalion Of Saints, The Business, Cock Sparrer, Exploited, and Gang Green?

With Battalion of Saints it was just that I felt that their stuff was time to come out on CD. Flew to San Diego met George Anthony & did the project.

I just picked 10 of my favorite U.K. bands of all time between the 70s & 80’s:

The Boys
Cock Sparrer
Stiff Little Fingers
Slaughter & The Dogs,
4 Skins & the rest is history

12. What was your first exposure to punk rock?

A 45 by Chris Spedding & The Vibrators Pogo Dancing / Pose RAK records 1976. The first punk single, I bought it because of the label it was on RAK put out Suzi Quatro, Mud, Arrows, Racey all my favorite bands of the time.

13. What’s the last item that came through your shop that blew your mind as a fan, the one item that you couldn’t believe you were looking at? By the way, thanks for turning my brother and me onto the Victims single.

Tapeworm 7inch, it is not everyday you get one the greatest punk rock records come across your desk.

2nd The Nothing 7 in
3rd Victims
4th Psycho Surgeons
5th Rolling Stones 1st record w press kit WLP

14. Aside from the Everybody Out! album that just came out, do you have anything else in the works?

Attitude Adjustments Catalogue, Newtown Neurotics, putting out Kilslug Oysters from the TAANG! archives & San Diego’s Evacuate, Seattle’s Insurgence, a new band too early to mention.

15. What is the best selling (most consistent) seller in your shop/website?

Of all time 20 Years 20 best sellers:

1 Cock Sparrer Shock Troops, a day doesn’t go by without this selling in the shop.
2 Stiff Little Fingers Inflammable Material
3 & 4 Both Dead Boys, Young, Loud & We Have Cum For Your
5 S.S.D. Power
6 Misfits Walk Among Us
7 Gang Green Another Wasted Night
8 Adolescents
9 Bad Brains S/T
10 Suicide 1st LP
11 Stooges Fun House
12 13th Floor Elevators Psychedelic Sounds Of
13 Negative Approach All 4 Releases Tied Down LP / Total Recall / Ready To Fight / & I’ll Survive
14 Black Flag Damaged
15 Modern Lovers S/T
16 Guns N Roses Appetite For Destruction
17 Dropkick Murphys Do Or Die
18 Spacemen 3 Perfect Prescription
19 Thunders Heartbreakers L.A.M.F.
20 Pogues Red Roses For Me

16. If you could go back in time and release any one punk record, what would it be?

One impossible I’ll give you 10:

Dead Boys Young, Loud Snotty just because.
Ramones it brought us here.
Minor Threat Out Of Step (they were our voice.)
Stiff Little Fingers Inflammable Material, because to this day, no record sounds as aggressive as that LP from 77.
Damned Damned Damned The feeling you get when this record is played is like no other.
Clash 1st LP w Keith Levene Tracks the raw energy of that version is unmatched.
Cock Sparrer Punk Rock 1977 & Shock Troops because I would give it the respect & promotion marketing it deserved.
The Boys first LP because it was overlooked on the Nems label & it was as good as any of the Sex Pistols, Ramones Or Clash debut LPs & the only reason they got to be where they are was the label they were on.
Mott Drive On & Shouting & Pointing the initial turnover of Glam To Punk.
Misfits Walk Among Us it was at the height of their career & it got us all revved up, we’ve been waiting for it, having all their early singles was a tease.
Dropkick Murphys Do Or Die Long Story. Never trust anyone at Hellcat, you never know who your friends are. We gave a demo tape (in good faith) to a person, who worked closely with Hellcat, to produce, which, he did for one of our other bands, no problems, with The Business & ended up signing the Dropkicks with Epitaphs money & starting a label called Hellcat. It might’ve been legal, but you don’t do that in punk rock that is a scumbag move.

17. This isn’t so much of a question, but more of a request. Please tell us about how your dealings with Rough Trade distribution led to you opening a shop.

They owed us $5,000.00, couldn’t pay us, so we loaded up the truck drove back from NYC & opened a record store in Harvard Square. Never trade with another label, it sucks.

18. Do you have any interesting stories you’d like to share?

I honestly do not know where to begin. Wait for the book or the reality show.

19. What/who are you listening to now?

Slowdive Best Of Slowdive,
Rose Tattoo
Insurgence Demo
Anti Nowhere League New CD,
Colored Balls,
Everybody Out acoustic stuff
The Sessed.
Grace Jones 12 Inches
Boomtown Rats 1st LP, on CD finally.
Jesus & Mary Chain / new one. Fucking as good as ever.

20. Which artist, band concert and/or show had the most impact on your life?

It was a few shows: I’ll narrow it down to 12:

1 The Who Quadrephenia Tour (seeing Keith Moon was insane & it was my first show)
2 Last Rights the one & only show pure chaos
3 Clash / Bo Diddley at the Harvard Square theater in Boston Clash’s first US Show it was sick.
4 Youth Brigade / Replacements / Jerry’s Kids at the Channel (I love punk rock riots)
5 Misfits DYS FUs Negative FX @ a Church it was Evil.
Danzig put a Goats head over the Crucifix above the stage.
6 Minor Threat SSD Necros FU’S Meatmen VFW Hall. It’s rare to have 5 bands that you want to see all 5 in one show.
7 Queen and Thin Lizzy at an arena best mainstream show I’ve ever seen.
8 Seeing Poison Idea open for Nirvana I was psyched.
9 Slapshot’s first show, papi was proud.
10 Black Flag 1st Rollins show in Boston at Streets, best Club in Boston one of the best nights
11 Gun Club (what a fucking Band)
12 SSD Angry Samoans DYS 1,500 thru the door that afternoon &; every one of us stood up against the bouncers.
13 Watching Springa pull down a roof panel during a DOA show at Cantones & being chased through the streets of Boston just for having on Nike’s, turned up jeans & short hair guilty of being Boston hardcore.



Born Frustrated is coming, Summer 2015:

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