Category Archives: Good Times

Interview: Chris Mason of Dirt Cult Records

Dirt Cult RecordsAs many of you know, I spent about a year in Las Cruces, NM for my paying gig.  I left last June and just recently returned to my state of birth.  My time out there was mostly spent on working at  said paying gig, thrifting for fun finds, and more or less being a hermit.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time out there, but I just did not do a whole heck of a lot for the most part.  Home is where the heart is right?

About a month before I packed up and moved back to my beloved Ohio, I ordered the brand spanking new Rumspringer album from the Dirt Cult Records website, and label owner Chris Mason sent me an email suggesting that I just stop over and pick it up as he lived close to me.

I decided to head on over to the Dirt Cult headquarters to pick up my purchase later that day, and he wasn’t kidding – I lived literally a mile away from him.

We hung out for a few hours that evening and he introduced me to a good portion of the Dirt Cult catalog including the band he was in.  I have heard of some of the bands before (including his own band), but never really checked any of them out entirely, sans Rumspringer of course.  Chris was great company and was quick to share with me a bunch off his label’s roster.   I loved what I heard and am just stoked I had the opportunity to kick it with him that night.

Before I said adios to Las Cruces, I was able to check out Chris’s band play a July 4th party and even hang out again while helping pack up some records.

Running a record label has always been something I have wanted to do.  I know there is cost and time involved in it and hopefully one day I can make that happen.  For now, I just will live vicariously through others.

Even though I am out of the desert and back in Ohio, America, I still keep in touch with Chris as he is just a solid human being.  Recently, I had the great idea of interviewing Chris for the site.  He was all about it.  Check out the fun interview we did via trading emails and such recently:

Dirt Cult Records

BHP: Can you give me a little history about how Dirt Cult Records got its start?

CM: I always thought that running a label sounded like a lot of fun, so in 2006 after my band at the time, Shang-A-Lang, had recorded our first 7″, I figured it made sense to start a label and put that record out rather than “shop around” for someone to do it. I also figured that if I completely fucked up somehow that at least I’d be fucking up one of my own band’s records.

Why Dirt Cult? Is there some specific meaning behind that name?

I had some friends, Ronnie and Adam, who ran a zine in the early 2000’s called Dirt Culture. Those same dudes also opened up a record store here in Las Cruces called The Dirt that was really the catalyst for the creation of a DIY scene here. It’s where we all cut our teeth booking bands and playing shows. I also helped Ronnie (or he helped us I guess) release a split 7″ between my band The Answer Lies and another local band called 10 Seconds To Liftoff on “Dirt Culture Records,” but the zine kinda went on hold because Ronnie took a job in California. So when I needed a name for the label I thought I’d use Dirt Cult as an homage (or maybe blatant rip off) to the zine. It’s the reason that the first Shang-A-Lang 7″ is DC-002. I always kind of considered The Answer Lies/10 Seconds to Liftoff split our first release, even though it was released a couple years earlier.

Chris MasonWhen did you first start appreciating vinyl?

When I was a toddler I’ve been told I used to throw my dad’s vinyl collection around his room like frisbees. When I got a bit older (around 5 or 6), I was obsessed with that medley on side B of Abbey Road. I would play it over and over again. I think I was as excited about the mechanics of it all as I was about the music. Of course, as a child of the 80’s and 90’s CDs were pretty much what I listened to, and I didn’t rediscover vinyl until I started going to punk shows that had DIY distros in the mid-90s. I loved flipping through records and buying shit that looked cool, hoping it was good. Unfortunately, around that time, I was still buying primarily CDs for convenience’s sake, which is a shame because I missed out on a ton of cool records that now I just have shitty scratched up CD versions of. I kept buying a mixture of vinyl and CDs up until sometime in the early 2000’s. Around then, I decided that I wasn’t a huge fan of CDs as they always ended up scratched up on the baseboard of my car, gave most of them away, and bought my music on vinyl pretty much exclusively.

That pretty much sums up my relationship with vinyl too.  Well said.  So did you start with records or cassettes early on with Dirt Cult?

Dirt Cult’s first five releases were 7″s. Our sixth was a tape comp featuring a bunch of my favorite bands. That’s probably a pretty accurate representation of how things progressed: 75% vinyl, 25% cassettes.

Were there specific bands early on that you knew you wanted to work with?

I don’t really know if I set out to work with anyone early on. Though I’m sure I had a “short list” of bands I would have liked to ask, I’m not sure how many of those bands actually ended up releasing records with Dirt Cult and how many releases just kind of fell into my lap.

About how many albums have you released on your label to date?

By the end of the year I should be at right around 70.

You’ve already had some great releases this year, especially Rumspringer & New Swears. Care to hint about any upcoming releases?

Sure. I’ve currently got five records at the plant; a new Canadian Rifle 12″, a new Unwelcome Guests LP, Sweatshop Boys LP, VVHILE 7″, and a Free Machines 7″. I’ve also got some tapes of the new Muhammadali out this week for their upcoming tour. That LP will be sent to the plant soon, but I’m betting it will be a 2014 release. I’ve already got a list of 2014 releases lined up as well and it’s going to be an epic year for me.

Nice.  Looking forward to hearing some of those.  This is probably not a fair question, but do you have any favorite Dirt Cult releases?

I’m always most excited about whatever I just released, which is a great sign I suppose. But I try not to play favorites.

Typically, how long does it take for you and a band to get from talking about releasing a record to actually having it in hand?

It just all depends upon my release schedule and the band’s organization. Lately, I’ve really tried to avoid sending anything to the plant until I have the music and all the art. It just saves me from headaches later. So some releases happen quicker than others. It does take about four months to get a record pressed these days, so the timeline has definitely gotten longer. Gone are the days when you could have a record out in a month.

Chris MasonDirt Cult is more or less a one man operation right?

Yeah. I pretty much do everything. Though every once in a while I bribe my friends with beer to come over and stuff records.

Did you ever think your label would last this long? Ever feel like giving up?

I never really had a game plan going into this, so I’ve never given it much thought. I suppose there has never been a reason for me to stop putting out records because I enjoy it. I never really had hopes of being a “successful” label, so I’m sure I’d be doing it even if it wasn’t going well. So giving up? Naw. Slowing down? EVERY FUCKING DAY!

Let’s hope things speed up again.  How gratifying is it to be able to say you run your own record label? I know I am jealous of what you have.

I certainly love that I’m always busy and creating stuff, and I’m also pretty proud of what the label has been able to accomplish in the past few years. But it’s certainly not as glamorous of a job as people might think. I spend a lot of time repairing art files, uploading music to servers, assembling records, and playing with packaging tape. I also think it took me six years of making constant mistakes to finally get to a place where I’m doing a few things right.

Dirt Cult isn’t even your full time gig right? Where do you find the time?

I’ve always been a person that doesn’t really like downtime. After a few nights of staring at the TV, I start panicking and thinking I’m throwing my entire life away. So I spend most of my free time either working on Dirt Cult stuff or working on band stuff. I’ve also got a fairly flexible work schedule that allows for trips to the post office and other odd jobs throughout the day.

Speaking of band stuff, care to tell me about the band you currently play in?

I am in a band called Low Culture. We’re just under two years old and have released records on Dirt Cult, Dirtnap, Dead Broke, Rad Girlfriend, Drunken Sailor, and Cut the Cord that… and have toured the Northeast and Canada with Iron Chic, Europe, and have done a ton of regional trips.

Europe huh?  How was that?

It was amazing. Really makes me question if I’ll even do an extensive US tour again. Bands are just treated so much better over there…breakfast, diner, as much beer as you can drink, and sleeping arrangements always planned out well in advance.

Any plans for an upcoming US tour with Low Culture?

We’ve got plans to play Awesome Fest 7 in San Diego at the end of the month as well as the Dirtnap showcase in Portland and Seattle in mid-September, but otherwise we don’t really have anything lined up. I’d like to make it to the Midwest sometime in 2014 if we can.

If someone asked you what Low Culture sounded like, what would you tell them?

I don’t know, I think I always have different ideas about what my own music sounds like than other people. I’ll bring a song to the table thinking it sounds like Elvis Costello and someone will say it sounds like Shotwell. Maybe “garage pop?”

When is the next Low Culture release expected to drop?

We pretty much have it written. We just have to record it. So I’m expecting it’ll be out in 2014 sometime.

Can’t wait.  You helped create Trainyard right? Can you tell me about that little DIY operation?

Trainyard is a DIY practice/show space in Las Cruces that has been around for several years now. For years, after the Dirt went under, shows in Las Cruces primarily occurred in houses. Unfortunately, we don’t have basements so shows would take over people’s entire houses. It became increasingly difficult to convince people to open up their houses to a raging party once a week, so we set out to find a stable venue. There have, of course, been pros and cons. It’s great to have access to a space where we can do whatever we want, but since there isn’t really an alternate venue in town, it can feel somewhat stale at times. People don’t want to spend most of their nights hanging out in a shitty warehouse with weird wood paneling, and I can’t say I blame them.

Do you feel you have helped ramp up the music scene in Las Cruces, NM?

Yeah, when I moved here there wasn’t all that much going on outside of a shitty bar scene crowded with Tool wannabes and cover bands, but there was a small group of us who set out to make our own fun and build our own scene. That’s one of the cool things about living in this town. People complain all the time about how there is nothing to do, but it’s really not that hard to build whatever the fuck you want to.

So from one music lover to another, what bands are currently on your radar?

This list is always way too long. Let’s see, some bands whose records are currently piled up by my record player are Nona, No Sir I Won’t, Needles//Pins, Dark Rides, Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band, Nervosas, and Chandeli’ers.

If there was one band out there that you wish you could release an album under your label, who would it be?


What do you like more? Being in a band or being that guy who slings records for bands?

That’s a tough question. They can both be rewarding and frustrating, but honestly, I being in a band is more “fun.” I just love creating music and traveling and playing shows and everything that comes with it.

Chris Mason

Some Dirt Cult releases you really should check out:

Check out Dirt Cult Records on:
Dirt Cult Records Website

Jeff & Brian’s Birthday Show Is This Saturday @ Now That’s Class!!!

Dudes and dudettes…  It is with great honor that I inform you of the best show to ever happen on 02/02/13 at Now That’s Class in Cleveland, America:

Annabel (Cleveland) – Luther (Philly) – Ma Jolie (Philly) – Worship This! (Olympia) – Collapser (D.C.) – + Comedy by Matt Celeste

Doors at 8pm, show starts at 9pm.  $6 at the door.  Bring extra cash to spend on all the band’s merch, especially the out of town ones!!!  Ryan Ford, the guy who created this awesome flyer will be selling some prints of it as well.  It would be in your best interest to set one aside for me…  Seriously.

If you do not hit up this show, you are in fact missing out on an amazing night of top notch music and debauchery for those of you who engage in the alcohol induced drinks of fun or bath salts.

I am honored Mr. Jeff Russell of Signals Midwest has put my name on this flyer and is going to somehow try and Skype the show to me.  Sadly I can not be there on account that I am an idiot and moved across the country last June, plus I work that night…  Still, I really hope all my friends can make it out for this night full of some amazing bands that include some of my best buddies.  This is the show that you need to be at.  Tell everyone.

Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012 Lineup Announced!

Since 2006, Fun Fun Fun Fest has been nothing short of fun x 3.  Every year, the music/art/food festival seems to turn it up a notch, so much, that last year I actually decided enough is enough and headed to Austin, TX, to check it out.  The result, minus Danzig acting like a little bitch, was a killer weekend with friends fueled by amazing bands.  In other words, I had fun.  A ton of fun.

The festival was well organized, and all three days of music was well worth the $200 or so bucks I dropped on a wristband.  By the want of the fest last year, I told myself and my friends I wanted to return the following year.

This year, the good people at FFF Fest have outdone themselves.  Not only did they get RUN-DMC to reform, but they also had put together almost a dream lineup for this music lover.  Refused, De La Soul, Seaweed, The Promise Ring, Bob Mould, Lucero, Lagwagon, Braid, OFF!, Against Me!, F’d Up, Superchunk, Minus The Bear…I can keep going…P.I.L., Explosions In The Sky, X, Turbonegro…

Seriously, check out all who will be playing this year:

This does not even include the FFFEST Nites, the nightly free (with wristband) concerts around the city.

I am planning on returning to Auditorium Shores in November to take in this festival.  Since I have moved, I have not seen one live band due to a lack of venues, but this festival will make up for it.  Not to mention Austin is one of my favorite cities and I am now only a 6 hour drive away…

For more info, visit FUNFUNFUNFEST.COM

“Ohio I’m leaving, Ohio I’m gone …”

Never thought I would actually be able to sing the following Avett Brothers lyrics and have them actually hold true to my heart:

“Cleveland, I ain’t never felt nothing so strong
Been believing the words to my songs
Ohio I’m leaving, Ohio I’m gone”

For those of you who may not have heard yet, I have taken a job promotion within my company and will be relocating from Cleveland to Las Cruces, New Mexico, within the next 3 weeks.  This decision was the most difficult thing I have ever made in my life and it just killed me to come to a decision with such little time.

I weighed all the pros and the cons over and over and realized that I needed this adventure even if it meant leaving everything I love behind.  I feel terrible about moving on, but I do not want to not go on with life and one day wonder  “what if”.  I want to just take that huge risk and see what happens and say that I did it.

For 35 years, Cleveland and Akron have been my life.  Raised in a suburb in the middle of both cities, I was privileged enough to meet a ton of people who I have the pleasure of calling friend.  From the days of sitting curbside at a Dunkin Donuts to the warm nights in the Coventry courtyard, I really was lucky to be surrounded by such cool and remarkable people.  I loved going to the Metros daily and will never forget the times I had at “The Office”.  I could not have had a better childhood.

Throughout the years, we all grew up, some  of us took our own journeys and risks, but I stayed put and called Cleveland and Akron home.  To be honest, I was so ok with that.  I am Cleveland blood, this is my town.

As I continued growing up, I met more people and became involved in the ever important Cleveland / Akron music scene, not as a band performer, but as someone who fully appreciated it.  I loved my involvement with everything I did and cherished all of the memories that were created on a nightly basis.  I am so lucky to say that I had that.

Without going into too much detail, I will just say this: The Cleveland/Akron music scene rules right now and is it better than ever was.  I am so sad to leave it all behind, but you all know you I will be doing all I can to stick around, even if I need to do it via the Internet.  No way in hell am I going to not keep updated, some of these local bands are too important to not continue to keep tabs on.

The people…my friends.  Cleveland and Akron are full of the greatest people I will ever meet.  I know you will all welcome me back with open arms if and when I make it back on Ohio soil.  Trust me on this, I will be thinking about Ohio on a daily basis for the rest of my life.  Thank you to everyone out there who I have met for being so damn cool.

Obviously I am going to miss the locally owned shops and restaurants.  I just hit up Square Records last night and know nothing like that store will exist where I am moving to.  Music Saves and Blue Arrow, I seriously am going to miss the shit out of as well as the greatest comfort food on Earth, Melt.  Pizza will never even compare to Luigi’s.  I drool at the thought of one of their salads right now…  There are so many other places I can talk about, but I am getting sad just thinking about it.  I just hope I can score some Great Lakes beers out in the desert.

Sure, there will be plenty of new places for me to experience in my move to a new city, but it will not be the same.  Anyone from Cleveland and Akron who reads this knows exactly what I am talking about.  Cleveland and Akron are not that bad and I question why so many people hate it and say they are stuck in it.  I’m glad I was born and raised here.

Do I even dare get into Cleveland sports???  I will miss that so much and you can bet your ass I will remain a fan of Cleveland teams until the day I die.  That is a promise.  Browns for life.

I really should wrap this thing up.  Before I finish though, I just wanted to take a moment to thank each and every one of you out there who has spoken to me one way or another, shared a beer or a smile, rocked out along with, or just stopped here on this blog to see what was on my mind.  Without you all, I know I would not be the man I am today, and this site would not be going on 4 years.  Being surrounded in so many amazing people just adds fuel to my amazing life.

Special love to my greatest friends ever who rock out in bands like The Facials, Worship This!, Signals Midwest, Beat Kids, Harvey Pekar, Annabel, All Dinosaurs, Sidekicks, and of course Narcoleptics X5 (RIP).  These bands that I surrounded me around with are full of some of the most amazing people I will ever know in my life and I will miss the shit out of all of you.

Props to places like It’s A Kling Thing House, Dag House, Now That’s Class, Grog Shop, Agora (I hope you make a sweet come back), Odeon (you too), and all the other places I have seen a show at., aka Matt, and his amazing new fiancé Annie (congrats!!!!), thank you for everything you have ever done for me.  The same love goes to all the good people who used to slave away at 92.3 including Patt The Producer and Nard.

I plan on continuing my blog, that is for sure, but it will never be the same.  I will be sure to try and visit and who knows, maybe one day I will plant my feet back in northeastern Ohio.  Only time can tell.

I leave June 8th and hope I get to see many of you before I pack up and drive cross county.  I know Las Cruces will be good to me, but nothing like the cities I grew up in.

I am scared as hell but excited to see what happens in the next chapter of my life.  Thank you people of Cleveland for all you have done for me.  I can not help but say “Cleveland Rocks” and mean it with all of my heart.  Akron, you rule too.

Concert Review: Frank Turner – Outland On Liberty – Columbus, OH – 02/22/2012

It’s a known fact:  If you speed, you risk a good chance of getting caught.  I can tell you this first hand seeing how I was speeding down I-71 Wednesday evening on my way to see Frank Turner in Columbus.  I was just outside of the state capitol cruising at about 80 m.p.h. not paying attention at all when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a state trooper shooting my car with his laser gun.  We made eye contact immediately after, and I knew I was screwed.

In a flash, the trooper was tailing my car down I-71 and the moment I switched lanes thinking that maybe, just maybe he would pull the guy over in front of me, he switched lanes again and turned his lights on.


I knew I was speeding and was at fault, so I pulled over and waited for the trooper to approach my car and tell me what I already knew.  I tried to tell the state trooper that I was just cruising along and not paying attention to my speed because of how excited I was to be seeing Frank Turner at a venue in Columbus.  The trooper looked at me and asked who Frank Turner was.  I wanted to tell him all about one of my favorite musicians and persuade him to let me off the hook, but just told him that he was a punk rocker folk artist from England.  The trooper smiled at me and told me that he would be back in a moment with my ticket.


So, my trip to Columbus from Akron cost me an extra $130 and I have no one to blame but myself.  Then again, if the trooper knew who Frank Turner was, maybe he would have shared his excitement with me and let me off.  After bidding the trooper a farewell, I jumped back on to the highway and made it to the Outland on Liberty.

Having never been to this venue before, I was not sure what to expect at all.  Hell, I had to ask a parking attendant where is was only to feel like a complete idiot when he pointed to the building directly across the street.  To be fair, it was my first time to the brewery district.

Outside, the Outland did not really resemble a venue at all.  Granted Turner’s tour bus was parked in front of it, I did not notice a sign for it nor did it look like your typical concert club.  There was also a Eiffel Tower metal-looking structure in a patio area that towered over everyone that stood out.  I was not sure what the significance was at all, perhaps a tribute.  Walking inside though, I had a completely different impression of the concert venue.  The place looked like what would happen if Austin Powers’ clubhouse turned into a goth club.  Crosses adored the walls and there was a giant tiered stage full of lights.  It was interesting and to be honest, I kind of dug it.

While asking myself if that stage was for real, I realized that there was in a completely different room that hosted the main stage.  Once I made my way to the stage area, I felt a little better about seeing Turner and crew play a normal stage and not a plexi-glass tiered stage, although that might have been awesome.

There were two opening acts and I will not lie,  I did not watch either of the openers as I was too preoccupied with catching up with some of my friends, new and old, who also were attending the show.  I will say though that I did hear one of the guys singing a song about Touchdown Jesus.  That is pretty bad ass if you ask me, but chances are if you are not from Ohio, you have no idea what that heck I am talking about.

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls (his full band) took the stage around 10 p.m. to the adoring crowd.  Opening with “Eulogy” from the band’s latest release England Keep My Bones, Turner and crew put forth an amazing set.  Playing songs, old and new, the crowd sung along at the top of their lungs with each song.  It was not just a concert, it was a party, a gathering of friends all having a good time.  Following was “Try This At Home” and I could not help but get lost in the song.

Turner and crew continued on playing tracks such as “I Am Disappeared” as well as his tribute to home “Wessex Song”.  I liked how Turner told everyone that he could care less about songs about NYC and L.A. and wanted to pay tribute to where he grew up.  When he asked the crowd if anyone had ever been to England, a few hands rose, and when he asked if anyone was from England, a girl screamed in excitement that she was. I am sure she appreciated that song more than anyone else that night.

Not just keeping to material the fans knew, Turner played a couple brand new including “Cowboy Chords” and “Four Simple Words”.  The latter of the two was really fun to listen to.  Before he sung it, Turner told the crowd that he hoped one day that the crowd would break into a choreographed dance when he played it.  The crowd did their best to dance together, but it was no Broadway performance.

In between the new songs, Turner played “Dan’s Song” but let the crowd know that no one would be invited on stage to play the harmonica solo as he was afraid that there might be a few people who might get pissed that they were not chosen and punch him in the balls after the show.  Instead, he invited the entire crown to play the “air harmonica”.  Basically, everyone cupped their hands into an O shape and screamed whatever noise they wanted to in their hands.  It was no harmonica solo, but it did the job.

Although one of his more popular songs, I was still psyched to hear the band break into “The Road” and later “I Still Believe”.  I could not help but laugh though when they played “Glory Hallelujah”,  knowing that it was Ash Wednesday.

To end the night, Turner set down his acoustic and took the mic belting out Queen’s “Somebody To Love” while the rest of the band rocked out.  This cover was the perfect way to end the show.

It was kind of suiting that the set ended with a Queen song seeing how in the very first song played that night, Turner sang “not everyone can be Freddie Mercury”.  Did anyone else catch that?

Throughout that impressive cover, everyone went insane and naturally wanted more, so it was no surprise to see Turner return to the stage moments after everyone exited.

To barter with the crowd, Turner promised two more songs during the encore and then added one more .  Turner, sans the Sleeping Souls, played an awesome cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and a lot of people could not help but sing along.  Following was the always fun “Ballad Of Me And My Friends.”

During the last song of the night, “Photosynthesis”, the rest of the band joined Turner  on stage and played along.

Frank piped up just before the last chorus of the song and let the crowd know how he felt about rock n roll and said, “I’m always disappointed when rock n roll turns out to be a bunch of fucking dickheads with a tour bus and a raised piece of flooring who show up and make noise with a bunch of fucking hits and just turn around and go home. And no one talks to anyone anymore and no one fucking interacts and it’s boring and pointless and not the kind of shit we are supposed to be doing with our time.”

He continued with, “rock and roll is and always is, and punk rock especially, was about a run for the people who are equals and who are friends, who don’t have a fucking barrier who are doing something together and something communal, something transcending, something necessary…”

Needless to say, the entire venue went ballistic.  His words may very well single handedly changed they way people look at rock n roll in Columbus.

He was not joking about what he said either.  Once the band finished up, they all hung out with the crowd that stuck around.  Turner actually took time to talk to each and every fan that approached him, allowed photographs, and even signed records, fliers, and even a 20-year-old polo shirt (that was odd if you ask me, but who am I to judge?).  I think the greatest thing though, was that Turner was sincere with each interaction and wholeheartedly smiled and his fans, shook their hands, and even gave out hugs.

When I finally had a moment to chat with him, I thanked him for coming back to Ohio and could not help but tell him about my speeding ticket.  He laughed and grabbed my record  and signed it “Keep Speeding”.  He also was quick to give me a hug after we finished talking and I accidentally head butted him.  I was quick to apologize and he laughed and said “it’s ok, I feel as if we are now closer…”

Star struck?  Not one bit.  The guy is just like you and I.  He is real and does not play out for the paycheck.  He appreciates his fans as much as they appreciate him and that, to me, is beyond admirable.

Wednesday night was a good night in my book, well, not the speeding ticket part, but spending time with with some cool people and listening to one of my favorite acts out there definitely was.

Set List:
Try This At Home
If I Ever Stray
I Am Disappeared
Lore, Ire and Song
Wessex Boy
Fastest Way Back Home
Cowboy Chords
Dan’s Song
Four Simple Words
The Road
Peggy Sang The Blues
One Foot Before The Other
Glory Hallelujah
Long Live The Queen
I Still Believe
Somebody To Love (Queen Cover)

American Girl (Tom Petty Cover)
Ballad Of Me And My Friends