The Third Degree with Eddie Solis (Part 3)

In our last segment, we discuss Eddie's job at Southern Lord.  But before we get into all that, I'm pleased to announce that Eddie's band, It's Casual, will be performing at Southern Lord's SXSW showcase on Friday night at Emo's Annex.  If my memory serves me correctly, and it sometimes does, that's the outside venue High on Fire destroyed last year.  They'll be joined by Pelican, Wolves in The Throne Room, Wino, Eagle Twin, Black Cobra, and Thou. A bad ass lineup.  Now on to the interview:

How did you get involved with Southern Lord?

Well, right out of high school, I chose to work in the music business, and one of my jobs in the late 90s was at Priority Records – the rap label (N.W.A., Dr. Dre, Ice Cube).  While there, I was assisting a gentleman named Guy [Pinhas], who played in The Obsessed and Goatsnake.  And then a few jobs later, while working at SST, Southern Lord showed up on my radar.  I saw that they had reissued a lot of Wino stuff, and when the Probot record came out, I was like – “Man, I think this is the route I want to go.”  So I cold-called them, and told them I knew Guy, but the timing was bad.  But not too long after, a spot opened up and Greg [Anderson] tracked me down through Guy.  I’ve been with Southern Lord ever since, and working there has been an injection of DIY fresh air.  That’s my priority, and seeing how passionate Greg is about playing music and putting music out, and making sure he treats bands right and practices fair business - that’s just so inspiring.  My experience at Southern Lord has been a huge inspiration to push my band (It’s Casual) through and work hard at the Relax Bar, and really make sure there’s a flagship venue for the scene.   

So I get the sense Greg is more than just a figurehead at Southern Lord – does he gets down in the dirt?

He works every day, and he’s in to it on all levels. From mail order to what I do – he’s really involved, and he cares.  I think that’s why there’s such a strong foundation.  He proves a lot of people wrong.  There are big distributors who tell you this isn’t going to work, and it works. Then they come back wanting to order more.

What is your title there?

Label manager, but my main responsibilities are direct sales, all the distribution management with our distributors, and some college radio promotions.  I wear a lot of hats, but at a company like that, when you’re passionate about it, it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing a lot.  I don’t want to say I’m overworked – I signed up for it.  It’s what I’m here to do.  There’s a great thing happening.

What are the releases that you’re particularly looking forward to this year?

I’m very excited for the new Sunn O))) record. They recorded that up in Seattle.  I’m also looking forward to a new studio record by Earth and another by Wolves [in the Throne Room] called Black Cascade.  And by the time this posts, the Wino record will be out.  It’s a straight-up good hard rock record, with a little Southern feel.

Anyone new on the roster?

We recently signed two duos.  There’s a band called Black Cobra from San Francisco, and Eagle Twin from Salt Lake City.  That’s Gentry Densley, who used to be in Iceburn, which is an old Revelation Records band.

And although Boris is not coming out with a record, the guitarist [Wata] is going to have a solo record, where she sings and plays guitar.  I’m not sure what she is doing for a band, like if the other Boris guys are actually going to play – I don’t know those details, but that’s pretty cool.

Nice - I think people have been waiting for that. I’m always telling people who don’t know Boris--especially women--that they have to see her play.  Guys know that she belongs; she’s a full-on member of the club.  It’s not some kind of novelty with her. She’s the real deal.

Absolutely.

So, putting it all together, you’ve got an insane year ahead of you.

Yes, the whole Southern Lord thing is amazing.  There’s also a lot of great archival pieces that we’re going to be putting out.  Archival, meaning reissues, with great liner notes, and as much bonus content as we can possibly gather.

Greg just released this old hardcore band called Gore. We did two double LP’s –with each LP having 10 bonus tracks.  We also put out Asbestosdeath, which is pre-Sleep.  We’re going to do the same thing with Scott Hill from Fu Manchu.  He has an old hardcore band called Virulence, and we’re going to put out an archival from them that was formerly released on Alchemy Records.  Mark D[eutrom] from the Melvins used to be a part-owner of that label, and he actually engineered that record.  I wasn’t even aware of Virulence.  I’ve always been a huge Fu Manchu fan, and in January of 2008, we were able to play some shows with them – they are huge fans of It’s Casual. It think what really unified us is that we’re both fans of Black Flag and Bl’ast.  Basically, Virulence is that combination. 

I have to imagine the resurgence of vinyl has been great for the label?

Right.  In a lot of ways I think we’re the cause of it.  Without sounding too aggressive about it--I just call it like I see it--but that’s the feedback I get, you know? It’s a trickle-down effect – monkey see, monkey do.  That’s how the business runs, and I think a lot of other labels started jumping on it.  Obviously the majors are, because they see that’s what people what, even in a recession.  I talk to indie stores all day, 7 days a week, and although overall they are slightly down, vinyl is up 90%. And everyone’s metal section is up. We’re also going to be doing a lot more shirts, and a lot more clothing, and just really cater to the indie stores.  We want to be advocates for physical product.

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I just want to thank Eddie for sitting down with me.  He was my first.  Hopefully, they'll be many more.