Western Where Records revisits the jukebox era

Punk goes country

May 6, 2015 at 1:00 am

Since 2012, Eric Love has been better known in Detroit's rock 'n' roll circles for putting out punk records by the likes of Terrible Twos and Protomartyr on his label, Urinal Cake. But he's billing his new project, Western Where Records, as an old-fashioned country "jukebox" 45 label. We sat down with Love for a couple of beers to find out what to expect.

Metro Times: What made you want to switch gears to country?

Eric Love: I'm not from Detroit. I'm originally from outside Philadelphia. People ask me, "Why the difference between Urinal Cake and Western Where?" I think as we get older, we start gravitating toward less craziness, and settle down a little bit more. But even country is sometimes more punk to me — like the lyrics. And it's more simple. I didn't want to put a country record out on Urinal Cake — that wouldn't really make sense. I really don't like when people say "Urinal Cake's sister label" — I don't even really want Urinal Cake associated with it.

MT: What's your relationship with country music?

Love: I grew up pretty much on the Mason-Dixon line. When we used to go to my grandparents' place we would always pass this park called Sunset Park. I was always like, "What the heck is that place?" As a kid, I wasn't interested in country music. There was an acoustic guitar on the sign. This place had been shut down for years. My grandfather would tell me stories, "Yeah, I used to sit on the porch and listen to Johnny Cash and Hank Williams and the Carter Family." I was like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever." But as I got older, I was like, "Man, that's amazing." That must have been such a cool place to listen to music. That kind of sat in my brain, the mysteriousness of that place.

MT: It was like an amphitheater?

Love: Exactly. This was like, farmland, hillbilly, redneck — nothingness. But these big caravans would pull into this place. So the realness of that always stuck with me. And when I got to college, my buddies were listening to Hasil Adkins and Johnny Cash, and all that stuff.

MT: Your first releases are by Autumn Nicole Wetli from Rebel Kind and Craig Brown from Terrible Twos, which are pretty different from their other bands. Was writing country songs out of their comfort zones?

Love: It isn't. That's kind of why — there's so many bands that I like around here that are actually awesome country songwriters. They're awesome whatever songwriters. So I basically went to Autumn and said, "Let's do a country record. I'm doing a country label and I want you to be No. 1!" I wanted it to be more traditional. I didn't want it to just be "Autumn Wetli," I wanted her to be "Autumn Nicole Wetli." That sounds more like a country star. So she was like, "Yeah, let's do it!"

MT: Country isn't totally alien to the scene here — there are a lot of bands that seem to be influenced by that.

Love: Absolutely. I think there's a dying crowd for that. Me, I was kind of getting bored of "garage rock" — which I love, don't get me wrong. But I wanted to try this. Nobody's got that niche. So I wanted to give it a shot, see how it turns out. I'll always love garage rock, though.

MT: You've been billing it as a "jukebox label." What's that mean?

Love: I wanted to keep Western Where simple, but really put a lot into it. With 45s, it's just two songs. There's no A and B song, it's just two sides. That whole jukebox era of country and Western records, it kind of all made sense. They won't go in jukeboxes, obviously, but that would be kind of cool.

MT: We're not sure if there are bars anymore that actually have working jukeboxes that play 45s.

Love: There's still got to be a good amount around — I'm sure they break down a lot, though! I think a 45 is pretty much how music should be. Two hit songs, one record, there you go. They're cheap. That's how rock 'n' roll pretty much blew up, was 45s. It's like the purest tangible form of music. If you're a DJ or whatever, it's so fun to play 45s.

Learn more about Western Where records at westernwhererecords.com.