Very very sad news in the world of true-blue punk rock. Estimable Midwest label Touch & Go announced today that it was laying off its 20 employees and scaling back its operations. The label, responsible for releasing some of the great post-punk records of 80s, 90s and 00s, played home to legends, including but not limited to: Scratch Acid, Butthole Surfers, Big Black, Mekons, TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Shellac, Jesus Lizard, Killdozer (!), Calexico, Negative Trend and dozens of other independent-minded musicians.
In a statement reprinted by The Daily Swarm, the label's founder, Corey Rusk, didn't say flat out that the label was shuttering, only that it would cease manufacturing and distributing other labels in its arsenal. "Touch and Go will be returning to its roots and focusing solely on being an independent record label," he writes. However, with the label laying off its entire staff, one has to wonder how it will continue to be a viable record label. In addition, we have word that the Crystal Antlers, who signed to Touch & Go, will still release its forthcoming record on the label, but will start anew after its April 7 release.
The band is currently in the middle of a European tour; the Antlers' manager, the F-Yeah Fest's Phil Hoelting, just texted us from Strasbourg, France, where the Antlers are playing tonight. "It means we have to rebuild most of our team," he writes of the news, adding that the Antlers "are still releasing their record in April, for the US, at least." Hoelting adds that "it's a really sad day for all of us here, but we are glad to have gotten to work with them this past year, and to be part of their history. They helped us get on our feet, and now it's time for a new chapter."
As well, Dean Spunt of No Age runs the noise-punk label Post Present Medium, which has a distribution deal with Touch & Go. PPM just released the new Abe Vigoda ep through the relationship, and now we're wondering what the future of that deal will be. We'll keep you posted.
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It's a sad day in the world of independent music. The label is an icon to a lot of us; throughout its 25 year existence, Touch &; Go has remained defiantly independent, and, along with Dischord Records out of DC, has served as a model of how to run a music business with integrity and solid aesthetic judgment.