the end of 2009 the music community got one last surprise that
sparked a bit of hopefulness among bands. Word came out that Tolchock
Trio's own Ryan Fedor was taking over and would be revitalizing
ExUmbrella Records. The label, which showcased the early solo works
of Will Sartain as well as Taughtme and Vile Blue Shades, has been
pretty quiet since 2007 and came very close to being shut down
completely, mainly due to other obligations by original founder Chad
Murphy. I took the opportunity to briefly chat with Ryan about the
label and his history with it, as well as what he intends to do with
Ryan Fedor (with Chad Murphy and Dan Thomas)
Gavin: Hey Ryan, first off, tell us a bit about you.
Ryan: My name is Ryan, I'm 32. I've been playing/recording music for about fifteen years and most of the time I enjoy it. Currently, I play in three groups: Tolchock Trio, Super Buttery Muffins, and 1h86335.
Gavin: How have things been going for Tolchock Trio as of late?
Ryan: Slow and steady. We are in the process of recording/demoing some new songs at Oliver's house for a forthcoming EP or two. We'd like to be more prolific, but it never works out that way for us.
Gavin: From your knowledge, tell us about the start of ExUmbrella and the work Chad Murphy did to get it running?
Ryan: Chad's first stab at record labels was a thing called Ox & Rhinestone, which he released Starmy's Black Shine on. From there, he started ExUmbrella and started putting out records.
Gavin: How did you originally meet Chad and become friends?
Ryan: If I remember right, we met for the first time at a show in Provo, where Tolchock and The Electoral College played together. We liked a lot of the same music and and we both liked each others bands. We also both shared a deep love for the kind of hot dogs that you can only get at RC Willey.
Gavin: Being how Tolchock was a part of the label, what drew you guys to work with Chad?
Ryan: We all thought Chad was a great guitar player and songwriter so we asked him to join up. He had previously played with me in a couple of other bands, so it happened pretty naturally.
Gavin: What was that period like while Ghosts Don’t Have Bones was out?
Ryan: It was a lot of fun. Getting to play at SXSW in Austin was something that I'll never forget.
Gavin: At the time, what do you believe attracted so many artists to release works on the label?
Ryan: The idea of someone else paying for your mastering and duplication costs is an attractive one, especially when you are short on money. It's also nice to have someone else other than yourself promoting your music. Not only does it give a sense of validity but it's like Scott Selfridge said to me when I interviewed him for a SLUG article - it's really hard to be both a racecar driver and a mechanic and do both really well.
Gavin: What caused the label to decline and almost completely go silent?
Ryan: I don't want to speak for Chad, but I think he just got too busy with college and family life. Both worthy things to focus on.
Gavin: How did it come about for Chad to hand over control to you?
Ryan: He had been talking about dissolving it completely and I expressed interest in trying to keep it going, so he handed the keys over. Chad did so much work setting up the label and doing all the paperwork and putting out all those records that it seemed like it would be a real shame to just let it die off completely.
Gavin: Was there any hesitation on your part or did you jump at the chance?
Ryan: Some minor hesitations, mostly due to wondering about whether I even had enough time to do it. In the end I decided that it was okay, as long as I could keep it alive and moving. Even if it was moving slowly.
Gavin: Now that you're in charge, what's the plan from here?
Ryan: I'd like to start releasing some singles/EPs mixed in with full lengths, as well as some digital only type releases. With some of the singles/EPs, I'd like to do special packaging, limited runs, that kind of thing. Ideally, I'd also like to integrate it more with some of the talented graphic/video artists we have here in SLC so you really feel like you're getting something special. The very next thing coming down the pipe is a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover project - I'm hoping to get 10-15 Creedence covers in various styles and release it by Record Store Day. The only stipulations would be that you have to be local to Utah and each song can only be covered once. It would be nice to have tons of submissions to narrow down the finalists from, but if I can just get 10 good tracks, I'll take it. I'm hoping to make an official call for tracks with more details in the next couple weeks but that's the basic idea of it.
Gavin: Are you planning on encouraging former artists to join back up or will you seek newer talent to join on?
Ryan: There's been some talk with The Red Bennies about possibly releasing some of their newer songs but I'm not really sure where we stand on that right now. For the most part, it will be new talent.
Gavin: Is there any chance of possibly releasing material on vinyl when it comes time?
Ryan: Definitely, it seems foolish not to!
Gavin: For those bands interested, where can they get info on the label?
Ryan: For the most part, I'm going to release what I want to release rather than look for new talent through submissions from people, but the website should give someone an idea. Currently working on redoing the main website. someone could also email me at email@example.com.
Gavin: And then aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Ryan: Palace Of Buddies rules. Listen to them!