We’re just a Donut Crew
Recollections and notes about each release:
Editing by Rory Eubank.
Releasing the Colorado Krew 7” EP was an exercise to test the waters, to explore the viability of starting and maintaining a record label that documented what my friends and I were doing music wise. The 7” format for putting out music was a relatively inexpensive undertaking with minimal financial risks. 500 copies of the Colorado Krew including mastering, covers, and inserts, ended up costing a little over $500.
My friends and I had been anticipating the box of records arriving. Rich would call every evening to get an update, asking the collective question, “Have they arrived yet?” My response always resulted in disappointment on both ends of the line. Rich reminded me he had his troops ready to send over for a folding party.
Finally, the day came when UPS left a big box at my front door. With one phone call and no hesitation, later that evening Rich and company were spread out on my bedroom floor folding covers and inserts. Holding a finished product in hand made it feel like we had accomplished something. We felt like our music was legitimized from that moment forward, and the records was the documentation to prove it. I don’t think there was a person on the record over 19 years old, with the youngest being 14 or 15. The big question was: How were we going to get rid of 500 records?
It should be noted that during the late 80s and early 90s, releasing a 7” record was almost as common as waking up in the morning and walking to the toilet. Practically anyone who played in a band had a record out. While putting out music helped give bands exposure, record collectors scooped up vinyl from unknown groups, hoping to discover what might be the next underground sensation and/or the next collectable. Distributors were privy to the hype collectors were carving out in the punk scene; they hoped to get in on the action. Several distributors called and sent me letters asking to carry my catalog long before records were reviewed or in many instances, released. It was like punk rockers were infected with a fever to grab ahold of everything new coming out.
Donut Crew was one of the labels mixed in with a bunch other newbies at the onset of the 7” craze. We were a very minor dot on the map of the record label business. From 1988-90, I was only able to release seven titles. By comparison, more established labels like Dischord and Touch and Go were constantly releasing sought-after new titles. Big or small, anyone running an independent label wanted to make his mark. Similar to publishing a fanzine, making records put you in the company of like-minded people in a global arena committed to the DIY punk ethos.
Two significant labels from the class of 1988 were Revelation Records out of New York, and Nemesis in Long Beach. Like Donut Crew, the pair was regional in promoting their local music scene, much like Amphetamine Reptile in the Midwest and Sub Pop in Seattle embarked upon a couple of years earlier in 1986.
In response to the blooming 7” craze, in late 1988, Sub Pop seized the opportunity and started a singles of the month club. Meanwhile, titles on Revelation Records were going out of print and becoming collectable as soon as they were released. Revelation had exemplified the art of making represses equally as collectable with slight variations to the cover and color vinyl pressings.
With Donut Crew, my main ambition was to give exposure to Denver bands while hoping to recoup my costs so I could release the next record. Fortunately, a couple of titles went into a second pressing, only delaying the inevitable. I always felt like a salesman banging and scratching at people’s virtual doors carrying around a vintage 45 box filled with vinyl. I would go to shows, malls, coffee houses, and any hangout spots punk kids gathered hoping to pawn off a couple of records. Shops like Wax Trax, Trade-A-Tape, and Albums On the Hill were always kind enough to take my releases and pay cash. On the other hand, dealing with distributors became one perpetual game of chasing down checks before they could bounce. Though most companies eventually made good on their word, a couple simply skipped out, conveniently lost paperwork, and seldom returned phone calls and/or letters. The primary reason Donut Crew folded was rooted in the losses incurred by distributors gone bankrupt-morally or financially.
In the post-Donut Crew era of the early to mid 90s, the 7” record market was flooded, and many titles fell by the wayside, ending up in bargain bins for pennies on the dollar. I recall rescuing a couple of the titles I put out for less than what they cost me to make. It made me feel slightly sad to see them tucked amongst other once hopeful, but forgotten records. If anything, running the label was a testament and a snap shot of a moment during our youth.
DCR 001 V/A Colorado Krew 7” EP
500 copies (red, white, and blue covers)
1. Acid Pigs-Survive
2. Keep In Mind-Multiple Choice Test
1. Atomic Dilemma-TV Addict
2. End of Story-Telling Me How to Die
3. Short Fuse-Sharp
|DCR 001 Colorado Krew 7" EP. The blue cover.|
|The original artwork for the insert.|
|The original artwork for the insert.|
|Acid Pigs and Short Fuse insert.|
|Alternant Keep In Mind covers.|
|Original artwork for the Again! Lyric sheet insert.|
|Atomic Dilemma insert.|
Notes: This was more Rich’s project. He was publishing his fanzine, Skate Edge and wanted to release records. I agreed to pitch in financially to help Rich get his band’s record out. What really put Skate Edge on the map was releasing Brotherhood’s No Tolerance For Ignorance EP. Rich was always an independent spirit and had his own way of perceiving the world and making his art and music happen on his own terms.
Matrix/Runout (Side 1) SER-001-A Ken belongs to the spanglorian society. Eat Pop Tarts and read Skate Edge. (Side 2): SER-001-B The most important things in life can't be bought - with exception to this record.
DCR 004 V/A Colorado Krew II-The Kids Will Have Their Donuts 7” EP
800 copies (First pressing: 500 copies, blue cover and black vinyl. Second pressing: 300 copies, black cover and red vinyl. There were 20 copies with a quickly made photocopied cover.)
1. Again!-Seen Not Heard
2. Warlock Pinchers-Jolt Is…
3. Dead Silence-1/4 World
1. Keep In Mind-Overwhelmed
2. Expatriate-Sometimes Love Is…3. Aberant-Scar Strangled Banner
|Colordao Krew II-The Kids Will Have Their Donuts 7" EP cover for first pressing.|
|Colordao Krew II-The Kids Will Have Their Donuts 7" EP cover for second pressing. Red vinyl.|
|Colordao Krew II-The Kids Will Have Their Donuts 7" EP cover (aka the bad decision-20 made).|
|Original artwork for the insert.|
|Original artwork for the insert.|
Notes: Some of the blue covers stated: “Root beer-colored vinyl.” It was a double meaning: color vinyl was all the rage, so we being cheeky about the craze. Secondly, the color of the vinyl was a translucent brown when held up to the light. In fact, it looked like a glass of root beer.
The story about the quickly made photocopied cover was the result of a delay with the real covers being printed. I needed to get the records in the bins at Wax Trax, so I put together something haphazard. In retrospect, it was an impulsive and shortsighted decision; I cringe each time I’m reminded of it.
The final cover for the EP is an image of kids storming the steps of the state capitol. It was a blatant rip off of Society System Decontrol’s The Kids Will Have Their Say 12” EP, but ours had a donut theme, so to say, a donut edge! By no means were we dissing SSD; we meant it more as a nod to their greatness. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
After finishing our front cover photo shoot, someone in the group spotted the then Colorado governor, Roy Romer, leaving the capitol and heading towards his car. I immediately thought we needed a picture with him. We eagerly charged in his direction, cutting him off before he reached his car door. Based on our excitement, Romer granted our request for a group shot. That WAS be the crowning image to grace the back cover.
The rationale for selecting the groups for this release was that I wanted to reach out and include a wider variety of bands and styles that represented the current punk scene. Dead Silence was overtly political; Expatriate had metal edge; Warlock Pinchers mixed rap, metal, and punk with Andy Warhol’s Pop Art sensibilities; Aberant misspelled aberrant and sounded punk as fuck. Finally, the Donut Crew franchise bands, Again! and Keep in Mind. I loved watching those two evolve into their own sound.
Matrix/Runout (Side 1): DCR-004-A BOB "BILL WILL LARRY BERRY" ROB IS STILL THE DONUT GOD! (Side 2): DCR-004-B IF YOU THINK READING RECORDS ARE FUN, TRY READING A BOOK SOMETIME --> BUDDY!
DCR 005 Again!-Trainwreck 7” EP
700 copies (First pressing: 500 black vinyl and black cover. Second pressing: 200 copies, red cover and yellow vinyl.)
1. Wait the Turn
|DCR 005 Again!-Trainwreck 7" EP. Black cover first pressing.|
|DCR 005 Again!-Trainwreck 7" EP. Red cover second pressing.|
Notes: I had hoped Again! would be one of the bands to break out, perhaps breakaway and give Donut Crew a little recognition. They had a crossover sound that appealed to listeners beyond the punk community. The band’s brand of songs was easily digestible with Boulder’s college rock crowd. Had Dag Nasty desired an opener on their Field Day tour, Again! would have been the ideal match. Perhaps if Trainwreck had been released in another city and on a label with a farther reach, the band might have gained a little more mileage. The group’s lack of touring and the fact they were immersed in their studies didn’t help matters, either.
Matrix/Runout (Side 1): DCR-005 BRADIN' FULL ON! Matrix/Runout (Side 2): DCR-005 I FUCKED UP ON THE BRIDGE: SO BUY US A VAN! -MEGGIT IS A SISSY-
DCR 006 Keep In Mind-Downstairs 7” EP
700 copies (First pressing: 500 copies, green cover and red vinyl. Second pressing: 200 copies, black cover and vinyl.)
1. So Stained
1. Out Of Convenience
|DCR 006 Keep In Mind-Downstair 7" EP. Pressing pressing green cover and red vinyl. |
|DCR 006 Keep In Mind-Downstair 7" EP. Second pressing black cover and vinyl.|
|Keep In Mind insert.|
Notes: Musically, Keep In Mind clicked on this recording session. The group had smoothed out all of the rough edges from their previous attempts. The songs were solid, especially So Stained which remains one of my favorite tracks. High school graduation eventually brought an end to the group. I’ve always imagined what another year and a batch of new songs would have sounded like. At the band’s last show, opening for Fugazi, Keep In Mind threw out giant inflatable Gumbys to the audience and were returned back to the band stabbed. What else would you expect to happen at the Aztlan?
Matrix/Runout (Side 1): DCR-006-A IS GUMBY THE INCREDIBLE HULK WHEN HE'S HAPPY ? - DOES IT MATTER P.S. BUY YOUR OWN VAN ! ← BLAST THING (JUS' JOKIN BROS) Matrix/Runout (Side 2): DCR-006-B → ONLY REAL MEN [FROM BENEATH THE SWAMP] PLAY RUGBY ← → POKEY, PRICKLE, AND GOO DEATH TO FALSE METAL / BLOCK HEADS ←
DCR 007/008 Colorado Krew III-Is This My Donut?
1500 copies (First pressing: 1000 Burgundy cover. Second pressing: 500 Black covers)
Record 1 DCR 007
1. Keep In Mind-Yours
2. Dogbite-Verge of Nothing
1. Again!-Bradin Full On
2. Jux County-Pick Your Brain
Record 2 DCR 008
1. Fluid-Don’t Wanna Play
2. Hobbledehoy-Turn Back the Clock
1. Acid Pigs-White Lie
2. Warlock Pinchers-Confrontation Yeah! Yeah!
|Colorado Krew III insert.|
Notes: This was the release that broke the camel’s back. Going into it, I knew one of two things would happen: the label would continue or close up shop. By the time the record entered its second pressing, it looked like I might squeeze a couple more years out of Donut Crew. Then reality hit when a couple of my distributors went belly-up still owing me large sums of cash. Knowing the funds to keep the label afloat had vanished overnight was a surefire sign that I needed to move on and devote my energies elsewhere. Between booking shows, playing in bands, putting records out, and transferring to a university, I was burned out.
I’m glad Donut Crew ended on this release. It represented the best cross section of Denver’s underground scene. The record brought together members of bands from the early 80’s hardcore scene with kids who were barely finishing high school. While the styles of music were a little uneven at times, it was the most honest documentation of Denver’s eclectic underground music scene coming into the 90s.
Matrix/Runout: DCR-007-A PLEASE BUY AGAIN A VAN SO THEY SHUT UP. WE TOOK A VOTE, MEGGIT IS NOT AN OFFICIAL SISSY Matrix/Runout: DCR-007-B 777 BUY RECORDS WITH THE NUMBER SEVEN 777 BUY KEEP IN MIND A GUMBY Matrix/Runout: DCR-008-A BOB ATE THE EIGHT AND KEITH WANTED HIS NAME ON A RECORD COS HE HAS THE HAREM THAT ARNIE TOOK [USED, BORROWED, ETC] Matrix/Runout: DCR-008-B SHE TOLD ME TO KISS HER SOMEPLACE DIRTY SO I TOOK HER TO THE BACK OF THE AZTLAN. REFER TO MISSING SIDE A OF THE MISSING EIGHT 8
It should be noted that along with Rich Jacobs and Dave Clifford and their bands getting Donut Crew on its feet, other people who helped along the way were Keith “Meekster” Smith, who was my short-term financial partner, and Matt Keleher who had always been a reliable friend, helping in any and every capacity. Bern from Lost and Found Records in Germany helped get hundreds of Donut Crew releases into Europe. There were kids in Australia and Japan who brought Donut Crew to their part of the world.
Odds and ends:
|Donut Crew ad for MRR.|
|Donut Crew catalog summer of 1989.|
In Maximum Rocknroll I had placed an ad as a gimmick to generate interest in the label. Send a stamp and get a donut seed. This required me going out and buying a box of Cheerios and tiny zip-lock bags. It didn’t occur to me at the time that when the “donut seeds” went through the automated machines at the post office they would be pulverized into a pile of Cheerios dust.
|Photograph with governor Roy Romer.|
|Original artwork for label. Designed by Dave Clifford.|