In 1990, Brandon Skipworth and Nathan Smallwood fell in love with local music so much they set about how to give bands a medium on which to commit their aural wizardry (or madness, take your pick).
“We’ve been hooked ever since,” says Skipworth, now a special education teacher, father and co-founder of Noise Pollution Records. “It’s hard to extract yourself once you get dragged in. There’re so many great bands …”
Skipworth and co-founder Smallwood met as high school students. Because they didn’t have much responsibility, or bills, the two pooled what little money they had into putting out records by Louisville punk, hardcore and indie bands.
Since 1997, Noise Pollution released singles and albums by VRKTM, Lucky Pineapple, a compilation called In Native Soil and most recently, In Minutes, a new offering from garage-rock monsters The Teeth, and Bold Beginnings, a collection of songs from the city’s first punk rock bands. Last month, Bold Beginnings reached No. 1 on the New York-New Jersey area station 91.1 WFMU-FM.
Not bad for a label that has only broken even and never turned a profit. But if fat bank accounts were the goal, Noise Pollution might’ve dissolved a long time ago.
“The local label is about as moronic as you can get when it comes to business,” jokes Lucky Pineapple’s William Benton, whose former band, Tyrone, will have a previously unreleased record out on Saturday.
“The Noise Pollution guys are wonderful examples of people who support those bands that they think are important,” he says. “I’ve seen The Teeth play for two people way too often, and that has never fazed Noise Pollution. They have always loved that band.”
One key to Noise Pollution’s longevity might be that it never occurred to the founders that they’d have to stop. “We always kind of assumed we were going to stick with it,” Skipworth says. “I know we had slowed down for a while when we both started having kids. That was probably the closest we ever came to closing up shop. We’ve come out of that, and we’ve been more productive since then.”
Three new releases are in the pipeline, including Lucky Pineapple’s long-awaited follow-up, he says. Noise Pollution will redesign its website, www.louisvillenoise.com, and revamp its online distribution.
“Record labels are probably obsolete in a lot of ways,” Skipworth says, “but we have a good Internet presence, MySpace, and we’ve got songs available on some websites for download. Beyond that, we try to keep our projects low cost, and provide a home for bands around town that we like.”
And they like to throw a party. Saturday at Cahoots, Noise Pollution celebrates its 10th birthday with an Out. reunion, along with The Teeth, Tyrone and Minnow.
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Noise Pollution turns 10
Saturday, Jan. 12
1047 Bardstown Road
$5; 10 p.m.