Since Polyvinyl has maintained a sterling reputation over the years as an artist-friendly label, we thought we would go to the source to see what the bands really think about the label and the town it calls home.


Jamie Stewart, Xiu Xiu

1) Why did you decide to sign with Polyvinyl?
We needed a new home and their reputation as being artist-centered, hard working and having been around long enough to know what they are doing was incredibly appealing. We/I had a chance to talk with the staff ― everyone seemed smart, cared about music, were very down to earth and focused on doing a good job. We have been a band for a long time and flash is annoying but integrity is exciting.

2) Have you been on other record labels? How does that experience compare to Polyvinyl?
A few yes, but to compare my experience with Polyvinyl would require me to say all of the things the other labels were not doing but should have been, and I should not talk smack.

3) Who is your favorite artist on Polyvinyl?
Deerhoof

4) Have you visited headquarters? What do you think about Champaign-Urbana?
Not yet but soon enough and I shall arrive with a can of spray paint to announce my intent to stay.

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Philip Dickey, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

1) Why did you decide to sign with Polyvinyl?
We met with a couple labels and Polyvinyl was the obvious choice. I started buying Polyvinyl records when I was in high school in the 90s, so it was like fulfilling the dream.

2) Have you been on other record labels? How does that experience compare to Polyvinyl?
We've worked with a couple smaller labels run by our friends. I tried to start a record label for my first band, and I had an Angelfire webpage. It was pretty horrible compared to Polyvinyl.

3) Who is your favorite artist on Polyvinyl?
I think it's different for everyone in our band. Will likes Headlights, John likes Deerhoof, and I like Starfucker.

4) Have you visited headquarters? What do you think about Champaign-Urbana?
Yeah, several times. Our band is getting an office in our hometown, and I want it to be like the Polyvinyl office. We play in Champaign-Urbana once a year, and I always look forward to it.

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Bob Nanna, Braid

1) What was it like working with Polyvinyl in the early days? Could you foresee a day when they would  have such an active roster?
Matt actually set up our first show! It was in Danville in 1993. We were all just a group of friends and Matt was the one that had the spark and energy to do a zine and then a label and most impressively, stick with it. They are just so positive and tenacious, I knew they'd last 15+ years. And then the roster comes to them.

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Greg Saunier, Deerhoof

1) Why did you decide to sign with Polyvinyl?
People say it's only physical, but we love them deep inside.

2) Have you been on other record labels? How does that experience compare to Polyvinyl?
42% fewer phone calls but twice as many royalty statements.

3) Who is your favorite artist on Polyvinyl?
Rainer Maria doesn't count cause I'm in a band with their drummer. Asobi Seksu is disqualified because I did a remix for them. Xiu Xiu, well I'm their producer, so that's out of the question. Deerhoof aren't even good.
of Montreal! I listen to their great songs over and over. We're going to tour with them next year!


4) Have you visited headquarters? What do you think about Champaign-Urbana?
I performed a piano piece there once. I met Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, he thought I looked like Glenn Gould playing Webern when I played.

 

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Tim Kinsella, joan of arc, make believe, cap'n jazz, owls, friend/enemy, everyoned

1) Why did you decide to sign with Polyvinyl?
I like the assumption that we chose them as if all these other labels were lining up ― that's nice of you, thanks! My brother had been working with them for years and had nothing but kind and gushing things to say about them.

2) Have you been on other record labels? How does that experience compare to Polyvinyl?
Jade Tree Records. Hard to compare as that was back in the 90's when people used to buy our records. PV is certainly nicer to us now even though we don't sell any records than Jade Tree was to us then even though we were selling lots of records. It was cool back then when recordings had "budgets" and tours had these things at shows called "audiences." But ah well, playing music sure feels good.

3) Who is your favorite artist on Polyvinyl?
Deerhoof

4) Have you visited headquarters? What do you think about Champaign-Urbana?
Yes. It is a very nice office. Real boring town though.

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Josh Hodges, Starfucker

1) Why did you decide to sign with Polyvinyl?
They are a really great fit. It feels like family, which is important to us. It felt less like a decision and more just like a natural pairing. And we respect all of the other bands on their roster.

2) Have you been on other record labels? How does that experience compare to Polyvinyl?
Yes we've been on other labels. Polyvinyl feels like home in a way that no other label has to me. They're all just good people that I'm happy to hang out and communicate with. And they know what they're doing.

3) Who is your favorite artist on Polyvinyl?
For me (josh), it's a toss up between of Montreal and Deerhoof.

4) Have you visited headquarters? What do you think about Champaign-Urbana?
We've been to the San Francisco office a bunch, but never to the main office. Excited to finally get to go there!

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James Hanna, Asobi Seksu
(Photo by Christaan Felber)

1) Why did you decide to sign with Polyvinyl?
They seemed like, and are, honest, nice, down to earth people. The music industry can be a lake of sharks and Polyvinyl is not.

2) Have you been on other record labels? How does that experience compare to Polyvinyl?
We have only been on small, hands on kind of labels. We are appreciative of everyone who has supported and invested in our band.

3) Who is your favorite artist on Polyvinyl?
Deerhoof! One of of my favorite bands period ― great live musicians and one of my top drum faves.

4) Have you visited headquarters? What do you think about Champaign-Urbana?
We have played Champaign twice. We got to see Yo La Tengo play, go record shopping and get taken out to dinner by Polyvinyl, so Champaign is aight with me.

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Bill Kuehn, Rainer Maria

Rainer Maria and Polyvinyl began their relationship early in each other's existence. In late 1995, Kyle Fischer, Caithlin De Marrais and myself formed Rainer Maria while attending the University of Wisconsin at Madison. We documented our music in a musty basement on a Tascam four track cassette recorder. At that time, Polyvinyl had gained notoriety throughout the Midwest mainly as a zine/distribution outfit, and had only released one 7" single as a record label. Matt and Darcie were the first people that showed an interest in releasing our music. We tested the waters by giving the duo a track for their Direction music/zine compilation. Not only did Polyvinyl use our track, they sequenced it first on the album. We were honored that they would place a song from a completely unknown artist first on such an important early release for the label. With only a handshake deal, Rainer Maria went on to release eight bodies of music over the next eight years on Polyvinyl Records. The early days were exciting. Both band and label were always devising creative solutions for overcoming our small town starts (and budgets). Matt and I would have hour-long phone conversations on a regular basis; scheming, plotting, trying to figure out how to scrape together $2,000 so we could record our first full length album in five days at Ghetto Love (much love!) Studios. Having the ability to phone the head of your record label at any time and have their undivided attention is a pretty remarkable situation to be in for an artist.

Both label and band grew in leaps and bounds during our first few years working together. As the band grew, Polyvinyl improved their distribution network. As the label grew, the band was able to tour more effectively and reach a wider audience. For the release of Rainer Maria's third full length album, Polyvinyl hired an in-house staff and also began working with outside firms for PR and radio servicing. All of the parts essential for a successful record label were in place, with a solid track record to boot. From that point on there was no question that any music the label released would garner national attention, if for no other reason, because it was a Polyvinyl release. Matt and Darcy never rested on their laurels though. They have continued to search for unique acts making meaningful music. To me, this has been the key ingredient to the Polyvinyl's success and longevity.