Bubblegum Records was a label launched in Glasgow back in late 2009. It lasted just two years but in that time was responsible for the release but in that time was responsible for 22 releases: 14 CDs and 8 limited edition, download only singles (For Singles Only imprint), featuring an array of bands and musicians from all over the world. It was quite a remarkable effort, coinciding with that point in time when myspace seemed destined to be the future for new and emerging music, when in fact it was merely a staging post for further developments across social media networks and platforms.
It truly was a labour of love for the individuals involved. There was a chain of thought that, while the availability of music through digital means was a welcome development enabling a bigger and wider exposure to listeners and potential fans, most folk still had a preference for getting a hold of some sort of physical product.
For many bands, and small labels, CDrs had become a cheap, DIY way to provide that physical product and there was a growing sense within the pre-Bubblegum Records camp of wanting to do things a bit differently, which I guess tends to be the philosophy of many entrepreneurs involved in all aspects of the creative industries.
A key aspect of this embryonic notion of a label was that the label couldn’t, at that stage, pay for recording but would pay all costs relating to the CDs being pressed, distribution, art work (where needed – some bands designed their own releases), marketing, and local gigs. It was also essential that bands/artists retain all copyright to their material. In taking these steps the label would attempt to stop the growing practice of bands having to Pay-to-Play (bands would receive a cut of any profits made from gigs) or the dubious practice of each member of a band having to buy their own CDrs from a small label if they wanted a copy of the release.
Bubblegum Records had the aim of drawing closer attention to new ‘independent’ music, but in its widest possible sense and not just jingly-jangly guitars featuring young blokes with fashionable haircuts. The roster would, in due course, feature some local bands but the label launched with Better Set Your Phasers to Stun, a 5-track EP by Hyperbubble, an occasionally experimental and occasionally synth-pop duo consisting of husband and wife team Jeff and Jess DeCuir from San Antonio, Texas. Hyperbubble had been on the go for around six years, having already released two albums on small independent labels in America, however, both Jeff and Jess had previously been in other bands together; Crevice and Pink Filth. The lead track from Better Set Your Phasers to Stun was in fact their take on a song originally written and recorded by Helen Love, the Welsh indie band who have been mainstays of the scene here in the UK since forming in the early 90s.
The EP, catalogue number BGUM01, had two further mixes of ‘Phasers’ along with two original tracks composed and performed by Hyperbubble:-
The EP was re-released in 2014, on Socket Sounds, with the first 3 tracks remaining the same. Beach Party UFO and Disgow Glasgow were replaced by 2 additional remixes of ‘Phasers’. Hyperbubble featured on Bubblegum Records on 4 more occasions but more on that later …
The label’s next release was a complete contrast with it being Flesh and Paper, the debut EP by Lean Tales, a Glasgow four-piece with the standard line-up. Information is quite scant, but the members were Imogen Velouria (vocals), Chris Harvie (guitar), Erika Sella (bass) and Craig Patrick (drums).
I’ve been supplied with a copy of the band bio supplied to the label at the time of the release:-
“Lean Tales are Imogen (the singer who is always late for rehearsals), Chris (the grumpy guitar player who loves nothing more than a good book on WWII), Erika (bassist; a notorious hypochondriac in love with Jon Snow) and Craig (drummer and medical student-the only member of the band who doesn’t suffer from regular neurosis).
They formed in 2007-almost by chance- through a shared love of Pixies, The Smiths, Young Marble Giants, The Cramps, Dolly Mixture, cheap horror films and a now-defunct Glasgow club called The National Pop League.
They have been going for about a year, playing gigs in their hometown of Glasgow, spending too much time in Mono and fighting over what covers to play at gigs.
They have worked with small labels such as Series Two Records, Bon Vivant Records and Spanner Records and got radio plays in Europe and the US. They like fanzines, DIY projects and socialism. They want the railways to be nationalised.
Lean Tales like songs to be short and sweet. They are sometimes shambling, but hate tweeness.”
The first time I listened to Days Are Quick, I was struck by how Imogen’s singing style was similar in ways to that of Dolores O’Riordan, the late singer of The Cranberries – or am I over-thinking things?
I had thought that the above songs comprised Lean Tales’ only commercial release, but in fact they released one more song on Bubblegum, Running Birthday Cake, and recorded at least 2 more songs: Come Take Me and Laundry Pills at the same sessions as the EP. These were discussed as Bubblegum Records releases. It was not to be. Erika decided to return home to Italy and Chris, her partner, joined her. It’s a bit of a pity as I reckon all four of the songs on this EP are well worth a few repeat listens.
The intention is not to go through all 22 releases by Bubblegum, but I will return occasionally in future times with a few more bands never previously featured on the blog.