While all those unshaven, unwashed weenies from the Northwest are busy bowing down to Greg Sage in TK's new boxed set, Eight Songs for Greg Sage and the Wipers, the old master himself is here in the Valley making plans. Sage has purchased a parcel of land near 32nd Street and McDowell and is in the process of turning the six buildings that sit on the property into a recording complex he's calling Audio Outlaw.
According to Sage, Audio Outlaw's recording studio and the combination warehouse and office are nearing completion. There also are separate houses on the property that Sage intends to rehab into accommodations for bands who come to record with him. The indie label Sage has created in conjunction with Audio Outlaw is called Zeno Records. He's kept the project hush-hush until now for a reason.
"Part of my policy has always been to not exploit anything until it happens," Sage says.
For those who know the story of how Sage and his grunge-before-grunge-was-cool band the Wipers launched the now-burgeoning Northwest scene, his secrecy about his studio and label will come as no great shock. Sage has always been the most fervent disciple of that long ago punk ethic that to be genuine, underground and truly cool you must work outside the "Biz" and do it yourself. Calling himself "the only independent contractor in the music in the world," Sage is proud that the Wipers never took cash advances, didn't submit to videos and would not prostrate themselves for a distribution deal. Although he's currently working on a new Wipers record, Sage the entrepreneur has his sights set higher than just being in a band.
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"If we are to save vinyl and then save the music industry," he says, "it's up to TK, Dischord [the Fugazi-owned label] and a few others who are dedicated to keeping artists alive and looking at music as something more than a business."
Sage has also become a zealot about his adopted home. This quintessential dripping-fir-trees-and-steady-rain Northwest boy is now hooked on the desert.
"Arizona is the most awesome territory of anywhere I've ever been," he says in his characteristic deadpan. "I'm amazed at how many great bands are here locked in the garage. Arizona music just needs a little help."
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