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Rubber Brother Records Wants to Help Local Acts Help Themselves

So this one time, my brother left a large tube of salami under our bunk bed — because he likes to hoard food — and totally forgot about it for three weeks, until it started to smell so bad that we almost called the paramedics. We looked down there and there's this dildo-shaped green pickle that's practically glowing, and the mold has spread all over the wadded up tissues, dirty socks, and lost Pokémon cards that also found their way under our mattress. My mother almost killed us.

Rubber Brother Records has been growing in the dark for God knows how long, and now its scent is getting a lot of wind, but in a much cooler, not puketastic, way. Founded by 19-year-old Gage Oleson and 23-year-old Robbie Pfeffer (known for fronting spastic garage rock outfit Playboy Manbaby and maintaining local magazine Tempe Starving Artist), metro Phoenix's newest label is a testament to all that is fucking awesome about DIY.

What good is it making a record company in 2013, you ask? Well, it's way more than that, you cynical bastard. For Olesen, Rubber Brother is a way to "facilitate something in the community that we felt was lacking." For Pfeffer, "it's a good format for getting all my friends to have a stated group to be a part of."

The co-founders are two sides of the same coin, having become instant friends almost two years ago when they met at The Fixx, the defunct coffee shop Pfeffer used to manage. Now they've taken their self-described "little brother, big brother" bond and turned it into an outlet for local musicians to be a part of.

"Specifically," Olesen says, "we wanted a garage rock community that was more cohesive."

So far, it's been exactly that. It all began with a gig on June 21 at the Trunk Space featuring Wolvves, Instructions, Playboy Manbaby, Petty Things, Mickey & The Mountains, TK & The Irresistibles, Naked Pizza, and Vinewine. Plus, kick-ass new art by Daniel Funkhouser, Dain Q. Gore, and James B. Hunt was hung on the walls. The evening was full of bruising excitement, ear-splitting noise, and screaming kids, and it genuinely did feel like a movement. You know, something to be a part of, especially for an underage crowd that, unfortunately, gets shit on by Arizona's draconian liquor laws.

Best of all, these bands were able to offer merch, because as Pfeffer explains, too many bands in this area lack the resources to continually put out new releases or shirts.

"I've been in that same boat, where you print like 50 CDs and never make another one," Pfeffer says. "[S]o instead of just one band buying T-shirts, everyone all goes in on it, because . . . it's just as much a community as it is a label. It's a source for people to do more with their resources that they have."

Rubber Brother doesn't do CDs or vinyl, however. It's releasing cassette tapes made using $8 tape recorders found at Goodwill. It's nothing but pure DIY. And that go-to attitude is attracting attention from New York, California, and even The Netherlands. What started with just five bands (Wolvves, Petty Things, Playboy Manbaby, Instructions, and Mickey & The Mountains) soon will include releases from Diners and Dogbreth, with more to come. Not bad for a label that's barely a month old.

But the Rubber bros stress they don't "own" these bands — there are no contracts and no one's bossing anyone around. Their only goals are to continue expanding as a central hub for weird art — to help out local artists and, most of all, keep having a good time.

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Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah