By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Unlike many fledgling record labels, Denton-based Play Pinball! Records isn't testing the waters by starting things off slowly, releasing a 7-inch every now and again. Though only just recently founded, the label is taking the plunge and joining the ranks of other local (mostly) vinyl imprints by launching things with two full-length LPs slated for release in early to mid-August.
And both LPs sound very promising.
The first release, DENTON DENTON USA!, actually provided the inspiration for the record label, which was founded by Chris Engberg and Trent Ostvig last month, after Engberg graduated from University of North Texas (not from any of the music schools, though—and, surprisingly, neither of the pair plays in a band). The compilation will feature new and unreleased tracks from Wax Museums, Teenage Cool Kids, Bleach Boys, Bad Sports, Fergus & Geronimo, The Uptown Bums, Wiccans, Secret Bangs and many more. So, basically, a nigh-perfect snapshot of the Denton house-show scene circa 2007 to now.
Not a bad lineup of hype-worthy bands for a label's debut pressing—especially since they'll be releasing the full-length debut from Cleburne's Fungi Girls in tandem with the compilation.
"We know that these are very solid releases," Engberg says. "And we think of the compilation as a work of love to show people what's been going on in the house show scene." But, Engberg admits, the initial idea was just to have "all the bands that I like on one album."
He spent his graduation cash "and then some" to fund the first two releases. But this isn't just some sort of impulse on Engberg's part, he ensures. "Starting the label isn't really some leap of faith for us," he continues. "Because we know we have some good bands. So, I know it will be worth it. I have faith in these bands and their potential."
Originally from Austin, Engberg only moved to Denton a year ago.
"I started going to a lot of the house shows," he says. "I even met my girlfriend at 715 Panhandle."
He and Ostvig met for the first time at sometimes-DIY-venue Bunker Hill, where Ostvig has lived for the past year. Bunker Hill is also where the pair met the Fungi Girls and where Jason Kelly (of Wax Museums and Fergus & Geronimo) recorded most of Fungi Girls' new album.
"All that's left is some vocal work," says Fungi Girls' Skyler Salinas. "It's over 80 percent done."
So what's next for the label, then? At this point, no one's saying—but that doesn't mean it will become stagnant.
"We're not exactly struggling to find bands to release," Ostvig says. "We have very solid relationships with a lot of great local and touring bands."