At 16, Michael Briggs was a Deep Ellum kid hanging with the late-night, all-ages coffee crowd at old favorite Insomnia Café. Briggs has come a long way for the cause since then, running a great local music podcast called The Violitionist Sessions, which has spotlighted over 100 artists from our own backyard and far beyond, all right from his living room. Brigg's Denton living room, has since become an unofficial live music venue coined Macaroni Island. Briggs is also half of the operation behind very insightful Denton label Gutterth Productions.
Gutterth has a reputation for its roster of plentiful songwriting talent and its penchant for tasteful compilations. It's also known for the 'split': a double-helping of EPs that act as a c compromise between the full-length LP and the song sampler. Gutterth doesn't stop there: As Gutterth Live, they book interesting enough local and national shows as well. A long overdue look inside Michael Brigg's day-to-day:
You and one other guy run Gutterth. Youre making it look really easy. Is it?
Brent Frishman and I run it, and I wouldn't say it's difficult. It can be time consuming when we both have full time jobs as well, but it's definitely rewarding. But not in the monetary sense. The old cliche of calling it a "labor of love" would apply here. We both really enjoy booking shows that are special to us and a little out of the ordinary, we hope.
Not to pry, but I'm guessing you guys have the hardest part of an indie label, the financial backing, figured out. Despite the predominantly digital presence of Gutterth, it's still pretty damn expensive, isnt it?
Everything we do is financed exclusively from our own pockets. We have no loans and no debt. We're a small operation and we're pretty satisfied with that for now. Record sales always just go back into making the next record and keeping it going.
You started as an Insomnia Café kid. What else do you remember from your earliest days of absorbing DFW music?
I remember the first show I saw in Deep Ellum was some Green Day cover band on the back patio of Insomnia. I spent several years after that going to shows at Galaxy Club, Curtain, Trees, Deep Ellum Live, etc., etc. before discovering Denton in 2002 when I went to school at UNT for a bit. Ever since then I have frequented Rubber Gloves and the other great Denton venues. Live music is a big part of my life.
Take us inside The Violitionist Sessions! I love the concept of "3 songs, 3 questions." It seems to be the smart way to present music and interview content to a 140-charachter world.
The Violitionist Sessions started out originally as the Gutterth Podcast, but we wanted to condense it down to the main act and cut the filler. Out of that came "Vio" and it's been a lot of fun having some really great bands from Denton and all over the country come and play in my living room. I've had some of my favorite bands come and play, which is really cool.
You've even had Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls in for these sessions! Very cool. Big fan of that band.
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We've had Amanda Palmer with Neil Gaiman, David Liebe Hart, Astronautalis, La Dispute, Tera Melos, and over 100 others. People seem to enjoy the 3 questions, 3 songs format and I think we've had some pretty interesting interviews so far, mostly conducted by Dale Jones. We try to keep the sessions minimal and concise and to the point without any extra fluff.
I'm guessing that your favorites list will include not only Gutterth acts, but regional as well as local?
The label and live shows have mostly focused on our favorite local bands, with only a few exceptions for touring bands. We've had a lot of releases on Gutterth that I'm really proud of. I've worked closely with New Science Projects and recorded all of their releases and, in my biased opinion, I think those are some pretty great records. I'm especially excited about their new album, which we will be releasing this spring. It's definitely their best album yet. I've also recorded the Gutterth releases of Bad Design, Two Knights, Star Commander, and some others We have released three free compilations so far and will be putting out Compilation Four in March. We're currently gathering the tracks for that, which is always a long process because most bands want to do something special/unreleased and that takes a while.
I'd have to say that my favorite local band (and one of my all-time favorites) is The Paper Chase. My list of local favorites is obviously going to be full of bands that we've worked with a bunch. Ryan Thomas Becker, The Timeline Post, Daniel Folmer, The Angelus, Shiny Around The Edges, Nervous Curtains, Two Knights, Eccotone, Mount Righteous/Joey Kendall, Delmore Pilcrow, Fishboy, Dust Congress, Innards, Pinkish Black, Drug Mountain and many, many others. There are so many great bands from North Texas.