Local music lovers Clint McEwen and Rob Vera had long desired to turn their love of vinyl into a record label of their own. It took a half-naked man in a tattered bunny mask to make that dream a reality.
McEwen saw an opening in punk musician Nobunny’s schedule last winter, and when the booking agent offered a chance to bring one of his favorite acts to Oklahoma, he and his friends pooled their money to bring him into town. The outrageous performance — comprised of garage rock, firecrackers, women’s panties and raw meat — did not disappoint.
“Anytime you get a grown man up in a dirty bunny mask, a leather jacket and tighty whities, it’s definitely a signal that it’s something off the beaten path,” McEwen said. “At one point, people are spraying beer all over The Conservatory, and arms and legs are flaying all over the floor … it was such a good time.”
Vera and McEwen were equally impressed by the local support from bands The Boom Bang and The Copperheads. That, and the betterthan-expected success of the show, proved to be the right amount of momentum to push the two toward forming their own label, Okie Dope Records, after numerous failed tries.
“We had had those discussions and made some halfhearted attempts without having any idea of how to do this, so nothing really got off the ground. It’s not like you can hit up 7-Eleven to get a record pressed,” McEwen said.
Nearly half a year after that first Nobunny show, the guys are doing it again, this time with their brand-spanking-new label; tons more know-how; and a split, 7-inch single featuring the aforementioned Oklahoma acts for release in early December.
“It’s taking on a life of its own,” McEwen said. “The timing of everything is pretty serendipitous.”
The label looks to fill not only a local, but national role in vinyl-centered releases for fuzzy, garage-rock bands. That would involve not only singles from someone like Nobunny, but also bringing more acts like that into town. Still, the pair’s aims aren’t terribly lofty.
“I would love to go into a local record store in some small town in New Hampshire and see one of our records in the bargain bin,” McEwen said. “That’s the ultimate destination.”
Photo by Nathan Poppe