What began 18 years ago as three CKUW employees deciding to use their paycheque to fund bands that wanted to release vinyl has now become a record label about to release its 30th record - a seven-inch by Calgary band Breathe Knives titled hellen keller.
Though Lee Repko is the only one who remains from the initial three, he has successfully created what he calls “probably the noisiest record label in Canada,” releasing music that he calls “gut-churning noise … music to make you sick.”
“I’m always looking for noisier stuff,” Repko says. “Rock ‘n’ roll for me has always been about danger. It has always been about living fast and loose and really dangerous.”
Once No List Records finds the noisiest bands, Repko helps them realize their potential.
“It’s easy for us to be proud of and let (No List artists go on to bigger labels) because we know our limitations, we know what we do well and we make single projects look incredible and stand out from the rest,” he says.
Chris Gramlich from Toronto band Vilipend agrees. He attributes part of the band’s success signing to A389 Records to Repko.
“He released our last effort (the Plague Bearer seven-inch) and pushed it, even hiring additional PR to work it, which helped it reach a wider range of people and get us increased exposure/notoriety, even charting on college radio, with numerous reviews and press,” Gramlich says.
When Repko is not working in the oil fields in Alberta, he is working with bands out of his office in the Frame Gallery on 318 Ross Ave.
Repko explains how he supports bands on No List.
“I will do everything from (finding and booking) their jam space right up to a release. I’ll take those recordings, I’ll get them mastered and I’ll get them put on wax, I’ll set up a show to release that act, and I will contact distributors and get the record out there.”
Overall, he says, “I will give them something beautiful to show mom.”
Repko has kept busy this year with projects like the cassette release of KEN mode’s Juno Award-winning album Venerable; a 12” LP titled Everything You Ever Wanted to
Know About Violence from Atlanta, Georgia’s Uncle Touchy (No List’s first American band); and a future seven-inch vinyl by Sofy Major from France (No List’s first non-North American signing).
If you have noticed that a lot of No List’s releases are vinyl, that’s because most of them are.
“We could have a conversation about ‘Oh vinyl sounds better,’ or ‘I really want a large piece of art,’ and for me that was the pivotal part of it - being able to manage art projects, having a 12” by 12” canvas instead of a 5” by 5” canvas,” Repko says. “There’s so much more real estate to make a piece of art with.”
Download a free 2012 No List sampler/mixtape at www.nolistrecords.com/newnoise2012.
Published in Volume 66, Number 27 of The Uniter (May 30, 2012)