Happy Birthday: Polyvinyl Records
  • TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2011

  • Posted by: Ed McGarrigle

As far as birthdays go, they can be monumental or forgettable. They can loom in the distance with great anticipation for the coming celebration or merely pass with a sigh and a shudder of boredom. Lucky for us, today is an occasion for the former as we celebrate the 15th anniversary of Polyvinyl Records. Polyvinyl wasn't born as a record label, it was born as a magazine created by two die-hard music fans, Matt Lunsford and Darcie Knight. The duo started printing their own indie rock fanzine in 1994 while still in high school. It was a strictly DIY operation with the pair handing out pressed copies at basement shows and sending them to whoever they could via mail order. It didn't take long for Lunsford and Knight to become popular and friendly with the bands around their hometown of Champaign-Urbana, IL and later, the country.

With an overwhelming desire to help out the bands that were providing the soundtrack to their lives, it didn't take long for Lunsford and Knight to begin releasing music through their magazine. The third issue of Polyvinyl Press came with a split 7". Less than a year later, the pair released Braid's first 7" and a compilation featuring twenty different bands. Polyvinyl then dropped the "Press" and added a "Records." The rest, as the adage goes, is history.

Not wanting to fall in to the greedy money trap that is running a record label, Lunsford and Knight developed a simple, and more importantly fair, way to work with their artists. Following the lead of other labels such as Dischord and Touch and Go, Lunsford and Knight decided to implement a 50/50 profit sharing model for their infant record label. Now in adolescence, the model is still in practice and showing no intentions of slowing down.

Fifteen years and over 200 hundred records later, Polyvinyl has decided to throw themselves a birthday bash. How does a record label throw a party? With a show of course. An all day/all night show in fact, featuring nine Polyvinyl acts including Braid, Deerhoof, Japandroids, and Owen. Unfortunately, not all of us will be in Champaign, IL on 9/24. Knowing this and being the kind people that they are, Polyvinyl has compiled another compilation, featuring thirty songs from acts both old and new which you can stream below.

Today, we raise a glass to Polyvinyl Records. Thank you for years of great music and great shows. Here's to you and another fifteen years!

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