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INTERVIEW: Trouble In Mind
Christopher Torpey , April 12th, 2013 10:38

Ahead of their curation of a stage at this year's Liverpool Psych Fest, we get an introduction to Bill and Lisa Roe of the Chicago indie label

The two-and-a-half minute pop song eh? The ultimate calling card for an artist, that, if done correctly, is a succinct demonstration that also leaves the listener wanting more. With this mantra ringing in their ears, Bill and Lisa Roe founded the record label Trouble In Mind Records in 2009, in their adopted home of Chicago, Illinois. Building on early releases from The Fresh And Onlys, Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin, TiM are now a fully-fledged indie label who have managed to position themselves at the forefront of a blossoming global psych renaissance.

TiM are curating a stage at this year’s Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia, bringing over some of the finest acts on their label at the moment. Jacco Gardner, The Limiñanas, Fuzz and MMOSS are among those who will be playing the event, which will take place at the Camp And Furnace on September 27-28.

We caught up with Bill and Lisa for a quick chat in the midst of their busy schedule as they look forward to the event.

Hi Bill and Lisa, how are things?

Bill Roe: Things are great! Busy... but great!

Lisa Roe: Ready for summer, this Chicago weather is getting old.

You’ve got a number of releases out at the moment, how do you find the time to get everything out and juggle your full-time jobs?

BR: It's definitely a struggle sometimes that's for sure. The closer it gets to release day there are a lot of late nights, but we try to make it all work. I actually work part-time these days (at Permanent Records), to allow more time for the label as well as spending quality time with our two kids.

LR: Yeah, it's basically 7am till 11pm at night. The minute I wake up I'm checking emails and figuring out the label's priorities for the day.  Last week I made myself have a "zero stress" week, it was pretty rad. It didn't mean much other than not letting myself lose sleep over what HAD to get done ASAP.

Is it true you started the label as a stop-gap while the band you were both in was on a hiatus?

BR: True! We just sort of wanted to still be involved in one way or another in music. Playing in our band at that point was impossible, so this seemed like a good thing to do in the meantime. It sort of snowballed from there and we were very lucky that many of the artists on our early releases (Ty Segall, Moonhearts, Fresh & Onlys, etc) sort of broke out around that time - definitely helped us sell some 7"s and get our name out there.

LR: Yeah, I think as time goes on it's pretty clear that it was the right choice to focus on the label rather than continue in a band.  We're better as a label and cheerleader for others than we ever were as a band.

Did you ever think you’d be so successful with it?

BR: I don't think it was ever a thought in our mind. We'd just wanted to be able to sell through each consecutive batch to make enough money to put out the next set of records. We've ended up being able to do all that and more.

LR: Yeah, originally we thought we'd just always do singles so, no, we definitely didn't ever think it would become what it is. I think it's in our DNA to work our asses off so if there is anything to blame that would be it.

Do you think indie labels today play a more important role in bringing smaller artists to a wider attention, rather than developing them like a traditional major might?

BR: It's a weird time in music right now - the "majors" as they existed are all but dying out. They don't really foster or break ANY new artists worth a damn anymore. Most of the bigger independent labels have essentially moved up the ladder and picked up the bands that majors used to take a chance on. Many bands we know wouldn't even WANT to be on a major label at this point. Being on a "smaller" label allows a band or artist the freedom to really go for it - there's an understood trust (at least in our experience) that if we're willing to work with you, we believe that WHATEVER you're doing is amazing...

LR: Agreed. Also being able to have a relatively open release schedule and quick turnaround is unique to smaller labels I think.  It's nice to have the ability to put things out by bands but then also sometimes "take a chance" on solo records by people in those bands... à la Mikal Cronin and Doug Tuttle from Mmoss, who we love and think is super-talented and are looking forward to doing a solo record for him as well.

You must get an enormous amount of satisfaction out of what you do: what is the most rewarding thing about running TiM?

Bill: The two things that still get me the MOST are: 1) listening to the potential tracks for a release for the first time... opening that email, or mailer with the master CD... still makes me smile every time and 2) cracking open the first box of a new release and actually looking at it and holding it in my hands still makes me giddy!

Lisa: Yeah, definitely getting to hear things before anyone else is pretty rad, but also just being a cheerleader and working your ass off and doing all you can to get people to appreciate someone's hard work and watching that happen is super rewarding.

Your stage at this year’s Liverpool Psych Fest stage will pitch some of the best Trouble In Mind acts on the same bill for the first time. If you had to pick one that will blow people’s minds who would you go for?

Bill: Oh man I think they're ALL gonna blow people away! All their albums are sooooo good, but many of them (Jacco Gardner, MMOSS, Maston) actually transcend the recorded works! Paperhead will also NOT disappoint - their live show is something completely separate from the records. Astounding!!

Lisa: Seriously, this is really going to be the highlight of TiM so far, we're SOOO excited. Every one of these bands has written songs that make me emotional every time I hear them.  I can't WAIT to see The Resonars rip! And also it's been two years since I saw The Limiñanas play so I definitely can't wait to see them again.

Bill: And also - unless FUZZ tours this summer, it'll be our first time seeing them play too!

Any artists who’ve escaped the TiM net who you really wish you’d released?

Bill: Hmmmm... I dunno... not yet - we've been lucky enough to have all the bands we wanna work with release something with us! MMOSS were on my "wish list" and eventually came around! Ha!

Lisa: Oh, c'mon Bill there are a couple.  They know who they are. Ha.

Bill: Shhhhhhhhh!

TiM has built up a pretty loyal following now. Are you comfortable in the role of trusted tastemakers as well as running a record label?

Bill: Well, "tastemaker" is a term that makes me uncomfortable and I really don't think we're that far deep in the general consciousness yet, but I definitely appreciate our label's fans who (seemingly) trust our tastes no matter what we release.

Lisa: Don't be modest. TiM bands are the best bands!