When has a Record Label changed your life? (A note about Sargent House and Cathy Pellow)
Wow, Kenny Remster your blog made my day. Much love to you.
I suppose it began in 2003, this was the year RX Bandits’ The Resignation was released, though at the time, I had only heard bits and pieces of their music. Coincidentally, this was about the same time I started drumming. A year later, the ground-work of my drumming had been laid, with a few months worth of lessons and playing along to basic things. One day my brother’s friend lent me The Resignation, and my eyes were opened, not just to the drumming of Chris Tsagakis, but to a whole new world of inspiration, passion and musicianship. Matthew Embree’s words burned in my heart and their melodies flowed into my soul.
In 2006, Sargent House released RX Bandits’ …And The Battle Begun. After a long struggle with their old label, infamous for robbing artists not only of money, but for the rights to their own masters, even years later. Cathy Pellow, the head of Sargent House, was a production company owner, turned Manager, turned Management Company-Label. After seeing so many bands get taken advantage of, so many artists who’s work got stolen or ruined, she decided to use her resources and connections to do something about it. With the re-birth of RX’s Career and a rapidly building roster of serious musicians, Cathy began building a powerhouse of talent all under the Sargent House roof. Sargent House began being known around the community, not just for its ‘Music First, Bands First’ attitude, but for the amazing shows and music its’ bands were putting out.
In 2011, RX Bandits sold out 3 Nights at The Gramercy Theatre in NYC one of each of their albums, front to back each night, The Resignation, …And The Battle Begun, and Mandala. I was set to attend the second, my favorite band, playing my favorite album of all time, in its entirety. To this day, and most likely forever, that was the best show I have ever seen a band play, hands down. They were on top of their game like I have never seen, a full album worth of heart pounding hits with a half hour encore. What could have possibly topped that?
About halfway through RX’s set, I recognized who (I was pretty sure was) Cathy, immediately to my right. I had spoken with Cathy once or twice online after she posted a picture of my back tattoo (pic below) on the Band’s MySpace. I mentioned something to the person I was with and she coaxed me to show Cathy my back. She recognized me, Matt’s Mom got a picture, and she told me to come find her after the show. Excitedly I did, and she brought out Matt Embree, who I also showed my tattoo to, he spoke me some of the kindest words ever, gave me a hug and that was it.
Now, with a 25 band active roster (and even more past or inactive), a partnership with Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, and numerous overseas Label ties (Richter Collective, Ireland) Cathy has built her self a small empire of some of the best musicians in the world. She has achieved this by not accepting unsavory musicians, or people who are in it for the wrong reasons. Cathy, admittedly is not musically talented, but she can see and understand the burning passion that the most dedicated and best musicians have better than anyone else. She does not accept demos or press-packs. Her method is, “Play music, if you’re good enough, I’ll find you.” This is what has made Sargent House the best label in the world.
A lot of what I just said is opinion, but let me ask you, when has a record label changed your life? I grew up as a musician, playing in creatively unsatisfying bands in high school, but practicing for countless hours. It started with RX Bandits and grew, and Sargent House bands are a majority of what I listen (and play along) to now. I strive every day try to learn and improve, to internalize,understand, break down and re-build every Deantoni Parks beat, or John Clardy fill that I can get my hands on.
Cathy and Sargent House are life-changing because due to them the momentum has begun to shift in the music climate. Yes there is constant garbage polluting the airwaves, but there is a growing faction that remember that it is still about how well you play, how much of yourself you’re willing to give to your passion. Its not about who you know or how many demos you send out, its about how many hours you spent trying to get better at what you do so you can do something that nobody has ever done or heard before. I want to be on Sargent House one day not just for the logistical reasons, because they care more about their bands and their fans than anyone in the world, but because they are a representation of the true passion and meaning behind life. You can spend it trying to work a job and earn money and buy into what they tell you that you need. Or you can practice and devote yourself completely to the one thing in life that you have ever really cared about, and if you’re good enough, they’ll hear you. - Kenny Remster