Punk pioneer Geza X digs through the garage for a new label
Punk pioneer Geza X is digging through the garage for a new label: Having produced artists like the Germs, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Redd Kross and the Bags, Geza X helped define the first wave of West Coast punk rock sound. As well as fronting his own massively underrated band (Geza X & the Mommymen), the man was waist deep in the scene at the time – helping shine a light on some of the bands we now consider legendary. , helping them reach their potential.
Someone had to, because the industry did its best to ignore what was happening under its nose. Geza recalls an urban myth about a memo from former President Reagan sent to label heads to discourage them from signing punk rock bands that would encourage the sort of lawless sentiments seen in the UK at the time. era. Whether that’s true or not, the labels certainly acted like they got it.
“That’s when they started promoting dinosaur heavy metal bands,” Geza explains. “The dice had been thrown in the opposite direction. I had the opportunity to record the groups around me. I started out doing live sound, then I got the message out that I was a producer. I ended up helping define the West Coast sound that was harder than New York at the time, with Patti Smith, TV and all that. I knew none of these bands would be signed, so I made it my mission to record as many bands as possible whether I got paid or not. I liked it. It was my scene.
Later in his career, Geza was asked to remaster the Posh Boy Records catalog, and he discovered a little-heard Nuns album he had produced many years earlier. Saddened that the album was great but was ignored, and knowing that the same fate befalls many other bands, Geza had the rare gem of having the idea to start his own label – Geza X Records.
“I knew there was no real money in independent labels, especially now,” he says. “I make $40 a month to split between 20 different artists. That’s crazy. It’s a shame actually, for our culture. Anyone can put out their own record yes, but as far as monetizing it, it’s worse than the 70s. It’s always been a labor of love for me anyway – why not just start a label ? I have the resources and the connections. I was able to find a really good distribution agent that works through The Orchard, which is basically Sony. I started finding acts that I really wanted to release. Things that I like. The disc is mounted, it is stable and I have released a few discs. I love every one of them.”
So that’s what happened. Geza X Records released EPs by Latin ska band Gabriela Penka and American band Stomp Box Holiday, as well as a single from They Call Us Scoundrels. And then Geza composed the fourth volume of Rodney Bingenheimer’s famous novel. Rodney on the rock compilations.
“It was hard to put together because Rodney didn’t want to do it at first,” Geza says. “Rodney and I have known each other for years. He played records that I produced on all of his shows. When I approached him to do this record, at first he was very reluctant because people made shows on him that didn’t really turn out in his favor. Rodney is such a legend, and he should be treated like a legend. Posh Boy asked me to try to create a new Rodney on the rock compilation for him. He didn’t think Rodney would go for it, but maybe I could try my luck under Posh Boy Records at the time because I didn’t have my label together yet. I said I would try. I clearly explained to Rodney over a period of weeks all the reasons why this would be a viable project. It could work, and it could work well. He started to agree with me, and then I started listening to his show very regularly. By the way, Rodney’s show is as good as it’s ever been. He plays garage rock bands from all over the world.
It is still important work. There are 18 songs on the new lineup, displaying a diversity of styles that fall with the garage rock banner, nine boy bands and nine girl bands. Geza says it’s hard to pick favorites.
“We chose them all with love,” he says. “There’s a really good track from Dogs & Diamonds called ‘Mary Manfield.’ ‘All Night’ by Tidal Babes is a fantastic song. We’re really pushing this as a Top 40 potential. Josie Cotton is there, and so am I. I have a song called “Hot-Rod”, which is kind of psychobilly, doo-wop but in the satirical vein of Frank Zappa on style. But a nice song. Having a label gives me opportunities. I’m about to release the Loteria compilation and I have a song on it too.
Speaking of Geza X’s own music, there will be a double reissue of his classic You fucking children! album through Munster Records.
“[It will have] the original record in one sleeve, then two Mabuhay gigs when the whole band was at their peak in San Francisco – that’s on the other record,” he says. “COVID screwed everyone up and the pressing plants were so poorly maintained it takes a year to get your vinyl back.”
Geza X has always made it a point to promote garage music and LA punk, at every opportunity when no one else will. That’s why his label is something to celebrate. New Rodney on the rock comp will be awesome, as will new releases from glam punk Robbie Quine. And he has a future Inside the punk documentary series currently in the editing phase. Geza isn’t shy about shouting about the impact of AirPlay Direct for delivering indie music to radio stations because it’s cool like that. But its own impact should never, ever be underestimated.
Punk pioneer Geza X is digging through the garage for a new label: For more information, visit gezaxrecords.com.