It was the fall of 2008 and my band Woodsman had just played our first couple of shows. I remember hanging at this bar in Denver we frequented, probably stoned, most definitely intoxicated and waxing on about some deep shit. We were all huddled around this little campfire in the back and the conversation was heavy. It ended with a silent moment and Mark mumbled, “fire talk” signifying the weight of the convo. I remember thinking “what a great phrase,” and just sort of forgot about it.
The following spring we had assembled our first batch of tunes and had haphazardly booked ourselves a little tour. The night before we were about to leave I think we must have stayed up until five in the morning burning CDRs and packaging them in these hand collaged cardboard sleeves. In an attempt to make them look more “important” it was decided we needed a fake label name as a guise. It wasn’t even a question and we scribbled Fire Talk on the back in sharpie. Fast forward a few months, we’re back from tour and my friend Paul Garcia’s band Pacific Pride was about to embark on a tour of their own. They were having a bunch of CD’s pressed up professionally and asked if they could use the Fire Talk name to slap on their discs. I agreed and then came the big question, “Do you have a logo?” We definitely did not have a logo at the time and I remember hanging up the phone with Paul, turning to Mark and saying “I need a logo, can you draw one?” “Sure, but what should it be?” he said. I quickly thought of the most literal thing possible, “How about a megaphone with flames comes out of it?” LOL’s all around. Mark scanned the coffee table, grabbed an open Netflix envelope and scribbled down the logo. It was brilliant and to this day it’s still in use.
As 2009 winded down another friend’s band Tjutjuna expressed interest in doing a 7-inch. As things came together it was decided that it would be a split with another legendary Denver band Fissure Mystic who had their own label at the time Din Records. This split 7-inch became the first proper Fire Talk release and was promoted as such. It was during this time that Woodsman had signed a one record deal with then upstart Brooklyn label Mexican Summer and transitioned into a new zone of semi notoriety. More than anything it gave me some insight into the record business and allowed me to apply some of that knowledge to building my own thing. The true turning point was in the spring of 2010 when my friend and Mark’s roommate Pat and his new wife Alaina arrived home from a sailing trip. They said they had this idea for a band and were going to demo a few songs. They brought me the demos and I was immediately blown away and offered to press the demos up as a 7-inch.
I used to throw shows at the house we all lived at in Denver called the Pink Castle and it just so happened that week some buds from New Jersey called Family Portrait were rolling through town. That night at the show Pat and Alaina met the Family Portrait dudes who also ran a little label called Underwater Peoples. It was in the next couple weeks Underwater Peoples and Fire Talk became the vessels to release those early Tennis recordings out into the world. This whole time I was still in school trying to finish a degree at the University of Colorado Denver. I remember editing video and stepping out of class to discuss the roll out of both 7’s with Evan Brody from UP. I still didn’t have a real clue as how to run a record label, but I was learning and I loved seeing my friends psyched on having their music translated to a physical format. I was hooked; I knew this was something I was going to do for a long time. Over the next few months I kept it small, releasing 7-inches from friends I’d met on the road: Dead Gaze, then living in Jackson, Mississippi, Dash Jacket from Irvine California and a bunch of others.
Towards the end of 2010 I decided it was time to make the jump to LPs. My first instinct was to contact a band I had been admiring for a minute called Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk. I’d seen them play once or twice on tour in Denver and was completely ripped up by the dense fog those dudes can conjure. They were coming through town again playing a long time favorite spot Rhinoceropolis and Mark came along to that show. After that set Mark and I knew these dudes were something special. I can’t remember if we chatted them up at the gig but shortly after I started corresponding with Drew Gibson from the band via the internet and we hashed out a plan to re-release a CD-R that had been circulating called “Skeletor and Me” on vinyl. Around that same time the Tjutjuna dudes were finishing up their first full length and it was a no brainer. We pressed that one up as well and the first two Fire Talk LPs emerged in late 2010 / early 2011.
Over the course of the next year I started getting into doing tape releases because Woodsman toured something like 160 days and it was much more manageable to work cassette releases than try and co-ordinate a vinyl release on the road. At the end of the year we had made the decision to re-locate to NYC. Mark had been living there since April or May of 2010 and flying back and forth a bunch. Dylan and I weren’t doing a whole lot in Denver and it made way more sense to all be in one place. We booked a 40 day tour to get us out there and I began selling off everything I owned. I stored the Fire Talk back stock and ventured East.
In late 2011 we landed in NYC and for the first 5 or 6 months I was floating around the city sub-letting here and there and eventually moving into an apartment. It’s here that I set up an office that I now run Fire Talk out of. 2012 was a re-building year for me so not much happened in way of releases. By 2013 I was completely set up in NYC and ready to fire the label back up again. I’m super psyched on everything we put out this past year and has time goes by it feels like I’m getting a better grip on everything. Feeling really great about the artists currently on the label from Baby Birds to the signing of Portland via Chicago based Campfires as well as this group of really young NYC kids called Turnip King who rip.
This next year we’re going to stick with our current business model; produce beautiful hand made vinyl records and cassettes in low quantities and distribute in house and online. I think keeping it chill has suited us well and I’m in it for the long haul. I’ve always felt it best to not rush things, take risks where applicable and make things happen when needed. Last, we always accept demos, we love demos, so send your unsolicited tunes to firstname.lastname@example.org Attn: DEMO.