"The problem with records today is that they kind of disappear after two weeks," says Paal Nilssen-Love. "Keeping the catalogue in print is important so that it's always visible."
Scandinavian power jazz trio The Thing recently announced that they would be starting their own label, bringing all their music under one roof. The release schedule for The Thing Records begins in November with their new album, Boot!.
But The Thing aren't the only ones bringing their work together: In the last fortnight AtomTM announced the launch of his own label, archiving all of his past output, and Sasu Ripatti (aka Vladislav Delay) started his own imprint, though he'll be using it as a studio diary rather than as an archive. Death Grips also recently took control of their output with Thirdworlds records. It's nothing new for artists to self-release (musicians like Richard Skelton and Jandek, among others, have always kept things in house) but it's notable that these recent artist-run imprints are from established musicians who've worked under various aliases and line ups with only one or two labels, for a decade or more.
Being a label head is nothing new to members of The Thing: all three already run their own – Mats Gustafsson ran Blue Tower in the 1990s, Crazy Wisdom in the early 00s and Slottet in the mid-00s and now runs record trading site Discaholic Corner, as well as Olof Bright with Thomas Millroth. Paal Nilssen-Love has PNL, and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten runs Tektite records with his wife.
The Thing Records will collect together all their previous releases through Smalltown Supersound and Gustafsson's Crazy Wisdom, with Austrian label Trost handling distribution. At the same time as Boot!, there are also plans to release 2011 Smalltown Supersound album Mono on vinyl (originally only released on CD), and into next year their 2004 album Garage will be released, along with a collaboration with Thurston Moore. "It is a ton of work," says Nilssen-Love. "The three of us have different things to do, and it almost became a mess with three chefs basically – too many cooks."
How much and what gets put into print depends on money, but the aim is to have the entirety of The Thing's back catalogue in print on vinyl, and eventually offer downloads. Nilssen-Love says: "On tour, people ask 'Why haven't you got this record?' and we've got to say 'Oh it was sold out at the distribution' or explain that it's stuck at some warehouse, but I think its important to keep the back catalogue alive, not just as downloads."
Further into the future, the possibility of putting together a box set has been raised: "When we've got everything out, then we might make a box set out of it, sell it cheaper, and have something special. We did some crazy stuff with a box that Joakim [Haugland, Smalltown Supersound label head] put out, where we cut up the T-shirts that we wore on the tour and laminated them. If we do it, it will be something special, something funny."
Boot! will be released on 11 November on the newly incorporated The Thing Records.