Circa 2002, London’s music scene was thriving. Local bands were getting signed to indie labels left and right, and it was a struggle to choose which venue to hit up.
With so many good shows at Call the Office and the Embassy throughout the week, you had to buy a ticket or you wouldn’t get in, says Get Party! Records founder Dustin Anderson.
On Saturday, July 8, Anderson’s label Get Party! Records celebrated it’s five year anniversary at Call the Office with a stacked local lineup featuring Bet Your Life, Yeah Bud!, Twin, Curt Murder and Bleeter, and out of towners Lee Resistant and Off the Avenue.
“A lot of stuff’s changed – for the worst, for the better,” he explained. “Now, you’re trying hard just to drag 50 people out. I’ll never harsh on only 50 people coming out – if those people that are coming out are really into the music then it means a lot.”
Anderson started putting on shows at his house over seven years ago, dubbed the Dude Ranch. It wasn’t for lack of venues or places to play – but to do the same thing those he’s named pillars of our music community have done before him and continue to do: expose people to up-and-coming bands they might not have heard of, for the love of music.
Starting a label was always in the back of Anderson’s mind, and it came to fruition fresh off the heels of moving out of the Dude Ranch. More than 100 bands played the house he and his friends lived in, some multiple times, though they never intended for it to become what it was.
Running house shows enabled him to establish a network of bands from across the continent, down from Florida to Vancouver to Montreal, and also allowed him to cut his teeth a bit in the industry.
“The friendship and relationships with the bands, immediately when I came out of there I had a good friend group of people that I wanted to help support, put their music out,” said Anderson.
Living the hustle
A member of past local bands Stay Home and Wasted Potential, Anderson now plays in Snacks? and Talk Radio. Playing in up and coming bands, you struggle to put out an album, he explained.
“I feel like all these other bands were probably struggling with the same thing, so I took these friendships and said if you have a record coming out, we can try to help you. Let’s put it all under one umbrella, call it Get Party!”
Some of the first releases were bands that played the Dude Ranch, such as Stuck Out Here, Mad Murdocks, Brutal Youth and Stack and Large.
“I don’t think I knew what I was doing. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I was just adventurous,” said Anderson.
He thought he’d have to go to business school, or intern at a label, learn graphic design and PR to have his own label, instead he ended up doing it himself.
“Getting into punk rock and meeting people that ran their own label, I just went for it,” he explained. “I don’t think I had any realization of how hard it would be, how much stuff I’d have to learn, not to say it was hard and I don’t like it, but there’s so many little aspects of running a label that you’d never consider you’d have to do.”
He taught himself Photoshop to make posters, wrote his own promotional materials, contacted Indie zines and radio stations. It worked.
The label has now put out 35 releases, with more to come. They’ve also put on several fundraisers, including running the Movember cover shows for prostate cancer, a Trans Rights show with donations going to the Trans Legal Fund, and for Fort McMurray when wildfires ravaged the city.
Anderson also attributes the hard work of those who came before him to his success. He came to London when the scene was booming, and saw how hard Tony Lima of Call the Office and Brandon Eedy of Summercamp Productions worked (and still continue to work) to bring talent to the Forest City.
“People did it before you, you walked into it as a young kid, you don’t understand all the work that went into promoting the shows, building these bands,” Anderson explained. “If they didn’t do it, then you don’t have something to walk into it. There’s nothing for you to learn from.”
So for Anderson, Get Party! Records and putting on shows at the Dude Ranch, and now Call the Office, is a way for him to give back.
“You’re paying it forward,” he said. “You’re creating culture for your peers and the next generation of people to come, so hopefully it inspires them to keep putting out music.”
The leadership of those before him means a lot to Anderson, but also the support of other bands and members of the scene. Maybe shows aren’t packed like they used to be, and maybe a lot of the time it’s other musicians, but that means those people are passionate, and are there for the music, he explained, and that’s all he wants.
“It’s a community, it’s about supporting each other,” said Anderson. “You’ll get lazy, you’ll wanna stay inside. But it’s like, get off your butt, go out and watch shows. It might change your day, you might have an amazing night over it, and people would be really thrilled to see your face out.”
The Get Party! Records ethos is based on building community and opportunity for folks who are passionate about what they do. Anderson says the label was founded on friends who wanted to play music.
“We weren’t about making a lot of money, we weren’t about how many people came out. We cared about how passionate the few people that were involved that were coming out – the people who were putting out the music, the people who were recording the music, doing the art for the music.”
Anderson’s own passion for the scene and music is what brought him to this point today – reflecting on five years of Get Party! and more than 15 years of going to, playing and booking shows and being a part of something.
“And still to this day it’s not how talented your band is,” said Anderson. “It’s just how the band moves you. You go see the band live, and they might not be the most technical band. They might not be in queue all the time.
“But sometimes things just strike a chord in you, makes you want to sing along, makes you want to get off your ass and leave your house on a Saturday when you don’t want to spend any money, and you go out and you watch them and sing along to it. That’s what we want to do.”