5 Rue Christine

I was organizing some of my CDs the other night and found a couple of things that I hadn't listened to in a while. This included Hair Police's The Empty Quarter and No Neck Blues Band's Qvaris. I brought both discs to work the next day. As I was listening to Qvaris, I flipped the jewel case over and saw the ≠ that 5 Rue Christine used for their logo. This reminded me that the label is no longer an active entity and how much I liked them back in 2005 and 2006.

5 Rue Christine was a record label that was assisted by Kill Rock Stars. It was started in 1997 by KRS founder Slim Moon and put on hiatus in 2007 when Moon left to take a job at Nonesuch Records. Not to pigeonhole 5RC, but it was the home to all the unusual bands that wouldn't necessarily fit on Kill Rock Stars. Looking over the KRS roster, I really don't see much of a reason to separate the two groupings, but it must have made sense back in the day. I think there might have been the mindset in the late 1990s of the general punk/indie/hardcore scene not to fully accept weirder bands on established labels, so maybe a little subterfuge was needed to get the Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof out to the masses. Or maybe Moon just wanted to start a new project for fun. Whatever the case may have been, I'm glad 5RC happened.

I've always been a fan of more experimental music, thanks in large part to the dearly departed Brave New Waves radio show on the CBC. My level of fascination has varied a little over the years and in 2005 I was bored with a lot of the more popular indie rock. I had been keeping up with some of the newer bands like Hella, Lightning Bolt, Six Organs Of Admittance and Deerhoof from Brave New Waves. I wasn't exactly sure how much I liked what they were doing, but I was more than willing to give them a chance. At that point, I was the photo editor at the local paper. Two of the reporters, Nick and Justin, were younger and into those bands, along with Xiu Xiu, The Advantage, The Locust, Sonic Youth and Pavement. (I'm only throwing those last two in as a reference to connect the old with the new.) Anyway, now I had some people to talk to about these bands and could get a better sense of what they were about. They could help keep me up to date and I could fill them in on older stuff. And/or vice versa.

As a result, I started buying anything that 5RC put out until they closed up shop. In addition to Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu, I picked up Hella, Metalux - pictured, No Neck Blues Band and Excepter, too. I also got the Sur La Mer Samp-le-mer, which had a bunch of unreleased tracks along with a few classics, if that is the right word. There's a great Amps For Christ song on that CD. Of the bands on the label, I probably like Metalux and Hella the most, although that is subject to change depending on what sort of mood I'm in.

One of best things about the label was their artist statement:

1. 5RC gambles in inspiration. It throws out ideas engineered to provoke you. We can't help you understand how they make you feel. We are not here to aid or entertain you, but try to rifle out some kind of reaction.

2. We are nobody's poor cousin. We are not interested in hand-me-downs or castaways. We are not the branch of some other record label, we're a whole fucking forest. Soon you will recognize this.

3. Irony is dead and useless. We don't like irony.

4. Community is important to us. We want the people on our label and our friends and our consumers to be all swimming about in the same pool. We'd all live together in a big house if we could. But we can't.

5. There is nothing we aren't afraid to do. Music is fine but that's just the keystone in this organization. Today we release an album. Tomorrow we're dedicating a bridge in Tangiers. Friday we are all going to the sea-side. You get the idea.

6. We like noises and we like the spaces between noises and words and the sounds of words. We like the sounds of fax machines and static and babbling brooks and drive-thru's. Now that's what i call music.

7. Success has no place in our organization-as long as there's bread on the table and gas in the car that's enough. Sell four records we'll press you to our bosoms-sell a million and we'll gun you down.

8. People we would like on the label-Balzac, John Fante, Alexander Trocchi, all of ESP-Disk, E.S.G., Felt, Sam Fuller, all of EL, John Fahey, No Neck Blues Band, Gertrude Stein, all of cash money records, Balthus, Thomas Wolfe, anyone from Scotland, the whole medway sound, Leonard Cohen, Sunny Murray and The Beatles.

9. It is tasteless to talk about parameters, or to impose any kind of ideology or substance to any form of creative outlet. And so, much of what you come across should be ignored. Gaughin didn't start painting until he was 50, Kafka didn't have a thing printed in his lifetime. John Grisham releases things daily and he's an abortion.

10. "Chaos comes before all principles of order and entropy, it's neither a god or a maggot, its idiotic desires encompass and define every possible choreography, all meaningless aethers and phlogistons: its masks are crystallisations of its own facelessness, like clouds."-Hakim Bey.

11. It is better to be on 5RC than Kill Rock Stars, or anything else.

Maybe 5RC will come back some day. Maybe not. It was a good run while it lasted and made my life more interesting.

Note: The Metalux photo is from their show at Soundlab in Buffalo on July 8, 2009.

For more information:
Kill Rock Stars

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