The Short Version:
Started in 1996, Sly Records is a Portland, Oregon-based label and website. Our Weekly Waste section was updated every Wednesday for 500 weeks and is still archived here. For a detailed-yet-outdated history of the label or more info about the site, see below.
The (Further) History of Sly Records (The Long Version):
You can read our old history here, and seeing as such, I will try to avoid the same content. Basically, Sly Records was created in 1996 out of mainly high school boredom and bitterness. I think at the time I was convinced that I was the only person in my city, aside from co-founder Matt Fargo, who enjoyed independent type things. I was mainly inspired by two different pieces of music that I had purchased in previous years. The first was a tape compilation that I purchased sometime in '95 that was put out by a Portland label called Rectus Records. It came in a sandwich bag, including one cassette, a mini catalog and numerous other photocopied inserts. The music was obviously home recorded, and I'm talking "let's put a boom box in the middle of the room" home recorded, and was comprised of four very different bands. I remember thinking it hilarious that one tape was a band covering The White Album in its entirety, just very poorly. Seeing as how Rectus put everything out on cassettes with photocopied covers it made sense to me that I could do the same. It was the first time that it occurred to me that I could put out crappily recorded music in crappy packaging on crappy tapes, and to be honest, I was thrilled. First I had to learn to play music, but that is a whole other whatever this thing is. The other inspiration was a 45 I purchased a little later put out by another Portland label called Union Pole, called "I Present This." This was a great compilation and on the inside was a paper insert showing their catalog of I swear, like 60 something cassettes. It was these two pieces of music that I fashioned our releases and the label after. I even took to placing paper catalogs in our tapes, much like those of the Union Pole catalog. I still have my Rectus released Foo Yang Poo cassette and Union Pole released Wallpaper cassette and keep them with much Northwest hipster pride. These inspirations can explain why Sly stuck with the cassette format far longer than we probably should have. And we were cheap.
Following the cassette releases outlined in the old history thing we released a cassette by Pretty To Look At, entitled "Folks I Know." This is basically Matt on his own, recording eight songs in the summer after high school. I still to this day can't remember why I was not there. I think I had a girlfriend or something. I mean, we were a band at the time. Who knows? A year later Sly put out a tape by Low Flying Aircraft, which is basically yours truly, called "The Sound Of The Jump." Not to get serious, but I was going through a very tough time and thought to myself, "Why not write, record and perform an 18 song album in two weeks?" It still remains one of my favorite things that we ever released, mainly because it has guest appearances from other Sly members as well as just being kind of one of those weird, "this reminds of that time when" kind of things. Released almost simultaneously was Pretty To Look At's second cassette, "Hostile Faction In The Land Of The Rising Sun." This is probably Sly's second most popular release as I still get, well at least at Salem parties, drunken requests for this tape. I love it for the bizarre tape hiss that hums over the entire thing. "Procreation" is still one of my all time favorite songs, and I can say that since I only played drums on it, right? Matt and I recorded six more songs over the next year or so and then Matt moved to Japan for the next three years, effectively ending the band. We later released those songs on CD-R as the "Skin EP."
2001 was a big year for Sly Records as we entered into the late 90s and put out our first release on this thing called a compact disc. CAC was an idea that Cullen Drain and I had made up in high school as basically a joke. We liked hip hop music quite a bit and figured that we might as well rap ourselves (it doesn't sound that funny now, I know). So we had the name for years and when I moved to Portland Wockenfuss and I were bored one day and basically decided to record the first real CAC song (there is a sad attempt at a rap song on the Low Flying Aircraft tape, in which I shout "CAC" a bunch, but I like to act like that didn't happen), which became "Similes Spread Like Disease." We recorded what would become the "Cool As Cucumbers" album pretty much throughout the year 2000, piecing it together here and there. We were pretty gutsy/stupid and pressed up the CDs before ever playing a show. Our first show was our CD release party, which was my 22nd or 23rd birthday party. CAC was/is a weird thing for me, as I never really wanted to be a "front man," per se, and somehow found myself rapping in concert on a regular basis for like three years straight, to somewhat decent responses. I mean, up until this point I was mainly a drummer and making the transition to "guy that jumps around" was definitely a strange one. (I remember our first show neither of us knew what to do with ourselves). However, it provided me with probably the best times of my twenties as it gave our friends a reason to go out and have fun together. It was like a birthday party every month. And I do enjoy jumping up and down like a buffoon in front of drunken people. And I do enjoy the music video where I fly through the air. And I do enjoy sitting down and writing a rap that both rhymes a bunch and makes my brother laugh. If you know Wockenfuss, you know you have to earn his laughs, and nothing feels better than earning them via Sid Bream and Ace Ebb references. I always found it odd that we were always advertised incorrectly, you know, like CAB or DAC. I mean, it is three letters.
The rest of our releases were by Gopher Glory, which is once again basically me, this time attempting to play pop songs. I don't really know what to say about these. Umm, they are decent? I don't know. The second album cover has a picture of Claude Lemieux's infamous hit on Kris Draper, which I was very excited about. I really like the third album? I don't know. The third Gopher Glory album was my attempt at a concept record that basically sees me living in a dirty hipster dude ranch, falling in love with my future wife and then living the domestic life in the suburbs. I don't think that the three people that have that record understood my sheer genius. Shame on them.
The future of Sly Records (hopefully) will see the release of all the unreleased CAC material that we have been working on for six years. We have about 2 albums worth of stuff that all needs work here or there. We are hoping to finish it in a decent amount of time but why rush now? Me moving to Arizona has complicated things but this is still our intention. The Dearling Darlings was a band that consisted of myself, ex-Widgets Nick and Becki, and Black Black Black member Devin Gallagher. Word on the street was that we were "so so." We recorded basic parts for all of our songs but, sadly, it is unfinished. Seeing as how Nick and Becki live in Texas and Devin is in Oregon, this one could take some time. That's it. If you read this whole thing you are a champ. Let me know if you have any questions.
Biff Pocaroba, 03/15/07
This site was started in the fall of 2001, with plans for it to be a hub for our ever-expanding musical aspirations. This was during the turn-of-the-century pre-MySpace days, so we were on our own to create a site that could keep our six hardcore fans abreast of any and all developments. Once we figured out what a domain name was, how to purchase a domain name, and that the domain name was available, we were ecstatic about creating a web presence.
I was technically clueless but willing to learn, so I bought a few basic web design books, got a copy of Dreamweaver, and was on my way. I figured out enough to get the site up and running, and though it never looked incredibly sharp, it was functional enough. (Check out an archived version of the initial site here.)
There were two things Biff and I hated about musician's websites at that time: garish Flash intros and lack of updates. I had no clue how to even begin to use Flash, so that wasn't even on the table. But we knew that in order to get people to keep checking back with us, we'd have to update frequently. At some point, the idea of the Weekly Waste came to me. I tried to pick fairly open-ended subjects that we could talk about every week, so that we'd never have too much trouble coming up with material. We like music. We like movies. We don't suffer fools (gomes) gladly. Top Ten Lists were a feature of the short-lived Sly 'zine and I'm a huge Letterman fan. We were never particularly big slang guys, but our friend C-Dog had come up with a hilarious word that we just had to share with people, so that's how that started.
The Waste was updated like clockwork for a while, then updated days or weeks late here and there, and then I finally burned out on it during a rough patch in 2005-2006. The break served me well, as I resurrected it at the beginning of 2007, and I kept at it for six more years.
The Weekly Waste is now retired, but you can view our full archives here.
We've been referenced on salon.com and featured in the book Slang: The People's Poetry.
All content is written by me, unless otherwise specified, and I'm the one responsible for the design and maintenence of this site. Impressed?
If you have any questions about anything we do here, feel free to email me at brad at slyrecords.com.