There exists across the globe a network of creators who produce audio and visual works for the sheer joy of art and a desire to to share the fruits of their labor with like-minded people. Among them you’ll find King Volume Records, a collaborative project between Los Angeles-based artist/musician/writer Chris Allison and Santa Fe artist/musician Todd Ryan White. These guys don’t care about the money; they care about the product and sharing it with as wide an audience as possible.
Earlier this winter, White and Allison curated and launched the first King Volume box set containing cassettes from Allison's band, Lord Loud as well as Lord Mountain from Santa Rosa, California, and Brooklyn's Dead Things—plus pins, stickers and download codes for each. They sold out fast. It would ultimately be fair to define these bands as "metal" (the term is broad, to say the least), though when it comes down to the intricacies of each, there is nuance. Think elements of psychedelic garage rock like fuzzy guitars and heaviness, but also slight pop sensibilities and a less-than-serious vibe. Mostly, the music is fun and pretty much anyone can get into it. The bands share certain stylistic choices, but there is variety and, if we're lucky, maybe even the kind of jams that'll change some minds about heavier fare.
"It's pretty accessible music," White says. "I think I really enjoy extreme music, but when it comes to the experience of wanting to represent music, I want to have open possibilities." Thus far, these possibilities have included the aforementioned box set, and future collections will adhere to a seasonal schedule (that means four sets and 12 bands per year) and a broader scope, geographically speaking. Preorders for King Volume's springtime release begin today, Feb. 1, and White says they expect to ship in late February or early March. With cassettes from Russia's Sonic Death, Norway's Steinsopp and Oakland's Mesmer, the variety expands even further, and those who order will get all the goodies listed above.
For White, King Volume is not only a means to showcase bands he's excited about. It's about spreading collaborative artworks as far as he can. Members from bands on the label create and design their own album art, either alone or in conjunction with White. "We're really just having fun, and it's this great format for mixing art and music, which has always been my most important goal as an artist and as a musician," he says. "[The box sets] are also really limited, which we're hoping will create collectors who want to have everything we put out, and that also keeps it manageable. … You get artwork and something physical, plus the download code, so you're taking something physical away with you and we also get to share the art."
At $20 apiece, it's affordable, too, and the point doesn't have anything to do with making money. And though White doesn't want to give too much away at the moment, subsequent sets will include South African bands and eventually, he hopes, a continental set with artists from all seven continents. "I don't know how we'll do Antarctica, but we're going to try," he says, only half-joking.
In the meantime, head on over to kingvolumerecords.bandcamp.com to hear music and buy merch like T-shirts bundled together with either one tape or a pin and, for a limited time, you can preorder that next set I was just talking about at a presale discount of just $16. Subsequent sets will follow a similar $16 early presale/$20 after official release structure, and you can believe it's a serious-ass value. White says that we can also expect King Volume's debut vinyl release, the forthcoming Pasé Paranoia by Lord Loud, to be available in the not-too-distant future.
"We're always told the music industry is dying, but bands have never been more creative or engaged," says White. "With just a little bit of vision, you can really be participating in some of the best music ever made without it being difficult and without really worrying about the cost."