They never anticipated signing a record deal with the dude in the blond wig and skirt, bashing out punk rock covers of Britney Spears tunes.
It was a few years ago and long-running Vegas hardcore punks Guilty By Association were booking a tour, trying to land a show in Portland, Ore., on a Tuesday night to no avail.
Then the group heard from Allan Carter, drummer in Spears cover band Hit Me Baby as well as rockers Attack Ships on Fire, offering to add them to a show that was doubling as a video shoot for the tribute act.
The gig went off, Guilty played to a packed room, and the day was saved.
Then last spring, Carter came to town to launch SquidHat Records, which has inked deals with a number of Vegas bands in the past year, including The Gashers, The Dirty Panties, Pet Tigers, The Quitters and more.
Most recently, Carter signed Guilty By Association, making them the latest addition to their fast-growing roster.
“If you guys would have told me that night when he was dressed up that we were going to sign with him one day, I wouldn’t have believed you,” grins drummer Billy Nunno, clad in a Dwarves shirt while having a beer at the Motor City Cafe on a recent Wednesday.
The deal came at just the right time for this bunch, which has been going hard for more than a dozen years now, doing everything on its own, from booking tours to putting out records.
But the group’s future wasn’t necessarily a given after more than a decade of grinding it out.
“It did feel like it was coming to an end there,” singer Mike Janoff says. “We were talking about maybe putting out one more album, kind of calling it quits, toning it way back. Now that this has come about, there’s a whole new desire to go, go, go. It’s kind of a rebirth.”
In July, SquidHat will reissue Guilty By Association’s first two records, the long out of print “Detox” and 2010’s “American Decay,” on a single disc.
Then, the group, rounded out by guitarists Bobby Bloss and Tom Jones, will hit the studio later in the summer to track its third album, which should be out early next year and will benefit from SquidHat’s nationwide distribution network.
For such a blue-collar, DIY band, which once recorded an album in a kitchen, the idea of someone else helping on the business and marketing side of things is a welcome development.
“We’ve always been wary of labels to begin with,” says bassist Craig Swanson, who sports a beard as thick as a juniper bush. “I can’t believe that we actually found something that works for us. For this to materialize and get to a point where everyone could agree on what was going down, it’s nothing short of a miracle, man.”
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0476.