Bobby Franks’ DIY music label Runnin In Place is a rebellious symbol of everything that the ad-plastered Strip is not. The label promotes overlooked local musicians in a natural, unpretentious way.
“It’s very basic, very honest and straightforward. There are no other aspirations than us playing music and making friends,” Franks says.
After a decade of thinking about starting a label, Franks, a bartender at Downtown Cocktail Room, decided to pull the trigger. Franks grew up in the punk scene, going to house shows and playing in bands himself. Running In Place highlights bands from this lifestyle.
“I decided I wanted to showcase Vegas bands that don’t necessarily fit into the mold of bands playing bars or trying to take the big stage,” he says. “Not saying the bands don’t have aspirations; they’re just very grassroots, play-to-your-tribe-style punk bands.”
Franks says that because so many people work in the service industry in Vegas, it’s difficult to get a decent crowd supporting local music on the weekends. House and warehouse shows provide a place to go during the week. There are other drawbacks playing music in a tourist town, too.
“One of the downsides of playing bar shows is, ‘Hey there’s 100 people in here, but 80 people are trying to get laid and 20 people care about this,’” he says.
Franks is hoping to flip that ratio with the four bands on his label so far: Dark Black, Bret Vee, Moon Blood and Oversight.
“Our goal is to take it step by step; take opportunities as they come along and not do anything unnatural,” says Dillon Shines, a singer and guitarist for Dark Black. That casual attitude made the band a good fit for Running In Place.
“Both of us were in a spot where it was beneficial to both of us,” Shines says. Dark Black didn’t think about putting out any official material until speaking with Franks. And by material, he means tangible material.
Franks will be printing 500 copies of each band’s record. Twenty-five percent of the copies go to the band, 100 for passing out to podcasts, radio stations, zines and trade, and the rest will be sold online and sent out for distribution.
“The vinyl format is the only permanent format for music. Digital is cool because it’s convenient, but in 20 years, where are those digital copies going to be? They are going to be floating somewhere on the internet or on dormant websites.
“The vinyl format—unless you cook it in an oven or set it outside in the Vegas heat—it’s pretty much going to stay intact,” Franks says.
The records were pressed at Gotta Groove Records out of Cleveland. Franks says he picked them for two reasons. One is because loud music doesn’t transfer well onto vinyl especially with modern formats of mixing and mastering.
“Digitally, louder is better. With vinyl, loud means distortion,” Franks says. With Gotta Grove’s punk-rock roots and experience, they can “put out heavier, faster, louder music so the quality of the music on the actual vinyl sounds up to par and almost better than the digital format.”
The other reason is, it’s kind of cool to get music pressed in the U.S.
All four bands will have their records out by January, which will come with digital downloads. The bands are also on Spotify and other streaming services. They will soon be found at 11th Street Records and Record City here in Vegas and other cities as well.
“I am going to get smaller distribution nationwide and, hopefully, worldwide,” Franks says. “Hopefully [we’ll] put a microscope on Las Vegas and make enough money back to continue doing records one at a time.”
On Friday at 8 p.m. at 11th Street Records, there will be a Running In Place label showcase with all four bands. Dark Black will also release their debut album.
Get to know Dark Black, Brett Vee, Moon Blood and Oversight before they play this weekend, as described by Franks.
Sounds like: Dark, moody, shoegaze post-punk.
“If you’re familiar with British shoegaze from the late-‘80s, early-‘90s like Creation Records’ [music], they remind of a band that would be on there. Dark, spooky The Cure stuff, but heavy like Sacred Bones Records-style bands. They are more alternative and approachable than other bands on the label, but still heavy.”
Sounds like: A combination of The Rentals, Weezer, the Ramones and Charlie Brown
“He was a one-man project who played in bands since the late ‘90—punk, hardcore, metal, sludge bands. Now he is playing dark, melancholy, bubblegum pop that has been run through a bunch of distortion.”
Sounds like: Fast, in-your-face punk rock
“They’re local punks. Female-fronted—I hate that term. I fucking hate that term—it’s in the style of Conflict or Crass or Minor Threat…Their demo tape prior to this coming out was a drawing of a Diva Cup. If you like old, fast hardcore, minute-long songs, it’s pretty solid.”
Sounds like: New York-style punk
“[They are] a bunch of friends from the eastside who play New York-style hardcore moshy music, but with smart lyrics. Not, ‘I’m gonna kick your ass’ tough-guy stuff. It’s very thought-provoking.”