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Starting a record label in 2002? You’d have to be crazy.
To still be running a record label in 2012? You’d have to be stupid.
There’s no doubt that Scott “Scotty Pop” Thurling is crazy/stupid.
And that’s exactly what the music business, especially the Australian music business, needs.
To tell the Popboomerang story, you have to go back to the beginning.
As I write these notes, I’m listening to PB 001 – Sarah Sarah’s EP, Sing Till It Hurts. Opening with a song called Dawson’s Creek, it’s a collection that captures a moment in time.
“New rock” was the sound of Melbourne in 2002. But on the day that Sarah Sarah launched the EP, Klinger singer Ben Birchall proclaimed from the Tote stage: “Pop is the new rock!”
As my Inpress buddy Martin Jones wrote, “The sunny pop that Sarah Sarah unabashedly revels in is just so exuberant it’s impossible to disregard.”
Boy/girl vocals, lashings of tambourine and handclaps, songs celebrating ’80s movies … Sarah Sarah had everything that I love about pop music.
It was the perfect first release for a new label, so fresh and innocent.
I think I called Sarah Sarah “the cutest pop band since Frente!”, or something like that. If truth be told, I just wanted to see my name on their press release.
I recall asking singer Kate Duncan where the band’s name came from. “We were reading the street press and came across a reviewer who wrote under the name ‘Sarah Sarah’,” she explained. “We thought if we called ourselves Sarah Sarah that person would write about us, but then she disappeared.”
And then, less than a year after they formed, Sarah Sarah disappeared, too.
Over the past decade, Scotty Pop and I have endured many band break-ups, and shared our own relationship break-ups.
We’ve also had many meetings in pubs. The conversation usually goes something like this:
Me: How’s the label going?
Scotty: Not so good. I think I’m going to have to stop.
This chat is usually followed by an email a week or two later:
“Hey, I’ve signed Deserters! I’ve also signed The Bon Scotts!”
And that’s the great thing about music – there’s always a wonderful new record to lift you from your lethargy.
Of course, my investment in Popboomerang is minimal compared to Scotty Pop’s; I’m a long-time listener, he’s a big-time spender.
Popboomerang has released some of my favourite records of the past decade: Skipping Girl Vinegar’s Keep Calm, Carry The Monkey, D. Rogers’ Sparks On The Tarmac, Jane Vs World’s 56k Hearts, Four Hour Sleep’s Love Specifics, Georgia Fields’ self-titled set, and Underminers’ Heart Part Of Your Mind.
It’s been a long, strange trip. Unpredictable, too. When Scotty Pop started the label with a brace of pop releases (Sarah Sarah, The Finkers, Tim Reid and Jericho), who would have thought he’d later sign theatrical shock rockers Go-Go Sapien?
Along the way, Scotty Pop also became a songwriter – check out the underrated 2010 album from The Sunshine Ponies, Mixtapes & Soundtracks, which was the label’s 50th release. Scotty wrote the songs with his then partner, who, ironically, was named Sarah.
In 2011, Scott and I were both at the wedding of Sarah Sarah singer Kate Duncan. So many years, so many tears, but so many great times.
“I was still in Year 12 when I met Scott in 2001,” Kate later told me.
“I remember he was this enigma that I’d heard about, but didn’t get to meet until quite a few months later. He always came up in conversation as that guy who had an amazing pop collection and knowledge of Australian music. I remember being utterly amazed the first time I saw his record collection. I spent hours looking through hundreds of vinyl records. I learned about so many of my all-time favourite bands through Scott.”
Asked for one word to describe Popboomerang, Kate replied,
“Scott brought so many fantastic local pop bands together. Through Scott, there was this amazing community of Melbourne bands who would play shows together and become good friends because of Scott’s knowledge and ear for great pop songs.”
Kate recalls going on the road with Scott; shows in Brisbane with Tamas Wells and Tim Reid, gigs in Sydney with The Crustaceans. “It was always nice to know that you could go to another town and have a bunch of Popboomerang bands who would be there to give you a raspberry lemonade when you got off stage,” she smiles.
“In many ways, Scott has been like the father of this massive family of struggling musicians.”
I remember a friend was excited when I introduced her to Scotty Pop at a gig.
“So Scotty runs Popboomerang,” she said later.
“How many people does he have working for him?”
From the number of releases in the past decade, you’d assume that this was a pop empire. In many ways, it is. But it’s also the ultimate one-man band.
Scotty Pop, crazy/stupid?
Indeed, he is.
And long may he continue to be.
- Jeff Jenkins, 2012
released October 1, 2012
Original artwork by Matt O'Neill
Mastering by Craig Pilkington at Audrey Studios
Liner notes by Jeff Jenkins
Thank you to all supportive fans, Popboomerang bands & media
Even bigger thank you to the Popboom "Pozibles"
Alex Watts, Alfred Daniel, Amiel Zwier, Andrew Brown, Ángel Darós,
Anna Burley, Anthea Cohen, Bill McDonald, Camilla Jackson, Celadore, Chris Bowden, Chris Murphy, Chris Parke, Courtney Barnett, Craig Jackson, Dan Craddock, Dani & Matt, Darren Downs, David Cinabro, DC Cardwell, Drew MacDonald, Ed Reed, Euan Troup, Georgina Whitby, Greg Edelmaier, Jamie McIndoe, Jean-Baptiste Haquet, Jeremy Gronow, Jimmy Buck, Joe Algeri, Julien Chick, Juliet Ward, Justin Hayward, Justin Naylor Kate Duncan, Kathryn Kernohan, Kieran Carroll, Kim Reid, Leigh Lee-Roy Stancliffe, Leon Salisbury, Livin' Music Management, Maria Sokratis, Marisa Brown, Mark Hopper, Mark Woodward, Matthew Coleman, Michael Fenemore-Cocks, Michelle Ho, Mirjam Adelaar,
Monica Okulicz, Morgan Weir, Nathan Jolly, Nathan Price,
Paul Evans, Penny Hewson, Peter Graham, Peter Scott, Randall Paske, Rebecca M Grant, Robert Pally, Robyn Clare, Ronald Kirk House, Scott Smith, Sean Bower, Simon Corderoy, Simon Moro,
Thoma O'Brien Jr., Tim Chmielewski, Tim Reid, Tom Collins &