Independent label Matador Records will celebrate its 10th anniversary in September with London and New York music festivals that will showcase some of the label's leading acts. Rockers Sleater-Kinney (London), Pavement and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (New York) and Yo la Tengo (London and New York) are among the headliners.
The three-day concert celebrations, which will be held Sept. 3-5 in
London and Sept. 23-25 in New York, will include bands from Matador's
current U.S. roster as well as acts signed to Matador Europe.
Olympia, Wash., band Sleater-Kinney, for example, are signed to another indie label, Kill Rock Stars, in the U.S., but they're handled by Matador overseas.
Matador, which was founded in 1989, also will release a double-CD Sept. 14 that will feature some of the label's greatest hits as well as previously unreleased tracks from its top artists. The complete lineup for the CD has not yet been announced but is expected to include songs from Pavement, Yo la Tengo, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Cat Power, according to a statement from the label.
Stephen Malkmus lead singer of Pavement, one of Matador's best-known bands said recently that being on the label, which prides itself on giving artists autonomy, has helped the band stay together over the years.
"We've been lucky with Matador," he said. "We haven't really had those hard, really grim years that other bands would go through where they break up. Imagine if we had been on Geffen for three records. We probably would have been really depressed by this point."
Pavement, who released their debut album, Slanted and Enchanted (1992) on Matador, recently released their fifth full-length album, Terror Twilight, which includes the track "Major Leagues" (RealAudio excerpt).
According to Matador founder and co-president Chris Lombardi, the label's mission is to support artists such as Pavement.
"We don't ask our artists to compromise their art. We don't ask them to go back to the studio and record a single," Lombardi said Tuesday (June 29) from the label's New York offices.
Although indie-rock artists such as Pavement have made up the core of Matador's roster over the years, the label recently has begun working with hip-hop and electronic artists, as well. Two New York hip-hop groups, the Arsonists and Non Phixion, soon will release albums on the label, and both bands will participate in the New York segment of Matador's anniversary celebration.
Lombardi said that when he founded Matador, he had modest goals. "It started off as a hobby, putting out bands that I liked." Those goals, he said, were shared by co-president Gerard Cosloy, who joined the company in 1990 and now supervises the Matador Europe division begun in 1996.
Even as Matador developed into a serious business in the early '90s, releasing albums by such artists as Superchunk and Teenage Fanclub, and later, Liz Phair and Guided by Voices, the company was thinking small. Lombardi described the label's early mindset as, "Hey, if we can sell records by groups that we like and keep the lights on and pay for pizzas and stuff, that's great."
The label's expansion led to mid-'90s deals with two major labels, Atlantic and Capitol. Though Matador is now once again fully independent, both Lombardi and Cosloy said dealing with those labels was ultimately a positive experience. "We didn't compromise the music we put out [and] we learned to be wiser businessmen we've only gotten smarter," Lombardi said.
Cosloy wrote in an e-mail from England that Matador's 10th anniversary is of note only because the label has maintained its original goals. "Reaching 10 years in and of itself isn't that important," he wrote. "That we've managed to do [so] while putting out good records, working with our friends and continuing to expand our musical horizons ... well, that's worth celebrating."
London, England; University of London Union, Manning Hall
Yo la Tengo
Wisdom of Harry
New York, N.Y.; Irving Plaza
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Yo la Tengo
Editorial Director Michael Goldberg contributed to this story.