Seminal L.A. punk band the Last formed in 1976, a year before Music Connection’s first issue hit newsstands. The band landed its first label deal with Southern California label Bomp! Records in ’79 and later signed to SST Records. The business has changed markedly in the intervening years, as the band has seen.
“At that time,” recalls band co-founder Joe Nolte of the early days, “there was no way to get signed. The majors had a complete lock on everything. There were just a few new labels starting to do things. This was the infancy of the do-it-yourself era. An unsigned band now has so many options; it’s much more of an even playing field.”
“The younger, fresher labels have fallen into the pattern that we were fighting against [in the ‘70s].”
The Last’s friends and connections made along the way paved the road to the band’s current label home. Drummer Bill Stevenson had a relationship with Jonathan Gill, co-founder of Austin indie label End Sounds. “It was good timing,” Nolte observes of the connection. “As we were recording, we started to approach some of the hip new labels. The universal response was, ‘The band is good, but aren’t they really old?’ It made me realize that things [in the industry] are better in one sense, but in another the younger, fresher labels have fallen into the pattern that we were fighting against [in the ‘70s]––having all of these requirements for being a rock star that had nothing to do with music. We elected not to settle.
“Bill ran into Jonathan,” Nolte continues. “They’d known each other for some time. With End Sounds, you’ve got a small label but you’ve also got Caroline Distribution, which is as level a playing field as you could hope for.” After some informal conversations, a deal with the label was sealed.
Danger, the Last’s seventh album and the first since 1996, will drop on Nov. 5th. The band has some festival dates scheduled and aim to hit the Coachella festival next year. Danger was produced and engineered by Stevenson.
– Rob Putnam