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Touch & Go – R.I.P?

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Along with the likes of SST, Chicago based label Touch & Go was the citadel of hardcore / punk / noise rock in the 80s, with such luminaries as Butthole Surfers, Big Black, Killdozer and Laughing Hyenas filling the label’s roster.

Unlike SST, however, the label didn’t gave up its original direction and by the end of the decade and was still putting out material by some of its flagship bands. Yet, when the early 90s alternative rock/grunge hysteria died down, Touch & Go started branching out in all kinds of different directions and started putting out anything from indie rock to dance records, with punk/hardcore bands not being the utmost priority on the label’s list anymore.

In September of 2006, the label celebrated its 25 anniversary and hosted a three-day concert in Chicago, which brought together both new and old acts, including Girls Against Boys, Pegboy, Killdozer, Didjits, Negative Approach, Scratch Acid, Man Or Astro-Man?, Big Black, Shellac and many others.

In 2009, the rumors started circulating that the label was going through financial problems and, not surprisingly, some started suggesting that it might fold for good. The rumors of label’s death, however, were exaggerated, but much like many other companies dealing with battered economy,  the label went into restructuring mode. According to a statement by Corey Rusk, the label’s owner:

It is with great sadness that we are reporting some major changes here at Touch and Go Records. Many of you may not be aware, but for nearly 2 decades, Touch and Go has provided manufacturing and distribution services for a select yet diverse group of other important independent record labels. Titles from these other labels populate the shelves of our warehouse alongside the titles on our own two labels, Touch and Go Records, and Quarterstick Records.

Unfortunately, as much as we love all of these labels, the current state of the economy has reached the point where we can no longer afford to continue this lesser known, yet important part of Touch and Go’s operations. Over the years, these labels have become part of our family, and it pains us to see them go. We wish them all the very best and we will be doing everything we can to help make the transition as easy as possible.

Touch and Go will be returning to its roots and focusing solely on being an independent record label. We’ll be busy for a few months working closely with the departing labels and scaling our company to an appropriate smaller size after their departure. It is the end of a grand chapter in Touch and Go’s history, but we also know that good things can come from new beginnings.

Further reading:

Stereogum – Touch & Go R.I.P

Brooklyn Vegan – Touch & Go cutting distribution, jobs


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