FOLIO MUSIC

LONG Pond Hop, LONG Time Coming

Bakery Outlet Records brings German post-hardcore band Ten Volt Shock to America 12 years on

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St. Augustine’s Bakery Outlet Records is well-known for its commitment to local bands and the tight-knit Oldest City music scene. But Rich Diem’s little-label-that-could also boasts a national and international profile–and for the first time ever, Black Forest-born band Ten Volt Shock will be touring the United States. TVS’ first three albums were released by Bakery Outlet in the mid-to-late-2000s, a feat that still blows Diem’s mind. He founded the label in 2004 and still runs the place in between his full-time work as a teacher and part-time stints in umpteen local rock bands.

“Ten Volt Shock frontman Frank Otto’s previous band KURT was one of the first post-hardcore bands I was turned on to in the mid-’90s,” Diem tells Folio Weekly. “The energy and power of the music was right there, and pre-Internet, the searching and acquiring of their records was that much more rewarding. KURT toured the U.S. in 2000 with Milemarker, and my band Twelve Hour Turn got to play a few of their shows in Florida. Then, in 2001, we toured Germany, Spain and France with them for nine days–one of the last shows of that tour was with Ten Volt Shock for their first show. There was a political demonstration that ended at the venue, a huge meal was made for everyone, we played a great show, and then had a dance party afterwards until morning. What an introduction to Ten Volt Shock!”

Diem says he reached out to Otto and Ten Volt Shock with an offer to release their music on Bakery Outlet as nothing more than a friendly gesture. “If something didn’t happen naturally, we were always prepared to put out our own music, and it was very cool of Frank to accept the offer,” Diem says. “Bako-2, the second album put out by the label, was Ten Volt Shock’s first CD–and here I was working with these people I had looked up to. Two more TVS albums (6Null3, 78 Hours) followed, with me taking care of CD production and German label X-Mist, which is kind of a parallel of Gainesville’s No Idea Records, doing the LPs. All it was really about was trying to help spread the word about TVS to the USA. And now, 12 years later, they’re finally touring the USA!” Diem’s passion and joy
are evident.

Frank Otto seconds that emotion in an email interview from Germany. “It’s great to be able to do this–everything is DIY, which is always exciting because you never know what will happen. Ten Volt Shock has been for 17 years now touring Europe, Australia and Japan, so let’s just say it’s a gift to come to the U.S.”

Otto admits that the last few years have been quiet for Ten Volt Shock due to the demands of work, family, distance and other projects, including KURT, one of the European post-hardcore scene’s longest-running bands, and YASS, featuring Otto and Markus Brengartner. “Of course we are still practicing and writing new songs,” he writes. “But we put such a lot of effort and energy into the band and our music that we think it’s finally about time to pick some grapes.”

And in the hardcore world, when you stick to your guns for nearly 20 years, the resulting harvest will be bountiful. “The kind of music we enjoy playing is related to the ’90s Amphetamine Reptile Records noise bands with a modern post-punk touch,” Otto says. “Stuff like that doesn’t really change. We’ve started to use more pedals and loops, but we are still doing honest music with energy and passion, without any pretension, and apart from the dreadful music industry.” Laughing, he adds, “But we are not professional musicians, so we’ve been doing some finger exercises to advance our skills.”

In that sense, Frank Otto’s modesty is on par with Rich Diem’s legendary humility–which might explain why Ten Volt Shock and Bakery Outlet Records have enjoyed such a long and fruitful partnership. “Rich was a great helping hand way back in 2000 when KURT toured the East Coast, and of course he’s also a great person, which we appreciate very much. He’s far from the common music business guy–usually American labels are not that interested in European bands, so we are really thankful that Rich has helped us to distribute some of our records in the U.S.”

The rest of the bill for Ten Volt Shock’s July 31 show at Sarbez is equally stacked: Switzerland’s YC-CY, another iconic hardcore band on the esteemed X-Mist label, and local acts Early Disclaimers and Tubers. “Early Disclaimers is Andrew Virga’s current band,” Diem says. “He’s from St. Augustine but now resides in Gainesville, and Bakery Outlet put out a 7-inch of his previous band Cougs. So I’ve always been a fan–Early Disclaimers just put out a new cassette on Let’s Pretend that’s excellent as well.”

But Diem saves his most awestruck commentary for the reunion of Tubers, of which he’s an original member alongside Jeff McNally, co-owner of The Floridian and Stewart’s Market, Jacob Hamilton, who fronts or plays in at least 50 of St. Augustine’s best bands, and Matt Sweeting. “We always talk about resuming playing, writing, recording and touring on some more consistent level, but for now, parenthood, businesses and work take our time,” Diem says. “But all these years later, Frank Otto and Ten Volt Shock still influence me, so Tubers wouldn’t be playing again if TVS were not touring.”

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