In 1999, Fleeman was busy playing in bands and booking shows for the Springwater. It was a breeding ground for friendships with a host of hard-edged local bands such as Psomni, Spider Virus and F.U.C.T., but he soon grew tired of seeing his favorite Nashville acts strapped for cash and unable to release their music.
Spat! began in 2001, when Fleeman met A.J. Schaefer at a Mike Watt show and both discovered they shared similar taste in music and lamented the dearth of local releases from that metal, punk and hardcore niche. Schaefer had some extra money stashed away from his day job at Warner Chapel Publishing and offered to front the cash to put out some records.
They approached local favorites Spider Virus, but the group split up before they could get the ball rolling, so the duo instead focused their attention on avant-garde rockers Psomni, pressing up 1,000 copies of their debut, Minimalism. The record was a modest success, so the pair moved on to issue releases by Fleeman’s own group dharmakaya and others such as Wally Pleasant, Silent Friction and Fall With Me.
Fall With Me was a milestone for the fledgling label, due in part to Fleeman and Schaefer’s decision to employ an inventive marketing scheme to promote the record. Instead of limiting merch to T-shirts and stickers, they emblazoned roach clips, condoms and cigarette lighters with the Spat! logo. It was a move that would not just pique the attention of college radio station promoters, but also score the band rotation. Fall With Me hit No. 15 on CMJ’s Loud Rock Charts.
Spat! has since released recordings by a number of local acts, notably the first official EP release by The Pink Spiders, The Pink Spiders Are Taking Over!, as well as the vinyl edition of their debut full-length, Hot Pink.
But last year, Spat! turned an entrepreneurial corner when they secured digital distribution through IODA, giving them access to iTunes and eMusic. Gone were the CD/vinyl pressing charges, and soon Fleeman and Schaefer were signing bands from the U.K. and Brazil to release digitally.
“People buy music for their iPods,” says Fleeman. “We’ve seen the fall of Tower Records. It would be foolish for us not to follow the way the industry is going.”With plans to rerelease all of F.U.C.T.’s records, Spat! is also working on recordings by newcomers The Outlaw Lovers and Inglewood. And finally, they can put out something out by Spider Virus, the band who almost started it all: a digital rerelease of the Steve Albini-produced Electric Erection will be available for download later this year. “We just signed Cancer Slug last night,” Fleeman says. “There’s no overhead. We can sign a band a day.” And the way things are going, they just might.
needs more candlelight! i like this song.
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