The Colorado music scene is comprised of a web of relationships
between bands, fans, venues, record labels and promotion companies.
These groups support each other, in fact, they need each other, in
order to weave a network that allows new music to thrive.
Adam Lancaster, vocalist and guitarist of the Denver-based
indie-rock band Curious Yellow, said Colorado’s music scene is very
different from that in Minneapolis, where he formerly lived.
“The scene in Minneapolis is great. It just seems like everyone
is a lot more open to different kinds of music,” he said. “The
people here are kind of cliquey. There’s indie bands and bar bands.
They don’t play together; they don’t like each other. I think it
hurts the scene here.”
Yet Virgil Dickerson, co-founder and owner of local record label
Suburban Home Records, said that there are some positive aspects to
the Colorado music scene.
“I think there are a lot of bright spots in our local scene,” he
said. “There are so many amazing bands and some of them are
starting to get international recognition. Plus, one thing that
separates the Colorado music scene from scenes like New York’s or
the scene in L.A. is that bands start with the idea of having fun
and doing something they enjoy, not with ideas of wealth and
On the other side of the business are record labels that strive
to help bands like Curious Yellow get their start.
Suburban Home Records, based in Denver, is one of the largest,
most successful labels in Colorado. Record labels such as Suburban
Home can be responsible for “signing” bands, promoting them,
recording their albums and booking live shows.
But despite their previous success in Colorado, Suburban Home
Records is currently facing hard times.
Virgil Dickerson, co-founder and owner of Suburban Home, said
the financial difficulties they are experiencing came about for a
One of these factors was a $40,000 return of unsold merchandise
from one of their biggest distributors. That return is four or five
times than what the business normally expects to get as a
“We have the ability to get our records in stores like Tower,
Virgin, Best Buy, etc.,” Dickerson said. “And since so many of
those retailers experienced bad holiday seasons, they had a lot of
records to return to our biggest distributor who in turn returned
them to us.”
This doesn’t mean the record label must pay $40,000 back to
their distributor, it just means they will not receive a payment
until the money is “recouped.”
Dickerson began Suburban Home Records in the mid ’90s after
falling in love with punk rock. The label’s staff now has eight
“in-house” members who produce and promote Colorado bands
including, The Adventures of Jet, The Fairlanes, The Gamits, Laymen
Terms, Love Me Destroyer and Stereotyperider.
Laymen Terms, a four-piece rock outfit from Colorado Springs,
released their latest EP, “Three Weeks In,” on Suburban Home
Records on March 3. Dickerson and the crew at Suburban Home
produced the album in their studio and have been promoting it ever
Andy Tanner, Laymen Terms’ lead singer and guitarist, said he
and the band look for a few qualities in record labels.
“(We look for) good distribution, honesty and someone who really
believes in us and will do whatever they can to help us,” Tanner
Before Suburban Home Records produced Laymen Terms’ material,
the band members had already traveled to several states on a few
separate tours, selling most of their CDs at live shows, and some
through their Web site.
Curious Yellow’s four members also released one CD independently
and will record another one in May. Releasing an album
independently means the band does most or all of its own promotion
and relies on selling CDs at live shows or through its Web
Meanwhile, Suburban Home Records continues to survive despite
recent money troubles. The business has received support from all
over the world in the form of fans that purchased merchandise and
attended shows, among other things. Suburban Home also held a
benefit show in Denver on March 13, featuring Laymen Terms and
other bands, to raise money. The show brought in close to $5,000
through silent auctions, merchandise sales and revenue from ticket
“We are confident we will make it through all of this,”