Apr 142004
Authors: Willow Welter

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

few reasons.

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,”

Dickerson said.

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