Q : Is 12XU devoted to any particular musical style?

A : As tempting as it is to paraphrase a memorable line from John Landis’ “Blues Brothers” (you know, the movie of his where no one was decapitated by a helicopter) – “we like punk and rock”, that just wouldn’t be true. The label’s inaugural releases from Joel RL Phelps and Spoon showed an obvious affinity for songwriters doing-their-own-thing, though both of those examples had very little in common besides their determined approach and tenures on the nebulous U.S. independent circuit. Rather than pander to weak minds who insist on new subgenres and prefabricated, PR-driven fantasy, we will insist that you figure this out for yourself (2012 addendum : this witch house stuff really blows).

The music biz’ love of catch-phrases and ‘movements’ fails to acknowledge the ties that bind Bob Dylan, Television, Ut, The Wipers, Suicide, Can, Radio Birdman, Moving Targets, Arcwelder, the Kinks, Barbara Manning,  Cherubs, Mission Of Burma, the Clean, ESG, 100 Flowers, V;, The Schramms, Teardrop Explodes, Richard Buckner, Antietam…we could go on all day. And no, post-punk does not actually exist. Some of the ties are more obvious than others, some are just within your own head. If a few of the above names aren’t familiar, that’s precisely the point – the way things are going, most artists of this caliber (obvious -generation-defining icons excepted) are likely to remain unknown/unsung/unpaid, with their sole hope of consolation being whatever association can be fashioned with a bogus scene or pathetic attempt at retro-ism. Let’s nail ourselves to the most obvious historical precedents and hope the blood doesn’t drip all over the place.

“Americana”, anyone? Is there any coincidence that this can be turned into an anagram of “I MACE IRAN”?


This might all sound a bit rich coming from a label named after a Wire song (!), but that song and what it represents to us is more about a launching pad than any kind of musical definition. We could’ve just as easily cited a painter (the person who did our front lounge is very talented). So yeah, we like rhythm and blues. Urban and contemporary. Death and metal. And hip fucking hooray for that, but tying any artist up in this mess does both them and the audience a massive disservice. Most of the bands on this label are coming from different corners of the rock universe. You are invited to explore those corners on your own.  (2012 addendum : make mental note to give a shorter answer next time).

Q: What’s the deal with a (formerly based in) London label releasing records by veteran U.S. independent acts?

A: There’s no particularly affinity to nation or region – though one of the label’s financial backers once lost his luggage in Austin, and spent a couple of years in Seattle one weekend. There’s no real Montana connection, aside from the universal respect accorded to U.S. gridiron legend Joe Montana (who was in fact, from somewhere else). Aside from that sentimental crap, just a coincidence. Locally based artists were never excluded from consideration – if the Desperate Bicycles had been looking to get back together, we’d have loved to have heard from them.

Late ’04 addendum : the label is now based in Austin, Texas. So never mind all of the above. Locally based artists are now excluded from consideration (unless The Bang Gang would like to get back together).

Q : Who owns 12XU?

A: 12XU is owned and managed by Gerard Cosloy.

Q : Is 12XU affiliated with another large, fearsome record label?

A: Yes. 12XU shares corporate offices, warehousing and production facilities with Parallelism another Austin-based independent devoted to confusing music without vocals (there was once an actual section for this fast growing genre at HMV, believe it or not).

Q : How can my publication, radio station website or sewing circle obtain promotional copies of 12XU releases?

A: You can ask politely, but sending a sample of your work is the best thing to do. For example, journalists can send copies of their published efforts. Broadcasters can send us their most recent playlist. Sewing enthusiasts can send us jpegs of themselves naked (save for mittens they have knitted themselves). Be advised that we have a limited quantity of free stuff to throw around, as we prefer to sell records than give them away. So don’t take it personally.  (2012 addendum : we’re slightly less dicky/miserly about sending digital files to journalists).

Q: I’m an unsigned artist. What’s the best way of getting 12XU’s mysterious owners to check out my material?

A : In the words of Dave Edmunds, I hear you knockin’, but you can’t come in. You are welcome to send whatever unsolicited materials you want to our Austin address, but we are under no obligation to review or respond. Persistent nagging via e-mail will result in an aerial attack on your homeland. Bombs away!

Q: What does “unsolicited” mean?

Is there an emoticon that looks kind of like a mushroom cloud?

Q : Is there any useful advice you can give to aspiring members of your artist roster? Is there some special musical criteria?

A : Ah, the age-old puzzler, “how can I be down?” Sorry to be so difficult about things, but giving out answers like that isn’t very fair to the creative geniuses who have worked so hard to become part of 12XU’s extended family. It isn’t fair to our shareholders, either. It would be analogous to you walking into Kentucky Fried Chicken and demanding to see the Colonel’s Secret Recipe. The Colonel isn’t going to show you his Secret Recipe. Chris Brokaw isn’t gonna xerox his Secret Recipe. And if you ask us for the Secret Recipe, you’ll get a drumstick right in the eye socket.

Q: is 12XU affiliated with Wire in some capacity?

A: No, unless you mean the time-honored relationship between visionary artists and sleazy entrepreneurs without an original idea to save their lives. We remain grateful to the former for not suing the fuck out of us.

The label name 12XU, is stolen without permission from Wire’s composition of the same name, which can be found on their Pink Flag album. For more information about Wire, please visit Pink Flag.com

Q : When did 12XU begin?

A: The autumn of 2000.

Q : Is the label looking for staff?

A: That depends. How much can you bench press? (2012 addendum :  The answer is no.  No one ever got this joke and we kept getting resumes from people who’d worked at Gold’s Gym).

Q : Why are most of your older titles unavailable for sale?

Are you sitting down?  You might wanna grab a snack or a cold drink.  In most cases, the rights to the early 12XU releases have either reverted to the artists or the labels we licensed them from.  In the handful of instances that aren’t covered by those provisions, we’ve no stock to sell because all of it went up in flames in August of 2009 (this isn’t a joke — you can google that shit if you’re so inclined).   Spoon’s back catalog is effectively handled in the US by Merge, while major portions of Silkworm’s back catalog are still available thru Touch & Go.

Q : Who distributes 12XU?

A: US retailers can contact Revolver. If you are interested in carrying our titles for re-sale to stores or for mail order, please e-mail us at info@12XU.net.