Rocket Shop July 31, 2013: Stick Shift Records

Alyssa & Kelly from Stick Shift Records Interview by Nick Carter. Photos by James Lockridge.

Alyssa and Kelly from Stick Shift Records joined host Adam Desrochers on Rocket Shop tonight to play tracks from the new compilation CD, 'First Gear: Feminism in the Northeast.'First Gear' is the first record released by the DIY Feminist micro-label Stick Shift Records, based in Burlington, Vermont. The compilation features 13 songs by feminist bands from New England and New York, and it showcases some of the best feminist, women, queer identified, and trans identified musicians in the Northeast punk scene, including three bands from Vermont. Check out the Bandcamp album page!

The Stick Shift Records Interview

Talking DIY, feminism, the 'mosh grope' and the future of the independent record label with Kelly of Stick Shift Records and the band Doll Fight!

Stick Shift Records is a small DIY, feminist, punk record label based in Burlington, Vermont. I sat down with the Girls Rock instructor, Doll Fight! member and all around community badass Kelly (on the right in the photo above) and her Toasters T-shirt clad and artistically inclined partner Alyssa on the eve of the release of Stick Shift Records’ debut release, 'Feminism in the Northeast: First Gear.' It’s a community-minded compilation of New England & New York punk bands dedicated to making the punk scene a more feminist, queer-inclusive, anti-racist, anti-sexist community.

In the age of the click and play, online dominated one-song attention span music space, with songs flying at you from all directions, Stick Shift Records wants to direct you towards some pretty gnarly tunes with a powerful message of community, tolerance, and standing up against the bull.

Kelly’s definitely the talker of the duo but Alyssa got her two-cents in here and there….enjoy!

Nick: You're bringing back the 'comp! I grew up listening to compilations from Nitro, Epitaph, whatever but haven't seen too many recently. Why'd you go down that route?

Kelly: I miss the compilation format, my formative years listening to music were really, like, Epitaph comps, and like DIY comps and from the local DIY scene and community that I was in Connecticut and it's just that's how I'd find out about new bands and music, I would check out the latest comp. Now that we have the internet, everyone just checks things out online but, I think that there’s something to a comp, its kind of an art form itself.

Part of the vision of the label was about building community and a compilation seemed like a really good way to do that because I could get all these different bands from all over New England, and the comp's regional; New England and New York bands from our immediate community.

Nick: So who's behind Stick Shift and how'd it all come together?

Kelley: The label is pretty much me, and my partner Alyssa (Alyssa grins at the earned recognition) does a lot of the design work, like the logo and on the rare instances when I do design I'm really not good at it, so Alyssa handles most of that stuff, and is the primary artist. I do the business end and work with all the bands, make all the copy. I took a lot of inspiration  from Mike Park who runs Asian Man records in San Diego.

Alyssa and Kelly discuss proximity of San Diego to San Francisco “dude, I’m a East Coaster…”

….and that idea of any money that I make goes straight to the bands, not necessarily to their pockets but towards releasing more music by more artists. I mean, there is some overhead, it's pretty low overhead, but still some costs involved with making CDs and stuff yourself, gotta buy lots of ink!

Nick: At the risk of sounding like a job interview, where you see this label in five years?

Kelly: I would hope that we would be beyond compilations as our exclusive format, I mean this is our first record so it’s the only thing we've exclusively done,  but my hope is that in five years that we've put out a couple of compilations, got a couple donations in, raised a little bit of money, and be able to front recording and production costs for a local Burlington band, help with promotion, really back them up on it, at least one band in five years, hopefully two to three bands in five years.

Nick: Even here in progressive Burlington in 2013 you go to any hardcore show or wherever and its largely dominated by a male audience and male artists, so what's been the response from the bros? Are they supportive or telling you to take a hike?

Kelly: It’s been mixed, like some weird stuff has happened. I went flyering for Doll Fight!, especially when we're playing with other feminist bands, and gone down the main strip down South Winooski and have come back and all of our fliers are torn down, just ours! And the fliers are ripped like someone was like "That girl band flier, I'm taking down." It happened more when Doll Fight! first started and gradually got less and less so I see that as a positive change (credit metz). In terms of the record label, my clarifying moment when I decided to do something was when I went to see the Toasters at Metronome last fall and there was a pit which was weird for a ska show for me but anyway I was on  the edge of that and people were moshing or whatever and over the course of that show I had three different men grope me; the first guy pinched me, like on the sides and I shoved him in his chest and the second guy just like popped out of the pit and like just grabbed by boobs as if he was going to fall if he didn't.

Nick: Ha, how convenient!

Kelly:(laughs) Kelly: Right, conveniently there to cushion his landing... then somebody else like slapped by butt, while I was standing around and I didn't even see who it was I just saw a big hairy hand retract into the crowd and that was like the tipping point for me, I was like this is fucking ridiculous and I decided I needed to do something. You gotta make shows a safe place for women and queer people and then I think that's really a more effective way to making things better.

Nick: I remember reading an Ian Mackaye interview from a while ago about how he felt that hardcore was going in this direction of a one dimensional experience where the audience is just standing there and getting yelled at when it needs to be a much more inclusive experience, more communication and an understanding between everyone present.

Kelly: Yeah, that's kind of what punk is all about, like bands supporting each other. Everyone's in it together, shows are more like happenings, and people want to support each other. If people are getting stomped on in the pit...

Nick: ... Ya know, groped?

Kelly: (laughs) Right, who wants to get groped? Like, if you've got a supportive scene with people having fun together and not people being like ‘how tough I can be in the pit’ or  ‘how many people I can knock down and how many drinks I can have?’ You have to change that, people gotta be like, okay, I'm going to have fun with a bunch of cool people, it’s gonna be awesome, that's the unity everyone's always talking about in punk rock and that disappeared somewhere. I mean, you see it in pockets in bits and pieces, and that's what I want to bring back!

Hell yeah, Stick Shift, Check ‘em out at