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Running a Punk Band, Label and Studio Is a Blast for Chuck Dietrich
Chuck Dietrich plays guitar in revolving-door punk band Bullet Treatment and runs Basement Records, as well as Basement Rehearsals and Recording Studios. Feel lazy yet?
So the members have constantly changed in Bullet Treatment from the beginning?
It's kind of funny when people call it a band because it's not really a band per se. I had an idea about six or seven years ago when I started this thing. I realized that the majority of bands lose members. There wasn't a band I liked that still had the original members. Since that was going to happen anyway, I put together a project where I write the music and get different people to play on every record and not worry about having a band. It was really just for fun. People started liking it and wanting us to play shows.
So Bullet Treatment have since put out several records?
Yeah. I've always been a fan of old hardcore, the early-'80s kind of stuff. Almost every record we've done, we don't rehearse for. On the last release and a couple of records before that, the guys were never in the studio at the same time. On the newest release, the guys never met one another. That's the looseness of the whole project. I think that's added to it; the recordings sound kind of chaotic. There isn't a lot of thought put into it. That's something I like about the band.
How does it work for shows?
We've only done a handful. We've done a show with the exact same lineup maybe twice. We used to need two or three or four singers because they each had done enough material for a 7-inch record. That's about six minutes of music. To do a 20-minute set, we'd need a bunch of people changing on the microphone or on instruments. Since we did our full-length record, we can do a full 20-minute set with one lineup.
What is Basement Records?
That's my record label. I started the label around the time I started Bullet Treatment. I figured that would be a way to put Bullet Treatment records out. Then I started working with bands. The label did sort of what the band did and snowballed. I ended up buying a rehearsal studio. So now I have the label and a rehearsal studio, as well. I think I've released about 15, 20 records—a couple of bands from Back East, some local bands. I gauge things a bit different than a regular label. As opposed to what's going to sell, I ask if the band is hard-working, are they good guys, people I can trust and who will put forth as much effort as I do. In the kinds of music I do, there are different values. I run the label the same way I run the band. It's more of a family thing.
You mentioned your rehearsal studio.
It's so hard to play in your garage like you used to be able to. I had actually worked here when it was a different studio. This guy was looking to get rid of it. I wanted to keep everything in-house and under one roof, and it was an easy way. Some of the bands I've released I got to know at the studio. They'd go on tour for two months and come back. After a year of knowing that this band had their shit together but didn't have a connection in the world, I'd say, "Let's see about putting a record out." Every night, there are between five and 12 bands in the studio. It's a great way to meet bands.
Is your studio both a rehearsal and a recording studio?
Yeah. I have a guy who engineers regularly. I oversee things, help get guitar tones, that kind of stuff. I've always thought recording was sort of overrated. So many people are into certain recordings or certain studios. If you have a decent studio anywhere, as long as the band's good and the songs are good, you can record it however, and it's going to sound great. The old bands never had to go to multimillion-dollar studios—they just recorded in their garage, and all those records sound amazing. Set stuff up, get a Marshall [amplifier], and put a mic in front of it.