Rock and roll is an affair best left to the young. And when it comes to record label peeps, Shane Vader and Clara Salyer, both 17, are about as young as you'll find.
But there is no shortage of experience in the local music scene between them--Vader heads up local outfit Shoe Shiners, a band with whom he's been performing since he was 10 years old, and Salyer fronts Total Babe, the outstanding rock act, who is featured in this week's music section.
So when it came time for Ian Anderson, who runs the local behemoth Afternoon Records, to start a small imprint that would handle the smaller local releases that Afternoon had neither the time nor resources to put out, Vader and Salyer were shoe ins.
Shoe Shiners. Shane Vader, farthest right, co-heads Personal Best with Clara Salyer.
"He thought we'd make a good pair to make a more locally focused label," said Vader in an interview with Gimme Noise yesterday. "Afternoon is going in a more national direction, and can't afford to make the small local releases."
In June of this year, Anderson approached Vader and Salyer with the proposition--a small label that could distribute local bands that otherwise might go begging for release prospects--not for lack f talent or determination, but because the climate of the record industry is wintry to say the least, and those can make distribution a hassle for small upstarts.
Ta da--Personal Best was founded, and immediately began work with Vader's and Salyer's bands, as well as We Valedictorians, who is slated to be Personal Best's second release in early 2010.
For now, Vader and Salyer are refining recordings of the Shoe Shiners next full length, American Dreamboat, which should see light of day before the year is out, and We Valedictorian's upcoming release, which has yet to find a title, while scouting other bands to release.
"We don't want to just release our friends bands," says Vader. "We just wanna release good records that wouldn't get out otherwise. It's a way to keep going with the original intent of Afternoon."
When it comes to Personal Best, Ian Anderson is playing the role of the watchmaker God--he may have assembled the parts and wound it up, but he's being hands off, pulling few strings, and allowing Vader and Salyer (pictured to the left with her band) to have total control over the label's destiny.
Interested parties would do well to attend Personal Best's grand opening show, which goes down this Friday at the Music Box with Shoe Shiners, We Valedictorians, and Word Party. $10 gets you in the door for the all ages affair, and also gives you "I was there" bragging rights.
With the bravery of youth, and the endorsement of Afternoon, behind it, Personal Best has a leg up in an industry known best for its rate of failure. And with a renaissance of local music that sees bands like Moonstone and Slapping Purses on the Main Room stage, there is always a place for a local label ready to take a chance.