Mike Schulman is the owner of the Oakland-based label Slumberland Records, which has hosted a select indie pop roster for over two decades, including now-legends like Black Tambourine and current indie pop darlings like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. This Saturday at the Rickshaw Stop (5pm, $15), the label’s throwing a showcase as part of this year’s SF Popfest, featuring a variety of great Slumberland bands. We spoke with Schulman about what’s going down at the showcase, and have come up with five great reasons to add it to your weekend itinerary.
1. You’ll get a chance to witness an international sampling of UK, Bay Area, and LA indie pop.
Saturday’s bill features a mix of local bands, including the fuzzy drum machine charm of The Art Museums, noise pop bands like Brilliant Colors, and the harder, punk sound of Terry Malts, alongside representatives of the UK and C86 movement, 14 Iced Bears and Phil Wilson of The June Brides, as well as SoCal’s Devon Williams, Neverever, and Sea Lions.
The Art Museums – “Dancing With a Hole in Your Heart”
Geographically speaking, the label has maintained heavy concentrations in California and the UK. When asked about this connection, Schulman cited his adoration of late-70s UK punk as the origin. “Once we started working on the label it made sense to approach some of the UK bands we liked since it seemed like they were really under-appreciated in America,” he explained. “That led to working with Jane Pow and Stereolab, and then Boyracer, Hood, et cetera.”
2. This will be showcase headliners 14 Iced Bears’ first time playing on the West Coast.
It’s pretty incredible that this band, formed in the mid-80s and often associated with the C86 thing, is playing the West Coast for the first time as part of Popfest. For followers of Slumberland’s discography after 2001, this might not sound as significant, so Schulman explained his patronage of 14 Iced Bears:
[Their] first few singles and LP from 1986-1988 were a huge influence on me at the time, and were really crucial to all the original Slumberland posse. They have this amazing balance of pop songwriting and an almost psychedelic approach to guitar noise and production that just totally sends me. They might not have been the best-known of that era’s indie/pop bands, but I’d put those records up against any of them.
14 Iced Bears – Miles Away (Peel Session) by sfpopfest
3. You won’t be hearing a lot of the same thing: Slumberland’s roster is diverse.
Not only is the showcase a crosscutting of the label’s sounds of yesterday and today, the current roster hails from a pretty wide variety of pop music locations. “I think it’s cool that there’s a fair amount of variety on the label,” Schulman said, “so our bands can complement each other without it just being a bunch of nights of shows where all the bands sound the same.”
4. There are super-new local bands to check out, including Terry Malts and Kids on a Crime Spree.
Terry Malts isn’t a new name to us, but this will be one of the first shows where they could entertain a larger audience (we’ve previously mentioned their low-profile ways). The band released a 7″ with Slumberland last month; apparently Schulman was turned onto them by a Black Tambourine knockoff badge design he noticed on a member of Weekend:
I asked him about it and he was kind of funny about it, like “you should check them out” but not really telling me much about it. I got a hold of the tape though and just immediately loved it; those guys write great songs and I’ve always liked punky power-pop.
Kids on a Crime Spree is new out of Oakland, whose EP We Love You So Bad is due out on the day of the Slumberland showcase: Saturday, May 28. We served up their first single, “Sweet Tooth,” earlier this month.
Kids on a Crime Spree – “Sweet Tooth”
5. It’s a chance to celebrate a label that has released a ton of excellent records, and has a bunch of exciting releases forthcoming in the near future.
When I asked about Weekend’s follow-up EP on Slumberland, Mike wouldn’t spill, but said that the EP will be “face-meltingly great.” Sounds like that’s about as much information we’ll get on that topic until the press releases disperse.
Schulman promised upcoming releases from Frankie Rose & the Outs, Devon Williams, and, “we’ve just picked up a few other bands that we’d love to tell you about but can’t announce quite yet.” The label is also about to launch an archive series, starting with a vinyl-only compilation of all the recordings from the short-lived Berkeley pop band, Go Sailor.