Local record label put Death Cab for Cutie on the map

A local record label got it's first big break with Death Cab for Cutie.

It was Barsuk that put out the first Death Cab for Cutie record in the summer of 1998 and since then Barsuk has become one of the most artist friendly, successful labels around.

“When they formed Barsuk Records they did not want to sign my band at the time because they felt that my band had too many distortion pedals,” said musician John Roderick. “That's a direct quote.”

Before Christopher Possanza and Josh Rosenfeld started Barsuk records, they were members of a Seattle band called This Busy Monster.

“We thought getting signed would be a really great thing to happen to us,” said Rosenfeld. “And nobody signed us so we started our own record label.”

Most record labels started by bands fail, but Barsuk--named after Christopher's dog-- is still thriving thanks, in large part, to a handshake deal made one afternoon in Bellingham.

“Sometimes people ask me ‘Oh do you have any advice about starting a record label?’ and these days the economic environment is so horrible that I'm like DON'T DO IT! FLEE!” said Rosenfeld. “But if you're going to do it then you should sign Death Cab for Cutie as the first band that you work with.”

With music both pretty and personal, Death Cab for Cutie has become one of the biggest indie bands of our time.

Pronounced bar-sook, this "thing" had signed more smart indie bands like Nada Surf and John Roderick's Long Winters.

“They didn't mind that you made music that was challenging which set them apart,” said Roderick.

When Death Cab's 2003 album Transatlanticism sold more than half a million copies the band signed with a major label and Barsuk got a cut.

Barsuk has survived the pirating epidemic and continues to sign new bands like Eric Elbogen's Say Hi.

“I do think it's a label that will continue to put out great music,” said Elbogen.

Great music. Maybe that's the secret to Barsuk's success.

Copyright 2016 KING


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