I'm ashamed to say that I missed The Gabe & Amy Show's record-release party at Wild Bill's last Thursday night, but I was determined to catch up with Wrecked 'Em Records head Sugar Daddy over the weekend. The mysterious label boss wasn't in his regular roost at the Lamplighter, nor was he lounging in a booth at his other standard hangout, the P&H Café. I finally put in a phone call to the elusive label boss, who rang me back from Greenville, Mississippi.
"I drove down to Jackson last night to see Mr. Airplane Man," Sugar Daddy said. "Those chicks are dynamite!" He met the Boston-based duo at the Lamplighter when they were here recording their full-length debut Red Lite with Monsieur Jeffrey Evans and says he'd like to put a single out with them.
The Tennessee native never saw himself as a label owner, but Wrecked 'Em Records was apparently somewhere in the back of his mind. As Sugar Daddy explains, "It goes back to the band The Used, from my days in Knoxville. They were never properly documented, even though that's what I remember most about Knoxville --hanging out and going to their shows. They broke up shortly after I came back to Memphis. Three guys from the band went [on to form] Superdrag."
It took a little convincing, but Wrecked 'Em got the Used to reform long enough to cut 12 songs at Stealth Studio in Knoxville. The tracks haven't been mixed, but Sugar Daddy is confident that the album will be released soon. "Now there's another band called the Used on MTV -- one of the guys is dating Kelly Osbourne. They're worthless," Sugar Daddy sneers. "The Knoxville band had the name first, but I wonder what kind of reaction we'll get when this CD comes out."
Sugar Daddy connected with Bill Parker & His Mother Scratchers through another unlikely source. "I used to do a Flaming Lips fanzine called Incubator," he says. "Arlo Scratcher and I became friends through that. We met when he got me tickets to see Kiss in Detroit in '96. Two years ago, he mentioned an album he'd recorded and asked me if I wanted to put it out." The album, United We Stand, was Wrecked 'Em's first release. A double EP by Nashville's Flesh Vehicle soon followed.
But don't think that he doesn't take his business seriously. Wrecked 'Em's deals are simple: They press 1,000 CDs, 100 of which go directly to the band. Another 150 CDs are earmarked for promotional purposes, while the rest are sold in stores and via Wrecked-Em.com. After expenses, profits are split 50-50 between the label and artist. Sugar Daddy, who, like many local labels, cites distribution as a major problem, says, "I don't know what the hell I'm doing, but I'll learn from my mistakes. The music is there. I just have to get it to the right people."
Upcoming releases include a South Filthy single and, Sugar Daddy hopes, a CD from Rev. Vince Anderson, a gruff-voiced ordained minister/rock-and-roll wildman who will be performing at the Hi-Tone Café on Saturday, March 22nd, with a band that includes guitarist Jack Yarber and bassist Harlan Bobo.
"It took me six months to decide," Amy Kudela says when asked about the Gabe & Amy Show's Wrecked 'Em debut. "I hate the name. It has no class! I love Sugar Daddy, and I appreciate him, but I can't believe our first product says 'Wrecked 'Em.' I almost had a breakdown over that."
"Hopefully, someone will see that we have an album in us," Kudela says, adding that the rockabilly-influenced trio has plenty of material ready to go. The Gabe & Amy Show also has a live video and CD (recorded at Murphy's) coming out on Les Birchfield's Eye Reckon label. "I'm happy to have documented what we've done at Murphy's," Kudela says, "but we've worn out Memphis."
So, later this month, Gabe and Amy will move to New Mexico. "Gabe wants to focus on his art, and we both want to reinvent ourselves as musicians," Kudela says. "We've bought a gutstring guitar, and I plan to learn how to bow my bass. We want to make music fun again."
The Gabe & Amy Show will perform at Murphy's on St. Patrick's Day, then Gabe will take the Greyhound west to find their new home. Amy is staying behind to host an art show March 21st through 23rd at the couple's residence at 645 Landis Street in Midtown. "We've painted all the walls white to turn the house into a temporary gallery," she says. "I'll sell Gabe's oil paintings and collages then join him in New Mexico."
"We don't want it to be goodbye; we just want to grow up," Kudela says, insisting that the move west will be temporary. "We're keeping our Cadillac in storage here, so we'll definitely be back."