Mosquito Hawk Exquisite issues vintage psych-rock from Gem City
By Kyle Melton
Although best known for his work with the horror-punk outfit the Jackalopes, Chad Wells recently revived an old endeavor, Mosquito Hawk Exquisite, to issue his newest musical endeavor, Cricketbows. With a decidedly left turn into vintage-tinged psychedelia, the band’s latest album Mycosmic Transmission finds Wells branching out into new musical territory. While the nascent label still is finding its niche, we spoke with Wells recently about the past, present, and future of Mosquito Hawk Exquisite.
So Mosquito Hawk Exquisite as a label dates back to the mid-‘90s. Tell me about its early days and releases. Why the decision now to invest more time and energy into releases?
The label was just an extension of the band I was in at the time (C.O.H.). We came from a time when the whole DIY thing was in full swing. Recording a demo and shopping it to the larger labels was the old way. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, bands were really taking the whole thing into their own hands, handling their own releases, press, everything. Around 1992 or 1993, the band transitioned from a lo-fi recording project that played a handful of shows to a serious gigging band with a bigger sound. We enlisted the help of Mr. John Shough, who had recorded everyone in Dayton from GBV and the Breeders, to local metallers Decay at Cro-Magnon Recording studio at the Front Street Warehouse. We recorded an EP called Brain Biter and a full-length album called My World: Anger Orgasm and the Height of Hatred. These releases were both available only on cassette and were the first to feature the name Mosquito Hawk Records on the spine.
The reason that I’m now focusing more energy into the label is because I finally have the time and money to do it. Since I’m not currently in a band that plays regular shows, I have a hole in my schedule that I can fill up with working the label. Also, I’m super excited about the music I’ve been recording as Cricketbows and want to share it with the world. [Chad Wells]
How important are digital release outlets, do you feel, to what you are trying to accomplish? How essential are they to artists releasing music in a relatively obscure place like Dayton?
For me, digital releases are extremely important. First, it gives us an opportunity to make our music widely available without having to put much money or resources into the project. Our label has never been about making big money but about using what resources were available to us to get our music heard by the people most interested in hearing it. With digital distribution, I can record a song today at home on my Macbook and have it available in a day or two online for fans to hear and buy, and comment on. In a certain way, it levels the playing field. Of course larger labels and acts with financial backing will have better placement, advertising and all that, but we’re still there with them and the serious music listener, which is whom we’re after and is going to dig further and find us. [CW]
When you decide to put out a release on MHE records, what do you look for in terms of a sound or band concept? What sort of audience do you think the label caters to?
Anything that I’ve put out has been my own work, work I was involved with in a production, performing or writing capacity or the work of a friend or relative. I am teaming up with Adam Casada (a former bandmate from the C.O.H. days) of the alternative reggae band Jah Soul to help me broaden the label and we will be actively looking to sign new talent in 2012. We are in the very earliest stages of combining our resources to start a media company called Sacred Spiral that will focus on art publishing, books and other media. Mosquito Hawk will be stirred into that stew to become the recording label arm Sacred Spiral. I think that the audience the label caters to is one that wants the full experience of a band with music that matters to them, that speaks to them, that they enjoy — that has its presentation together but that isn’t pre-occupied with what everyone else is doing. [CW]
What would you like to see in the future for MHE records? What else should people know about the label?
As for the future of the label, my first goal is to have fun and release music I like. Beyond that it’s all frosting on the cake. I’d love to turn a profit — I’ve yet to do that. It’s all been a labor of love thus far. Ultimately, if each release paid for itself and covered the financing of the next release I would be over the moon! [CW]
We just released an internet exclusive Christmas track from Cricketbows called “Amanita Holiday (Christmastime Sure Looks Weird This Year)” that is available at cricketbows.bandcamp.com and soon on iTunes, eMusic and Amazon.com. We’ll be looking to do some new releases in 2012. Bands can get in touch through the temporary website —mosquitohawkrecords.wordpress.com.
Reach DCP Music Editor Kyle Melton at MusicEditor@DaytonCityPaper.com and read his blog at thebuddhaden.net.