Ryan Little of
Bad Friend Records:
The TVD Interview

Despite the name of their brand new record label, Tommy Siegel and Ryan Little are anything but bad friends. Two pals that have known each other since their middle school days in the suburbs of Richmond, VA, Siegel and Little have begun their own record label after realizing their lack of options when it came to putting out their own bands’ releases.

A DC resident and a writer for the Washington City Paper, I spoke to Little about his origins, his band, his record collection, and these, the early stages of Bad Friend Records.

How did you first meet Tommy? When did you begin to collaborate musically?

We went to the same neighborhood pool when we were kids. His sister and I were both on the swim team, so I guess that was the first time we ever really hung out, at the pool. And, he was a year younger than me, but we also went to the same school. In high school we ate lunch together and maybe played music together once or twice.

We didn’t really keep in touch through college very much, but at the very end of college, or after college, my band Tereu Tereu played a show with his band Jukebox The Ghost on one of their very first tours, and then after that, we just started talking more on Gchat about releases. Jukebox The Ghost and Tereu Tereu each wanted to put out a record on our own, and neither of us found labels for either of those projects that worked for us, so we thought, well, why don’t we just start our own? And there is also a long-standing project that Tommy and I are working on, involving a banjo, so, one day the banjo pop record will come out. I don’t know when, he’s touring all the damn time, but we’ve recorded two songs for it, so someday!

Once you officially decided to go ahead with the label, what were the initial steps you took to make it happen?

Originally, it was just going to be a website that says “this is a record label,” and that was it, but we kept on talking about it, and then Travis Morrison (of Dismemberment Plan) is a good friend of both of ours, and I had my hands on some rough mixes of tracks he did before their band broke up a few years back, and I wondered hey, could we put these out? So I asked Travis if we could we put them out on a 7″ because I thought it was a bummer that they were just gathering dust, and he said yes! So then we put up our Kickstarter page.

What does the office space of Bad Friends look like right now? Do you have any carved-out work space for the label?

At the moment, it is just in my basement. I write for the Washington City Paper, and I do my work there, and I also do my recording and mixing stuff there with some speakers set up. So, it is my personal multi-use office, where I also do Bad Friend Records stuff. It is a nice basement though; it is wood-paneled, like what you imagine a family’s 1970s basement would look like.

I’ve noticed from the descriptions on your Kickstarter page that you plan to include vinyl and mp3 releases, but make no mention of CDs. Will you be including this medium?

From my perspective, any of the bands we work with, they are either going to be going on tour or not. And if they are going to be on tour, then they can just burn some CDs of the record, and we won’t really have to touch that. Short runs of CDs before a tour would only be the only way that would be useful right now. At least for the moment, the focus is on mp3s and vinyl. The Raw Feels record we are putting out (released January 10th) is only going to be out on mp3, for example.

Which vinyl presses do you plan on working with for the label?

For Travis’ record we are putting it out on United. I have worked with Rainbo in the past, too. I don’t know if we are going to keep working with United in the future; there are certainly some smaller record presses that offer some interesting options, too. We will see how it goes.

What has your own band, Tereu Tereu, been working on lately?

Well, we have had a lot of changes as a band. We started as a two-piece, then became a full band, then band members left to get married, join Americore, go to grad school, etc., and the band became a two-piece again with just myself and Brendan [Polmer] on drums. But this time it makes more sense as a two-piece, and we have a few tricks up our sleeve now. We use laptops, and I have more guitar samples and things like that to make it sound like a big rock show. We will be doing a short tour of the deep South next month, which is exciting because we have never played there before.

This wouldn’t be The Vinyl District if I didn’t talk to you about vinyl! Tell me about your own personal record collection, and your interest in vinyl.

Well I’m fortunate enough to be friends with a record store owner, but unfortunately the record store went out of business, so I have a legit, record store rack in my house. I mean, if nothing else, it is a great conversation piece. My roommates and I house our records there.

In terms of a favorite album or something like that, I have no idea. But I recently went to a record store in Richmond, and I can’t think of the name now, but it is run in the way that record stores have to be run now, I think. Because it was small but the selection was super well-curated so instead of sorting through ten copies of the same ABBA record, every album you looked at was something you could potentially want. Therefore, it won’t take up so much retail space, and it will actually keep your attention longer. I thought that I liked the hunt more of bigger record stores where they have shelves and shelves of records, but I think I actually prefer a bunch of really good ones.

Most recently, I picked up a Steely Dan record Aja, which is totally nerdy and lame to like. I think my 16-year-old self would hate me for liking it, but I appreciate the quality of the musicianship; they are really quality players, and it is really complex material. It is a corny but awesome record.

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