Interview with Jen and Var from No Idea Records: Originally ran in Razorcake #18, now an ebook with a new intro By Sean Carswell

Feb 18, 2014

To download this interview as an ebook, click one of the links below, depending on your device. Questions? Comments? We can always be reached here.

epub | mobi

It was sometime in the late 1990s. I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan killing time in a record store before a show. Flipping through the 7” records, I came across one called “Jud Jud,” and titled XThe DemosX. The way the band’s name was written looked similar to the hardcore band Judge (of whom I was familiar), and as a straight edge kid, the Xs around the title of the record caught my eye.

Looking at the lyrics, I saw that it was two guys imitating the guitars of a hardcore band with their mouths. The songs included amazing lyrics: “JUD JUD JUD, WAH NAH NAH NAH, JUD JUD JUD, NING NING NING.” It was both amazing and hilarious. I asked myself, “Who would put this out?” Looking at the back of the vinyl, I had my answer: No Idea Records. I knew they’d released some Hot Water Music and Less Than Jake albums, but I thought to myself, “I’m keeping my eye on this label.” I’ve done just that since then.

The diversity of styles and bands on No Idea’s roster is impressive. They’ve released acts playing powerviolence (Combatwoundedveteran), indie rock (Small Brown Bike), and pop punk (Grabass Charlestons), just to name a few. And, of course, they were the launching pad for that fairly well known act, Against Me!

More than one hundred bands have collectively released over three hundred albums on No Idea—more than the prodigious Dischord Records, which was founded in 1979. In addition to the bands on the label, No Idea runs a mailorder distribution of hundreds of other labels and thousands of albums. A few years back No Idea expanded their support for independent music by striking exclusive distribution deals with some smaller record labels (including Razorcake), giving them the chance to reach a wider audience.

No Idea also does their best to support the local music scene in their hometown of Gainesville, Florida. In 2002, Tony Weinbender, an employee at No Idea, started the annual Gainesville music festival The Fest, one of the best in the country for fans of independent punk rock. As they were from the start, the label continues to be a supporter of The Fest. Additionally, No Idea’s owners, Var and Jennifer, co-own Arrow’s Aim Records, in Gainesville, with Daniel Halal. The label provides new music, while Halal handles used CDs and LPs.

As a music reviewer, perhaps the most amazing aspect of the label is that everything I’ve ever reviewed from No Idea has been good. Bands I knew and those I didn’t have been solid. I may not become the biggest fan of an act, but I can at least recognize the ability to write a good song as it relates to a genre. I hadn’t a clue who bands such as Ampere, Chris Wollard And The Ship Thieves, and Shores were, but came to hear awesome music from them within each of their respective genres. As someone who has been reviewing music for almost fifteen years, I can’t think of many other labels whose quality is that consistent.

For a follow-up with Sean’s interview below, check out the twenty-fifth anniversary interview from 2010, also on the Razorcake website.

–Kurt Morris, 2014

A lot of interviews are done with punk rock bands, but not nearly enough attention is paid to the people behind the scenes: the folks who set up shows, run DIY record stores, set up infoshops, put out zines, review records, and run record labels. These folks are the frame that holds the punk rock car together; they’re the gears that keep it running. By reading interviews with them, we can also glean some practical knowledge. We get hints that help us answer the question: how can I get involved in this scene?

So, doing my part to remedy this situation, I hunted down Var and Jennifer. They’re the two people who run one of my favorite record labels, No Idea Records. No Idea has been around as either a zine, a record label, or both for over fifteen years. They’ve put out the first albums by big-name bands like Hot Water Music, Less Than Jake, and Against Me! They’ve supported some of my favorite lesser-known bands like Radon, Panthro UK United 13, the Grabass Charlestons, and Bitchin’. They also run one of the most reliable, well-stocked mail orders in the punk rock world. On my last trip to Florida, I drove up to Gainesville, to a weird old brick building that used to be lawyers’ offices and now houses No Idea HQ. I talked to Var and Jennifer (when we could pull her away from her work) about how they manage to hold it all together and keep my ears happy.

Interview of Var and Jennifer of No Idea (with special appearance by Replay Dave)
Interview and photos by Sean Carswell
Originally ran in Razorcake #18, 2004

Sean: No Idea started out as a zine. Tell me a little bit about that.

Var: The first issue came out in December of 1985. It started as a half-size zine. We made most of the copies in a graphic arts class in high school. Like most fanzines, it just got cobbled together.

Basically, the starting point for me being involved in any do-it-yourself type stuff came from meeting a couple of people in high school, maybe ninth grade. This one kid, Ken Coffelt, had done a bunch of photocopied magazines that were twenty-four or thirty pages. A lot of it was comics. He’d actually gotten local stores to take out ads for fifteen or twenty bucks a piece. The ads more than paid to make the copies and pass them out for free. It was such a staggering concept for me as a fourteen-year-old kid. I thought, “Wait a minute. Kids can do this?” I always assumed that, to do any kind of magazine, periodical, fanzine, record, anything, you had to be a big company with big distribution. When I saw young kids doing it themselves, it was pretty revolutionary.

Late one night, I decided I wanted to do one of these. I just wanted to be part of something. So Ken and I worked on it for most of 1985 with a couple of friends of ours. A graphic arts teacher caught wind of what we were up to. He let us come in after hours and use the equipment. We learned how to burn plates and run offset press. To be honest, I flunked out of the graphic arts class. I learned so much that year, but I wasn’t a good book learner. But it was a very strange, good year. And from there, we just kept doing the zine.

In the second issue, we started interviewing bands. We didn’t have much of a filter. If a band was playing in town, we thought they must be a band worth talking to. In the first few issues, we interviewed some pretty rotten bands, but also some really good ones. There were also people who had been involved in the Gainesville scene long before us who were really excited to see new people wanting to do stuff. They were very encouraging. They gave us a lot of advice and a lot of help.

So, yeah, the zine was started by myself and Ken. Ken was really an integral part of it for the first three years. As we got out of high school and went on to other things, he drifted away from it.

Sean: When did you make the move from a zine to a record label?

Var: The sixth issue we did came with a seven inch from a local band called Doldrum. That was really the beginning of it. I found out that it wasn’t really that expensive to do something small and on your own. I realized through asking other labels about what it would cost to put something out. I didn’t have much money. Still, the idea of putting out a seven inch wasn’t as extreme and forbidding as I thought.

At the time, I think it was something like, “If I could come up with five hundred bucks, I could put out a record.” I didn’t have five hundred bucks, but that was within reason. I could conceive of it. It’s not five million dollars or five hundred thousand dollars. I realized that labels can be just people doing it on their own. So there were all these bands from here that we really liked, but nobody had put out a piece of vinyl in seven years. I think Roach Motel was the last one in maybe ’84 or ’85. There were a lot of bands that recorded demos and put out tapes, but nothing really beyond that.

So we decided to put out a record with a zine—because I’d heard of a couple of other zines that had done it—so we got our favorite local band at the time, actually the most popular punk rock band in Gainesville at the time, and we put it out. It worked out really well. It seemed like more people bought the zine because it came with something. And more people found out about the band than would’ve otherwise. So we kept doing that over the next few issues.

Right around ’90, ’91, that’s when the kids who’d moved to Gainesville to go to college were actually my peers, age-wise. I really felt like I was part of something around that period, rather than being always a little bit on the outside. I was a lot more involved because my friends were the people starting these bands. For me, it was a re-awakening of the scene. That’s really when I just had to start putting out more records. My friends were making these amazing recordings, and they were in bands that I really liked. The spirit was right. It felt urgent. So we did it. A lot of these records, we’d make three hundred, then we’d make two hundred more. That’s one of the big misnomers about Radon’s first seven inch. People are like, “It was pressed eight or nine times.” Yeah, it was, but a lot of those pressings were two or three hundred a piece. Even a record like that, we only made maybe three thousand copies of. Probably less.

Sean: How many of those early records are still in print?

Var: Radon’s really the only one. The Spoke one actually is on a CD, a collection CD. A lot of the stuff is still available, but not on the original record.

But around that time, that was really the turning point. I was working a job and taking all the money from that to do a zine and do a label. And as there was more and more activity locally, there just came a point where one overtook the other. There was never a direct intention to stop doing the zine.

Once the first Less Than Jake and Hot Water Music CDs came out in ’96, things really changed. It came to a point where, the final zine I did, it was two years late. It just felt done. Prior to that, every time I did a zine, there were a couple of interviews that we got done at the last minute and couldn’t fit into the zine and they’d be a set up for the next issue. But when I did that final one, I had no extra interviews sitting around. Not a whole lot of ads that we owed people. It was just a really good point to step away from it.

Also, at this point, I wasn’t as interested. I didn’t really read fanzines’ band interviews anymore. When I was younger, I’d get Maximum or Flipside or any local fanzine and I’d just pore through it, read everything, read reviews, look for new music. At a point, I realized that I wasn’t doing that anymore. I think partially because a lot of zines are kinda crappy. It’s a lot worse now where everyone will interview the same bands that you don’t care about. So I just felt like I didn’t really read that many band interviews and I didn’t have the spark to come up with questions to ask bands.

As far as writing reviews, it came to a point where I was down at Jennifer’s apartment in Tampa, trying to write record reviews and I actually had stacks of CDs. I played a little bit of each CD and put it in a stack. I had a stack of pop punk. I had a stack of ska punk. I had a stack of tough-guy, metal-y hardcore. I had a stack of spiky haired punk. And there would be the more interesting stuff or stuff that really kicked ass. So I went back and reviewed all the stuff that I liked or that interested me, and then I still had these stacks, literally fifty CDs high, that may have been really good in their own right but they’re all about the same caliber, and how do you pick one? Every now and then, one would jump out at you. But then you’d have these well-recorded, well-written, well-sung tough guy metal or whatever, and you could write the same review for fifty records. That’s when I stepped away.

And other people, like Al Quint of Suburban Voice, that guy can review a record. I could not do that anymore. I have a lot of respect for people who do reviews regularly. It’s such a nightmare.

I’ve always had it in my head that I’d do a magazine again. People always ask me, “Hey, when are you gonna do another one?” Aaron Cometbus, he’s always on a crusade to get people to do zines again, especially if they’ve done them before. He’s always like, “Why don’t you do another one?” I stop and think, “When am I gonna have two thousand hours worth of time to do a new zine?” Realistically, you can’t take five hours a week or an hour a day and do a zine. It would literally take me five hours to do one page. Just doing the layout and photocopying stuff and tweaking. But once you put your heart and soul into something like that, you won’t leave it until it’s perfect. And the thought of doing a hundred-page zine makes my head explode. Like Razorcake, I couldn’t even conceive of doing something like that.

Sean: Jennifer, how did you get involved in No Idea?

Jennifer: I was working in a record store down in Tampa. I had been friendly with Var for several years, since I was buying No Idea stuff for the store, but we had never actually met in person until 1995. Then, one autumn day in 1996, he made me an offer: “If you move to Gainesville, I’ll give you a job.” Intrigued by the exciting prospect of long hours of work for no pay, I said goodbye to my job of six years and packed myself and my little dog off to Gainesville.

Sean: I know, as a record label, you do a lot to document the Gainesville scene, somewhat like what Dischord does with the Washington, D.C. scene. Do you guys ever get compared to Dischord?

Var: It’s definitely a flattering thought. Actually, when Fugazi played down here, Ian walked up to me after the show, and he mentioned a parallel between Dischord and us. I can’t remember exactly what he said. Something to the effect that we’re kinda doing what he’s doing. But Dischord is a label that I’ve looked up to for a really long time. They put out a lot of good stuff. They’re also one of the most open labels, as far as giving advice to people and extending their knowledge and their experience. There were others. Rabid Cat, early on, was really like that. They were the first ones who gave me costs for making a seven inch. And, shit, they haven’t been a label for how long? Fourteen years, maybe?

But, without really trying, I guess we’re documenting the local Gainesville goings on. It would be really unfair to say that Gainesville music is represented by No Idea. We put out some of the music from here. We definitely don’t put out all of it. There are a lot of bands around here that could loosely be defined as punk rock that I’ve never even seen. There’s just so much going on all the time, that we can’t do all of it. Our whole criteria is basically just putting out records by our friends and music that really moves us.

We do as much as we can. Sometimes we do more than that, but there’s no way we could do everything. Going back, maybe four years ago, we had a couple of years where we barely got any sleep. We were stressed out all the time. There was one year when we put out twenty-seven records in one year, and some of those were multi-format. Eight of them were LP and CD. If you put out an LP and CD at the same time, it’s like two projects. So that was almost like putting out thirty-five records in a year. It was ridiculous. Ever since then, we try to do a little less every year. But part of the inspiration for all that work was probably from feeling like so many bands from here in the eighties never left anything behind. So I felt like I had to get out everything that means anything to me.

Sean: Is it true that you traded Less Than Jake merchandise for a life-sized Darth Maul figure?

Var: Yeah, it is. It started out as a joke because I kinda wanted one of those things. They were a store premium for some chain that wasn’t around here. They put them up in their stores and had a contest where you could win them. But in Florida, you could only win Jar Jar Binks. And who the hell wants a six-foot Jar Jar? A friend of mine lived in Kansas, where you could win the Darth Mauls, and he hooked me up with the coupons to win the thing. I filled out a couple hundred of them. I, of course, didn’t end up winning one.

So, I put it on my list of things that I would trade stuff for. I posted on the web saying, basically, “If anybody out there is a rabid Less Than Jake fan and has one of these things and wants to trade for some weird records, get ahold of me.” I had records that, if you were the ultimate Less Than Jake fan, they would make your day. Like rare colored vinyl and test pressings of records that were cut wrong, so instead of two songs on one side of the seven inch, there was one song on each side, and it never got pressed that way. All ultimate collector, nerd stuff.

And this one kid from England got ahold of me. My general experience has been, the more rabid someone is, the more likely they are to completely flake. I really wouldn’t put much energy into the most aggressive people because I figure that they’re the ones who are probably thirteen, and they don’t really get the fact that they’re wasting my time. At first, I told him what I had. And I realized he didn’t actually have one. He was intending to buy one and somehow get it to me. And I realized that he wasn’t super young. He was old enough to know better. He called me up one day and said, “Hey, I found one. It’s in Pennsylvania.” The guy bought it from someone in the States, and had that person ship it to us. I thought it was all a big joke, but the guy came through.

So, I found as much stuff as I could find that he would freak out over. I luckily had a lot of the stuff he was looking for, but more than that, I had a bunch of really weird stuff that only me and a couple of people in the band had. He was really happy about it. I was, too. It was such a ridiculous concept that I had to follow through with it.

Jennifer: The dog is terrified of it. He would circle it and growl and back up. He thought it was some kind of vicious person.

Var: When it showed up, I was out running some errands. They stuck Darth Maul in an alcove right by my office. I came back with some bags in my hands and walked by it and saw it through the corner of my eyes. My heart started racing and I almost dropped the bags. I literally sunk to the ground. I thought some dude had broken in.

Sean: Var, would you give up your career in the record business for a career in aquariums?

Var: Actually, I’m kinda burnt on the whole aquarium thing because there was one thing I wasn’t really prepared for. You have fish die periodically, and that’s just part of having aquariums. But I’ve had a couple of waves in the last year where one fish dies, two days later, another fish dies. I’d treat the aquarium, talk to people about it, get advice, do everything I could. But twenty fish died out of one aquarium.

Jennifer: And if you ask the people at places that sell fish and aquariums what to do about it, they’ll say, “I don’t know. Sometimes fish just die.” You can’t really do anything about it.

[Reply Dave from the Grabass Charlestons and from the No Idea mailroom walks in at this point.]

Sean: Since Dave is here, I’m gonna ask the toughest question that you’ll have to face this year. There’s a Simpsons episode where part of the plot is that actor Troy McClure had been banned from Hollywood because he had a weird sexual attraction to fish. In that same episode, he says, “You may know me from movies like The Greatest Story Ever Hula’d.” Now, you’ve put out a Grabass Charlestons album called The Greatest Story Ever Hula’d and you have all of these aquariums around the No Idea offices. What’s the connection?

Var: I see where you’re going with this one, and that’s a nearly impossible connection of two things that would never occur to me. Dave?

Replay Dave: The fish attraction is all above the equator. Don’t even worry about it.

Jennifer: I remember that episode. Troy McClure marries Selma. But I don’t remember him saying that. I think it’s just been a long time since I saw that.

Sean: I just saw it last week. It happened to be right around the time when I was writing out the questions for this interview.

Var: I really wish I had something snappy to say about that question, but I can’t think of anything better than the question itself.

Sean: Well, here’s a question that you used to ask when you interviewed people: If aliens landed in your backyard, how would you describe your music to them without actually playing the music?

Var: Oh, man. I’m getting it turned around on me. There’s two ways to take this question. You can either take it as a serious question or you can take is as an “I’m-gonna-go-along-with-it-as-an-actual-scenario” question. And I’m trying not to just recycle some phantom memory of how somebody else answered this question. Part of me would want to say something really jackass like, “Lambada.” Or, “Country and Western.”

Beyond that, I think the fall back is always the demonstration, like you take a pot and a pan and just start hitting it, or you take a spoon and some nails and throw them in a blender and turn it on and say, “This is what music sounds like.” But the best solution would be to take the alien to hang out with Aaron Lay (singer for Billy Reese Peters) and get him shitfaced and playing horseshoes. That would get him somewhat closer to what our music is all about, without actually playing him the music, of course. That, or get a whole lot of opium, cook it up, and pour it on him.

Or, the thing that I’ve never actually done but I’ve thought about doing—this would be harder to pull off—but you cut your hair right before you go to a show. And you take your shirt off and take Vaseline and smear it on your torso and give yourself a haircut. Then, put your shirt back on and go to a show and take your shirt back off. Make sure it’s an older, more aggro show. A hardcore band. Then, anyone who touches you all night would get Vaseline and hair stuck to them. Especially in a circle pit. If you could somehow take the alien and get him soused and get the whole hair thing happening. Then you find the alien who had the opium poured all over him and point to the other alien and say, “There you go.”

Sean: Here’s another old, No Idea fanzine question: What would you do if you had ten thousand dollars in the bank?

Var: Probably spend it paying bills, because that’s what I usually when I do when I have ten thousand dollars in the bank. If I personally had ten thousand dollars in the bank, I’d probably have to do something responsible like replace the rotting siding on my house. Something very adult and not at all fun. But if you want to know why that particular question is relevant to me, I could tell you.

I’ve only worked three jobs in my whole life. I worked at a college newspaper down the street. This was back before they had desktop computers. So I learned how to do cut-and-paste really well. Entire articles would be just a big strip. You’d have to cut it and paste it in place. If there were any misspellings, you’d have to get a knife and cut and move letters around. So I was pretty good with an X-Acto knife. I did that for three years. Then, I moved on to a silkscreen shop, and I did the graphics there. It was really hands-on, a lot of cut-and-paste.

Anyway, somewhere along the lines, around 1989, 1990, I’d ask that question a lot, and everybody in a band would say they’d fix their van, buy a van, fix their equipment, record, and put out a record. For an underground band, ten thousand bucks is an album and a van. And it seemed like such a massive amount of money to me. I couldn’t even conceive of it. Then, I asked the question of Fugazi, and Ian said, “I have ten thousand dollars in the bank.” He went on to explain that he’d been saving it for years and years and he uses it to fund various projects and, if his band needed to go on tour, he’d take some money from it and replace it at the end of the tour. He used it as a resource. It kept things going. And nobody had ever said that before.

I thought about it more, and that became a goal. I thought, if I ever had ten thousand dollars, I would quit my job and have enough money to live for a year without working. I figured that I could put out four zines that year and two seven inches outside of the zines. Things could really take off. By the end of the year, I might be flat-ass broke and have to go to a job again. But maybe, if I was lucky, I could go back and get just a part-time job and keep doing my thing. So I kept saving my money and, after four years of working at the silkscreen shop, I had nine thousand and change in the bank. That savings came from the time I was fifteen until the time I was twenty-four. I’d just been really tight with money and saved and saved. So I called bullshit on myself, like, “I always said I’d do this if I had this much money.” And that’s basically what I did.

Coincidentally, other pressures were coming in. Working full-time meant that I didn’t have enough energy to do the zine. So I was asking myself, “Will I have a career working for someone else and not really have that go anywhere? Or, do I say, ‘Fuck it,’ step out on my own, and see what I can do?” And that was really one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made, but it was also one of the best. It’s been about nine years, now, and I haven’t had to get any other job besides No Idea. I never thought I’d be able to keep it going this long. So that’s why that particular question is relevant to me.

Now, I’m thinking, a hundred thousand dollars or a million dollars, I could really do something with that. But ten thousand dollars now, if you do an LP/CD release and take out a bunch of ads, it’s gone. If you look at the accounting statements at the end of the year, you’d be amazed at how much money goes through us. We won’t have any, but there are points where we’re like, “How does a million dollars go through our hands? Where did it go? I don’t remember seeing this money.” That’s how it is for anybody who’s been doing a label for a while. You spend a lot of money, and there’s not much left over. It’s crazy. It’s something that’s unique for punk rock, because who else would put in ten dollars to make back twenty cents? Nobody in a normal business model would do that. It’s even worse if you’re doing a fanzine and you factor the time you put into it. There’s never anything to take back out. It’s like you make two cents an hour.

Sean: So why do you put so much time into it?

Var: I guess because I don’t know any better. No, honestly, the real answer is that I’ve always been somebody who’s fairly creative in the sense that I’m agitated and bored and restless unless I’m doing something artistic. So, by doing a zine with friends, there was a form of expression. And by learning to take photos, there was more expression. And, learning to develop your photos in a darkroom. You’re learning things hands-on; learning from doing. That became a big creative outlet. Then, with records, I started doing all the layouts for the records I put out. Well, ninety percent of them. So that’s my creative outlet. If I didn’t do the layouts for the records, I wouldn’t be doing this. It would be boring. Also, there’s the fact that I really, really like the music. I enjoy putting something into this and getting something out of it.

A lot of times, I’ll go into the studio with the bands when they record. I seem to have a pretty good ear for what things are missing or when things sound right. I’m not in the studio the entire time a band is recording, but I’ll drop in now and then while the process is going on. It helps because, a lot of times if you’re in a band, you just can’t hear what you’re doing anymore. You’ve written a song, you’ve been playing it for a year, you’ve recorded it and heard it fifty times in a row. You can’t hear the song anymore. Sometimes it’s good to have someone who’s objective come in and say something simple like, “More guitar there.” And that’s part of why I do it: there’s still a spark that excites me.

There’s nothing better than when your friend’s band pops in and says, “We just recorded something new.” And you put it on and it’s the best thing you’ve heard in a long time. Plenty of the records we put out, it’s been that. I’ve felt like, “This record is so amazing that people have to hear it.” In some cases, lots of people did. In other cases, five hundred people heard it. But it’s always worth it in one way or another.

Sean: Along those lines, why do you think that Radon isn’t in the pantheon of punk’s greatest bands?

Var: In some senses, they are. People in bands, people who do zines, people who do things in punk rock know who Radon is and like and appreciate them. There are a lot of bands like that; a lot of bands that people who do zines love, but the bands never really branch out. The key point with Radon is that, even though they existed for over a decade—and may still exist, who knows?—they never played a show outside of Florida. And, for the last six or seven years of their existence, they played “final” shows every six months or so. They’re really not very active.

If Radon, in 1991 or 1992, had done a U.S. tour, it’s very possible that that trickle down effect that happened with Crimpshine and Operation Ivy could’ve happened with Radon. Even though those bands don’t sound anything like Radon, I think there was a similar spirit. Musically, there’s something about Radon that just slaps you. I can still put on a Radon record and go, “Damn, there is something there.” And even though all the recordings of Radon were scratchy and weird, so were all the Crimpshine recordings or the Operation Ivy recordings. I think Radon could’ve been as big as either of those bands, but they didn’t tour at the time when they could’ve. I think that’s the biggest reason.

But, at the time, there wasn’t that much of a precedent of bands from Gainesville getting out and touring and getting big. Now it’s expected that, if you’re a band, your dreams or goals are to put some songs together, then you record, then you put something out, then you tour, then you tour again. Your idea of what’s possible now has gone up. It used to be that, if you were in a band, you played some shows, you practiced, and that’s about it. Maybe you recorded a demo tape on a four-track. Maybe you had that dream in your head to put out a record. Right around the nineties, more people started realizing: me and the four people in the band can save our money from shows and record for two-hundred dollars and put out our seven inch. And that raised the bar. Then a few bands toured a lot, and that raised the bar. But when Radon was active, there wasn’t much locally to compare it to.

Sean: Is there really one lost Radon album?

Var: There is, kind of. In ’99, finally all the members of the band were living in Gainesville and they played some shows. Then Brent moved to Colorado. Dave, who played guitar and sang, and Bill, the drummer, still lived here and they got a new bass player. But it was just Dave songs because there was no Brent to sing the Brent songs. Over the period of a year or more, they went into the studio a few times and recorded two or four songs at a time. Some of the songs would be old songs that never got recorded and some were new songs. And each time they did that, each session sounded different. One session would be really glossy with a lot of guitars. Then the next session they would turn up the distortion and be more direct. So it wasn’t really an album, as such. It could’ve been, but it was really just these chunks of songs. One idea I had was to put out a bunch of seven inches so each session is its own piece, then maybe put out a CD later. But the other thing is that the recordings were never actually finished. Some of them never had a final mix and some of them they didn’t finish recording all the parts. If they were to go in and remix it all, you could probably have a pretty decent record. I’m not sure why that never happened.

Sean: What about the Dillinger Four album that No Idea is supposed to put out? Is that ever gonna happen?

Var: That’s one that I have to put on the band. Ask the band. For the first three years, it was kinda funny, but... It was supposed to come out before the Fat album (Situationist Comedy) did. But I even told them, “Look, I want to do an album with you and I believe you’ll come through for me, but you gotta do the Fat album first.” At this point, I don’t know if they’re still thinking that they’re really gonna do it. As of eight months ago, they were still talking about it in interviews. I hope it is the next thing they do. I’ve always wanted to put out a Dillinger Four record, even before they put out their first album.

Sean: Why do you think No Idea has survived and done well when so many other record labels haven’t?

Jennifer: Because Var’s so goddamn stubborn. And so am I. We’re both really tenacious about things. Even if stuff gets weird or bands break up or things aren’t exactly going smoothly, we’re both like, “I’m just gonna barrel through this and get past it and that’s just how it is.”

Var: Yeah, it’s our obstinacy. And Jennifer and I are really close and we fuel each other. There are different points when one or the other of us might get down on things and the other will just happen to have the right motivation.

Jennifer: Anything that you really care about and work on all the time can be really gratifying and really frustrating. There are points when it’s totally driving me crazy and I can’t stand it, but then I think, “I would rather be doing this than anything else.”