Richmond's Bad Grrrl Records Taps Into an Unlikely Source of Music: Cassettes 

click to enlarge Richmond musician Tim Falen is head honcho of Bad Grrrl Records.

Richmond musician Tim Falen is head honcho of Bad Grrrl Records.

Who would’ve thought cassettes would make a comeback?

To many audiophiles, the quality of sound on a cassette tape is superior to what you can get from any digital platform. On top of that, they’re cheaper than CDs.

In 2010, Bad Grrrl Records saw the potential in this platform for archiving Richmond music and ran full-speed ahead. After inheriting the label from founder Ben Miller, local musician Tim Falen is eyeing the future.

“I’ve always looked at things with the idea that my day job can afford me the opportunity to do what I really would love to do,” says Falen, also known for drumming with Lady God, Hot Dolphins and Diamond Center. “In this case, it’s affordably putting out bands and not worrying about the profit side of things.”

At a quick glance, you can see Falen’s living room is littered with cassette tapes. Richmond music is strewn about his workspace, things as varied as the post-hardcore outfit Plain Scrap, surf rockers the Milkstains and the bare-bone confessionals of Julie Karr. A tape replicator rests on a table with Falen steadily flipping tapes in and out of each deck, while his dog Pearl runs around searching for the best spot to plop down.

“It makes the tapes in real time,” he says. “I’m constantly dropping by to let my dog out and flip the tapes over. It takes a while, but it works out for a lot of the bands. They get a small supply of tapes, easier to sell out and I can get new ones their way in no time.”

So far this year, the label has assisted in putting out tapes by twee-pop outfit Atta Girl, post-rockers Cavum, aspiring garage rock champions the Wimps and the acclaimed indie-rock debut of Camp Howard. The next release appears to be that of local hardcore outfit Veery. He isn’t always working by himself. For the Camp Howard release, Falen collaborated with local labels Citrus City and Crystal Pistol (Pete Curry).

“There is just so much quality stuff coming out of Richmond that it can be hard to keep up,” Falen says. “It’s good to know that I’m not alone in wanting to capture it and get it out there.” S

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