What led you to found Smog Veil?
I was in the last year of law school at Cleveland Marshall and had no desire to work 50-plus hours. What better way to avoid the grind than to start a label? It was easy back then; I had friends in all the bands I wanted to work with.
What have you been listening to lately?
Sun Ra, Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy. Mark Mallman, Mr. Serious. A bunch of songs posted on the Mucca Pazza website. Whatever I can find on YouTube. The new unreleased This Moment in Black History record.
Best Cleveland show ever?
The infamous South Euclid Knights of Columbus gig; I think that was in 1981 or 1982. Celtic Frost and Cro-Mags at Peabody's, both in the summer of 1986. Recent favorites: the Rocket From the Tombs gigs and Cheeseball Number 1 at the Beachland.
You've moved the label to Reno and Chicago. What do people think of Cleveland?
People in Reno don't know anything exists beyond the mountains. San Franciscans have a reverence for the Cleveland scene, and people really dig the Pagans, Dead Boys, Rocket From the Tombs, Pere Ubu -- you know, all the heroes.
What's the future of independent non-commercial music?
People are saying it's the end of independent record labels, because anyone can get their music distributed online. I totally disagree. I do think that the compact disc has no more than five years before it goes the way of cassettes. Download is the way of the future for independent music, but the bands are still going to need the labels to advertise, account, promote, and act as the business backroom. My biggest concern is that the download giants -- especially the cellular companies -- will squeeze out all the indies. Way more people have cell phones than access to computers. If the indies can't distribute music through the cellular companies, we're all sunk -- labels and musicians together.