-ism Recordings started in August of 1992 when founder Dan Schlissel expanded his interest from booking bands at the University of Nebraska to releasing records for those bands. As a matter of fact the first address of the label was Schlissel’s dorm room at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. The name came from a conversation between Mercy Rule drummer Ron Albertson and Schlissel. The name was to be “In Spite of Myself,” but Albertson suggested calling it -ism, which would stand for all the different forms of art and thought. The name was immediately adopted.
The first release came out in November of ’92 and was a CD by Such Sweet Thunder entitled “Redneck.” Since this came out so late in the year, it was pretty much the only thing that happened. This first release already started to gain some national attention and distribution; not too shabby for a tiny label.
1993 was the first full year that -ism was in operation, so naturally more happened. A few more releases came out, including a first foray into vinyl. This was pretty much a cassette only year for the label, and many valuable lessons were learned. The summer marked the graduation of Schlissel from college, and a move for the label, to the old P.O. Box address. The warehouse itself moved twice, and finally resided in Schlissel’s kitchen. The list below is what came out in ’93:
- Greg Markel – “Bloodcake”
- Urethra Franklin – “Power Peach”
- Water – “Water”
- Greg Markel – “Crash Pansy”
- Hour Slave – “Begin”
1994 saw the release of several CDs, a much-more-stable format than cassettes. Included was the long-awaited “LINOMA: A Nebraska Compilation,” in the works since the inception of the label a year and a half prior. More releases of ’94:
- Honeyboy Turner – “Preachin’ the Blues”
- Young Executives – “Cottonwood”
- Polecat – “2500 ft. of Our Love”
1995 was marked by many more releases and an overall sense of contentment. It was a good time to be doing the indie thing. Local sales were booming, and cool releases continued to come out. One of these, a 7″ by Pop Sickle entitled “1977 Owner’s Manual” was the first release put out by -ism from an out-of-state band. Other releases were:
- Todd Grant – “Strangled Soul”
- Stew – “Lower”
- Ritual Device – “Rabe”
- Fun Chicken – “I’m Drinking Your Spinal Fluid”
- The Sissies – “Songs from the Sack”
- Plastik Trumpet – “Are You P.T.?”
- Frontier Trust – “Speed Nebraska”
- Honeyboy Turner Band – “Live at the Zoo”
- Ritual Device – “Trademark of Quality”
1996 saw the downfall of local sales, due to the fact that a local chain (which shall remain nameless) decided that they didn’t like to pay for sales they had made. This eventually worked itself out, in part. -ism invested in Universal Product Codes (UPCs) and a shrink wrapper, and continued to press on, going after some national chains instead. In August of 1996, -ism had to change it’s name to -ismist Recordings, which stands for, “In Spite of Myself, In Spite of Them.” This embodied the change of emphasis from Schlissel being his own worst enemy, to having external forces be the enemy, while things at home shaped up. Someone had already trademarked -ism. Legal hassles over the Pop Sickle single arose when C/Z Records re-released a song that -ismist owned without obtaining prior approval.
“As the funeral bells…toll, the last “ism” goes to it’s eternal rest, the last love and hope collapse, and I leave the house of dead truths.” – Alexander Rodchenko
National distribution increased from one distributor to 7. Landmarks were also achieved. The first -ismfest was held in August, with a cool poster having been made for it by renowned artist Frank Kozik.
Also, the mighty Killdozer released a wonderful swan song single entitled “Go Big Red.” Other releases were:
- Red Max – “Voodoo Liquor Hot Rod”
- Beyond – “Game of Death”
- Rascal Basket – “vs. the Hordes of Venus”
- Sawdust Devil – “Affirmative”
- The Return – “Greatest Demos vol. 1”
- Plastik Trumpet – “Are You P.T.? EP”
- Floating Opera – “Everybody’s Somebody’s Monster”
1997 saw a ridiculous amount of activity. This, of course, means that everything was also a mess. The web site was created (Posted January 1 of the year, we saw 2,960 visitors.), and is modified continually in a quest for something that will satisfy all. The quest for being able to take credit cards over the net is on, as well as putting on a jukebox with various artists’ songs on it. We started distributing Speed Nebraska (and Corn Pie) Records, as well as Two Olive Martini Records, both from Omaha.
-ismfest was renamed to “Act of -ism 1997.” The dates, and bands ran like this:
- Friday, October 17: Richard Schultz, The Return, Floating Opera.
- Saturday, October 18: Wide, Fullblown, Red Max.
- Friday, October 24: Scrid, Beyond, Slipknot.
- Saturday, October 25: Think, Ditch Witch, Ravine.
It was fun, posters were again plentiful (6 were done, but Coop still hasn’t delivered his), and there was enough merchandise there to make this site look pitiful. We had a horribly large snowstorm on the last day, so Ditch Witch bailed early. Don’t blame ’em now, wish we could’ve, too, it was a nasty one.
Releases of 1997:
- The Lost Dogs – “The Lost Dogs”
- Richard Schultz – “Foreshadows”
- Ravine – “Ravine”
- Slipknot – “Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat.”
- Clayface – “Regular”
- Solid Jackson – “Fell”
- D is for Dragster – “Chrysler Solid State”
- Wide / Stew – “The Perfect Gift / Karma Suture”
- Scrid – “The Island of Misfit Toys”
- Jimmy Skaffa – “Bitch on Sunday”
- The Return – “High Enough Yet?”
- Row 8 Plot 30 – “Dowsers”
- Fullblown – “Fullblown”
1998 shaped up to be a decent year. We picked up distribution of some of the finest records in the region, and hooked up with new bands all over the place. Wide and Scrid have both gone on moderately successful tours, and Fullblown were planning one. Kung Pao played at the Intelfest in New York. Releases of 1998:
- Mimi Schneider – “Catasterpiece”
- Wide – “Hidden Agenda”
- Sean Benjamin – “Ravine”
- Gladhands – “Do You Have a Reservation?”
- Fullblown – “Clowns in Action”
- House of Large Sizes – “Glass Cockpit”
- Kung Pao / Tucker – “Nakoma / Trailer Pumpkin Fuss”
- Sputnik – “Favorite Songs of the Soviet Cosmonauts”
1998 saw the old -ismist site increase its hits over the previous year by a wide margin: 3732 in 1998, 2960 in ’97; combined total 6692, a 26.1 percent increase. Good job, surfers. We added an email list to the site that year.
We also moved out of Nebraska, to Minneapolis.
1999 seemed to be a mixed bag. We were supposed to pick up distribution for the Darktown House Band, but that fell through, and they subsequently, and most unfortunately, broke up. You should all go get something of theirs, if you can hunt it down. Big news for us was landing a “Tour Single” for a band very much loved in these halls, Season to Risk, who split it with Kansas City veteran rock act Molly McGuire. We also released:
- The Return – “the/return”
- Scrid / Sludgeplow – “Miss L / Passion Fruit”
- Compilation – “LINOMA II: Riot on the Plains”
- Floating Opera – “It’s Not Easy Listening Anymore”
- Beyond – “Droppin’ the Next Shit”
- Fullblown – “Agents of Entropy”
In 1999, this site saw increased traffic for the third year straight, 7295 hits for ’99, 3732 the year before; a combined total of 13,987 hits, a 95.5 percent increase. We’d like to thank all of the folks who made that possible.
The last year of our millennium, the year 2000 for those of you not paying attention (1999 is the second to last year of the millennium, but this is another issue too large for this page), brings us many things. We worked a bit on a tribute album for the mighty Killdozer. In what turned out to be a bumper crop year, we released:
- Graig Markel – “July”
- Kung Pao – “Bogota”
- Plastik Trumpet – “I Love You So Much I Could Vomit”
- Ninja School – “Choking Hazard”
We are expecting to have a seven-inch out for San Francisco’s Men of Porn, and another bigger surprise that we can’t tell you about yet. You will love it, though.