Turn it Down!

A look back at Bermuda Mohawk Productions

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Vist Bermuda Mohawk Productions BandCamp page at  bermudamohawk.bandcamp.com

For a sizable chunk of the 2000s, the Bermuda Mohawk Productions (BMP) logo was pasted on countless flyers across Lansing and on releases by dozens of local artists. Over the past few years, its workload and output has slowed, but the label still pops up occasionally. Co-founder Cale Sauter chatted with City Pulse about the history of BMP, and why its DIY ethos was necessary back in the imprint’s heyday.

Digging back, how many BMP releases were pressed up?

To date, there are 73 BMP releases. It’s a pretty diverse catalogue, but when I was doing the most national and international releases, the label sort of naturally leaned toward a lot of mid-tempo hardcore, post-hardcore, and punk releases. That’s likely due to the type of bands playing a lot of the all-ages shows back then as well as us typically having a presence at The Fest, an annual music festival No Idea Records throws down in Gainesville, Florida.

How and why did BMP get started?

It was initially just something I made up to put on my first band’s only release, but it gradually became something much more comprehensive in the early-to-mid 2000s. In 1998, I moved to the area to attend Michigan State University and was disappointed with the inability to see shows or easily get involved with the local music scene if you were under 21. I started doing house shows, and working with others to get all-ages shows, and 18-and-over shows, at some legitimate local venues, as well.

Eventually, it branched out into a full-service label. How did that happen?

One of my housemates was Ryan “Gyuri” Tarrant, who some may know from playing bass with StarFarm. At the time, Ryan was studying audio engineering and had a home studio set up. That’s where the “Productions” came from. After doing shows and recording bands, we realized many bands needed more help with art and graphics as well as manufacturing and releasing the records. The internet didn’t offer quite the direct channel to potential listeners as it does now.

Around then, my friend [Lansing artist] Craig Horky was moving back to Michigan after going to art school in Pittsburgh, so we teamed up to work on some releases, shows and posters. The idea was to work with bands that otherwise couldn’t really gain any traction in town due to the lull in the DIY/punk community and stricter regulations on venues that served alcohol at the time. As things grew, the recording phased out of the equation, but I continued releasing records and booking Bermuda Mohawk shows. Both efforts eventually became so busy that [concert promoter] Scott Bell came on board and started handling a great deal of the show responsibilities.

Back when BMP first started, what local bands were taking off around then?

When BMP started, I believe the first official release was by the Cartridge Family (tCF). I remember playing and booking shows with tCF, The Casionauts, Red Swan, Fun Ender, Hell or Highwater, Gaytar and many others. My thing was: If we accomplish nothing else, I wanted to create a platform where the next generation of Michigan musicians could play, develop and grow without the discouragement that was seeming to bottleneck things a bit when I first got active up here.

Over the past few years, BMP has slowed down a lot. What’s the future of BMP going forward?

Things have slowed down since the days of two-to-three BMP shows per week and eight or so releases per year. That’s partially due to life and to other people carrying on the mission locally. BMP and GTG Records have always had a great relationship, so it’s amazing watching Tommy Plural and his crew keeping the musical landscape in this area safe and active for the underserved outsiders and weirdos. There’s a long list of inspiring individuals and bands, outside of that, getting together DIY shows (pre-pandemic) and releases here as well these days, so Lansing is in great hands. I pitch in however I can, when I can. This has included involvement with StoopFest, booking and promoting a show here and there, and the occasional vinyl release.

Today, you and Craig Horky both still play in Cavalcade. What’s the band been up to during COVID?

After 2019’s “Sonic Euthanasia” LP, Cavalcade has been back in the lab concocting a double LP for the next big release. The band has also been recording some odds and ends that will come out in the meantime on compilations and a B-sides mixtape eventually. Some Cavalcade videos are on the horizon, as well.

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