Memories - Michael Thies (Sales Manager)
Champaign-Urbana always seemed like a good place to grow up to me. There was always plenty to do and, if you wanted to, you could start a band and play shows. By the time I reached high school I had discovered punk rock and taken to heart the DIY mentality of bands like The Clash and Minor Threat, something that ultimately led me to figure out what types of bands were playing in my own town. One of the very first local shows that I attended was the Red Hot Valentines at the IMC in Urbana. The Plain White T’s opened up, which feels a bit odd looking back, because what seemed important that night was that there was a whole music scene happening in my town. I didn’t need to travel to Chicago to see live music and I didn’t need the radio or MTV to tell me what to listen to.
I didn’t know it when I was 15, but I would eventually discover that CU was home to an independent record label called Polyvinyl. Though I had missed the early days of the label, it seemed to fit right in with my experiences growing up here. Matt and Darcie had started off running a zine and setting up a distro at the back of shows held in basements, VFW halls, and other DIY spaces and these are the same types of shows that made it possible for me and my friends to start bands.
Being open to trying something new and having the vision to see it through is largely what punk rock has come to mean to me and I feel like this is precisely what Polyvinyl has continued to do throughout its 15 years of existence. Though the label has come a long way since the days of basement shows, the DIY spirit has remained a consistent part of everything that we do. It seems fitting to me now that the Red Hot Valentines were in fact signed to Polyvinyl, and one of my closest friends, Ryan McCoy, who plays in the band Midstress (check them out on our benefit comp for Japan!) and helps pack mail order at PV, was also at that show. Polyvinyl has played a huge role in the development of the Champaign-Urbana music scene, and consequently, Polyvinyl has played a huge role in my life. Being able to work here is a real privilege and I can’t wait to see what the next 15 years will bring.