[AUTRE PLAYLIST] An Ode to Amphetamine Reptile Records

When Nirvana blew up, the door was wide open for loud rock bands to be signed to lucrative major label deals, and of course, many bands did just that. It's still a testament to how crazy a time the early '90s was for the music industry that a band as bizarre as Royal Trux was signed to Virgin Records. Even then, there were still plenty of rock bands that wanted to be as weird as possible and wanted nothing to do with the majors. For them, record labels like the Washington State-based Amphetamine Reptile were blessings. 

Amphetamine Reptile was founded by a then-US Marine named Tom Hazelmyer. Hazelmyer needed a label to release the albums by his noisy garage rock band, Halo of Flies. The label has become known as something of a haven for Noise Rock, but that description is reductive. It was more or less a rock n' roll label, a really weird rock label, but rock nonetheless. A band like Cows that mixed aggressive punk with blues found a welcome home on AmRep. As did completely unrelated bands like the Space Rock-leaning Cosmic Psychos. In 1992, the label released the New York band Hemet's mega successful 'Meantime' record. Helmet was fairly conventional for AmRep, but the success of the album is credited by Hazelmyer as keeping the label afloat through the '90s, allowing completely uncommercial bands freedom to not worry about selling, sort of like how AMC uses 'Fear of the Walking Dead' to keep the brilliant but ratings averse 'Halt and Catch Fire'  going.

Hazelmyer was able to tap influential musicians from yore to put records out on AmRep. The Australian sludge punk band Feedtime and the former Chrome psych-punk guitarist Helios Creed both put out full-lengths on AmRep. Even the relatively big Olympia-based sludge band the Melvins have an AmRep credit. When you count in singles, bands as diverse as New York noise metal band Today is the Day, Japanese abstract noise weirdos Boredoms, and grunge gods Mudhoney all have put music out on the haven of creative freedom that was Amphetamine Reptile.