Introducing: Quality Time Records

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You might already be familiar with Cleveland’s Ricky Hamilton through musical contributions like Ricky’s Heart, Blackbear + The Surf Bums, Useless Eaters, and now the artist has started his own DIY tape label called Quality Time Records. With four cassette singles ready to roll and rock Cassette Store Day this Saturday, September 27, Hamilton’s quadruple threat lineup of locally sourced artists (and Nashville) includes Andrew Pitrone, Dionysian MysteryMa Holos, and his own, Ricky’s Heart.

Like the proliferation of DIY underground groups and communities found between Ohio’s I-71 that connects Cleveland to Columbus, Quality Time Records provides an outlet for the artists unknown outside of these independent circles. Andrew Pitrone create timeless holistic ballads like “Wild Imagination”; the funky glam-tek of Dionysian Mystery’s “Swinging Freely From the Moon”; the sleeve sewn sentiments of the label operator on “Something More Than Nothing”; to the featured listen from Ma Holos seasonal stew of attitude and illness on “So Sick (For Summer)”. Gnashing teeth, and altering slow brewed quiet and loud arrangements—we can thanks Ma Holos for giving us the first taste of fall rock and roll with an epitaph for the summer passed.

Ricky wrote us the following introduction to Cleveland’s new tape imprint in the following exclusive foreword:

I started Quality Time Records after returning from touring in California and landing back in Cleveland. I was listening to the absolutely essential Terminal Records compilation Cleveland Confidential non-stop, which includes bands such as Easter Monkeys, The Styrenes, The Pagans, etc. The album was put out by Cleveland legend and Pagan’s frontman Mike Hudson and it brought to the surface a goldmine of punk 45’s lost in the grimy Cleveland life of the 70’s. I wanted to add my personal mark to the great history of underground Cleveland music so I honed in on some of my friends bands that I thought had killer singles and offered to release them on cassette and get them some press.

I was attracted to the Ma Holos after seeing them bring down the Happy Dog with there psych-fueled punk. They’re the real deal. It’s as important to me where the music comes from as the individual notes. Led by Robert Joyce and his longtime buddy Marty they employed an impressive roster of warehouse dwelling street wise Cleveland punks to hold down bass drums and keys. They blow me away every time I see them. When they play it’s the sexiest show in town. Their song “So Sick (For Summer)” was one of many standouts on their cassette LP which will be available online and in local Cleveland record shops September 27.

I met Andrew Pitrone a few years back when he was staying next to a friend of mine in the Coventry neighborhood of Cleveland. He made radish stew from some radishes he picked in the country so naturally he invited us over to eat and listen to songs. He played a few of his tunes for me and I thought they were, much like him, elegant and interesting. We parted ways and it wasn’t until I returned from tour that I ran into him again some three years later. We hung out for a bit at his dwelling on St. Clair and I couldn’t believe my ears. He played me “Wild Imagination” and I was immediately drawn to it. It reminded me of “Goodnight Ladies” but with a new yet aware twist. I told Andrew I’d put his song out and like that he joined the Quality Time Records’ roster. I couldn’t be happier to have his first release out on the label, it’s really an honor. He has a full length cassette coming out cassette day.

My friend Carter is tight. Although he isn’t from Cleveland he’s definitely familiar with the lifestyle here. Since 2011 Carter and I have been recording as Blackbear + The Surf Bums in Nashville while frequently taking trips to Cleveland to relax and record. Since the very beginning of BB+SB Carter and I knew we should have our own side projects because of our restless nature and my constant touring in other bands. I started Ricky’s Heart and Carter started Dionysian Mystery. He began cross dressing nearly all the time and cranking out early Eno style art rock and punk from his house in Nashville. I knew I needed him on Quality Time so I asked him for a single and he sent me the entrancing “Swinging Freely From The Moon”. This track alongside his incredible artwork fit like a hand in glove so I decided to put out his first single and cassette which will be available September 27.

The Ricky’s Heart track that I put out for the four single sampler is called “Something More Than Nothing”. It’s one of my longest songs clocking in around four minutes and is an ode to S&M. I’m pretty sure I have the mind of a woman and my music reflects it. I tried to set up an aesthete of beauty to surround lyrics of longing, yearning, and isolation during love. I hope people can connect with the universal themes I built into the track. I have a full length LP entitled Unknown Coordinates, out on Quality Time Records and an EP via Nashville’s Paco Tapes.

Quality Time Records will be launching all four cassette releases September 27 for Cassette Store Day.