What I’m Listening To is a series where we talk to exciting artists and musicians and get a five song slice of their current playlist.
“Rock music and bands seemed like such a cathartic artistic experience, I really wanted to do that.”
Charles Albright, multi-band member, founder of Sacramento Records and Charles Albright Records, and curator of this month’s What I’m Listening To playlist came to music looking for escape. “I was drawn to music as a way to deal with feeling different than many of my peers. I didn’t really see myself fitting in and getting a job.”
Albright started playing drums in 1997 at eighteen years old, coincidentally the same year his future wife Christine Shelly and brother-in-law Patrick began learning drums. “They were ten and six, respectively, but still, kinda cool.” Albright later branched out to sing and play guitar and bass, but says as much as he likes those other instruments, “I am a drummer. I always will be.”
Being a drummer, Albright says, gets him asked to be in bands “on a weekly basis.” He estimates that he has been in about thirty bands in the last twenty years. He has played in “Milhouse SMF/USA, Rock the Light, Sunshine Smile, The Knightmares, The Frenchmen,The Colonels, RAD, Shark, The Readymades SMF, The Pizzas, BOATS!, Sneeze Attack, Baby!, The Megacools, to name of a few of more well-known bands.” In addition, he has played with or filled in for Lousy Bums, Lizards, The Pumpkin Seeds, The Knockoffs, The Four Eyes, and Secretions. Currently, he is in three bands: The Globs as a drummer, RAD as a guitarist, and Charles Albright as the singer.
In addition to being in a good chunk of the bands in the Sacramento music scene, Albright has his own record label. Sacramento Records came about in 1999 when Albright bought a hundred copies of Swinging in the Secret C compilation CDs from Secret Center Records owner Scott Miller. The first ‘real’ records Albright put out under the label were The Four Eyes’ Hat Nerd 7” and PETS’ STEP 7”.
Though he started Sacramento Records “mostly out of a desire to put out my own bands under the guise of faux-legitimacy,” it would “pop in and out of existence” throughout his twenties, depending on what he was up to. It was not until 2010 that it became more stable and active, and Albright, joined by good friend and singer for RAD Lory Gilpatric put out records by Knock Knock, Rock the Light, RAD, Kitten Having Kittens, Nacho Business, The Croissants and the Pizzas.
How does Albright balance life, being in so many bands and his label? “I really don’t. I tend to over commit myself, get frustrated and angry, lose sleep and leave projects unfinished,” he went on to note that the newest split LP between Charles Albright and the The Croissants (also known as the Xants) took three years to finish and the Megacools LP came out four years after they broke up. “I guess you can say Sacramento Records is play[ing] a very LONG game. Maybe history will be told not by the conquerors but the overly ambitious procrastinators? We can only hope.”
To deal with some of the pressure of Sacramento Records, he also releases music under the label Charles Albright Records. “Charles Albright records uses a lot more recycled materials and doesn’t have the ‘locals only’ stipulation. Also, I decided I’d like not to put out my own bands in Sacramento Records anymore. I’m still working on doing that.” He feels blessed to work with “many patient people.” But right now, he is putting many of the bands he is playing with on hold because he and his wife are expecting a baby at the end of January. Albright is very excited to welcome his first child into the world.
What is label founder, multi-instrumentalist, and father-to-be Charles Albright listening to?
Youth Of Today-‘Potential Friends’ (1988)- “I feel like I never got this band when people would play them for me … I know they are the Minor Threat of second Generation SXE [Straight Edge], but they never really made sense to me until I realized what they were doing juxtaposed to crossover. Without any judgments, many of the greats of the American HC [Hardcore] era transformed into college rock or metal crossover … Youth of Today kept it fucking real. They were a retro throwback band RIGHT ON THE HEELS of the first HC movement. They just loved hard, fast music. They loved the passion and potential for social change. I picked the song ‘Potential Friends’ because I feel Ray [Cappo, the singer] was speaking to me all those years. We did Ray, we did it. We become the best of friends. Honorable mention: ‘Slow Down’ or anything off of Flame Still Burns.”
Blast- ‘Damned Flame/Hope’ (1974)- “I’d like to thank Matt K for showing me this jam. This isn’t the Santa Cruz Blast, but rather a weird European band that figured out HC Punk in 1972 for about 4 minutes. Almost D-beat sounding. I love out-of-nowhere-odd-ball-misfit songs like this.”
Corrosion Of Conformity -‘Loss for Words’ (1985)- “That riff. That opening riff. That fucking opening riff. Over and over again. Over and Over. Over and Over again. The first few days when I fell in love with this song, I just listened to the opening 15 seconds only. Over and Over. And Over again. I love the whole song now and am charmed by how they did the inevitable metal crossover better/more genuinely than any other band of that era.”
Chain of Strength-‘True Till Death'(1988)-“My interest/fascination with second generation SXE knows no bounds. Youth of Today may be the best, but there are many other greats worth your attention. Such a clear idea of right and wrong. So earnest. So male. SXE is more truly masculine than metal or hard rock could ever be. When Chain poses the question, “Has the edge gone dull?” I find myself wishing I had such a clear ideas about life and morality. I wished I cared so strongly about something/anything. While I may not 100% agree with the straight edge lifestyle of that era, I love the passion. In that sense, Chain, I have answer to your question: the edge will never dull.”
Lack of Interest-‘Never Back Down’ (2005)- “Waiting in line at the Cafe Colonial for a beer is a great way to find out about new/old music. The millennial generation’s answer to Charles Albright, Adam Jennings, would make me listen to Lack of Interest waiting in line for my Pabst. Like all the time. His enthusiasm was overwhelming and the sound from his phone’s speakers was terrible. Yet, I was drawn to the tough guy vocals and absurd song structures. I can’t decide which song to pick but ‘Wasted Effort’ or ‘Tough Guy’ are definite honorable mentions. It’s the message of this song the puts this one over the top. NEVER BACK DOWN. It is a little known fact that Lack of Interest’s best album is Infests No Man’s Slave.”
Albright has two shows coming up with RAD, one with It’s Casual on November 4th at the Colony at 8 pm (details here) and another with Ghoul on December 4th at Cafe Colonial at 6:30 pm (more information here). Sacramento Records several upcoming releases, including a split LP with Charles Albright and the Croissants. Check it out here. Check out the label’s releases here and keep an eye out for PETS’s new LP Get Turned On and a new release from Sacramento’s first hardcore band the RC Boys (release dates TBA).
Words: K. Hules