An Oral History of Three Gut Records Gentleman Reg Vermue

Thoughts on the end? It's been happening slowly over the last year. Definitely since Tyler left, the label has changed. It's totally sad, and it's like a relationship and you know you have to break up at some point. How do you see the label having changed? It had some stages, I guess. In the beginnings there were all these great ideas and these exciting parties, and it was all about finding fun ways to market each band in creative ways, like the clothesline idea, or even having a house party that would be mentioned in [Toronto weeklies] Eye and Now. There was a lot of excitement and desire. We were all fresh from Guelph and in the big city and finding out what we could do. There were so many people involved, and it was a big group effort. We have all changed and evolved and it's interesting to see it documented on this label. And I think we'll all keep evolving. You were there from the first meeting, yes? You, Aaron, Jim, Tyler and Lisa? I don't think Lisa was at the very first meeting. But I think [onetime Constantines keyboardist and Royal City guitarist] Evan [Gordon] and Rebecca [Simpson] were there. There were about six or seven of us. We had this document that we all signed that Aaron had written up. I don't know if there's still a copy of it, but it was this little mantra. I don't remember what it said, you should ask Aaron. I think the second or third meeting Lisa was there, and most of us didn't know her at the time. She was working for DROG [Guelph label that put out Aaron Riches' two pre-Royal City solo records]. It slowly became apparent who really wanted to do this and who didn't. Jim, Aaron and myself were the music, so we were definitely excited to have a label to put our records out. Evan and Rebecca got lost in the shuffle. Magali [Meagher, of the Phonemes and ex-Hidden Cameras] did a lot when she lived with Tyler. There were all sorts of people who were on the periphery of us. Even before this, you were a self-starter, having assembled The Goods compilation [of Guelph artists in 1998] and other things. It's true. There was a Gentleman Reg cassette that came out too. There was just a point in late high school where I discovered campus radio and DIY ethics and I realised that you can do this, and you have to do it yourself, and it's a lot of work. The Goods was a really big thing at the time in Guelph. [Previous compilation] Guelph Happens was [in 1994], but that was a totally different generation and section of the community. It really inspired people to keep going. Looking back on it, there are a handful of people still doing the same thing. I put that together because I wanted to put out a CD and help people and I wasn't ready to do an album, so I did that. It would have come out on Three Gut if it had been a year or two later. There was a little Guelph invasion there for a couple of years, but comparing Toronto in '99 to what it is now, there certainly wasn't the kind of community there that there is today. I moved there in 2001, so I don't really know. When I moved to Toronto, for the first year I just hung out with everyone from Guelph. It wasn't until I joined the Hidden Cameras that I was introduced to that whole other scene. I think of Three Gut's role in that band too, they practiced at the house for a long time. Yeah, they did. And I knew that band because of Justin and Magali, so it all came back to the Guelph group. Memories of anniversary parties and the Family Band, or any other communal efforts? We had amazing anniversary parties. And there were always showcases, like Pop Montreal last year was amazing, and NXNE and CMJ and CMW. There have been a lot of group efforts. The Family Band was so exciting, because I got to sing "Unchained Melody," and then we did it again at Aaron's wedding. And the Constantines did a little tribute at the last anniversary, by doing a song from every band on Three Gut. Aaron's wedding really exemplified how much we were a family, more than just friends. It helped that the label's roster was always so small. It was good that it was kept small, but that also created a lot of resentment from bands who didn't understand why we wouldn't put out their music. They didn't understand that unless Tyler and Lisa felt like they could be 100 percent behind something, it couldn't happen. That's what made it special. They didn't just want to pick up anything out there. If we put out 50 records last year, it would take away the special-ness. You and Jim are the people I'm wondering where your next record will appear. Yeah, I'm wondering that too! Let me know if you hear of anything! I hung out with Jim a while ago and we talked about that. Cuff the Duke have another home, Sea Snakes split up, Royal City are on hiatus, and Constantines have Sub Pop. Jim and I are left, little lambs on our own. (laughs) But it's different now. It's unfortunate because I'm still promoting [2004's] Darby and Joan because it's still new to me and has a lot of life left. It came out in November, so it's been eight months. In terms of Canada, I'm not sure what I'm going to do, because another Canadian label won't re-release it. Which is fine with me, because I'm focused on getting outside of Canada for now. I'm not worried about finding another Canadian label. I feel confident that someone will be interested in my next record. And I'd certainly say the same thing about Jim. And you have a really hot video now. It's true! And I've been getting amazing response from it, really incredible. Final thoughts? There's something to be said for calling it a day when you're still enjoying it and everyone is still friends. You're not going to kick those Constantines out of your band, are you? Oh no! They're welcome back anytime, they're just too busy.