An Oral History of Three Gut Records Jim Guthrie, SOLO ARTIST and ROYAL CITY GUITARIST

Thoughts on the end? I knew for a bit that it was bound to happen at some point. When it did happen I was a bit scared and worried about the future. The only label I've ever been on was with all of my friends, and all of my relationships were really good and I never had a bad experience with the music business, in the sense that we didn't expect as much as we all got out of the experience. Now that Lisa says she has to put it down and move on with her life, I guess the more I think about it the more excited I get. I just take it day by day. I don't know how my next record will come out or where. Right now I just want to make another record. Having three records on the label and having it be my own label, it is pretty sad. If you catch me on the right day, I could be sobbing into the phone right now. But everyone will move on and it's not like the friendships will end. You were one of the day-one-ers, and the namesake even. I remember talking to you after the first time Royal City played Austin, and that was the first time you'd ever been on a plane. Do you think you would have done all that without Three Gut or without Royal City? No, certainly not. The best way to answer the question is I couldn't have seen it happening any other way, going on the road with those guys when I did. I don't know if I would have moved to Toronto, to tell you the truth. It was a really big part of my growth. There's no doubt I would have made music the whole time. But for sure, the label and all the people involved had everything to do with all the places I've been. It's given me a life I wouldn't have had, for sure. You've been a part of the living/working environment as well. At times, it also makes it hard for everybody. There were times when we all wished we didn't live where we worked. It's great and I learn a lot from having a kitchen conversation with Lisa about the industry or how we both feel about music, but there are times when you don't want to talk shop every day. It's impossible to wipe your bottom without bumping into your boss. But it had been our lifestyle, and we all accepted it. I've learned so much about how to make music at this level, and I'm glad that I worked where I lived. Any particular memories of anniversary parties or tours? So, so many. I recall having a really awesome conversation once with Aaron when we were in Whitehorse, at the Frostbite Festival. We were in this shack in the middle of nowhere in the biggest pile of snow you've ever seen. We were having kind of a crisis and feeling the nakedness of the wilderness, and we started talking about how we don't really know anything. Being up there, being exposed, I'd never been that far north before and had never seen the northern lights like that before, it was just this existential crisis being that far north and we got totally freaked. And going out east with the Constantines, that was when I said, "Fuck this, I'm standing up. All the time." [Jim was notorious for always playing seated, as was Aaron.] And the whole band stood up, because the Constantines were rocking our world. And we just drank way too much. Turning points in the label's history? The first one was when we decided to put Aaron's record out on the label, that's when it became a real label. I had got national recognition from Brave New Waves, but that wasn't a turning point. When Aaron's record came out, Lisa and Tyler jumped on board and made the label what it became known to be. And then the Cons. That was the first, for lack of a better term, outsider. And they weren't really, but we hadn't hung out with them our whole lives like everyone else. We didn't become really good friends until they joined the label. Bry told me about the spaghetti dinner. Yeah. I wasn't there for the dinner, but I've heard the stories. It became clear after that, nobody really knew what we were doing, but we all had some songs and a lot of will. That's why people turned their head. Then the Cons got the Juno nomination… and how many records did we put out? I'm pretty sure the new Constantines will be 16. The Oneida record is 15, I believe. Well, that means one out of every four records we put out was nominated for a Juno. Three Gut was one of the only labels were it was very hands-on with all its artists. It was always remarkable. They started off taking on way too much responsibility: booking, promo, label duties, everything. They only have so much energy, and it wasn't like anyone was making millions of dollars, so after a few years things started changing. Tyler wanted to do other things and left. But what's the usual life of a label? I'm glad we're ending on a high point.