In one of several attempts to reach Pete Menchetti, founder of the longstanding global punk, garage, and rock ‘n’ roll imprint Slovenly Recordings, he answers from a bathroom. He’s literally on the toilet, he says, in Amsterdam. Maybe not the best time to chat, and ultimately we reschedule. But somewhat appropriate, he laughs, because we’re talking about his label subsidiary label, I Shit in the Milk.
Amsterdam is home base now, but in 2006, Menchetti was a denizen of Spain. That’s when he launched the side imprint — reserved strictly for “basura de España.”
It’s not that Slovenly hasn’t already championed that since its 1994 launch. Wau y Los Arrrghs!!!, for one, are basically a staple on the roster. Specialized subsidiaries, though, are a thing Menchetti is fond of. But beyond its kickoff releases, he hasn’t done much with this one — until now.
With renewed focus, he delivered a 7-inch from Ton Ton Macoutes last February, and there’s a release from Madrid’s Biznaga on the way. Menchetti gave us the rundown — after a show, not in a bathroom — on I Shit in the Milk and his love for the Spanish scene.
Why did you start I Shit in the Milk?
I moved to Spain in 2006, and I was playing in a band called Los Fregaplatos, and we were pretty terrible, but it was tons of fun. After playing for about a year, we wanted to put out a record. I wanted to put it out myself, because that’s what I do, put out records, but I didn’t think it was good enough for Slovenly. So I started a new label called I Shit in the Milk.
“Spanish people shit on everything: ‘Me cago en tu madre, me cago en tu puta calavera.'”
The name comes from [the Spanish saying] “me cago en la leche.”
I haven’t heard that one specifically, actually.
Oh wow, crazy. Well, yeah, they don’t say god dammit, they say, “¡Me cago en la leche!” I was learning Spanish, and I remember the first time I actually understood that — like, “What did you just say? Did you just say I shit in the milk?” “Yeah, that’s what I said.” Then I realized Spanish people basically just shit on everything: “Me cago en tu madre, me cago en tu puta calavera, me cago en tus muelas, etcetera.” It just gets more and more ridiculous.
I decided to put all the Spanish trash bands [on that label]…all the vinyl is white, and the label is brown with a fucking turd floating in the middle.
What came next?
I was touring a bit with Wau y Los Arrrghs!!!, and the singer has this crazy solo project thing where he can basically do a whole band with his mouth. So we gave it a name, Juanito Wau One Mouth Band. I had this idea to throw a party at the house I was living in and have him play, actually have him record. To have him record was really challenging, because when he plays, it’s so fucking funny that everyone in the room just starts laughing hysterically. But we managed to sort of educate everybody before he came into the room that they need to shut the fuck up, because we’re recording. If you listen to the record you can hear people laughing hysterically — once the song’s done, luckily.
I also did a record for the New Demolators from Madrid, some really old friends who’ve existed for 25 years or something, and they play every Christmas. [laughs] Basically their thing is covering their favorite songs but changing all the lyrics to very vulgar Spanish. So “All Kindsa Girls” by The Real Kids becomes “todos los chochos huelen a pescado.”
I didn’t know about this label until now. I know about the other subsidiary, Black Gladiator, and I heard about Mondo Mongo.
Mondo Mongo is dedicated to bands singing in their native language, which is not English. I don’t have many Spanish bands on the label because, thankfully, a lot of Spanish-language bands actually sing in Spanish. But that’s not the case for most of the rest of the world, unfortunately.
You have a thing about bands singing in their first language, huh?
Definitely. I had another interview today about the label and they asked me about European bands, and they asked if I felt like a lot of European bands were imitating bands from the USA. My answer was not exactly, but I feel like a lot of them might sound like they lack originality because they’re singing in English, and they don’t really speak it that well, even. Basically, my answer was the best way for a European band to have originality, to be more original, is to sing in their own fucking language.
Do you feel like they sing in Spanish in Spain mostly, or do you see that issue there as well?
Not nearly as much. It seems like the bands in Spain that sing in English are the poser bands, straight up. Everybody else is singing in Spanish. When I say poser, I mean bands that want to be big; they want to be international or whatever, and they have commercial aspirations. They’re trying to be something they’re not. That’s part of the big problem I have.
“The best way for a European band to have originality is to sing in their own fucking language.”
What’s your fascination with Spain?
Before I lived in Spain, I lived in Italy, because my family is from Italy. I went to Naples in South Italy, also with the aim of creating a scene. We opened a bar there. It was pretty cool, we had a great time. The bar was really fun…but then after a year and a half, my partners were hooked on substances and I just sort of split.
One of the reasons I wanted to split was because I had been in Spain and seen how much better the scene is there for rock ‘n’ roll. It’s pretty much one of the best rock ‘n’ roll scenes I had seen anywhere to date. A lot of bands, a lot of parties, really good parties. A lot of parties started on Friday night and ended Saturday or Sunday afternoon. [laughs] And not just parties with people hanging around doing drugs or something. They were doing drugs, of course, but they’re also dancing all fucking night to really good music, which is something completely foreign to me having grown up in the USA. I made a lot of friends that I still have 10 years later.
Are you actively watching the Spanish scene now?
I’m trying to actively watch the scene everywhere. Ton Ton Macoutes is the first band to come out of I Shit in the Milk, since the last record was 2009, I think, the New Demolators.
I made a lot of friends when I was living there, and every year I go back there. At least once a year, I go for Funtastic which is in Benidorm, usually in October. I see everybody at least once a year and I hear about the new bands that are coming out.
Download Slovenly Recordings’ second sampler here.