DIY publishers attract D.C. band to Orono

Posted July 09, 2009, at 4:35 p.m.

The Do-It-Yourself ethic is traditionally associated with music. DIY labels, DIY shows, DIY everything. Many bands in American punk rock and indie rock from the ‘80s onward embraced that ideology. No huge, corporate record labels or sponsors; no corporately owned venues. All-ages shows. Being your own manager. It’s not the easiest route to being a working musician, but it’s certainly the most honorable and ethical.

That ethic extends to more than just music. It permeates any facet of culture, including the world of publishing. Orono-based writer Mike Fournier runs an independent small press with his fiancée Rebecca, through which they produce and release various publications. Cabildo Press, which the pair started last year, is the literary equivalent of an indie record label.

Of course, punk rock informs what they do, as both are huge music fans — which is apparent in the show the couple is putting together for this Sunday at the Keith Anderson Community Center. On July 12, the stripped down indie pop band Andalusians, that records on the king of all DIY labels, the Washington, D.C.-based Dischord Records, will play a show with Maine bands Rotundo Sealeg and the Rattlesnakes.

The show is also a release party for Cabildo Press’ newest publication, “How I Fell In Love With Punk Rock,” by the Boston-based writer and musician Duncan Wilder Johnson. Johnson will be at the show, reading from his book.

For Fournier, the idea of running a small press came from listening to two writers who came to UMaine last year as part of the English Department’s New Writing Series.

“I did fanzines for years, but it never occurred to me to self-publish,” said Fournier, a graduate student in English at the University of Maine. “I went to the New Writing Series event that brought Richard Deming and Nancy Kuhl to campus, and they have a small press that puts out runs of 50 books. Rebecca and I were both really inspired by that.”

Fournier is no stranger to the world of punk and indie rock. In 2007, Fournier published a book in the 33 1/2 series by Continuum Press, a series of books about groundbreaking albums. Fournier’s book was about the classic album “Double Nickels on the Dime,” by the dearly departed Southern California punk rock band The Minutemen. The book put him in contact with a number of major figures in American punk rock — including Ian Mackaye, formerly of Fugazi and founder of Dischord Records.

“Before I came to Maine, I taught a class at Tufts University on punk rock. I had made this connection through my book, which gave me a license to call people and bug them,” said Fournier. “I wanted to ask Ian some questions, and he said, ‘Well, I’m going to be in Boston at this time.’ So he came to my class. It was a little like hanging out with the Dalai Lama.”

Strangely enough, though, it wasn’t Fournier’s connection with Mackaye that ended up bringing Andalusians, a Dischord band, to Orono — it was a friend from Boston, Kristian Forbes, with whom he used to write for a fanzine called Jersey Beat.

“Kristen went to D.C., and the next thing I heard from her was that she was in Travis Morrison’s band [lead singer from the now-defunct Dismemberment Plan],” said Fournier. “It was really surprising. She was in another band called the Beauty Pill as well. So it was that connection that ended up bringing them to Maine.”

Andalusians play biting indie pop with a punk edge, featuring the vocals and songwriting of Basla Andolsun, like a more pop-influenced Sleater-Kinney. They’ll fit well with the Portland-based Rattlesnakes, who make dreamy yet crunchy rock, and Rotundo Sealeg, a Belfast-based band that makes the catchiest electro-pop this side of Devo.

As for Duncan Wilder Johnson’s book, it’s the third release for Cabildo Press, and Fournier describes it as both a punk rock manifesto and a coming of age story. Cabildo has released a split 7 inch of sorts, featuring both Fournier and Griffin’s writing, and next will release a book of poetry by poet Lisa Panepinto.

“Putting together our own books and trying to do stuff with our friends is very important to us,” said Fournier. “It feels more important than ever, since the Kindle is taking away the artifact status of books. It’s important to retain the physical aspect of it. And it’s just a lot of fun to do.”

Andalusians, the Rattlesnakes and Rotundo Sealeg will perform starting at 7 p.m. on Sunday, July 12 at the Keith Anderson Community Center on Bennoch Road in Orono. Admission is $6, and it’s all ages. Duncan Wilder Johnson will read from his book and will sell copies. For more info, go to the Cabildo Press Facebook page.

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