Glenn Morrow celebrates 30 Years of Signing New Bands
Morrow’s Band Cry for Help performs April 16 in JC
By Darren Paltrowitz
As the owner of the Hoboken-based record label Bar/None Records, Glenn Morrow has accomplished many amazing things in the music business. Not only the original label for They Might Be Giants, Freedy Johnston and Of Montreal, Bar/None has handled high-profile releases for Yo La Tengo, Puffy Amiyumi, Juliana Hatfield, and Alex Chilton. Founded in 1986, Bar/None celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, having recently moved back to Hoboken after a few years in Weehawken.
Morrow – whose band Glenn Morrow’s Cry for Help plays Jersey City’s Monty Hall on April 16 with The Waco Brothers – spoke to River View Observer about what’s ahead for both Bar/None and the local music scene as a whole. Immediately following the Q&A, Morrow headed to the recording studio of Elk City drummer Ray Ketchem in Montclair to work on the next Cry for Help album.
RVO: Bar/None recently moved back to Hoboken after some years in Weehawken, what is it that keeps you based in this area?
GM: I’ve been living in Hoboken more or less since the late 70’s, so it really is home. We’re excited to be in the Newman Leather Building, which is constantly surprising me – there are all kinds of interesting artists and musicians working there.
RVO: When someone from New York City expresses surprise that your label operates outside Manhattan, do you have a pro-Hoboken speech ready?
GM: Well I’m certainly pro-Jersey these days. There is lots going on all over the state. I just saw some great bands in a new brewery in Little Ferry last night, Brix City Brewery. Jersey City keeps
opening new places for bands to play, like Porta and the Citizen, and I’ve seen excellent new bands at the revamped Maxwell’s as well. Hoboken is really a borough of Manhattan at this point. The energy level is no different.
RVO: Your band has a show coming up at Monty Hall. How much of your fan base do you think knows you as “Glenn from Bar/None”?
GM: I’ve been doing the label for 30 years, but I was in bands for 10 years before that, so it is probably a combination. I did reunions a few years back with my band The Individuals and “a,” which was a surprise to some people who only knew me as “the Bar/None guy”.
RVO: What’s the latest you’ve heard about a new venue opening up around here? Does Todd from Maxwell’s have something in the works for Jersey City?
GM: I’m not sure what is up with White Eagle Hall, but Todd is booking shows in Jersey City at Monty Hall. He also has Yo La Tengo at the Loew’s in Journal Square in April. I was driving along listening to his radio show yesterday and I was sorry to have missed a bill he put together with Crazy and the Brains and Dirty Fences last weekend.
RVO: Your name came up when I interviewed Rob from Water Music. Who are some of the other local music business owners that you regularly work with, or at least are regularly in touch with?
GM: Of course Jim at the Guitar Bar, Chip at Tunes, Gene at Schnackenbergs, Amandas and the Elysian, and Ali at the food truck near the PATH. He still sells a 75-cent cup of coffee!
RVO: Is there someone within the music business that you look to as a mentor, or credit for giving you your start?
GM: Steve Fallon, who started Maxwell’s and Coyote, really gave me my start letting me book bands at Maxwell’s in the beginning and later running the Coyote office. Paul Stark at Twin/Tone, who was funding Coyote at the time, taught me a lot about the nuts and bolts of the business. Also, the late Charles Ball, who has recently gotten some recognition for his work with Ork Records. He was the first record man I ever knew. Andy Schwartz, publisher of New York Rocker, hired me right out of college to be the paper’s advertising director. I’d say the sense of camaraderie we had there, and an outsider stance to the music industry, has carried over to Bar/None to this day.
RVO: What’s coming up for Bar/None Records?
GM: Next week we are re-releasing two Feelies albums that have been long out of print, Only Life and Time Fora Witness. We’re working with a young Jersey punk band called The Moms that I first saw at Maxwell’s. It’s our 30th year in the business, so we’re going to do some celebrating. The first album on the label was released on March 26, 1986.
RVO: When you’re not busy, how do you like to spend your free time?
GM: I like traveling and walking in foreign cities as well as around New York. Of course, writing songs and playing music. Lately my wife and I have been making batches of crostini crackers from scratch. Flour, yeast, salt and olive oil and careful baking. We make a week’s worth and then start all over again. Man, they are good!
RVO: Finally, Glenn, any last words for the kids?
GM: Making music is one of the most fun things you can do, and with social media and streaming, it’s easier than ever to get your music out there. Don’t quit your day job right away, but have fun with the process of making music. It can be great playing in your living room as well as an arena.
For more info on Morrow and Bar/None, go to www.bar-none.com.