The History of MT Undertainment
Often refered to as "eMpTy", or simply "MT", we usually refer to our company these days as "MT Undertainment", as a general name for our company, comprising our current labels EMPTY RECORDS EUROPE, Musical Tragedies, ManifesT, and Marginal Talent, in addition to the Doc Wör Mirran private label Mirran Threat and our cassette label Masking Tapes. What follows is the history of our label, from 1984, the year of our founding, up to the present. Of course, not every release or artist is mentioned, but many of the important ones are. As music fans ourselves, we have had the great luck of being able to sign many or our early heros. However we would like to point out that every release we do is put out because we love the music. In the end they are all equally important to us.
Just finishing up his degree in art at San Francisco State University, Joe Raimond organizes together with friend Volker Stewart a cassette sampler, the famed MT-001, called "Numb Tongues No Taste", released on the newly formed Masking Tapes on December 20th 1984. Mastered at the university's experimental recording studio, Joe spends weeks typing over 400 cassette labels with his manual antique typewriter. If you look close, you can still see where the blister was today.
Released on the same day is the debut Doc Wör Mirran release, a C-60 cassette of tracks recorded by Joe for the experimental music class at SF State. Released on Joe's newly formed "eMpTy Records", a label devoted solely for the planned releases of Doc Wör Mirran recordings.
In February Joe and his buddies Mitch and Doug of the band Zyniker do a road trip from San Francisco to New York. From there they fly to London for a few weeks before Joe finally arrives in Darmstadt, Germany, dirty and hungry. It is on this trip that he plans releases of the band Zyniker, as well as decides to continue the label, first with cassette releases, and later with vinyl.
Having been offered a job as a graphic artist, Joe moves to Nürnberg, Germany in May where he meets Florian Schück, who produces a local fanzine "Set For Action". Together they form one of the very first MT bands, "7alking 7o 7he 7oilet".
Bernard Worrick, school chum of Joe's from the mid-1970's, happens to be stationed in Nürnberg in the US Army, and together with Joe, who buys an analog 8-track recording machine, they begin recording and releasing a string of cassettes on Joe's eMpTy Records by their experimental band "Doc Wör Mirran".
The first issue of MTimes is released in December. Starting out as a sort of fanzine, it ends up becoming the official newsletter of all the MT labels.
MongoThrob is formed as a label devoted to jazz music.
In June Joe releases his first vinyl project, the debut single by his band "Thumper", which he has formed with old high-school chum Blake Wright, and Ralf Lexis, who Joe and Blake met bumming cigarettes in the main train station in Nürnberg. Limited to 205 copies and recorded by Joe on a crappy cassette deck, this single gets mentioned in Mykel Board's MRR column as one of the worst sounding records of all time.
In October the second MT vinyl project is released on eMpTy, the first installment of the "Tour De Farce" series. This series, which would later include an LP as well as cassette with book, features punk bands from all corners of the world, specializing in recordings from many third world and communist countries.
In January Joe opens "Galerie Leer" on Muggenhoferstr. in Nürnberg in an old store-front as the art gallery outlet of eMpTy Records. The label offices are moved to a back room behind the gallery.
In April eMpTy releases together with Florian's Herbe Scherbe Records, the debut Talkin' To The Toilet single, a limited edition of 222 copies.
Also in April comes the first ever Doc Wör Mirran vinyl record on eMpTy, the "Falling To Achieve Freedom" EP, which is pressed on red and black splattered vinyl, the first MT vinyl release on colored vinyl.
"At Dianne's Place" is released in October on eMpTy, becoming the first ever LP release on MT. Organized by Volker, it is a split release with Penultimate.
In August eMpTy releases the 50th MT release, a 7" record by Cat Butt. A project of Volker, this would later become one of the most sought-after eMpTy releases ever.
Florian Schück becomes half owner of MT and all the sub-labels.
Musical Tragedies is formed, and the first release, an LP by Crimpshrine is released in June.
MT begins working together with EFA, a large German distributor, a relationship that will prove to be very long lasting and fruitful for both companies.
Volker Stewart leaves MT to devote his energy entirely to his other label Penultimate. Blake Wright, having returned to the USA two years earlier and taking over eMpTy's P.O.Box address from Volker, releases his first record under the eMpTy name, a split single by The Accused and Morphius. eMpTy begins to release what is to become a string of Seattle based bands at the height of the Seattle craze.
The first Doc Wör Mirran LP, "Sever Pig" is released on eMpTy in association with RRRecords.
Moe Town is formed as a label for 7" vinyl productions of Nürnberg area bands. The first release, a single by Trudge, is released in March.
MT-100 is released in July on eMpTy, a Doc Wör Mirran LP called "The Shroud Of Bernard", with a hand painted cover, vinyl etchings, and limited to twenty copies!
Together with Toxic Shock Records, Musical Tragedies releases in October the very first CD on MT, the classic Sloppy Seconds album "Destoyed" .
Doc Wör Mirran realizes a dream come true, and releases on eMpTy Records, in association with RRRecords, "Odds, Sods And Dirtclods", a three LP box set!
Musical Tragedies releases the first in what will become a long line of highly sought after collectors items, the saw-blade. The first installment, a split single by Mudhoney and Gas Huffer, is released in March. Within eight years, over twenty releases will have come out, all split singles on colored vinyl, shaped like circular saws, and featuring such artists as Lee Ranaldo, Something To Burn, Motorhead, Fast Eddie Clarke, Cher, Motorpsycho, Alice Cooper, Patsy Cline, Doc Wör Mirran, Controlled Bleeding, Nocturnal Emissions, Die Toten Hosen, Sham 69, Frank Sinatra, Frank Zappa, !KAAK!, Bevis Frond, Prime Sinister, The Nuns, Die Form, Youth Gone Mad, Los Gusanos, The Circle Jerks, and Adolescents, among others.
Musical Tragedies buys a 50 year old record shaping machine from a bankrupt pressing plant to begin cutting its own saw-blades, but the machine stands outside in the garden of Florian's grandmother for over a year due to problems finding a spot for it with the right kind of electricity. Some neighbours see it as a further proof of the Schück family being dangerous to the public. (See also Rainer Schücks selfmade crane, or the incident where Mr. Kesslers dog dissappeared...)
Marginal Talent is formed as a label devoted to industrial and experimental music, the first release being the debut vinyl LP from Tesendalo in July.
The Moe Town label is discontinued after the fourth release in May, a split single by Nürnberg bands Something To Burn and Prime Sinister.
MT begins working with the famed Southern California punk rock label Posh Boy, beginning what will become a long line of re-issues on both eMpTy and Musical Tragedies of classic punk rock, including such bands as Agent Orange, TSOL, the Circle Jerks and The Nuns.
Musical Tragedies signs J.B.O. and releases their debut CD "Eine Gute CD Zum Kaufen" in April, a record which EFA at first doesn't think will sell more than 200 copies.
Musical Tragedies releases "Romanoir" by the Merlons Of Nehemiah", Germany's first independently produced CD-Rom.
On December 20th Musical Tragedies, to celebrate the ten year anniversary of MT, releases a triangle shaped record by Doc Wör Mirran, "In The Shadow Of Her Breasts". It is also the 100th Musical Tragedies release and the 300th MT release.
The company is moved from Nürnberg to nearby Fürth in March, and Galerie Leer is closed for good.
Musical Tragedies releases "Explizite Lyrik" by J.B.O. in September. By Christmas, it has sold 10,000 copies.
After years of what Joe and Florian consider to be Blake's missmanagement, his mounting debts and little interest in working together, Joe cancels Blake's license to continue his operations under the eMpTy name. The Hormones "Castaway" single is released in August, having the dubious destinction of being the last officially sanctioned MT release by Blake. Court proceedings against Blake Wright are begun.
As eMpTy Records is used strictly for punk music by this time, Mirran Threat is formed as a new label devoted strictly to Doc Wör Mirran projects, and solo projects of DWM members. Mirran Thought is also formed as an outlet for planned books by DWM members. In July the first CD-R, a collaboration by DWM and Tesendalo called "Phire", is released on the Mirran Threat sub-label Hand-made, a label for individually copied CD-Rs with hand assembled covers in the tradition of the classic cassette scene.
In May ManifesT is formed as a label devoted to rock and historical recordings. The first release is a solo record by Billy Liesegang, former Nina Hagen Band guitarist, featuring John Wetton and . ManifesT is distributed by Semaphore.
Musical Tragedies releases in December the first of several releases by The Damned, a new studio CD titled "I'm Alright Jack And The Beanstalk", with a 3-D cover.
Marginal Talent scores a major coup and secures the CD rights to the ultra rare third album by Kluster. "Eruption" is released in March.
eMpTy signs Captain Sensible, releasing his album "Mad Cows And Englishmen in March.
eMpTy signs Sham 69, releasing their return to their roots punk rock album "The A Files" in June.
In July eMpTy releases "Kuschelpunk 1", a sampler CD of punk love songs, and is promptly sued by SONY, who claim to own the name "Kuschel". Although MT can prove, through a letter from the German Patent Office, that the word "Kuschel" is not possible to trademark, SONY still claims that the punks on the cover could be mistaken for one of their horrible "Kuschelrock" samplers. MT backs down and changes the name of the sampler to "Knuddelpunk". The press generated from the SONY threats creates a wave of support, with punk fans quickly buying all the pressed copies of the original "Kuschel" version before it becomes a collectors item. Mission accomplished!
Musical Tragedies releases a saw-blade by D.O.A and the Hanson Bros in April. This is the first in what will end up being a string of releases on eMpTy by the great D.O.A.
ManifesT signs Denny Laine, ex-Wings and Moody Blues guitarist, and releases his "In Time" album in June, which features Paul McCartney on one track.
Mirran Thought releases Joe's first book "Edges" in October, a collection of poems and DWM and Something To Burn song lyrics.
Lonsdale Records is formed as a sub-label of eMpTy, offering classic Oi and streetpunk as an introduction for punks just getting into the scene.
Manifest releases in June old concert recordings by none other than Elvis Presley. It is distributed only a few weeks before Semaphore goes broke once and for all.
eMpTy releases the last Ramones concert as a double album with colored vinyl and a gatefold sleeve in June.
Finally realizing an old idea by Florian, eMpTy begins its "eMpTy Lite" series, a series of ultra cheap one-sided punk rock singles with black vinyl and photocopied covers. The first single, "No Time For Trouble" by Köln friends Live Action Pussy Show, is released in August.
Recommended by Rat Scabies, Bob Andrews contacts MT, and in April the third long lost album by Generation X, "KMD Sweet Revenge" is released on eMpTy.
J.B.O.'s "Explizite Lyrik" CD goes gold in December, with sales of over 250,000, becoming not only the best selling MT release ever, but also the best selling release EFA has ever distributed.
The label MongoThrob is discontinued.
Mirran Threat releases Doc Wör Mirran's Elfengrund CD in October, the last DWM project Bernard H. Worrick worked on before he left back to the USA, finished literally hours before he had to catch his flight.
Mirran Threat's Hand-made subdivision releases Doc Wör Mirran's "Machines Don't Bleed" CD-R, the first MT release that contains no music, but rather graphic files to be viewed on a computer. It is the first in what is to become a long line of DWM releases featuring art and graphic work by the members of DWM.
The homepage of MT Undertainment goes on-line in January, after many months of planning and work.
Two releases by the late Frank Zappa on Musical Tragedies; a saw-blade with long-time Musical Tragedies artist John Trubee in August, and the CD "Cucamonga" in October.
Frank Sinatra "Bobbysox" album released on ManifesT in September.
Marginal Talent releases on December 20th, MT's fifteen year anniversary, the 500th MT release, a live 10" vinyl record of the Munich concert by Doc Wör Mirran, Tesendalo and the ANA Orchester. The record is half white and half blue.
In February eMpTy releases the new studio album by none other than the Zeros, one of the oldest punk bands in the USA.
After over a year of planning and building, MT Undertainment finally moves into their own, new office, in June.
The court case initiated in 1996 against Blake Wright of the former MT office in Seattle ends in a settlement, resulting, finally, in Blake Wright being forced to give up not only the eMpTy logo, but any connection to MT. MT simply goes back to using the logo they began with in 1984. All of Blake Wright's unauthorized eMpTy titles are re-released by MT as "The Bootleg Series".MT Undertainment now begins releasing their punk titles on the new "EMPTY RECORDS EUROPE".
A new MT label is formed, MT3, which offers totally free MP3 releases. Not only can you download the songs, but also the complete cover art. These releases are only available as downloads, with each releases having its own MT catalog number.
This year sees the release of our two most important "releases" in a long time, namely, the birth of Cedric Joseph Raimond IV on January 17th and Ewan Andrew Paul Strachan Schück on March 29th.
Marginal Talent releases "Out Of Reach", the long lost and most hard to find CAN album ever, on both CD and colored vinyl LP, with original cover art.
Our main release for this year was Sonny Vincent´s masterpiece album "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly", with an incredible all-star line-up.
Our second Generation X record, "Live At Sheffield" is released.
Our main distributor EFA goes broke on March 1st. Having begun negotiations with Hamburg based distributor Indigo several months earlier, MT moves the distribution of all sublabels to Indigo in the summer.
MT releases its first ever DVD, "Aufbruch In Die Endzeit", featuring historic videos and live footage from the first wave of German punk and NDW.
After several acclaimed live performances and two 7" vinyl singles, the Penetraitors release their debut, self titled album on EMPTY RECORDS EUROPE to rave reviews.
After eight long years, Springtoifel releases its next studio album "Engelstrompeten und Teufelsposaunen".
Due to the ever increasing workload of his shoe and clothing business in Nuernberg, Florian Schueck decides to leave MT as half owner effective January 1st.
Blake Wright announces in February that Empty Records US has "called it a day" and stopped operations, bringing to a final close one of the most difficult and unpleasant episodes in the history of MT.