To most record labels, signing Pittsburgh rock 'n' roll iconoclasts The Dirty Faces would seem like a bad bet. Their music is too experimental–feedback-laden and lyrically post-ironic–for staunch rock fans, but so rife with Iggy Pop and AC/DC gee-tar nods that the black-framed-glasses set cringes. The band's image? Bad boy-and-girl chic without the chic. That's not to mention The Dirty Faces' legal issues–that singer T. Glitter swipes whole verses from Pete Doherty and Bob Dylan is just the beginning. (For example, Glitter missed one New York City show by getting arrested, unbeknownst to his bandmates, between sound check and first note.)
But for Brah!, a record label run by New York minimalist psych-rockers Oneida, a great, underexposed rock group is always worth the risk. "Here's a band that we'd been telling people about [forever], and is probably the best live band in existence right now, being completely ignored," says Oneida drummer and Brah! Records co-founder Kid Millions, about his simple decision to sign The Dirty Faces.
Brah! Records formed when Oneida's label, Jagjaguwar, passed on releasing ex-Oneida frontman Papa Crazee's psychedelic country outfit Oakley Hall. After a few beers at a New York watering hole, Kid Millions and some friends dug up Jagjaguwar boss Chris Swanson's phone number and left him a message demanding their own record label for projects they felt were being ignored. "We were kind of serious, but kind of joking," says Millions. "The next morning I had an email waiting for me saying, 'Let's do this.'"
At the tail-end of 2006, The Dirty Faces became the first band to release a sophomore record on Brah!; it was Get Right With God–the follow up to 2005's label kickoff Superamerican–and it would never have been possible without the backing of such commercial-suicide-minded men.
Brah! Records' 2007 lineup includes new discs from Sinoia Caves (solo music from Jeremy Schmidt of Black Mountain); Nurse and Soldier, the side project of Oneida keyboardist Fat Bobby; and possibly Underground Economy, the third album in The Dirty Faces' trilogy. But while the label's roster and eclectic tastes have solidified, Kid Millions isn't confident the Brah! name is pulling indie-rock stock options quite yet.
"I would love it if people thought Brah! was an identifiable, awesome label," says Millions. "But it's not. First people have to buy some records."