Since 1984, Dionysus Records and its ‘reissue’ imprint, Bacchus Archives has released a whole lot of fantastic vinyl and CDs for fans of garage, psych, surf, punk (the good “punk” not cruddy modern punk,) exotica, rockabilly and a number of other sounds. Through the years two other imprints within the “Dionysus Records Empire,” Orange Sky and Hell Yeah have also housed some pretty cool and sometimes eccentric sounds.
The label was formed by yours truly, Lee Joseph, quite haphazardly and from scratch at the tail end of 1983 because I wanted to release a 45 by my then band Yard Trauma. The label was actually an extension of a cassette-only label run I ran out of the Roads to Moscow record store on Park Ave in my hometown of Tucson, AZ between ‘81 and ‘83. In 1984, I moved to Los Angeles and became pals with Greg and Suzy at Bomp who helped me to establish the label here in Southern California and distribute the first two albums (by Yard Trauma and Thee Fourgiven) and a couple of singles (by The Cynics.) Dionysus was fortunate to hook up with indie distributor Mordam Records in 1985 and a lot has happened since then of which may or may not be interesting thus I’m going to keep this short, maybe I’ll write a book someday.
The label was and still is run as you would expect from a music fan/record collector with ADD, completely self taught (and still learning) in all areas of conducting a business. I mostly put out stuff I liked with a few judgment lapses from time to time. During the heyday of the label things were busy, fun, frustrating, sometimes very stressful and very rewarding all at the same time. It’s all much easier and low maintenance these days. What stands is that I’m responsible for a huge catalog of mostly very cool releases that I’m very proud of!
Dionysus has scaled back its release schedule from 15-25 per year to maybe 1-4 per year. Many titles in the back catalog will be repressed and available as digital download while other titles will be sold until they are gone. The rest is way out of print.
In the past few years I’ve become a club DJ in Los Angeles and have started a publicity company for the visual arts called Lee Joseph Publicity. Check out our clients and events.
I’ve got to send thanks out to quite a few people for their help and support over the years: Aime McCrory who helped me to kick the label up a few notches and run things during the indie-boom years of ‘94 - ‘00, Zebra who helped run things in the early days, Greg Shaw, Suzy Shaw, graphic artists Sunja Park, Andrew Brandau, Shag, Rockin’ Jellybean, Darren Merinuk, Coop, Pizz, Tom Neely, Lisa Petrucci, March Gooch, former employees Robyn, Deke Dickerson, Nam Kim, Ben Szporluck, Angela Davis, Dan King, manufactures (by extending their credit and barely putting up with me through hard times, they allowed me to press records during days when I had literally no money) Alberti (as much as I hated those guys) Records, Erika Records, Rainbo Records, Stoughton Printing, Ross Ellis, Urzula, G&M and quite a few others, studios and engineers Randy McRenyolds in Tucson, Gary Stern at Silvery Moon who did my early releases, Brett and Donnell at Westbeach Recorders, the guys at Digiprep, Jim Bacchi and most of all Len Horowitz from HRS Records who helped with tape prep, restoration and some amazing vinyl and analog mastering on my vinyl records,) and others who helped such as Tim Gassen, Johnny D, Skip Heller, Ralph, Edgar and Rob when they were doing Tiger Mask together back when, Ruth who took Dionysus aboard at Mordam Records early on and a multitude of others I’ve surely forgotten. Oh and Tomas of Loves Simple Dreams in Germany who took the chance on bringing myself and Thee Fourgiven over to Europe back in ‘87. A heap of thanks goes to Chris Ashford for help on many levels and finally I want to thank rotating roster of current helpers and friends Sue Davis, Suzy Becker, Jim Freek and my label and publicity assistant, Kwithy Edmond. Thanks also goes to all the musicians, artists, writers, reviewers, DJs, stores, buyers, distributors and fellow labels for all their support and to those who knocked us at every opportunity, thank you as well cuz your constant attention actually ended up empowering me! And the biggest thank you? To all the old fans who bought the records. Because you did, we could. Current and future thank you to all our current and future fans for discovering the magic that is the Dionysus Records Empire over two decades after it’s birth!