steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

20 questions
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with hovercraft records' tim janchar

Brothers Tim and Mark Janchar have have been putting out punk records for years now, releasing vinyl outings from the likes of The Bugs, Hey Lover, and their very own band, Cafeteria Dance Fever. Slapping a Hovercraft release on the turntable is a sure way to make both yourself and your record player very, very happy, although this doesn't necessarily hold true for neighbours and roommates. Curiously, both brothers work in the Emergency Department at Tualatin, Oregon's Legacy Meridian Park Hospital - something that perhaps manifests itself in the franticness of the records they put out, and also helps explain how they fund the whole operation. Tim took some time out of his busy day to answer our 20 Questions; read on and be enlightened...

Mole People's eponymous record


1. How did you get into unconventional music?

At my high school homecoming dance back in 1986 someone slipped the Violent Femmes "Add It Up" onto the turntable and it got about halfway through the song before one of the Nuns cut the power on the sound system, and from then on I was hooked.

2. How and why did you start up Hovercraft?

Hovercraft was originally an art gallery/creative space that was used as a sounding board for the creative output of me, my brother, Mark, and our friends ranging from video, painting, print, design, and music. Over the last few years it has been honed down to doing exclusively music.

3. Every release on Hovercraft is either on vinyl exclusively, or offered on vinyl. How important are vinyl releases? Why do they appeal to you so much?

There's something authentic and special about vinyl. It takes more time and effort to put out vinyl releases and also you don't lose the artistic aspect of albums. I really think the design and art of an album is essential and people have no connection to the visual design of most of the stuff on their iPod or computer.

Some people say "vinyl sounds better." but my record player is a cheap piece of crap so I can't really comment on that.

4. How did Hovercraft end up putting out the latest Autorace album?

Our best friends (and label co-mates) Justin and Terah Beth of Hey Lover toured in Europe with them a few years ago back when they were the Furtips and turned me onto their album "We are Communications," and I was hooked since then. I got to meet them when our band Cafeteria Dance Fever toured Europe with Hey Lover and we played a show with Autorace in Amsterdam. Just awesome great folks.

5. Tell us about the first release - Bullet Teeth's "Hope Freaks." What was the music like back then, and how has Hovercraft evolved?

My little brother Mark was the guitarist in that band back in Bowling Green, Ohio, and we put that out right before he moved out to Portland. Aren't most record labels formed to put out a friend's band?

Bullet Teeth's Hope Freaks LP
Hovercraft's first release

6. Running a small label comes with its fair share of mundane duties (corresponding with pressing plants, mailing stuff out, answering emails, etc...) Which duties leave you with a special sense of joy? Which ones do you absolutely despise?

I actually love mailing stuff. People like to get stuff in the mail; it's like a lost form of communication - like the love letter is now some {{xoxokissy!!!!} :) text message deal so I like being able to drop stuff in the mail to people who dig the music. I suck at promo stuff though. It's tough trying to shuck stuff to people and distribution companies who are listening to your music with the ear of "will this sell?" rather than "this shit makes me bust a skip!"

7. How in touch are you with your customers? Do some people buy all the records? How, and to where, are most of Hovercraft's records sold?

We sell a lot in our hometown of Portland, Oregon - and there's some people who religiously buy anything we put out. But it is pretty widespread over the United States with a scattering in Europe. The Bugs, Hey Lover, and Cafeteria Dance Fever have all toured overseas and make friends everywhere they go.

8. Why the name Hovercraft?

Back when I was a kid I loved all the G.I. Stuff - comic books, action figures. And the coolest, baddest-assed vehicle they had (outside of Snake Eyes) was the Hovercraft and when I was 12 my mom got me the thing for Christmas. I played with that thing non-stop in the bathtub.

9. Name one critical album from the sixties, seventies, eighties, and nineties. Good luck!

60's - 13th Floor Elevators "The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators"

70's - Electric Eels "The Eyeball of Hell"

80's - The Wipers "Is This Real?"

90's - F.Y.P. "Dance My Dunce"

00's - The Hunches "Exit Dreams"

10. What are your day jobs?

Both me and my brother work in an Emergency Department in Portland, Oregon. Good skills for the punk shows.

11. Do Hovercraft releases break even?

Hah!!! This is a money losing venture. But it is done out of pure love for the music and our friends.

Cafeteria Dance Fever's Heck on Earth LP
(Tim and Mark's band)

12. What would be your dream record to put out? What band, and how would you design it?

I swear this is not self promotion!!! But, The Mirrors (pre-Styrenes, Pere Ubu, Rocket from the Tomb crew) were an amazing band from Cleveland in the early 70's and they never released a formal full-length and they let us go through they're original releases from the 7"s and compilations and we are putting out a 12" this summer entitled "Something That Would Never Do". They gave us free reign on the music, lay-out and design. I'm super stoked on this one.

13. Describe the most hilariously repugnant demo you've ever received. No need to name names (although it helps).

Well I'm sure this wasn't repugnant by any means, cause I'm sure the music was killer, but Here Comes A Big Black Cloud sent in a tape demo a few years back and I was too dorky to not even have a cassette player so I never got to listen to it. I love that band to death and they forgave my shortcomings and we're putting out a ten inch by them called "Party Vietnam" this spring.

14. Your strangest, most wild and wacky story. Go.

Well this isn't music related but a few years back a woman came into the ER after cutting off her labia majora (beef knuckles is the common term I believe) with some pruning shears but didn't expect them to bleed this much. I guess her husband didn't like how they were looking. Well, ah, I hate to adimit it, but I think I did a pretty good job getting what was left to look like a younger, tighter version of their predecessors using some needle and thread. Everyone left happy (and a little scarred, physically for her.....emotionally for us).

15. How important are reviews and music criticism to Hovercraft? Do you read press about your releases?

Ah, my brother always said the press is a love/hate relationship. But I think it's important.

I Google myself all the time.

16. Which of the bands on your roster would an enormous free-for-all barfight?

The Hey Lover shows normally turn into massive mosh pit fights, but Terah Beth - Justin's wife and the drummer of the band - is actually usually the toughest one in the bar and I've seen her body slam a few people into commission several times.

17. Which record is your all time greatest seller?

The Bugs' first record sells the most by far, but I give away the Cafeteria Dance Fever record for free the most.

The Bugs' eponymous 12"
(it rules)

18. Digital music: friend or foe?

Ah, it's a friend. It's accessible and man, you gotta get it first to get it.

19. What is your favourite colour? Justify your selection.

Red. It's a good, safe default to go back to.

20. What does the future hold in store for Hovercraft?

We've got a lot of great releases this year: The Mirrors, Here Comes A Big Black Cloud, The Bugs, Hey Lover and I'm starting a series of split seven inches with one side housing Portland bands and the other side international bands. Getting to work with great bands such as Les Meatles from Lille, France, Stinky Pinky's from Berlin, and Meny Helkin from Metz, France.

interview conducted by Michael Tau
March 2009
published June 3, 2009
photo credit: Hovercraft website



all content copyright 2009