Dallas record label that promoted North Texas bands calls it quits
After a nine-year run, Barf Wave Records, a DIY record label that promoted many punk bands across North Texas, has folded. It put on its final show at Deep Ellum’s Club Dada last week.
The team behind the label will soon book shows under a different name. Co-founder Eric Eisenman said they decided to pull the plug because they couldn’t dedicate time to find new bands to work with.
Founded in 2014 as a booking company, the label later helped local bands release and distribute CDs. In contrast to major music labels, Barf Wave was more interested in showcasing talent and building a music community than profit.
“Some of these later bands that we were releasing music for, they are incredibly talented, but they don’t have a clue of what the first step is to making physical copies of their music,” co-founder Charlie DeBolt said. “We literally were just like, ‘Hey, let us release your music and we’ll pay half of what it costs.’”
The Barf Wave team consisted of Eisenman, Taylor Smith and Savannah Loftin from the punk band Loafers and DeBolt and Kevin Adkins from the sub-pop emo band Upsetting, formally known as Teenage Sexx. Eisenman, Smith and Adkins were living in Waco and booking shows at Truelove Bar when they came up with Barf Wave as their official name.
The label released its first EP for Loafers in 2015. A split EP for Loafers and Teenage Sexx followed the next year. The label then attracted attention from other area bands, including Poison Culture, Sub-Sahara, Whep, Thyroids and Eleventeen, among others.
Sub-Sahara vocalist Charli Mireles said Barf Wave helped the band release its first EP, organize shows and introduce them to other musicians in the scene. “Without independent labels like Barf Wave, it’s harder for up-and-coming artists to become a part of local music scenes,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for the people that are willing to put forth the money, time and everything to run a small label, none of us could put our stuff out,” said Caleb Lewis of Upsetting. “Sometimes it takes a village to put stuff out on tape, to put stuff on CD, and it helps a lot of bands almost become family, which is really important.”
In 2017, the label began hosting Barf Wave Plays The Hits, a monthly DJ collaborative night, at The Nines and later Double Wide, which helped supplement some of its releases. Barf Wave won “Best Record Label” at the Central Track Music Honors in 2019 and “Best DJ Night in Dallas” at the Dallas Observer Music Awards two years later.