Originally published in ‘zine issue #17, 1997
Generalissimo is a local label that has some cool rock/hardcore/whatever bands on it that are worth checking into. Bill Allen can always be found at the shows, selling records and supporting the scene. Below he kindly answers a few questions.
D.U.: So you had to change the name of the label from Victrola, ‘cause that name is still copyrighted by RCA?
Bill: I got a call from an electronics firm that still holds the copyright on an 80-year-old machine. That is, a machine no one has used in 80 years. No one came down hard on me, but I was a little nervous. It scares me from how many angles you can be crushed. I probably listened to too many Jello Biafra records.
“It doesn’t take much to survive if you’re willing to live meagerly.”
Give me a rundown on your releases that are still available.
We have 7”es by Inertia, Lugnut, and Ugly. We have cassette EPs by Dead As Dillinger and Shoutbus. We have an Ugly CD. I don’t foresee running out of any of them soon.
How do you have time to do a label and play in two bands?
I wish I could say it took more of my time. I work at it a lot, but it’s hard to get people interested. I work a part-time job. It doesn’t take much to survive if you’re willing to live meagerly. Time spent playing is time not spending.
What do you think of the DC/VA/MD punk/HC scene?
I have enjoyed this area since I moved here. I like D.C. A lot of variety of bands working together to make a difference. I think the kids will continue to unify and do something really cool. There is attitude and “cliques” everywhere you go, but I think it’s pretty contained around here. It’s just not accepted, so a lot of people drop attitude fast.
Is it still worth it?
I have had a lot of problems keeping this label up the last two years. The satisfaction I get from it would be worth 10x as many problems. I have had such a good time doing it, I wouldn’t give it up for the world. It has put a financial strain on my life, but I have managed to keep it debt free. I’ll do it till I’m dead. ■