Lookout Records

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Lookout Records
Lookout Records logo.PNG
Founded 1987 (1987)
Founder Larry Livermore
David Hayes
Status defunct
Distributor(s) Mordam Records (1987-2000)
Genre Mostly punk rock and alternative rock
Country of origin United States of America
Official website http://lookoutrecords.com/

Lookout Records was an independent record label, initially based in Laytonville, California and later in Berkeley, focusing on punk rock. Established in 1987, the label is best known for having released the seminal album of Operation Ivy and the first two albums by platinum-selling punk artists Green Day and for having pioneered the American pop-punk sound of the 1990s.

Following the departure of co-founder Larry Livermore in 1997, new ownership took the company in new sonic directions from its trademark "East Bay sound" but proved unable to match the label's early success. Financial turmoil followed, marked by the departure of Green Day and others in 2005. After a period of rapid contraction the label slowly expired, terminating operations and removing its music from online distribution channels early in 2012.

History[edit]

Background[edit]

Cover of the Summer 1988 issue of Lookout! magazine, published in Laytonville, California by Lawrence Livermore.

During the fall of 1984 Larry Livermore (née Larry Hayes), a resident of the small town of Laytonville, California of countercultural proclivities, felt the urge to opine about the problems of his community and the world in a small-circulation periodical.[1] Thus in October of that year was launched a circulation magazine called Lookout, the first issue of which was typed and photocopied with a "press run" of just 50 copies.[2] Opposition emerged to the controversial local topics upon which Livermore opined and so he turned to the theme punk rock, a form of music he had followed in the late 1970s.[3]

Livermore began to reacquaint himself with the ongoing punk music scene by listening to the Maximum Rocknroll (MRR) radio show, broadcast weekly from Berkeley and featuring prominent scenester and MRR publisher Tim Yohannan and his cohorts.[4] Livermore also decided to start a band, drafting a 12-year old neighbor to play drums — given the punk rock name "Tré Cool" by Livermore.[4] Cool would later gain fame as the drummer of Green Day.[4]

After a few ill-attended shows in 1985 Livermore took his band, The Lookouts, into a local recording studio to record their songs, the with a 26-song demo tape resulting.[5] He also began living part time in the San Francisco Bay Area, splitting his time between the city and his home in the mountains of Mendocino County.[6]

The Lookouts began playing out more in San Francisco and Berkeley and began to develop a fan following and to make the acquaintance of other local bands, including a melodically-friendly group called The Mr. T Experience.[7] A vibrant local scene began to congeal, based around the Gilman Street Project, an all-ages venue inspired, bankrolled, and coordinated by the popular Maximum Rocknroll, launched the night of December 31, 1986.[8]

Early in 1987 Livermore decided that it was time for The Lookouts to release a record. [9] Livermore chose to take the Do It Yourself route to create such an album, dubbing his creation for the one-off project "Lookout Records."

Establishment[edit]


Larry Livermore and David Hayes formed the label in 1987. From the start, Lookout released punk rock records, but over time expanded its scope to include various types of pop rock, reggae fusion, acoustic rock, pop punk, and indie rock. Former Lookout bands that have since achieved major label success include Green Day and The Donnas.

Lookout became famous for releasing albums that featured a very distinctive pop punk sound including bands such as Screeching Weasel, The Mr T Experience, The Queers, Crimpshrine, Green Day, Sweet Baby, Squirtgun, The Wanna-Bes and others.

Eventually, a number of Lookout recording artists ended their dealings with the label, rescinding their master rights from the label and re-issuing albums on other labels. These bands cited various reasons including non-renewal of licensing agreements, distribution problems, and breach of contract over unpaid royalties. Among the bands that took their masters from Lookout and reissued them on other labels were Screeching Weasel (on Asian Man, then Recess Records), Avail (on Jade Tree), Pansy Division (on Alternative Tentacles), Blatz and Filth (on Alternative Tentacles), The Dollyrots (on Blackheart Records), The Riverdales (on Asian Man), The Queers (on Asian Man), The Lillingtons (on Red Scare Industries), Enemy You (also on Red Scare), and The Groovie Ghoulies (on Springman Records). On August 1, 2005, Green Day became the biggest former Lookout act to rescind their masters from the label, forcing Lookout to lay off its staff and halt new releases for the remainder of the year.[10] Operation Ivy rescinded their masters on May 4, 2006 and their album was reissued on Hellcat Records in November 2007.[11]

On September 13, 2009 Larry Livermore commented on the name of the label on his blog, noting that the name is often erroneously spelled with an exclamation point.[12]

Lookout Records turned 20 years old in 2008. In December 2009, the company entered a major financial reconstruction period.[13] The label officially closed in January 2012.[14][15]

Band roster[edit]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Larry Livermore, How I Became a Capitalist: The Lookout Records Story, Part One. [1994] Corvallis, OR: 1000 Flowers Publishing, 2014; pp. 2-3.
  2. ^ Livermore, How I Became a Capitalist: The Lookout Records Story, Part One, pg. 3.
  3. ^ Livermore, How I Became a Capitalist: The Lookout Records Story, Part One, pg. 4.
  4. ^ a b c Livermore, How I Became a Capitalist: The Lookout Records Story, Part One, pg. 5.
  5. ^ Livermore, How I Became a Capitalist: The Lookout Records Story, Part One, pp. 5-6.
  6. ^ Livermore, How I Became a Capitalist: The Lookout Records Story, Part One, pp. 6-7.
  7. ^ Livermore, How I Became a Capitalist: The Lookout Records Story, Part One, pg. 7.
  8. ^ Livermore, How I Became a Capitalist: The Lookout Records Story, Part One, pp. 7-8.
  9. ^ Livermore, How I Became a Capitalist: The Lookout Records Story, Part One, pg. 8.
  10. ^ "Green Day Departure Hobbles Lookout". Aversion.com. 2005-08-02. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  11. ^ "Lookout Loses Operation Ivy". Aversion.com. 2006-05-04. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  12. ^ "That Damned Exclamation Point". Larrylivermore.blogspot.com. 2009-09-13. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  13. ^ Hicks, J. Rush Jr. (2000). "Should a Record Company Be Alarmed When an Artist Files for Bankruptcy?". MEIEA Journal (Meiea.org) 1 (1): 84–117. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  14. ^ http://www.punknews.org/article/45835
  15. ^ Chris Appelgren (2012-01-16). "Hard to say goodbye". Lookout Records official blog. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 

Further reading[edit]

Articles[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Kaitlin Fontana, Fresh at Twenty: The Oral History of Mint Records. Toronto, ON: ECW Press, 2011.
  • Larry Livermore, Spy Rock Memories. Kingston, NJ: Don Giovanni Records, 2013.
  • Kevin Prested, Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout! Records. Portland, OR: Microcosm Publishing, 2014.
  • Stacy Thompson, Punk Productions: Unfinished Business. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2004.

External links[edit]