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Twin/Tone Records was an independent record label based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which operated from 1977 until 1994. It was the original home of influential Minnesota bands the Replacements and Soul Asylum and was instrumental in helping the Twin Cities music scene achieve national attention in the 1980s. Along with other independent American labels such as SST Records, Touch and Go Records, and Dischord, Twin/Tone helped to spearhead the nationwide network of underground bands that formed the pre-Nirvana indie-rock scene. These labels presided over the shift from the hardcore punk that then dominated the American underground scene to the more diverse styles of alternative rock that were emerging.
Twin/Tone originated in the Minneapolis punk rock scene. The label was begun by Peter Jesperson, music and sports writer Charley Hallman, and Paul Stark. Releases by the pop/rock group The Suburbs were both Twin/Tone's first release (The Suburbs EP in 1978) and its last (Viva! Suburbs! in 1994). Jesperson signed the Replacements to the label immediately after the band's debut at the Longhorn Bar in Minneapolis. By 1984, the label had released 41 records and grown large enough to support three paid staff members, with its biggest-selling records including the Suburbs' debut and the first two discs by the Replacements. Other groups that signed with Twin/Tone include the Magnolias, Babes in Toyland, Information Society, Agitpop, the Jayhawks, Poster Children, Soul Asylum, the Wallets, Curtiss A, and Pennsylvania-based Ween. British alternative-rock musician Robyn Hitchcock also released his 1990 solo album Eye through the label.
The label was headquartered at 2541 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, which had previously been home to Kay Bank Studios, where garage-rock hits such as the Castaways' "Liar, Liar" and the Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird" had been recorded in the 1960s. For a time, Hüsker Dü had an office space next door to Twin/Tone at 2539. Hüsker Dü's Grant Hart would later name his first solo work, 2541, after the location.
By 1994, Twin/Tone had released more than 300 records by 100 bands and had begun to develop an umbrella relationship with several smaller, mostly Minnesota-based indie labels, including:
- TRG Records
- Hot Records
- Amphetamine Reptile Records
- Wide Angle Records
- Atomic Theory Records
- Hakatak International Records
- Boy's Life Records
- Skene! Records
- Coyote/Lost Records
- Medium Cool Records
- Clean Records
- Spanish Fly Records
- Prospective Records
- UltraModern Records
- Red Decibel Records
- No Alternative Records
- Guilt Ridden Pop Records
In 1995, Twin/Tone was recognized as a "significant regional label" by Billboard magazine. In 1998, Stark decided to stop releasing physical product in favor of digital media. The company is currently described as being "in mothballs", releasing only limited amounts of out-of-print material on custom-burned CDs, though some of the more significant material was licensed to Restless Records, part of Rykodisc. Hallman died in 2015. In 2017, the label was revived by Stark and Jesperson to release the Suicide Commandos comeback album Time Bomb.
- Clark, Rick (25 February 1995), "Give Them One Good Region: Local Labels Congregate In Cities Where Talent Gathers", Billboard, p. 114, retrieved 19 April 2015
- Dolan, Jon (January 2005), "The Revival of Indie Rock", Spin, p. 53, retrieved 19 April 2015
- Reynolds, Simon (2006). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-1-1012-0105-3.
- Cost, J., Earles, A., Fritch, M., Hickey, M., Klinge, S., Miller, E., Olson, D., Rowland, H., Ryan, M., and Valania, J.: A Tale of Twin Cities: Hüsker Dü, the Replacements and the Rise and Fall of the ’80s Minneapolis Scene, Magnet, June 12, 2005.
- Walsh, Jim (2009). The Replacements: All Over but the Shouting: An Oral History. Voyageur Press. p. 65. ISBN 9781616739782.
- McCormick, Moira (1984-11-03). "Twin Cities' Twin Tone looks for esoteric talent". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- Sturdevant, Andy (October 17, 2019). "A Rock 'n' Roll Walking Tour of South Minneapolis". Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. Minneapolis-St. Paul. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
- Vladimir Bogdanov; Chris Woodstra; Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2002). All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul. Backbeat Books. pp. 510–. ISBN 978-0-87930-653-3.
- "Artists". Twin/Tone Records. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
- Eisenbeis, Hans (1998-05-20). "I'm With the Bandwidth: Minneapolis label's proprietor, Paul Stark, is making a play for the future". City Pages. Archived from the original on 2014-09-04. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- Strouth, Chris (2015-06-16). "RIP Charley Hallman, co-founder of Twin/Tone Records". City Pages. Minneapolis. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
- Riemenschneider, Chris (2017-04-27). "Minneapolis' legendary Twin/Tone Records comes back to life for Suicide Commandos". Star Tribune. Minneapolis-St. Paul. Retrieved 2018-08-11.