A number of music news sites (like Punknews.org and Pitchfork) reported yesterday about the current, uncertain future of Lookout! Records. The Cliff's Notes version is that Green Day, like Screeching Weasel and Avail, pulled their Lookout! back catalog and the label laid off six of their nine employees. Now I know all is fair and unfair in business, but the timing of this really sucks. Here's why:
Lookout! was synonymous with bubblegum pop-punk in 1990s. They released classics by Screeching Weasel, Green Day and The Mr. T Experience but as the decade faded away, Lookout! slowly reinvented itself. When they added Ted Leo/Pharmacists, they gained one of the most vital and important bands in music (not just in punk music) today. I know it's a cliche to call Leo "the Man," but I can't think of anyone else currently making music that is as politically-minded, inspiring and humble as Leo.
Anyway, Lookout! added some great bands to their roster over the years, like the Reputation, Troubled Hubble and Hockey Night. These bands definitely rock but what makes them even better is that they aren't easy to pigeonhole. Too many labels sign bands that are only for "the kids" (translation: 14-18-year-olds with money to burn) that are easy to pigeonhole and market them to death. So it's refreshing when labels put out good bands that sell records to a wide variety of people; not just "the kids."
Now I don't want to be jumping to conclusions and think that Lookout! is dead in the water. Other labels have been through way worse, so you never know. I just hope that Lookout! hangs in there.