On February 22, 2020, my 26th birthday, I was fully prepared to put my label to bed, once and for all. I had one last release to work on, and then Under the Counter Tapes would go gently off into that good night, largely unnoticed if something I was proud to have worked on. That night, a number of celebratory drinks along with Bernie Sanders win in the Nevada caucus stoked one last flame of inspiration: a final release compiling music from many of the friends I’ve engaged with since starting the label, in benefit of the most human rights-oriented campaign I’ve seen in my lifetime. We call it: Banders
Banders has several meanings: the combination of “Bernie” and “Sanders”, a reference to “bands” in a music sense, but most importantly, a celebration of the power that can be harnessed for good when people from all different backgrounds band together with a common goal. Banders is about collectivism. “Not Me, Us”.
With Banders, we wanted to put together something as unique, diverse, and enduring as the coalition of supporters backing the ideals of the Sanders campaign. You’ll hear country, folk, lo-fi pop, dark ambient, alternative R&B, dance-punk, pop punk, shoegaze, synthpop, psych pop, jazz pop, post-punk, hip hop, and much, much more on ‘Banders’, all new, unreleased, or never released on physical media before. UTC regulars such as Imp of Perverse and The Ryne Experience contribute brand new tracks, while COUNTERZINE favorites such Greg Mendez, Spartan Jet-Plex, Medium Soft, Petridisch, Machine+, Mythical Motors, COW, ODAE, Tribe Friday, and Of House, COUNTERZINE writers Secat and Pink and Yellow, and sounds relatively fresh on our radar from brilliant acts such as The Curls, Raul Gonzalez Jr., Matthew Barton, and Adrian Kae, come together to create a 200 minute ride that’s all killer and never settles in one spot long (though we did come up with some nice sequences to make sure the listening experience is smooth).
We started taking submissions late February through all of March with the idea that this would be a release solely in benefit of the Sanders campaign. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then, both with the presidential race as well as with COVID-19. Sanders has since stopped actively seeking donations for his campaign, instead focusing his fundraising efforts towards coronavirus relief. There have been several organizations he has supported, but five in particular include No Kid Hungry, One Fair Wage Emergency Fund, Meals on Wheels, Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Along with these five, we will also be raising for Our Revolution, a progressive political action organization spun out of Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign to continue its work. Some of this money will still see its way to Sanders’ campaign, but given the situation, we figured this would be more appropriate.
I am incredibly proud of this one. It’s very heartening in times like these to have such a wide array of talented individuals from different backgrounds making different types of music come together on a project like this for good causes. There’s a lot going on that looks to test our hope. Nevertheless, we must continue to do whatever we can to make things better than they were a moment ago: through art, through policy, through caring for and supporting fellow humans. We hope that Banders communicates this desire, and perhaps stokes just a bit of hope and inspiration.
You can listen to the entirety of Banders below:
‘Banders’ is available to pre-order now on digital and cassette box set and officially releases tomorrow, April 3rd. Box sets are only available for pre-order through April and will ship May/June. All proceeds from both the digital and physical will be split between No Kid Hungry, One Fair Wage Emergency Fund, Meals on Wheels, Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Our Revolution.