It’s an overcast morning at the new Porch Party Records headquarters, a rustic two-story house off Fourth Street. Founder Casey Terrazas, casually clad in a striped v-neck tee and black jeans, steps out onto the porch and sits in a lawn chair.
It’s been an early morning, he says between drags of his cigarette. He’s an early waker; the moment he opens his eyes, his brain starts moving at the speed of light, he says.
Terrazas, 33, speaks in a deep drone and is good with words. That could be owed to his early days as a non-denominational youth pastor, often traveling to speak at summer camps and various organizations. When he was around 19 and living in Arizona, he started a home church. Terrazas says he began speaking to youth ministries by the time he was in junior high.
“Very long story short,” he explains, “I went through some changes and stopped believing what I grew up with. Now it’s totally different — still the same love for people and life, but a different focus.”
These days, an unprecedented number of eyes and ears are tuning into his nearly two-year-old DIY record label. Last month, Porch Party Records announced the signing of supergroup Coromandelles, a new trio with Tijuana Panthers’ Dan Michicoff, Cold War Kids’ founding member Matt Maust and drummer Joe Plummer, who also drums for the Shins and previously for Modest Mouse.
The group’s submission was among some 300 to roll in through his email this past year, Terrazas says. Porch Party Records will release the group’s debut album Late Bloomers’ Bloomers on vinyl in late October.
“Bigger bands are looking to get off the bigger labels because they get treated like sh*t and they want that personal label experience,” Terrazas says. “Now with this international eye on us, it’s very different. There’s more weight to it all.”
Born and raised in Missouri, his family moved to Phoenix when he was 10. At 12, he went to his first punk show and never looked back. He was largely drawn to metal, punk, thrash and hardcore, with doses of hip hop, electronica, ska and rock. His M.O. was mixing with the local bands in basement venues and going on tours with his friends’ bands. By the time he was moving out to California for college, he counted some 2,000 CDs in his bedroom — mostly from local bands from Phoenix.
“All I cared about was music,” he says. “I was the kid with the six-inch-long pink spikes and chains and always starting mosh pits. So much energy.”
In many ways, Terrazas is still the same person. In 2008, he found a listing for a spare bedroom in Long Beach and moved in without knowing a single person in town. He familiarized himself the best way he knows how — by plugging himself into the local music scene.
Over the next few years, the house, which would be known as the original Porch, turned into a hub for local musicians, bands and house shows. When his original roommates moved out, he moved in likeminded musicians, such as Forest of Tongue’s Joel Jasper and Zach Mabry. At one point, then LA-based noise pop musician Chad Matheny of Emperer X, now based in Berlin, lived in a tent in the Porch backyard.
“Every single night, two or three bands would practice at the old house,” he explains. “At about 6, a band finishes practicing, then a friend comes over and another friend comes over … we got the name because it was kind of a joke. Everything was a party— backyard party, we’d be waking up to a breakfast party, then a lunch party, a porch party...”
Half the year, Terrazas travels around the country for his freelance job as a technical director, spending about three months in the Oakland/San Francisco area. Naturally, Terrazas took on the role as a connector of musicians. He’d go out to see shows and meet bands in these new cities, and when these bands would come through Long Beach, he would link them with his friends’ bands here and help arrange a show.
“When I tell people I’m from Long Beach, they either make a Snoop Dogg, Sublime or Warren G reference,” he says. “It’s really funny — that’s what Long Beach is known for, but that was 1992. That was literally 23 years ago. I’m always fascinated that they have no idea about modern Long Beach.”
Back in May 2013, an off-the-cuff suggestion from Jim Ritson, owner of 4th Street Vine, to release Joel Jasper’s new dream-pop project on vinyl triggered a series of revelations in Terrazas. His entire life made sense in that moment, he says. The next morning, he Googled “How to start a music label.” That September, Porch Party Records issued its first release, Jasper’s Summer Body LP.
Today, Porch Party Records represents about a dozen artists, eight of whom are Long Beach-based and good friends of Terrazas. These are people he has shared many a night and late conversations with and whose music he has grown to know intimately.
“It just happens so organically,” he says. “With these artists, I’ve known their music for years, I’ve watched them grow. The number one thing I go after is songwriters. People who are not just musicians but songwriters. There’s a very big difference.”
The lineup also includes Pregnant, a psychedelic/electronic outfit from San Francisco, and LA-based one-man-band Litronix, who has shared the stage with the likes of Peaches and The Kills.
“I’m kind of caught between signing a whole bunch of new artists or focusing on developing the artists we already have,” Terrazas says, explaining that most on the label’s roster are working on sophomore releases for next year.
Moving forward, Terrazas says he will continue working with the city and other local DIY groups to continue escalating Long Beach’s reputation for music. There’s a house show festival in the works, where Porch Party will partner with the Long Beach Music Collective, Falling Mirrors and Ghoulhouse Records for a two-day event later this year.
“The community,” he says, “that’s the secret weapon in Long Beach.”
Porch Party’s Rudy De Anda and Litronix will perform at Twisted at the Pike this Saturday. Visit summerandmusic.com.