High Dive Records celebrates 10 years this weekend
Kansas City’s High Dive Records turns a decade old this year, and the label’s Jeff McCoy is throwing a party at recordBar this Friday, June 9, and Saturday, June 10. There’s a lot to celebrate—the label released three amazing records at the height of the COVID pandemic with Koney’s self-titled, the long-awaited Heal_Thyself from Ebony Tusks, and Fullbloods’ Soft and Virtual Touch, and in the past year has dropped LPs from Dooms, Greg Wheeler & the Poly Mall Cops, and the Creepy Jingles. It’s a panoply of riches from the “one-man show,” as McCoy puts it.
“In full disclosure, I mean, I’ve got three kids now,” McCoy says by phone one afternoon. “I’m older, I’m getting pulled a hundred different directions, and so, the resources and time that I have to give to it are not as great as they once were, but it’s still important to me to try to find things I want to get behind and help get out into the world.”
As the label head goes on to explain, he’s been fortunate to stumble across and work with some great people to put some of that material out. They’re going to keep plugging away, McCoy says, and while the days of putting High Dive out five or six releases a year are probably gone, if they can get two to three out each year, he’ll be really happy.
“From the get-go, I wasn’t delusional about the fact that this was going to be how I was gonna feed my family,” continues McCoy. “It was more of an art project for me to do something I love and get involved creatively and not always just be a professional critic about things and try to help put art out into the world.”
From the very beginning, McCoy tried to make High Dive super artist-friendly. He takes a lot of pride in the fact that if you talk to anybody who’s worked with the label over the last 10 years, they’ll have nice things to say.
“I haven’t screwed over anybody,” McCoy says. “I try to keep it fair. My goal always with everybody was like, ‘Listen, let’s talk about this one release. I’m not trying to sign you up for five releases and handcuff you because if something better comes along, I want you to be able to move forward with that.’”
The goal for High Dive and its artists is always to put out their record, with the concept that, hopefully, it would give the artist something to tour behind and gain some momentum. When McCoy and the artists on the label work on something, he wants to create the album they want to create. While he’ll give opinions when it comes to the mix, the artwork, or the track order, ultimately, he lets the artist play a big role in directing how that will ultimately come to fruition.
“I think everybody’s kind of respected that,” McCoy reflects. “So everybody I’ve worked with, I’m still close friends with, and when other opportunities come around, they give me a call, and we try to work something out.”
It’s allowed McCoy to form these long-lasting relationships with the artists, which has, in turn, allowed him to curate a massively cool lineup featuring not only current artists from the High Dive roster, such as Ebony Tusks and the Creepy Jingles, but reunions of some the first bands on the label like Lawrence garage-rockers Psychic Heat, power-pop maestros the ACBs, and Lawrence legends Fourth of July.
“It’s pretty crazy,” says McCoy. “The Fourth of July thing is a big deal for me. Brendan [Hangauer] and I are super close. Fourth of July played at my wedding about two years prior to the label starting. Some of my favorites are gonna get to play, and people that I’ve seen a hundred times, but it’s been a long time, so I’m excited.”
So are we.