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Cigarettes & Guitars: Anthony Fanger of Chainsmoking Records
By Ben Larson
Fort Wayne Reader
It’s hard to conduct an interview while firing a pulse rifle at bloodthirsty aliens hell-bent on obliterating the human race, but that’s exactly what I did recently with Anthony Fanger, owner and founder of Chainsmoking Records, a punk-oriented record label located here in the Summit City. And if you think that’s tough, please bear in mind that we also battled the undead, raced Jeff Gordon at Talladega, and faced off in a ski ball death match...all while I was trying to get the skinny on Anthony and his label.
Now, before all you NASCAR fans out there start wondering why you missed the memo about Mr. Gordon’s being in town, I should clarify by telling you that we did all of this virtually at Putt Putt (except the ski ball...that was all meat world), a seminal location of my adolescence and not a bad place to spend a couple of bucks while getting to know someone. Anyway, on to the real point of all of this.
Chainsmoking Records first came into existence about five years ago, when local music lover Anthony Fanger decided to throw his hat into the ring. His motivation for doing so is similar to many of promoters, venue owners, and musicians here in town. “I didn’t see a lot of music that I like represented,” he told me frankly, so he did something about it.
At first, Fanger started out by simply recording local bands. “I wasn’t very good at it . . . but I’ve learned a lot since then.” He was only seventeen years old at the time (he’s now twenty-two), and his growth has become apparent to most people who are familiar with the Chainsmoking name as of late.
After his first efforts at recording, the natural progression was for him to actually start a label and begin promoting shows. For Fanger, it was the only thing to do. “You can’t sit around and wait for things to happen. I did that, and waiting around doesn’t seem to work.” Since then, he has gone on to be associated with local bands The B-Sharps, The Staggerers, Flamingo Nosebleed, and Indianapolis-based punk band Gay Black Republican. Aside from that, Anthony is helping distribute the album for the Peter Sellers of the local scene, Poopdeflex.
Fanger doesn’t just put out records, mind you. He also wears the mantle of promoter and sometime manager for the bands he works with, which includes booking shows, putting together and distributing press kits, bringing touring bands to town, and promoting the shows his label is associated with. Some of you may remember when the Two-Man Gentlemen Band came to town last year. That was Anthony’s doing. “I try to get as involved as possible with shows in regards to promotion and media.” By doing so, he is assured that every effort is made to ensure to success of the shows he puts on, without having to rely on someone else.
That being said, he also told me that “it’s easier when half the work’s done for you,” which leads me to the next part of all of this --what’s coming up in regards to CSR. Well, the end of February will mark one of the most exciting weekends in music this year for yours truly. Feb 28th will mark the rescheduled release party for the B-Sharps first proper album Cherchez Kahuna, and will feature the band M.O.T.O. (Masters of the Obvious), a Chicago-based alt-punk band, in the vein of Stiff Little Fingers or Naked Raygun, who have been around for longer than most of the B-Sharps members have been alive.
If you think that sounds fun, just you wait. The next night will bring the triumphant return of the Two-Man Gentlemen Band. If you saw them last time they were here, you’ll know why I’m excited about this one. If you haven’t seen them, you’re in for a great night of kazoo-soaked hot jazz (and if you’re lucky, you may even get to do shots of tequila with them after the gig). Both shows will be at the Brass Rail, and Fanger is as excited about this as I am. “I’m not going to be able to sleep all weekend,” he said, when we were discussing the weekend’s activities.
But the fun doesn’t end there. The next weekend will bring the Norah Jones-esque Christabel and the Johns. In regards to this show, it seems that this is another example of how great the crowds are in Fort Wayne. See, this band has the same booking agent as the Two Man Gentlemen Band, and the week after TMGB played here last year, their agent contacted Fanger about bringing in Christabel and the Johns. Apparently these acts are so impressed by the love they get from you fine people that they are spreading the word to everyone else.
This kind of thing is exactly in line with Fanger’s goals for helping the scene. In short, he said “I want to make bands come here.” Simple enough, and it seems to be working. Between Fanger and the Hillgrass Bluebilly guys, Fort Wayne’s reach appears to be getting longer and longer, with no sign of slowing down.
Apart from the shows that Fanger has been putting on, he has also been working on getting some new releases out. The Staggerers are currently in the studio finishing up and album for CSR, and the label is also working on a compilation sampler, tentatively titled Coffee Stains and Cigarette Burns Vol.1.
So that’s the straight dope on Anthony Fanger and Chainsmoking records. Keep an eye out for more shows and albums coming your way, and please, if you see Anthony on the street, thank him for all he’s doing for our musical benefit.