Originally published in ORANGE Magazine.
Dancers painting themselves to the beat of live music. A life-sized Pabst Blue Ribbon can ring-toss. A rapturous audience, filled with crowd-surfers and mosh pits. Foam noodles everywhere.
Local creative collective Raw Paw did not disappoint at its “New Magic” event at the Scoot Inn on Sept. 5.
Staying true to the “Keep Austin Weird” mantra, Raw Paw is a social organization that publishes a zine and hosts different events around Austin to promote artists’ and musicians’ work in a way that inspires community collaboration. The collective launched its new label, Raw Paw Records, and revealed a new zine theme at the Scoot Inn show.
Raw Paw formed in 2010 in a “broth of new talent, house shows, and poetry potlucks,” according to its website. What began as merely a “humble zine” has morphed into what Raw Paw members describe as a “fierce print and music publishing house.”
Co-President Chris Dock says Raw Paw has been developing the label for the past three years. “Becoming a record label was an organic process,” Dock explains. “We’ve already been supporting these musicians all along. This is actually more like a coming of age for us; we’re suiting up.”
So far, Raw Paw Records has four bands on its roster: Milezo, Hikes, Chipper Jones and Corduroi, all of whom performed at the launch show alongside two locals, LIONGRL and Eyelid Kid. Charlie Martin, drummer, synthesizer and vocals of Chipper Jones, says they chose to sign with Raw Paw because they see the collective as their creative heroes.
“It’s still really early in the game for us,” Martin adds. “It was either wait and see if something else came along or get behind what we believe in. Raw Paw was immediately behind what we were genuinely wanting to do as a band. It was kind of a no-brainer.”
Dock says Raw Paw’s main objective with the new label is to “help artists grow and find the support needed to develop their work.” He added that although Raw Paw Records is still in its infant stages, the goal is for the label to become a major stepping stone for up-and-coming bands. “We know where we’re at, and Raw Paw is an entity that is trying to grow, too,” Dock explains. “We hope to grow with the artists and push each other.”
Amid the live music, dancers and decorations, it was still uncertain what the theme of the new zine was going to be. One thing that was for certain: It would be out of this world.
In the middle of Hikes’ set, Will Kauber, guitarist for the band and co-president of Raw Paw, stopped the show to make the big theme reveal. Of course, a Raw Paw zine reveal would not be complete without a master of ceremonies decked out as a PBR wizard carrying a giant scroll containing the announcement. After spewing a nonsensical poem that had something to do with going to the moon, Kauber told the PBR wizard to reveal the zine theme: Alien.
Martin says that overall Raw Paw and events like “New Magic” bring the community together. He explained that Chipper Jones left for its first tour almost immediately after signing with Raw Paw Records in early June, and that because the tour was still very much self-booked, it was an “eye-opening experience” to play in other cities that did not have creative collectives like Raw Paw.
“In some towns where it felt like we were playing with really talented bands, say bands that would do really well here, there was no foundation,” Martin says. “What’s so cool about Raw Paw is that they live for this stuff, and they are actually facilitating these events that can bring all these people together to have a focus point.”
In addition, Martin says he feels that Raw Paw is breaking the mold for the type of music that comes out of Austin. "You normally think of blues, country and singer-songwriter type traditions that have really flourished in Austin, and I feel like now we have all kind of music flourishing," Martin says. "To me, Raw Paw has always been a real example if what's happening in Austin."