San Diego’s Volar Records celebrates its 10 year anniversary this year! Run by Craig Oliver, they’ve put out a wide variety of releases including the first two proper Soft Riot LPs, No Longer Stranger (2012) and Fiction Prediction (2013). I had originally connected with Craig back in early 2012 as we had mutual interests and musical backgrounds in the underground hardcore/punk scene of the 90s and we got acquainted after Craig had checked out the track “Electrolux” of the original EP version of No Longer Stranger, which in fact was a cover of a song by the band Hoover on Dischord Records.
Volar has put out a wide range of release over the years, mainly US punk, hardcore and indie bands including Susan, Therapy, Teenage Burritos and Tropical Popsicle.
In 2012, I mostly knew Craig Oliver as the guy who served me drinks at the Whistle Stop—the bar where he worked (and still works). But that year, he invited me along on a roadtrip to the South by Southwest Festival in Austin. He was headed out there to promote his record label, Volar. At the time, I was unemployed and spent most of my days scouring job postings, so I was more than ready for a weird adventure.
For anyone who hasn’t done it, the drive from San Diego to Austin is 22 hours. That’s a lot of time to spend in a car with someone you only sort of know. I wanted weird, and I got weird.
It wasn’t long before I was immersed in the strange realm where Oliver thrives. He had no interest in rubbing elbows with music bigwigs, seeing buzz bands or attending hyped showcases. Instead, our SXSW consisted of a seemingly never-ending supply of Lone Star beers, an all-day music showcase in a pool hall tucked into the corner of a dying stripmall and post-apocalyptic warehouse shows in the outskirts of town.
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