Third Man Pressing does it big for its opening
New businesses often have “grand openings” in which nothing “grand” really even happens—maybe they slap a garish banner on the front and forget to take it down for months. Third Man's record plant opening earned it though, with one-day-only exclusives, free cookies, 5 hours of free live entertainment, test pressing raffles, tours, balloons, the list goes on. Even at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, a line of eager people wrapped around the building in blustery wind. Some camped out for one or even two nights in nasty weather for their spot.
What for? For one, various Detroit artists saw limited (to the location and the day) reissues including The White Stripes, The Stooges, the MC5, Destroy All Monsters, and The Johnson Family Singers being the first third-party pressing. That's not to mention limited posters, signed copies of Iggy Pop's book, and 7” singles from Derrick May and Carl Craig. Folks came from all around for the event—Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Arizona, to name a few, and even some from Canada.
The line moved at a continuous crawl all day once the doors opened at 10am. The store had all hands on deck, with employees patrolling up and down the line taking questions and rallying frozen fans.
The reason for the event itself, the pressing plant, was visible through a large observation window, or up close if you went on one of the sold-out walking tours that day.
See also: 24 photos from Third Man pressing plant opening
There are more walking tours being planned, but no hard dates yet said Jamie Mosshart, a Third Man employee and bassist for local artists The Erers. For those wondering when they can get their album pressed on vinyl here, those detail will become available soon.
“The rough guidelines that they've given me is that about half of the presses will be used for Third Man's recordings. We're going to do a lot of Detroit reissues on some of the presses and we're going to do a lot of indie and local stuff on the remaining two,” Mosshart said. There are eight presses total.
The plant is unique in other ways, too. Vinyl is wasteful, but Mosshart said Third Man has taken measures to reduce waste, as this is the only climate-controlled vinyl pressing facility in the world.
“We recycle our water into steam for multiple parts of the process, so we're more sustainable than a lot of other pressing plants as well,” Mosshart said. “We're recycling as much as we can, so if something doesn't make the cut, then we're taking that plastic and melting it back down and putting it back on the presses.”
It wasn't just the merchandise people came for, though. Entertainment started right on schedule at 2pm and the Third Man stage crew were on the ball, keeping the music moving along as 6 artists performed in 5 hours.
Kiini Ibura Salaam and Janaka Stucky, both published authors via Third Man Books, got the ball rolling with some powerful spoken word. Then came the local, talented Craig Brown Band: “I think we're all feeling it, but we're all also feeling it,” Craig Brown said on stage, exhausted but motivated. Just earlier that day a last-minute musical guest was added to the bill. It was Michigan native Kelley Stoltz, who brandished not only a guitar, but a soprano saxophone a triangle, and a glamorous jacket. Next, The Oblivans played their raw, 1990s brand of garage rock all whilst rotating instruments throughout the set.
Finally came The Mummies, a band you truly have to see to understand, and even then... It makes sense that The Mummies would headline the opening of a vinyl pressing plant considering their long-held “fuck CDs” attitude. They're a rare act anymore, only occasionally playing reunion shows, and only having played in Michigan once according to their drummer, Russell Quan. They paraded onstage wrapped in their mummified get-up and played a rapid, funny set. The frontman, Trent Ruane, took on the job of annoying his band mates as much as possible—spitting water in their faces, wrapping himself around the guitarist's leg, and shoving his organ all over the stage. He also took some opportunities to poke fun at the audience, and mentioned that they don't make enough money to shop at Third Man.
Thus ended the day of celebration. Jack White was quietly present throughout the event, keeping mostly to the private balcony.
Looking forward, the Third Man plant should relieve Mike Archer's Detroit vinyl plant some and ideally decrease wait time for artists wanting their music on vinyl. Logistics aside, one reason for the plant being in Detroit is Jack White showing his civic pride again.
“Jack wanted to come back to his home town and open up something for Detroit,” Mosshart said.