VMP Interview with Peanut Butter Wolf, Founder of Stones Throw Records

On June 18th 2015

PBW1

picture via Stones Throw

VMP: Can you give us a brief history of what was going on in the underground rap scene at the time Madvillainy was being produced & more specifically what Madlib and MF Doom were doing differently?

PBW: I’d have to say that Madlib and I were kinda outta touch with the underground rap scene at the time it was being produced. That’s probably why it got produced. Because DOOM and Dilla were the only guys outside our camp that we were actually listening to.

VMP: At what point did you hear what was going on with the album and think, “This is going to be special.”?

PBW: Madlib gave DOOM 150 beats on 3 Cds and gave Dilla, MED, and Dudley those same CDs. DOOM was recording 1 or 2 songs at a time over those beats for the most part and I think when he turned in “Meat Grinder”, I felt like he was hitting his flow. You have to remember that when we first came to him, neither Madlib nor Stones Throw were on his radar but after hearing some beats, he agreed to try recording with us. I flew him out to LA from Atlanta and it was all an experiment. The guys in my immediate circle were always excited when we got new songs turned it by DOOM. This was before anyone in the general public even knew it was going on.

VMP: The mask on the album cover has become iconic - how did it come about?

PBW: Gotta ask DOOM that.

PBW2

picture via Hipster Wave

VMP: Stones Throw has developed a reputation for taking chances on artists that other labels either miss or completely ignore – were there any lightbulb moments during the early years that helped form this culture or is it something that’s been there since the beginning?

PBW: Quasimoto was the first lightbulb that I was truly excited about. At least the first one since Homeliss Derilex.

VMP: What was a typical Saturday morning like for you growing up?

PBW: Hanna Barbara. And then when I was around 9 or 10, I discovered baseball games on TV, baseball cards, 45s, Soul Train (which was Sat mornings at 11AM), Casey Kasem American Top 40 on the radio, making tapes from my records, arcades, Atari, and Jelly Bellies so that became my thing. And Mexican Food.

VMP: What’s the first record you remember purchasing?

PBW: First albums were Saturday Night Fever, Grease, and Sgt Peppers (Bee Gees version). All on RSO. And all the K-tel disco albums.

VMP: Do you have a process or ritual when listening to a record for the first time? For example, if some kid randomly showed up in your listening room and was like, “Hey, teach me how to really listen to music,” what would you tell him or her.

PBW: I’d never try to teach someone how to listen to music. It’s a personal thing for me for the most part, although I do have some friends with similar taste as I do.

VMP: Stones Throw seems to be a label that has always held vinyl in high regard - what is your take on the current revival in vinyl as a medium?

PBW: I don’t really see how it’s called a revival when we were selling 50,000 units of a popular release on vinyl in the 90’s and 3,000 of a popular one now. And that’s not just me from what I gather. I guess it’s a revival in that the remaining pressing plants have a longer waiting period because there’s SO MANY people doing limited runs of 500 or 1,000 units so you gotta wait your turn as a record label and not have pressing plant loyalty to one like you used to be able to do in the “old days”.

VMP: In 40 years what do you hope the lasting legacy of Stones Throw Records will be?

PBW: I’ll probably be dead then. Whateves.

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