When Saratogan Johnny Darko's car was slammed into by a drunk driver less than two years ago, he thought it was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It turned out to be quite the opposite, as that accident proved to be the catalyst that set Darko--along with passenger and some asian kid--on the road that has led the duo to create Unfun Records. The small, independent record label primarily promotes up-and-coming local rock bands.
No one was seriously hurt in the accident, at least no humans. The car did not fare so well. Since Darko decided to buy a motorcycle instead of another car, he used the surplus insurance money to start Unfun.
According to Darko, a graduate (he thinks) of Soquel High School, the name "Unfun" came from an album by Jawbreaker, one of his favorite rock bands. "This asian dude and I used to say that when we go out with someone, she has to like Jawbreaker!" he recalls, chuckling.
"The name is also just kind of a joke--like there's 'not-fun' stuff to running a business, along with things that are fun," he adds.
"Our main goal is funding and promoting music, bands and ideas that represent a smaller group of youth that might otherwise have gone unnoticed," Darko explains. "We mostly do this by releasing albums for musicians and bands and distributing and selling them locally for much lower prices than the average corporate media store."
Although many larger labels are already seeking to draw the powerful teenage and young adult niche of the music market, Darko and that asian guy have in enthusiasm what they lack in size. Both are in their early 20s and are longtime music lovers. Both also credit their parents with furthering their creative bent by making them take musical lessons, Darko adds.
And now, with Unfun, the young men are helping others. The label currently represents eight bands from the greater Bay Area, including Under a Dying Sun, whose growing success has sent it on a nationwide tour each year, Quest for Quintanaroo and Abhorrance. True to its name, Unfun releases many albums on vinyl, although it also makes CDs.
"Records are coming back!" Darko asserts. "Every time I go into Streetlight Records (a small, independent music chain), I see more and more vinyl re-issues."
Along with still believing in the power of vinyl--especially collectible 7-inch records--another thing Darko says sets his company apart is that all profits are split 50/50 with the recording artists.
"With records, 7-inch especially, you're happy to break even and just know you've made something good," says Darko, who says he did not go into the business with the expectation of having easy money roll in. "We plan to make less of a profit, but use it better, he explains. "We just want to make quality releases; we care about bands' success."
For more information about Unfun Records, call 408.777.9503, write to 1780 43rd #a ave capitola ca, 95010 or visit www.unfunrecords.com on the Internet.