Although he drank the stuff religiously for years, Logan W. Greene says he gave up sipping soda almost entirely, switching to water instead. It’s a little strange for a dude who calls his Tucson-based label Diet Pop Records, but Greene tells us there’s more to it than that.
“[It’s] not a necessarily a reference to Sub Pop [Records], but [it’s] the same concept,” Greene tells us when we call him up. “Pop music that is not mainstream. In my case, watered-down pop music.”
Greene, who is a musician himself, originally started Diet Pop in 2012 to produce his own music under a different title. Depending on who he’s collaborating with, Greene’s music has been released as Logan Greene & The Bricks, Logan Greene Electric and simply Logan Greene.
But soon, the slightly shy redhead had friends and strangers alike asking to be a part of the fledgling indie imprint. The first was Ex-Cowboy’s self-titled dark folk album, featuring songs like “Holden Caulfield” and “Some Things Don’t Ever Die.”
Greene has had to turn down a number of requests, often because he can’t afford it. Nonetheless, his indie label has continued to expand. While primarily focused on bands from Phoenix and Tucson, Diet Pop isn’t afraid to step outside the Grand Canyon State. Some of the musicians on Diet Pop’s roster include Phoenix bands like the twee-pop outfit Diners and pop punk Dogbreth (who toured with Andrew Jackson Jihad last year). This year alone, Diet Pop has published at least one record per month, starting with “Property Damage: A Love Story,” by Moon Bandits, a folk punk group originally from Tucson who recently moved to California. Diet Pop followed up with a Logan Greene Electric release called “Dead Formats,” then Phoenix-based stoner punk Wolvves’ second LP “Whatever,” followed by Tucson indie folkers Human Behavior’s “Bethphage” and finally “Take Your Time,” by singer-songwriter Karima Walker.
“It’s been awesome for me, I’ve been really excited. It’s also been really expensive for me,” Greene explains. “[Vinyl] is also a big undertaking for me because even for 100 or 300 copies, you can’t spend less than $1,500 dollars to get something like that made. It’s real tough to find it cheaper than $1000. That’s lot of money to drop on some bands that tour kind of minimally compared to other bands that are constantly on tour that I know can sell the albums. Then again, everything I’ve done so far has not been because I really want to sell them. It’s been because they’re good friends of mine that make good music or not good friends of mine, we don’t know each other that well, but they make really good music. That’s been the goal so far, so I guess that wouldn’t change.” Other releases down the pipeline include a 7” vinyl from Synthetic Blues (from New York) and a 7” split with Secondary (from California) and The Voice (from El Paso). Someday, there’ll also be a cassette tape of Butter Knifes’ (a Phoenix guitarist who is twelve) “Live From The Trunk Space.” But perhaps the upcoming release closest to Greene’s heart is the self-titled LP from Logan & Lucille, a rowdy folk pop collaboration with Greene’s long-term girlfriend, Lucille Petty.
“When we started dating [three years ago], we didn’t play music together or anything like that,” Greene says. “And then at the beginning of this year we just fully committed to doing this tour together and perform together and write an album together. So everything has just kind of combined finally into one unit.”
Recorded over two April days at St. Cecilia Studios in Tucson, “Logan & Lucille” is a whirlwind of sentimental lyrics about childhood, growing up and finding one’s place in the world. The couple switches off vocal duties in a flourish of romantic guitar and ukulele harmonies. Lucille channels a bit of sunshiney Amanda Palmer on “Volatile Heart” while Logan takes front-and-center on “Giants,” echoing The Mountain Goats and the bitterness of failure.
“It’s heavy on the lyrics and trying to get a sense of the stories that we’re telling … I thought it would be a little more punk, but it definitely stuck on the folk side,” Greene says. “Some of the songs were more collaborative than others. For both of us, this was a new experience. As we were writing the album, each song became more collaborative.” Formerly a music teacher, Greene now occasionally subs or offers private guitar and ukulele lessons. So with so much going on, how does Greene find equilibrium in his life? Well, actually, he doesn’t.
“There’s no balance. It’s just chaos. I’m always moving with something,” Greene says. “Which is why I’ve been sick the last two weeks. It’s been like a nightmare. I haven’t been able to do what I need to do, especially prepping for this really long international tour we’re about to go on.”
When Greene says ‘international,’ he isn’t exaggerating. The 60-day tour bounces the couple all over the Northern Hemisphere.
“Our first date is in Nogales, so technically we’re starting in Mexico,” Greene says. “Then, we have our tour-kickoff in Tucson, then we head up to New York, we fly to London, then we go through France, Germany, and The Netherlands, fly back to the UK, and tour a bit and then we fly back to New York, go up to Canada, cut down through the Midwest and then we start to head home. It’s a 60-day-long trip and we’re playing almost probably twenty days out of the tour.”
On top of everything else, Greene also hosts The Trundle Sessions, in which he invites musicians to play stripped-down acoustic sets in his living room á la NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. So far, there have been approximately 50 Sessions, including sets from bands like Emby Alexander, Pat The Bunny, Stephen Steinbrink and many more. For a label like Diet Pop that is only just getting started, Logan Greene has made an incredible amount of progress in a relatively short amount of time – and Greene shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.