It’s not every day of late that someone starts a record company; the music business today is a harder crack than ever. Yet Bruce Pegg, chief executive of City Boy Records sees opportunity all around him. “It’s definitely more challenging, but options exist like never before,” he says.
Pegg brings an interesting dynamic to his duties as head of City Boy Records. Growing up in England in the late ‘70s, he was privy to the burgeoning punk/new wave explosion.
It brought a whole new energy to the somewhat stale arena rock that was dominating the day. It was followed quickly by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, creating a dynamic musical earthquake that is still being felt today.
For Pegg and soon-to-be-partner Glenn Williams, those halcyon days began an unique apprenticeship in the business.
“There wasn’t a month, sometimes not even a week, that went by when we didn’t see a major act in our hometown. It really didn’t matter if it was punk, rock, progressive or folk. If it was live, it was always worth going to.”
The two parted ways in the early ’80s, but they stayed in touch with an unspoken agreement at some point to reconnect.
Pegg moved to the States, where he spent the next 25 years dividing his time between teaching English and playing music.
Glenn found his way to Tokyo, by way of London and Melbourne, Australia. In Tokyo, he began a new venture: TKO Records.
Williams runs the label under one simple premise: “We’re not a label that is influenced by genre, fashion or what people will want tomorrow. We just like good music.”
Fifteen titles in the last three years have come from the nascent label, including notable releases by Obituary and Ministry.
In the summer of 2008 Pegg finally tired of his day gig, aided and abetted by the economic downturn in upstate New York.
“At that point, I knew that there was only one thing to do. One phone call to Glenn, and I made the decision.”
City Boy Records was born. The name came easily, Pegg says.
“We wanted a name that reflected our roots. I thought about where Glenn and I met, the City of Leicester Boys School.
“Around town, we were known as the City Boys. I emailed Glenn, and he immediately wrote back, saying “That’s the name sorted, then.'”
Even easier was defining the relationship between TKO and City Boy.
In Glenn’s words, “City Boy Records is acting not as a subsidiary or partner to TKO Records as it will stand on its own as a label.
“The two companies are intertwined, though, and will work very closely together. We can offer each other first refusal on either one’s product should the territory be available and the artist be willing.
“And we will also support each other’s releases, both financially and media-wise, in each of our territories, which has probably never been done before,” he says.
Pegg has already had several conversations with larger labels in the United States about a distribution deal “but with the right label for sure.
“Right now, we’re moving forward nicely; yes, there are areas to tweak, but I want to wait for the perfect scenario for us and our artists,” he says.
With releases from Japanese guitarist Kyoji Yamamoto and Welsh modern rock aggregation Circle of One, City Boy is scoring some impressive media notices so far.
“Kyoji looks to be here in the summer for some media and performances, so we’re ramping up that end as well.”
For Glenn and Bruce, it is an enterprise that marks a return to those days of the late ’70s in the industry, and the philosophy of seeing, hearing and loving good music, regardless of its genre.
In Glenn’s words, “TKO and City Boy simply share the same love of good music and a passion for strong live performances which are sadly lacking in so many of today’s artists.”