Releasing albums by Smith Westerns, Woven Bones, and Dum Dum Girls, HoZac Records has established itself as one of Chicago’s best indie labels. For the past two years, the garage/psych/experimental label has offered a singles subscription club—the HoZac Hookup Klub—which sends 500 elite subscribers limited-edition 7-inches. Songs from the first round of the Hookup Klub have been compiled into an LP, and although subscriptions for “Round Two” of the Hookup Klub just sold out, there’s no need for record nerds to fret. Todd Novak, the label’s co-founder, said he plans on pressing a Round Two LP compilation after this batch stops shipping. The A.V. Club talked to Novak about the club and the phenomenon of new, unknown bands outselling old, popular ones.
The A.V. Club: What was your inspiration for starting the Hookup Klub?
Todd Novak: That was one of the first things we kicked around, idea-wise, when we started the label. We really wanted to try and do a singles club, but we didn’t know if we should try to take a bunch of bands that no one’s heard of and hopefully play on people’s curiosities. We really kind of got lucky—a couple of the bands ended up getting some pretty major publicity around them without our help, like the Dum Dum Girls, Box Elders, and Woven Bones. But yeah, I’d never really subscribed to any of the other previous singles clubs like Sub Pop or anything. I was one of those people who never really took the plunge, but at the same time I really liked the idea.
AVC: So you aim for unknown bands?
TN: When we did the second round of the Hookup Klub, we decided to take another angle and pick more popular bands. And ironically, we got a lot slower of a response the second time around. It’s kind of funny to see how that works. Whenever we do a new batch of regular releases—like, say, three 7-inches and an album—if one of the bands hasn’t put anything out and nobody knows who they are, nine times out of 10 that will outsell commonly known bands. It’s kind of a phenomenon.
AVC: Do you think it’s the idea of getting a band’s first 7-inch before it blows up?
TN: Exactly. That’s totally, exactly it.
AVC: You mentioned some bands getting more exposure after Round One. Is there a band in Round Two that you think might soon be a known name?
TN: There are some bands that we think have pretty keen potential, like Radar Eyes and Sex Church and The Dalai Lamas. [The Dalai Lamas is] the only entry in the second Hookup Klub that nobody knows. It’s just this guy out in California who makes this bizarre, simple music. The closest thing I can say is it sounds like The Troggs, The Modern Lovers, or The Equals. That might be one of the last wild-card things in the batch this round.