You might not know the name, MARC ALGHINI, but when he moved to Boston in the 80's to go to college he started a little label called Aurora Records. Aurora only managed a few releases, but the first two ended up being two of my favorite releases of all-time: the first 7" by Galaxie 500 ("Tugboat" b/w "King of Spain") and then their first full-length, TODAY, both released in 1988. Marc is back in his native Chicago these days but was nice enough to answer some questions I tossed his way.
Where did you grow up?
I was born on the Southwest side of Chicago near Midway Airport but really grew up in a northern suburb of Chicago called Lake Bluff.
What was your introduction to music? The usual, older siblings?
It was probably my mother’s records, she was a huge Sinatra fan but I was really drawn to the 45’s in her collection Fats Domino, Everly Brothers, Little Richard, Dion & The Belmonts. A friend in 4th grade turned me on to The Beatles.
In 1979, I heard the local college radio station WMXM in Lake Forest play stuff by The Clash, The Buzzcocks, The Ramones, Television, Mission of Burma etc. and my tastes instantly changed.
What was the first record you bought with your own money?
The Clash – The Clash (UK)
Did you go to college in Boston?
Yes, I went to Emerson College, I needed to get out of Suburbia. I used to sneak out to go see shows in Chicago at Club COD, Tuts , Exit and Cabaret Metro (now Metro). So Boston wasn’t LA or NY and great music was just starting to explode in that city.I saw Mission of Burma’s farewell tour at Tuts and spoke with Clint Conley about the “Boston” scene. He sold me on it. It was a wonderful fit..
Did you know Dean, Damon and Naomi before seeing Galaxie 500?
I didn’t know them. One of the guys in Bullet LaVolta I think Bill did a radio show on Harvard’s station WHRB and played a song of theirs. Ironically, the next day at Taang! where I was working, Curtis had tossed their demo in the bin. I grabbed it out and brought it home.
What/where was the first Galaxie 500 gig you ever saw?
I can’t really remember that 1st gig. It might have been Jack’s, The Rat or Middle East.
What part of their sound initially drew you to the band?
I was at Taang! working w/ Lemonheads, Bullet Lavolta, Kilslug and I think it was the whole quietness and innocence of their sound that just sounded right in my head.
At what point did you decide you want to release a record by them?
When I initially contacted them, it was because I thought they were wasting their money sending demos to Punk Labels. I offered to help them focus their energies towards the right labels. They were going into the studio shortly after our first meeting, when they returned with their songs, I decided I dug them so much, I should try and fund their recordings.
What was your first thought when you heard the recordings that would be TODAY?
I thought it was amazing but I was obviously so passionate about them, I might have had blinders on.
What was the initial reaction once the record got out and about to reviewers?
Obviously, the word of mouth started to grow just from the single which I think the anticipation of the full album was strong and Dean, Damon and Naomi delivered a very strong debut album.
What was the funniest/weirdest thing you ever saw written about them?
The funniest thing was going into Bleeker Bob’s and the single had a sticker on the plastic saying band was signed to Shimmy Disc and their debut would be released soon. When I tried to correct them, Bob told me I was completely full of shit.
Can you pick a favorite song off of that record?
When I revisit the album I usually discover a new favorite so I can’t say any one song is a favorite. It’s a very special recording to me, I’m always honored that I had some involvement in it.
How did they break the news that ON FIRE was going to be on Rough Trade? How bummed were you?
Labels were all over them, indies with major backing etc previous to them signing with Rough Trade. It was a bit rough in some patches but I always knew they couldn’t stay at Aurora. I was actually happy they ended up at Rough Trade. All the folks that worked there Robin Hurley, Nick Cucci and Geoff Travis as well as the folks in distribution did everything possible to make it fair and professional.
What were some other releases on Aurora? One was an Ed’s Redeeming Qualities 7”, right?
Yea, Ed’s Redeeming Qualities 1st 7inch, I did a record with Drumming on Glass (A Boston band) and MC Spider who went on to form Powerman 5000.
How did the label wind down?
I got married and my wife at the time began working on the label and the label evolved into Dirt Records. I think the last record I put out with Aurora was Swirl (An Australian shoe gazer band), their later records came out on Dirt. I was still involved finding bands for the label including Magic Dirt, SPDFGH but was out of the day to day.
When did you leave Boston for Chicago?
I think we moved in 1992, my ex was working in radio and I ended up working for Mute Records and Chameleon Records. We moved to NYC in 1994 as I became more involved with Mute US.
Are you still involved with music?
Yes but not as involved as I was while I was in NYC. I work at a commercial progressive radio station as a presenter in Chicago called WXRT. I also just began managing a young Chicago singer named Jennifer Hall
Who are some of your current favorite bands?
A few of my favorite releases from 2012 would be from Policia, Alabama Shakes, Dark Dark Dark, & Tame Impala.
What are your top 10 desert island discs?
Willie Nelson – Stardust
Gram Parsons – Grievous Angel
Toots And The Maytals – Funky Kingston
The Clash – The Clash (UK Version)
The Clash – Sandinista
Groove Armada – Vertigo
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation
Galaxie 500 - Today
Any final comments? Closing thoughts? Words of wisdom?
I’ve always just followed my passion and love. I’ve been quite blessed to have had an opportunity to work with so many wonderful artists and able to travel around the world bringing music to people.