When the second night of the Rock For Love benefit kicks off at the Hi-Tone Café this evening, three of the five bands on the bill will have something in common: Joining instrumentalists Glorie and indie-rockers Arma Secreta are three acts — rapper Cities Aviv and punks Pezz and Angel Sluts — representing the youngish local label Fat Sandwich Records. (We featured Cities Aviv in this week's Flyer.)
Fat Sandwich is the province of Dan Drinkard, a 26-year-old Memphian who started the label in late 2009 as a vehicle to release a single from his then-band, Panther Piss.
"Panther Piss had a song that didn't have lyrics, but we sang the melody with lyrics that went 'Buy me a fat sandwich that I can hold with both my hands,'" Drinkard explains. "It was just one of those names to put on the back of a record."
A year and a half later, that name has developed into a full-fledged label, with more than 10 releases straddling the punk and hip-hop genres, including several releases by non-Memphis artists.
Local artists include the now-defunct Panther Piss, the three acts at Rock for Love tonight, and emerging local rapper Royal'T — a constantly evolving teen talent whom Drinkard met through Cities Aviv. Non-local items on the Fat Sandwich catalogue include a reissue of the Florida "Christian indie band" Two Thirty Eight and releases from Birmingham's Dollarhyde and Nashville's Cannomen ("surf-y garage-punk," per Drinkard) and Cove ("heavier, more hardcore").
Drinkard grew up in Memphis, moving away during his high-school years and then returning. A guitarist, he's spent time in a few local punk/hardcore/metal bands — Karma Elektra, Panther Piss, and the new Fresh Flesh.
But if Drinkard's orientation is punk, it's been his unlikely involvement with hip-hop that's brought the label its most attention, with Cities Aviv releases recently featured on Pitchfork.com and in Spin.
When Drinkard first started Fat Sandwich, he never thought he'd be releasing hip-hop records.
"I listen to hip hop but I'm not a huge fan," he says. "I listened to lots of ’90s stuff, like Tribe Called Quest and whatnot. But the label I had in high school was all punk stuff. The DIY/punk scene is what I've always been into."
Fat Sandwich's hip-hop connection started with a friendship between Drinkard and Cities Aviv — aka Gavin Mays — from when Mays was a member of the punk/hardcore band Copwatch, which traveled in the same circles as Drinkard's Karma Elektra.
"I wasn't that into Copwatch," Drinkard confesses. "I'm not really into a lot of heavy music. Then when Gavin started doing the hip-hop stuff, I thought it was really good."
Fat Sandwich has since released Mays' mostly internet debut album, Digital Lows, but also a seven-inch single, "Coastin'."
"I never thought I would be doing hip-hop, but now the release schedule looks like it will be hip hop or electronic-influenced, maybe for the rest of the year," Drinkard says.
This includes another Royal'T album, following up his recently released full-length, I.D.K.
"It's crazy the rate [Royal'T] and Gavin produce stuff. They just hole themselves up for days and record," Drinkard says.
The label is also exploring potential instrumental releases from local hip-hop/DJ artists Redeye Jedi and Grimm.
"I'm not making any money off of it," Drinkard says of the label. "I just like to do it. It's like a giant hobby."
Learn more at fatsandwichrecords.com.