Mind Cure Records in Polish Hill ready to spin at 45 rpm

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Some record stores are content to be record stores.

Mind Cure in Polish Hill, having just celebrated its third anniversary, has bigger ambitions, too.

In February, owner Michael Seamans revived the store's namesake, the long-dormant local Mind Cure Records label, with a vinyl reissue of the Real Enemy cassette debut from 1983. Now, Mr. Seamans is folding his 6-year-old Dear Skull Records and putting more energy into Mind Cure.

It's not just a name change.

Dear Skull focused on current bands like Icon Gallery, but he says, "Having the store and running a label are very different types of work. The stress of trying to run the store and balance finishing these records was really tough. So I thought, 'I don't want to be putting out full-length records like that.

"I got really interested in reissuing stuff," says Mr. Seamans who worked at Paul's CDs from 1999 to 2007. "I thought this would be easier. Sometimes you have old disputes from 30 years ago, but it's like helping people solve those disputes rather than being under the gun of a [new] band trying to tour seems easier to me."

The Real Enemy reissue, he says, was a success with old-school punks as well as 18-year-olds coming into the store. There are two more LP issues of Mind Cure cassettes due out this year from Savage Amused and The Battered Citizens.

As for new music, he says, "I couldn't jump ship on all of that. I want to support music and I want to promote everyone, but I don't have it in me to try and figure out how we're going to record an LP."

Mind Cure will cover that with a Single of the Month starting this week with the Pittsburgh band Zeitgeist. The 45s will feature a new original track and a cover song on the B-side. They will be sold at the store on the last Saturday of each month. The following Monday, remaining copies from the pressing of 300 will be available for mail order and offered to other stores in Pittsburgh.

The singles will be accompanied by short videos of the bands talking about the projects. Mr. Seamans is drawing on experience of working with his father, accomplished Pittsburgh filmmaker Joe Seamans, who is helping out as well.

Collectors can watch for upcoming singles coming from Carousel (July), The Gotobeds (August), Killer of Sheep (September), Mud City Manglers (October), Hounds of Hate (November).

"I have a very specific agenda with this project," he says. "I'm trying to draw attention to things that are happening today in Pittsburgh which are really just under the umbrella of rock music. I'm not trying to do this cohesive picture of everything."

This week, Mind Cure also is releasing a five-minute video that goes back to Pittsburgh's old punk rock headquarters, the Electric Banana. This segment focuses on the hardcore scene, with Mike LaVella (Real Enemy, Half Life) and Dave Martin (the original Mind Cure Records) talking about their initiations into the Banana scene -- "It was like walking onto the set of a John Waters movie," Mr. LaVella says.

Former Banana owner Johnny Zarra talks about the club's evolution ("We went go-go, disco, rock 'n' roll ... now it's a restaurant") and that old gun-wielding reputation ("Worst feeling in the world is when you run out of bullets").


Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576.


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