“Make the world go round one album at a time” is a slogan used by Houston’s Splice Records and written by its CEO Shaun Brennan. In a city full of everything under the sun, Brennan started Splice Records in an attempt to offer artists better support and the city better artists.
Splice Records turns five years old this month and will celebrate with a big showcase at the Continental Club Saturday July 6, which also happens to be Brennan’s birthday. “I like to think of us as a Texas independent label that dabbles in production and wears quite a few hats.” says Brennan.
Splice started in some incarnation many years ago, Brennan and his brother would make VHS videos around the neighborhood and called them, Splice of Life Productions. He has had a lifelong interest in music, art and film but makes his bread and butter as a mortgage banker.
Five years ago he spent the evening enjoying libations and a new album from Houston’s Craig Kinsey when he inquired about Kinsey’s representation. Kinsey explained to Brennan the details of his record deal at the time and Brennan thought, “Man that deal sucks! That’s it? For some reason I thought everything was done much differently and I thought, man I can do better then that!”
“I dreamt the record label that night.” says Brennan. He took some of his mortgage banker income and started Splice Records. Brennan partnered with Sarah Miller, whom he had met while volunteering at the Artery, and together they have built the Splice Records family.
"Shaun Brennan and the Splice Records team have a passion for helping Texas artists.” says Paul Kresowik from Tomar and the FCs, a band on the label. Shaun’s enthusiasm is contagious and his sincere devotion has helped their vision grow while providing support to the people he represents.
“From the moment I met Shaun and saw his passion for music and the local scene I knew I wanted to work with this guy. Splice has been there for us filling that void between us and our fans.” says Sergio Trevino from Ancient Cat Society
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Splice Records represents eight artists and puts on the Bowie Elvis Festivals in Austin and Houston, an evening of music celebrating the two men who share a birthday. They also have been running the River Revival Festival for five years with each year growing its reputation as one of the best outdoor festivals in Texas.
The festival features three days of camping, live music, food and beer all along the Guadalupe river. Every year they unveil the line-up at the anniversary party at Continental, and this year is no different. Brennan is confident this summer's River Revival will surpass all others, as every year he admits he has learned from his growing pains.
When asked about the success behind River Revival Brennan admits, “It has magic. I got lucky on this one. When you put people in the right spot and surround them with good things on a continuous basis for one great weekend in a beautiful little city, then magic really does happen.”
Though he maintains his day job, Brennan hopes to continue growing Splice Records. He says he finds himself constantly thinking about ways to push not only the Houston music scene, but music from all over Texas wishing he had the infrastructure to do more.
“This is not my hobby, this is my third child. Sometimes I think, ‘What if I have to stop doing it?’ and I really don’t like that thought. Sustainability is important.” says Brennan.
The hardest part of the job he says is when he cannot accept an artist, either because he feels it is not a good fit or they cannot offer the artist what they want. He has handpicked the bands he represents because he was first and foremost a fan.
“It’s almost like a relationship of somebody that you fall in love with, I like to court them instead of being courted.” says Brennan. “It’s not to deter people from doing that, because I always want to hear their music. There are so many great bands in Houston that I need to add to this label to make it more and make it more diverse too.” he adds.
Discussing the indescribable Houston sound and the rich musical history this city has to offer Brennan says, “It’s like one big gumbo of everything that’s come from the Port of Houston through the years. Like everything in Houston, I feel it takes a while for it to be understood outside of the city limits, or at least accepted, and that’s our greatest attribute and biggest flaw as a city.”
In a city that tears down buildings faster than you can say strip mall it’s natural to worry about longevity, but one thing Houston has proven is that when there is real heart and soul behind something, the city shows up.
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“The old wisdom, if you do what you love you'll be successful, verifies with Splice Records.” says Splice artist Pecos' Hank Schyma. Brennan hypothesizes about the future, “I don’t know where we will be in ten years but if we continue to take these steps, I really feel like I’ll be at a very happy place in a very difficult industry and I’m willing to try.”
Splice Records celebrates their five year anniversary at the Continental Club Saturday July 6 with performances by Tomar and the FCs, Ancient Cat Society, Arthur Yoria, Bayou City Funk and DJ Mikey from Shaking all Over in the backyard.
The Splice Records anniversary Showcase is July 6 at the Continental Club, 3700 Main, doors open at 7:30 p.m. $20