“A few months ago,” Mick Rossler says, “I was talking to a friend about how great the Lumps are and that it was a shame they didn’t have anything out on vinyl.”
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Problem solved: in September, the Lumps’ debut vinyl was released at the Tower Bar. And as it turns out, the grease-punk trio’s record-release party was also the launch of Tower Bar Records.
“They’re one of my favorite bands in San Diego,” Rossler, who owns both the Tower Bar and the label, tells the Reader. “I asked Christian from the Lumps why they hadn’t put out a record. He said they really wanted to but didn’t have the money, so I asked if I could put it out.” And that was how Tower Bar Records got started, Rossler says. “They already had five great recordings, so we sent them out to get pressed on green vinyl.” Green? “It is more expensive, but it’s our first release, and we wanted it to be special. And the record is called Pot...”
Rossler, who moved here from Australia in 1993, has lived in New York and Las Vegas. Was he in the bar business before Tower Bar? Only as a customer: “I like music, and I like to drink.” He turned 46 on the day we spoke. “I had been thinking about putting out a record for a long time because I have a lot of live recordings of bands playing at the Tower Bar over the years.” It’s a habit of Rossler’s to tape the bands that book his venue. “I have a little hand-held recorder with three condenser microphones, and the quality is surprisingly good.”
Production was all DIY, more or less. “A friend of mine, Mikey Ratt, took a photo of the Lumps’ singer, Mel LaFara, and that’s what we used on the front. The back is a picture LaFara took of the other two guys in the band.” Rainbow Records in Orange County did the mastering and the pressing. “Five-hundred copies came to about $1000. And the cover printing cost maybe another $100. It wasn’t super expensive,” says Rossler. “I’m not looking to make money on this.”
Three years ago, Rossler bought the Beauty Bar at the corner of Euclid and El Cajon Boulevard and resurrected the nightclub’s name from 1948 — Til Two. “I’ve met the original owner. She’s 96. She still drinks.” Rossler has owned the Tower Bar for 11 years. The future of Tower Bar Records? Rossler says, “I really like Kids in Heat. Hopefully, that will be the next release.”