Michigan’s GTG Fest: Tommy Plural Talks Event, Lansing Record Label and More


Michigan indie band She/Her/Hers

Michigan indie band She/Her/Hers will perform at GTG Fest – Story by Anne Erickson, photo by Hailey Lamb

Local Music Beat: Tommy Plural of Michigan’s GTG Records checks in with Anne Erickson to discuss independent and DIY music culture and community

GTG Records is an independent, DIY record label and community based in Lansing, Michigan. Founded in 2005, the label has evolved and thrived throughout the years, offering an A-list roster of bands and artists from Lansing and throughout Michigan.

GTG Records’ annual GTG Fest returns Friday (Oct. 21) and Saturday (Oct. 22) at The Avenue Cafe in Lansing. Tommy Plural – who heads up GTG Records and performs in bands such as The Wild Honey Collective and The Plurals – caught up with Audio Ink Radio to discuss this years event and the state of independent music. For more information, visit GTG Records’ website.

Anne Erickson: GTG Fest is back for 2022! How many years have you held the festival at this point?

Tommy Plural: We actually hosted a livestream fest in 2020 so, truly, we’ve actually done this every year since 2008 in some form. So, this is the 15th consecutive festival. In 2013, we also held an east coast edition in New Jersey, to boot. We’re truly appreciative to have maintained the community around the label and festival for so long. At this point it’s a fairly well-oiled machine, so my main goal is just to make sure that new people continue to find out about the festival.

What’s the overall goal for not just GTG Fest, but also GTG Records?

The fest and the label are different sides of celebrating independent and DIY music culture and community. Since we’re entirely independent and active in our local community, there ends up being a lot of focus on Lansing and mid-Michigan, but the goal is to spotlight and give a voice to independent artists both local and otherwise.

I see you mentioned that the festival is back to the two stage, multi-night format for the first time since 2019. How does it feel to be back to the full-fledged fest model?

The fest has been through several different incarnations, but since 2013, the core of the festival has been at The Avenue Cafe. There may be additional events, but the main event is at the Avenue and we construct a makeshift stage area in the corner of the room adjacent to the regular stage and have live music with no breaks from about 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. The 2020 virtual festival was obviously a break from this, and last year we were still scaled back, so we didn’t do the second stage. It feels good to have it back to our standard form and to use this as a launching point for future years. There’s essentially a whole new generation of bar-goers since 2019, so this will be a lot of people’s first real GTG Fest experience.

Do you think indie musicians are in a good place in 2022? Are there lots of opportunities out there for indie musicians to be heard?

The distribution opportunities offered by the Internet really do give a lot of independent musicians a chance to be heard, but I still firmly believe the live performance is the best way to be heard and the true test of a band. With that said, there’s definitely a lack of venues catering to independent and alternative music. But, honestly, this should only have been expected post-Covid, and I’m aware of a lot of future venues in the works. I think this time next year ,there will be a lot more venues, both locally and beyond.

How did you curate this year’s lineup?

The festival formula is essentially always approximately one third of longtime label regulars (such as The Plurals, Narc Out The Reds, The Stick Arounds), one third artists with recent releases on the label (like A Rueful Noise, The Wild Honey Collective, Harborcoat) and one third bands from mid-Michigan and beyond that we’re excited about like She/Her/Hers (who are releasing their album the week before the festival), Ladyship Warship, Lazy Genius and, playing their first show in almost three years, The Jackpine Snag. Our goal is to have a diverse but complementary roster that really showcases the DIY music community for both longtime participants and folks that may just be stumbling upon it.

Are there any performers this year who have never played the fest before?

This will be the first fest performance for She/Her/Hers, Ladyship Warship, Sweet Pea, Cameo Headlands and Little Things, the latter of which is a brand new band fronted by the great Lansing musician Tammy Cook, formerly of Scary Women, Half Looking and more. This is their first show!

What’s the state of Michigan music? Do you feel the scene is thriving in Lansing, where you’re based, and elsewhere around the state?

I really think things are in a very solid rebuilding state right now. There’s not as many live music opportunities as there should be, but things are on the way up. There’s newer bands starting all the time so a nice foundation for future scene activity is setting in.

What’s on the horizon for GTG Records the rest of this year and into 2023?

Hopefully we’ll have vinyl copies of the new Wild Honey Collective album at GTG Fest. We’re due to have them any day! Another delayed project is collecting the Plurals’ EP series “BEES” onto a full-length, so that will be coming up soon, in addition to new material from Narc Out The Reds, Jeremy Porter and Harborcoat. A sampler of most of the acts playing is available for free download at via GTG here.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Local Music Beat, Music, Rock, Rock News