Long in the works, the pressing plant's site went live yesterday morning, officially marking that they are open for business and able to take orders from labels and artists. It's the project of Mark Rainey (TKO Records), Adam Gonsalves (of Portland's Telegraph Mastering, which we profiled in 2013), and Steve Lanning (a local CPA and one-time contributor to the Mercury!). The three have been planning Cascade for many months, and have now unveiled the major project, which is a significant addition to the Portland music scene. For the first time, local artists and labels can complete a vinyl project from start to finish within the state's borders. Prior to this, they had to ship their masters off to plants elsewhere in the country in order for the vinyl to be manufactured. (It's the second vinyl pressing plant to exist in the Pacific Northwest; from the '40s to the '70s, a small hand-run pressing plant called Morrison Records operated out of Seattle, primarily making 45 RPM seven-inch records.) While Cascade is not one of the bigger pressing plants in the US, its automation and capacity will make it a significant addition to not just the Northwest's music industry, but to the country at large.
Cascade acquired six record presses from the now-shuttered Rip-V plant in Canada, who in turn got them from the Hub Servall plant in New Jersey, which stopped making records (along with pretty much everyone else) in the early '90s. Rainey, Gonsalves, Lanning, and their crew readied them for work with the advice of Dave Miller, one of the guys who helped build them decades ago. Locating functional vinyl presses is incredibly rare, as no new ones are currently being made. This has led to a bottleneck in vinyl manufacturing, particularly as vinyl has made a huge resurgence in recent years, in tandem with the popularization of Record Store Day. Independent labels, in particular, have felt the squeeze, as major labels have monopolized available capacity among existing pressing plants, often leading to a months-long backlog of orders and making it very difficult for smaller labels and independent artists to keep their vinyl in print. Two new pressing plants have opened in recent years—Cleveland's Gotta Groove Records in 2009, and Quality Record Pressings, which opened in Selina, Kansas, in 2011—but it has only put a dent in current supply being able to meet demand.
"Right now we want to work on doing one thing and doing it well," said Rainey, when asked what types of projects they'd be taking it on. "And right now that's 12-inch vinyl, at 150 to 180 grams, depending on what the client wants, in various custom colors. We just want to have nice, clean, shiny, flat records that play well and sound great." He adds that local and independent artists and labels will always be a priority for Cascade.
Cascade Record Pressing's facility is in Milwaukie, Oregon, just a short drive from downtown Portland. ("On a local level," Lanning says, "folks will be able to come down to the plant and pick up their records.") While the facility's not huge, it's rare for new manufacturing jobs—factory work available to those without college educations—to be created in Oregon, or the US for that matter. Cascade has acquired a small staff that will take them into full-time operation. I'm taking a tour of the place in a few days; we'll have lots more info about them in the Mercury in the weeks to come. Welcome, Cascade!
- from Cascade Record Pressing's Facebook page
- A new mold assembly at Cascade Record Pressing.