Merdurhaus Records champions local Austin bands

Rachel Rascoe

On a muggy Wednesday night at Seventh Street’s Holy Mountain, local band Hovvdy took a break in their set to give special mention to Phil Hutchinson of Merdurhaus Records.

The label got started when Hutchinson, a UT alumnus, and his friends from KVRX began hosting their own house shows. Their previous North Campus residence was dubbed “the Merdurhaus” based on rumors that someone was murdered inside the home. The label has expanded into a support network of connections throughout the Austin music scene, frequently putting on gigs featuring the label’s own bands. Hutchinson acts as the ringleader of the crew and central coordinator of Merdurhaus, helping the 11 active bands on the label release new music and produce merchandise.

Chad Doriocourt, guitar player and vocalist for the Merdurhaus band Tamarron, said joining the creative community has helped his band gain exposure and book more gigs.

“The biggest benefit is definitely how supportive everyone is,” Doriocourt said. “Everyone’s at everyone’s show. Before meeting Phil, it was just friends at shows, but now there’s a lot of new faces.” 

Merdurhaus members discover new bands by attending local shows and establishing friendships, rather than seeking out a specific musical sound. Many members of the label play in multiple Merdurhaus bands, a practice jokingly described as “incestuous” by UT alumnus Hugh Vu, drummer for Loafer, Hola Beach and Dryspell. 

Hutchinson said profits from small productions, such as t-shirts and tapes, have allowed for improvements at the label including better sound quality on Merdurhaus’s most recent tape release.

“Any money that we make, I just use to upgrade the way that we do things,” Hutchinson said. “We go slow with small releases to build up money to do the next thing and the next thing.” 

UT alumnus Sam Houdek, Tamarron drummer and assistant booker at Holy Mountain, said the label’s complete focus is on music rather than profits. For a recent Tamarron tour, Hutchinson temporarily fronted the cost of producing Tamarron tapes. 

“There isn’t a gimmick involved in [Merdurhaus], and that’s an aesthetic that Phil has tried to emphasize — a lack of frills and a focus on just going in and listening to and enjoying good music,” Houdek said. “It’s not about crazy involved spectacle-oriented events.” 

From packed weekend co-op shows to smaller crowds on weeknights downtown, Merdurhaus strives to connect diverse crowds with quality live musical acts. Merdurhaus gigs frequently include touring bands from out of town. 

“As different bands and different people go out on tour, we start networking and communicating with scenes and labels that are doing cool stuff elsewhere,” Houdek said. “That way, we can have our bands go and invade New York and have them come invade Austin.” 

In the future, Merdurhaus plans to create a network of connections with smaller labels and bands throughout the U.S. and Canada. Hutchinson said he hopes Merdurhaus acts as a starting point for bands’ future progress outside of the label. 

“It’s just a good foundation and good practice for some sort of career,” Hutchinson said. “If you want to work in the music industry, it’s hard to. People don’t just hand you chances to do stuff. This is our way to make our own experience. It’s better than doing it alone.”