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Rally Records looks back to pop-punk roots

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There's a new record label in town -- and it's not looking forward. Jonny Rally (as he prefers to be known), owner of the Mars, Pa.-based Rally Records, isn't interested in Pitchfork buzz bands or the latest emo-metal moppets. Instead, the fledgling company is dedicated to bringing back the excitement about music he experienced in San Francisco during the late '80s and early '90s, when the East Bay was bubbling with the DIY success of pop-punk label Lookout Records, which soon launched Green Day and The Donnas to stardom.

So far, Rally Records has released a steady stream of 7-inch singles by the likes of The Jizz Kids (members of The Apers and Teen Idols), The Tattle Tales, The Erase Hers and Johnie 3. Currently, Jonny's energy is focused on the debut On the Move CD by The Leftovers, a trio of fresh young lads from Portland, Me. with sing-along choruses and lyrics that kids can relate to, such as "It's Saturday night / But it doesn't feel right / I never should have told that girl goodbye."

Despite having a lack of enthusiasm for the vast majority of Pittsburgh punk acts with metal and crust influences, Johnny keeps his ear to the ground locally. The "one that got away" was Black Tie Revue, who signed to Gearhead, though he's happy the band made the leap.

The area band that finally caught his attention was even closer to home, literally playing basement shows down the street in Mars: The Shuttlecocks. "They're about 18 years old, went to Mars High, and are pretty much unknown," Jonny says. "They've taken an honest and raw approach to doing music that comes from their heart. It's hard to discount that those guys are up there singing about things that have meaning to them, like being sent by your mom to see the psychiatrist because she thinks you have ADD."

Rally ultimately released a CD EP for The Shuttlecocks, who will be playing the Roboto Project on Tue., Aug. 28 with Johnny and the Razorblades and Indiana's Be My Doppleganger.

For those aspiring locals who have a pop-punk or powerpop band that's not primarily influenced by, say, Sum 41 or A Simple Plan, Jonny will be at Roboto to support The Shuttlecocks, and is open to talk. "There are folks who say, 'If you can sell 3,000 copies, we have a deal.' But with me it's, 'Let me help you get some exposure.' I don't think a lot of people are doing that anymore in the world of underground punk."

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