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Arts & Culture

Cleveland archival label Smog Veil Records to close after 30 years

2019 boxed set of work from Peter Laughner
Smog Veil Records
Smog Veil's last major undertaking was this 2019 boxed set collecting the work of Cleveland punk pioneer Peter Laughner, a set which sold out on CD and is still available in limited quantities on vinyl. Earlier this year, the label released an accompanying book by Adele Bertei, "Peter and the Wolves."

A record label founded in Euclid is closing its doors after 30 years of issuing music from some of Northeast Ohio's most eclectic artists.

Smog Veil Records has issued numerous albums and books delving into rare and previously unreleased material from artists such as Pere Ubu and The Rubber City Rebels. Founder Frank Mauceri has been running the company from Chicago for many years and recently moved to the West Coast. He says he’s closing because he accomplished what he set out to do: highlighting some of the history of Northeast Ohio’s music scene.

“There’s certainly numerous recordings out there that are yet to be discovered. And I’m hoping that someone with a Cleveland connection steps in and takes up the mantle," Mauceri said.

“Since we've reached a plateau, we decided it's time to move on to new horizons and new challenges."

The first Smog Veil release, from 1991, was the Spudmonsters' 7" EP "Destroy Your Idols." The first pressing used a variety of vinyl colors. Just 100 of those were on black vinyl, used as radio station promos.

A creative arena
Mauceri is most proud that he could showcase the creativity coming out of Northeast Ohio.

"Every record that we released, in my view, is fantastic. I think the critics and fans will agree, but the most popular were the Rocket From the Tombs issues we did years ago," he said. "The Peter Laughner box set, which came out a couple years back, the Mr. Stress retrospective as part of our Platters of the Cuyahoga series. Those records really did fantastic, sold lots of copies, and the reviews were amazing.”

Mauceri says the biggest challenge with archival releases is finding the people who are holding the material needed to give a full picture of the artist.

“Sometimes [the artist is] deceased, so you have to find their heirs or their estate in order to get permission to do the record. That is always the biggest challenge, but also the most fun and rewarding challenge because finding people who haven't been involved in music for many, many years is really satisfying, both to me and to the person that I’ve found," he said. "They're happy to get the recognition after many years of being away, and you also uncover lots of surprises. You find recordings that those people might have tucked away in a closet. Plus, photos, flyers, and other ephemera of that particular band. It's just a lot of fun to do that detective work.”

Material remains available
Mauceri says that while Smog Veil releases will remain available for download, once physical copies have sold out, they’re gone. He’s also considering what to do with the label’s archive of tapes, which he hopes might go to the type of institution which would make the material available for research by music scholars.

The most recent book from Smog Veil, Adele Bertei’s "Peter and the Wolves" that is a memoir of her friendship with Peter Laughner, was profiled earlier this year on WKSU’s “Shuffle” podcast.