"New rock, new beats, shit that we like, period," sums up Riley from his office in Williamsburg. He joined label manager Adam Shore and Vice Records two months ago, and with a little help from Atlantic Records the duo has just released an album from cockney hiphop artist the Streets (who will be at Chop Suey Thursday in "spirit," remember, not in person); they're also working on a New York City rock compilation. On the merger with Atlantic, Riley is optimistic that the major will play hands-off with Vice, stressing that though it's a joint venture, the upstarts have total control. "Their weaknesses complement our strengths: the branding and dealing with tastemakers and smart, cool people," says Riley. "We control marketing, publicity, and development. I call it a guerrilla affair, because it's just two people and I'm dealing with folks from Best Buy all the way down to Orpheum and Easy Street. All the majors are looking for ways to make revenue, and if they can farm out something to someone like us, it looks good to the stockholders."
Riley says his time in Seattle taught him a lot of valuable lessons about production and spending that he will put to use with Vice. Along with five to seven singles, the label's album output will be moderate. "We'll put out four to six full-lengths a year and stick with them--work them hard in the U.S. and overseas, rather than put out too many to devote support to properly," he explains. No one from the label will be at Chop Suey tonight, though--so there'll be no schmoozing, only listening. And no guilt.