There's some confusion as to how this year has come to be Sub Pop's 20th anniversary. Sub Pop has been releasing records since 1986, and Bruce Pavitt had that Sub Pop zine in the early '80s.

April 1, 1988, was the beginning of our first lease at the Terminal Sales Building on First and Virginia. It's the 20th anniversary of Sub Pop being a full-time record label. Whether people consider Sub Pop to be 20 years old or 25 years old, the point is that the culture that Sub Pop is a part of has managed to endure for a couple of decades now. We wanted to celebrate the culture, to celebrate our community, both musical and geographical.

So why is the party in Redmond?

We tried and tried and tried; we just couldn't get our permits cleared [in Seattle]. Finally, the path of least resistance led us to Marymoor Park. Not slighting Redmond or the park—it's a pretty setting, and we think people will be psyched. For sentimental reasons it would've been great to have the event in Seattle, but we just wanted to make sure the event took place.

Far more important than Sub Pop's anniversary is the fact that all of these bands are coming together to play what we envision to be a pretty successful benefit show. Each band is choosing a charity, and the money that people are paying is going to be broken up between them.

Obviously, things in the music industry are changing—high gas prices are making tours more expensive, record sales are down—but Sub Pop is still posting profits. How? Is Sub Pop magic?

We have a great roster of bands, we have great people who bring artists to the label, and I think it's a combination of luck, timing, and people being familiar with the Sub Pop logo because we've been around for a while. I have endured a couple different sorts of cycles since I've been doing this, and I hope to avoid the downtrend as long as I can, but if it were to come, then we would deal with that accordingly. It's just the way business works.

It's really an exciting time to be in the music industry. The thing that motivated Bruce and me from early on is that, more than wanting to be record moguls, we were very enthusiastic fans of the bands that we worked with. There's really been no better time to be a music fan. There's so much music available in so many different platforms, you can learn about and hear more music than ever before. So from a fan's standpoint, it's really good.

Warner owns 49 percent of Sub Pop. Last year, it laid off about 400 people while it "restructured its business for the digital age." Does that pose a threat to Sub Pop?

Well, they have no involvement whatsoever in our day-to-day business. If they sold themselves to an arms dealer or Russian oil moguls, we would have some interesting business partners, but they would have to work in the terms of our agreement. Sub Pop has been able to negotiate itself into a position vis-à-vis Warner where they simply cannot meddle in our affairs. Period. It's a win-win situation. We get to exercise our expertise without their meddling and they get to have a piece of a successful record label.

Of all the records you guys have put out, are there any you regret?

[Laughs] Maybe I'm being a little uptight, but these artists and their records are like my children. Calling one out as being a fuck-up, to indict a band for having made a shitty record....

Any records that you thought deserved greater success?

Oh, there are so many. Right off the top of my head: Six Finger Satellite's Severe Exposure got a little bit of underground hoopla, but they were ahead of their time. Zumpano, with Carl Newman, who later started the New Pornographers; they sounded like proto-Shins with Newman doing lead vocals. We had a band from Kansas City called Holler, and we put out one record called Learning How to Live—great songwriter, amazing singer, but one of our worst sellers of all time. It got incredible country reviews, but it was at a time when the label's identity was ill defined, and those who were holdover grunge fans were like, "What is this shit?"

Do you ever feel like the "grunge" thing was kind of a double-edged sword?

If people can't get beyond what happened 20 years ago, that's cool. That's the great thing about popular culture as it exists in the information age—there are all these nooks and crannies that one can burrow into and become incredibly obsessive. To me, the greatest compliment that one can pay to Sub Pop is noting that over the years we have provided lots of nooks and crannies for fans to get into.

Krist Novoselic famously showed up at Bruce Pavitt's house in the middle of the night, drunk, demanding a record contract. What would you do if someone tried that today?

I'd say, "What's your band's name?" and "Give me 15 minutes to go to your MySpace page, and then we'll talk about it." recommended