Bethlehem musician turns support for local bands into burgeoning record label

Lance LaBar, founder of Killer Tofu Records.  (Courtesy Photo)

Lance LaBar, founder of Killer Tofu Records. (Courtesy Photo)

Lance LaBar is more than just a fan of the Lehigh Valley's rich and deeply vast music scene.

He is also one of its brethren; a musician whose passion for the art form has become anything but a mere hobby.

LaBar is the founder of Killer Tofu Records. He launched the label two years ago from his home in Bethlehem, where he continues to help put local acts on the path to success.

"I had the idea for a little while before I actually went through with it. I love the local scene and the bands that are in it, so I kind of wanted to do something more for them," LaBar said during a March phone interview.

Since starting Killer Tofu Records in 2015, LaBar's label has released about 25 albums. Most of the acts found on the label hail from the Lehigh Valley, including Under the Clothesline, Swimmer's Lungs, Wondertaker, Legion of Womb and Sing, Bird of Prey. But LaBar has also managed to land artists from as far away as North Dakota (Contraceptive) and Arkansas (PZA).

LaBar said one of the biggest challenges of forming your own independent record label is not a lack of bands to promote as much as it is just getting the name out in the public consciousness. When it comes to discovering new artists, LaBar said he likes to play things by ear (no pun intended) while also staying active on social media.   

"It's still a struggle a lot though because you always have to think ahead and think about what people want," he said. "You have to make the effort to get it made and it takes a little while to see the results. But it's completely awesome. That is part of why I like with local bands so much."

When he is not churning out albums by other bands, LaBar performs locally in the duo McGarnagle. The group's LP, Phantom Vibrations, was the first album LaBar released through Killer Tofu Records.

The Killer Tofu moniker was inspired, LaBar, said by one of his favorite childhood cartoons. "I obviously watched a lot of Doug as a kid," LaBar said with a chuckle. "My first thought was always to reference something from my youth or the '90s. 

At the time I didn't know how serious it would be. Two years later, there are boxes of unsold records in my living room. One day I hope to have it pay for itself."