Behind The Numbers

The Numero Group is an archival record label founded in 2003 in Chicago, Illinois, by Rob Sevier and Ken Shipley. Our mission is dirty and labor-intensive...and it’s urgent as all hell. Time kills off precious bits of passed-over sound, story, and ephemera every day, just as fast as we can haul out of exile our sprawling treasury of under-heard recordings—along with the musicians, writers, and entrepreneurs who created them.

With more than 275 titles in our diverse catalog of LPs, CDs, cassettes, 45s, 12"s, and DVDs, every Numero production is a modest miracle of localized sound creation, a shedding of fresh light on the efforts of men and women who sang, played, recorded, and peddled—largely to shallow rewards, if any. Each track lives and breathes at the nexus of story and song, preserving human work and hope gone lost into freshly etched grooves. Every recording we unearth is painstakingly re-mastered and carefully researched, with obsessive attention to narrative and factual detail unmatched in the so-called reissue field. By self-imposed law, everything numbered by Numero is a stunning new artifact of image and word, tailored to the sounds it safeguards.

Eccentric Soul, our flagship series, has documented lovingly mishandled soul labels from Columbus, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Phoenix, Atlanta, Miami, and Kansas City. Our Wayfaring Strangers compilations collect the privately issued song-fruits of wandering folkies. Each Cult Cargo release visits the sonic shores of some tiny, isolated nation, while Good God! titles seek the profanely spiritual, as enshrined on reels of audio tape neglected until now. And with Local Customs we investigate isolated, mom-and-pop recording outfits, each operated by a homespun Alan Lomax who gave neighbors and friends studio time, a microphone, and a shot at being heard a generation later. Not content with mapping the 1950s-1970s, our 200 line explores the ’80s and ’90s with the same archeological zeal, reissuing the catalogs of Unwound, the Scientists, Hüsker Dü, White Zombie, and Blonde Redhead. We’ve even crossed the street from time to time to deliver hidden worlds of unsung power pop, kitchen-sink New York disco and rap, kid-group soul, fiery rockabilly gospel, Franco-Belgian electro-samba, phantom blaxploitation funk, tiki torch-friendly exotica, psychedelic heartland pop, orchestral UK chanteuse folk, decaying art-soul, the forebears of Minneapolis Sound, and Chicago’s funk-blues club life captured in glorious black & white.

Our world-class vinyl sets the pace: Lavishly packaged top quality LPs from every Numero series have been joined by a 12” run and several limited-pressing singles. The Numero Group’s 1200 line jumps genre barriers to present undiscovered LPs in their entirety, while Numerophon, a vinyl-only imprint, has been tasked with the sort of sonic excavations formerly carried out by aging academicians with Greek fisherman's caps and a jones for pipe tobacco. And after 10 years and more, we feel we’re just getting started.

In 2013, The Numero Group merged with Bloomington, Indiana’s Secretly Canadian, Jagjaguwar, and Dead Oceans labels to form the Secretly Label Group. Numero Group founders Rob Sevier and Ken Shipley would go on to head Numero’s ongoing creative and A&R endeavors, with Darius Van Arman, Chris Swanson, and Ben Swanson managing business affairs, accounting, and distribution.