A box containing hundreds of copies of the Avers album “Omega / Whatever” sits open, tucked under a chair behind an unmarked white door inside an office building that faces West Broad Street. Decoration is scant, save for several hastily adhered posters advertising local concerts that form a line across the room’s largest wall.
Lifelong Richmond resident Adam Henceroth isn’t an interior designer by trade. He’s a full-time anesthesiologist at Chippenham Hospital, a husband, a father to three children and co-founder of the record label that leases this space.
“It’s a step up from my basement recording studio on South Side,” he says, laughing.
That basement served as the musical delivery room where EggHunt Records was born, though the moniker wouldn’t strike Henceroth until a month later on an outing with his family to an Easter egg hunt.
“What we’re doing, it’s sort of like an egg hunt,” he says he thought to himself. “We’re looking for little diamonds in the rough.”
Two years after that fateful trip to seek out candy in plastic ovals, the name EggHunt is pressed in ink and splashed across the home pages of outlets such as USA Today, NPR, and Spin Magazine as the launch pad for Richmond songstress Lucy Dacus. She released her debut LP, “No Burden,” on the label in February to widespread critical acclaim.
For Henceroth, the hunt began in the spring of 2014, when he started contacting friends in the local music scene. Reminiscing on some of those first emails he sent to leads, including members of Avers, who politely declined at the time, he can’t help but chuckle.
“I didn’t know a whole lot about running a record label, so I don’t know how convincing I was,” he recalls. “Looking back, I really seemed like an amateur.”
Henceroth learned quickly and EggHunt christened its catalog with an EP from local band Red States entitled “High Bison.” The label’s first full-length release came after Richmond’s White Laces approached Henceroth following their national tour opening for the War on Drugs. Bassist Jay Ward remembers the dire need to release the group’s new material.
“When we got back, we had all of this momentum and a done record,” he says. “It was kind of surprising because I hadn’t heard a ton about [EggHunt], and he dropped a pretty robust contract offer on the desk. With smaller labels, it’s usually not that well thought-out.”
White Laces wasn’t the only Richmond band taken aback by Henceroth’s dedication and long-view approach. Manatree bassist Noma Illmensee met Henceroth one night at the Broadberry for a show celebrating White Laces’ record release. Illmensee and his band were looking for a label to press their first full-length LP. He recalls how Henceroth laid out a potential timeline.
“It was the first time I learned what the process of releasing a record is like in long form and how many months it takes of planning and designing and PR and pressing vinyl,” Illmensee says.
The band signed with EggHunt, and a year later, in the summer of 2015, Manatree got its own Broadberry album release show.
Dacus recently signed to Matador Records, a much larger New York-based outfit, after the terms of sale of her record contract from EggHunt to Matador were finalized.
Henceroth says he knew her meteoric rise was inevitable. He also knew that he wouldn’t have the infrastructure to support the distribution necessary when she hit the big time. He’s feeling the loss, but the way he sees it, the whole reason he started the label was fulfilled by her success story.
“I just feel lucky to have been a part of it. She’ll always be there repping Richmond,” he says. “The happiness and pride definitely outweigh the sense of loss.”
Though Henceroth has set a high bar, he continues to look toward the next release and the label’s ultimate mission of further cementing Richmond as a music city mentioned among the likes of Athens, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Portland, Oregon.
In addition to Avers’ “Omega / Whatever” album, which was released July 29, EggHunt has two White Laces pressings scheduled for the fall: a collection of the band’s previously self-released material and a full-length of all-new tracks.
The label’s roster also includes Clair Morgan, Feral Conservatives, Oko Tygra, Sun Machines and the Diamond Center.
In the face of rumors that EggHunt’s looking to expand its base of operations beyond Richmond, Henceroth is doubling down on his commitment to his hometown. He says it will be signing four more Richmond bands, whose names he can’t yet reveal.
“We’re not doing this for the glory,” he says. “I just really want some of these friends and people that I know who are in awesome bands to be able to do it for a living.” S