ray.

So the next morning Rich came over with the Melting Hopefuls demo tape, which was called “Magnet for Stains.” We brewed up a pot of coffee, and popped the tape into the tape player. The first song he played me was called “Gondola.”

I was hooked, immediately. Almost as soon as everything kicked in. Now this was easily the best song I’d heard since we started fishing around for bands. And the next song on the tape was just as good. The one after that, and the one after that, too. This was a great band.

The music was crunchy and poppy at the same time, aggressive and melodic, and had a certain quality to it that early 90s indie rock had. The vocals were fantastic, sort of an edgy Natalie Merchant thing.  I was not a big Natalie Merchant fan – at all – but in this case, it worked.

We listened to the whole tape twice while I read the press kit and we talked and drank coffee. After a whole pot of coffee I was wired. Finally I decided I had to call the band. So I picked up the phone and dialed, and a woman answered.

“Is this Renee?” I asked. Renee was the singer in the band, and the person Rich knew from high school.

“Yes,” said the voice on the other end.

“Hi, my name is Al. I’m from Dromedary Records. Rich Grasso went to see your band recently and told you about my label?”

“Oh yeah! Hi!” she said, enthusiastically.

“I’m trying to put together a compilation of local bands for our first release,” I explained. “I was wondering if you’d be interested in being on it.”

“I’m going to let you talk to Ray. He handles all our business stuff.” I hadn’t thought of this as “business” yet, but I guess it was. I held for a minute.

“Hello?” said the voice on the other end.

“Hi, this is Al, from Dromedary.”

“This is Ray,” he said.

I explained about the label, and about the compilation. He seemed interested, so I asked him if they’d be interested in being on the record.

“How much is it going to cost?” he asked.

“Jeez, I don’t know,” I said. “I would imagine by the time I get the CDs made and do all the promotion I want to do, it will be a few thousand dollars.”

“No, no,” he explained, “How much is it going to cost the bands?”

“The bands?” I asked. “Nothing. Why?”

“You’re not looking to have the bands pay to be on the record?” he asked me. I had no idea what the hell he was talking about.

“I don’t get it,” I said. “Why would I want the bands to pay to be on the record?”

“Lots of people do compilations and ask the bands to pay to be on them,” he explained. “Last year we paid a hundred dollars to be on a local bands compilation. A few weeks ago we agreed to pay to be on another one, but this is a better one – it’s not local bands, it’s more indie rock.”

I was stupefied. Labels make their bands pay to be on compilations? That was the craziest thing I’d ever heard. “That sounds really seedy,” I told him. “I’m not interested in having bands pay to be on the record.”

“Well, that’s good,” he said. “because we decided we’re not going to do it anymore. It doesn’t seem fair to us, either.”

We talked for a few more minutes, and he asked who else was going to be on the record.

“Do you know Rosary?” I asked.

“Goth band?” he asked back.

“Yeah.”

“Sure.”

“How about Eternal Vision and Planet Dread?” I asked.

“Yep. I’ve seen them both,” he said.

“Shadowbox?”

“Yep. Sounds like a lot of bands that don’t sound a lot alike.”

“I think you guys are the best of them all,” I said.

“If we did it, what song would you want to use?” he asked.

“Gondola,” I said. “I like all the songs on your tape, but that one is my favorite.”

“We have more. We have a recording studio in the basement, so we record all the time,” he said.

“I’d love to hear them, but I really like ‘Gondola’. I think it would be the perfect song to open the record.”

We talked for a few more minutes, and he agreed to be on it. Then we talked for about an hour more. Eventually, Rich went home. Ray and I kept talking. We talked about the music we liked, about how tough it was to find decent bands for this record. We talked about wanting to create a scene in New Jersey like the ones in other parts of the country. We talked about our favorite record labels and bands. We had a lot in common, and by the end of the conversation, I was more enthusiastic about Dromedary than I’d ever been.

The next day, which was a Sunday, my phone rang again.  “Hi, it’s Ray,” said the voice on the other end.  “From Melting Hopefuls.”

“Hi, Ray,” I said.

I don’t even remember what we talked about, only that he called for no reason, and we wound up chit-chatting about music for a long time.  I had just met him the day before, on the phone, and he called me the next day.  

He also suggested that a band called Oral Groove, a pop band from Hoboken, might be a good fit for the record.  He gave me their  address and I popped a letter in the mail.

~ by Al on January 16, 2009.

One Response to “ray.”

  1. […] song, “Gondola” by Melting Hopefuls, greeted me differently this time – like an old friend, a great pop song from a different […]

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