a little white lie at acme.

“We’re going to record with Ray.”

That’s what Ralph told me.  He had been itching to record some new songs as a four-piece, without Guy.  Although I had not seen nor heard the band since Spam Jam, I did talk with Ralph and Mark pretty frequently, and initial reports were that the band had taken a heavier, more punk-influenced turn.  That made sense to me; Guy played a lot of solos, and without that element of the band, I expected some of the repetition to go away as the guitar noodling gave way to actual songwriting, and figured Mark and Ralph’s punk roots would start to seep into the band’s sound.

“That’s great,” I said.  We were sitting at the table at Under ACME where we usually sat.  In the back of the room there was a small section of the club that had a raised floor, maybe a foot higher than the rest of the floor.  There were two tables there, and we were sitting at the one in the corner.  Sandy, Rich and I jokingly referred to it as “our” table; that’s where we set up whenever we went to see a band there – it gave us a good vantage point to see whoever was onstage, but it was close to the bar.  It was also surrounded on two sides by walls, which was great – I hated having people all around me.  From that table we could see everyone who walked into the club, and we were never in a crowd.  If we happened to walk into ACME and encounter someone sitting at our table, we’d slink off into the corner and glare, as if we had any right to claim any turf in any section of New York City.

“The new stuff is pretty cool,” he continued.  “Much heavier than our old stuff.”

I was thinking back to when Ray told me he wanted to start recording other bands.  Now he had two – Ditch Croaker and Footstone – lined up to record.

“What are you going to do with the songs?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied.  “We’re hoping to do four.  Some guy wants to put us on a compilation, so we’ll probably give him one of the songs.  Maybe we’ll do a 7″.  I don’t know.  Depends how they come out, I guess.”

We were there to see Melting Hopefuls play with Ditch Croaker and Ff.  A great lineup.  Ditch Croaker had been playing around more frequently at this point; we’d seen them two or three times and Ray had introduced us before a show at Maxwell’s.  We still hadn’t met Ff (turned out we’d only meet their singer, and speak to him for all of two seconds), but continued to admire them from afar.  

“Who’s the guy?” I asked.

“What guy?”

“The guy with the compilation.”  I was still stinging from the miniscule sales of Nothing Smells Quite Like Elizabeth.  I had taken to calling Dutch East once a week to get a report on sales figures; once in a while the number would increase by one or two.  It was, by my estimation, a complete failure if you were going to judge it on its own merits.  Thankfully we had made some friends, opened some doors, and gotten just enough publicity from it that I had something on which to hang my hat.

“I don’t know, some guy.”

I couldn’t imagine who would want to put out a compilation.  What a stupid idea!  Didn’t he know that compilations didn’t sell?

“We also might do a split 7″ with American Standard,” Ralph added.

“That’s cool,” I said.  I thought American Standard were heavier than Footstone, but pound for pound, they were pretty equal.  Footstone had better hooks.  I like hooks.  American Standard had one of the best guitarists I’d ever heard.  I like guitars.

We watched the bands that night and were biased, as usual, toward Melting Hopefuls.  I was really developing a sense of pride whenever one of “our” bands was playing, and since we were planning a 7″ with the Hopefuls, I was even more proud when they were onstage.  It’s a tough emotion to describe.  It’s like watching one of your kids get a base hit.

After Melting Hopefuls were done, Ray sat down with us.  “I heard you’re recording Footstone,” I said.

“Yeah,” he responded.  He didn’t sound enthusiastic.

“Well, that’s what you wanted, right?  To record some other bands?”

“It was hard to say no to Ralph,” Ray said, “I really like him, and the other guys.  I’m also talking to some other bands, though, and my schedule is filling up quick.”

Ray was talking to a couple of other bands from New Jersey that were signed to Bar/None – the Original Sins, a well-respected garage band that had been around a long time; and Shirk Circus, a band I knew nothing about at the time but grew to love.  Ray clearly wanted to build his credentials with some bigger-name indie artists.  I got the feeling that he didn’t want to record something that wasn’t going to “come out” somewhere.

“Maybe I’ll put out a Footstone 7″,” I said.  I don’t know why I said it.  I had two 7″s lined up already, and had to borrow money for the Melting Hopefuls record.  Dromedary was officially broke; Sandy and I were robbing from our personal allowance money to pay for label expenses, and it was clear to me that Nothing Smells Quite Like Elizabeth was never even going to come close to paying for itself – it was, for all practical purposes, a massive loss.

Thousands of dollars.  At the end of the day, we had blown through five figures on Elizabeth, “Suck My Heart,” and botany (which wasn’t even ready yet), and borrowed a bunch more for “Allnighter.”  

I had no intention of putting out another record any time soon.  We figured the Melting Hopefuls and cuppa joe 7″s would take us through the end of 1993; we were actually putting off releasing them as long as we could so that it could still seem like a steady flow of music coming from Dromedary.  We didn’t anticipate releasing another 7″ until the beginning of 2004.

I was, essentially, lying to Ray because I thought he might be more inclined to want to record Footstone if he thought the music would be released somewhere.

~ by Al on February 14, 2009.

One Response to “a little white lie at acme.”

  1. […] had, as I stated in an earlier entry, told Ray that we were considering putting out a Footstone 7″.  We weren’t.  We were […]

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