bamboozled.

We were becoming jaded indie jerks, like the people Rich was trying to poke fun at in Indier Than Thou!.  If it was popular, we ragged on it, and so the Smashing Pumpkins, Live, Belly, the Breeders, and Letters To Cleo were our favorite bands to insult.  We considered Billy Corgan to be the biggest goofball in rock, and we even laughed at the one guy who somehow managed to be a huge success and maintain his credibility, Kurt Cobain.  

Sandy had gone out and purchased a rubber stamp of a camel, and every piece of mail we sent out was stamped in multi-color ink, with camels all over it.  She had also gotten her hands on a mailorder catalog that offered cheap little toys and gifts for doctors’ and dentists’ offices to give to kids; we ordered a bunch of “No Cavities!” stickers, little plastic animals, rubber erasers, and that sort of thing.  Any record we sold through mailorder would be packed up with a few little toys or stupid stickers.  We were indie.

Godspeed officially signed to Atlantic, largely on the strength of the demo they had done with Rachel Bolan from Skid Row.  As a reward, the label put them back into the studio with Bolan to record their major-label debut.  I exchanged a few letters with Tommy as they were getting ready to go into the studio.  He felt we should be spending more time in South Jersey with the heavier bands that played at the Brighton Bar – his feeling was that it was the sludgy, heavy bands that would be the biggest bands coming out of the state.  With Monster Magnet, Nudeswirl, and now Godspeed signing record deals, it was hard to blame him for having that opinion.

I don’t know where we were, but it was Mark from Footstone that eventually put me on the spot.

“Would you be interested in putting out a Footstone 7″?” he asked.

I already had the answer ready, just in case they’d ever asked.  I loved Footstone, but did not want to put out their record.  I was broke, I was working on Ditch Croaker, I hadn’t even heard any of the Footstone music as a four-piece with the exception of the tinny boom-box recordings.  “I’m broke,” I said.  “Once Melting Hopefuls comes out, I’m out of money.”

I wasn’t prepared for his response.  “What if we paid for it?” he asked.

I stammered for a minute.  “I couldn’t have you do that,” I said.  “I’m trying to run a ‘real’ record label here.  I couldn’t have my bands paying for their 7″s.  That’s not even fair.”

“Really, we wouldn’t mind.  We’d pay for the pressing.  You could pay for the marketing.  Cover your costs first, and then we could split the profits down the middle.  You wouldn’t even have to pay us back for the manufacturing if you didn’t want.  We just want the thing to come out on a label.”

I thought a little bit about my conversation with Ditch Croaker, and how they liked the idea of two 7″s coming out at the same time.  I thought about how, if I was putting out a Ditch Croaker 7″ anyway, I could piggyback a Footstone 7″ on top of it, and it would hardly cost me anything.  

“You know, you don’t give Foostone anywhere near enough credit,” Rich told me once.  “These guys get better every time they turn on their amps.”

It was true.  And here they were, offering to pay to put their record out on my label.  And I was actually ready to say no.  

“How about this,” I told Mark.  “You pay for the first pressing, I’ll pay for any subsequent pressings.  I’ll pay for the printing and marketing.  We’ll split the profits.”

“I’ll pay for the printing,” Mark said.  “I can have it done for free.  You pay for the marketing.  You handle the pressing – we have no idea what we’re doing.  You pay for any subsequent pressings.”

“We split the profits,” I said.  “But I have to cover my marketing costs first.”

“Fine,” he said. 

I had just been bamboozled into putting out a Footstone 7″.

“I already know what the cover art is going to be,” Mark said.

~ by Al on February 19, 2009.

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