suddenly, seven-inches!

allnighter So we proceeded with the Melting Hopefuls seven-incher as planned.

We compromised on the packaging – Ray wanted full-color, and produced what we felt was an awesome-looking sleeve.  He did the art on a color copier, and punched up the color so that everything was oversaturated.  Then we put it in a heavy baggie – heaviest one they made, if I remember.

Ray wanted a color insert sheet, but I didn’t want to budge anymore on price, so he agreed to pay for it himself, and soon after delivered a stack of nice-looking, glossy inserts that contained the lyrics to the two songs, written in super-cool swirly “Ray handwriting” (Ray had a variety of different kinds of arty handwriting that he used for Melting Hopefuls art that we called “Ray handwriting”).

We printed the records on black vinyl – that was the compromise.  Black vinyl was always less expensive than colored vinyl.

While the records were being pressed, the band managed to secure a gig at the old Cabaret Metro in Chicago (I think it’s just called “Metro” today).  This was a pretty high-profile club, and Ray really wanted to have records to promote at that show.  When I called United to see when they’d be done, it became clear to me that there was no way we’d have them in time.

I knew how excited the band was about this show – and the one they had scheduled the day before their Chicago trip, at Wetlands in Manhattan, opening for Suddenly, Tammy!, who were a great piano-oriented indie band that predated Ben Folds by a few years and had their debut record out on a great pop label called SpinArt.  If I remember correctly, Renee was interning at SpinArt at this point, and I felt sure that the owners of that label would take a shot at signing Melting Hopefuls.

Anyway, I authorized United to go ahead and ship 400 records to me via FedEx at my expense, and I took the day off work.  When they arrived, I worked like a madman, folding printed sleeves, inserting 7″s and lyric sheets, and stuffing them into the plastic baggies.

I don’t know why the number 400 is sticking out in my head the way it is, but something makes me think that Ray piggybacked an additional 400 copies of the seven-inch on my order so that he would have plenty of copies to give away and sell.  That’s a detail I can’t remember, though.

So I spent the day assembling seven-inches, and got done with about a half hour to spare.  Rich, Matt and I lugged the boxes of records into my car, stopped for a slice of pizza, and made the drive to Wetlands – arriving at the club just minutes before the band was slated to take the stage.  Ray was absolutely beaming when he looked at the record, and he passed it around to the rest of the band, who were just about to begin playing.

When they started their set, the three of us stood off to the side, sort of like proud parents watching their kids play their first varsity game – there they were, at this big-name club, opening for a really cool band, with a brand-new record to promote.  A record that we made.

Remember, it was our first non-Elizabeth record; the “Suck My Heart” 7″ was simply a re-mailing of a record that had already been pressed, and the cuppa joe record wasn’t finished yet (it was at the pressing plant with the remainder of the “Allnighter” records).  I had a copy of the record in my hand, and I kept looking from the band to the record, and back to the band.  I was really proud of this one – I chose the A-side, I went into hock to afford to press it, I’d be promoting it, and eventually I’d be putting it on a CD, based on my agreement with the band.

I was thrilled.  Sitting there, watching the band play, I realized I had goose bumps.

I almost didn’t notice when Renee held the record up and said “Here’s a copy of our new seven-inch; you can buy it from us when we’re done playing.”  Then, she said it again after they played “Allnighter,” and pretty soon she was saying it jokingly after each song they played.  The crowd was getting a kick out of her.

I do remember it crossing my mind that she mentioned the record about a million times during the show, but never said the word “Dromedary,” but I forced that tiny bit of bitterness away, recognizing even then that bands just don’t care about their label and don’t think that it would be helpful to the label if the band threw in some props once in a while.  I had envisioned Dromedary as being a label its bands loved, and had hoped I’d be able to accomplish that by being a friend, by encouraging friendship between the bands, by helping with every possible facet of being in a band.  But I was already coming to realize that bands would love being on Dromedary when their records were in every store, and there were consistent royalty checks being written – and I was a long way from that.

The band finished up their set and didn’t even stick around to see Suddenly, Tammy! – they had to take off if they wanted to get to Chicago in time to catch a little rest and play the next day.  Ray thanked me for the records, and the band members each gave us a hug, and then off we went.

Rich, Matt and I decided to stick around for Suddenly, Tammy! and they didn’t let us down – they played a fantastic set, and Matt completely fell in love with them, sticking around after their set was done to buy a copy of their SpinArt CD.  I looked around to see if I’d be able to spot the guys who ran the label – I wouldn’t have known them if I had fallen over them, but I had sorta hoped I’d be able to pick them out of the crowd anyway.  I couldn’t, so I figured I’d send them a copy of the 7″, and the cuppa joe 7″ too, with a letter.

After the band was done, we went back to the car – rarely did we take a car into the city, but we had it loaded with boxes of records tonight, and didn’t feel like lugging them on and off the train.

“Wow, Suddenly, Tammy! were great!” Matt said.  “I hate to say this, but I liked them even better than Melting Hopefuls.”  Matt was a big Melting Hopefuls fan.

“Bite your tongue,” I said.  “But it really was a great night, wasn’t it?”

I felt awesome.  I busted my tail all day to assemble these records, just so the band would have copies to take with them to Chicago.  I was working so fast that I hadn’t really taken time to let it sink in that we had made another record.  We had made another record. And it was a great one.

Check it out – here it is.  “Pulling an Allnighter on Myself” – the A-Side of our first seven-inch.  And when you listen, don’t forget the story about the guitar solo.

~ by Al on February 25, 2009.

One Response to “suddenly, seven-inches!”

  1. […] seven-inches, I took off work, racing to get copies done for the band’s Cabaret Metro show in Chicago, and hand-delivering them to the band at their Wetlands show.  And for Wobbles […]

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