that’s why i’m hanging.

About this time, Ray called me to discuss some big news.

“Remember I told you about Rick, the guy who was starting a new label?” he asked.

“Yeah.”  Ray had mentioned Rick a number of times.  He was a former major label employee who had a lot of experience in the record business, and ultimately decided he was going to start his own label.

“Well, a few weeks ago he offered us a deal.”

I laughed.  Melting Hopefuls were a fairly well-known band, with a profile that had increased pretty dramatically over the past few months.  We had a single in SPIN‘s top 20 of 1993.  

“I laughed, too.  But I figured it couldn’t hurt to negotiate,” he said. “I looked at it like interviewing for a job – you interview wherever you can, just to brush up on your interviewing skills.  So I asked him for a few concessions.”

I could already see where this conversation was going to end.  “Don’t tell me,” I said.

“He came back to us with some ideas, we asked him for more and more.  He really likes us.  He said he was going to make us the cornerstone of his label,” he said.

“You’re the cornerstone of my label,” I said.  “That doesn’t mean anything if the label can’t offer you more than you’re getting from me.”

“I know, but he’s got some pretty good distribution lined up already.  He’s got backing from Koch.”

“You signed, didn’t you?” I asked, incredulously.

“Yeah.  Ultimately we talked about it, and we realized that he had offered us the perfect deal.  We were never going to get a better deal from anyone else.  So if it was the perfect deal, why wouldn’t we sign it?”

“Wow!” I said.  “Congratulations!”

Based on what Ray had told me in the past, Rick really knew what he was doing, had lots of contacts, and had a strong history in the record business.  It could have been worse.

“We’re pretty psyched,” he said.  “He’s going to come take us out to dinner so we can celebrate.”

“So, what are you going to do?” I asked.  “Go into the studio and record all new stuff?”  The band had been trying out a few new songs – “Wyckoff Girls” and “What Gets Me Up” were brand-new songs I’d heard them play live, and I thought they were the band’s best songs yet.  I couldn’t wait to hear them recorded.

“We’ve got lots of stuff already recorded, from the last two demo tapes,” he said.  “The first album will just be a full-length of stuff from those tapes.”

“Well, just make sure he doesn’t want to use any of our five songs,” I said, jokingly.  “I’m sending the masters out to the pressing plant tomorrow, and the Melting Hopefuls CD on Dromedary comes out next month.”

Ray was quiet for a minute.  “Yeah, well, we talked about that.”

When Ray initially asked us if we would put out what would become the “Allnighter” seven-inch, we did it under the condition that after the band signed with a different label, we could put out a CD EP that contained the four tracks from the two seven-inches, plus “Gondola,” the track from the Elizabeth compilation.  

“Who’s we?” I asked.

“The band.  We.” he said.

“And?”  The conversation had suddenly gotten serious.

“And we don’t want you to do that,” he said.  “We know that’s what we agreed to, but we’ve sort of changed our mind.  We don’t want you to release a CD.”

“But that was our agreement,” I said.  “I wouldn’t have put out the seven inch if I didn’t know I was going to be able to put out a CD.”

“I know, and I’m sorry,” he said.  “But it’s not like we signed anything with you.  We just let you put out our seven-inch.”

“You let me?” I asked.  “You asked me.”

“That’s what I meant.”

I thought about it, very briefly.  These guys were my friends.  They had just signed their first record deal, and they wanted it so badly.  We had been through so much.  I didn’t want to wreck their happiness.  Plus, I was completely broke anyway – I couldn’t afford to put out a CD.  The sales from the “Allnighter” seven-inch were going to have to be enough.

“Okay,” I said.  “I’m disappointed, but I understand.”

~ by Al on March 18, 2009.

One Response to “that’s why i’m hanging.”

  1. tough doing business with your friends…

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