And then came Ride.

Ride was the debut Godspeed CD, on Atlantic Records.  When it came out, I was insane with anticipation – I couldn’t wait to see the response to this phenomenal band.  Even though the CD was produced by Rachel Bolan from Skid Row, it was brutally heavy.  And although I thought the production could have been a bit more creative, it still sounded great.

I had one black Dromedary T-Shirt left.  Rich had a friend who printed them up for us after Elizabeth, but Sandy was getting creative and starting to think about learning how to silk screen (she liked the cover of the Toast Beatriz 7″ as well), and so we decided not to order any more.

I packed up the T-shirt and wrote a nice letter to the band, and shipped it off.

A couple of days later, I got a really nice letter from Tommy, the guitarist.  The guy who smashed the beer bottle over his own head.  

In the letter, he told me that Atlantic had made arrangements for the band to tour Europe, opening for Black Sabbath.

Let that sink in.

Black Sabbath.

One of “our” bands was going to tour Europe, opening for Black Sabbath.

And he said he’d wear our T-shirts all over the tour.  

He thanked us up and down for “letting” them be on the compilation – truth was that even at this stage, as we got more and more entrenched in indie rock, I would have put out Godspeed’s music.  They were mind-bendingly heavy.  I loved them.  They were a punk band disguised as a metal band – definitely more Jesus Lizard than Metallica, more Helmet than Slayer, more Black Flag than Black Sabbath.

One night, Sandy and I were engaging in our nightly ritual of watching Beavis and Butthead. Out of the clear blue sky, this comes on.

Sandy looked at the TV for a second, and then said “That’s Godspeed!”

I stopped whatever I was doing and looked.  Sure was.

This was back in the day when labels actually made an effort to have Beavis and Butthead (the characters, not the show) “like” their bands.  Someone actually took the time to research the impact that it had on a band if Beavis and Butthead said you were “cool,” versus if they said you “suck.”  And, sure enough, if they thought you were “cool,” you sold more records.

Beavis and Butthead liked Godspeed.

When that happened, I got it into my head to “re-release” Nothing Smells Quite Like Elizabeth.  It didn’t do well the first time around, but in the year since it’s release, Godspeed put out a major label record, Melting Hopefuls put out a critically-acclaimed 7″ on Dromedary and then signed a deal, and Footstone and cuppa joe put out seven-inchers on Dromedary.  

Hell, it was worth a shot, I had plenty of CDs.

New York University had an independent music festival of some sort.  I don’t remember what it was called, but they had it every year.  For the 1993 festival, I had given them all the remaining cassette copies of Elizabeth to be given away in their promotional “goodie bags” that they give to all attendees.  Ultimately I think they got like 460 of them, out of 500 that we pressed.  It was a relief to get rid of them, and we were actually able to write them off on our 1993 taxes.

Actually we were able to write off just about everything we did off on our 1993 taxes.

We still had hundreds and hundreds of Elizabeth CDs, though.  And with all the activity surrounding four of the 10 bands on the compilation, I decided to make up a new sell sheet for the record, send out a few copies to press and key radio stations, and give it a shot.

Every radio station that was charting Melting Hopefuls, cuppa joe or Footstone, or playing the new Godspeed CD on their hard rock shows, got a new copy of Elizabeth, along with a letter describing why it was being re-issued.

As far as my distributors were concerned, Dutch East took the bait, and placed a new order.

That meant that once again, Elizabeth was going to be available in stores.  Or, at least it would be available to stores.

Ride stayed on the CMJ “Loud Rock” charts for a pretty long time, and the band was actually able to record a cover of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” for a Black Sabbath tribute record, that featured Bruce Dickinson on vocals.

Let that sink in, too.

Bruce Dickinson on vocals.

It wasn’t long after the “re-release” that we started getting letters from Europe and Japan, from people looking to track down the compilation.  I think it was a combination of Rudy from Re-CORE-Ds distributing our music in Germany, Godspeed touring Europe, and the press we were getting in underground zines, that resulted in an increase in the orders we were getting from across the ocean.

Meanwhile, I was stoked to get such a nice letter from Tommy.  In his letter, he said that the band’s appearance on Elizabeth had a lot to do with Godspeed’s getting signed.  I knew that was bullshit, and that he was just being flattering, but that was okay – at that point, I needed flattering; I needed nice, and to get it from such an unexpected source was about as cool as anything.  

We were not Atlantic Records, or Geffen, or even Silver Girl.  We never pretended to be.  Having a major label band understand that so clearly really helped get me back on track.

~ by Al on March 29, 2009.

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