dots will echo.

When we were seniors in college, the cheesy new age label Windham Hill started an alternative rock imprint called High Street Records.

At the time, Sandy actually hosted a new age radio program on WSAM, so we received record service from Windham Hill.  

That’s right.  For a period of time, Sandy liked Yanni.  Let that soak in.

But I digress.

When Windham Hill launched the High Street imprint, they released two CDs.  One, from someone named Pierce Pettis that I never listened to (or cared about).  The other was from a band called Dots Will Echo.

Dots Will Echo played clean, humorous pop music, each song more singable than the last.  Their debut CD stayed in heavy rotation at my college apartment for a long time, because it was the perfect combination of quirky and poppy to appeal to both Sandy’s and my musical sensibilities.

I also loved the band’s name, because it was a technology reference.  When you logged into a local BBS, just like with anything online today, you had to enter a user name and password.  Just as today, when you entered the password, the actual letters did not display on the screen – the letters were illustrated by a dot.  So if your password was “music” it would display on your screen as “*****” the same as it does today.

What was different was that the BBS system would actually tell you that was going to happen.  So next to the name box, it would say “Enter your name.”  And next to the password box, it would say “Enter your password (dots will echo).”

That’s how they got their name.

Anyway, in early 1994 we were still on Melting Hopefuls’ mailing list, and one day we received a postcard that the band were playing at Live Tonight with Dots Will Echo.

I knew Dots Will Echo were from New Jersey, but had never seen them pop up on our radar before.  In fact, they sort of slipped out of our memories as our tastes became more and more focused on indie rock.  Dots Will Echo were much cleaner and straightforward, much more like the 80s pop band The Outfield than like the bands we were listening to at that point.

But the opportunity to see them play at Live Tonight was a tough one to pass up.

We hadn’t seen much of Melting Hopefuls since the Valentine’s Day Massacre.  Aside from occasionally bumping into them, and the occasional phone call from me to Ray, asking about the status of re-pressing the 7″, there was virtually no contact whatsoever.

From the point where we signed the contract with the new label, we were kept completely in the dark about the project.  I had no idea when they were going to re-press the 7″, and it was really starting to put a crimp in my plans.  I had decided that if I wasn’t going to be able to leverage the band’s increased visibility to put out a CD (as they had agreed), or even to sell a bunch of 7″s, I was going to leverage it to sell some other title.

I was going to approach cuppa joe, who was our biggest-seller, and ask them if they wanted to do a CD.  They had a decent amount of recorded music, having gone into the studio twice, and they were very agreeable people – they just liked the idea of having a record out.

So once I found out when the Melting Hopefuls CD was going to be released, my plan was to release a cuppa joe CD shortly thereafter, and then name-drop as much as possible.  But when I called the band or their label to ask them about a schedule, the answer was always “I don’t know,” or “soon,” or some variant of that.

After talking about it briefly, Sandy, Rich, Lissette and I decided to go to the show.  Rich said he’d run interference with Ray if the conversation got too uncomfortable or if we had an opportunity to talk to Dots Will Echo, and so we decided to go.

Surprisingly, the club was not particularly crowded that night.  Melting Hopefuls usually packed people in, but for some reason we had no trouble getting four seats at the bar, even walking into the club during Melting Hopefuls’ set.  

After their set was over, we sat there, waiting for Dots Will Echo to take the stage.  Ray saw us and walked over, shook my hand and thanked me for coming.

“When I saw you were playing with Dots Will Echo,” I said, “I had to come.  They were one of our favorite bands in college.”  That felt good to say.

“Really?” he asked, “They’re friends of ours.”

“Will you introduce us after the show?” I asked. “I’d love to meet them.”

“Sure.”

After an uncomfortable silence, Ray asked how things were going with Dromedary.

“I can’t keep track of all the stuff we’ve got going on,” I said. “We’re looking at doing full-length CDs with cuppa joe, and then we’re planning out that Travel Guide thing.  We’ve got five or six other bands we’re talking to.  I name-dropped the Mommyheads, Carrie Bradley (as well as the Breeders and Nirvana connection), Toast, Gapeseed.

I was like a jilted ex-boyfriend who accidentally ran into his ex-girlfriend in a bar.  “I’ve never had so much great sex in my life!  Chicks dig me!  I can’t keep ’em off me.  I’m so glad we broke up – I had no idea what I was missing!  I don’t miss you at all!  Really, I don’t!

After the show, Ray introduced me to Nick, Dots Will Echo’s singer.  He was a super-nice guy, although the other guys in the band didn’t seem as friendly.  We talked for a while about the band, and what they were up to.

“We got dropped by High Street,” he said.  “We’re shopping for another label to put out our next record.  I was talking to Bar/None, but they just don’t seem that interested.”

“Your record is kinda old now,” I said.  “Sometimes it’s almost like you need to have a current record before people will talk to you.”

“Yeah, I think you might be right.”

“Do you have anything recorded?” I asked.  “Maybe we could do a seven-inch.”

We chit-chatted for a while, and he told me that he had a good deal of recorded music – at least a full-length CD’s worth.  So I gave him my address, and he said he’d mail me a tape.

In the car, Sandy and I talked about how cool it was that we were going to get some unreleased music from one of our favorite bands.  More importantly, we talked about the fact that we might actually be able to put it out on Dromedary.  To me, that was a pretty amazing concept.

At least some of what I said to Ray that night was true – we sure did have a lot of projects that were brewing as we were heading into mid-March of 1994.  It was pretty amazing to me that only one year prior, Ray had suggested that we re-issue the “Suck My Heart” record.  In just a year, so much had happened, and now we were discussing so many projects that it seemed like we might have to turn some away.

~ by Al on April 8, 2009.

One Response to “dots will echo.”

  1. […] or, umm, correction. or corrections. On this entry about Dots Will Echo, Sandy pointed out a couple of things that I […]

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