Gapeseed promo photo from 1994 or so.

Gapeseed promo photo from 1994 or so.

These guys were good.

In a prior entry I mentioned that we were first introduced to Gapeseed because they sent a demo and their “Flanzer” video to Rich, for review in the second issue of Indier Than Thou!.  I got in touch with them almost immediately, but they were in the process of putting together their Lo Cell CD for Silver Girl Records.

After I became friends with Keith and Paul at Silver Girl I didn’t want to harass the band too much about working with Dromedary; as much as I wanted to work with them, I didn’t want to “steal” a band from a friend’s label – plus, I thought that in its state at the time, Silver Girl was a better option for them than Dromedary was.  SG had more reliable retail distribution, better-known bands, and a stronger catalog.  They were probably ten or twelve releases ahead of us.

Just the same, we stayed in touch with the band, and after my second visit to San Diego I asked the Silver Girl guys if they would mind if we approached Gapeseed about a single or even a CD.  And, as a testament to the fact that indie labels really can play nice with one another (contrary to my most recent experience), they had no problem with it at all.

Big props to Silver Girl.

When the Lo Cell CD came out, Mike (the bass player) sent me a copy, and it sounded fantastic.  They recorded the basic tracks in a low-fi way (forgive me for not remembering exactly how they did it), and then layered overdubs on top of the basic tracks in a digital studio somewhere in Manhattan.  The result was an awesome blend of low-fi warmth and high-tech punch, a great expression of the band.  I was blown away.

The band was technically very talented; Pete and Mike were an outstanding rhythm section that propelled everything forward with tons of punch, and Ed layered lots of noisy, sloppy guitar on top of everything.  His voice was also very expressive, and coupled with the studio noise that the band liked to dollop onto every song, the music was pretty powerful stuff.  It was math rock, I guess, although in smaller doses it was much closer in line with Pavement than Polvo.

Soon enough, we started talking about doing a seven-inch together, and although I did push a bit for a CD, we left it with the understanding that the band would do something with us, under the working title “Planet Of The Gapes.”  

I was beginning to find myself overwhelmed with the volume of music we were planning on putting out, and so I made myself a cassette tape with a few of the bands that we hadn’t progressed to the point of solidifying an upcoming release with – Gapeseed, the punk band Hellbender, Harvester, Carrie Bradley, Little My, and a couple of others.  I listened to the tape a lot during the spring of 1994, trying to figure out what to do, and who to contact next.  

With Way To Go! Music, I was committed to four CDs in the next twelve months.  In turn, I committed to cuppa joe, Footstone, Toast, and the Mommyheads.  While Toast seemed to be off on the horizon a bit, the other three were more urgent, all slated to come out by the summer of 1994.

I had no idea how I was going to pay for them, but it seemed like I was going to have to dip deeper into debt.

At the same time, I couldn’t just stop making plans for new releases.  If Dromedary was going to be a viable label for the long-term, I had to have a release schedule, and I couldn’t just sit on my ass and plan one record at a time, hoping I’d eventually have the money to put out each record.

In order to clear some funds, I made a decision: it was time to close out the invoices for Elizabeth, “Suck My Heart,” and “Allnighter.”

In the case of Elizabeth, the record had been released and re-released, and I felt that it had run whatever small course it was going to.  Rather than leave my consignments open for months, and leave the cash with my distributors for all that time, I’d be better off dealing direct or through Surefire (the only distributor I had that would pay me and still keep my records), selling the onesie-twosie orders that were bound to trickle in.

In the case of the two seven-inches, my phone calls with record stores enlightened me to the fact that I was hamstrung with the latter of the two records, as just about everyone who might be interested in selling them already had a copy that they got for free or for trade.  With the former, well, I just had no desire to sell any more of that record.

So I sent out invoices.

Surprisingly, Surefire closed out the consignments on all three records.  I figured they’d pay me and then hang on to a handful of each, just in case.  “I’m sitting on a lot of inventory right now, and I think it makes sense for me to get rid of the records I’m not going to sell,” Ron explained.

“Could you keep the records open in your catalog and just not stock any?  I mean, if some store wants one, will you just order it from me and I’ll ship it to you?”

“Sure,” he said.  “That sounds fair.”

So Ron cut me a check and sent back the remaining records and CDs.  So did the rest of the distributors.

For Elizabeth, the final tally was a whopping 89 copies sold.  For “Suck My Heart” I believe we sold a hundred or so, and for “Allnighter” it might have been as many as 350.  We were left with a few hundred dollars in cash to pay for the cuppa joe CD, open consignments of cuppa joe and Footstone 7″s, and no money to press the Mommyheads or Footstone records.

It was time for another ACME show.

This time, we asked Footstone to play with Gapeseed.  Because I liked to have three bands on the bill, I reached out to another band we were becoming friends with: Jenifer Convertible.  I had never seen them live, and had only heard a handful of their songs from their two self-released singles, but I asked them anyway – and they were happy to play.

The show was an odd one; Gapeseed opened and played what I thought was a pretty sloppy set.  Mike and Pete were outstanding musicians, but they were out of sync, and the people in the crowd didn’t know the band that well.  Jenifer Convertible played really well, but they were in and out of the club pretty quickly and I didn’t feel like I got a chance to properly thank them.  Footstone played their typical great set, but the club had emptied out somewhat by the time they took the stage.  At the end of the night, we had only cleared a few hundred dollars – underwhelming, by the standards of our other shows, and certainly not enough to put out another record.  I wasn’t that disappointed; we had put on a few monster shows in a row, and were bound to have a rough night sooner or later.  I just felt bad that I asked bands to play for free, and then didn’t even give them a good crowd to play in front of.

This song, from Gapeseed’s Lo Cell CD, is called “Watermelon Bread.”  It’s my favorite Gapeseed song, still in heavy rotation in my house all these years later.

~ by Al on April 21, 2009.

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