release planning.

By November of 1995 I was heavily motivated to do as much as I could to elevate Dromedary’s profile to the point where it could be self-sufficient.  My dayjob was miserable, and I felt like we were just one or two steps away from being able to accomplish my goal of eliminating manufacturing costs by hooking up with an exclusive distributor, then spending the money I saved by not having to pay manufacturing costs on marketing.  Hopefully the ability to do that would eventually lead to additional sales, which would hasten my ability to quit the dayjob and focus on Dromedary as a full-time endeavor.  I had no visions of being a rich, successful record guy; a modest existence putting out records would have been just fine.

One night I sat down with Ralph and explained my vision to him of offering tour support and health insurance, placing more records in stores along the tour, working Dromedary full-time.  Occasionally, while I explained this, I’d excuse myself and run upstairs because the baby was crying.  I’m sure Ralph understood the implications at that point, but I still didn’t.  My life was changing – dramatically – and I didn’t even realize it.

He politely nodded and told me he thought it sounded great.  I smiled, knowing I was on the right track.

It was during this conversation that Ralph blew my mind by asking me to play piano on a track from Schmeckle City Rubdown.  I was flattered beyond belief.  Footstone was the only Dromedary band that ever heard me play piano – when we ventured up to Hartford to do a Footstone show in the basement of a dorm, I found an adjacent room that had a piano, and while the band was breaking down their equipment, I sat down and played for a while.

I usually only do that when I’ve had too much to drink.  And that night, I had.

Anyway, Ralph asked me if I’d play on a track, and I agreed to do it without hesitation.  At least I’d appear on one of Dromedary’s records.  I was so totally flattered.

At this point, though, I felt like I needed to have an actual release schedule.  I needed to nail down the records we were going to put out for, like, the next year.  I was out there, trying to attract better distribution, trying to put together this physical package that explained who we were and what we were doing, and an actual release schedule was an important part of that.  No distributor was going to work exclusively with a label if they didn’t know at least some basic information about what they were going to put out.

We also had the seven-inch series, which I had planned on doing either with or without a distribution partner (since it would be mailorder only), and I needed to start to nail those records down as well.

Suddenly I needed to come up with at least 24 bands to work with.  Plus I needed to plan out some “regular” releases.

We knew we had Schmeckle City Rubdown, and we figured eventually we’d have My Grandfather’s Orchestra, the lounge music project I was envisioning putting together out of my grandfather’s old rehearsal tapes.

Speaking with Jeremy from Blenderette one night, I came right out and asked him if he’d be interested in releasing something on Dromedary.

“Well, we were planning on doing a seven-inch,” he said.  “would you be interested in putting it out?”

“I’d like to do a full-length,” I countered.  “You guys have a lot of great songs; I don’t see why we shouldn’t just do a full-length CD.”

We talked about it for a while, and decided that it would be a good idea to put out a seven-inch as a precursor to a full-length CD.  The seven-inch would come out in early spring, followed by a CD at the beginning of summer.

One of my favorite bands at the time (and even still today) was a band from Ohio called Moviola.  At the time, Moviola were sort of a lazy kind of indie rock band, with a couple of seven inches out on Ratfish and on Anyway Records from Columbus.  They were simply fantastic.

Ron was kind enough to give me an email address for Ted (who was, at the time, the band’s drummer), and so I dropped him a note.  We exchanged some emails back and forth, and then I sent him a package containing all our releases.  He responded with a nice letter and a big pile of records.  It turned out that Ted also played in a great band called Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, and was also affiliated with a number of different bands in the Ohio area.  And he also was a really nice guy.

After some back and forth, we agreed that Moviola would do some type of record with Dromedary.  Ted suggested a seven inch, but once again, I suggested a full-length CD.  The issue with Moviola was simply one of recording costs; releasing a full-length meant that the band would actually have to record one.  I loved the band so much, though, that I was set on releasing as much of their music as I could.

At roughly the same time, I reconnected with Mike from Gapeseed.  They had agreed with Silver Girl to release another CD toward the end of the year, or perhaps the beginning of 1997, but wanted to get something out sooner.  So we agreed that we would do a seven inch, or perhaps a CD EP with them, depending on how much recording they could afford to get done.

When it came to the Baker’s Dozen club, it was a lot easier to plan.  I figured we only needed to plan out the first six releases, and leave the remaining seven open.  Once we started releasing the records, I assumed that other bands would start reaching out to us.  That’s the way things had been up until that point, and there was no reason to think that things would be different in the future.

I spoke with Ralph first.  I wanted to give Footstone the opportunity to be on the first record and, as always, Ralph agreed.  I figured Footstone would be the “punk” band on the record, and I figured I would back them with a track from Blenderette.  Both bands had so much respect for each other that I knew they’d be willing to cover one another’s songs.

I also asked Ralph if he thought that American Standard would be interested in participating.  Ralph responded by saying “Yes, they’re in.”  I laughed and told him that it would probably be better if he asked them before offering them up, and he responded by saying “They’ll do it – we’ll fuckin’ kill them if they don’t.”

At the time I was still talking with Harry from Poole, and I thought that an American Standard/Poole 7″ would be a great followup.

For another installment, I thought that Liquor Bike, the punk band from Baltimore, would be a great idea.  They were heavy as hell, one of the more aggressive bands we’d talked to.  I thought they’d sound great if they were backed by cuppa joe, but I just didn’t know if it was going to be possible to get cuppa joe to do anything with us.  As an alternative, I started emailing with All About Chad, the great pop band that had ultimately signed with the Hopefuls’ new label.

I had also been exchanging emails with a band called Hagfish, a cool little punk band from Dallas that performed wearing business suits.  They were aware of Dromedary because they liked our Footstone records, and I had asked them if they’d be interested in contributing a track.  At first they were very interested but ultimately they were signed to London Records, and I don’t think they were able to do records with anyone else.

Ultimately it was best that Hagfish didn’t work with us.  Their guitar player, Zach, eventually went on to play guitar with GWAR, and later became the guitar player in Rise Against.

That’s a common theme – bands that didn’t work with us wound up doing well.

Around this time, I had also begun emailing with Pam, from the Boston band Shiva Speedway.  Shiva Speedway had done a great seven inch with Harriet Records, and seemed interested in Dromedary.  I thought they might be another candidate for a contribution to the club.  Given that their music was definitely more noise/punk than pop, I thought they’d be a great band to back with the noise pop of Jenifer Convertible.

Given the fact that it had been months since we had put out a record, we were pretty lucky to have such a great lineup of bands planned for 1996.

~ by Al on September 29, 2009.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: