Monday, June 01, 2009
Object lesson: The story of Marooned
I've announced through various channels--i.e., channels other than this blog, that is--that my band STATS (above) has completed its latest recording, an EP (like all of our other releases) entitled Marooned. The three-song set is now available as a by-request, free/pay-what-you-feel-like download via statsbrooklyn @ gmail.com. In other words, if you want to hear the music, just write to that address and we'll hook you up.
Of course, there's a basic news angle to this post: Yes, the aim is to get the word out about this chunk of music that I'm very proud to have had a hand in producing. But there's also an aspect of meditation on making and releasing music in the digital age.
Dear God, am I ever not the first one to muse on such topics, but this is the first time I've ever really lived through an episode that caused me to do so. The last time this band made a record--under the name Stay Fucked--it was way back in 2007, when manufacturing and duplicating CDs seemed like a prudent thing to do. We sent out CD-R demos to a whole bunch of labels, and fortunately one of them, Unfun (not to be confused with Not Not Fun and/or No Fun), decided to take a chance on us. We pressed up a modest amount of discs (that was the Windpipe EP, still available from various online channels, including Amazon) and sold them on tour in November/December of '07. Since then, we've sold a few at shows, but honestly, most of them are still piled up in my closet. If anyone wants one, please do write to statsbrooklyn @ gmail.com, and we'll cut you a deal.
Anyway, flash forward to now. My bandmates and I recorded three songs last September at the studio/crashpad of our friend John Delzoppo (Clan of the Cave Bear) in Cleveland. Various logistical hang-ups intervened and it wasn't until early '09 that we were able to get the thing mixed. We went through several passes of that with the patient and generous Ben Greenberg (Pygmy Shrews, Zs, etc.), and then we finally got it mastered by James Plotkin (Khanate, OLD, etc.) in April.
In a sense, we had the same big plans for this EP that we did for the last one. We figured we'd give the whole label thing another shot and so we gathered up a list of the target imprints, plus a good amount of press contacts and anyone else we thought might want to hear the music. Logistics continued to intervene and it was only in the past several weeks that we started disseminating the disc.
I sent out a few packages, but mostly I began Sendspacing the tracks to various reviewers, labels, friends, colleagues, etc. In most cases, I referred to the set of music as a "demo." But people started asking me for the name of the EP, for track order and song titles, for cover art, for recording credits, etc. Reviews started to trickle in. I quickly realized that Marooned was no longer a demo--it was officially RELEASED into the world, whether I or my bandmates liked it or not. So we scrambled a bit and decided to deem it a proper something or other, albeit for now a digital-only one, distributed to pretty much anyone who asks on a by-donation basis.
A weird feeling. A feeling of anticlimax, I guess. I remember how proud and psyched I was to post the official release date of Windpipe, and how thrilled I was when the box came in the mail with the first batch of CDs. I really enjoyed the object-ness of it. That EP was the first THING I'd ever been involved with that someone had deemed worthy of mass production.
I would humbly say that I think Marooned is a whole lot better than Windpipe, mainly just because we've had more time to play and write together. And so I'm a little unnerved that we've just thrown this thing out there so wantonly. I think it's worth $5 or $10 or however much someone might pay for something like this these days. But I guess the bottom line is that it doesn't do us much good to sit on this music. In the grand scheme of things, we're an utterly unknown band. What we need right now--far more than money (or, for that matter, fancy packaging)--is exposure. I believe in this music and I just want people to hear it. Ergo, it's actually a very healthy and smart thing for us to be flinging it far and wide, to let go a little in the name of spreading the STATS gospel.
That's not to say that I don't in some sense still consider this a demo. I'd love it if a label decided they wanted to pick it up and release it "for real" with perhaps some extra tracks and nice artwork and the whole bit. But for now, it is what it is. It's not an incomplete thing, really, or at least if it is, it's only really that as far as the band is considered. For anyone who's downloaded the tracks and spun them on their PC or iPod or whatever, it's simply the new batch of recordings by STATS. If they'd bought it on CD, they'd have just imported the tracks anyway and consumed it in digital form. And if they'd bought it on LP (which I hope they someday have the chance to do), they'd have just looked at it a while, maybe spun it once or twice, filed it away on their shelf and then redeemed the inevitable digital-download code. MP3s sitting on someone's hard drive are as actual and tangible as you're going to get these days. Honestly, we should be honored that people are even taking the time to ask after the thing.
Is all this an irresponsible position to be taking? i.e., should I feel weird about coming to terms with giving this thing away in a compromised medium? Perhaps, but as I said before, that is what's most expedient and useful for THIS band at THIS juncture. That could easily change in the future and maybe the next time we do a recording, I'll sit the tracks until the day they are issued in some tangible, purchasable form. But for now, I'm just happy Marooned exists and that a few people want to hear it and that a few of those people have enjoyed it enough to respond to it, either verbally or in print. As I said, I'm extremely proud of it, even if it's not something you can hold just yet. It's starting to feel more real to me, day by day. If you'd like to take a listen yourself, please get in touch via statsbrooklyn @ gmail.com. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Below are some reviews/writeups:
@Built on a Weak Spot
"...sprawling, knock-you-down math rock." And dig this comment someone left: "It's like some fantasy land where Killdozer is playing King Crimson covers."
"...a solid balance between nerdy tech-core and the unrepentantly vicious."
"...tangled, precise guitar-rock instrumentals somewhere around the fulcrum of math rock and metal."
"...bloody-nose-inducing. Groovy math."
And here are all the pertinent credits:
1) Yo King [streaming here]
3) Crowds Press
Written and performed by STATS.
Tony Gedrich - bass
Joe Petrucelli - guitar
Hank Shteamer - drums
Recorded September '08 by John Delzoppo: Cleveland, OH; mixed over the first few months of '09 by Ben Greenberg: Brooklyn, NYC; mastered in April '09 by James Plotkin: Hoboken, NJ.
Thank you for indulging this somewhat self-serving blab sesh. Make sure to check the Twitter feed (upper right-hand corner of this site), which is quite likely to be updated more frequently than DFSBP itself.