Thursday, April 17, 2003
Ultimate Fakebook opening for Anything But Joey is a little bit like Pearl Jam opening for Creed -- the mentor playing second fiddle to the student. And though the bands are officially billed as co-headliners, there's definitely something sweet for ABJ about having enough leverage to ask UFB to open this Saturday's show at the Granada.
"It feels really good to be on the same level (locally) as a band that was so important to us when we were kids," said ABJ bassist Drew Scofield, who first saw UFB perform at benefit show his senior year at Shawnee Mission West high school. "What they were to us then we probably are now to some kid in some band that we've never even met."
The smell of success is on the tip of ABJ's nose thanks to an outpouring of support from 96.5FM, The Buzz. The Kansas City station has spun the band's song "Girl Roommate" over 600 times and no doubt encouraged the 500-plus draw that ABJ now has.
But before they trash hotel rooms and invade the malls of America, ABJ might want to consider the advice of UFB. The Manhattan-born trio (now quartet) found itself in a similar situation four years ago when their songs "Far Far Away" and "Tell Me What You Want" were hits on 105.9FM The Lazer. UFB signed a two-album deal with Epic/550 Music but left when the label dissolved just months into promoting their first record.
"Life on a major label is very short for most bands," said UFB drummer Eric Melin.
"Instead of trying to be all indie (ie cheap) about money, take as much tour support as you can; get as much equipment as you can. Because when you get dropped -- if you do -- then you have a whole bunch of shit to show for it."
"You only owe them money if you sell records. If you go gold, then you'll have to pay back what they spent on you. But if you don't -- and unless you have a hit song, you won't -- then you don't owe them anything and you're gone."
Luckily, UFB got a second chance to gouge their label for goods when they negotiated out of their contract.
The settlement was enough for the band to buy a new tour van and finance their third record, "Open Up and Say Awesome," which eventually came out on indie-label Initial Records.
ABJ is well aware of the horror stories told by major label busts. The band shunned interest from megalithic super-label Jive Records, home to decidedly un-pop-punk acts like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.
"It was so blatantly obvious to us that it wasn't going to work," said guitarist Bryan Chesen. "They wanted to own all the publishing rights to our songs, to the point where if we got dropped from the label, we couldn't even play the songs anymore."
Instead, the band has adopted a DIY ethic, hiring two professional radio promoters to get them airplay in regional markets and hustling to make contacts to help distribute their record.
"It's the whole punk rock ethic applied to mainstream pop punk," Chesen said. "We're not anti-major, we're just pro-independent."
Scofield added: "We don't want to be at the mercy of someone else's whims. No one's going to work harder for us than us."
Read on about Anything But Joey
Read a story from three years ago about UFB