By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
You could call it brilliant marketing or the biggest bonehead move of a young musician's career, but either way, 19-year-old Brian Hedenberg, who fronts the band Glitter Freak, has found a way of garnering extra attention for his new local compilation CD Angels on Horseback. And it's only going to set him back about $10,000.
The CD, which was to be released this week, features some of Deep Ellum's best and best-known bands (Funland, Vibrolux, Lone Star Trio, Jackopierce, pop poppins, and Hagfish among them) and was to benefit the Wish with Wings Foundation, which grants last requests to children with life-threatening diseases. One problem: Hedenberg also chose to include a track from local joke-gross-out band Trough, infamous for flinging fecal sandwiches into the audience during shows.
Trough's contribution, "Don't Make Me," is a lovely acoustic ode to anal rape, containing the poignant lyrics: "In your ass you say no/Don't piss me off/Don't make me/Shove it/Slam it/In your ass you know what I'm going to fucking do..." As an added bonus, Hedenberg included a lyric sheet with the CD, to make sure listeners didn't miss a grunt.
Hedenberg, who initially spoke in the spring with Wish with Wings' founder and executive director Pat Skaggs about the project, says he "never thought anyone would freak out over" the song.
"I really wanted them on it because they're good friends of mine," Hedenberg says, explaining that Trough singer-guitarist James McMillan figured "Don't Make Me" would bring some much-needed "exposure" to the bands, the CD, and Hedenberg himself. "And that's pretty much the tamest song they have. At the time I first heard it, I couldn't even understand what the words were, and I was to the point where I was like, 'Aw, fuck it.'" Only when friends warned him of possible repercussions did he begin to reconsider submitting the disc to Wish with Wings.
Hedenberg, who planned to distribute Angels on Horseback through Clay Thompson's Midwest Records label, had 2,000 copies of the disc printed up, each bearing the phrase: "A Dallas/Fort Worth compilation benefitting A Wish with Wings non-profit charity." Directly underneath is a disclaimer, warning, "Parental advisory, explicit lyrics."
On January 4the day after Hedenberg called the Observer with the news that he feared was going to be "sued" by the Wish with Wings peopleHedenberg notified Skaggs the CD contained a potentially offensive song and that he was going to repress 2,000 more, substituting Trough's contribution with one from Hagfish singer George Reagan.
Skaggs says Hedenberg explained to her that a band hadn't used "the best common sense" when contributing a song to an album for a children's charity, and that he was going to use a permanent marker to erase any references to Wish with Wings on the initial pressing of the CDs, which he will now market to local independent record stores. He also informed her a second version was on its way.
When informed by the Observer of the song's subject matter, Skaggs could only say, "Oh, now, isn't that a real...hmmm, isn't that an excellent topic for something with children's charity? If I had seen that, I probably would have come unglued. Some people have a sense of priorities that are unique unto themselves."
Hedenberg says he had originally conceived of the compilation as a way to promote Glitter Freak--"or, more or less, me," he says--and figured that the best way to defray costs would be to round up some well-known bands and get them to donate their services because a hunk of the proceeds would be going to charity. He figures once all the costs were tallied up--from recording to production to manufacturing--Angels on Horseback set him back about $6,000, money that was to have gone for tuition, room, and board at the University of North Texas this semester.
He planned on making his money back, paying off the bands for whatever expenses that might have accrued, and then donating the rest of the profits (which he estimates at about $11,000, depending upon how well it did) to Wish with Wings. But because he will have to repress the disc with a new song, the costs likely will double, and Hedenberg's parents have offered to help foot the bill, with the rest of the money coming from loans. Still, he plans to give most of the proceeds from sales of the second version to the charity.
"The CD was not meant to be taken seriously," Hedenberg shrugs. "It was meant to basically have fun, and it turned out really good, and I'm proud of it."
During its seven-year run as Dallas' premier hard-rock club, the Basement has been best known for three things: as a backdrop for three Pantera videos that still show up on MTV; as the place where Guns N' Roses, Mstley CrYe, and Skid Row among others threw outrageously decadent after-show parties; and where you could find more topless dancers in the women's (and, sometimes, men's) bathroom than on the stages of Cabaret Royale and Caligula combined. But the fun stops on January 14, when Ed Killmer packs up the hairspray and Spandex and moves his show somewhere down Greenville Avenue in the next few months, when he plans to open a new venue with partner Vinnie Paul Abbott, the drummer for Pantera.