Star maker

Can Interscope do for four local bands what it did for Nine Inch Nails and Snoop Dogg?

"I think we've reached our musical identity as a label," Ferguson says. "And as major label, being competitive we have to learn to diversify. We're looking for acts that are not associated with the persona of Interscope. You can't keep signing Nine Inch Nails Part Two or Part Three or Part Four. You've got to diversify if you're going to be competitive in the music business. We'll sign a good pop band or R&B band or an all-girl soul band or whatever it takes. We're looking for a good band.

"It was a conscious decision to go for a sound early on, both with the rap and the hard rock, on all our parts. We felt for people to take notice of the label, we had to define a role. Our first signing was [Latin pop-rapper] Gerardo, our second was Primus--I don't know how much more opposite of the spectrum you could be--and we realized people weren't taking the label seriously because of that. That's when we made the decision to go for these harder bands that appeal to the younger audience."

As part of its new commitment to diversity, Interscope is rush-releasing Deep Blue Something's debut for the label. Titled Home, it is a re-mixed and slightly re-recorded version of the band's same-titled CD on local RainMaker Records, which was released in 1993; the album is due in stores within two weeks. A video for the first single, the regional radio hit "Breakfast at Tiffany's," is already being planned, as is an extensive regional tour.

All of this is in direct contrast to the label's plans for Brutal Juice, whose debut Mutilation Makes Identification Difficult hits stores this week. Right now, there are no plans to push a single, and a video likely will not be shot until--or, more accurately, if--the album shows signs of success (one is tentatively scheduled for late summer). Instead, Interscope plans to keep the band on the road indefinitely, hoping Brutal Juice builds up a sizable following through a live show Santamaria likes to describe as "brutal and painful...it's a total assault--but I mean that in a nice way.

"That's the start," he adds. "They'll play 40-plus shows in the first two months, and hopefully we'll keep that going. And along the way we'll make friends, get radio stations, which is what you have to do for bands that really want to stay on the road and get careers. There's a big misconception you should go right out and take everything to MTV and get me on every alternative radio station, but what happens after the first month? You waste half a million dollars, and then there's nothing."

But Brutal Juice bassist Sam McCall is not so sure. He is happy the label is releasing about 1,200 copies of Mutilation on clear vinyl, and was content with the near-$60,000 budget the band was given to record their debut (money left over from the recording was even used to help fund a Brutal Juice European tour).

But McCall remains cautious about his band's relationship with the label, concerned because there will be no video or single from the get-go. (Interscope is initially shipping the record to college and metal radio, where Santamaria thinks programmers will latch onto "Kentucky Fuck Daddy" or "The Vaginals.") McCall can't understand why Interscope would give the band "thousands of dollars to waste on our third transmission on our van" and not put some of that money toward an inexpensive video.

After all, McCall says, "I'm not looking forward to us touring without any promotional support. It'd be like, 'Hello, Detroit!' and there's one dude out there clapping and shooting the finger at us...

"Jimmy said to me when we went and met him the first time, 'Eighty-five percent of the work is up to you guys because you have to tour.' We said, 'No problem. As long as you hold up your 15 percent, which is what our success is measured by, everything will be hunky-dory.'

"When I get to the towns and see shit in the record store, I'll be able to have an opinion. Right now I have the attitude we've been forced to have from the beginning, which is, 'I'll believe it when I see it.'"

Paul's dead...
...but Zach's not.
Hagfish's major-label debut ...Rocks Your Lame Ass (on London Records) isn't due in stores until June 27, but already the band has reached Beatles status with rumors of a dead member circulating throughout the scene. On Saturday, members of Hagfish started receiving phone calls from distraught friends sending their condolences: they had heard that guitarist Zach Blair had died late Friday night on Central Expressway, run down while changing a tire on the narrow, construction-riddled road.

News of Blair's "death" made the rounds quickly on Saturday--thanks to a handful of music-scene regulars--and reached North Dallas and Border's Books and Music by 6 p.m., when Vibrolux arrived for an acoustic performance bearing the sad story. An hour later, however, they were relieved to find out the rumors were false: Zach was indeed alive and at the house of bandmates George Reagan and Tony Barsotti.

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