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That sort of aggression--and no small amount of talent--quickly paid off. From 1992 to '95, the folk-pop duo put out three successful indie CDs, Highway 29, Memory Dean, and Stomp. But as their sound evolved and the songs began to segue from acoustic flavorings to a more driving direction, Memory and Dean decided to add bassist Mark "The Shadow" Ross and drummer Larry Ross. It was anything but a case of two honchos adding some underlings.
"We never wanted to hire a quote-unquote rhythm section," Dean says. "We were writing band-oriented material all along, and we wanted a band. The sort of thing where the four of you walk into a convenience store and people go, 'Whoa...'"
It wasn't long before the new quartet scored the deal with Capricorn; the label had long been aware of Memory Dean and the increasing success of their three indie CDs. The fleshed-out unit's rockier sound and energized live shows convinced them to sign the band.
With producer Jeff Tomei (Matchbox 20, Collective Soul), the band cut Shake It Up in a relatively short period in their native Georgia. Then they hit the road, where, despite the giddiness that comes with a major-label deal and radio-bound singles, the boys in MD are trying to keep everything in perspective.
"We wish we were still young, and we wish it was still like the '70s, with all the excess," Dean says with a laugh. "But to be honest, rock and roll today is about being efficient. We've talked about it. As soon as we can afford the bail money, we're going to trash a hotel room."
Only Memory Dean would orchestrate such things. It reeks of proper Southern decadence.
Memory Dean plays the Copper Tank Brewing Company on Saturday, March 21.