Getting the business

With the new Jesus Hits Like The Atom Bomb, Tripping Daisy has made the best record of its seven-year career. So what took so long?

"I'm much less concerned about how our records perform than how we perform," Sigerson says from Island's New York headquarters. "I always try to emphasize to the artists that the public's vote is the final decider. I've seen great records come out and get lost and seen mediocre records come out and happen. Over time, I think the talent connects and finds an audience, and I think we're paying attention and we're confident [about Tripping Daisy]. I know the band is going to work hard--they always have. If this record were to sell fewer copies [than 500,000], I wouldn't say I was wrong about it. I can't have remorse about it. It won't make me love it any less."

DeLaughter says Jesus might well be the Daisy's final album for Island; the band signed to a six-album deal with three guaranteed, which included Bill. (Then again, Island may not be around come the fourth album.)

But the fact is, no band is ever happy with its label: The Toadies used to badmouth Interscope Records all the time, till Rubberneck went platinum and the label gave the band all the time in the world to record and release its second record. Elvis Costello and Los Lobos recently left Warner Bros., claiming the label didn't do enough to promote their records. The only time a band likes its label is before the ink dries on the contract. After that, it's all downhill.

Sigerson knows this and listens to DeLaughter's complaints with the grin of a man who's been on both sides of the process: as bitcher and bitchee. He laughs when told of DeLaughter's unhappiness with Island--he's heard it all before, from Tim and everyone else in the business. He says it doesn't matter--he likes the record too much to care. And if it becomes a hit--sorry, when it becomes a hit--nobody's going to be complaining about one damned thing.

"If a band loves you or hates you, you're not doing the full job," Sigerson says, laughing. "If they love and hate you, you're doing a fantastic job. It's not meant to be smooth. It's meant to be passionate. They have a right to expect us to be passionate about their music, so if we argue about it, it's a natural product of the passion. Tim and I have disagreed over stuff, but I think when he looks at me, he sees whatever else he sees--a jerk, an idiot--but mostly he sees a fan.

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