By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
"When we sent the tapes in to Interscope, we got the usual second-record spiel about how they wanted more singles and what not," Lewis says. "You know, just more stuff. I was initially pissed off about that, but you know how that is. We were not in a perfect zone anyway. The record was good--the stuff came out well--but it's not..." Lewis pauses. "At the time, we were using ProTools [a computer editing program] and electronic gadget shit that I hate, and I thought it worked, but it made it sound sterile...And I don't know if I would have loved it or not had Andy mixed it. I can still hear shit that needs to be tweaked on Rubberneck.
"And to Interscope's credit, they really said, 'We think there's more in you than this, so give us more.' It took me a while to stomach that, but I think it's true. What do I do? I'm not a salesman--I am a songwriter, so I will write more songs. It's not my job to sell them, but to write them. Since then, I have learned from people at the label it's Interscope's protocol for second records. A lot of bands either get that spiel or get zero, so we're not on the downside of that, anyway."
In the meantime, Lewis was preparing for his upcoming wedding to former rubberbullet frontwoman Beth Clardy; the couple tied the knot only a few weeks ago, though they have put their honeymoon on hold till the record is done. The band continued to rehearse almost daily, Lewis continued to write, but the members began to grow edgy with all the waiting. They wanted to get on the road; after all, no one joins a band to stay home and play video games all day--not even Vogeler, who is spending his downtime creating Internet sites.
The process has taken so long that Lewis says he's "tired of being frustrated with it." Yet he has had to keep Umbarger, Reznicek, and Vogeler from becoming too antsy, from wanting to pack up the bus and hit the road. To do that would be to become sidetracked, even distracted, and tie up the release of the record even further. Even though there is no set date for release...or even a scheduled time for the band to go into the studio to record at least two of the new songs Lewis and the band have written since the initial recording of whatever the hell the new record's going to be called.
"The stuff we've written since [March] blows me away, so I want to put that on the record," Lewis says. "I hope the label agrees with me. We have to record two or three new songs and mix them, so it's a good month's worth of work. We just want to get it done and get it out. I am tired of playing shows without having a record out, because it's so fucking depressing. We'll probably do a New Year's Eve show in Texas, but we won't really play much till the record comes out, which might be in the spring. That's when it looks like it should happen, if everything snaps right along, but I'll believe it when I see it. I will say this, though. When it comes out, it's going to rule, because I've busted my nuts on it for so long." And he's not done yet.
Exhibit No. 234,449 that the apocalypse is upon us: Tommy Stinson, ex of the Replacements (the greatest rock-and-roll band of all time, at least till they sobered up), is now the bassist for Guns N' Roses. It is a fact, no longer just whispered rumors circulating among the few remaining fanatics who hope that one day Paul Westerberg will fall off the wagon, remember that he doesn't have to suck, apologize to Chris Mars, and rehire the only band that matters. How do we know this, despite the so-called "gag order" surrounding the band? Because Marc Solomon, the Booker T. Washington High School graduate (and my former Hebrew-school classmate), tells us so. "Tommy was being wooed by Guns N' Roses, and [bassist] Duff [McKagan] decided he would give them a couple of months, but he had prior commitments. It was a friendly parting, but they needed a bassist, so Tommy's now in the band." Unbefuckinglievable.
As a result, the long-completed full-length debut from Perfect--the band featuring Stinson, Solomon, and bassist Robert Cooper (another Dallas boy)--will likely never be released. Solomon explains that once Stinson joined GN'R, the honchos at Restless Records, Perfect's label, decided they didn't have much interest in putting more money into the record if Stinson wasn't going to be around to tour behind it. To make matters worse, Peter Jesperson (the man who discovered the Replacements and signed the band to his Twin/Tone label) became frustrated with Restless' decision and dropped off the project as well. So now the disc (produced by Jim Dickinson, who helmed the Mats' masterpiece Pleased to Meet Me) sits on the shelf, abandoned.
"The record is done, ready to go, and I bet it never sees the light of day," Solomon says. "It's unbelievable. We made a good record. I mean, they [Restless] spent more than they should have spent, and it was cool. I enjoy putting it on and listening to it. I think songwise Perfect came into their own, but Restless has decided they don't want it anymore. Our manager wanted to know if we could shop the record around, and Restless said that was fine, but the price was so fucking high, it's not going to happen."