By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
According to Shaun Edwardes, the tomorrowpeople's manager, he learned the news from Tom Whalley, president of Interscope Records. By the beginning of the year, Edwardes was growing frustrated with not hearing from the label; he was calling Whalley repeatedly. When he finally got in touch with him--hey, the man's busy cutting more than 240 bands from the UMG roster, from such labels as A&M, Geffen, Mercury, and Island--Whalley informed Edwardes that, yes, the tomorrowpeople were gone. For Edwardes and the band--which is already looking to England for salvation--getting the news at long last was almost a relief.
"Tom Whalley's agenda is to cut costs as dramatically as he can at Interscope, and the only way he could was to drop as many bands as he could," Edwardes says. "The way we look at it, the bad news is that it took so fucking long to find out. When you look at the label and who is being dropped, it's no surprise the tomorrowpeople were dropped. The good news is, we have a really good publishing deal with Chrysalis in the U.K. They signed the band in November knowing this might happen, but they really believe in the music, which is rare in this industry."
Next month, the band will fly to England and play some showcase gigs, hoping to land a deal over there. And this Friday night, during the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, the tomorrowpeople will also hold a private showcase for label execs in the States. Edwardes may well be disgusted with UMG, but he certainly isn't writing off the opportunity to sign with yet another major label.
"That's depending on the label," Edwardes says, noting that the band's record for Geffen, tentatively titled strangepowers, is nearly finished. All that's left to do is master the disc, though the band is writing more songs that could end up on the record. Funny--the band was on its way to Los Angeles for final mixing in October when, five hours before boarding a plane, the tomorrowpeople were told by Geffen to stay home and await further word. That's what they got on February 26, one word: Adios.
Weezer, Hole, Peter Gabriel, Counting Crows, Lisa Loeb, Rob Zombie, Black Lab, and Elastica (not broken up, despite reports to the contrary) are still on Interscope-Geffen. So are Sonic Youth and Girls Against Boys, two bands long rumored as being part of the massacre. Of course, much of this is still tentative. According to one source at the label, no one has "officially been dropped" from Interscope-Geffen. You bet. Tell that to the tomorrowpeople and Slowpoke.
One former Geffen executive who was close to both bands says he's not at all surprised the tomorrowpeople and Slowpoke were axed: Neither band has the "proven track record" the UMG bean-counters were looking for when deciding on whom to keep. In the tomorrowpeople's case, the label figured it was better to cut its losses now rather than keep putting money into something that wasn't a guaranteed success.
To that end, Edwardes says he's still negotiating with the label about such issues as: Will the band be able to buy its album back from Interscope? Will the label hand it over to the band outright, and if not, will the tomorrowpeople at least be able to re-record the songs? Until those issues are cleared up, the tomorrowpeople will continue performing (at least when Gibson returns from Abilene, where he's recovering from an emergency appendectomy) and writing songs that may or may not appear on the disc. Which may or may not ever be released. And so it continues...
"The band is, surprisingly, feeling positive about this," Edwardes says. "Now, we can go out and shop it. It was just a really hard six months of waiting around. Now, there is a traffic jam, because there are all these bands that have been dropped and need to deal with Universal's lawyer. It's not gonna happen quickly. I'd like to think it is, but I know it's not."
After appearing as a background vocalist on Erykah Badu's Baduizm and Live, Chonita "N'Dambi" Gilbert (like the former Erika Wright, a Dallas native) is releasing her own album. Titled Little Lost Girl Blues, the disc is being released on the local indie Cheeky-I and is due in stores, well, now. Gilbert will perform at 7:30 p.m. March 19 at the South Dallas Cultural Center at a CD-release party. Admission is free...
Sushi Gabor is a new group--and yet...not. The band, which made its debut March 11 at Trees, features the likes of Alan Hayslip (ex of Vibrolux and many other bands--he is a veteran journeyman), Paul Williams (once in Tablet), and Tommy Watts (who we think was in The Reach, though we never saw the band so can't be sure).
Send Street Beat your dropped bands and dashed dreams to firstname.lastname@example.org.