By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
When Chomsky played The Door on November 23, singer-guitarist Sean Halleck announced that it was officially the group's final show supporting last year's Onward Quirky Soldiers. They weren't going to play another gig until they were finished with a new record for a new label. But that's all he said. Mainly because that's all he could say: Contracts were still going back and forth, from one lawyer's inbox to another. Nothing was official.
We'd known what and who he was talking about for a while, but we kept our trap shut for various reasons. (Actually, just the one we mentioned before: The deal wasn't finalized.) Now, we can tell you that Chomsky has signed with Aezra Records, a Phoenix-based indie label that has also released albums by Deep Blue Something (last May's Byzantium) and the Toadies (last month's Live from Paradise). Aezra has more money and clout than most similar-sized indies--the label has only a handful of acts on its roster--since it is run by a group of industry veterans and has major-label-level distribution through BMG and EMI. But more than anything else, Chomsky was swayed by the fact that the label was ready to move forward sooner rather than later. "It's exciting that they wanna put something out the first part of next year," says Sean Halleck, who thinks the new album could be out as soon as March or April 2003. (Don't get too attached to the date. We shouldn't have to remind you that when any label is involved, "subject to change" is the key phrase.)
With that in mind, the group is spending the next month working up new material, before it heads to Miami to record the album in mid-January. To help hone the songs, Halleck says Chomsky will probably be playing a few unannounced gigs at Muddy Waters or Barley House, shows that will more or less amount to live rehearsals. He's happy with how the new tunes are coming together, anxious to see what they'll sound like when they're on tape. Or computer file. Whatever.
Working with the band in Miami will be Gary Katz, whose name might be familiar if your bedtime reading happens to be the liner notes from Steely Dan records. (He produced pretty much everything Walter Becker and Donald Fagen recorded together, as well as everyone from The Alarm to Digital Underground. Yep, you heard us right.) And though Chomsky will be working in a new studio with a new producer, the band will be bringing along some familiar things: five or six songs from Onward Quirky Soldiers and 1999's A Few Possible Selections for the Soundtrack of Your Life. They plan on re-recording those--Halleck isn't sure which ones, but guesses singles "00:15:00" and "Gravitate" will be among them--with five or six new tracks filling out the rest of the disc.
All of which means: Chomsky finally has its shot. Let's see what happens with it.
Since we have some space, there are plenty of other local shows happening this month to help you fill out your Christmas vacation. (Or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or whatever. Let's just say holiday vacation.) Clip and save: The Rocket Summer and MossEisley are at Trees on December 21, Reverend Horton Heat plays there on December 27, followed by the Old 97's on December 28 and Flickerstick, Doosu and OHNO on New Year's Eve; Hagfish re-forms to play Gypsy Tea Room on Christmas; Sorta and Sparrows perform December 19 at Club Clearview; The Deathray Davies are on the bill at Curtain Club on December 19, and the fantastic Queen cover band, Queen for a Day, is lined up for December 21; Sparrows and MossEisley play Liquid Lounge on December 28; 41 Gorgeous Blocks and Record Hop play Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios on December 19. Oh, and the Polyphonic Spree is having its annual Christmas wingding at the Lakewood Theater on December 20.