Strange? Sad? True.
Living up to their name, Quick published a music news short yesterday that was all speed, no substance. The paper reported that Sorta, winners of our 2006 Music Awards' "Best Act in Town," has parted ways with Summer Break Records. Problem is, the DMN freebie failed to answer just why the band's forthcoming Strange and Sad but True no longer has a label.
"I'm just sitting down here and writing it out, because...it's complicated," Sorta lead singer Trey Johnson says before a fit of nervous laughter (one of many in our short chat). "Sorta has a record that's slated to come out in two months, and there's no infrastructure, no label infrastructure, and we've gotta figure out a way to put out the record...This isn't something that just happened. This has been building for six to eight months. It was obvious that Summer Break didn't have money--painfully obvious at times."
How painful? Well, "bills weren't getting paid for a six-month period of time," Johnson says, which Summer Break owner Robert Jenkins relunctantly confirms. "I don't want to dish dirt at them," Jenkins says, "so I'm not gonna say how that happened, but yes, they incurred bills that we didn't pay on time."
Johnson has gotten Jenkins' blessing to seek another label or investor(s) to either buy the rights to SaSbT or the full contract and release the album accordingly. As Jenkins points out, though, "for all intents and purposes, it's [still currently] in our little hands...and it's not like Summer Break still couldn't put out the record."
From the sound of it, much of the issue comes from Johnson's fear that the album's August 8 release date (no, not June 8, Quick) might not be fulfilled. That date has been pushed by a national publicity firm, which has helped land potential reviews in national magazines such as American Way (hi, Zac!) and No Depression. "If we miss the deadline, they're not going to do the reviews, and some bridges will be burned, and everything would have to be pushed back six months," Johnson says. "This is all resting around the fact that I think the record's good, and I don't want it to peter out before it has a chance to be heard." Can't blame the guy for freaking out about a good Dallas album dying on the runway--it's happened before--but I suggested that he perhaps try an alternate Internet route, one that requires a lot less overhead, to ease his current Sorta money scramble (to which he replied, "I haven't really thought about that").
Johnson pauses and sighs frequently when telling the story--it's obvious he doesn't want to chat about it, and insists (just as Jenkins does) that the split is amicable. "I knew what I was dealing with [financially] all along," Johnson says, "and he's been very supportive of this band for a long time." So how come Quick got the info in the first place? "I was literally applying for credit cards yesterday, calling people that owed us money...Out of the blue I get a call from Quick, and they were checking up on the progress of the record release. I don't know why they called up that day, but this was all going down in the last coupl'a days." So they caught him in a vulnerable state, I asked? "That's exactly what happened."
Since the story's barely a day old, however, there's not much else to update: Sorta is frantically seeking out options to meet the August 8 release (talks with local boy Jayson Bales on helping fund the release are still up in the air, and nothing else nearly that concrete has come up on the horizon just yet). Summer Break is still operating as per usual: The new I Love Math record is set for release on the label by September, and SB albums by Here, In Arms and Salim Nourallah vs. Shibboleth are currently in production. Everything else is kinda, Sorta messy at the moment. --Sam Machkovech
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.