Westword Music Showcase headliners: Catching up with Single File
Contention between Single File and its producer, Howard Benson, almost shelved the band's major label debut, Common Struggles, before it even came out. Single File felt Benson and Warner Bros. were trying to shape the band into something they did not want to be.
The band, the label and Benson eventually compromised, and the act delivered an album chalk full of so much nerdy sincerity, sugary sweet melodies and lyrical insecurity it would make Rivers Cumo hug his copy of Pinkerton. The label ended up putting forth little effort into marketing the record and ended up decideding to drop the band not to long after the album was released.
In advance of Single File's appearance at this Saturday's Showcase, we spoke with frontman Sloan Anderson about the sting of being dropped and what the next step is for the band.
Westword (Andy Thomas): You were recently dropped by your label. Do you feel this was a result of the declining music industry or were there other factors? Do you feel you would have had more advantages if you signed to a major when the music industry was thriving?
Sloan Anderson: Our good pals at Warner sat on Common Struggles for over a year, waiting for just the right time to release. Made sense, and we were all for it -- after all, timing is everything, as the old adage insists. They finally set a solid release date, pushed it back a few times and finally managed to toss it out the door within a week of Green Day's newest release -- among other giants.
There's not much more to it. The album ultimately fell between the cracks without a true radio campaign, solid tour or marketing plan. No more than six months from the date of release, Warner decided to cut ties and count their losses, and yet again, we were back on the streets without a label we could call home. Sound familiar? Haha. To answer the second question: Yes. Very yes.
WW: Do you feel much of this had to do with the way the label and the producer tried to shape your band and your resistance to it?
SA: To a certain degree. In the end, we all feel like we made a really strong album, but again, the "industry" is what's wrong with the industry. Nowadays, it's commonplace for a producer to come in and virtually re-write every track from the ground up or completely redefine an artist's sound to better suit the latest trends in pop culture and songwriting. We managed to avoid this, albeit, not without a few scratches -- try that one out on Tom Petty.
Somewhere in the past few decades, mainstream producers and A&R guys have managed to completely redefine the music industry. Now it's all about volume, not quality, and in the end, boils down to simple odds: You get enough artists out the door, one of them is bound to "stick."
Of course, without any sort of true foundation or substance, they're not likely to "stick" long. We haven't stepped into the studio since working with Howard, but rest assured, we're not going down the same road twice.
WW: Now that this has all happened, what has the band been up to?
SA: Since our departure from the Warner roster, I suppose you could say we're blowing off steam and taking a little time to regroup. Being dropped was a pretty low blow for us, and without the support network in place that majors tend to bring to the table, it was definitely a crippling change for us, especially on the touring front. Touring is really, really expensive!
WW: Since you haven't been able to tour, have you been writing new material?
SA: Off and on. I think this recent change has been really healthy for us. Sometimes "industry" can stand in the way of good songwriting, or anything creative, for that matter. Now that our heads and slates are clean, we can really focus on what counts: Making great music and having a damn good time doing so. It definitely won't be "more of the same" that much is certain...
WW: "Zombies Ate my Neighbors" was a very key in helping the band break out. Are you sick of playing it yet?
SA: Honestly, not really! It's weird, I know. It's just such a fun song to play, and our fans out here make it blast live!
WW: What are your plans for the band in the coming months?
SA: Nothing big on the horizon just yet, but there's still plenty of rock and roll left in the three of us. That much is certain.