Archive for Thursday, January 29, 1998

S LABEL JUMP MAKES THINGS HAPPEN

January 29, 1998

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The Chicago band Triple Fast Action chooses a smaller label for its second release.

When high school friends Wes Kidd and Brian St. Clair started a punk rock band years ago, they had no idea they would later replace their super fast, three-chord sound for a blend of distortion pop that would land them a deal with Capitol Records.

In 1996 the band, after three years of playing the Midwest, released its debut record, "Broadcaster," and had enough success to land tours with Everclear, Veruca Salt, Supergrass and Local H.

But things at Capitol Records turned sour when the company wanted to wait six months to release the second single from the album. The lack of support from the company was read as disinterest by the members of Triple Fast Action, who asked to be released from their contract. There was just one problem.

Capitol would allow the band to leave if it paid "some insane amount of money, which I think was like a million dollars," Kidd, guitarist and vocalist for the band, said. "The amount kept dwindling down until it got to zero, thank God."

The band recently signed the termination agreement and chose a smaller label, Deep Elm, for its second release, "Cattlemen Don't."

Of the experience with Capitol, Kidd said, "Everybody there was fine -- it just didn't work as a company. We've now sold almost as many records on Deep Elm as we did on Capitol, which is ridiculous."

Kidd attributes much of the band's new sales success to the hard work of John Szuch, owner of Deep Elm Records. The band is getting more attention with the smaller label, which has made a mark with only three employees.

"John is on the Internet all the time, talking to kids, sending stuff out and doing mailing lists -- doing what he's supposed to do, actually, " Kidd said.

With stronger label support, Triple Fast Action, which includes St. Clair on drums, Kevin Tihista on bass and Scott Lucas on guitar, has embarked on a tour with the Smoking Popes and Menthol. The bands will be on the road through the end of February.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," Kidd said. "Every band is different. The Smoking Popes have their pop love song thing going. Menthol has that 'prog rock' countryish thing and we're more of a rock band -- sort of in the middle."

For many bands, touring means leaving steady pay behind and earning little to nothing on the road, maybe even arriving home in debt. But drummer St. Clair does double duty as the tour manager and keeps a close eye on daily expenses.

"He's real stingy and so we've actually been able to come back with money, which is amazing," Kidd said.

The band looks forward to bringing its edgy pop to Lawrence again and plans to pick up a few sandwiches while in town.

"Yello Sub," mused Kidd, recalling the sandwich shop near the Kansas University campus. "The Tijuana Taxi is my favorite. We're excited about getting there for that!"

-- The Mag's phone message number is 832-7146. Send e-mail to biles@ljworld.com.

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