And just like that, the band was recently picked up by Luxembourg-based label, Own Records, for multi-continental distribution. Ben Shepard and drummer Andrew Glassett sat down with me for a few minutes to discuss their upcoming tour and why Europe "gets" their music.
SLUG: How did you hook up with Own Records?
Shepard: We had a review for (first album) Don't Leave In Such a Hurry on a little webzine out of France – I still don't know how they found us. Well, they gave us a really good review, and the guy who wrote the review is really good friends with one of the partners of Own Records. So for the past two years or so, he's been listening to Uzi and Ari, kind of watching us. He really liked the first album, but it wasn't until he heard It Is Freezing Out that he thought we could have some success in Europe. So he ordered a copy of it and passed it around to his guys at Own. They do about four releases per year, one every quarter, and they had about five bands that they were thinking about putting out their releases. So a few months ago, they emailed us and said they want to talk about releasing it in Europe, Japan and Australia – it'll be released on the 6th of October. We signed a five-year contract with them, but there isn't any expectation. There's no expected number of releases, but if we do record an album we have to submit it to them and they decide whether they want to put it out or not. They're really just a group of really nice, kind people. They sent me the contract and said, "If there's anything you want to change on here ..." This is the first label that's contacted us. We haven't sent anything out to anyone or done any promotion – this sort of fell into our laps. Hopefully it will be a source of getting us out to a bigger U.S. label.
Glassett: That's definitely the case and why we're looking forward to this. It's so hard to promote anything out of Salt Lake. I don't know why that is, but we're just really fortunate to have this.
Shepard: It's a lot bigger label than you would think as far as how far spread out they are. 31 Knots is on Own, as well as Gregor Samsa, who is getting pretty big on the East Coast. All their bands are U.S. based. That's kind of their way: bringing the U.S. to Europe.
SLUG: So you also get to tour, right?
Shepard: Yeah. We're working with a couple different booking agents over there right now. So far we know for sure that we'll be in France, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark and Luxembourg, and if we can get this other guy to work with us we'll go to more of Eastern Europe. That will be in mid-January and anywhere from three weeks to a month and a half.
SLUG: I'm hesitant to ask this, but because everyone compares you to Radiohead, I'll ask. How do you feel about the mention of "sounds like Radiohead" in most reviews?
Shepard: Well, it's a double-edged sword. I mean, we'd rather be compared to Radiohead, obviously, than someone like Coldplay (all laugh). I mean that would be really depressing to me, if we heard that in review after review. Luckily, in the reviews I've read, I haven't seen "this is a rip-off of/this sounds just like Radiohead". Fortunately, journalists lump us in with this pretty ... um ...
Shepard: ...with bands that have really great reputations, like Efterklang and Radiohead. It's a comfort, on one hand, to be labeled in with those bands, but it does get a little redundant to read "three great groups plus Radiohead" in most reviews. So it's kind of frustrating, like how do we pull back and get out of that?
SLUG: Well I don't know how someone can summarize Radiohead with one sound, or "big droning guitars" equals "this sounds like Mogwai".
Glassett: Of course we're influenced by those bands, but there is so much else. I think reviewers reach for that as the lowest common denominator to get people to listen.