Friday, September 27, 2013

Uncrush Was Ever Being So Born To Calamity? 7" crank! A Record Company 1997

Uncrush Was Ever Being So Born To Calamity? 7" crank! A Record Company 1997 CAT# crc010

Yeah, so who titles their 7" singles anything other than the songs that appear?  The songs that appear on this 7" are 'The Moron the Merrier' backed with 'There's a Roof in the Leak'.  Yet another KC band that was picked up by crank! in the 90's.  I'm not sure why the label picked these guys up, but I don't really want to talk about the music, I'd rather tell a long winded hipster douchbag story.

At the end of highschool and beginning of college I got involved as much as possible with music.  I was at the Community College right after highschool and most my friends were in Lawrence and I was bored.  I began writing for eZines and working street teams for indie rock labels.  Street Teams were kids that the labels supplied free promo material to so the kids could pass it out at shows and record stores.  Stickers, fliers, buttons, that type of swag.  Sometimes, but not very often, the label would get you onto the guest lists of shows and such.  Plus, they'd give you free albums.  I sparked up an inter-net conversation with Jeff Matlow way back when and he allowed me do work for crank!

Honestly, crank! was one of the best labels to do it for.  Jeff Matlow was uber-connected and the label could get me into just about any show.  Plus, he did stuff for the major labels due to his previous connections.  For example, when Jimmy Eat World's Clarity came out on Capital, someone asked crank! to promote it's "emo-ness".  I got like 20 free copies of the CD two months before it came out to hand out to record stores and other cool places.  For like a month and half, I was the coolest .emo kid in Kansas City, all the kids were asking me for burned copies and such.  I got to review it right away for a zine, it was solid.  So, all in all, my opinion of Jeff Matlow was that he was a cool guy.

So, I got this box of free crap and I was ready to go to work.  I took a bunch of .crank! swag to a show at the Bottleneck.  I can't remember who was playing, Farewell Bend, maybe?  I'm thinking somebody local or with local ties but, I can't remember.  Anyway, I'm handing it out between bands, during songs, etc.  A tall drunk guy comes up to me and asks, "What have you got?"  I reply, "crank! Records stuff, stickers, you want one?  They put out Vitreous Humor and Boys Life."  He says to me, "I know who they are, they put out my record."  I reply, "What?" (It was loud).  "They put out my record, I'm in Uncrush."  So, I'm surprised and I'm like, "Oh cool, I like your 7" I have it at home, you probably don't need these then, do you?"  "Yeah, yeah, I do, that fucker ripped me off, he owes me money."  At that point, things were getting awkward, I replied simply, "Oh."  He then grabs everything I had in my hand and demands the rest.  I'm not a wimp or anything, but he's tall and I'm like 5' 5" on a good day, plus he was drunk.  I gave him everything else I had.  He stormed off, went out the back door to presumably toss the stuff or put it in his car and I thought he was gone.

He wasn't. I remember at the end of the night, the bouncers had to physically put the guy to the ground.  He tried to take a beer outside of Bottleneck at last call.  He was more drunk than before and I assumed, the wrongdoing by crank!, brought forth by my stickers, was to blame.  He was not about to hand over the drink to the bouncers.  He said absurd things like, "Fuckers, I played at your bar a month ago."  "It's cool, I know the owner."  "Hey man, I know the band."  All things you'd expect from a drunk guy that didn't want to give up his beer.  Finally, they threw him to the ground and called his friends over.  I'm just glad the cops weren't brought in, it was getting physical.

The next time I had the chance to get into an email conversation with crank! I asked about the event.  The drunk guy was a member of Uncrush, that was confirmed the night of the show.  And, truthfully, I believed the guy.  He was obviously pissed about something and maybe crank! was just like other labels; evil.  Jeff Matlow quickly sent me his side of the story.  Obviously, he painted himself as the good guy.  He fronted Uncrush money.  The reason they thought they never got royalties is because the record never sold and the money owed was never made back.  Matlow claimed he actually lost money on the release.  Well of course that's what he would say.  He's a businessman, I was a kid who could drag his name through the mud on web boards and eZines.  Of course, so could the singer of Uncrush, but whatever, I felt I needed a third party to explain.

Coincidentally, I had a friend who was in touch, knew both parties and explained the situation.  I'm not going to name names, that'd be shitty.  Story goes, upon the release of this 7", Uncrush and another Kansas City band embarked on a tour from the Midwest to California.  Usual indie-rock tour at the time, mostly self booked, a few shows supplied by the label, but a lot of house shows and a lot of miles in a van.  Uncrush enjoyed the tour.  Every show they played, they put the money made towards gas to get to the next place and the rest went to beer and partying.  They did this all the way from Kansas City to California.  This practice would be fine had they booked shows on the way back, but they didn't.  After the shows in California, the plan was to go straight back to KC.  So, when Uncrush got to California and met with Jeff Matlow, they didn't have enough money to get home.  The label gave them the money to get home, a fairly substantial amount I'm told.  I mean that's a hell of drive from California to KC in a crappy van.  The money was just given to the band, no questions asked.  The band got home.

My friend had no reason to make up the story or validate Matlow's version.  He was friends with Uncrush.  In fact, he prefaced his story by telling me he didn't really like Jeff, his opinion being that he was kind of douchebag jock, not really the kind of guy you'd expect to be running an indie rock label.  I believed his story.  However, to Uncrush's credit, I assume there had to be some reason to be sour.  For one, the only other thing crank! did with the band was put them on a compilation album.  Second, no one really knows any of the conversations that took place between the label and band.  Could have been some half-truths like, the 7" was selling great and they were led to believe they'd get more than they got from it.  Could have been told the label would be releasing further material from the band and it never came to fruition.  The truth probably lies somewhere between all three accounts.

As for the 7", it showed faint signs of promise.  The A-side, 'The Moron the Merrier' is chaotic and sloppy, oddly enough, it feels drunk.  The strained vocals make it endearing and add to the loose sound.  It's menacing and loud, but at the same time, manages to mix in some jangly guitars and melody.  As a three piece, they can push out a lot of sound when they want to.  Bad news, on the B-Side they had no desire to repeat the formula.  'There's a Roof in the Leak' is as pointless as the title.  It just mills around and never ends.  It does sound drunk, but with no energy.  Like what happens at 3:00 AM about 30 minutes after going to Taco Bell, it's uncomfortable and lasts way too long.

The Moron the Merrier
Nap from the Don't Forget to Breathe comp.

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