How The Heroine became SA's next big thing
Published: November 20, 2012
"I drove five hours alone rehearsing my pitch on the way up there," said King, who, once in Dallas, pitched the band at the meeting for seven hours. He knew Swan was sold on the band, but at the meeting/listening party for Playing for Keeps, Cap was a hard nut to crack.
"I didn't feel [Cap] liked it," said King. "I kind of felt, 'Oh, man, they're not going to sign us.'"
"I was hesitant to sign them," said Cap, matter-of-factly. "I liked their energy and I liked them as people, but I immediately knew we needed to develop their sound."
However, that night at dinner, King pulled out his final card: the press kit he had slaved over the night before and its detailed business plan.
"It was amazing, I never saw a band do something like that," Cap said. "Their business sense and overall professional attitude convinced me they were the band to sign. Very rarely you see a band that can balance their business side with their art."
EMG's first decision for the band was to comply and give Playing for Keeps another chance. The remixed new version (minus the cover of the Violent Femmes' "Kiss Off" on the original version) was released in February, and the next thing the label did was put the band in touch with Baumgardner, who was exactly what they needed: a producer who knows when to say "no." Five days in the studio resulted in the band's upcoming first single, "Coming Home," a mid-tempo song about life on the road. It took another day to mix it down.
"He was very easy to work with, but the coolest thing about it [was] we finally had someone who gave us directions," said King.
"They work really hard and are super professional," said Baumgardner, who first saw the band live after members of Cruz (a band from São Paulo, Brazil, that Baumgardner had produced) urged him to catch their act.
"I don't remember whether I saw them at the Roxy in Hollywood or at South by Southwest this year," said Baumgardner, "but I do remember that they were just awesome and I wanted to work with them. I've been busy and they've been touring, but hopefully we'll be able to meet soon and do the rest of the album."
The label is confident they can get significant radio airplay in major markets for the single and that their legendary live shows will have an even greater effect once the album is out.
"When I saw them live [at SXSW] and saw the way the crowd reacted, I knew we had something special," said Cap. "This band is destined to success because every single person in it works as a team."
Before that happens, they must perform a special concert Friday dedicated to a departed friend and mentor.
"This is another homecoming for us," said King, who said the band wants to dedicate this show to the late White Rabbit owner Rick Sciaraffa, who passed away in 2007. "He loved us, and we loved him. At times when we felt kind of stuck, he always encouraged us to keep going. Playing again at the White Rabbit, where we first got our chops, is very special for us."
They will play some of the new songs, like the single "Coming Home" and "Who Do you Love," about a woman cheating on her man. And even though they're now aiming higher, the band's attitude hasn't changed.
"Let me put it this way," King says. "One of the new songs, 'Make Your Move,' says it all." The song is a fast, upbeat rocker that describes what the band is all about.
Welcome to the show/ We are glad you made it out/ It means a lot to me and the band… / Good times, good friends, / I'm doing this for you. / You know I'm a hard working man/ So come on in and let the fun begin/ I want to see you dance/ I want to see you move/ Leave your worries behind/ your troubles at the door/ Let's make this place/ our dance floor.
> Email Enrique Lopetegui