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The Rosebuds: No Plan B

 
story by tim mcmahan


 

 

Lazy-i: Sept. 16, 2004

The Rosebuds
w/Little Brazil
Friday, Sept. 17
O'Leaver's
1322 So. Saddle Creek Rd.
$5








Young, hungry rock bands that have slaved to find a record label won't appreciate how easily Raleigh, North Carolina's The Rosebuds found themselves on one of the country's top indie labels.

The band centered around husband and wife duo Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp had only been playing around the North Carolina "triangle" of Raleigh, Durham and Chapill Hill for about a year before they landed a deal with regional indie powerhouse Merge Records. The Chapill Hill label founded by Superchunk's Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan has a roster that includes M. Ward, Spoon, Polvo and American Music Club, among others.

For The Rosebuds, getting Merge's attention was simply a matter of sending them a demo.

 

 

"We really didn't know anyone at the label," said a chipper Kelly Crisp via cell phone as she drove around Raleigh Sunday afternoon buying supplies to take on the road for the band's month-long tour that brings them to O'Leaver's Friday night. "Merge has always had a philosophy of listening to demos. They liked ours and heard we were playing shows around the area. They called us and asked if we could play a show with Portastic, another band on their label. We said. 'Yes, if you put out our record.' We never thought about what we would do if they had said no. We never thought of sending the demo to any other label."

Incidentally, Crisp added, a week before Merge signed The Rosebuds the label got another demo in the mail -- from The Buzzcocks -- who they also signed.

She said the band has only had two goals: 1) Put out a record on Merge, and 2) record with producer Brian Paulson, who's worked with such bands as Wilco, Beck and Squirrel Nut Zippers. You can guess what happened next.

Merge originally wanted to release the band's six-song demo as an EP. "We said we have so many songs, can we make a full-length? And they were, like, 'Well, if you want to.' So we told them we wanted Brian Paulson to record it."

Paulson hadn't been seen or heard in the area for a year, having been out of the country recording the latest CD by Welsh band Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. But as luck would have it, he returned to North Carolina the day after The Rosebuds had worked out the deal with Merge and ran into Mac McCaughan at a Yo La Tengo show at Chapill Hill nightclub Cat's Cradle.

"Mac asked him if he'd record us and he said, 'Yeah, why not?'" Crisp said. "We didn't have a huge budget, but Paulson didn't want to be bored and said, 'Yes.'"

 

 

 

 

 

 



"We never thought about what we would do if they had said no. We never thought of sending the demo to any other label."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
"There were only about 15 people there, but Meg White (of White Stripes fame) was one of them. She bought our record and bought us drinks."

 

 

How can it be this easy? Well it helps if your band has an infectious indie rock sound with a slight retro flair that heralds back to early Beatles and Kinks. The new CD, The Rosebuds Makeout, released last October, combines upbeat pop numbers like the soaring "Back to Boston" and the rocking "Drunkards Worst Nightmare" (sporting the inspirational opening line, "She's buck wild with her clothes off every night, chasing through the morning light") with more subdued tracks like the somber shuffler "Big Heartbreak" and laidback groover "Signature Drinks."

Though getting a record out on their favorite label with their favorite producer was sinfully easy, Crisp said the band is going through the same typical touring pains as any other band, playing at times to only a handful of people. But even then, these guys just seem to get lucky.

"We played a show in Detroit, which really doesn't have an old-school downtown club," Crisp said. "There were only about 15 people there, but Meg White (of White Stripes fame) was one of them. She bought our record and bought us drinks. It was great.

"We realize that we've been really lucky, that things really should have taken a lot longer than they did," Crisp says. "But we honestly never thought that they wouldn't happen. We never had a plan B."


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Published in The Omaha Reader Sept. 15, 2004. Copyright 2004 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.