Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Arm of Roger - The Ham and its Lily

So the story goes, possibly inspired by their record label saying Summer Here Kids could've been a hit if it wasnt so lo fi and could've done with louder drums, Grandaddy decided to, whilst recording the seminal Sophtware Slump album, also recorded a fake album with the sole intention of sending it to their label making them think it was the real album. So, they went to great lengths to make it sound just about believable but bad and lo fi enough to send the record label executives into a cold sweat.

Jim Fairchild of the band had this to say...
"We did this. We went through the trouble of making a fake record. Or most of it. You Know You’re Fucked Up actually stems from a recording Jason and I made with Randy Keener in 1993. Down With The Animals was a tune we’d made up in the van years before. We would get wasted and write and record things like Robot Escort or the Pussy Song in a couple hours. The fake album was more or less done before we began work on The Signal to Snow Ratio EP, which preceded the Sophtware Slump as the test of our newly acquired gear and space."

"We sat on it for months. When Jason finished mixing The Sophtware Slump in November, 1999, he made cassettes of the fake album (yes cassettes) for I guess around 7 of the key people at V2 worldwide. We FedExed them so that they’d all arrive on a Thursday to offices in England, Benelux, France, US, and maybe Australia. Each had a personal note from Jason that said something about our excitement for what we’d made and our looking forward to working with everybody over the next couple years. The story we heard was that people were arranged around tables in different parts of the world, listening to the new Grandaddy album, conference call buttons engaged. Jason had made the sequence so that the first few songs could be sort believable as our new tunes. I mean, the songs are largely terrible, but there is a sense that whoever made them possesses some knowledge of song structure, melody and general composition."

"This is Thursday. I was “managing” the band at this point, so I thought for sure I’d hear a word of response by that evening, Friday at the latest. The weekend came and went. I called Jason Monday and was scared. Thinking the idea had crashed one of two ways; that V2 had found enough to like that the gears were in motion to release this piece of shit, or that we’d been dropped. I wanted to call and say, hey guys, we were joking! Jason’s perspective was just chill and let them reach out. Another day and a half went by and I was properly freaked out.
This was pre-caller-ID days, so every call that came to my house, I’d let it go to the message machine, begin listening and if it was someone from the label, pick up and be prepared to continue the ruse as long as I could. Finally at the end of Tuesday, the phone rings and our beloved A&R person, Kate Hyman, is leaving me a message about receiving the record. I pick up and Kate says “Hey Jim, I got the album….now will you send me the real one you fucking asshole?!” Exact wording, I can still hear it. I guess at the conference table there were a few people who thought it was pretty weird, but okay. Maybe order some new mixes and see what happens. Some people thought it was terrible, that we’d spent our advance on booze and drugs and this was the result. And then I would imagine most listeners were simply confused. People were either angry with us about wasting their time with this stunt, or had a decent sense of humor and were as pleased as we were about it."

The album saw a limited CD release a few years later, by which time it was credited to a fake band called Arm Of Roger. They even played a gig under this name.

But now it's out on vinyl... and worth the wait.