I had a job just out of high school that had me flying back and forth between Indiana and Washington D.C. each week. I would go out every night and just have my mid-west mind nearly in shock by the amount of incredible music to be seen live and found in the numerous mom-and-pop vinyl shops. For the first time in my life I wasn’t relying on local radio stations and Alternative Press to introduce me to what bands they deemed worthy of promoting.
One cold night in February 2005 I was shifting through vinyl at Morpheus Records, I was going through a Smiths phase and had finally found a copy of Hatful Of Hollow, a guy a row over, who must have noticed the gleam in my eye, started up a conversation about the album with me, he was probably in his forties and I can remember just being completely in awe of how much he knew not just about Morrissey and the boys but about music in general. He was name dropping bands I’d never heard of like Neutral Milk Hotel and The Replacements (keep in mind that the only non-mainstream bands I was familiar with at the time were comprised of a screamer and four guitar players). He was so passionate and animated about these bands he was bringing up that I felt almost ashamed for having no clue what he was talking about.
At the time I was still in the mindset that there wasn’t much strength in the direction of modern music and said so, immediately he went into this statement that people were giving up on music when in reality the best music ever created was happening right now in front of us and so few people were paying attention to it. I asked him to show me what I was missing, he walked over to one of the walls featuring recently released cd’s and without hesitation grabbed …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead‘s World’s Apart, “wait until you hear the title track, it might just change your mind.”
The second I got in my car I had it unwrapped and in my cd player… I skipped right to “Worlds Apart” and my mind was blown. Finally someone was actually saying something relevant, something important… this song NEEDED to be heard.
To this day I look for every chance possible to share this song with anyone who will listen. It’s got the entire psyche of our angsty DIY indie-music-promoting generation wrapped up in an intense song that clocks in under three minutes. The irony of course being it came from a band signed with Interscope who were constantly worried about promotion and cd sales. Supposedly they even pushed the album release back so as not to be in competition with Eminem and Destiny’s Child.
In their defense there has been an unprecedented amount of change in seven years, in a way …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead were one of the last bands to be part of that major-label death-rattle coming from talented guys buying into the old template of how to go about the business aspect of their art.
I never saw the guy again to thank him for the spark that would eventually have me stoked to be promoting new music for Listen Before You Buy, for some reason I think he knows.