by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Since there’s nothing to report, how about a little “Throw Back Thursday” action? With Lincoln Exposed going strong tonight and for the next couple of nights, here’s a chestnut from 2003 about “A Situation,” the Lincoln-based indie-music co-op that spawned five year’s worth of compilation CDs, and some might say inspired today’s local music festivals (like Lincoln Exposed) and Hear Nebraska.
Dealing with ‘A Situation’
Lazy-i – Feb. 5, 2003
A handful of Lincoln bands are joining forces to raise the profile of local music, share resources and work together to make a name for themselves.
Called “A Situation,” the idea was born out of frustration from bands that had hit the same glass ceiling, not knowing what to do next. They’d done their local gigs; a few had recorded their own CDs, but a future of continually playing the same clubs over and over while hocking CDRs seemed pointless.
Pulling together was a logical next step, said Malcom Miles, bassists for the Post-Trendies, one of five bands involved in the project.
“This is about efficiency and resources,” Miles said. “We are trying to be more effective at doing the things musicians want to do, which is record and release music, play live shows and tour, and have fun doing it. Having the support of a larger group makes some of these things easier to do.”
He said any single band can put out a CD, but doing a compilation and pulling together the recording resources is easier and cheaper. Then there’s touring. “None of us have toured extensively,” he said. “If one of the bands adopted a city and built a following there, they could take the other bands along. Sharing club contacts is just going to make it easier for each band to set up a tour.”
Miles gave a rather sophisticated take on the meaning behind the confab’s name, saying “a situation” refers to a late-’60s movement by French intellectuals and artists working around the idea of society being a spectacle that they wanted to live outside of.
But that was followed by a more reasonable explanation. “We also didn’t know what we were doing,” he said. “We’re not a label or a collective or a commune. We’re a situation of bands working together.”
Five Lincoln bands currently are caught up in this situation:
— Crush the Clown, a power trio that sports a tight, angular punk sound;
— Joe Buck — consisting of the irrepressible Dan Jenkins, the force behind the now-defunct power-alt-country outfit Drive-by Honky;
— The Honey Hush — a 5-piece that includes former members of Black Dahlias, Starboy and Bronco;
— Junior Mighty — the duo of Lori Allison (the Millions) and Brian McCue (The Black Dahlias).
And, finally, Miles’ own Post-Trendies. Called The Trendies in their first incarnation that included Matt Silcock (Head of Femur, Opium Taylor and a handful of other notable bands), when Silcock moved to Chicago in 2001, the band changed its name to the Post-Trendies and stayed a four-piece.
“We make a joke on our Web site (http://geocities.com/grothescene/) that none of the bands in ‘a situation’ sound alike,” Miles said. “This isn’t an exclusive thing. We’ve talked to other bands, including bands from Omaha. Our main goal is to raise awareness of local music, that’s the priority.”
So how is it different than starting a record label? Miles said the comparisons have been drawn, but that the ‘label’ label doesn’t really apply. “We love the fact that what we’re doing is undefined,” he said. “We looked at Saddle Creek and Sub Pop as models of similar efforts that have been successful. Both of those labels did great things to help their bands out. But our main focus is promoting the local scene. We’re not doing anything that costs a lot of money. This is something that any group of bands could pull together.”
The first project out of the gate is producing a compilation CD with contributions from all five bands, each contributing two songs. The tracks are being recorded at Crush the Clown guitarist Nick Westra’s home studio. The group’s “launch party” Saturday, Feb. 8, 2002, at Duffy’s in Lincoln, is a fund-raiser to pull together cash to cover the CD’s production costs. A similar group show is planned for Omaha some time in April.
Once completed, the bands will sell copies of the CD at their individual shows. “We hope that this starts a cycle and keeps moving forward,” Miles said. “If we play enough shows and continue to sell CDs, we would get enough back to put together a second compilation.
“Most local bands don’t have any sort of notion of becoming Britney Spears or The Backstreet Boys. Most of us would like to make music a lifetime job. You sort of make the best music you can, and just see how it goes.”
So how did it go? Malcom Miles provided an update this morning via Facebook: “We did one compilation a year for five years running (2004-2008). The short story is two things happened simultaneously – one was CD sales dropped each year we did it and so it wasn’t fiscally viable; the second thing is I ran out of steam as the coordinator of the project.”
In some ways A Situation was a precursor to things like Hear Nebraska and Lincoln Calling/Exposed. Miles says he feels a kinship to those modern-day efforts.
“Absolutely – We came out of the Broadside Cassettes and Linoma CDs and passed the torch on to Hear Nebraska, and all the local music festivals,” he said. “Bands have much more ability to share their music digitally now, but I still like the historical artifact of a record or CD or cassette. I’m glad Hear Nebraska has continued to put out compilations as well as doing streaming / video.”
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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