Column 17: A peek inside the Creek, more news; Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Category: Blog — @ 1:27 pm March 17, 2005

As always, the column is explained in the column. As a post script to the Desaparecidos comment, I ran into someone close to that project who insists that it’s still on in spite of what the Creek guys told me. The original plan was for Oberst to add his vocals and other tracks to the already-completed Desa recordings via a mobile recording unit that Mike Mogis has taken with him on the Bright Eyes tour. The Creek guys said, however, that Oberst and Mogis decided against doing the recordings on the road, fearing that the recording would be sub par. That leaves a “best scenario” of Oberst recording the tracks after this first leg of the Bright Eyes tour, if it happens at all. You have to think that Creek would love to put out a new Desa record for sheer sales’ sake — it could be as big as the duo Bright Eyes’ discs.

Column 17 — Creek Runoff

It was so long and detailed that you’re probably still reading last week’s cover story about Saddle Creek Records. Though it clocked in at just over 3,200 words I still had to cut 1,500 of exciting — nay important — information to make it all fit with those strangely inappropriate photos of the Creek staff looking beaten and broken (I wasn’t responsible for the photo concept or the headline used in the printed version, which had nothing to do with the article). So instead of leaving data unwritten to eventually fade from memory, here’s a few items from the Q&A session with Creek yes-men Robb Nansel and Jason Kulbel that didn’t make the cut.

But first, a brief tour of the Creek’s lavish new world headquarters, where the company was forced to move by a combination of success and landlords. Like their old Benson digs, the new offices are unmarked, making them difficult to find among the catacombs of alleyways south of 75th and Cass — a faceless building hidden among faceless buildings. Once inside you still can’t tell you’re standing in the epicenter of the indie rock world. Sure, there’s CD artwork on one wall from the latest releases by The Faint and Bright Eyes and The Good Life, but little else distinguishes the place from any other low-rent, start-up squatter’s flat.
Nothing, that is, except for the sound equipment stacked in a shit pile in the center of the room, stuff that Kulbel said returned on the Bright Eyes bus. Among the goodies, a box containing the broken remains of an electric guitar, it’s neck a jagged piece of well-lacquered wood. Somewhere the E-bay gods drooled.
To the left, the “graphics room” where designer/hero Jadon Ulrich slouched bleary-eyed behind a computer. His walls are barren except for a cartoon-quality fan painting of Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst looking as if he’s standing on the face of the moon, his hair-swoop covering his face. “That came back on the bus, too,” Jadon says, grinning. “Isn’t it great?”

We stroll through the stock room, where boxes upon boxes of T-shirts, CDs and other “merch” are stacked in racks — a huge improvement over the flotsam found in the dirty basement storeroom of their old offices. Adjacent is another room used for packaging. It’s empty now, but it’s easy to imagine a small squadron of T-shirted hipsters bent over the long table, joylessly stuffing envelopes with oversized hoodies.

Boxed in a windowed corner office in the back stockroom is the label’s new accountant, Mike Brown, also working late (It’s tax season, after all). Again, no artwork on his walls. The same holds true for Nansel’s and Kulbel’s offices. The walls are empty while the floors are crowded with packages, CDs and other junk. Nansel’s office boasts a decent stereo system with a relic from the past called “a turntable.” He brazenly shows off a Metallica box set that an industry goon has mailed him. “Look, it’s numbered,” he points to a little metal label on the case, “but this one, see, it doesn’t have a number!” Cool, are you gonna E-bay it? Nansel scowls. “No, dude, I’m gonna listen to it.”

Alright, alright, enough colorful description. Where’s the newsy stuff I promised?

— Kulbel and Nansel said Creek releases for ’05 include a Cursive B-sides collection, solo albums by both members of Azure Ray — Maria Taylor (called 11:11, slated for May 24) and Orenda Fink (out some time later this year, after her wedding to The Faint’s Todd Baechle), and a new Mayday record. No mention of a new Desaparecidos album. When pressed, the duo just nodded their head, saying it seemed unlikely that Oberst would be able to record his tracks while on the road as originally planned.

— Lincoln’s Presto! Studios is moving to Omaha as their old Lincoln studios has a date with a wrecking ball. Mike Mogis recently purchased a large house at around 67th and Dodge that likely will be used as a studio.

— The Faint’s last album, Wet From Birth, has sold around 65,000 copies. Was it a disappointment considering the high hopes? Not at all, said Kulbel, though Nansel said he expected more. They predict another sales spike when The Faint hits the road with Bright Eyes for the Digital Ash in a Digital Urn tour later this spring.

— The much rumored Bright Eyes documentary, which began filming a couple years ago, is dead, Kulbel said. Another documentary, however, is on the horizon.

Before I forget — Happy St. Patrick’s day to y’all. I’ll hopefully be spending the evening at The Dubliner, getting lost in a frothy cup of Guiness while studying my brackets.

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