Ah, Daniel Blue. Where have you gone? How is a Tacoma-based alt-press paper's website supposed to achieve previously unfathomable hits and venom without your self-created name to drop?
The answer to one of these questions is simple and straightforward. Blue is living in Seattle, Capitol Hill to be exact, and his band, Motopony, recently OFFICIALLY announced their signing with new-on-the-scene indie label TinyOgre (though Jeremy Gregory's excellent account of Motopony's recent trip to New York to celebrate the signing in City Arts did kind of give it away).
So here we are. Blue lives in Seattle. Motopony is signed. And opinions in Tacoma - the place where Blue birthed himself and is both loved and reviled - are sure to hit the extremes. This much is certain.
In honor of moving newspapers, here is the Weekly Volcano's Daniel Blue interview.
(FULL DISCLOSURE: Yeah, Daniel Blue wrote for the Volcano back in the day, paid by the word (not miracle), just like everyone else. He's also designed cover work for the paper. We cool now? Something tells me you're still not happy. ... )
WEEKLY VOLCANO: Describe the journey Motopony has taken to get to this point.
DANIEL BLUE: I moved to Seattle because we were practicing twice a week and I was riding the bus to Wallingford with all my gear. It literally took all day to get there and back with a crappy practice in between ... but we started getting play on KEXP and were invited to do an "In Studio." I took it as my cue to let the band take over my life and living situation. ... In May we were called by a man in Austin, Texas named Tom Gimbel. He explained he had only personally managed one other act, Daniel Johnson, and that we were what he had been waiting for. If we were willing he would like to fly out, see a show and talk to us about representation. He did, loved us, we were ... pretty cool with him, while skeptical. ... In June he flew to NYC to follow up on an e-mail we received from the A & R of a start-up (record label) called TinyOgre. No one had heard of TinyOgre ... and they didn't even have a website ... but someone found out that the man who e-mailed us was the ex-A & R at a super major (label). Then we learned that the man who owns TinyOgre is Steve Learner, who was responsible for Windup becoming such a huge indie label, but had left with all his money to fetch orphans out of Africa. The story we got was, "Well, he's back now and he wants more money to fetch more orphans. ... He is looking for career bands, multiple album deals and you guys are his first pick." We were like, "Yeah right." But they flew us out to LA and got us drunk and full of sushi and the truth is, you can look into Steve Learner's eyes and realize there isn't a shred of evil corporate "The Man" in there. The dude is a genuine soul.
VOLCANO: Did you expect this to happen from the beginning?
BLUE: I have known this was going to happen since I was 19 ... when I had a dream about it ... woke up and started asking how to get there, full surrender. No lie - every choice I have made has been subject to this dream ... writing, fashion, Tacoma, 253heart ... etc. I knew it was all training for this.
VOLCANO: Describe the process of signing with a record label and everything that goes into a deal like this. What were the emotions when everything was finally official?
BLUE: (TinyOgre) spelled out a deal that splits 50/50 of everything after they are recouped. They said that as co-owners of the brand it would be a round table on all decisions. I had strict warnings from old hesher Tacoma rock kings to never ever, ever give up tour and merch ... but these dudes were talking about putting their initial investment in writing ... full support for three years and two albums, earmarked budgets IN WRITING - more money than I had ever heard any band get from any major. We thought about it and decided if they were willing to risk that much out of the gate and get us out there all over the world, then they deserved to be paid on the back end. It took us six months to go round and round with the 50-page contract. Our lawyer was meticulous and crazy about it ... but in my gut the whole time, I could check in and know it was the right path for us. By the time it was done, I was so emotionally depleted from having told myself I should be realistic and that "It might not happen and life has to go on." I just sort of got to New York in a daze. It felt totally fucking crazy, to tell you the truth ... like I was living in the dream I had when I was 19.
VOLCANO: The record will come out in the spring. What can people expect?
BLUE: There has been a total overhaul of several tracks from the self-release. There is one extra song, "Wait for Me," that we released as a single last spring. Buddy Ross is the producer, but it was mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound in NYC. We were there, and he had a note on the wall from John Lennon that said, "... If I'm not there in time, I trust your ear. Love, John." The album comes out in late May. A re-mixed/mastered version of "King of Diamonds" will hit iTunes as a single in a few weeks. We are working with Sony International for the distribution of the album. This music is scheduled to see the world.
VOLCANO: What does being with a label REALLY mean?
BLUE: For us it means a steady paycheck ... they didn't give us much up front to go crazy with. In fact they are kind of penny-pinching, which I think is good in a business partner. They put in writing that they would spend such and such amount of money, but it's not like we just have access to that ... which is a really good thing if you think about it. But for the next three years, if not more, we have all our living expenses paid for, they are beefing up our gear, we have health insurance and real tour support. ... It means that we get to be full-time music people. We get to live and breathe and eat music, no day jobs and no distracting self-promotion. No more long hours at the social network blah blah ... all that stuff is out of our hands and we get to FOCUS. Ultimately that's what sealed the deal. Freedom to create.
VOLCANO: How do you quantify your relationship with Tacoma and people's reaction to you here? The mere mention of your name invokes wild reaction. How does this emotional polarization make you feel?
BLUE: People love drama. They love to tell stories ... and stories that involve scandal or surprise are the fun-est to tell. Something about my passion does seem to polarize people, but you can't hug and kiss a website or a newspaper ‘cause words on a page are static, they are not alive. The truth is that I still have a great support system full of loving and lasting relationships locked deep in the heart of Tacoma. I know that, and the people who love me know that and so the rest of it is great ... it makes me happy to know I am getting under people's skin. It means I'm doing my fucking job. At the end of the day, my message is love, and haters hate love. This is the way it will always be, Tacoma taught me not to take it personal ... and for that I am eternally grateful ... and my love grows ...WIN!