All the News That Didn't Fit

On the Record

The Olympia Connection, Or Lack Thereof


The Numbness Is Just a Bonus

Hiphop City


Soul by the Pound


Incest is Best

The Rise and Fall of the N-Word


If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, Tell the Truth Anyway

You Don't Own Me

Summer Lovin'

Stagger Lee

Music to Lose Your Job By

Boy, You Sure Can Take the Fun Out of Music


Stuart Braithwaite From Mogwai

Going to New York City?


A Whole N'other Level

Who Says Morrissey Fans Don't Get Laid?


Not Modest Enough

A while back, I asked three professional musicians how it felt the first time they discovered one of their own albums in the used CD bin of a record store. Their responses, both humorous and humble, went a long way in dispelling the popular prejudice that most artists are unfeeling, egotistical assholes. This time around I interviewed a good friend of mine, Seattle musician Gerald Collier, about a very different form of rejection: getting dropped by a major label.

In late 1993, Collier's then-band, the Best Kissers in the World, signed a contract with industry giant MCA Records. The Seattle group recorded one EP (1994's Puddin) and one full-length album (1995's Been There) for the label, and then -- after a long, tortuous recording process, during which they were sent into mastering sessions three consecutive times by MCA executives -- their second album, the appropriately titled Yellow Brick Road Kill, was finally shelved for good.

How were you finally notified of your rejection by MCA?

When my A&R person, Jennifer Jay, was fired, followed by the firing of A&R president Paul Atkinson [of Zombies fame], I knew it was only a matter of time before my new A&R replacement would have the unenviable task of relaying to me and management that the stranglehold they had over the band, and the subsequent recording, was over. Since we had changed management in the middle of the stalemate that was Yellow Brick Road Kill, it was up to Danny Bland [manager] and attorney Chris Pederson to iron out the details of emancipation.

Do you feel like your rejection by MCA was handled by them in a compassionate, brutal, or cowardly manner?

Compassionate -- in the sense that, looking back, it could have been dragged out a lot longer, and they could have held us to stipulations in the contract that would have curtailed us from recording for seven years, whether it was for them or anyone else. Brutal -- considering that we'd spent a majority of the recording budget allotted for Yellow Brick Road Kill by doing demos, making one false start at the actual recording of the record, and [paying for all the] costs associated with making a record; i.e. studio costs, producer costs, equipment, and living expenses. And to add insult to injury, it was just before Christmas when we were dropped, and then each band member received cards wishing us a happy New Year. Unbelievable. Cowardly -- as it [had] been agreed upon by members of the industry, fans, and among the band members that this was arguably our best record [once it was finally completed]. The single "They Give Each Other Diseases" had been released on a Seagram's Sampler and was receiving airplay all over the nation, and gaining popularity, when the mandate finally came down that we had indeed been dropped. Imagine what it must have been like to hear that [our] song had finally reached medium-rotation on major radio stations across the country, and knowing it meant nothing, considering that the label had already washed its hands of what could have potentially been a respectable hit.

How did this make you feel?


What was your immediate response to such rejection?

It's Miller time.

Do you feel it's possible, in light of the treatment you received, for a major label to treat its artists in a humane manner?

Yes. But it's only in direct relation to the environment that major labels live in at the time. In other words, the record industry itself has changed dramatically three times [between 1980 and the year 2000]. It's my personal feeling that it was probably a little easier to sustain a career without a hit in the past than it is now. These days, it's about massive numbers. There are artists who have very recently been dropped from their respective labels after procuring gold records on their last releases, and that isn't good enough to sustain their relationship with the label. I distinctly remember a time when 75,000 records sold was considered a victory, not an embarrassment. No one should ever feel ashamed for selling 75,000 copies of anything, damn it.

Do you think rejection -- and all its related sorrows -- can provide a kind of artistic inspiration?

I wouldn't ask a Cajun chef to make me a pizza.

Is it worse to be rejected by a woman, or a major label?

Rejection implies that you were sent away without the rejecter fully getting to know you. Strictly surface stuff. I can say that I've been rejected by both labels and women after the party in question [had] gotten to know me well. The difference between a woman and a major label at this point is strictly academic. RICK LEVIN