David Lowery's Aural History of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven
I'm shopping in town for our homemade Agrarian fortressYou're texting: Corian, granite or tile kitchenette in the gun nest?Well, we'll find a little meadow high up in the CascadesBaby, we won't ever come down
Yet even casual fans, or those who simply enjoy reading behind-the-music stuff, will find entries of interest. Particularly fascinating (especially for end-of-the-major-label-era historians) are Lowery's posts on how Cracker benefited in the long run by how its label, Virgin, mistreated the band.
In 1995 at the height of our popularity virgin became concerned that we would challenge their contract under the california 7 year personal services statute. They re-upped our contract. They offered us a lot of money per album. Ever since then our records have been un-recouped.This, it should be mentioned, is in a post for Cracker's epic kiss-off to Virgin, "It Ain't Gonna Suck Itself."
Wow that's bad isn't it?
No that's good. Virgin records bet us we would sell a lot of records. We didn't and therefore we won the bet. We got paid more than we were worth.
In fact if you sell enough records that you are getting royalties you should fire your lawyer and manager. Because that means they "sold" your rights for too little.
Cause as an artist your royalties are a small percentage of gross. Between 12 and 25%. And you pay all the recording/video/tour support costs from this 12-25%. So if you eventually manage to pay all this back out of this sliver of gross. The record label has made a fortune on the other 75-88%.
In derivatives trading terms. In 1995, Johnny and I went Short Volatility on our career. We sold a Call to virgin record against our future sales. And we won on that trade.
Hell, even new bands whose members have never heard of Cracker can learn something from Lowery's recent two-part history of all the cars, vans, buses and trucks in which his bands have toured. Buses are indulgent, vans uncomfortable. The band's current ride of choice? A 2006 Chevy Suburban:
We are now back to the most efficient and civilized way of touring. At least in my mind. I know sal doesn't always think so. he's 6'5". Quiet and smooth ride. You can ditch the trailer at the club or hotel and go off somewhere in the suburban. you can actually watch a movie and listen to music. And unlike the Sprinter the thing tows the trailer like the thing is empty. Love the suburban.Cracker and its Suburban will be in Alton tonight with guests Descending New Angels and Devon Allman's Honeytribe. General admission tickets are $5. Gates open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7.