Failure has a surging modern-rock hit with “Stuck On You,” but that’s not the thing that amazes drummer Kellii Scott.
He’s just gratified that the Los Angeles-based somber rock trio’s third album, “Fantastic Planet,” is in Tower Records, Wal-Mart, Spec’s, Blockbuster, Kmart, Camelot, all the chains and every mom-and-pop shop from Honolulu to Bangor, Maine. Period.
“We weren’t so sure that the record was ever going to get heard,” Scott said recently. “Our record company, Slash, was going through a bunch of shit. Right in the middle of our record, we find out Slash no longer has a distribution deal (with Warner Bros.).
“At that point, we started doing things for ourselves. It became even more of our vision as a band. We just wanted to make a great record. We knew that if we worked really hard and stayed focused about it, we could. Not necessarily a great record for the world but for ourselves.”
Mission accomplished. “Fantastic Planet” orbits with nervy, slow-burning tracks, from “Saturday Saviour” to the radio-ready “Stuck On You,” filled in between with a few space-age instrumentals.
The bulk of the songs were recorded while Scott, singer-guitarist Ken Andrews and bassist Greg Edwards were holed up in a rented hillside home owned by Lita Ford. All-night sessions fueled the band’s energy and desire.
“Of course, there were moments where you get tired of each other,” Scott said, “more or less just tired of working and working and working. Not to the point of ‘Oh, my god, I gotta get out of here.’ Everything was just going so well, it was hard to leave just because of that. On the other hand, you had to give yourself a break, like take off for a day.”
Two months in the studio stretched into seven.
“We got experimental with some of the songs,” Scott said, “and there was nobody up there. There was no red light, it was all green light for us. I think it was better like that. We had to get it out, without somebody standing around going, ‘Oh, no, you can’t do that.’ We did pretty much what we wanted, and it worked.”
But “Fantastic Planet” quickly came back down to earth, interminably delayed. Slash found a new distribution deal, now with PolyGram. Talks between the band and Slash went back and forth for months; meanwhile, band members kept themselves busy with outside projects: Andrews and Edwards worked with the Replicants; Andrews produced Molly McGuire and Blinker the Star, and Scott did some session work.
Then Scott took matters into his own hands.
“After we finished the record, we obviously didn’t know what was going to happen to it,” he said. “I went on this huge crusade, where I was making six to eight copies every day and passing them all over L.A. to industry people and friends.
“Everyone pretty much came up to the plate to at least ask what was going on, but I think we wanted to keep it a subtle playing game. We were hoping for Warner to come in, and as soon as they did, we affixed our attention to them.”
A few months later and Warner inked a deal, keeping the Slash imprint one last time for Failure.
“I have nothing even remotely bad to say about Warners,” Scott said. “They’re really, really on our side and that’s not a very frequent feeling from a record company. They’ve stood by us.”
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