June 2 was a special night for the British rock quartet Gene. It was the last date of a three-night series of soldout shows at the legendary Troubadour in Los Angeles. Everyone who’s anyone was there: fans, industry people, mindful A&R reps.
The final show was filmed and broadcast live on the Web through the Internet portal Worldwidetribe.com and Webcast specialists OnlineConcerts.com. A subsequent live album, “Rising For Sunset,” will be released stateside June 26 through the band’s Contra Music label.
The lasting memory for singer-lyricist Martin Rossiter wasn’t the glitch-free performance. It was a bottle of lager.
“Specifically because I’ve been such a good boy, living the life of a saint, and had not been drinking,” Rossiter said the next day as he and band mates Steve Mason (guitars), Kevin Miles (bass) and Matt James (drums) nursed hangovers. “It’s all since I’ve been in Los Angeles. Despite the fact that there was a Webcast and we were recording it for a live album, and despite all the distractions, all I could think about was the first drink. I had these visions, like a carrot dangling in front of me.”
He earned every drop. The band was told that the server couldn’t handle all the visitors to the Webcast; the last time the two companies hosted a Webcast, the band was told, the show drew 60,000 hits and the server didn’t overload. Hence, the Gene performance must have drawn many more visitors.
“I always hoped this band would spread by word of mouth,” Rossiter said. “Perhaps it’s taken longer than I thought it would, but it does seem to be happening. The people who like us, they genuinely love us. There seems to be a level of devotion that maybe some other bands don’t have. We’ve never been particularly fashionable. But having said that, people still love us.”
Previous, critically acclaimed albums on Polydor/A&M – “Olympian,” “Drawn to the Deep End” and “Revelations” – solidified their popularity. But the bottom dropped out after the Universal-Seagrams merger.
“I think everybody’s aware that we don’t have a deal in America,” Rossiter said. “We want to sell our records here. It’s simple one plus two equals three. We love playing live, that’s what we do. We’re a band. It has to be a certain quality, of course. There has to be a certain standard. But we’re eager to explore new avenues.”
Upon returning to London, the group will start work on a studio album.
“We’ve actually written it, and now the dull mechanics of finding a studio and a producer and trying to find a time when all three are available is the next step,” Rossiter said. “I’d love to think that it’ll be out this year, but experience says otherwise, unfortunately.
“This is going to be our first album, and what I mean by that is the first three, in essence, were merely a collection of songs, at the time a Polaroid of who we were at that moment. We’ve narrowed our borders and tried to be a little more strict with ourselves in what we write. It’s actually opened many doors, and we’ve discovered things about our songwriting. It’s a more rhythmical record, I think, and it’s probably a darker record as well. Frighteningly high number of references to holidays as well, for some unknown reason. Probably some sort of Freudian reason for that.”
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: ” ‘When the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day’ by Bing Crosby. Yes. It’s true. The thing was, I didn’t really understand records, and I wanted ‘White Christmas,’ so I went into a shop and bought a record with Bing Crosby on the cover and was shocked to discover it wasn’t actually on the record when I got it home. I learned my lesson young. I only played it once and realized it was utter pap. I think I turned it into an ashtray.”
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “Hinge and Bracket. I can’t even explain it. Let me think it over. It wasn’t really a concert. Actually, I remember my sister, who is four years older than me, smuggled me in under her coat to see a friend of hers, I think it was about 1981, in a band called Komic Opera. Of course, it had to be spelled with Ks, as it was in the early ’80s. It was in a pub, where we lived. I think there were only about 12 people there, but I got the bug. I got the bug for shows and pop music. It was an important night.”
THE LAST CD I BOUGHT: “Twelve Cello Suites, by Bach. I think it’s a German recording. I grew up with classical music. We didn’t have pop music in the house until I was about 9. Actually, my mum had one Beatles tape, which I found sort of hidden away at the bottom of a box. I was like, ‘Hmm, what’s this?’ I played it until it snapped. It excited me.”
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