Lazlo Bane’s story is tailor-made for Pause & Play’s “Where the Heck Are They?” segment.
The rock quartet formed in 1997, a year later was heralded the next Weezer and was signed to the Interscope-distributed Almo Sounds. Their 1998 debut LP, “11 Transistor,” featured an excellent version of Men At Work’s “Overkill,” with a guest appearance by Men At Work singer Colin Hay.
The album won over a lot of converts, but the group fell victim to the Seagrams-Universal merger and Almo Sounds’ subsequent demise. Diehard fans kept in touch with singer-guitarist Chad Fischer, bassist-vocalist Chris Link, guitarist Tim Bright and drummer Chicken through their Web site, but most people assumed they had faded into oblivion.
It turns out they had “All the Time in the World,” finally self-releasing their second album Dec. 3 through CDBaby.com. Regular viewers of NBC’s hit sitcom, “Scrubs,” will already know one of the album tracks: “Superman,” the show’s theme song.
Major record companies are courting Lazlo Bane again, but Fischer says they have learned their lesson.
“We’ve all decided early on, ‘Look, we can’t rely on the music industry to continue our making music, so let’s figure out a way we can make albums and do this on our own terms and our own time and have our own lives,’ ” Fischer said recently. “People are amazed that we’re still doing this.”
Credit for getting Lazlo Bane’s name back out there should go to “Scrubs” star Zach Braff, a fan who pushed for the show’s producers to use “Superman.”
“When the ‘Superman’ thing happened, it was just icing on the cake,” Fischer said. “It was proof that if you just do your music, get it to friends, don’t worry about being on top of the charts or getting on the radio, make a great record and be pleased with it yourself, good things will happen.
“Your friends will respond. Then if a friend of a friend ends up being on a hit TV show, that’s great.”
The band has played a few big-label showcases, most recently just before Thanksgiving, but Fischer honestly doesn’t know where it will all lead.
“Ultimately, our dream scenario of what we would want from a record company, I don’t think anyone would agree to do it,” he said. “The two years that are involved in making a record, handing it in and setting it up, it all hinges on one meeting on a Monday afternoon as to who’s going to get the allotted $500,000 for radio promotion.
“If you don’t get (that money), that’s the end of your record pretty much. When Mariah Carey can’t get her single in the stores, you know something’s wrong.”
Fischer has been on this treadmill before, having served a stint as drummer for Josh Clayton-Felt’s band, School of Fish, in the early 1990s. He replaced original drummer M.P. and played on the group’s ill-fated second Capitol album.
“For the second album, they hired a producer who came in and immediately brought in his own rhythm section,” Fischer said. “Producers have an idea of how the songs should sound and how they should be recorded and arranged. That’s the battle between the artist and the producer, and you work it out like a relationship.
“But what I found out that this guy was doing was pitting people against one another – Josh and Michael (Ward), who were really School of Fish. He would take one off to a corner and say, ‘I don’t think it should happen this way,’ and take the other guy off and say something else.
“Then everything was fragmented. He’d come in and say, ‘Okay, this is a mess and I’m going to save it.’ Everyone was so broken down at that point, they’d say, ‘Okay.’ “
It ended up being a great learning experience, Fischer says, because it was then that he realized his drumming career was tenuous at best.
“That’s when I started building my own studio, doing my own thing,” he said. That included performing on and mixing Clayton-Felt’s last solo album, “Spirit Touches Ground.” The LP was released by DreamWorks on Feb. 12, two years after he died of cancer at age 32.
“He was like a brother,” Fischer said. “We went to college together. We were in a band together in college. We worked together on each other’s solo stuff. We had a good solid month working together every day on the album just before he died.”
Clayton-Felt had been treated for testicular cancer, but he had no idea he was dying, Fischer says.
“Josh’s story has taken on mythic proportions,” he said, “because here was a guy who was so much about the music and had been beaten up so badly by the record industry. He made that record three times; he finished it on his own.
“It was all very spiritual, very much about a spiritual quest and about death, his relationships with friends and family … a record that record companies wouldn’t be interested in. Then he finishes it and he dies, and people start listening to it with totally different ears. There’s messages about going to the other side; there were titles like ‘Half Life’ and ‘When I’m Gone.’ People were going, ‘It’s almost as if he knew,’ that it was fate and everything was done for a reason.
“He was a great guy, that’s all there is to it.”
ORDER “ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD”: www.cdbaby.com/cd/lazlobane.
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: “It would have been a Beatles record, probably ‘Meet the Beatles.’ I was like 8 years old. There was a period where all you had to do was give me a Beatles record for my birthday or Christmas, which are around the same time.
“At that age, I was going to an all-boys school in Boston and everyone was obsessed with the Red Sox. They had the baseball cards and knew all the statistics on every player for the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Bruins, the Celtics, and I couldn’t care less. For me, it was all about the Beatles, like ‘Where was ‘Abbey Road’ made? What was that like? What kind of microphones did they use?’ “
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “David Bowie, the ‘Let’s Dance’ tour, at Foxboro Stadium. Bowie always talks about that album, that they were times when he was selling out. I think he thinks it’s a bit of a blemish on his artistic career. But, hell, man, that was a great album, and Stevie Ray Vaughan really kills on guitar on the whole record.”
THE WORST JOB I’VE EVER HAD: “When I got out of school, I went to New York City and was playing in a band. I got a job at a Gap on St. Marks Place. My job was to help open up the shop every morning. I had to be there at like 7 in the morning. I would sweep off the sidewalk all the human excrement that would accumulate during the night, and then I had to dust every corner and clean every hanger and mirror.
“I remember this regional supervisor came in on a Friday and pulled me off to the side and started telling me that ‘This place could be a lot cleaner.’ He started showing me techniques I could use to get the lint out of the corner of the changing room with an eraser. I think that was my last day working at The Gap. I had enough.”
ON THE WEB: www.lazlobane.com.
More updates: Joe Henry, Marcus King, Lily Kershaw, Poliça, Sarah Brightman, Jerry Leger, Simple Minds, Grateful Dead, etc