Tim Dorney can’t believe it. There it is, the cover of Republica’s debut album basking in the floodlights outside the Virgin Megastore in New York’s Times Square.
All the keyboardist and his band mates, lead singer Saffron and keyboardist Andy Todd, can do is stare.
“I never, ever in my wildest dreams believed I would be standing in the middle of Times Square and there’s the cover of our album up in lights,” Dorney said recently from RCA Records’ Broadway office. “It’s incredible. The first time we saw it, we were in just absolute fits of laughter. We couldn’t believe we have come this far.”
Reality has sunk in now that the British alternative-dance quintet’s first single, the hook-savvy “Ready to Go,” is at No. 68 and climbing on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
Dorney has come a long way from his stint in Flowered Up, a U.K. “flavor of the month” in the early ’90s. He is taking nothing for granted with Republica.
“Flowered Up fell to pieces, basically,” he said. “We ran out of money and things, and things just got harder and harder to work. A few lineup changes lost the edge of what the band was about. In the end, the singer quit. He was having a lot of personal problems himself, and he couldn’t take the pressure.”
Poor management didn’t help matters either.
“What we went through, I learned a lot of lessons that would help put another band together,” Dorney said. “I wasn’t nervous about (starting Republica) at all. I had already seen the pitfalls of what a band could go through. I wasn’t about to let that happen again.”
Dorney teamed with Todd, who had produced tracks for acts ranging from Bjork to Barbra Streisand, to form an upbeat, techno-oriented dance group. They wanted to add some vocals, and after a few auditions, they picked Saffron, whose resume included backup work for The Shamen, N-Joi and Jah Wobble.
“She’s a fiery animal,” Dorney said. “We wanted somebody with a bit of a personality, rather than just a dance diva. And she already had a track record as well. She’s a consummate performer. She amazes me every day.”
They added guitarist Johnny Male and former Bow Wow Wow/Adam Ant drummer Dave Barborossa to solidify its live sound.
After finishing their first song, “Out of This World,” they already had a label itching to sign them. For the U.K. indie Deconstruction, there was only one problem: The band needed a name.
“They had this deal on the table, ready to pay us loads of money,” Dorney said, “and they said, ‘Look, this is a legal document. You’ve got to have a name on it.’ We tried for ages to try to think of a name, but eventually our managers just locked us in a room and said, ‘You are not coming out until you come up with a name for this band.’
“About three and a half hours later, after some complete soul searching and some completely ridiculous ideas, we eventually came up with Republica. It’s been great ever since.”
BWF (before we forget): Salute Republica on the Web @ www.deconstruction.co.uk/.
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