Rage Against the MP3s
On a chilly Friday night at the band's rehearsal space on the northeast side of Phoenix, the members of local five-piece band e(v)olocity are looking at the photo on the back of their self-titled CD. The shot depicts the guys standing in a line, wearing eyeliner and adorned in red and black suits, looking very angst-ridden.
"You don't think we look too emo?" asks Jazz, the lead guitarist.
"That was when we were emolocity," jokes Raydn 1, who plays everything from turntables to sax in the group.
The picture's hardly fitting. e(v)olocity sounds like everything but emo. The band's debut disc for Nuerra Records includes hints of genres from hip-hop to funk to punk to ska, all wrapped up in a consistent hard rock sound and carefully crafted compositions. The album managed to make it between Motörhead and Metallica on Hardradio.com's "One Hour Playlist," but that was before the little guys got screwed. Again.
In October, Nuerra Records head Michael Phelan was told that Tower Records, in the midst of filing for bankruptcy, had liquidated all its stock (including commissioned items like Nuerra's CDs) and that none of Nuerra's products would be returned they belonged to the bank now. Phelan estimates the financial loss of e(v)olocity CDs at somewhere around $800. "This is careless disregard with the motivation of convenience and additional revenue (i.e., more numbers)," Phelan said.
But the band views it as par for the course. "It's a sign of the times. Tower's just the latest name in a series of stores that have gone under," says e(v)olocity singer Aaron. "With MP3s, I'm surprised any record stores are keeping their heads above water. The thing is, I don't think people realize that MP3s are actually a step back from CDs, as far as sound quality."
"People want something right now, and they're willing to sacrifice sound quality if they can download something in 30 seconds," adds Chris Gimino, the band's manager.
"It's kind of like a stripper," says drummer Cor(e). "You could have the hot one, but she's already doing dances, so you pick the lesser one and get it now."
Luckily for e(v)olocity, the band says its online presence has boosted its exposure, but the members aren't sure if it will translate into CD sales just yet. "I know eventually it should pay off," Aaron says, "but at what cost? Now, somebody can't walk into a store randomly and find us at Tower Records."
But they can walk into a local Zia Record Exchange and find the band. The chain's been stocking e(v)olocity's CDs and also hosting in-store performances by the band at all its Valley locations. The close confines of the stores have forced the band to adapt by playing acoustic sets, something the members say has helped them grow musically. "Us translating our songs into acoustic songs has really opened up a whole new possibility for songwriting and boosted playing ability," Aaron says.
The slew of retail gigs should also help e(v)olocity solidify its songs before it embarks on a 50-city tour (sponsored by Jägermeister) next February with California band Kicking Kate.
Hopefully, the tour will help move some of those good ol' CDs, too.
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