"With Aezra, when we originally signed with them, we thought we were signing with an independent label; they were going to sign a bunch of respectable indie bands, who shall remain nameless," Jensen says. "One from here, one from California. They want to be a major and sign a bunch of different acts. We're not related to them in any way, shape or form except for the big stamp on the back of our record. Since then they've signed two pop artists, but they did put out a Toadies live album. That's rock. So we'll have some rock compadres on our label, and now they're talking to a pretty good rock band in Dallas, too."
Still, it's clear that Jensen -- who knows what label-conscious punk/emo kids are like -- bristles at the fact that he is on the same label as Robin Trower, dance-pop hopeful Sera, and Deep Blue Something, best known for the annoying-as-anthrax hit "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
"In the indie scene, people are just as loyal to record labels as they are to bands," Jensen says. "And when they go to the Web site and see a bunch of pop artists on the same label as what they consider a cool indie rock band, right away they dismiss that band. Who is this band on the same label as Deep Blue Something?' But at the same time, screw people who're gonna think that way. Those people need to grow up and like music for what it is. I don't make my decisions that way, and I think it's wrong for them to do."
Before Braille's Aezra affiliation has come with its share of luxuries, as well. The band is receiving tour support and distribution by BMG. And despite the hassles in mixing the album, The Rumor is the album Beyond Braille wanted to make, right down to the inclusion of five extra songs the band is not getting paid for.
"[That's] pretty standard," Jensen says. "The label only wanted 10 songs, and we're appreciative of the fact that they allowed a compromise for us to put about five songs on there."
Come show time, the Martini Ranch is filled to capacity. Any doubts that the crowd is here for radio-station freebies -- or following the mistaken belief that regular Ranch outfit Rock Lobster is playing tonight -- go out the window once Before Braille takes the stage. Jensen flails about like a man trying to shake demons off his back. Paired with Ringger on vocals, his voice is generally calm and melodic, a contrast to the pile driving the band provides. And once the set is done, more than half the crowd empties out.
That's always a good sign, unless you're in the band that has to follow. Whether these radio listeners or Scottsdale recreational drinkers will ever venture out to Nita's Hideaway or the Nile or Modified to see the band is another story. But they've taken their tentative first steps toward embracing Mesa-core. Rock Lobster might never sound the same.