Local Wire

Butt Runneth Over

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"So I lean down, and it's absolutely disgusting," he recalls. "This was not like a banana split that you see at Baskin-Robbins. It's like some sliced bananas on top of his upper butt crack area, some ice cream that they'd thrown that had slid down his butt crack and gone through his pants. I was just ill, thinking, 'I can't believe I'm doing this.'

"All I can remember is taking two bites of the banana and making it look as obscene as possible and then just getting really sick," he adds, still a touch squeamish at the memory.

Hessel's momentary nausea was clearly evident (and thoroughly hilarious) on the broadcast, which, by now, had become awash with laughter and howling from Stern's cast and crew. "Even though it seemed like an hour, the whole thing lasted less than 10 seconds," remembers Hessel, "and then it was over, thank God."

With Stern and his cronies in hysterics and the phone lines lit up, Hessel had to endure a few more minutes of punishment as the incident was played and replayed on the studio's video monitor.

"Yeah, um, uh, it looked really bad," admits Hessel sheepishly.

Now it was time to face the music, literally, as Stern cued up "Swan Dive," the first cut off Gloritone's self-released demo EP Before the Paint Had Dried. Though the band had gone into Mesa's Saltmine studios earlier in the week to remaster the cut, this was essentially a home recording done on an eight-track at the band's practice space, not exactly high dollar production by anyone's standards.

Stern -- whose own musical tastes run mostly toward Nu Metal and rap-rock -- seemed ready to tear the song apart. "Hey, dude," intoned Stern, "this better be good after what you just did."

For his part, Hessel was confident. "I knew as soon as they kicked that song off that they were gonna like it. I've been a fan of the show for years. I know the show and I know [Stern's] tastes. So, the song starts and immediately I'm watching him and his reaction, and sure enough, he was sold."

So, too, were the rest of the usually merciless cast, who voiced their approval repeatedly, as Stern played the song all the way through, not once, but twice.

"Stuttering John walked in," says Hessel. "And he was like, 'Man, that's really good.' There wasn't a single person in that room who wasn't sold on the song."

Before the track had even finished, Stern took an on-air call from John Titta, Senior VP of Creative Services for Warner/Chappell, one of the world's leading music publishers, who urged Hessel to have the band's representatives call him. Titta would be just the first of several music-industry types to contact the show in an effort to get in touch with the band.

"I really didn't know what to expect. You can't go in there and think, 'Okay, we're gonna do this and then be deluged by calls from music people,'" says Hessel. "I thought, at best, maybe this could mean some good press, or some interesting press, I should say."

After the segment was over, Hessel was quickly ushered out of the studio and returned to his hotel just a couple of blocks from the station.

"I went back to my room and disinfected very thoroughly, then I walked around Central Park for the next hour going, 'What just happened?'"

Meanwhile, Stern was so enamored of the track that he played the song a third time at the end of the program, before reportedly calling Warner/Chappell's Titta himself after the show and offering up further praise for the band.

"As crazy as the stunt was, I felt like that validated it. That's what I would tell somebody who asked me why I did it," says Hessel. "There's so many good bands, and we're one of them; somehow you have to set yourself apart. I mean, we still have to go out and be a good band, but it's definitely opened the door."

By the time the day ended, Gloritone manager Charlie Levy had fielded half a dozen calls from interested labels, including Atlantic Records, Tommy Boy and Ozzy Osbourne's new imprint, Divine Entertainment. Radio stations across the country -- including FM powerhouses in San Diego, St. Louis and Kansas City -- asked to have singles of the song shipped out.

Over the weekend, the band's Web site (www.gloritone.com) logged several thousand hits, sold more than a hundred discs and received some 200 e-mails, of which an overwhelming number were positive. "Most of them were along the lines of, 'Yeah, that was really disgusting, but, boy, you guys rock,'" says Levy.

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Bob Mehr
Contact: Bob Mehr