The name on the card Artie had given me was Michael Knight. I had figured he’d be a guy a lot like Artie, but he wasn’t really. We played phone tag for about two weeks and then one day his secretary caught me at home and told me Mister Knight was on the line–after which she put me on hold for a few minutes. When he did come on he sounded incredibly uncomfortable that I didn’t have a last name.
I was even more uncomfortable with the deal he wanted to make, in which he would put up seed money for us to produce an album which he would then essentially own. He would then shop the product around to different labels. When I pushed him on the details, eventually his strategy came out–make a band big in the “underground” music scene, and then when the big labels start to show interest, auction them off to the highest bidder. I was cringing when I asked, “Is this what a music publisher does?”
He went on to describe other benefits he could provide, like contract negotiating and in-house producers, while I was thinking: isn’t that what a manager is supposed to do? I’d already heard more than enough but I let him go on until the clock read 6:15. “Look, I have a rehearsal to get to.”
“That’s fine, my boy. Send your demo tape around to me and I’ll send you a contract.”
My boy. Jeezus. Downstairs Bart was waiting in a no parking zone, leaning on the horn. “Oversleep?” he said as I slid into the passenger seat.
“Nah, talking to some dickhead on the phone.” I recounted the conversation.
“Shit, this is the guy Artie pawned us off to?”
“Let’s talk about it later. If we’re going to talk business, let’s have everyone here.”
“Like Ziggy’ll give a shit.” Bart said and then put a hand over his mouth mockingly. “Oh, I’m sorry, that was an uncharitable thing for me to say.”
Ziggy often acted blasé or disinterested over business concerns, but technically, I had all the control and decision-making power, so why should he get involved, right? I shrugged.
A few blocks later we picked Ziggy up and I started the story over again of Michael Knight and his “my boy” attitude. “Anyway,” I finished, “the guy sounds like a dickhead and I don’t think I want his money.”
“Sheez.” Ziggy said.
“Damn straight,” Bart pounded on the steering wheel for effect. “But what do we do now?”
“Why not do exactly what he was gonna do?” Ziggy sat forward and hung on the back of my seat, and I was a little surprised to hear him speak. “Cut a record with an independent label and become college rock legends. Bank on that infamy to major label stardom.”
I was about to object, like where were we going to get the money and how were we going to promote the thing and so on… but we were pulling into the parking lot by the rehearsal studio and I wanted to be playing rather than talking business. “Why the hell not,” I said as Bart jerked the car to a stop. “What the fuck.”
“Awright!” Ziggy jumped out of the car. “Let’s get cracking boys, my public awaits.”
Bart and I went about the business of getting our guitars out of the car and locking it up. When we walked into the studio, Ziggy was already standing in front of the center mic waiting for us.
Sometimes it helps to have someone in on the planning who isn’t given to overthinking.
Er, yeah. Although I’ve learned the hard way Zig’s always got a lot more going on in his head than he lets on.