Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cartel: Next up, it'll be a baby with a baboon heart on bass

If you can't fight, my Mum used to say, wear a big hat. This, loosely translated into music terms, is "if you're a bit rubbish, come up with a big gimmick."

Meet Cartel. They're recording their second album in a giant bubble on Pier 54 in New York. They think it's about them, but it's actually a bid to try and persuade people to buy Dr Pepper, which is sponsoring the event. Dr Pepper's advertising used to be built around the question "what's the worst thing that could happen", illustrated by people getting caught in terrible, embarrassing, public situations. We can see how being in a third-string emo act making a record in a big bubble like some sort of de-evolved zoo monkeys could fit with that message.

Still, let's not forget there are real people involved here, real people, with real emotions and almost half a clue between them. William Pugh has been explaining why they're doing this to USA Today:

"This is just a bigger microscope — a crazy whirlwind in a fishbowl. We're preparing ourselves mentally for the worst, but I don't think we'll have time to freak out. Our goal is to create a good record."

A microscope that's a whirlwind - a crazy one - in a fishbowl. And that's the perfect way to create a "good record", is it? Rather than working on songs in a rehearsal room, then moving into a studio to record them?

The band, of course, will be cut off. Sort of:
"They're going to take away TV and most outside communication," he says. "We'll have limited cellphone and Internet usage."

Goodness. Limited internet. It'll be like being in Portugal or something. Or in an office where they limit your internet. Almost unthinkable, isn't it?
Pugh says the stunt bubble "is the best thing to ever happen to us. A platform this big can show the world that real bands still exist. There's no outside producer, no hidden magic, just us writing and recording. It beats the heck out of being in college."

Yes, it must be better than going to college, although it's hard to imagine your teachers are going to miss your contributions over much.

I'm not sure having a group of bouncing hormones sealed in a large weather balloon really does convince me that "real bands still exist" - when did real bands need stunts to draw attention to their work?

The person behind this - and her official job title doesn't include the word "Evil", so let's assume she really does think she's doing Cartel, and the world, a favour, explains more:
"The first hurdle was getting everyone comfortable with something that doesn't fit in the traditional marketing bucket," says Eleanor McDonald of MEC Entertainment, which cast a wide net to find a band with keen skills, telegenic personality and potential for drama. "This is a real band. Nothing is artificial or staged."

Nothing is artificial or staged. Which would mean that even if Dr Peppers hadn't ponyed up the cash, this band would still have been making a record in a giant sphere on Pier 54, then.

Still, good to discover that there is still, apparently, a "traditional marketing bucket". We feel the stirrings in our lower stomach that suggests we're about to fill one.


karlt said...

I'm still trying to parse the expression 'telegenic personality'.

simon h b said...

Tele = far off
geneis = birth

telegenic personality = someone who seems like they're very old

simon h b said...

genesis, even

Andrew said...

Australian alternative/art-rock band Regurgitator did something like this a few years ago, recording an album in a glass enclosure in Melbourne's Federation Square over two weeks.

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