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Looking for a Label

The Uninvited, formerly with Atlantic, will play at Nicholby's.

September 22, 2000|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Uninvited is more than just a 1944 ghost movie with Ray Milland--or red lights in the rear view mirror, telemarketers in the fourth quarter, buzzing flies at bedtime and, of course, the biggie--parents home early.

The Uninvited are also about the best original rock band you're likely to see in these parts on a regular basis. The band will be inciting fans to dance tonight at Nicholby's in Ventura. The opening act is Kitty Kat Stew.

The Uninvited have been around for a dozen years, an eternity by band longevity standards, and the brainchild of a couple of guitar-playing brothers, John (J.T.) and Steve Taylor. Both can sing up a storm, harmonize most heavenly and pen devastatingly hilarious songs. Bruce Logan is the drummer and Ladd Story has been playing bass for the last few months, replacing longtime member Bill Cory, who tired of life on the road.

Much like their own song "Mega-Multi-Media Hero," the Uninvited story is not unusual. A few years ago, they lived the MTV dream and landed a deal with giant Atlantic and released what amounted to a greatest hits album. They have recorded half a dozen albums with plenty of great songs, and they put on a powerhouse live show. But at present they are unsigned.

Why? Front man John Taylor discussed that and what it's like being in a band, a dream gig that is probably a lot like work.

Most musicians I talk to want to get signed. Is getting signed still a viable plan?

It depends on what your goals are. If your goals are to try to be a mass media sensation and sell millions of records--if you want to be a mega-multimedia hero--then that's still the way you have to go, just so long as you understand that this is not your immediate key to fame and fortune, especially fortune.

Did the Uninvited want that at one point?

Yeah, we did. But it's not our goal to be famous, but rather to have a career in music, and to be able to make enough money at this so that it's the only thing that we do. Right now, we all have day jobs.

In 1998 the band signed a record deal, so why aren't you guys rich?

Good question. The bottom line was that there was no one at Atlantic who was our champion. There was nobody there whose career depended upon our success, and that's basically it. They have so many bands on the Atlantic roster . . .. So they're looking at the new Uninvited record and the new Sugar Ray album--which one do you think is going to pay the bills? Other bands just kept getting priority--Sugar Ray, Collective Soul and Tori Amos.

And Tori Amos is much cuter than you guys are.

Well, yeah, so which record would you work? Once we split from Atlantic, we went into the studio and made a new album, "It's All Good," and capitalized on the fan base we established when we were with Atlantic. We tried to just keep it up, and at that point Bill [Cory] decided he didn't want this any more. It was perfectly understandable, because it's a hard life doing this. It's hard being on the road all the time.

It sounds like being in a band is a lot like work.

Absolutely. If you're an independent band, you are responsible for the promotion, distribution, bookings and all the road details. And yeah, it is hard work. Any band that wants to become the next popular band is looking at spending a lot of time on the road. . . . The last thing I want to do is sound like the complaining rock star, but it's 18- or 19-hour days every day. But the payoff of standing up there and doing a one- or two-hour show is pure bliss, and I wouldn't want to do anything else.

How often do you play these days?

Since Bill's departure, we definitely slacked on the road time. There has undoubtedly been some sort of fallback position for the band where we've had to reassess our goals, reassess how we're going to accomplish them and make some real heavy decisions about the future of the band and how we're going to make that future happen.

So what's the plan now?

A little more touring, and then we're going to start work on another album. It's just a matter of getting together with the band and working the songs out, seeing which songs are good . . . and deciding what we want the album to sound like. I think after we finish the next album, we're going to make another push to the majors. I think we would go about it in a different manner and try to structure the kind of deal we want. We would present it as a package. Here we are: We're a band with a new album with radio stations that support us and a national fan base and all these things, so this is the kind of deal we want.

I'm assuming this will not be Atlantic?

It probably won't be Atlantic. That's another point. Specific labels fit specific bands. RCA is a good label. They have Lit, Eve 6 and they also have Vertical Horizon, and I think we'd be a good fit with Dave Matthews. I think they'd be a great label.

How would you describe Uninvited's music?

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