War Stories Drains the UNKLE Treasury
By David Downs
UK producer James Lavelle says SF crowds should check out the UNKLE live show this month, because it's not like it was cheap to make. Lavelle hit the road for the first time ever this year, supporting 2007's War Stories off of Lavelle's new label, Surrender All.
The 34 year-old Brit says the three-month old live expedition, which swings through San Francisco October 27 at Mezzanine, will offer a full, yet costly display on-stage. A full band, plus DJ, lighting, and visuals gets crowds “Restless” for the aptly-named new tune (featuring Queens of the Stone Age's, Josh Homme), but live “Restless” is pricey.
“I'm paying for this by myself,” says Lavelle. “I'm way, way in debt on what ...
I'm doing live because of the amount of money it takes to do this.”
“I think now there's a definite reason one should build up the live show, but it's not the thing with going live that everyone says. They say, 'It's all about making money on road,' even though 90 percent of bands don't make any money on road, until you cross a certain line.”
A UK band that has crossed that line due to relentless touring is Radiohead. Lavelle says he bought the $80 limited edition package when the band announced their new album 'In Rainbows' October 1, even though he can download the album for free.
“I think it's a good idea obviously for them, they're Radiohead. They can go and play a show and get paid a lot of money,” he says. “At a certain point you've got to give people something they can't get from downloading. We've been doing stuff like that for the last 20 years. We did a 50-page book with two cds and a hard case and paper bound sleeves and limited vinyl box set for the last record."
As a new, independent label owner, Lavelle says he's still trying to adapt to the new reality of free music.
“I'm not anti-[downloading]. I just think it is what it is. I don't know,” he says. “The reality is that most people I know download music for free all the time.”
Oftentimes, free downloads offer listeners a sample of what they end up buying, Lavelle says. To those who've sampled War Stories and preferred the taste of 1998's Psyence Fiction, Lavelle recommends a second taste.
“I think they're mistaken. They need to open up their mind a little bit more. Psyence Fiction is a different record that has its moment. I think 'War Stories' is a better album,” he says.
The album title refers to the personal stories of hardship in everyone's life, says James, not necessarily the war the UK is withdrawing from.
“It's a description of when people discuss their experiences and the certain sort of shit, the madness people go through.”
Any war stories from 90 days of touring for the first time?
“I think I haven't really had any war stories on tour. Just the physical, just the sheer -- what's the word -- “exhaustion” of it.”
Exhausted or not, Lavelle's expensive global expedition sets up camp at Mezzanine October 27. Expect stuff from all four albums.