My Biggest Fan Story – Vol. 2
My story all started in July of 2000 and the founding of IndieVisionMusic.com. What was once a dream, a figment of my imagination, had become a reality by the time July of that year hit. I had started the site with one simple premise: to share my hope in Jesus through a website, which at that time happened to be selling independent music from a wide variety of faith based artists. I started Indie Vision Music to share my love of music and my Faith in God with a global audience of avid music listeners. I never dreamed at the time that my little (cheesy) website would go as far as it would over the course of 14 years on the web. This isn’t about the history of IVM because that quite frankly would fill pages and bore you to tears, this is about my time working on a little known Tooth & Nail compilation album called “I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2” that if you blinked, you probably wouldn’t know existed. In fact, it’s not even listed on any digital networks and tough to find on CD these days. I guess Capital Christian Music Group (Tooth & Nail Records back catalog current owner) would rather keep that title under lock and key. Read on for my story about I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2…..
So where does this story begin? Well I guess it starts in a bedroom slash office here in our home where I did all my “work” on my off hours from the day to day grind. I was selling quite a few independent titles from the office including Tooth & Nail/Solid State/BEC titles which I was ordering direct from their Seattle location. I’d email/call them and order a few boxes at a time and have it shipped down to me direct, avoiding costly distribution fees. The joys of dealing independently were awesome. This was pre-digital marketplace when people still cared about tangible physical product. Shipping these albums from my office in yellow padded mailers by the dozens daily was such fun and a blessing to “fill” with all kinds of freebies/goodies. I truly enjoyed doing this because of my love and passion for music. Plus, I got free stuff myself like demos, stickers, and the occasional tshirt. I was in music heaven, literally. So in my “dealings”, I had been chatting with people at Tooth & Nail and even got a hold of Brandon Ebel’s email. I remember emailing him at different occasions about some bands to check out back in 01′. Some of which included Too Bad Eugene, Watashi Wa, Sagoh 24/7, Two Timer, Buddy Ruckus, and a bunch of other “indies” that I have forgotten over time. I wish I had the responses but some were kind of funny. Short answers but usually consisted of sales numbers of a few of those band’s prior label releases like Sagoh 24/7. I recall him showing me Sagoh’s sales numbers from Rescue because I was pushing so hard for Tooth to sign them after I booked them to fly out and play our Church down here and met them in person. I was impressed with 3 of those guys (Stephen, Deon, Joseph) and especially Stephen (Steven) as a person. After some email back and forths and telling him that Too Bad Eugene/Watashi Wa were interested in Tooth & Nail (after talking to those guys in person at their shows at my Church here in Orange County), I think he bit (those bands eventually signed.
This leaves us with the inevitable Biggest Fan question. I loved music and especially compilations because I felt it was the best way to get independent band’s music heard by a mass audience. What better way to meld independent music and a mass audience than the power of Tooth & Nail’s distribution and marketing? So I asked flat out, “I loved “I’m Your Biggest Fan (Vol. 1), why don’t you let me do a Vol. 2 for Tooth & Nail?” I’ll do it for FREE just in exchange for maybe some CDs for my store? I was shocked that he said “Okay”. (I’m paraphrasing here because my memory is a bit fuzzy and i’ve lost the original emails considering that was about 4 PCs ago). I was dumbfounded that one of the biggest independent labels in the realm of “Christian” music just told me it’d be okay for me to put together a compilation for them. I also felt shivers run down my spine knowing that the pressure would be on me for the work that would await and the quality i’d have to uphold.
I immediately began seeking out some of the independent artists I was working with through Indie Vision Music both with the store product and through shows I’d done in the past. I’d also been communicating with bands on my own because people would write me all the time just to chat. I had been “booking shows” since I was in high school (but went on a brief hiatus for 2 years 98-00′ when I got married and needed some breathing room from the whole ‘scene’). I still had some connections and an in-road with that music scene. After putting together the “Reaching Out” concert series of 4 consecutive weekly shows back on 01′, I had met some bands and reconnected with a few others including the likes of Too Bad Eugene, Dismissed, Buddy Ruckus, Dogwood, Sagoh 24/7, etc. Our Church (at my pleading) even flew out Sagoh from Florida to play a small “intimate” gig in front a little crowd (although we loved it). I got to meet Stephen, Deon, and Joey (Joseph) of the band Sagoh (Later in Anberlin) and thought they were such swell gentlemen. We hung out and talked quite a bit. I stayed in contact with those guys for a long time after. So, I started assembling this compilation and contacted these local and national acts that I had become a big fan of (personal favorites). These were all bands I chose on my own and at my own personal discretion. I had no outside help or pressure other than a couple of locals that wanted on it real bad (Three for Flinching/Makeshift3).
Dismissed. These young high schoolers were an impressive group of guys. Singer/guitarist Dave Arthur happened to be a member of the youth group at the Church I attended which was led by my old youth pastor, Brett Clifford. Dave’s father was the worship leader at our Church and his whole family attended. I found out he was in this punk band called “Dismissed” so I checked them out and heard their demos. They were pretty rough but there was talent underneath. I booked them at the Reaching Out shows in 01′ and stayed in contact with them through the following year leading up to Biggest Fan 2. I got them connected with Scott Silletta (Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist for Plankeye) who had a studio in Orange. He took interest in them because he was launching/running a label called “Vanishing Point Records” at the time with the same style of music. So Dismissed entered Orange Crush Studios with Scott and laid down a two song recording one of which we would choose for inclusion on Biggest Fan 2. Scott would later “sign” Dismissed for a short time to his label based on the two songs to a development deal but then later change his mind. Stupid decision but good for me, a talk for another day. So back to the discussion. “The Fall of Friendship” was the song recorded for this compilation and I was there every step of the way during this recording, the one band that I can personally say that I was included in the recording process for this compilation, from start to finish.
Anberlin. I loved the sounds of Sagoh even though they were an under produced punk/rock band. I could see definite talent there underneath all the rough and aggressive “punk”. Stephen’s voice was unique for that style of music and even on songs like “Regrettable Paris”, “Celeste’s Song”, etc. you can see hints of future Anberlin music. Sagoh decided to change their name to Anberlin after a few members quit and they wanted a fresh start as a “new” band which I thought was a totally smart move. They might remember things differently but that’s how I recall it. They had a manager by that time and had begun shopping around. I had been chatting with Brandon Ebel and told him how good the band was. I think by the time Chad (Johnson) heard the Anberlin demo and passed it on to Brandon, they figured that out on their own 😉 So I stuck “Ready Fuels” off the Anberlin 3 song demo as the lead off track for Biggest Fan Vol. 2 because it was my favorite track by a band I firmly believed in and though had potential to be the next big thing.
Dogwood. I got Josh Kemble, a friend who i’d stayed in contact with for many years and booked at several different times in the past including my Reaching Out series. I was a fan of Dogwood dating back to their first Rescue album although Through Thick and Thin was the first album I really began to appreciate Dogwood music. Anyway, I got Josh to record a special “new” unreleased song for this compilation to make it more special and something the fans would want that they couldn’t get anywhere else. That song was called “Sanctuary” and it was pure DIY punk rock. Listen to it and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Slow Coming Day. I was following this band Slow Coming Day for a year or so ever since I got connected with bass player – Ryan McIntosh. He was like the band’s personal manager and hype machine. A totally cool guy who had big plans for the band. I saw the band play all over the southland, and everytime, they put on a captivating show. They were a tight live band and extremely talented especially for being unsigned at the time. So I knew I had to have them for the compilation. That’s when I asked Ryan for a song. “Loneliness Settles In” was their contribution and it was off their independent ep released before they signed with T&N. Ryan was the one who really didn’t want to sign with T&N and later quit the band over it, from I what I recollect. Funny story, Ryan worked at the CD Pressing plant and I connected with him on pressing the first Dismissed album (1st version) back in March of 03′. Orion Walsh, singer for Slow Coming Day is still one of the best vocalists around and now with his new “folk/americana” sound, it’s the perfect fit for him.
Next in Line. I first found Next in Line, a band from Nor. Cal. when I listened to their first independent full length “In Due Time” and sold a few copies in my online IVM webstore. I thought Anthony’s (Catalano) voice had that perfect Punk/Alt Rock sound and the guitar melody just fit the overall output coming from Next in Line. It was like a combo of Sugarcult, Unwritten Law, Smash Mouth, and Goldfinger, voice wise and he captured that although a bit slower on “Bye Polar”. Anthony was a producer as well and had a production set up as well as working with John Feldmann at one time for a while, which probably explains the style. I really dug this band even if the name was generic. This was the first time I’d ever heard a song use that voice effect (auto tune?) before so it was a little strange at first but I got use to it. I later snagged Next in Line and signed them to my own IVM label and put out “Traffic” in 2003. Anthony has recently started the band Little Hurricane with CC and released two insanely talented albums called “Homewrecker” and this year’s “Gold Fever”. Check them out, you’ll be an instant fan.
Buddy Ruckus. This band signed to Substant Records a little known label out of San Diego that also had Logos, and One Foot Forward. The singer of One Foot Forward (and owner of Substant) now is a solo artist playing in China. I had been selling Substant product in the IVM store and loved this new band Buddy Ruckus from up in Washington state. They had this melodic “emo” type alternative sound. That was aggressive yet poppy at the same time. I booked the band at one of my shows down here (Reaching Out series) and stayed in contact with them post-Substant. I asked the band to record a new song specifically for this new T&N compilation at which they complied and contributed “For the Sake”. A poppy yet aggressive song (even with a bit of screaming near the end) which stylistically was a rare sight and unique at the time. I later found out that T&N signed the band but they broke up and T&N actually had the rights to their independent release. (Weird). Brian Ortiz (Vocals/Guitar) later went to play in Telecast and is playing worship for Reality LA.
Name Taken. This band had a buzz around them from the very onset. They weren’t necessarily a “Christian” band by any means but had a few members that were. They had management and released a pretty good independent first ep called “The Silent Game” that I had when they first emerged as a band. Lance Brown, their manager (Now A&R at Dream Records), was a buddy I had connected with through his early “record label” called One Moment Records. He only released two albums, a Dogwood / Incomplete “Split” that I loved and a Compilation CD that featured a whole bunch of really cool bands including the very last Incomplete song. Anyway, Lance was also getting into band management under the “One Moment Management” banner and hooked up with the band Name Taken. I had heard their demos and loved their sound. After seeing them perform I knew I wanted this band for my compilation. I asked Lance and the band to record a “new” song (all the bands had to contribute “new” and/or “unreleased” music in order to be considered for this Tooth & Nail compilation) at which they said yes. That song was “Motionless”. The band was courted by several labels during this time including Hopeless Records if I recall. The band would end up signing with Fidler Records and would release their classic album “Hold On” in 2004.
The Rock Band. This Canadian punk/rock band was a group I had been following for a few years since I was also selling their stuff from the Salad Dressing Records roster of albums in my webstore. They had a unique sound although to be quite honest, I hated their name. Their contribution was “Help Me, Help You” and sort of had that Foo Fighters slash Face to Face type sound to it. Not bad.
Names Without Numbers. I was constantly in contact with these guys via email and selling their independent release(s) through my webstore leading up to this compilation album. Their experimental/emo/post hardcore sound was unique for the time period (2001) and their song “Waking From the Coma” really impressed me. The band would go on for a few years post Biggest Fan 2 but then break up. It’s a shame they never got signed or anything really significant happened with these guys because they had definite talent.
Three For Flinching. This Orange County band always tried to jump on my shows and Eddie really pushed hard to be on this compilation. I thought the demos pre-Biggest Fan were just ok but by the time this new song came out, the band had significantly improved upon their sound and gotten so much better. Orion Walsh (Slow Coming Day/Solo) played bass in this band and their sound was definitely punk rock akin to Dogwood, No Use for a Name and Yellowcard. There was even a bit of violin to be found on this song although you have to remember, this was 2001 😉 I really enjoyed this song and it’s such a tragedy to find out later that Eddie (Lead vocals) had passed on. Orion Walsh even covered this song although in a more Americana/Folk style which you can get on his bandcamp page here.
Custom Deluxe. This So. Cal. punk band was in contact with me from the very beginning of IVM. Their CD and one from OnceID were like some of the first independent albums I carried in my store (both were on the same little label run by Custom Deluxe dude Stephen). I was kind of a fairweather Custom Deluxe fan. I knew they had talent underneath it all but some of the songs I just wasn’t “feeling” at the time. When I heard the demos for this song, I did like it though and though it would be a good fit. I dug the “Ignorance is Bliss” era Face to Face type songwriting that Stephen (Hampton) was going for on this song. “Second Chance” was the name of the song.
Beauty To Ashes. I loved this band and followed them from the early days until they signed with Pluto Records and released their final album. Although their style would change quite a bit over the years, they had great talent and a penchant for writing fast, furious, and aggressive music. The band would sign to Vindicated Records (along with Beloved) which explains the Vindicated stamp on the liner notes although I don’t recall an ep or album on that label and I don’t seem to have one. Maybe I am wrong, but was their ever one? Anyway, the band recorded “Chase the Scarecrow” in 2002 and submitted it to me. I didn’t know what to expect. I was blown away by the rough, raw, aggressive sound of it and thought it would be a total riot of a fit for Biggest Fan 2. We were aiming for variety and keeping the total DIY punk rock spirit alive by including a cross-genre approach. This band definitely fit the bill. They were courted by labels and would later sign with Pluto Records.
Too Bad Eugene. “In Memory Still” is a sequel of sorts to the Craig’s Brother song “In Memory” off “Homecoming” that Adam Nigh (Too Bad Eugene singer/bass) had a hand in writing. Too Bad Eugene was a three piece punk rock band consisting of two former Craig’s Brother members – Adam and Andy, plus Adam’s brother Sammy Nigh on Drums. The minute I heard early TBE demos before “At Any Rate” after they departed CB before the turn of Y2K, I knew this was going to be a powerful band. When I heard they had signed with Mike Herrera’s (Mxpx) label Rock City Recordings and that Mike would produce the whole debut full length, I was ecstatic. I knew it was going to be good. Rock City released “At Any Rate” in 2000 to little fan fare mostly due to lack of promotion and the fact that the band couldn’t really tour. Plus, Mxpx were a heavily touring band and didn’t really have time to manage a record label so of course a signed band was going to get neglected. Anyway, that “At Any Rate” album was fabulous in every ounce of the word and Mike did a fantastic job with producing it (and singing backing vocals on a number of songs). I enjoyed it so much that I contacted Rock City via Mike’s Mom and began ordering copies of the album for my webstore along with Arthur’s ep. Good times. So I was booking shows again (took a break from 98′ – 00′ after getting married and for a few years after but that’s a story for another day, I was just a young one), and began connecting with these guys. I remember booking them at my Church for the “Reaching Out” series (see above) and just loved their style. I got to talking with them and if I recall correctly, Adam (Nigh) was open to the whole T&N experience again. So after I began the search for bands, they were one of the first I went after to get a “new” song from and “In Memory Still” was their contribution. I would later hype this band to Brandon Ebel and try to get him to sign them. I guess it worked out, although was short lived seeing as how they went on hiatus shortly after the release of “Moonlighting”. I still dig on both of those early albums although I think “At Any Rate” was the much better release both songwriting wise and production wise. Still such a solid band though all around.
Vroom. Vroom were such a unique and just plain, fun band to listen to. They released “Throws Like a Girl” in the year 2000 on Decapolis Records which is/was also a great website run by Conrad Tolosa (Former guitarist for the band Ghoti Hook). I had been selling the Vroom album in my webstore for a year or so and loved the band’s poppy-alt-rock type music akin to the great sounds of the 90’s mixed in with a little youthful yearning. It was like Weezer, Nada Surf, Bleach, and Semisonic, had a baby (if that’s possible). Anyway, I contacted the band and got them to submit a new song for this compilation at which they obliged and sent in “He Seems Like a Nice Guy”.
Dismissed. See above for my little Dismissed “story”. The band entered Scott Silletta’s Orange Crush Studio here in Orange County back in late 2001/02 and laid down two tracks, one of which ended up on this compilation. “The Fall of Friendship” was their contribution. These guys were all little high schoolers when this song was recorded and it clearly shines through in the way the song is written/performed. Although, the band definitely had talent and it’s evident in the style they played and the way it was done. I just loved these guys so much that I took a chance and “signed” them a year after this compilation was released after meeting over lunch here in OC and subsequently released “Taking the Good With the Bad” in March of 03′. This little band had been through the ringer and had seen a lot in their short experience together from the early 00’s of working with Scott and Vanishing Point all the way up to dealing with me and then going independent for the release of their (awesome) 04′ EP. Then finally changing their name to Kings to You and releasing an album in 07′ then calling it quits for good. I was so pleased to work with these guys on a personal level and watch them grow over the years. Not only that, but being able to book them at shows and sort of offer management advice. I tried hard to get T&N (through Chad Johnson) to sign Dismissed back when their 04′ ep was released, to sign them. Chad was interested at one point but still felt they weren’t ready. Such a bummer, because I think with Tooth & Nail’s development skills, they could have been the next Emery, Dead Poetic, Underoath, etc. at that time period. Such a weird experience.
Neutral Agreement. Where do I begin with these dudes? I knew Matt Jenkins for a few years, selling his albums (via his label Future Destination Records). His band Neutral Agreement was one of the first I connected with when I started IVM. I began selling the Future Destination product and I liked what I heard. I stayed in contact with Matt. Once I began to assemble Biggest Fan 2, I thought of Neutral Agreement and asked them if they’d be interested in being a part of it. They agreed and recorded a new song titled “Ten Summers”. The band would later go on to release a few more albums before calling it quits. Matt still runs Future Destination Records to this day and I still chat with him, more than a decade later. It’s amazing what the power of the internet can do and how it can bring people together from all over the world and across borders no matter where you live, even cross country.
Makeshift3. I booked these guys a few times. They had a very similar sound to Blink 182. In fact, they loved that band. Drummer Eric Mattson was the go to man for all things band related and was the ultimate “manager” for the band. In fact, he pressured just about everyone I knew about getting his band on shows and compilations, features, etc. If I recall correctly, I am sure Eric bugged me about getting on this compilation. Lol. I finally had to De-friend Eric on Facebook because I was getting all these personal Faith questions on there (as well as a few other IVM staff members) about myself (and other IVM Staff members) and it was driving me (us) nuts. If you’re reading this Eric, that’s just not cool man and I didn’t appreciate it. Sorry. Their song “Hiyada Martian 3” was the “new” song they contributed, recorded specifically for the compilation. It wasn’t bad, although certainly not my favorite.
Farewell to Fashion. This was a great band consisting of former Jeremiah’s Grotto members. My mind is a little fuzzy on this but I believe they were either on Future Destination Records or about to sign to Future Destination Records. Either way, they were connected somehow and that’s where I got in contact with them. I really dug this band. Their song was “One Last Time” and was a new song recorded just for Biggest Fan 2. Guitarist/Vocalist Ryan Dunson would later go on to start the band Rookie of the Year and you know how big they were in the middle-last part of the decade. Good for him.
Namesake. Funny story. I met band leader, Matt Aragon at a Dogwood show here in So Cal. and he was going on about how the band named their new album after him. I remember him telling some girls too about his name being on the band’s (Dogwood) album title. Lol. Humble, no. Cool, yes. ha. So anyway, I found out he also had a band called “Namesake” out there in Arizona and he gave me a demo. I checked it out and held on to it. The vocals were bad but the music was okay (much like most of the punk rock of the time period, and ‘Christian’ punk in general). I decided to give them a chance anyhow and asked Matt to record a new song for Biggest Fan 2 since Dogwood were also going to be on it, I think, or did Matt ask me? I forget. The band submitted their new song “Michigan Avenue” and I thought it sounded SO MUCH BETTER than any of the demos I had heard from the band. Of course like all good stories, this one came to an end much to early. The band didn’t do much and broke up. Well at least they live on through this comp. right? Guitarist Eric Epps went on to form the band Housman’s Athletes in Arizona and recorded an album with legendary producer Ryan Greene a few years back (listen on Spotify/buy on iTunes).
The Sunny Test. Great music, what can I say. I have no relation at all to Guitarist/Vocalist Brandon Joens, I swear. He was actually the singer for the band Incomplete, recruited toward the end of the 90’s when Incomplete figured out that they needed someone who could actually “sing” to make a go at it. Good for them because the Incomplete songs on the Dogwood / Incomplete split were actually really great. So I stayed in contact with Brandon for a few years and dug his “solo” material. His solo name changed a few times over the years (I forget the first name) but by the time of “Thoughts of Yesterday Vol. 1” came out on One Moment Records, he chose The Sunny Test. Lance Brown (Dream Records/One Moment Records) actually played on the project as well. I had to ask Brandon if he would record a “new” song for Biggest Fan 2 and he was totally down for it. So he recorded “Far Away” in his studio with Lance and they submitted it to me. I was totally digging that song. That was the last I heard of his “solo” material for a number of years. I chatted with him recently and he said he was working on some new stuff although I haven’t heard it yet.
The Culprits. Oh man, where do I begin with these guys. This is the PUNK band on this whole compilation. They embody the entire punk rock diy spirit in this song, “Fir-E Lost”. After hearing their early material and selling it in my webstore, I knew I needed them for my compilation. They were a little hesitant at first to work with T&N and I think they even balked at the “contract” that they were given but eventually went through with it. I thought these guys were awesome and had a sound that the “Christian” scene definitely needed, which was like a kick in the rear. The band would later sign to Blood & Ink Records. The band did break up and some members went on to form Since Remembered. There has been talk of a Culprits reunion in recent years although nothing has ever materialized. It also might be difficult considering there are a bunch of crappy bands using that name. DIY Punk never sounded so good.
So with this said, we now put “I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2” to sleep, and I put this part of my past behind me. It appears T&N has done the same seeing as how the album doesn’t appear anywhere online and is virtually out of print. One thing is for certain. I do remember hearing reports from the label that it had sold 4000 copies during the first month or so. Not sure whatever happened a year later. Back then, that wasn’t a huge success but then again, why would T&N be selling the comp for $10? They should have marked this baby down to $4.99 and sold it everywhere they could. They could have even done some sweet package deals with stores as giveaways. Anyway, I’m not bitter and I don’t fault them. It’s very difficult to market and promote a compilation of a bunch of “nobody” bands most of which aren’t even signed to your label.
A piece of info most of you probably don’t know is that written into the contract each band signed was a clause that said T&N had first rights to “sign” the band if they had interest. So say, Victory Records or Hopeless, or Fat, or Epitaph, wanted to sign one of these bands, they would have stepped in and said, nope, we have first dibs. They also “owned” the rights to every song on this compilation forever meaning the bands couldn’t re-release the same song recording on future releases. Although that didn’t stop some of them from doing that. lol. Also, I did run into a few bands that I was dying to get on this compilation that backed out of over the contract with T&N. I believe Seraphs Coal and Nifty Tom Fifty didn’t like the contract. If my memory serves me correctly. There were other bands I chased as well, but it just didn’t work out for whatever reason. Funny how things happen like that. There were a ton of really great bands at that time period too.
I just want to say thank you to T&N and Brandon Ebel in particular for being a huge influence on my life, even still to this day. I’ve been taught a lot about the way the industry works by that label. Some people may rip them but it’s because they don’t understand business and how business works. The only suggestion I would make is that you don’t have your male assistant prep a meeting in advance with some young kid like myself, I am sure you can handle it on your own 😉
Now as we await the 20th anniversary documentary film “No New Kinda Story” from Tooth & Nail Records that we’ve all been eagerly anticipating for months, I will sit and look back on a part of my life with fondness and kind regard for things it taught me and the personal growth I experienced. I will soon be putting behind me a site, Indie Vision Music, something that taught me a lot about life and who I am as a person plus how strong my Faith has become over 14 years, to continue on this next journey. It’s time for me to move on and cultivate a new beginning. I need to tend to my wife’s health, my business (Aaero Swiss/Machining), and my children. God has blessed me beyond words and I am so thankful. I shouldn’t take any moment for granted.
Thanks for reading this long, often self focused story, and for joining with me on my journey through life. I hope you’re not all too bored, reading.
Posted on November 2, 2014, in Articles and tagged Biggest Fan, Biggest Fan 2, I'm Your Biggest Fan, I'm Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2, My Biggest Fan Story, No New Kinda Story, Tooth & Nail, Tooth & Nail Records. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.