|Song Haus Music
Home to Stonebolt, Stan Bush, Thrills, Britton and much more
We needed a record label like Song Haus Music. Owned and operated by rock fan Dane Spencer, the company prides itself on rescuing those hard-to-find or unreleased gems collecting dust in the vaults of the major labels and puts them in the hands of the fanswhere they rightfully belong. Song Haus is divided into two major initiates: The first, Rewind, reissues classic rock albums of the 1970s and 80s as well as previously unreleased works from bands recorded during the same time frame. The second, Aeria, represents a new force in progressive rock.
Over the years, many albums have achieved classic status from critics and music fans but have remained unavailable on CD until now. Song Haus acquires the rights and does a complete overhaul, which includes digital remastering, extensive liner notes, photos, and memorabilia. The progressive division offers creative music by new and established artists and works to expose quality progressive music to new audiences.
Spencer was a member of the legendary group Sojourn (the Spencer/Bullock duo) and is an accomplished session player. He has worked within every aspect of the Music business including production, engineering and retail. His partner is Eric Abrahamsen who runs Aeria. Abrahamsen has worked as a promoter for several national groups and is considered a historian on AOR and progressive rock. The philosophy behind the label is to build careers over a period of time, letting the artist develop at their own pace. This ideology, which started in the 1970s, has long since been replaced by the lure of the almighty dollar. Primarily, Song Haus is interested in music that will stand the test of time.
We selected four SHM classics for review in this issue. First up is Thrills 3. This is the legendary New York bands previously unreleased album. It has been given the full remaster treatment and is available as originally intended. The 10 tracks are laced with power keyboards and slick harmonies, each with a memorable chorus. Though heavy on the ballads, the rockers do get the record cookin. Try The Feelings Gone and Too Many First Times.
Hailing from Canada, Stonebolt recorded four albums in the span of a decade. After years of club work they had chart success in 1978 with I Will Still Love You. Organized for the first time is Regeneration, a best of effort with three added tunes by the reformed five-piece. The sound is crisp and punchy, highlighting Dont Ya Hide It, New Set of Changes, and Extra Mile.
Stan Bushs self-titled debut, originally released in 1983, has been among the most sought after CD reissues in years. Many compared Bush to Billy Squire and John Parr, but he really falls more in line with Rick Springfield. His ability to wield a tasty hook and melodic chorus gained him some radio prominence and moved his country/rock fan base (built from his days as a member of the band Boulder) more into FM territory. Dont Accuse Her is a classic!
Brittons Alien Romper Room is the brainchild of Michael Britton, but it is the whole band that get the job done with Allen Stewart (g), Jonni Lightfoot(b), and Mark Gallegos (d). The four serve up a platter of hardy hooks (Open Your Heart) and chunky riffs (This Wont Hurt A Bit, Barfly, and Angel) But the surprise is Destiny Finds Us, a rose among the thorns. This is a well rounded a disc with every song dynamic and well produced. A real gem. All of these CDs can be found at your local CD shops and online from NEH Records (www.nehrecords.com) or CDNow, CD Universe or CD Connection.
INTERVIEW WITH SONG HAUS PRESIDENT DANE SPENCER
TCE: How did you get started with Song Haus?
DANE SPENCER: Song Haus Music was started in 1997 by myself to offer an alternative to the major label system. I was releasing the Spencer Bullock album "Games of the Heart" and Dick Vanderbilt who is now at Island Records/Def Jam Music set up a distribution deal for me with Sumthing Distribution and he encouraged me to start a label. In the early 80's I handled all the distribution deals for my former band Sojourn and so it was a natural progression for me to start a label. I have known Dick for 15 years when he was at Atlantic Records. We remain friends to this day and he advises me on a weekly basis.
TCE: Song Haus has been putting out some killer reissues, Stan Bush, Stonebolt, etc Is that going to be your primary focus?
DS: The intention of Song Haus Music was to release all types of music and not just one specific genre, although I have released a lot of Melodic Hard Rock I have also released an Americana album by Tim Wray and a New Age/Progressive record by Colie Brice. I plan on releasing all types of music. I am currently working with the Trash Can Sinatras from Scotland and a band from Van Nuys, California that played on the Warped Tour this year (Army of Freshmen). Rewind Records our reissue imprint is releasing classic AOR/Melodic Hard Rock as well as Westcoast AOR. Aeria Records releases Progressive music only and that would include the Sony Music Progressive reissues also. Aeria Records is run by Eric Abrahamsen and has full control of that imprint. He does a lot of our publicity, A&R and also is a stockholder in Song Haus Music Group.
TCE: Building a label is a huge task. A lot of it is timing and much of it is who you know. How have your contacts helped you in moving forward?
DS: I have worked freelance A&R for Dick Vanderbilt while he was at Atlantic Records and now I bring a lot of new acts to him at Island Records. I will continue to work freelance as long as I have his ears and his other contacts he has to listen to the music I feel should be signed either to Song Haus Music or a major label. Dick Vanderbilt has opened a lot of doors for me in this business but I still must walk through and bring it home. In getting the deal for back catalog with Sony Music he helped with contacts and I then had to put the business plan together to close the deal. He will introduce me to someone he feels I should meet that either can advise me on running a label or contacts that will help me build a stronger label. Dick was co-owner with Doug Morris in Big Tree Records a small independent that was eventually sold to Atlantic Records and now of course Doug is CEO of Universal Music Group.
TCE: What's coming up in late 2000, early 2001?
DS: I have a lot of releases planned for 2001, some great reissues like Airborne's debut album, Silver Condor, Aviary, Peter Ivers and a lot more from the Sony Catalog. Kick Axe "Vices" is coming out in Oct. this year and their second album "Welcome to the Club" should be out by years end. The two projects we now have ongoing Trash Cans Sinatras and the Army of Freshmen already have major label interest. The Army of Freshmen are all about 21 years old and Jay Ferguson of Spirit, Jo Jo Gunne fame is producing their debut album.
TCE: Do your bands tour nationally and does the label offer any kind of tour support?
DS: Song Haus Music artists own their own masters and are self contained. We pay higher than normal royalty rates and if an act wants to tour that is entirely up to them. We encourage them to tour as that will only improve their chances for better record sales. We do not provide tour support. Army of Freshmen already have toured both coasts, played some major shows and venues and will continue to do so after their album is completed. They have professional management behind them and finical support that is funding their debut album. Colie Brice and Tim Wray both do a lot of dates per year and are hard working musicians that know the value of touring and of course love what they do. Michael Britton does a solo act as well as shows with his band and supports himself solely through music.
TCE: How can the music buying public get a hold of Song Haus releases?
DS: All Song Haus Music artists albums are at all major and independent music stores as well as all major internet mail order sites; ie; CD NOW, AMAZON etc. If you go to a store and its not in stock just order it as all our releases are at most major distributors, one stops etc.
TCE: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. One last question: Do you sign many new acts and what are you looking for in the future of rock?
DS: Song Haus Music does not sign a lot of artists each year we look at building careers and long term relationships. I really don't believe in studio project albums at all. These have become real popular in the AOR/MHR genres of late and I believe the fan has a hard time relating or keeping track of who is playing with whom. I am looking for that next new sound and great songwriter of the future not the next Journey that has already been done and really over done to many times this year alone.
Special thanks to Dane Spencer for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk about Song Haus Music.
For more information, check out their web site at: www.songhausmusic.com