Team Love’s ‘Financial Crunch;’ Schnase Returns to Cursive

This week is catch-up time for a couple news items that have been simmering in the background. First, what exactly is going on at Team Love Records, the label started by Conor Oberst and Nate Krenkel, whose roster has included Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Craig Wedren, Dave Dondero and Berg Sans Nipple? Eyebrows rose when it was announced that Nik Freitas' new album, Sunday Night Underwater, was going to be released on a different label (Freitas has been with Team Love since 2008′s Sun Down). Then word began going 'round that the new Tilly and the Wall CD might be released on a different label. Tilly's Wild Like Children is TL01 -- the first release on Team Love back on June 29, 2004. So, had the ever-decaying music industry finally dragged down yet another record label? Not at all, said Team Love exec Matt Maginn. "Due to the economy and a decline in sales in the industry, Team Love has decided to significantly reduce its number of releases and new signings," Maginn said. "The plan since late last summer has been to slow down and conserve cash in an effort to be able to do our usual proper promotion for whatever we release. So, basically keep the promotion the same but just much fewer releases. Our current roster gets priority, and of course since they were our first release Tilly is at the top of that list. With Freitas it was a matter of timing. He was moving forward at a time when we were just pulling back the reins on expenses so it was best for him to stay on his schedule." Maginn said the label has released three records and a documentary in the last 10 months, including new albums by Berg Sans Nipple, Dave Dondero and Refried Ice Cream. "There was sort of this initial 'The sky is falling' reaction to our financial crunch last year," Maginn said, "but the plan we have put in place seems to be working and we plan to continue releasing music and maybe even more documentaries, too." Maginn added that Team Love would love to release the new Tilly record once it's completed, "but as always, we only do one-record contracts so it is up to them to decide what is the best fit for their record," he said. Since I had Maginn's attention, I asked what he thought about moving to a vinyl-only w/download business model -- i.e., no CDs. A few touring bands told me that their fans only request vinyl when they're on the road, and I admit that I'm also a sucker for vinyl when it's available. "I like the digital and vinyl avenue, but it is a little tricky," Maginn said. "We sell a ton of vinyl at shows but (as part of) total sales it only accounts for about 20 percent when you take in digital and physical CDs at stores, etc. Vinyl is the best but the problem for labels and bands is that there is very little profit in them. You basically have to sell 80 percent of the product before you can break even. Vinyl costs five to eight times as much as CDs, depending on quality and packaging." In addition to being a label exec, Maginn is the bass player for indie rockers Cursive, whose core band for years also had included singer/songwriter Tim Kasher, guitarist Ted Stevens and drummer Clint Schnase. That was until March 2007, when Schnase, one of the area's most underrated drummers, quietly quit the band. Now Schnase is back, at least for one night. Two weeks ago the folks who run the MAHA Music Festival announced that Schnase will return to Cursive for the band's festival performance Aug. 13. Schnase said the opportunity to rejoin his old comrades was a matter of timing. "When MAHA announced that Cursive was playing I sent a text to Matt to say congrats on getting the invite," Schnase said. "He mentioned to me that Cully (Symington, one of the drummers who, along with Cornbread Compton, replaced Schnase) was not going to be able to play and asked if I wanted to fill in for the night. I don't think he believed me when I said yes. He had offered me a show here and there over the past however many years and the timing just wasn't right. This time it has just fallen into place." But anyone who has ever seen the shock-and-awe power of Schnase knows that he couldn't just pick up where he left off four years ago; it would be like Michael Jordan walking off the golf course today and strolling onto the court to rejoin the Bulls without so much as a practice under his belt. You have to knock the rust off. Schnase knows this. So to prepare, he's been playing in Weezer tribute band Pinkerton, with former Cursive member Stephen Pedersen, rehearsing for the past three months for last Saturday night's show at The Waiting Room. Sure enough, there was Schnase back behind the drum set in all his white-knuckle glory. No doubt he'll be ready to return to Team Cursive, but is this really just a one-and-done show? "Yes," Schnase said. "(I'm) not ready to jump back into the whole touring world. Don't know that I ever will be. I enjoyed nearly every minute I got to tour and share music with people, but I think that chapter is closed. I stepped away from it to start a family and settle down. I have a two-and-a-half-year old girl (Eleanor) and she is my world now. I stay home and take care of her. I'm in a great place." Lazy-i is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on the Omaha music scene. Check out Tim's daily music news updates at his website, lazy-i.com, or email him at lazy-i@thereader.com.

posted at 01:05 pm
on Thursday, June 16th, 2011

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