[We joked a little at first about the lame gig situation the night before, and how many "exposure" or promotional gigs can be like that.]
Puremusic: Well, off the top, to me it seemed really, really interesting that you've done an album with a university instead of a label--
Jules Shear: Yeah.
PM: --when their orientations are so completely different.
PM: It sounds awfully good in theory, but how is it working out?
JS: Well, the record at this point has been out for three days, so I have no idea how it's going to go. There are certainly nice people at the top who have been around the music business. And the kids all seem very enthusiastic. But who knows.
PM: That's one thing right off the bat, to find enthusiasm that doesn't turn into disgust tomorrow. [laughs]
JS: That's right--which is more typical, I suppose.
PM: So how did they approach you? How did it come to be?
JS: Well, I made this record without a record label. I was going to take it around to some labels--or my manager was going to.
PM: Who is your manager?
JS: Peter Lubin, in New York. So, we heard from this label that they had heard about the record.
PM: Amazing, right?
JS: Yeah, it was. Marcy Wagman, who is the head person at the label, used to be a songwriter.
PM: Did you know her as such?
JS: I did a little bit, because we both had songs on this guy Tommy Conwell's record.
PM: I know Tommy by association, actually. He was a friend of my brother Billy, who was hanging with the Hooters at the time, et cetera.
JS: Oh, really?
PM: Yeah. Billy just made a record with the Hooters. Small world.
JS: It certainly is. So, we had both had songs on this Tommy Conwell record. We knew each other kind of that way, but I didn't really know her well or anything. And she decided that she wanted to hear this record if she could. And when she did, she just flipped, and everybody flipped over it. She played it for other people at the label, and the head guys flipped. And they thought, "Wow, rather than have something by a local kid, we've got an established guy we could get."
PM: Somebody with a track record.
JS: And I said, "That's okay with me. Let's do it." I figured it's an unusual kind of record.
PM: A worthy experiment.
JS: Yeah, that's right.
PM: But a lovely record.
JS: Well, thanks. I thought it was a really good record. I know it's a little under-amped--but that's what I was in the mood to do, you know. So yeah, we just decided to go with these guys and see what they could do.
PM: Wow. So how does their plan look to you? Did they lay it all out to you? Did they seem to have their ducks in a row?
JS: They seem to. I've got to say that I'm leaving it to them, and I'm not really getting too involved. My position is, "Here's the record. I'm at your disposal." I've done stuff for them already where I wonder--like last night, where I ask myself, "Who set this up?" I don't know what the answer to that is. I don't know if--you spend so much time trying to get things right, and then all of a sudden everything has changed. The record company has changed, your manager is changed, everything is changed. And some gigs will go great--I mean, we've had four gigs, and two of them have been like last night and two of them have been fantastic.
JS: So I don't know.
PM: Were the good ones regular gigs or like publicity radio type gigs, or--
JS: They were regular gigs. So that's been really nice, except that I'm going to have these ones like last night. And it's not like last night was bad, it's not like the people there were awful or anything. The people there were very nice.
PM: Yeah, and they liked it, too.
JS: Yeah. There just weren't very many people there. And that's the way it goes. Also I question the wisdom of doing three gigs at South By Southwest. I figure you do a gig, and as many as can get there will get there. But to do three of them is--
PM: Do you have two to go, or one?
JS: I did two, and I got one more to go.
PM: Where is the one still to come?
JS: The Dog and Duck Pub, for Pop Culture Press.
PM: Oh, well, that promises to be a better situation.
JS: Really? Because I figure it'll be like--you know, that thing where people are schmoozing all the time, and not listening. I just figured it'll be one of those. continue