Sunday, August 17, 2003

2-CD idea defies convention



By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LISTEN TO "OHIO"
    Go to pastemusic.com. Click on the MP3 link next to the song titles to hear "Show Me," "Suitcase" and "Nobody Number One." You can also buy the CD there.
With the record industry in decline and labels slashing staffs and budgets in the face of epidemic music downloading, Over the Rhine decided to make that most anachronistic and potentially self-indulgent of records, the double album.

"I like the fact that it sort of flies in the face of everything that makes sense right now," says Linford Detweiler. "It's somewhat of a disastrous concept to do a double album, when radio programmers are receiving a hundred or more records a week and everything is soundbite-oriented, and nobody has time to really listen to the music anymore. It just felt like with our finely honed instinct for commercial disaster, it made perfect sense."

When Detweiler and his wife and musical partner Karin Bergquist went into Echo Park Studios in Bloomington, Ind., they had too many songs for one album.

Persuading their record label to release a double album was another thing. "The first response, the first verbal response we got from our A&R guy was, 'Well, we discussed it and we can't think of a reason not to do it,' " says Bergquist.

"I think when the idea originally came up we were probably a little unsure about it," says Virgin/Back Porch project coordinator Mike Bailey, who OK'd the idea. "The band felt really confident about the music. They felt really strongly about the two-CD concept."

What makes the label's faith in the band even more unusual is that, despite good reviews, their last CD, Films for Radio (2001), sold only 30,000 copies.

"We haven't worked up to the precious metals. This one only went cardboard," says Bergquist with a laugh. Nonetheless, Virgin/Back Porch has enough faith in OTR that Ohio also is being released in a deluxe, gatefold, double-LP vinyl edition.

The band will promote it with a tour that includes an Aug. 30 concert at Coney Island's Moonlite Gardens. It's the local debut of their new band - guitarist Paul Moak, bassist Rick Plant and drummer Will Sayles.

Right now, touring is the basis of OTR's success.

"We're still a band without a hit song," says Detweiler. "There were some real close calls. We'd be in line for soundtracks of some pretty big films, and in the last minute, they would put in something by U2.

"I think when the time is right, it will happen for us. We've been extremely blessed and simultaneously ignored. We've made a living, a decent living, for more than 10 years, and regardless of what happens with the sales of our record, we've got a good following on the road."




PROFILE: OVER THE RHINE
Over the Rhine under Cincinnati's influence
2-CD idea defies convention
Larry Nager review of CD

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