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June 6-13, 2007

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Support for Unsupported Listening

By Darya Gilani

Music has always been used as a vehicle for selling things," says Sub Pop Records CEO Jonathan Poneman--and sometimes it's an actual vehicle. This year, Toyota and Urban Outfitters have paired up to sell more than efficient cars and clever T-shirts. Free music was on the rack Friday, May 25, as the two companies teamed up to help bands that rely on resources like streaming and community-based radio to get their sound out.

Fresh from a Philadelphia stop with the Rapture, Free YR Radio Tour brought a free appearance by indie-rock group Rogue Wave to the Urban Outfitters on Pacific. The band said they were only too happy to support local radio station KZSC.

Toyota reps are using this campaign to add a marketable personality to their newest compact model, the Yaris. Their goal is to build a following of youthful, creative people who are active in their chosen art, while at the same time show their support for independent music, according to a rep from the No. 1 car maker in the world.

Rogue Wave seems an unlikely choice for the show at first glance, considering the band's modest beginnings. Over the past three years, the group of four who came together through a free posting has come a long way though. Their 2005 album, Descended Like Vultures, produced by Bill Racine and frontman Zach Rogue, inked them into credibility and acclaim, which led to landing soundtrack slots on movies such as Just Friends, Napoleon Dynamite, and this summer, Spider-man 3.

The record delights cravings for pensive, wistful and dynamic alt-rock for the times when Guster is too harmless, and Death Cab For Cutie too relenting. In "Bird on a Wire." the vocals effervesce along the rolling and crashing of high hats and lead guitar, fading into a distressed call that proclaims, "geriatric at 20 years old/ break like a matchstick as soon as you're told."

MūZ had a chance to sit down with Rogue Wave before the show and discuss their involvement in the Free Radio Tour.

Drummer Pat Spurgeon acknowledged the need for resources such as free radio, and He described how these outlets enable a "flood of musicians to put their work out, sometimes for the worse, but in the end, that's a good thing."

Spurgeon is worried about the pending threefold increase in mandatory royalties that stations such as the ones their listeners depend on will soon have to pay to the Copyright Royalties Board (News&Views, May 30).

He and his band mates were surprised at the amount of money Internet radio stations will be liable for in per-song per-listener royalty fees, and were dismayed with what they predicted would be an end to many of the stations that brought them up.

They also stated that if the band "continues to have the ability to put out records, make money from making music and doing what they love." they would not hesitate to become involved in more fundraising events such as this one for KZSC.

As the colorful fans began to line up outside, and the stage was almost finished being prepped between the panty section and the cash register, MūZ asked the Oakland natives what they thought of Santa Cruz. "Santa Cruz has its own kind of crazy people here--happy crazy almost, and that's different from what we are used to."

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