2006 News Archive
All Juliana Theory news was originally posted on thejulianatheory.com website. Content is re-published with permission from the group.
The Juliana Theory is Dead
When the band formed in 1997, our goal was to record a 3-song demo tape and to play a couple of shows in the Greensburg/Pittsburgh area. Looking back on everything that weve done, we far surpassed anything we ever thought possible when we started this thing. It's been a wonderful ride and we all have many, many fond memories. We have chosen to end the band for practical reasons. There is no fighting between the 5 of us. We are as close as we have ever been. We just know it is time to say goodnight. We've been blessed in so many ways to have been able to do this for 9 years. However, many things have led to the decision to stop, although the thought of our die-hard fans has made it much more difficult. We wanted to thank all of you who have bought our records, come to our shows, bought our merchandise, downloaded our songs, shared our music with your friends, set up shows for us, housed us, fed us, worked to promote us, shared the road with us, and shared your experiences with us. We are nothing without you all. We know it sounds clich, but we couldnt be more honest. We have some of the sweetest and most loyal fans, family, and friends in the world. We are indebted to you all. Everyone who has worked along with us, and all of the fans that have stuck with us deserve our deepest praise. We have been honored by the love that has been poured out on us for the past 9 years. Thank you all so much.
In short, that's all there is to say. We could easily end this statement here, in fact, we are happy to end it here. But, to end speculation, those of you who are inquisitive can read below the dotted line for the extended story (and when we say, "Extended," we mean it. It might as well be a book).
Thank You Sincerely,
Chad Alan, Josh Fiedler, Brett Detar, Josh Kosker, Josh Chip Walters
The long story, if you really want to know it, is rather simple. We share a similar fate with many, many bands that are no longer around. It's nothing you haven't heard before and you will certainly hear it again. It's no secret to anyone familiar with the band that we hit the peak of our success around 4 years ago. It's never easy to watch something you built with your heart and your hard work slowly decline. We feel that our final record, "Deadbeat Sweetheartbeat" is our best album. It is the pinnacle of our playing and our songwriting. We are positive that it was the peak of the band's performance in a studio. Finally, we hit our stride as a real live band and made a record with actual energy and urgency. But in all practicality, things are not always as easy as recording a strong record and watching it succeed. We've had so many wonderful things happen to us throughout the years, but we've been plagued by one major thing since the beginning. We have always had problems with record labels. If there was any one major factor that we had to point to in order to explain the reasons why things have gone down hill for us, that would be it. Our first record deal was with Tooth and Nail Records. At this point, in 2006, T&N is an awesome label. They really know how to market their bands and get the music out to the kids. However, when we were on the label, we were the band they did not know what to do with. Blatantly not a "Christian band" like everyone else they had at the time, we avoided the market where they made the bulk of their money and their sales. Much to our delight, however, our first record "Understand this is a Dream" was selling decently well and we were able to stay on the road in support of it. When our second album, "Emotion is Dead" came out, it immediately got a reaction we never expected. People seemed to genuinely love the record. There was a natural momentum with the record that no label could really mess up. Things were going quite well, but we had no choice other than to take things to the next level if we wanted to keep this thing going for the long run. Tooth and Nail just did not know how to market us. Everything we were asking them to do for us were things they were not set up to do yet. All of those things we were asking back then are protocol now for artists in our wake like Mae and Anberlin. Maybe Tooth and Nail learned a few things from having us around but we were just there a bit too early.
So, in 2001, we jumped ship from Tooth and Nail, at a time when we were being wooed by almost every major label in the business. We ultimately chose to sign with Epic, which when looking back now, was probably the wrong choice. We were rushed to head into the studio and make an album when the songs were not all there yet. What we needed to do was write another 6 songs or so and finish the ones we had. Considering how rushed we were, we all think that "Love" turned out pretty well. Sure, it certainly could have been better, but songs like "White Days," "Jewel to Sparkle," and "Everything" are some of the best songs we've ever recorded. With this record, more than before, some fans complained that we changed our sound. We know we lost a part of our fan base when that record came out but that's just how it is now. Personally, as fans of music, if a band or artist that any of us loves puts out a record that we don't like, we still stay loyal to that artist and await the next record. Looking around now at the ADD society that we live in, things just are not that way any more. Many kids, especially in the "scene" that we ended up pigeonholed by, don't seem to have the patience or loyalty to stick with an artist if they make a record that is a bit different. Young music fans now are quick to dismiss and disown a band that changes their sound or their ideas. To see an example, just look at the posts on a website like Absolutepunk.net that will be inevitable when this news reaches websites like it. Many young music fans don't seem to believe in loyalty. You can't really blame the kids though. MTV and the fast food generation have made it all too easy to jump from one thing to another without ever looking back. We're not afraid to take the blame either though. Every time we made a new album and changed things up, we knew we were risking upsetting our fans. "Emotion is Dead" was really the record that put us on the map and we changed our sound too much for a lot of our fans to follow "Love." If you took a good listen throughout our catalog though, we always changed our sound from record to record and even on the ep's in between. That's what this band was always all about. As artists, we needed to do some things differently for our third record. There are things that we are very proud of on "Emotion..." but it's not the perfect album by any means. There are some really weak songs on the album and even some of the best tracks have major flaws. If you listen to the chorus of "Into the Dark" for instance, the vocals sound like a keyboard played them. In production, we robbed a lot of feel out of a lot of things. We punched in every other note on that record. Virtually none of it has genuine energy. Afterwards we just didn't want to do the same thing over again. We had also grown tired of the bubble gum pop of songs like "Top of the World." We all grew to hate that song soon after it was released. We understand that we got a decent percentage of our fan base because of that song, but we just had grown tired of it and songs like it and we wanted to move on. That's why we shifted so much in different directions on "Love." We still feel that, if the label had done its job trying to promote the record, we would have gained new fans with it, maybe enough to make up for the ones who were upset at the stylistic change. That never happened though. Epic had no interest in getting behind our record and as artists we had to follow our hearts, which was not necessarily what all of our fans wanted. And about the changing of sounds from record to record though that always was the magic for us. To this day, there are people who insist that "Understand this is a Dream" is the best thing we've ever done, yet a few weeks ago in Italy a group of guys came up to us to try and argue that "Love" was by far our best album. That dynamic has always been the case and is a part of our history that we are proud of. We are proud that we were able to make records that are for different moods and different periods of a listener's life. We never wanted to be a band whose records you put on just when you are in the mood for a short happy pop song, or for that matter a long, drawn out moody song. Maybe we were schizophrenic, but put "The Closet Thing" next to "The Black Page" and you can see what we mean. So anyways, let's continue the story. "Love" came out on Epic with a strong first week. Sales were quite good and we were on the 4 biggest tours we had ever done, right in a row. We didn't have support within the label though. After a month of virtually no promotion at all (skipping lots of things in our contract like a guaranteed video, etc), they pronounced our record dead. After selling over 30,000 records in a month with no video, no real radio push, and little else promotion for our record was already finished within the company. Forget the fact that Epic had spent big money to "test" (something labels do to find out how good of a chance a song has to be a hit single. This process involves panels of people listening to the song and getting reactions. Most of the times this "testing" is pretty accurate) 3 songs in which two of them came back as hits at 3 radio formats. It didn't matter. Our tour support was cut off during a tour with the hottest new band in the world at the time. A few days later, a drunken woman who headed the rock radio department at Epic Records came up to us at a show and told us it was our fault the record wasn't selling. She said that we, "Made a record with no heart." That was the final straw with Epic. You can tell us we made an album our old fans would not understand. You can tell us we made a record that sounds too slick or has too many songs or not enough songs or whatever. There were lots of things that may or may not have been true that could have been said, but we were never guilty of recording anything "without heart." Since the beginning, heart is what this band has always been about. So, we fought for a few months to get out of our deal until they let us out. They asked us to do the next record with them, but we declined.
After the disappointment of spending large amounts of time and money making our first record for a label with a real budget to promote us, only to see it fail for lack of support within the label, we stayed on the road and wrote often. In between tours, we would spend weeks and sometimes months writing new material. We were never one of those bands with songwriters that churn out tunes on a daily basis. With us, it always took a bit longer to craft a song. After almost two years of touring and writing and writing again, we ended up with the most and the strongest set of songs we had ever written for an album. On all of our previous albums, we wrote 10 to 14 songs and the minute they were done or almost done, we flew into a studio. We never wrote more songs than the minimum with the plans to narrow them down and choose the best ones for the record. We always hurried and often entered the studio a bit prematurely. With the 30 plus songs that became "Deadbeat Sweetheartbeat" and all of its accompanying b-sides, we were in no mood to rush. There were a lot of different directions that the album could have headed in. It just depended what type of songs that we were writing we wanted to focus our energies on. We ultimately chose to assemble our most cohesive and poignant record. We wanted the songs to be faster, shorter, simpler, and a lot more exciting. We spent months demoing the songs, playing all together in our rehearsal space. We wanted to make sure that we were prepared to go into the studio and play these songs like a real band. We knew that if they sounded complete in our rehearsal space without anything that the 5 of us could not do live, on the spot, then the album would truly translate live. We were ready to make an album that didn't need the help of tons of overdubs, punch-ins, digital editing, and general studio magic. If the songs and the performances were strong enough, we knew the extra sweeteners would not be needed. This album would be raw and to the point with songs that were more poppy than we had written in years. But, they were pop songs sung over very aggressive and often angry tracks.
A few months before heading in to record what would become our final album, we signed a deal with Rykodisc. We were very excited about this label. They seemed like a perfect cross between the huge major label world that we got lost in and the small indie labels that do not have enough muscle to really promote an artist. Ryko had a huge back catalog of records by Zappa, Bowie, the Flaming Lips, and other artists that continually sell. Money to get things done was not a problem there, yet they had only a small roster of new artists (hence more time to focus on us). They also owned their own distribution company, which was the largest indie distributor in the world. Distribution can often be an issue with indie labels. Sometimes, an indie is super excited about an artist but they cannot get their distributor excited. When that happens, the record usually dies because the label cannot properly get it into stores. With Rykodisc, that would not be a problem. They had spent a long time making money off of their catalog of old records and decided they wanted to get back into the business of making new records with younger artists. The man who who signed us was a fan of the band for years and we were promised that we would be the flagship new artist on the roster. Everyone we met there seemed really devoted to the band... This was until the top flew off. A few days before we started pre-production for the record, the entire staff of the company was fired. Everyone we had met that was onboard for the band ended up losing his or her job. Everyone was gone. The owner of the label decided that signing new artists and spending big money on promotion was not what they wanted to do. If we had stayed on, they would have done nothing for us. So, at the last second we wormed our way out of the deal and headed into the studio with our own funds and with the help of Josh, our manager.
We recorded "Deadbeat Sweetheartbeat" the way we wanted to record "Love." The first three records were done one instrument at a time, one person at a time completely meticulously. "Deadbeat..." was recorded as a band, live, all together in a room. We focused on songs and feel over "perfection." We had gotten our chops and our playing together to a level of tightness that we had never achieved in the past. All those years of touring paid off. We rocked the songs together and finished the album on our own. The songs were the most streamlined and punchy that we had ever done. We were very proud of what we had done on our own. We shopped our finished record around and had a decent amount of interest. However, once you have a record that fails on a major label, you are always viewed as damaged goods within the industry. It doesn't matter if that major label did next to nothing to insure your record would sell - we were a failure in the eyes of the industry. We knew there was a long road to climb to prove that we still had what it takes, and we were ready to put in the hard work. We wanted to have our records released internationally (as we had been trying to do for years). We were ready to make videos, have singles, tour as much as humanly possible and promote our record. After shopping the record around, Abacus Records is where we ended up settling. They told us they had the international thing covered. They were ready to spend the money (money in which we found out later they did not have). With big words and promises, they wooed us in. If we have ever made a horrible choice in our career, this was it. Soon after signing, we'd have given anything to be the forgotten little band on Epic or the band Tooth and Nail didn't know what to do with. Abacus wanted to help us succeed, but the company is in disarray. I won't even go into it, but there is no way in the world we could ever win with the situation going on there at the moment. I'm sure they will straighten out their company soon, but it will be much too late for this record and ultimately for this band. We could have recorded "Dark Side of the Moon" and it would not have done a thing in their hands. Next to nothing and only a few people are really set up to do proper business yet at that company. We really hope they get it together for the sake of the rest of their artists, but our hands were completely tied there. The thing about The Juliana Theory is that we always stayed strong through the hard times. Things that broke other bands up didn't ever break us. We watched nearly every single band that ever looked up to us or took parts of our sound succeed far more than we ever had. We lost two original members. We went through 4 record labels in 4 albums with more major disappointments than any of us can remember. We stayed penned into a scene that we all despised. But, through it all, we worked harder than almost any band we know. However, having our fourth record - the one we spent two years writing for - come out in the hands a label that could do virtually nothing that needed to happen for the record was the final nail in our coffin. Now there is no use in kicking a dead horse. It is what it is. Again, were not just pointing the finger at everyone else. We've certainly made our mistakes - some artistic and some on the business side - but we've always done all that we could do to try and make up for those mistakes. We'd love to keep doing this, but we are not at the place anymore where we can afford to survive off of the band alone. Financially, we would have to take regular jobs now to keep this thing going. We swore to ourselves years ago that we would not let that happen. We've always given 100 percent to this thing and it would be an insult to our fans and to ourselves to do it less than 100 percent because we would be spending most of our time making a living elsewhere. It's easy when you are 19, living in your parents' house, but when you've got bills to pay and people counting on you, real life hits you in the face. We are left with no other choice than to end the band. Like many of the bands that we looked up to when we started all of this, we die early and nearly forgotten. The dream is over. So there you have it: The honest truth. We love this band and all of the fond memories we share but the time has come. So again, to the fans who did their part by supporting us whether a label was doing their job or not, our hats are off to you. Without you all, there is no way we would have lasted 9 years. Our fans made all of this possible. Thanks to our Manager Josh and to our agent Melody. Thanks to our loyal crew of Casey, Jason and Mags. Thanks to Neil and Jeremiah. Thanks to Marty. Thanks to the countless others who had a hand in The Juliana Theory. Lastly, thanks to our parents, families, and Chrissy, Katie, Shae, and Kate. The Juliana Theory is Dead.
P.S. If you made it all the way through that ridiculously long explanation, you deserve a medal.
news from the road
The band has just posted the first tour diary entry from Europe in the BLOG. Juliana Theory In-store Signing in Yeovill