It’s been ten years. Ten years since Tally Hall’s last album was released. Most fans of the band today were not around then. In fact, some were literal babies at that time. And yet, it’s talked about every day by so many people. It’s a “cult classic” if you will, but really, it’s just a classic.
So there’s a lot that happened around this time that a lot of people missed out on. I decided to write this post to help bring people back to that time and either relive it or experience it for the first time.
First of all, if you haven’t ever read through the timeline of events from the start to the release of Good & Evil, you can see how many times we thought we were getting close and then delays and more delays kept coming. It was a frustrating time for everyone; the band especially, I’m sure.
Second of all, in the weeks leading up to the release, we had no idea what the album art would look like. So HITS held a contest for some very cool prizes that included an autographed drum head and some old backstage passes (also autographed).
Here are some of the submissions:
The last one listed here, by Tony Patryn, was the winner.
Side note: I made an attempt to get the winner of this contest to be included as an insert — kind of like an alternative cover art piece — in the official CDs. However after speaking with the band and manager, it just never quite came together but everyone seemed to like the idea. Oh well.
The album dropped and some people didn’t believe that the album art they were looking at was real. It was quite simplistic at first glance. Especially compared to MMMM. Could it be? It was.
At that time, iTunes was really the only way they could get this album out there to the masses and it depended on people listening and downloading the album from iTunes to help it climb the charts. Over the hours of June 21st… it did. It really did. But then, things got supremely messed up.
I’ll let Al McWilliams of Q+M (FKA: Quack!Media) tell the story.
How a Freak iTunes Error Smashed our Dreams.
Tally Hall is a band that has been just as spectacularly lucky and successful as they have been endemically and profoundly cursed. I started working with them in 2005; they were graduating the University of Michigan and enjoying the life that is being the hottest thing at a Big 10 university. These dedicated dudes from Michigan gained national attention with quirky Internet videos (remember Bananaman?) and three-part harmonies.
During this period of unprecedented good fortune, I happened to bump into Jamie Kitman (They Might Be Giants / OKGO) at a bar in Ann Arbor (really). A few months later he brought them onto his exclusive management roster. With Jamie’s help, they were ready for bigger things than our modest indie-label and signed to Atlantic Records in 2007. We all toasted success. They had made it. We knew the promotional muscle Atlantic could put behind their second album would get their music out the way it should be – rah rah, holy crap – these five guys are living the dream.
Then, there was nothing. They wrote songs, toiled in the studio, heard over and over again that the record would be scheduled for release “soon.” Soon, of course, never came. After years of waiting, their legions of loyal fans had dwindled to a legion of only the most extreme (and how!). Then, a full six years after the release of their last record… Atlantic moved on. Poof. Six years gone.
All was lost, right?
When I got the call that my long-time friends, and favorite band, were able to walk away from Atlantic with the record they had spent five years working on – there was no question – we could work with this! It’s a brilliant and deep record, and with an eye for sensible budgeting we could get it to the fans, and possibly make some new ones. We decided on a limited physical release and to bet heavy on iTunes.
I love iTunes. In all honesty, as an independent label, iTunes matters and the rest, well, don’t. Apple has figured out how to sell music to the people who want it at a fair price and send the lion’s share back to the artists and labels. We. Love. Apple.
On June 21st, 2011 Tally Hall released their first new music in six years… and it worked. We woke up to see “Good & Evil” climbing the iTunes charts. As an indie label, we’d never seen this before – our release there between Bieber and Britney!
What’s this? It’s #9 on the alternative chart? Holy. Crap. They. Did. It. This entire journey was leading up to this success. HURRAH!!!!
It started early in the day with good friends like Jonathan Coulton graciously tweeting the release, followed later by shout-outs from Schomyoho and Lupe Fiasco (who knew right?!). This is insane, and it couldn’t have (finally, for real this time) happened to a better, more talented, more deserving group of guys.
Then, sometime in the evening on the 21st
Apparently Tally Hall’s “Good & Evil” was a victim of what we’re told is “a backlog of re-indexing.” This multi-day process generally afflicts back-catalog items that no one notices are down for a few days. We have never seen anything like this before.
As we frantically called everyone we knew to fix it, and checked iTunes ten times daily, we watched the record fall back behind Brit Brit, then Biebs, then Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors,” and then off the chart all together.
Sure, these guys are used to the rollercoaster by now, but this… this was just cruel. It’s back up now, but the craze is over. The Internet that had originally given Tally Hall success with millions of video-views on AlbinoBlacksheep (yeah!) had so savagely ripped it away. Now there will always be a question mark on this band. What if it had kept climbing? What if it weren’t re-indexed? In the end, I think Bieber did it.
So that’s what happened.
It was a painful time. But maybe for the best? The band was going through a lot of tough times already. Maybe this was some sort of higher power saying “This is it, boys. For now, at least.”
The guys toured once in support of the album and when the tour was over, they all went home and got back to their separate lives.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to end on a sad note, but this is just the way it went down! Regardless, we celebrate 10 years of ampersands and duality and the continued support the record receives.
Longevity like this is probably better than any silly iTunes chart anyway.