Idols Never Die fail to make it in the music business,
it certainly will not be due to lack of battle plans.
Armed with a well-distributed new CD (Election Day
Fire, released in August), an unprecedented victory
over huge national acts on 103.9 FM The Edge’s notorious
Cage Match and daytime rotation in several Northeast markets,
the band is more than willing to discuss business, next
steps, and empire-building.
Overit/IND compound is a four-story, 19th-century Victorian
home on Albany’s lower Hamilton Street, replete with elegant
banisters, original molding and maple floors, installed
courtesy of guitarist Dave Stafford. The bottom floor,
however, rivals a NASA control room for square feet of
technology, with enormous flat-screen panels and baby
grand-sized printers and monitors like hedgerows across
cluttered tables. Drummer and Overit owner Dan Dinsmore,
a Britannica-approved portrait of workaholism, returns
from Cheesecake Machismo with a fresh coffee and whisks
us upstairs with a pace indicating that, at 7 PM, the
day has only just begun.
insane, dude,” Dinsmore admits, lighting a cigarette.
“I have two kids. I try to get up at 8 AM, run Overit
Media [which is] the ad agency, separate from Overit Records.
Meanwhile, guys here are working on record-company business.
Around 6 PM we rehearse, then I hop back on the computer
to tidy up the day until 3 in the morning. I’m not 20
anymore, but as you mature it’s almost like you can take
on more because you realize what you want.”
this year, having grown the band from the fertile (and
recently resurrected) remains of local favorites Clay
People in late 2003, Dinsmore and guitarist Mike Guzzardi
realized that what they wanted was to put Idols Never
Die on the map once and for all.
and I wrote some material that got passed through David
Chackler, who signed Clay People to Universal, to Mike
Clink,” Dinsmore explains. “[Clink] produced all the Guns
& Roses albums, Aerosmith and all these different
bands. He really liked our stuff, so we went out to California
and Philadelphia, laid down some tracks with him and basically
started creating demos for Idols Never Die.”
a 30-year veteran of numerous big record companies and
president of Luke Skyywalker, New Groove and Universal’s
Slipdisc (and largely credited with breaking acts like
Queen and Fleetwood Mac in the ’70s), liked the new material
so much that he partnered with Overit, giving IND access
to his marketing and distribution connections.
[Chackler] heard us he said, ‘You know, it kind of reminds
me of a combination between the new metal stuff and .
. . Queen,’” says Dinsmore with a laugh. “And we were
like, ‘Um, OK! Whatever you say!’ He’s got a lot of experience
and knows a lot of people. We’re looking into getting
the band onto soundtracks and some of the newer X-Box
games, so we’re utilizing his experience and wisdom, and
the big industry support, IND remains steadfastly independent.
Management, promotions and music production are all handled
primarily in-house, where staff (including singer Rocco
DiDonna) manages the daily work of the band.
do our own management with advice from other people like
Chackler,” Dinsmore says. “We can’t sit around and wait.
With us it’s less of a supply-side model . . . we focus
on artist development.”
you dumb it down,” says Guzzardi, “It means [you] take
your band’s CD and order just enough to push it only to
major markets. If the CD takes off, [you] order more units
and start pushing secondary markets. If it bombs, the
risk of having 20,000 unsold CDs sitting in a warehouse
has been eliminated. It’s fair for both the artist and
the label. Part of the reason for doing [Overit] was to
have more control over our own destiny. For the first
time in our careers, if the record flops, there’s really
no one to blame but ourselves.”
this way you don’t end up losing touch with what the real
point is, which is music,” emphasizes DiDonna,
who coined the band’s name from a forearm tattoo in tribute
to his father, who died from leukemia. At 26, DiDonna
is the youngest member of IND, bringing fresh influences
to the project that help the band compete on commercial
rock and metal playlists. “I have more of that At the
Drive-In thing going on, and I thought these differences
would hurt the creative process. But in the end it’s raw
rock & roll. Raw. There’s bands that put so
much crap into it, and it sounds so fake when it’s done.
We go in with our songs and just lay them down.”
hate to think that we have to target-market our songs
to certain demographics,” says Guzzardi. “When a band
gets it in their heads they have to write songs to fit
a certain mold, it just becomes so obvious to the people
that are truly listening. I think one of our strengths
when writing songs is that we realize this and try to
keep it in check as much as possible. If people have an
appetite for it, that’s cool, if not, I won’t lose any
the songs that drive the band,” Dinsmore adds. “We have
the radio people in place and trust me. . . . It’s huge
to get daily rotation on commercial rock radio. The single
[“Breathe”] is getting spun on the Edge in Buffalo full-time
. . . now Michigan and West Virginia affiliate stations
picked us up because they saw the Buffalo spin chart.
The hardest is the first one, so now it’s important that
we hustle to get spun in more markets. Funny thing is,
we won a Cage Match (“which is not a ‘local band’
thing,” bassist Eric Schwanke clarifies) on the local
Edge station, 103.9 FM, but we can’t get spun there.”
says that when pitted against national bands he was sure
they’d lose badly, but at least they were getting airtime
every night. “It was four wins before the final and they
put us up against Sevendust,” he recalls. “And we killed
them! And then we beat Disturbed, who had the biggest
song on the radio at the time.”
like, do they still not play Aerosmith in Boston?” Dinsmore
asks rhetorically. “Godsmack became huge because their
local station got behind them. Nothing against 103.9.
It has to do with politics and perception. Regent owns
the Edge stations, but you gotta get to the music
director. It’s not like the old days when you bring in
a bottle of Jim Beam and they’ll spin the record while
you sit and get hammered.”
and that’s a shame!” DiDonna declares.
is a shame,” says Stafford, sinking down in his
chair. “That’s the way it should be, because I’d have
a whole carload of Jim Beam, driving around getting airplay.”
band concedes the same hurdle with distribution, despite
Election Day Fire’s availability in Borders, FYE,
Virgin, Tower and other national outlets. “Our distributor
gets it to the stores, but there’s no guarantee the store
manager will do anything with it,” says Dinsmore. “We
call them ourselves and ask if they’ll play the music
and put up the posters, which we have to get them, as
well. So doing all the local FYE stores isn’t much of
a problem, but when you’re facing 800 outlets on the eastern
seaboard, it’s quite an undertaking.”
product is in the stores, the music is on the air, the
word is spreading and the quintet is more keen and educated
than most. So why no major touring plans?
not just going to throw ourselves into the clubs,” Dinsmore
explains. “If you’re lucky you get 50 kids at most shows.
But if you do one radio [-sponsored] show in front of
15,000 people . . . I’d rather do that once a month instead
of doing 30 with a dozen kids”
agrees. “We’ve all done the whole ‘go-out-and-spend-your-money-and-not-do-your-homework-before-you-get-there’
thing, so we’re really trying to do the work.”
not worth the expense, especially with the gas prices
as of late,” Guzzardi says. “Extensive touring to support
an album isn’t necessary anymore if you have a proper
game plan. Utilizing the Internet is a big part of it.”
is amazing,” says Dinsmore. “I have people who sit here
all day, and that’s all they do.” At this point, everyone
in the room looks at DiDonna, who raises his hand to testify.
here,” he says proudly. “I know everybody in the Northeast
and beyond. Just today some guy from Greece contacted
us through MySpace and wants to buy everything we have.
We have more traffic going there than through our normal
Idols Never Die consider this new reality, where information
is no longer a scarce resource and music can be blasted
in microseconds across oceans, to be effective only if
the band can deliver. “We’re just trying to be as true
to ourselves as possible, write strong material and throw
it out there,” DiDonna continues. “And if it’s good, it’s
gonna stick. Bottom line.”
gotta live the blues before you play the blues,” Schwanke
nods. “I’m stockin’ up for the revolution.”
to work, lads.
Never Die’s latest release, Election Day Fire is
available in all area music stores. Music from the CD
is also available at iTunes. For more information on the
band, its affiliates and live dates, visit www.idolsneverdie.com,
www.over itrecords.com or www.myspace.com/ind.