Pop goes the Island

One major blemish on the local music scene is the way many clubs book gigs. Promoters often slop together a billing of bands so unrelated—from hardcore and pop to ska and jam—that venues empty out after one group plays because the next holds little interest for its fans.

The whirlwind of hippies, punks, jocks and hipsters passing each other in the night makes establishing a cohesive pop-rock scene on the Island nearly impossible.

Now three of the Island's best pop bands—Iridesense, This Island Earth and Early Edison—have joined forces to bring a full evening's worth of hook-laden melodies to the masses. They're hoping the new venture, Pop Conspiracy Productions, will halt the revolving door. "We want to build a crowd for what we do, which is pop-rock music," says TIE's Patrick Sciacca.

The bands are taking a page from ska and hardcore, genres in which groups toured as a package in order to create a following. Fans like hearing several acts in the same vein, and steady audiences would make club owners happy. "The concept of a coalition like this is not necessarily a new one," says Peter McCollough of TIE. "I think it's new in that I've never really seen it done with pop bands."

For now, the members of PCP like having just three bands. "By keeping it small, communication is easier," says Early Edison's frontman, Tom Ashton. "We make quicker decisions and get things done much faster."

They're also getting things done more cheaply. Any indie band will tell you that raising money for advertising is one of the toughest hurdles to clear. By pooling their dollars, the groups in PCP can easily afford ads that might otherwise be too expensive. For their last show, they bought 21 spots played over five or six days on WLIR, at a cost of about $40 per guy. "One band can't afford radio spots," says McCulloch. "But three bands, divided by 13 people, makes it easy to do."

If PCP's first show, which went down on September 24 at Nightingales in Manhattan, is any indication, the coalition has a future. The show sold out, and the club owner called two days later to ask when they could play again. "Clubs don't call bands back like that," Sciacca says. "As a matter of fact, the owner had to bring in extra help for the bar. They couldn't keep up with the demand."

"A lot of clubs, in all honesty," says McCulloch, "are so used to the same formula of putting three or four bands in every weekend and not paying them shit, but making sure they have a following. They don't care about the quality of the event. What we're trying to say is, 'Look, we'll organize the whole night for you. We'll put it together as a package and put a certain number of people in there and make it an event.' "

"Just have enough people behind the bar," adds Ashton.

Pop Conspiracy Productions will make its Long Island debut at 9pm Oct. 22 at the Downtown in Farmingdale, 516-293-7700.


Don't Call Her Daughter

The breakup of Daughter Judy in the summer of '98 left frontwoman and bass bombardier Pat D'Auria stumbling around the local scene, trying to figure out her future.

A brief attempt at resurrecting the funky and catchy DaJu failed miserably, leaving D'Auria even more despondent. Then, through the help of songwriting compatriots like Greg Jones and Wardance's George Von End, the 28-year-old D'Auria found the strength and confidence to return to making music—solo and unplugged.

I recently caught up with D'Auria in the basement of sound engineer Lloyd Pepper's Massapequa home, where she is recording a demo and doing pre-production work for an upcoming solo album. The 10-song disc should arrive in stores shortly after New Year's.

D'Auria says she's taking risks with her new songs. "I think I was afraid I would have to write folk songs and I don't," she says. "I was afraid that if I started playing acoustic guitar, I would lose my ability to write a rock song, and that's not the case. In fact, I'm doing some real exciting things."

In an effort to fine-tune her chops, D'Auria will be returning to the local circuit with her six-string Takamine guitar and black bass. She'll often be joined by her longtime percussionist, Lee Falk. To fit her new approach, she has rearranged two DaJu tunes, "Under the Weather" and "House of Cards," and added several hot tunes, like "Stain" and "Wonder Woman," to her repertoire.

"I'm now able to make decisions for myself," she says. "A lot of the problems that happened with Daughter Judy was because we did things democratically and that doesn't always work. Now, when there is something that I want to do, I can just relax and let it all come out."

PAT D'AURIA makes her LI acoustic debut with Lee Falk, 8pm Oct. 14 at Classy Coffee in Huntington, 516-421-5745.

 
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