In 2005, Egypt Central nearly had it made.
In 2005, Egypt Central nearly had it made. The quintet had just recorded its debut album with esteemed rock producer Josh Abraham (Korn, Linkin Park) and was signed to Jason Flom's Lava Records, a joint venture between the legendary record exec and Atlantic Records.
Then came the phone call. As lead singer John Falls tells it, the band members were together, "sitting in our living room. We had one phone between us with the speakerphone turned on. The moment we heard the news that we were being dropped -- that moment will stick with me for the rest of my life. I wanted to cry, throw up and scream all at the same time. It was a defining moment."
The band was informed that Flom was departing for a new job at Virgin Records and that Lava was being folded into Atlantic. Several of Lava's artists, including Egypt Central, became casualties of the consolidation. "We got caught in the crosshairs," says Falls.
But two and a half years later, it seems Egypt Central might once again be on the verge of something big.
Says Falls: "It became fuel for us to keep doing music no matter what. I don't mean any disrespect, but in the end, the people wearing suits aren't the ones who make records or buy records. We were determined to move forward."
The band decided to self-release its mostly mid- and up-tempo hard rock debut and -- thanks to the loyal fan base it had established in its hometown of Memphis and on the road -- did quite well, selling several thousand copies of "Egypt Central."
The group continued to drum up label interest and was even briefly signed to indie Bieler Bros. Records, but nothing seemed to stick.
Finally, Egypt Central's new co-manager Dave Cash decided enough was enough. As he explains, "I knew we had something. The band had been signed by Jason Flom and had a record produced by Josh Abraham -- there was no reason they shouldn't be getting label support."
So Cash took things into his own hands -- he started his own label. "Fat Lady Music was borne out of frustration that we couldn't catch a break," he says. "I just decided, I'll start my own record company and learn as I go."
Fat Lady -- a reference to the saying "It ain't over till the fat lady sings" -- released a remixed, remastered and resequenced version of "Egypt Central" on Jan. 15. The set, which is chock-full of radio-ready hooks making good use of the band's double guitar attack, bowed at No. 8 on Top Heatseekers.
Meanwhile, the first single "You Make Me Sick" has diligently made its way up the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, where it currently stands at No. 30.
Falls says getting to this point hasn't been easy. "We spent eight months writing before we ever played a show. We practiced seven days a week -- no days off -- for eight to 14 hours a day until we had the music where we wanted. And now we tour non-stop. It's hard, emotionally and physically. But when we look back on where we started, we get to reflect on how much we really put into this. It feels good to know how far we've come."