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The Envy Corps
When the Envy Corps stopped by its nearby Clear Channel-owned radio station last year, the rock quartet had designs on hearing its music on a Sunday-evening local music show. The act didn't dream it wWhen the Envy Corps stopped by its nearby Clear Channel-owned radio station last year, the rock quartet had designs on hearing its music on a Sunday-evening local music show. The act didn't dream it would become one of the station's top songs of 2006. After all, the band's single "Rhinemaidens" is a delicately breezy slice of indie pop, with a slight touch of strings, whispy vocals and a slow-burning guitar melody.
The cut would fit comfortably alongside a Death Cab for Cutie or Shins song, but Ames, Iowa, station KCCQ (105.1) is more accustomed to rocking with such acts as Nickelback and Red Hot Chili Peppers. As guitarist Brandon Darner notes, to the college town of Ames—about 25 miles outside of Des Moines—local music is largely centered around metal act Slipknot. (Darner himself played in a band called To My Surprise with Slipknot founder Shawn Crahan.)
"Slipknot certainly gave some people the idea that they could do this, too," Darner says. "There's a lot of bands that spawned from them, but they're mostly heavy bands. There aren't many bands doing what we are doing, at least not with any kind of success."
Success is starting to come quickly to the Envy Corps. "Rhinemaidens" graduated from KCCQ's Sunday program to heavy rotation in a matter of days.
"We put that on, and it sounded different than a lot of the other hard rock we put on," operations manager Jamie Marchiori says. "Things just kind of snowballed from there. For such a long time, we would have listeners call the station and ask where they could get this, where they could find this in the stores."
A full-length should be done in May, but the band's local fans will have to buy it as an import. The Envy Corps are signed to U.K. label Vertigo Records—home to the Rapture, Dirty Pretty Things and Boy Kill Boy, among others—for every territory minus the United States.
Darner is hoping the band will have a better idea of its U.S. plans after the South by Southwest music conference in Austin (see story, page 33), where the Envy Corps will be playing multiple shows. "For us, it was just about finding a label interested in working with the band on our terms," Darner says. "We didn't have amazing specifics. Getting signed is hard, and we wanted a label that was really into the music."
Indeed, Darner attributes the Envy Corps signing first with an overseas label to the simple fact that Vertigo flew from England to Des Moines to see the band. "There were a lot of labels in New York or L.A. who contacted us, but we couldn't get them to fly to Des Moines," Darner says. "We were told there were no direct flights to Des Moines, just excuses like that."