Spinal Tap is "Back From the Dead." At least according to the title of the group's new album. The June 16 release commemorates the 25th anniversary of the cult-classic film "This Is Spinal Tap."
David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) and Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) have "revisited and reimagined" their 1984 soundtrack compositions. They've also included six new songs on the album, which will be released on their independent the Label Industry Records.
Retail distribution and marketing of physical product will be handled by Artist2Market. Global digital distribution will be supervised by INgrooves, which handled releases for Dolly Parton, the Crystal Method and Thievery Corporation; the company is also overseeing digital marketing for the album and its accompanying promotional video content.
INgrooves founder/CEO Robb McDaniels says the group recognizes the importance of a digital presence. "They were determined to have digital drive the release process and the creative process because they feel their fans are hanging out in the digital world," he says.
The INgrooves marketing campaign features digital tie-ins, including an iPhone application with exclusive videoclips, pictures and a fan wallpaper; a YouTube promotion (starting June 22) that allows fans to compete to make the best fan-generated music videos of the band's hit songs; Spinal Tap video channels with promotional clips and unreleased footage; and custom voice tones from each band member.
"They've been very open to all our ideas," McDaniels says. "Their fan demographic skews toward 35- to 50-year-olds, but the challenge is to reach new fans as well."
The album includes the newly interpreted Tap classics "Hell Hole," "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight," "Big Bottom," "(Funky) Sex Farm," "Stonehenge," "Gimme Some Money" and "(Listen to the) Flower People." iTunes will offer an exclusive version of "Sex Farm" while Amazon will carry its own version of "Flower People." A free download of the previously unreleased "Saucy Jack"—from Hubbins' unfinished musical about Jack the Ripper—can be found on spinaltap.com.
New Spinal Tap songs include "Warmer Than Hell," "Short and Sweet" (with guests Phil Collen, Keith Emerson, John Mayer and Steve Vai), "Celtic Blues" and "Jazz Oddyssey." Through e-mail—and in character—Guest says the new songs "were chosen by our ability to learn them. We all write everything, although some of us write some stuff more than others."
The album, billed as a "perfect combination of loudness, vulgarity and a pinch of evil," was produced by CJ Vanston. "He's got great ears," Guest says. "He hears loud the way most producers hear soft."
Noting the tracks are louder because they're digital, Guest adds, "We've always burned with the desire to have people hear these songs as they were meant to be heard—with performance royalties flowing to us."
The physical release will include a pop-up diorama package that unveils three 12-inch action figures of the band along with a proportionally sized Stonehenge. The group will also release an 11-inch, limited-edition vinyl album.
The group also recorded a track-by-track commentary exclusively for iTunes. "We sent them into the studio to a do three- to five-minute commentary," McDaniels says. "Instead they turned in a 60-minute track-by-track. They did it in one take and it's spot on."
Touring acoustically in recent months on the Unwigged & Unplugged tour, McKean, Guest and Shearer will appear on "The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien" (June 15) and at the United Kingdom's Glastonbury Festival (June 27). A "one night only world tour" is set for June 30 at Wembley Arena in London. (The album's European release date is June 23.)
Videoclips from the original movie are on YouTube and Daily Motion, among other outlets, and a Blu-ray version of the movie is due July 14.
Shearer (as Smalls) says the group intends to stay active. "There are no chapters in this book, only page numbers," he writes in an e-mail. "There will be many future projects."