From the Postelles' first meeting after signing to Capitol, the situation looked bleak. It was fall 2008, and the fresh-faced New York band was excited to discuss plans for its debut with its A&R rep and radio team. But the band couldn't help but notice packing boxes littering the office -- former Capitol Music Group CEO Jason Flom had just been let go a few days before.
"There were family photos everywhere. It was sort of sad," Postelles guitarist David Dargahi says. "We were sitting in his office trying to talk about how positive everything was, how we could help our record, and here are photos of him and his kids. It was kind of like, 'Ah, man.' " To hear the Postelles tell it, that meeting set the tone for what would prove to be a rocky relationship between Capitol and the band for the next two-and-a-half years. Last July, EMI dropped the group through a phone call from a company lawyer, bringing the relationship to an end.
"It's funny, because there were really great people at EMI who genuinely loved this band, but it always felt like there was someone above them who didn't press whatever button was needed to get anything done," says band manager Jonny Kaps of +1 Music, whose +1 Records released the group's long-delayed self-titled debut on June 7. "It was a comedy of errors by the end of the day."
Video: The Postelles, "123 Stop"
The Postelles -- Dargahi, frontman Daniel Balk, bassist John Speyer and drummer Billy Cadden -- met while attending New York's Columbia Prep. They played a number of local gigs while still in school, one of which led to a run-in with Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr., who liked what he heard. The Postelles share the same poppy garage-rock sensibilities as the '00s New York band (though with a sunnier twist) and he agreed to work on the Postelles song "123 Stop."
With buzz about the band's '60s throwback sound building at home and overseas, the Postelles signed to EMI in November 2008. That's when, the band members say, things got tricky.
"They kept pushing for a Katy Perry remix," Balk says. The finished product was delivered and approved by Capitol in August 2009, but after months of trying to secure a release commitment, the Postelles' team, according to Kaps, navigated the band over to EMI subsidiary Astralwerks in February 2010. A month later, the group released the EP "White Night," which Hammond produced, but the debut album continued to suffer delays. Finally, a week before the act was booked to play a soldout gig at New York's Bowery Ballroom and kick off a tour with Interpol, Kaps received a call from EMI's lawyer, informing him the band had been dropped from the label. The Postelles ultimately decided to go with +1 Records.
"We feel free to be a band now," Balk says. "We can go into the studio whenever we want instead of needing permission just to be a band."
"There is a great silver lining to what happened," Kaps says. "Together as partners, we can be creative and flexible, make quick decisions and provide great value while maximizing a rather modest budget."
The group has already seen momentum pick up for licensing, with songs featured in the CW's "Vampire Diaries" and "90210," and in the trailer for the film "How Do You Know," starring Reese Witherspoon. The single "123 Stop" was serviced to specialty radio in May and has been played on Los Angeles stations KROQ and KCRW, among others. The song goes to alternative and noncommercial radio this month.
"If we weren't so incredibly proud of this record, we would have stopped believing in it," Dargahi says. "From day one we were super proud of what we've done, and we're excited to finally put it out."