After recording for seven different labels, Marshall Crenshaw has created a music subscription service that kicks off the day after Thanksgiving with a Record Store Day Back to Black Friday offering.
Crenshaw's three-song EP, featuring the new track "I Don't See You Laughing Now," is his first offering in a six-EP series that will be released over the next two years. Crenshaw funded the new operation through Kickstarter, a fund that grew to more than $33,000.
"Each EP will have an A side that's brand new and the B side will be a cover tune, something offbeat and weird that will have people scratching their heads, and a remake of something that has stood up over time," Crenshaw told Billboard from his home in Rhinebeck, N.Y., where his recording studio is housed in a barn.
The cover song on the first release is the Move's "No Time." The live recording is "There She Goes Again," performed with the alt-country act the Bottle Rockets with whom he often tours. Crenshaw recorded "I Don't See You Laughing Now" with guitarist Andy York and bassist Graham Maby.
The 10-inch 45 rpm vinyl edition is being released ahead of the series' official launch on Jan. 23. The second EP, targeted for an April release, will feature the new track "Stranger and Stranger" and, most likely, a live version of "Mary Anne." He refused to give any hints as to the nature of the cover.
"I'm pretty far ahead of the game -- the second one is almost done, the third one I'm pretty sure I know what I'll do and the fourth one I have a vague idea," says Crenshaw, whose better known pop-rock songs include "Someday, Someway" and "You're My Favorite Waste of Time." "When the last one comes out I want it to feel as fresh as possible."
The new "I Don't See You Laughing Now" was written while he was working on his last album, the 2009 release on 429 Records, "Jaggedland." "Lyrically, the song is a rant directed at a composite of villains," he says. "I thought about this disturbing documentary from a couple of years ago and while I was writing I was listening to the radio show 'This American Life.' It was a year after the financial meltdown and they were interviewing these young guys on Wall Street during their lunch break aboutwhether they felt any gratitude for the fact that they have jobs after the bail-outs. Every guy said they were employed because they're smarter than 95 percent of the people, these mediocre little pricks. It's a rant, but a pretty good one."
The Kickstarter campaign, wherein Crenshaw offered three EPs over 12 months with a pre-release download of each for $50, attracted 378 backers. He offered various bonus packages, including living room concerts and, for a hundred bucks, signed copies of the EPs.
MCT Management's Jessica Weitz, who co-manages Crenshaw with Barry Taylor, says the project "was solely fleshed out by Marshall creatively. We've entered into a promise with his fans and we know this is going to take some time, but we're our own bosses now, not beholden to anyone but his fans."
The series will be sold via marshallcrenshaw.com once it is relaunched and at Crenshaw's gigs. The price for the series is still being determined.
Crenshaw and his children started putting the 45s in the mail late last week. When the box records arrived at his house, he says, "I got the same sense as when I got my first record on Shake Records (in 1980). I love the way it came out."