"I suppose that it's the end of an era for us," Scars on 45 frontman Danny Bemrose says just weeks before his band's self-titled debut arrives April 10 on Atlantic's Chop Shop imprint.
For the better part of the past three years, the Bradford, England-based quintet has worked tirelessly, hitting strides, then stagnating; watching deals fall through, then scoring crucial breaks. The album itself is more than 2 years old, according to Bemrose, having been recorded by the band in 2010 in the basement of an old church that a friend was converting into an apartment building. That it's being released at all is a testament to the group's relentlessness, love of the music and some undeniably catchy tunes. [We've got a streaming premiere of the band's debut below!]
"It's a stamp of approval," Bemrose says of the record's release. "I don't want to say it proves that we were right, but it certainly gives us a pat on the back and a 'well done for sticking with it.'"
Like many young bands in England, Scars on 45-which also includes bassist Stuart Nichols, keyboardist David "Nova" Novakowski, drummer Chris Durling and vocalist Aimee Driver-started gigging around London, but with little luck. Bemrose recalls one record deal falling through the day of Nichols' wedding in November 2008. A few months later the bassist, expecting his first child, announced he could give only nine more months to see if the band could make something happen. Nothing did, and soon Bemrose was on the phone with Novakowski talking about calling it quits.
"And literally, and I mean literally, as soon as I hung up the phone, I got an email from Steve [Nice], our manager, who said, 'I just got 'Beauty's Running Wild' on 'CSI: New York.' It's $10,000,'" Bemrose says of the Scars on 45 song, then just a demo available on the band's Myspace page.
The "CSI" episode aired March 11, 2009, and with the money from the synch, the band bought a computer, a microphone and recording software; returned to its Bradford rehearsal space; and set to work making the record.
That same week, Nice, who runs Nice Management & Consulting, played some of the band's demos for Chop Shop head Alexandra Patsavas, who was struck by songs like "Give Me Something" and "Heart on Fire."
"The songwriting was so strong," says Patsavas, whose Chop Shop has supervised soundtracks for everything from the "Twilight" saga to "Mad Men" before expanding to a full-blown imprint. Struck by the musicianship and catchiness of the tracks, Patsavas signed Scars in November 2009. "The songs seemed incredibly cinematic, well-sung, well-crafted-just great."
Indeed, the dramatic builds, stunning harmonies and heart-on-sleeve honesty that mark many Scars on 45 tracks have found a home on several shows, including "Grey's Anatomy" and "One Tree Hill." And the songs can stand alone, too-"Give Me Something," the band's biggest hit to date, cracked the top five on Billboard's triple A radio chart last July.
The success of the synchs has helped propel the band into the spotlight, and Patsavas hints that more are on the way. In the meantime, Scars on 45 has been making its mark live, opening for the Fray and tackling its first headlining U.S. tour playing small and midsize venues earlier this year. On March 2, the group made its TV performance debut on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."
The slog may have been long, but it's finally paying off. Still, Bemrose says, "If all this went away tomorrow, I guarantee that the five of us will be in that rehearsal room six nights a week, exactly back where we were three years ago. There's no two ways about it."