Following the release of 1999's "Electric Honey" on Capitol, New York alt-rock group Luscious Jackson called it quits. In the time since, the band members-singer/bassist Jill Cunniff, singer/guitarist Gabby Glaser and drummer Kate Schellenbach-have pursued solo albums and production projects, as well as families. A few years ago, Cunniff and Glaser began collaborating on a children's album, but nothing came of it, largely due to distribution issues. But last year, the trio learned about new options to fund and distribute music, and the band's fourth album, "Magic Hour," is due Nov. 5 on its own City Song imprint, followed by a children's album on Nov. 19.
"A friend working at [the direct-to-fan platform] PledgeMusic presented it to me and we were like, 'Wow, this is a whole new world,'" Cunniff says. "So we decided to regroup the band and make new music."
The PledgeMusic campaign launched Feb. 9, 2012, and offered an array of rewards for fans, including a tour of downtown Manhattan with Cunniff and Glaser for $700 and an acoustic living room concert for $5,000. The campaign kicked off along with a new song, "Are You Ready?," the first new Luscious Jackson track in more than a decade. The band reached 100% of its funding goal two days later.
The incentive for using PledgeMusic wasn't just for funding, but also to tap into an online fan base, which is why the campaign continued long after Luscious Jackson reached its funding goal. "When we started, we really had nothing," Cunniff says. "We went through the process of getting our Facebook page returned to us and that was the beginning of our social media. And that's an ongoing process. But the nice thing about it is we can potentially do this whole thing now."
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"The foundation is in the nostalgia, but the engagement is what creates the newness of it all," says Jayce Varden, President of U.S. operations for PledgeMusic. "By showing the real-time 'this is the making of this album,' they're bringing in fans originally based off that nostalgia."
As the campaign continued -- it ended Oct. 1 -- the band members went into the studio to make the album while putting a business team in place. The disc was produced by Cunniff and Glaser at their Brooklyn studio, and Beastie Boys' Adam Horovitz collaborated on the track "So Rock On."
"The album was like a puzzle that just flew together and there was the sound," Cunniff says. "That's the main thing with our band. We have a sound and it's very specific-and that was really exciting, to sort of come from nothing and form this sound again. So more than a vision, it was a reconnection. The coolest part was the continuity was there. I really felt like I get it. I get why we did this, I get why we were a band, and I get why this was so much fun."
For that reason, Cunniff sees "Magic Hour" as the beginning of something. The group, which has two shows booked in New York and Philadelphia this fall, is confirming TV appearances and West Coast tour dates, and has a number of music videos in the can. The band will also continue to make new music going forward, making this less of a reunion and more of a continuation that was interrupted by the realities of the music industry.
"When we left in the late '90s, I felt like I was so done with this," Cunniff says. "And now some 13 years later, and suddenly it's looking a whole lot better. [It] looks like fun. I couldn't appreciate [that] at the end because we'd been through such turmoil. It's tumultuous being on a major label. We had an amazing time and it went as far as we could get it to go. So to come back together was sort of surprising. It's just the time and perspective have made it refreshed and renewed for us."