When Eric Bachmann wrapped recording on the latest Crooked Fingers album, he sat down with manager Ben Dickey to plot out his next move. They considered re-signing with Merge, which had released several of his previous albums, and discussed other possible labels. Then they took a look at the numbers.
“The history of Crooked Fingers has been selling around 10,000 copies per album, at least for the last four records,” Dickey says. “With that in mind, we decided that we might as well try to do something new and reach people in a more grass-roots way. We realized that we could sell a fraction of the number of copies the last albums sold and still be more profitable if we decided not to sign a label or distribution deal.”
Bachmann himself was skeptical about signing another deal. “I don’t know at this point [what the point of being on a label is], unless you want to have a massive marketing machine behind you,” the former Archers of Loaf frontman says. “Essentially that’s what I’m giving up, but I never really had that anyway, so for me it doesn’t make any sense.”
Dickey and Bachmann eventually decided to sell “Forfeit/Fortune” to retail, without a distribution partner. The pair connected with AJ Tobey, marketing manager for Flea Marketing, a promotion firm that specializes in indie retail.
“We decided to focus on a small handful of good indie record stores to get the project off the ground,” Tobey says of the set, due Oct. 7. They initially selected 20 stores, based on past support of the band and the routing of an upcoming tour, but the number keeps growing. The record will also be sold at shows, through the Crooked Fingers Web site and via iTunes and other digital stores.
According to Bachmann, there will be several versions of the album available. “We’ll have two versions of the CD,” he says. “One is standard. We’ll do vinyl through Foreign Leisure, a small label out of Chicago and Milwaukee. There will be a limited-edition deluxe version with a DVD and a CD, and a little bit of different artwork. If you order it online digitally as a download, you wouldn’t get the DVD. The first so many people will get a bundle too, like with a shirt and a hat. This is the typical stuff that labels are supposed to do but we’re going to do it ourselves this time.”
In contrast to 2006’s “To the Races,” which Bachmann wrote while voluntarily living in a van for two months, “this is a very arranged, louder rock record, with lots of strings, horns and saxes,” he says. Bachmann drafted tourmate Neko Case to duet with him on closer “Your Control,” which he describes as “really different than her style. It almost sounds like New Order.”