Free is the way to be, at least for indie-pop troupe the Format, who is in the midst of a two-week stint of giving away its latest album, “Dog Problems,” for no charge. The effort, released through the band’s own imprint the Vanity Label in 2006, is available for download through TheFormat.com through July 16.
“It’s not like people aren’t already taking it for free elsewhere,” says Sam Means, the primary instrumentalist for the group. “Dog Problems” peaked at No. 11 on Billboard’s Tastemakers chart and has moved 57,000 copies in the U.S. so far, according to Nielsen SoundScan. “We’re in a situation where we have our own label and own our own stuff and can get away with anything. This will be for the kids out there who are like, ‘I’ve always wanted to hear them but I don’t have the money and I don’t want to waste time looking for it or risk anything…’ We want no excuses for somebody not having heard this album.”
While the Format continues to tour off of the success of “Dog Problems,” Means and vocalist Nate Ruess are starting to craft plans for their third full-length, due sometime next summer.
“We really need to sit down specifically to write, to get serious about it. It’s hard for us to work while we’re on the road,” Means says. One new song, “Swans,” will appear in the upcoming movie “Moving McAllister,” directed by Andrew Black and starring Jon Heder, Mila Kunis and Rutger Hauer.
The group recently finished a film of its own, taping a live show for a forthcoming concert DVD. Recorded June 14 at the Mayan Theatre in Los Angeles, the as-yet-untitled project was directed by Sam Erickson (My Morning Jacket, O.A.R., John Mayer) and will be released in October. It will feature a performance of “Dog Problems” in its entirety with Means and Ruess’ three-piece backing band, plus collaborations with members of Limbeck, Reubens Accomplice and Steel Train and more.
Those latter bands, plus the Honorary Title, Piebald and the British magician Mike Birbiglia, will be joining the Format on a summer tour, which kicks off July 13 at the Orpheum Theatre in itshometown Phoenix. The stint will continue through mid-September.