While I'm not going to spend a ton of time explaining the whole thing right now, I used to be a dude with a record deal. Briefly. It fell apart rather depressingly, but I did get a bit of a consolation prize: I got to actually finish my CD (we used to call them records or albums, for you whippersnappers) and release it on a label in Japan in 1996 - ten years ago.
The album was called "Steele," because my rocker-dude stage name was "Jeff Steele," and I didn't really have a band at that point. The name now makes me cringe a bit, but the Japanese label, Alfa/Brunette, thought that "Steele" sounded like a "strong" name for a band - I guess they'd never heard of all the other American bands with the word "Steele" in their names - and at that point I didn't really care much, I was just happy to put the damn thing out somewhere. Really, I was about done with the music business, but I did want to finish the album so I'd have something to show for 15 years of slogging it.
So we did it and put the thing out over in Japan. I have no idea how well it sold, though I do know it made the label some money. I never saw a penny, of course; the artist rarely does in the music biz. The guy we paid to play the drums on the last 4 tunes made more for that session than I think I ever made in my entire music career. (He did a great job, so I'm not complaining, it's only an example.) I never got to go over to Japan to play, because we couldn't line up a management company over there, which is essential, and obviously there wasn't a clamor for it, heh. So the album was released and sold, and at least a few thousand people there bought it. I hope they liked it.
I like it. It's not the greatest album ever, and there are some bits of it that make me roll my eyes, but considering how it came about, and also the fact that the songs on it were written at various times over a period of about 8 years and thus show some wild divergence in "style" and "feel," it's a pretty decent hard rock album. I think there are plenty of people out there who would enjoy it - if you like stuff from the 80s like Def Leppard, Van Halen, Whitesnake, Ozzy, the heavier end of "commercial hard rock" a.k.a. "hair band" or what the kids these days call "butt rock" music, you'll like this stuff. So, now that the song rights have reverted to me, I'm going to see what this newfangled Inter-Nets thing can do about helping me reach those people.
So, here's the plan: hopefully in November of this year 2006, I am going to release the "Steele 10th Anniversary Double-CD Set." CD #1 will be the original "Steele" album, exactly as it was released in Japan (though probably with different art on the CD, heh); CD #2 will be a bunch of remixes and re-dos of some of the original songs in different styles, just for fun, and maybe a new song or two. I've built a small recording studio in my apartment and I can pretty much do everything by myself. I hope I can get it all done in time, but I'm not going to kill myself trying to make that happen. My life is full of other stuff now, and doing the music is for fun.
As I'm making the new CD, I will blog the whole thing right here, logging everything that I do and record and learn. I'll put up MP3s of different bits to show progress and to get feedback - actually, if you follow this blog, you will have heard every last bit of the music long before I actually produce the CD. I'll be working on the album art and I'll put that up here too.
I have no idea if anyone will be interested in buying it, but that doesn't matter. I'm gonna do it anyway, because I like making music. When I lost my record deal and pretty much everything else in my life fell apart along with it, I lost a lot of my love for just making music - as opposed to trying to be a rock star, which is a very, very different thing from making music. For a long time, I just turned my back on it all, I was really bitter about what happened. It's still tinged with a bit of sadness, but I find that I still like to play and write songs, even if just as a hobby. And really, once you've been on stage and played in front of people and been cheered at, that never really leaves you.
I want to make music, and I want people to hear it, simple as that, though it's highly unlikely that I'll ever perform on stage again. So, I'm just going to do it.
I'll be putting up the whole original CD as MP3 files within the month, so anyone can grab them. I have a MySpace site, and I'll be putting some up there too. I'll be willing to burn full-quality audio CD-Rs for anyone who wants them, for a small cost to cover time, materials and mailing - but of course if you wait for the set, I'll be doing a full pressing and professional package, which will be a lot nicer and last longer.
And then in 2007, I'll be putting out new music - a CD of "post-Steele" stuff that should have been my first US album, which will be under my real name (heh), and maybe even another full CD of Steele 80's hard rock stuff - I've got plenty of it left over, trust me!
That's the plan. (But don't hold me to it too rigidly...)