One of my goals when I moved to Cleveland in 1990 was to play music and release an album.
Eventually, I got to play in some pretty great bands including The Divine Invasion, Razak Solar System and Sean & Ian. The former two bands had CD-R EP releases—that was cool (I’m a big fan of the EP format) but they weren’t albums.
For some reason I became obsessed with putting out a physical album. I wanted it to be on vinyl, but as my time in Cleveland began to dwindle to a close, I could not wait six or nine months or whatever for manufacturing. So CD format it was—and 100,000 Years Of Sean & Ian was to be the album.
Someday I’ll post about Sean & Ian the band, how we formed, and our adventures. But for this post, the short story behind the album is: we recorded it ourselves at our studio, The Invisible City, with Mike Shumaker behind the board and Ian and I drove to New York City and mastered the thing with famed engineer Alan Douches at West West Side (which is actually in East Orange, New Jersey).
Then we sent the DAT master off to the plant—along with an absolutely killer cover painted by Stephe DK that has to be the most prescient album covers of all time right? It’s like 2020 twenty years early!
Ron Kretsch laid everything out for us (thank you, sir). We waited a a month and—knock knock!—there’s UPS at the front door with a dozen boxes packed with CDs.
Within a few months, l came to regret spending $1,200 (big money in 2002) on this vanity project which probably sold fewer than 100 CDs total. I mean, this album would have been much more appropriate on CD-R. Or as a download. But I was so hell-bent on having something physical. Something professional. Yeah it was an ego thing. But I also figured college radio stations might be more likely to play it (I saw how programmers at WRUW and WCSB at the time looked down their noses at CD-Rs, and how those homemade discs didn’t play 50% of the time it seemed). It was also intended to be my calling card in L.A.
Well, I still have a couple small boxes of these CDs sitting around—even after jettisoning most of them over the years. What a waste.
Some radio stations and reviewers did take it seriously because of the packaging, so maybe the professionally-pressed aspect of it did help. The CD was a nice intro piece for me when I arrived in L.A.—but people didn’t react as I intended. No one wanted to listen to the music in California (in the backyard of the music industry everyone is fairly jaded). But the slick packaging—it immediately established my producer cred. I’ll take that win (I’m still a producer today).
Anyhow, this whole CD escapade is water under the bridge at this point [I’m writing this twenty years later in 2022]. I’m still proud of our weird, wobbly music and—who knows?—maybe compact discs will have a renaissance in the future just like vinyl and cassettes have, and we’ll be sitting pretty.
At the time, we used the CDs as yet another excuse to have a bon voyage party.
The photos below are actually from at least three different Sean & Ian-led gatherings leading up to our farewell show with Coffinberry. Enjoy.
More classic Cleveland from 2002: