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Eagle*Seagull

This Nebraska group has international appeal.

Despite a lukewarm reception in the States, romantics overseas are falling head over heels for Nebraska's Eagle*Seagull. Given Europe's predilection for artful music, it's not hard to see why. There's plenty to love about this sextet's visceral chamber pop, which drips with raw emotion and unrequited love one moment and jumps from whimsy to in-the-throes passion the next. We asked lead singer Eli Mardock about the band's burgeoning international love affair and why the group passed on a major-label deal.

Westword: Your tour schedule says you're in places like Omaha, and then these decadent European cities. How did that happen?

Eli Mardock: In the U.S., our label [Paper Garden] is really small, and we haven't had any distribution.... It's been frustrating here. The first thing we were able to do was to get on Lado, a really good record label based out of Hamburg, Germany. They have good international acts -- I think Metric and Gossip are on the label -- and we had a really nice release there, a ton of press, and ended up charting at number two in Austria and doing really well in Germany. It's kind of a night-and-day difference between the U.S. and Europe now, because there we headline, and here we only open for people.

Eagle*Seagull shows off its wares.
Denny Schmickle
Eagle*Seagull shows off its wares.

You're also signed with Konkurrent in Amsterdam. What's it like to be on three indie labels vs. one major?

It's funny, because there was a particular label that met us in New York, took us out for drinks after one of our shows and seemed really interested. I'd heard that you can get signed to a major and then the people that signed you could suddenly all get fired. That's exactly what happened, actually. Everyone we talked to at the label was gone in five months. Had we actually gone through with it, we'd be in a pretty bad position right now. The advances are much better at a bigger label, but that's all recoupable, so you have to pay them back. And if they don't do any artist development, then your CD is kind of stuck. That would have been terrible.

 
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