There have been rumors swirling since the end of the year that Meese and Atlantic Records had parted company. On Friday night, we ran into both Patrick and Nathan Meese at their Dust on the Breakers show at the Bluebird, and the two confirmed that Meese is indeed a free agent right now and has been since just before the holidays. We followed up with Patrick last night, and he gave us more details.
"Like so many other bands that we know, our A&R guys got fired before the record even came out, and it was kind of an uphill battle from there," said Patrick of the band being released from its contract with the label. "We just really didn't see eye to eye with the new people that came in. And that's really all it is. They hadn't signed us or been on board with things we agreed on in the beginning."
"It was a really gradual thing," he goes on. "Slowly but surely it kind of materialized into what was definitely going to be a separation. They were very open about it, and we were very open about it, and it could've gone a lot worse. Now that it's all said and done, I feel like everyone's kind of happy with how it ended.
"I had my eye on the situation from the beginning, so it wasn't too surprising to me when we found out. No one likes to hear that there's going to be a huge change in the way that you do your band, but there was some part of it that was refreshing to me because I have been writing so much different stuff lately. I learned so much from doing the record and being in a major label world for a couple of years -- to be able to break free of some of those restraints that are in that world is a cool feeling."
The move is somewhat perplexing on Atlantic's part for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the Meese brothers have undeniable pop appeal, and pop, uh, sells records -- something you'd think any label would be interested in. (Atlantic has a history of dropping the ball, though. See: Vaux circa 2005.) For evidence, look no further than Broadcast, the group's major debut, which is dripping with the most sugary pop hooks imaginable. The record, which still seems to have plenty of life it in it -- major label support notwithstanding -- has produced two singles, including its latest, "Tell Me It's Over," which is still on plenty of playlists.
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There's another reason the Atlantic imprint may end up regretting its decision to pass on these dudes: Meese just earned a nod in the latest issue of AP as one of the 100 bands You Need To Know, essentially introducing them to an entirely new audience. Not to mention, from the sounds of it, Patrick is just now entering into his creative peak, which may end up taking the band's music in a more adventurous direction.
"There's three things I really love about music," he noted. "Drums -- that's what I came up doing, percussion -- and I love melody, you know, pulling together vocals and harmonies, and I love huge, big synth tones. So I'm really trying to hone in on those things. With what's been happening, I've been allowed to take what I've learned and apply it to this."
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At same time, however, whatever new music results, you can be sure it will be firmly rooted in pop with melodies that work their way in and never make their way out.
"There's a part of me that grew up on popular rock, and I'm think I'm always going to do that," Patrick pointed out. "I think a part of that will always be in the music I create. It's just who I am. But as far as what I need to fuel my creativity, I feel like this past year has been a big boost with the shift of how we do our band."
If you hear echoes of storylines from acts like Jimmy Eat World and Wilco, it's for good reason. Like those bands, who each got dropped from their labels right before their creativity truly flourished and then went on to realize much greater acclaim with another label, you get the sense that Meese still has plenty of gas in the tank.
To that end, according to Patrick, the outfit has already written at least three or four new tunes since December and are planning to continue wood shedding for the next several months and keep moving forward.