Rex Daisy

Hole in the Wall, Saturday, February 15

Every band has a signing story -- even those that aren't signed. Entering South by Southwest season, you're bound to hear a few good ones, and seeing as Minneapolis' Rex Daisy were the buzz band at SXSW '94 (along with Veruca Salt), and eventually signed with Geffen, it's curious to note that their long-awaited debut, Guys and Dolls, is actually on Chicago indie Pravda.

More curious still, Guys and Dolls appears to be the same album Geffen sent out as an advance in '95, just prior to the pop trio's return to SXSW. What's
the deal? According to their bio, it was the ol' major-label flim-flam: "Rex Daisy left L.A. with the rock record of their dreams, content in knowing that in just a few months [Geffen] would press copies of their opus and sell same to kids all across this great nation of ours. Little did the band know of the implicit danger in trusting shifty L.A. types."

"In retrospect, we weren't surprised we got dropped," says Mike Ruekberg, the band's singer and main songwriter. "Even when we were in L.A. we smelled trouble -- Geffen didn't seem to know they had us. I liken it to the Three Stooges sneaking into the high society party as plumbers. As soon as the pie fight ensued, and the high society lady was fired, that was it for us."

The "high society lady" was, of course, the band's A&R rep. Actually, she wasn't even an A&R rep, but rather legendary producer/svengali John Kalodner's assistant. "He said she should find someone and he would help," says Ruekberg. "She actually got him to fly to Minneapolis in the middle of winter to see us, and we rewarded his efforts by putting on one of the worst shows ever -- drinking too much and generally sucking. Remember this was the guy who discovered Foreigner! His quote on me -- and this was the nicest thing he said: `He reminds me of John Sebastian. And I like
John Sebastian.'"

Okay, so they do a mean cover of "Welcome Back." As in Welcome Back, Kotter. (They contributed said TV theme to one of Pravda's K-Tel-like compilations of contemporary bands doing Seventies schlock.) Nevertheless, they were signed to Geffen, and when Kalodner defected to Columbia, they were dropped. "The Geffen thing was already in the works before SXSW, which is why not that many other people came knocking," says Ruekberg, who's actually thrilled to be on the tiny Pravda since he and bassist Steve Price have known the folks there for years. "There we were walking around feeling like the Beatles, and, meanwhile, Veruca Salt was quietly getting a million dollars and a real record deal."

-- Raoul Hernandez

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