Roadkill

Pete Anderson Antone's Sunday, May 4

Pete Anderson is in Utah, and he must be bored, because the 30 minutes allotted for the interview float into the ozone, and subjects pass like Greyhounds going in the other direction. Lots of things come up: how he produces albums ("by acting more like an arranger"), why Dwight Yoakam's Gone sounds the way it does ("Dwight likes the Monkees"), and the sweet R&B of his native Detroit. Mostly, the conversation lasts so long because both Anderson and interviewer love to talk about how screwed up the music business is.

Because the Big Suits certainly don't complain about his production work on Yoakam's mega-platinum albums or his fiery lead guitar work on the country star's always-sold-out arena tours, it's as owner of mom-and-pop indie Little Dog Records that Tha Bizness causes Anderson the most grief. Shocked at how much money the music industry throws away on making an album ($200,000 on a good day) Anderson, who's also worked with k.d. lang, the Meat Puppets, and Michelle Shocked, says, through Little Dog, he offers major-league production at Colt-league prices.

"I can turn around and make that same record for $12,000," says Anderson. "I'm making extremely competitive records, records that can perform at any level, at least production-wise. The real battle is the marketing."

If people don't know about Little Dog, they can't buy its product, and without the product, they probably won't go see Anderson and labelmates Jeff Finlan and the Lonesome Strangers (who join him at Antone's) in concert. At least not before. Now, Anderson, who, musically, concocts a bubbly roadhouse stew containing all sorts of past forms and styles, says the newfangled Internet is the way to go for indies like Little Dog.

"All I gotta do is make sure [people] see my address," he says. "That makes it pretty even. I don't have to show them pictures, they don't have to hear it on the radio, they're gonna go to their website and punch it up. Bam." Anderson says that kind of strategy makes the Big Suits nervous.

"[Major labels] have got a problem, too, because they'd like to get their website going, but they don't want to piss off their distributors," he says. "The hard part for them is they're in deep to like Tower, Virgin, Handelman's, all these people that put their records in the stores. How can they cut their throats?" -- Christopher Gray

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