Electric Frankenstein with Maximum RNR at the Vatikan (1032 Queen West), Saturday (January 22), 10 pm. $10. 416-533-9166. Rating: NNNNN
Electric Frankenstein is one of those bands that just can't stop putting out records. In just over 13 years in the rock 'n' roll business, they've released approximately 2,987.
OK, so it's actually more like 100 in total, rhythm guitarist Sal Canzonieri corrects me from his home in New Jersey, where I can hear his four-year-old daughter in the background.
"You're thinking of European, Australian, Japanese and vinyl versions. That's different. We've released 13 albums, 13 EPs and, ah, even I don't know how many." Whatever. It's still a lot. By the end of the month they'll be finished mixing the next full-length.
"And I have a new record coming out Tuesday. It's the tracks that weren't used on the new album - the demo versions."
Uh-huh. But is it enough just to make music any more in this crazy world? Canzonieri, who also produces the Fistful Of Rock compilations, says no way, José.
"Just selling music is not enough. Rock 'n' roll is a lifestyle. It's every aspect of popular culture. Tying it into movies and art, skateboarding and women's underwear all brings out that aspect of it being a true lifestyle."
So Electric Frankenstein also churn out the merch, everything from hats and key chains to clocks, with more to come.
"There's more new stuff that will be coming out. I've just been talking to some big companies that wanna do sneakers, snowboards, skateboards, women's clothes and all kinds of things."
There's talk of video games. Plus, Dark Horse recently published a 160- page full-colour book of Electric Frankenstein artwork and posters. Next year there are plans for a DVD.
"It's fun stuff. Y'know the way you see Misfits things out there? We're the next logical band to do that for companies. Our logos are easily recognizable. It's branding."
Electric Frankenstein are a rock-slash-punk-slash-metal band whose aesthetic is steeped in horror movie and comic book imagery. It's heavily hook-laden, high energy, nasty rock 'n' roll. It ain't rocket science, but it's fun.
It's also the product of very creative financing.
"We approached the making of the record as if we were making a movie."
That is to say, Canzonieri went out and independently secured sponsorships for this record. He surveyed fans by mailing list about what sort of sponsors they would like to see, and went to all the companies he could think of that have stuff their fans might be interested in.
He sold ad space and links to the sponsors' Web pages to be featured on an enhanced portion of the disc.
Products include monster toys, movies, skateboards and, yes, dating services.
"The companies were excited. They thought it was a great experiment and they really wanted to participate. In three hours I made $12,000. That's up to about $25,000 now. With that money we paid for the whole recording ourselves, and I own the masters. And we also paid for the tour support. So now I don't need anybody any more."
Except TKO, of course, which will be distributing the record. If this is going on elsewhere, I haven't heard of it, though Third Eye Blind apparently had a Coca-Cola ad on a disc. If label execs were freaked by downloading, wait'll they get wind of this one.
"This could open up a lot for bands at our level - that is, the middle tier. It'll get rid of the tyranny of the label. See, cuz when you're on a bigger indie, they're just as crooked as the major labels, maybe more. This sets everything up for you. Then you can go to an honest label and have them manufacture and distribute the record.
"It could really change the way everything is done. The way these people have done things since the 40s has been based on organized crime. It's set up for the artist to lose. Why not set it up for the artist to win?"