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The last Hurrah
Sharon and I returned from Vegas where we were fortunate enough to have gotten Vinny Pazienza, Roberto Duran and Sean O'Grady's autographs. Since I had been a huge fan of boxing for many years, these autographs were the most exciting event of the trip.
Heaven's Metal magazine was waiting for me when I got home. Bride was on the cover. One of the photos that Michelle had taken with us all laying on the floor of their foyer was plastered on the cover of the new issue. The article/interview was entitled " A waiting Bride." It was an odd article and did not set well with Troy, Steve, or I who had all three read it. Jerry had not seen it yet. I think that Doug Van Pelt was a friend and allied however this article was strangely written. This issue # 48 July/Aug 1994 also contained the article I had submitted about our tour of Germany. It was longer than I had thought it would be almost covering an entire page. In the back of the magazine in the "record review" section was the review of Scarecrow and one of my solo project. Doug wrote of Scarecrow" Overall this is easily Bride's best album to date and I didn't like it at first listen! Casual observation showed little departure and growth from the previous album, but the feeling soon changed once I really took a listen at full volume." He went on to describe the band as a Volcano in mid-explosion. It was a good review but not an outstanding review. I personally did not feel we had swept Doug off his feet with this one. I did believe he honestly thought it to be our best but I do not believe he felt it to be a superior masterpiece of epic proportion. Maybe that was the exact words we had expected him to use.
"Speak into the Machine" was reviewed a few pages over and Doug or whomever wrote the review did not say whether they liked the disc or not. They merely reviewed it. "Here's a 10 song trip into the creative mind of Dale Thompson. Without the band Bride with him to provide the confines of its style, Dale experiments with reckless abandon Speak into the Machine." This was the way he began the review. His closing sentence was, "We're talking out there!" I was disappointed at the fact that he never mentioned my drastic vocal change on this record. I felt like through the pain I endured to pull off some of the vocal acrobats on "Speak into the Machine" that it should have been mentioned.
Looking back in retrospect, I believe that I was going through an inferior complex disorder. Whether or not I have grown out of it or not is yet to be testified.
We were waiting patiently for Scarecrow to arrive and plus the Matrix CD that was being pressed. The only thing that arrived was the J-cards for the Scarecrow cassette. We would turn these into back stage passes to sell at shows. The J-cards looked fine with the exception that Jerry and Rik were both missing from the photograph on the inside of the insert. When we all had sat down months back to proof the lay out all four of us were on the insert. Our faces covered a bit by the "Join the Bride fan club" lettering, however all four members was on the inside, together. I phoned Troy to get his opinion after I left a couple of messages on the voice mail at Star Song. Troy felt we should tell Jerry so that he would not be shocked when the actual record was in his hands. I phoned Jerry and broke the news and there was a moment of silence on his end. Then Jerry said, "Nothing against you Dale but why should I be photographed if I am not treated like a part of the band. I might as well find a real gig somewhere, a paying gig!" I explained to him that neither Troy or I had any ideal that they would leave his photo off the insert. I felt it necessary to clear our names since the blame for the Kinetic Faith incident was placed on me. Jerry even mentioned "here we go again another Kinetic Faith." I was a little upset with Jerry's statement that he thought he should "find a real gig." When I phoned Troy back to inform him of how Jerry took the news Troy was highly upset with Jerry's statement. Troy responded by saying what other band could he be an equal in, take trips all over the world and make as much money as he has with us? I totally agreed I felt that Jerry blamed Troy and I for most everything negative that someone else did concerning him. Troy and I both had worked to make the band recognized not as 4 members but rather a band, singular, a unit working equally together. I had even given Jerry the responsibility of doing phone interviews so that people could hear his voice over the radio and think of him as more than a drummer. Jerry had grown bored with this responsibility and now did not want to do any more of these either. It seemed like that no matter how hard I tried to make everyone happy and feel comfortable in the band that all it took was one episode to destroy all the work I had put in. Here we had a new record hours away from being released. We had a calendar full of really good dates not to mention, a new "Dove Award." Fallout was #1 on the metal chart. (This was a song that was two years old.) Many record companies were taking a look at us even "Arista" the huge secular label. Although it seemed on the surface that it couldn't possibly get any better I felt like we could not allow things to get any worse. My mind raced with solutions to restore the excitement that we had at one time. I had grown tired of Bride bored with hard rock the only thing that was keeping me going was the fact that I knew we were reaching thousands of people. The fans depended on us and the fruit of our labor was plentiful, the great letters of encouragement continued to pour in, many positive letters sharing their testimonies with us. So many things continued to point to the survival of Bride but my heart was truly sad and I had no answers why. In many ways I believe Jerry may have really seen things the way they were and I was living in some sort of fantasy world. Maybe I couldn't see the truth of it all. Time would tell.
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE BOOK WE ARE INTRODUCING THOUGHTS FROM PAST BAND MEMEBERS. THE FOLLOWING IS FROM JERRY MCBRROM OUR FORMER ESTEEMED DRUMMER OF OVER A DECADE OF LOYAL DEDICATION AND SERVICE...
"To be honest, I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't remember the pic incident with Scarecrow at all. I guess that's how much not being in that pic meant in the overall scheme of things... I definitely remember the Kinetic Faith incident. I did feel betrayed on that one. It was the first time I was on any kind of release, and it totally caught me by surprise that Rik and I were left off the cover. That all fed into the incident at the gig with Michael English, after seeing you and Troy go up and receive all these awards that I thought we had all worked for together. I can say that I was extremely sensitive at that time to matters such as that. I can only attribute that to immaturity on my part. I think I wanted to make sure everyone knew that I was a part of what was going on with the band. I felt really good about what we were accomplishing as a band and I felt that we were recording strong albums, so I wanted to be a part of it in every sense, if you know what I mean. I would imagine that being on the Snakes album cover and them being omitted from the Scarecrow cover would've seemed like a step back for me....
I do remember being unsure about the future of the band once Rik left. I saw him as the one with his finger most on the pulse of what was happening in the music scene at that time. I kind of saw Rik as someone who could spot the trends before any of the rest of us.... I knew though that he was not motivated enough to make anything happen without the rest of us pulling him along. What struck me most about you was your work ethic. You were always ready to try something new and not sit back and rest on what we'd done. That showed in your solo stuff and in your willingness for us to try different things, musically. I really thought (and remember saying to
people) that you were sort of the spokesman for our times for young people. I also totally believed we had an unbelievable and undeniable chemistry between us all when we were together. Now that I think of it, maybe us lightening up on Drop had something to do with much of the tension amongst us being removed with Rik out of the band.... I think that maybe there was something about all of us being so volatile together that made it special... almost combustible." (Jerry McBroom)
June 27th our CDs arrived via UPS. I quickly opened a box of them to look at the insert. I was hoping that the photo mistake that had upset Jerry so badly was only on the cassettes but no such luck. His and Riks photo's were omitted from the CD insert also. I phoned Jerry and told him the CD's had arrived his mood was better. I guess a night to sleep on it calmed him down. He came to my house to pick up a copy. Jerry lived about 45 minutes away. Shortly after he left he phoned and said you won't believe what is printed on the disc. I was afraid to ask. Seemed like the Star Song art department had given us enough grief over the past few month. I hesitantly took the bait and responded by saying, "don't tell me something else is messed up?" Not only was our original art work that we submitted turned down by Star Song, by mistake their accounting department paid the artist anyway. Not only was Jerry and Rik's picture missing from the insert, Star Song now had printed on the disc itself, "Produced by Steve Griffith for Gaga Production." John and Dino had proudly produced this record! Jerry's mood had now turned into one of crazy laughter on the other end of the telephone. I immediately raced to retrieve a copy of Scarecrow and lo' and behold Jerry's eyes were not deceiving him. I was floored. I quickly hung up with Jerry only to dial Star Song and put in a complaint. No one had any answers. I was not looking for lame excuses I wanted these problems to be dealt with and rectified pronto. I also called Dino who was also stunned by such a terrible oversight. I tried to make since of all this. Was this a sign from above? How was I to interpret this? Why was this happening, could anything else possibly happen to this record? I figured it was such a powerful record, that the devil was fighting us tooth and nail (no pun
intended) because he was afraid of the impact that this one would make. I never liked to give the devil any credit but something negative had been happening for the longest time and I just had no other answer. I found this an opportunity to learn take notes and gain ground. Oddly enough, I felt myself rising out of the depression that I had been in and I felt like fighting back exceedingly hard. I could not wait for Cornerstone which was a week away. I wanted to face the devil on that stage like David did Goliath and put a big hurt on him.
Unlike years past this "Cornerstone Festival" was like a dirt track and not something out of the swamp thing. There was a storm threatening however it never came. "The Prayer Chain" went on right before us on the main stage. They played a furious set that the crowd loved. Unfortunately, there were not very many people there to see them. From our dressing room, "a trailer back stage" I estimated maybe 1500 people all together. They did stir up a dust storm in the "mosh pit" which looked like a posse riding out through the prairie. I told Jerry "this is just great we come to Cornerstone on a Friday night get the prime spot and only play to 500 people. See I told you they were tired of us." Of course, I was just joking to get him excited and nervous. When we took the stage it was still day light and we saw people coming down off the hill in front of the stage in groves. The night was falling quickly and about the middle of our set, it was dark. Around four to five thousand people stood watching our set. Troy and Jerry both complained afterward that they had played lousy however I felt it was a very good set. This was our first show with the new Scarecrow product available. The fans showed their appreciation by buying it all. Sharon "my wife" had to go to another vender in the merchandise tent to buy what Scarecrow CD's they had.
We had a show the next day in Monroe Ohio at the Solid Rock church. It is a church right off of interstate 71 that we always past when we traveled north. We left Michelle, her brother, her brother's friend Charlie, at Cornerstone to sell product the second day while we were in Ohio playing that date. This night went extraordinarily well performance wise and at the end of the night 27 people came forward at the invitation. We met a super nice guy this particular show named Lawrence Bishop. He was in the opening band "Two Hippies and a Cowboy." Lawrence was the cowboy. He was a pro rodeo rider, former bull rider, currently riding saddle-broncs. He was also one mean bass player. After the show we went out and ate dinner with him and a group of people. Lawrence was hilariously funny and kept us laughing the whole evening. These two shows made up our top-grossing weekend ever bringing in much needed $12,000 dollars in product sales and honorarium. We had many bills to pay and had been off for three weeks with the two following weeks empty, this was a much needed weekend.
Bill sounded like a big man who at one time may have smoked a lot. Over the phone he always sounded like he was either having trouble breathing or had just wadded a Big Mac into his mouth. Steve Baker had really put Bill up on a pedestal to us. Steve told us, that "he was the best in the business at booking bands." In an 8 month period of time Bill managed to get us about six dates. Three of those dates we had heard complaints from the promoters that Bill had been hard to work with. Steve claimed that he was not as sensitive as some booking agents in the Christian market were. Bill had worked for years on the secular side and now a born again Christian he was having a hard time breaking some of the old "push hard for the band tactic's" that he had been used to. July the 6th Steve called me on the telephone to inform me that he was breaking his exclusive contract between PFR and Bill. He stated that PFR needed a CCM promoter and that Bill could continue to book shows but on a non-exclusive term. Steve did agree however that Bill was the best for Bride because we needed a heavy hitter to get us into the secular show case clubs. Bill knew the secular side in a theater arena way but I still wondered if he had the time to book a smaller band such as Bride and if he knew the club scene what so ever. I had many conversations with Bill over the phone concerning the future of Bride. Bill loved the Scarecrow record and was very excited over the prospects of going full force to the secular side with a campaign. He talked about our future like it should be a sure thing and that he thought he could get the big boys attention with this new record. One thing that really bothered me was that Bill did not want to really jump on board until this new record had came out. The Snakes record to the secular side was unknown and I did not understand why Bill did not go to bat for us earlier. Time would tell if he would go to bat for us now that the Scarecrow record was out. We were scheduled to meet Bill in person in a month or so in California at a festival that we were to play. We would attempt at that time to get many more conclusive answers from him and see at that time if Steve or Bill either had a future vision or plan. Troy and I had battled our way this far pretty much by our wits and lack of knowledge concerning the industry. We felt like we were at our wits end and that somebody better do something or our career in the music business would plummet as hard as Stryper or White Cross had done. I never really doubted Bill's ability to produce for the band great paying gigs with more than capable promoters. He had taken PFR from having to pay to play to $2500 and up to $5000 a show. He so far had gotten us a couple of high paying shows but in any event he had also caused some turmoil with half of the promoters who felt that Bill was hard to impossible to work with. I still questioned Steve's credentials not because he had done anything detrimental or costly to our career but because it seemed he was taking his time with us. It was obvious that time was on our side as far as nailing a new record deal, I guess I just wanted to see Steve be a bit more aggressive in his approach. He had made several phone calls and there was many interested in talking but Steve was not very excited about any of it. I knew that PFR was his main concern because technically he was the forth-man in the band. He was also the brainchild and mastermind of their business. Troy nor I did not believe that Steve understood Bride completely and the potential of success that had been severely oppressed through the years by lame record executives too prideful to admit that they did not know what to do with a band like ours. We did feel that Steve with his track record with PFR was more than capable of helping succeed at our goals. What ever our goals now were. Steve did admit that although Bill was listed on our record insert as booking agent that he would not prospect dates for us or even set up a tour. Steve suggested that we continue beating the hedges and bushes to rustle up dates on our own.
What puzzled me more than anything about this entire situation was, that Steve had been with PFR during all of their dates touring. He personally had the promoter connections to get Bride gigs but he was not sharing any of this vital information with us.
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