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With the release of Scarecrow I felt like an arms embargo had been lifted. We now had the ammunition to defend our cause and ourselves. Our country was the Kingdom of God our general was Jesus Christ our cause was to promote the gospel through music. Scarecrow was being well received by the media and the fans loved it, however Star Song was lax in their attempts to promote the record. Word from our sources entrenched in their offices gave us borrowed information from the inside which said "do only what is required
to promote the new Bride release nothing more." I guess that is why so
many distribution companies from overseas were calling for information. Star Song who had used Music for Nations as a foreign distributor now left them with no answers. I was getting phone calls daily from people who I could not help and Star Song was not offering any assistance. I worked feverishly seeking answers for questions that I knew nothing about. I could not even get the marketing director at Star Song to even hint to me what our marketing budget was.
We had waited almost a year now for Star Song to produce the $12,000.00 in receipts that they claimed to have cumulated as a result of us canceling our initial recording time with Plinky. We had no record on paper of what Star Song had paid Plinky if anything for not producing the record. Star Song at this time had not produced any evidence to back up their claim that they had studio cost in Scarecrow before we recorded the first note. On a positive note, shows were steadily being booked by Sharon who had not filled the calendar but had done a good job not letting the band sit idle and get stale for long periods. She was calling old contacts and any phone number she could retrieve from concert listings and or tour schedules from the pages of such magazine's like Heaven's Metal. I was confident that after Scarecrow had circulated around the country and people began talking about it that we would be bombarded by letters of support and encouragement and by overwhelming phone calls from likely promoters. I felt this record had something special that none of our previous records had. I could not put my finger on it but I was sure that this would be our time and I knew we would
have to be wise in our next moves.
It was the end of July and the summer and fall dates were looking thin. We continued to write song's and rehearse for the few up coming shows that Sharon had booked for us. July 21st I got a call from Steve Baker who informed me that the 77's had pulled off the PFR tour. This was a tour comprised of about 23 dates all around the U.S. He thought it would be a good opportunity for us to go out and get the exposure that we needed to make the Scarecrow record a success. He had not ran the ideal past PFR yet but I told him that yes we wanted to do it and after juggling Troy's work schedule around it looked as if we could do it. We were really pumped this would be the longest we had ever been on the road at one time and we desperately needed the dates. Steve just had to talk with PFR and see if they were willing to do it. In Steve's mind he thought that they would not do it, I prayed that if the Lord wanted us out there he would make a way for it to happen. The following day I got the news, the same news that I received when I tried to get bands like The News Boys, and Margaret Becker to tour with us. It was no. I know that I had prayed that if we were to tour with PFR that the Lord would make a way however I was disappointed in their answer. Maybe the Lord had bigger and better things in store for us, maybe he wanted our calendar bare for a reason, maybe PFR was not listening to God, and maybe they were holding us back from a blessing and to bless others. Maybe there were no bands willing to tour with us. We were a very intimidating live band and being good live was actually hurting us in getting dates. No band wanted to go out and share the stage with another band with the intensity of a jet plane taking off. Steve reassured me that he was going to pursue a new record deal for us that would put enough money into our hands that it would free Troy from his job and put us on the road for 120 dates. This seemed the great impossibility seeing that we were only playing about 50 shows a year and we were not turning down any dates because of Troy's work schedule. Everybody had a dream for Bride to be the next big thing but not one person had the knowledge, experience, the know how or the connections to make it work. We had hit more dead ends in our carrier than a professional crash test dummy. I was beginning to think that God's purpose for us was not to make it as a house hold name. Maybe I wasn't listening to God. What if I had been going down the wrong road this entire time? Another question still haunted me was why would Jeff Moseley who had called me just a few days before still want us on Star Song. So many people were believing in Bride yet on the surface there was nothing big to talk about.
Many years we had struggled to stay a float and now floating, we were only floating in circles. We needed a boat motor to get us out to sea. We were still touching bottom. The next couple of weekend shows would take us to Atlanta and Nashville. The weekend shows were a real tease to our hearts desire to get out there and tour. Getting to the first show was always a bummer because for me I just did not like to travel. Once we got to the show and the lights come on, the hall is full; the music starts you just never wanted to leave the stage. Atlanta had been sunk with torrential rains produced from a hurricane off the coast of Florida so we had no clue of what we were driving into. Vince would miss this trip. His mother was being operated on in the hospital so Troy would be acting tour manager for these shows.
The first show was in Atlanta. The promoter had a run down old theater he was trying to turn into something for the kids. His enthusiasm was pretty sad. He had no stage crew and he was the sound man, so he left the impression at sound check. It turned out that he was a musician and had a gig that same night of our show. He was not to be seen the rest of the night. When we returned from freshening up at the hotel and having a meal, we found the opening band on stage already. Someone had moved Jerry's drums from the drum riser, had moved the mikes from our amps, and had even unplugged them. We went looking for the promoter who was no where to be found. We found a teenage boy who claimed he had been left in charge of the concert. I explained to him in a very harsh tone that our equipment was not supposed to be moved after sound check according to our contract. The only thing he knew was that we were not supposed to be paid until after our performance. I replied that "I wanted to be paid immediately or I would not play." If the original promoter had been there who had booked the show I would have never asked to be paid before hand. I did not know this kid from the man on the moon and I was not about to take a chance or trust that he could be found after our show. He was unwilling at first became reluctant then went to retrieve our contracted fee. There was a poor turn out for a show that we thought would be very good seeing that we had a new record out and we had not played Atlanta in a long time. The turn out said to me that "the show was poorly promoted and that ticket prices of fourteen dollars was out of line." It definitely showed the greed and heart of the promoter. The next day was Nashville. The turn out was a bit better but far below our estimation. Nashville seemed like a prime area but it was dry this night. It was the second hottest show as far as room temperature we had ever played. Jerry come close to dyeing of heat exhaustion on stage and even threw up twice into a towel to conceal his sickness on stage. Like the trooper he was he was able to finish the show. We had never played the "Cannery" before and the owner Gus turned out to be one of the better class of promoters. He tried to make the band as comfortable as he could and genuinely liked the band. The second show in Nashville did not make up for the aggravation that we had experienced the day before however it was rewarding. The next couple of shows would be in Florida and I would be taking my oldest son Alex on his first fly trip.
I felt that the buzz around the Scarecrow record was far less than that of Snakes. I had hoped that because of the long delay in releasing the record that the fans would swallow the record up in record number, if that were happening I was not hearing about it. Judging by the amount of mail I was receiving and reports from the press it did not seemed like there was much activity from the folks at Star Song in the marketing department. I did get a report that the first single "Beast" had went, number one on the metal charts which was no big feat but it was some type of movement. I kept reminding myself that this was a ministry first and that if the Lord wanted us to have more success he would bring it but I couldn't help from thinking that maybe our music was out of touch, maybe we had fallen way behind in our song writing. Then in my mind I tried to blame the fans by thinking that they wanted a more watered down style and message and maybe that is why other bands were breezing by us. I refused to be labeled a Dinosaur. Troy and I along with our side kicks Jerry and Steve had to write the best music of our lives in the near future if we wanted to be around much longer. It was so hard performing live shows during this time knowing that Bride was one of the best live bands in the world and everyone from the people who saw the shows, to other bands, to the record companies who would not sign us was telling us so. There was this mixed message of people saying how come you guys are not bigger than you are? In addition, why don't they play you on the radio? Then hot shot record executives and promoters would say if you were selling more records we could sign you or put you on the road. The catch 22 was in play and it made me furious.
It seemed as though the problem I had encountered many years ago had now came to haunt me again. The song's that said the most and meant the most to the hungry people were offensive to the weak. Song's like "Murder" which dealt with the guilt of a women who had committed fornication, and the song "Thorns" which scrapped against the theme of suicide became a confusion in the mind of those who could not read through the print. In order to gain the full understanding of my writing one must take the song for what it said on the surface first. There was never a hidden message. The songs were like bars of gold. The surface was gold the middle was gold and that was it. There was so much on the surface I guess some people could not begin to scratch that. I began not only changing my writing style drastically for Bride but I began the process of putting together another clever solo project. Our next couple of shows was disasters to only compare to the great San Francisco earthquake. We flew to Florida to do two shows. One in Clear Water the other in Daytona. We could have combined the two shows and maybe sold out a coffeehouse. Had we gone back in time? We sure felt like we had some how taken two giant steps backwards. Jerry blamed it on me cutting my hair. I thought I would let it grow a little at least until our Brazil shows coming up. Steve Baker called saying that he was ready to become our full time manager. This would mean that we would be paying a small percentage of everything that we made to him for his services as manager. When we first met Steve, I was anxious for him to be our manager now I wasn't so sure. I tried to figure out in my head was it because I did not want to part with any of my earnings? On the other hand, did I have a godly insight that maybe Steve wasn't right for us? "What could he possibly do that I couldn't do? "I asked myself." I could get a record deal without him I thought. Would it be a good deal? Could I go any further in Bride without him? What had he done up until now? He had never asked for money for all of the information, advice, and phone calls he had made. Was I afraid to succeed? Did I really want to go out on the road and tour for a year like Steve was suggesting? Did he really believe in us as a band, as a ministry? Could he open doors that were closed to us? All of these questions and more consumed my thoughts. I remember saying years ago that when we stopped having fun I would quit. I was not having fun any more and I sure felt like I wanted to quit but what did God want? What do you want from me where do you want me to go, do you want us to change musical styles, should we stop all together I asked God? I prayed daily to send me where he wanted me, use me and give me some direction. I felt like I was steering a ship through a storm with no maps or compass. I was afraid to send up a flare because I was sure someone would find us before we sank. I did not know what to do but I had enough confidence that although the flesh was weak that the spirit would prevail and everything would soon be clear.
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