As I type this, roughly six weeks are left in the year 2023. I’m a Jersey guy living in Mobile, Alabama. Thanks at least initially to venues being shut down by COVID, I haven’t played a gig since the end of 2019. A subsequent series of health issues have left me riding the pine.
Over the past few years, my musical activities have been limited to foraging for “lost” recordings by my two bands, Every Damn Day and Mike Daly & The Planets, and making them suitable for release on the Internet. At this point, that reservoir has pretty much run dry. EDD was supposed to play a show celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2021 or thereabouts, but that’s been postponed indefinitely.
Thus, my free time is mostly spent reminiscing about my glory days.
As this year rolled around, my thoughts traveled back to 1993, when EDD released its first full-length album, “Jettison The Pod Sparky.” That was a great time in my life. The band was really hitting its stride, playing gigs all over the NYC/NJ area. We’d released two EPs on cassette and we had enough worthy songs to go back into the studio. But then we learned that some of our contemporaries were abandoning the cassette format in favor of CDs. It was an expensive move, but, at least to our minds, it would be pretty cool, and show the powers that be that we were somewhat serious about this whole band thing.
To ease our path, we followed a blueprint drawn by our friends, The Whatnots. We lined up something of a residency at a club in Plainfield, New Jersey that would pay us a decent guarantee to mix popular alternative music into our repertoire of originals. We banked all our band earnings to fund our CD project. We used the same mastering guy and disc manufacturing plant as The Whatnots did. And a few mutual friends at NYU helped out (gratis) with our photography and graphic design needs.
By July 1993, we were ready to stage our CD release party at Live Tonight!, the Hoboken, New Jersey club that had become our home base. We played to a packed house and sold an unprecedented (for us) amount of merch. In his review of “Jettison,” critic Bob Makin wrote:
When they finally come up with a name for this generation, the band for it will be Every Damn Day. It’s amazing how EDD, particularly singer/songwriter Mike Daly, can make stagnation and depression interesting. Offsetting extremely personal, sometimes funny, always insightful lyrics are tight, pretty backing harmonies and big slabs of nutritious guitar ala Cheap Trick and Soul Asylum. … “Jettison the Pod Sparky” is a college radio programmer’s wet dream …With the right buttons pushed, “Jettison the Pod Sparky” could be the “Thriller” or “Born in the U.S.A” of garage pop. … It is imperative that as many people as possible hear Every Damn Day through the mega-power of some bullshit music conglomerate.
In addition to our club gigs, we also lined up a series of all-ages shows in a church basement in Clifton, New Jersey. This led to a few concerts at the local high school. The kids snapped up our CDs and T-shirts. Our popularity and visibility peaked. One of these shows provided what is still my fondest memory as a musician: Hundreds of teens crowded the stage in the school’s auditorium, screaming like we were The Beatles on “Ed Sullivan,” and singing my lyrics along with me for our entire set.
Our teen audience loved us so much that they subsequently flooded the phone and fax lines at New York’s most powerful Top 40 radio station, Z100, with requests for EDD. We became a hot topic on the station’s Morning Zoo. In response I dropped off a CD at their offices. They never played it, but it was fun while it lasted.
“Jettison,” as it came to be known, would go on to create a wave of nostalgia among our fan base. It became part of the soundtrack of the lives of hundreds of teens and twenty-somethings in our little corner of the world, many of whom are now raising their own sets of teens and twenty-somethings.
A few months ago, I listened to it anew. Much to my surprise, the songs mostly stand up. But “Jettison” never landed on the eardrums of anyone with the clout and the guts to propel us forward, and not for lack of trying. It was released in the age of dial-up Internet; AOL was the state of the art. There was no easy way for indie artists to obtain UPC codes for their releases, much less have them distributed to record stores. Social media and streaming/download services were non-existent. Ani DiFranco‘s homegrown success story aside, unsigned artists lacked the finances, contacts and marketing/promotional expertise of the “Big Six” bullshit music conglomerates.
Compare the industry then to the industry today. For a small fee, anyone can make their music available on all the digital retail and streaming sites, large and small. With a UPC code and everything. And social media has made it possible (at least theoretically) for bands to market themselves to targeted audiences all over the world.
Suffice to say that if you own a “Jettison” CD, you either bought it at an EDD show; got one in the mail at your record company, college radio station or music publication; found and bought one at a used CD store; or won custody of one when your relationship broke up. That means the vast majority of people on the planet have never heard it or even knew it existed. (Only 1,000 copies were ever pressed.)
The question, for me, became: Can A 30-Year-Old, Self-Released Album Become An Overnight Sensation?!
And so far, the answer is: Probably not…but it’s fun trying.
Our analog recordings had already been transferred to digital, which made them accessible to our recording/mixing engineer, Andy Halasz, who is now living in Pittsburgh. Our lead guitarist, John Reynolds, was long unhappy with the sound his old solid-state amp produced, and had already worked with Andy on a different set of recordings to make his guitar parts sound warmer. Andy applied the same technology, and added other subtle bells and whistles, to create the newly remixed version of “Jettison.” My jangly guitars blend better with John’s overdriven ones. And the new mixes really showcase the rhythm section of bassist Jim Van Sickle and drummer Rich Stout. Finally, the album was brilliantly remastered by our friend Alex Saltz.
On or around November 3, 2023, “Jettison The Pod Sparky (30th Anniversary Edition)” was unleashed across the globe. The results so far have been short of spectacular, but we did sell a copy of “Spit It Out” to someone in Australia. That same song has been has been played on Mobile’s alternative radio station, 92 ZEW; Jim Prell’s podcast, The Music Authority; and “Goldie’s Garage,” an unsigned band showcase hosted by music legend Genya Ravan and featured on “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” on SiriusXM. None of these things were even possible 30 years ago.
There’s more to come, so stay tuned.