Posies, stung by Bee Girl, still wait for career to bloom

September 24, 1993|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

The Posies

When: 8 tonight (doors open at 6 p.m.)

Where: Max's on Broadway, 735 S. Broadway

Tickets: $12

PD Call: (410) 675-6297 for information, (410) 481-7328 for tickets

On the face of it, the Posies would seem to have everything a band needs to get to the alternative rock charts. They have great songs, a killer live show, and a happening hometown (Seattle). The band can even claim a connection to the legendary protoOn the face of it, the Posies would seem to have everything a band needs to get to the alternative rock charts. They have great songs, a killer live show, and a happening hometown (Seattle). The band can even claim a connection to the legendary proto-alternative band Big Star, since Posies Ken Stringfellow and Jonathan Auer fleshed out the lineup for Bog Star's reunion show at Missouri University back in April.

Yet for all that, the Posies still haven't broken as big as their fans (and their record company) hoped. And that's why guitarist Stringfellow thinks that what his band needs most is its own Bee Girl.

The Bee Girl, for those not glued to their MTV, is the 10-year-old tap dancer in Blind Melon's "No Rain" video. "That's what everybody talks about who's into that band," says Stringfellow, over the phone from a tour stop in Northampton, Mass. "It's that video."

And because of that video, Blind Melon's debut album is a fixture in the Top-10, whereas the Posies' latest, "Frosting on the Beater," is nowhere to be found.

"Jon has listened to the Blind Melon record, and he says there's nothing else remotely like that song ["No Rain"] on the rest of their record," says Stringfellow. "It's almost like the system is designed to have these bands come up regularly -- bands that have one big song and then disappear.

"For us, the problem is that our record company liked all the songs and said any one of them could be a single. So we don't have this one obvious thing that's just going to be the bee-all and end-all for us."

Bee-all?

"Sorry. Every time I start thinking about that bee thing, I get stuck on bee puns."

It's easy to understand Stringfellow's frustration, though. Before its release, "Frosting on the Beater" was being touted as the Posies' breakthrough album. Unlike "Dear 23," which masked the band's songs in ornate, Sgt. Pepper-ish arrangements, the sound on "Frosting" is lean, loud and tuneful. "It's much more representative of how we play as a regular band," says Stringfellow.

But when the first single, "Dream All Day," went to radio, things didn't work out quite as expected.

"That song got played everywhere," says Stringfellow. "Everywhere we went, it was in heavy rotation, and it was being played next to records that were selling 100,000 copies a week. But it's never sold more than five or six thousand a week. You can't get much more radio saturation than we got. "But for some reason it didn't connect into sales."

Why not? Stringfellow thinks some of it has to do with the fact that "Dream All Day" didn't get as much MTV time as it did radio exposure. "It got played a bit, but not like a buzz clip. A bee buzz, a buzzing bee. . . . Sorry."

Beyond that, Stringfellow isn't really sure what would make the big difference for his band. "It's like what works for everybody else doesn't work for us," he says. "I think that there are some things about us that would be easy to market, but there are

other things that are not so obvious. I mean. we don't have the Urge Overkill outfit thing happening, and we don't have a Bee Girl . . .

"Sometimes I think it's all like this huge mathematical equation, and if I could solve it, it would be amazing. But it's just too complicated."

So for the time being, the Posies will continue with the one part of the equation they know will work for them: Touring. "Just touring a lot, like White Zombie," says Stringfellow. "I hold them as masters of that game plan. They got on every tour and they toured for a year, and finally their record is selling cartloads."

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