Godhead soldiers on

Group navigates career obstacles, brings Congress of Corruption Tour to area

September 21, 2006|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,Sun Reporter

Few bands are lucky enough to score that one big break.

Godhead is on its third. And with a new album and label, it could be its wildest yet.

The four-piece rock group rolls into the Recher Theatre tonight to kick off the Congress of Corruption Tour. The group is co-headlining the five-week tour with fellow rockers Ill Nino and Ra. The tour requires four or five buses and a semi filled with enough equipment to blitz the 700-person-capacity Recher. Mark Russo, who has produced arena concerts for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, will be running the show.

"I think fans, especially the rock world, are ready for another concert tour to go out, that's about a killer show and a lot of bang for the buck," said tour producer Dan Catullo.

Godhead's checkered history goes back a little more than a decade.

Guitarist Mike Miller joined Godhead in 1995 when he was a senior at Parkville High School. The band was based in Alexandria, Va., so four nights a week, Miller would drive down Interstate 95 to gig and practice. They billed themselves as a D.C.-based band and started touring nationally. About six years ago, they caught the attention of shock rocker Marilyn Manson's manager at a gig in Los Angeles.

At the time, Manson was looking to start his own label and picked Godhead as his first band. In 2001, the band released its major label debut, 2000 Years of Human Error, under Posthuman, Manson's label. (The group had already cut a couple of albums in the mid- to late-1990s, but nothing on that scale.) Then they joined Manson and Disturbed on a world tour for about nine months. Manson was at the height of his popularity, and Godhead played to packed stadiums and arenas around the globe.

"That was the first big taste of all of those cool things that came up," Miller said. "We were constantly on the road. At that point, we were out over a year. We were just jumping from one big tour to the next almost back to back. It was a wild ride for us."

The first album sold almost 100,000 copies, and the band moved to the West Coast, Miller said. But the group's success on Posthuman didn't last long.

A little less than a year after Human Error came out, the situation fell apart. Capitol Records bought out a good portion of Priority Records, which owned Posthuman, and Manson bailed. Godhead was lost in the shuffle.

"We were just starting to earn the respect of everyone, and we were also really getting out there with the kids, and just like that it was all over," Miller said.

Miller and the other musicians took a year off and wrote a sophomore album they dubbed Evolver. They landed a deal with Reality Records, a division of Sony Europe, and released Evolver. The album had lukewarm sales -- fewer than 30,000 -- and Reality failed to promote the album and a couple of subsequent tours, Miller said.

"Some people had no idea we even released a record called Evolver," he said.

With two major-label deals behind them and still without a mainstream break, Godhead members questioned the band's future. Most bands don't even get a second chance.

"We hit a little bit of a wall there," Miller said. "It wasn't really that we wanted to call it quits; we were just getting so discouraged."

Label-less again, Godhead retired to the studio and cut another album. The group was determined to release it, even if they did it through an independent label, Miller said. It recorded what would become The Shadow Line.

At the time, Catullo said he owned the company that managed Godhead. He listened to the new album, loved it and shopped the band around to other major labels. The labels said Godhead was damaged goods and turned him down.

Catullo had been planning to start his own label, and the frustration of watching what he thought was a great album die on the chopping block helped him pull things together, he said. He already owned DVD production company Coming Home Studios and Spiral Recording, the studio where Fergie and Justin Timberlake cut their most recent solo albums.

Catullo signed a distribution deal with Universal and brought on Peter Koepke, the former president of London Records, and Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins as business partners. Cement Shoes was born, and The Shadow Line was the label's first release. It hit stores Aug. 29.

"This record's too good not to come out," Catullo said.

The Shadow Line sold several thousand copies its first week, a number the band was pleased with, Miller said. The group is getting plenty of exposure on Cement Shoes, and now the members are in it for some time to come, he said.

"I truly believe that we could have a great deal of success with the current situation," Miller said. "We're looking for the long haul as well. It's a perfect match."

The Congress of Corruption Tour hits the Recher Theatre tonight. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the show. The Recher Theatre is at 512 York Road in Towson. Call 410-337-7178 or visit rechertheatre.com.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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