With New Album, Band Gets Down To Business

Rockers, Playing Tonight At The Ottobar, Consider Signing With Label

August 18, 2009|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,sam.sessa@baltsun.com

Baltimore's music scene has always had a soft spot for hard rock. But few Baltimore bands rock quite as hard as J-Roddy Walston and the Business. On stage, the captivatingly unkempt foursome churns out a mix of rollicking '50s boogie and fist-pumping '70s rock. Tonight, they'll perform at the Ottobar.

Two and a half years ago, when J-Roddy Walston and the Business released the album "Hail Mega Boys," the guys in the group set some goals for themselves. They wanted to sell 2,000 copies of "Hail Mega Boys," and they wanted it to get fans and industry folks buzzing about the band. They booked tour after tour, playing about 300 shows in support of the album.

To date, they've sold 5,000-odd copies of "Hail Mega Boys," and they've been approached by potential managers and record labels. In May, the band members made the trip to California to shop around demos for their second album. Things seem to be shaping up for the band.

"It's been pretty freaking sweet," said drummer Steve Colmus. "The profile's really been raised."

Though "Hail Mega Boys" had its moments, Colmus said, it was also scattered. The album careened from foot-stomping acoustic tracks to blistering rockers. The reason? It was more of a compilation of songs by front man Walston than a cohesive album.

The new album, which doesn't yet have a name, promises to be more fluid and rocking.

"It's way more focused," Colmus said. "It's way more interesting. Touring so much, we've gotten more comfortable with each other. The arrangements are cooler. I hope it's better all the way around."

Colmus said the album will be released this fall. The band has been recording demo tracks for the past several months in its recording space, a warehouse near the Shot Tower. The new album could have as few as 10 tracks or as many as 15. They're still not sure. Though some of the demos are still bare-bones acoustic tracks, once fleshed out, they have the potential to hit even harder than the first album.

"We're dying to get this record out," Colmus said. "It's hopefully going to be a big leap for us when people hear the new stuff."

This is a transitional period for the band - one that comes with tough decisions about its future. Until this point, the band members have handled everything themselves: booking tours, doing interviews and recording. If they relinquish some of that control to a label, it could help take them to the next level. But it could also wind up hurting the band in the long run. Either way, they're not making any snap decisions, Colmus said.

"It's easy to get tempted when someone starts promising a certain level of success," Colmus added. "The challenge is in staying skeptical and making sure that every move feels right, because no one in the industry can promise you a thing and really mean it.

"We talk a lot about betting on ourselves, because the band never really makes any money. If it's all over in a year, we want to go down knowing we did things our way."

If you go

J-Roddy Walston and the Business perform tonight at the Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St. Young Sir Jim opens. $5. Doors open at 8 p.m. Call 410-662-0069 or got to theottobar.com.

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