American Dream addresses 'Gold Rush' controversy

News / January 20, 2012

One of the more controversial vinyl releases of the past month was “Gold Rush” by I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business. The vinyl, released by American Dream Records, was put up for preorder in May of 2011 with an option for a 180-gram special edition vinyl. The 180-gram package also included handwritten lyrics by Enders himself. The handwritten lyrics (which ended up being photocopied lyrics) have become the controversial issue, with people finally receiving their records in the past couple weeks. A large amount of criticism has been aimed at the label since the release. Modern Vinyl spoke to Joe and Ryan, of American Dream, to get their side of the story. Hit the jump to see the interview.

What was the original plan concerning the handwritten lyrics in the deluxe,180-gram version?

Originally what we wanted to do with the 180-gram was to get something really special to people that bought it. We had been talking to the guys from The Graduate about doing something similar with the Anhedonia release and we thought we would talk to Ace about it too. Ace and his wife Jenn (who is his manager) said they thought that handwritten lyrics would be a great idea and we agreed that we should give them out to everyone who bought the 180 gram LP. We felt that 50 sheets of handwritten lyrics was the best fit considering it was something personal and straight from Ace, and it didn’t have any elaborate or expensive manufacturing elements for either party to deal with.

Was it more of an open ended agreement with Ace Enders or were you locked into something specific with him?

We had a drawn out agreement with Ace and Jenn with regards to releasing/pressing Gold Rush. Our goal was to keep it simple, but make sure that both sides were happy and thought it was fair. All of the other details with regards to artwork, handwritten lyrics and such were discussed numerous times.

Of course the project was delayed for several months, because of what I understand was a lack of the lyric sheets. What were the reasons for the delay?

To be honest, you could say that at first the delay was somewhat our fault. We had approached Ace and Jenn about putting out Gold Rush and then when everything came together we realized that their release date was a couple of weeks away and we were barely getting everything approved. However, we as a company made a decision to put up a preorder, a decision that we felt was right at the time. We wanted to make sure that the vinyl was available for purchase the date that the album was released. We didn’t want Ace’s fans to go and buy it on iTunes (or CD) and then realize that 3 months later it would be out on vinyl also. We wanted them to have the option from the beginning. Because of this, the preorder was put up way too early and we didn’t actually receive the records until about 3 months later.

We received an email from the pressing plant one week before the albums were done (in August) and at this point we checked in to see if Ace had finished the lyrics and to see what was going on with them. We emailed and texted both him and Jenn (his wife/manager) stating that it was very important that we get the lyrics sent to us so we can get these out on time. This obviously didn’t happen for quite some time. Ace tweeted a couple of times that the lyrics were being finished or that he had sent them out, however, we never had actually received them. We continued to text/email/call him trying to get him to send them over the next few months. We only received the lyrics in the past week. We sent out a tweet and an email update letting everyone know that we had the lyrics and that the records were going out shortly.

However, what we received lyric wise wasn’t what we expected. In the box we received 9 songs handwritten by Ace and a bunch of other blank sheets of paper.

At this point, as a label we are like, what do we do now? It took 8 months from the time of the pre-order just to get these, how are we going to get this done for every single person? So we talked about it and decided that we simply couldn’t wait any longer and we had to go with what we were given, even if it wasn’t what we had expected. These records had to go out, and the only thing to do was make copies of the lyric sheets so everyone would get something. We also decided to include an extra copy of the record to try and make up for things as best we could. We didn’t include the original copies because that wouldn’t have been fair for the other 41 people that ended up with copies and 9 other people got the real deal. It might have made those 9 people a bit more satisfied, but it didn’t seem right. It wasn’t like the Willy Wonka style sheets we had done for The Graduate record where we had explained from the beginning that’s how it would be.

The only other option would have been for us to say fuck sending any lyric sheets, give Ace all the addresses for where the sheets need to go, and hope that eventually someday they were written and delivered. That would have been a logistical nightmare, and like we said, we had already waited 8 months to get 9 sheets of paper.

Did you think about informing the readers and setting up a refund process after it was found that it would only be one, photocopied song?

From the beginning we offered to refund people’s money if they were tired of waiting and didn’t want the records anymore. We have had to do that on a couple of orders, but for the most part, people were very patient and for that we were incredibly grateful. Because of their patience and everything that happened with the lyric sheets, what we wanted to do was to try and make a little bit up to those that had ordered the album by giving them a free copy of the Yellow version of the LP. We knew that this didn’t take the place of the time they had to wait or the fact that the lyric sheets turned out the way they did, but we hoped that by giving them this they could see that in no way were we trying to take advantage of anyone or take anyone’s money. We felt that since they spent $30, giving them another $15 record for free, would hopefully make things seem worth the money that they spent. In no shape or form did we just sit on this for 8 months to have it end up as it did. We absolutely tried to do the best we could with what we were given.

Will the label be changing any of its business practices after this release?

Nothing too drastic. We took on a lot our first year, and for the most part it was very successful. This was our second release as a label and we learned a lot from it. This was a project that came together very close to the release date of the record, and the preorder was up early, maybe too early, so that it could coincide with the rest of the release. Since then, that’s something we’ve been much more aware of. We’ll hope that fans of a band or fans of vinyl records are going to buy it regardless of when it’s released. That was a learning process and we have taken a lot away from the situation and understand much more because of it. Our next few releases are already in the process of being pressed and we are making sure that we don’t make the same mistake twice. We’re going to move forward and adapt accordingly.

To finish on a positive note, what do you guys have planned for the future?

We have a couple of releases in the works currently. We recently announced one of them, which is This Day and Age – Always Leave the Ground. Once that is at the appropriate stage we will have the pre-order. We have a couple of other releases we are working on but we are waiting to announce those until the bands that we are working with are ready. One is a brand new release that’s sort of outside of the “scene,” and another is a record from numerous years ago. We’re really excited about both of them and hopefully the fans love what we’ve got planned. We are extremely appreciative of everyone that has supported the label and that has helped us get to this point, and we’re going to keep doing what we do and put out quality records.

Joe and Ryan
American Dream Records

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Christopher Lantinen
Chris Lantinen is the owner and editor-in-chief of Modern Vinyl. Along with his modest collection of sad sounding records, he collects his share of soundtracks and previously adored indie up-and-comers. Chris is currently a professor of journalism and public relations at Edinboro University in the Erie, Pennsylvania area.

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