In the age following the collapse of the major label structure, many formerly signed artists have suddenly been thrust into a precarious Darwinian nightmare. Adrift in an unfamiliar, sink or swim scenario, the business savvy few have embraced their new found freedom and utilized their time to regroup and reassess their career path.
With the release of her second solo record Out Of Our Minds, Melissa Auf der Maur, former bassist for Hole and The Smashing Pumpkins, has taken this challenge head on with a large scale multimedia release and web marketing assault.
Illustrating the need to go above and beyond the traditional album release, her OOOM release included special extras such as a 15 minute short film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, a graphic novel illustrating the film, as well as a plethora of other specialty merch goods. Auf der Maur sees the project as, “a way of liberating music on my end, as far as giving me more channels to put creative forces into… The music will always be a sacred portion, but I don’t have to rely on it. As soon as you make an art form your phone bill payment, it becomes a mind, heart problem; it becomes a battle.”
With this D.I.Y. art-for-the-sake-of-creating-art mindset, Auf der Maur may have accidentally created an ideal business model for the changing industry. “It’s about higher quality [products] for a focused group of people who want to dig in.”
To launch this massive undertaking of a release, Auf der Maur hit L.A. like a whirlwind, kicking things off with a showcase at the world famous Viper Room on The Sunset Strip followed two days later by a screening of her short film at The Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax. Both nights were packed with industry insiders, cast and crew from the film, even former members of Hole, Eric Erlandson and Samantha Maloney showed up to support their friend’s launch.
The full moon album release party at the Viper on March 30 was definitely a night to remember as Auf der Maur plowed through her set of ethereal progressive jams. This was the third time she had played the Viper Room: the first with Hole in 1999 when the group headlined a private Hollywood benefit for a detox and yoga center, the second with her Black Sabbath cover band Hand Of Doom. Needless to say, she expressed her excitement to be back on the stage fronting her own project and playing original material.
As soon as Auf der Maur and her band took the stage, they instantly held the crowd in a lucid dream-like trance. There seemed to be an instant connection between patrons and performer as she unleashed her big sound and elegant bass swoops.
Showcasing most of the songs from the new record, the music sounded more like an instrumental film score — quite a step forward from the more grindy and structured sound of her first release.
The definitive crowd pleaser of the night was the album’s title track “Out Of Our Minds.” With the chorus of the swaying, chant like single ringing through the crowd, it became clear this was the guiding theme and mantra for Auf der Maur as she conceived the project and charted a bold course through unexplored terrain: “travel out of our minds and into our hearts standing by.”
--Brent X Mendoza
[Photos courtesy Andrew Herrold]