The Popdose Interview: Michael Gomoll of Joey’s Song
Michael Gomoll was someone that I first came to know in the early ’90s when we started trading bootleg tapes of concerts. Mike was a huge Del Amitri fan and folks like Mike were hard to come across in the early days of the internet, so we found some big time common ground on the Dels and a few other artists. As it often does, time passed and I lost touch with Mike and many of my old school tape trading buddies, replaced with the advent of trading those same shows online via BitTorrent and high speed internet downloads.
I shared some good times, music and stories with those friends and as time has gone on, I’ve started to hunt down some of them to get back in touch and see what they’re up to. I found Michael on Facebook, shot him a friend request and quickly got an email that my friend request had been accepted.
When I went on to his page, I saw quite a few wall posts about something called Joey’s Song, obviously something that was an important initiative for him with the volume of different links that were posted. Clicking through, I quickly saw why – “Joey” was Joey Gomoll, Michael’s son who had passed away suddenly at nearly 5 years of age, less than a year ago from Dravet’s Syndrome, a rare and especially dangerous form of epilepsy.
In the 10 months since Joey’s passing, Mike has put together The Joseph Gomoll Foundation and released the first volumes of Joey’s Song at the end of January, the first in a planned series of compilations to “fight epilepsy through music.” (You can purchase both volumes via this link.) The Joey’s Song releases are separated into two volumes – one for the adults and a “kiddo” compilation for the young ones, featuring 32 tracks between the two releases, many of which are rare and unreleased. Justin Currie of Del Amitri, Cowboy Junkies, Neko Case, Matthew Ryan, the Crash Test Dummies, Lowen & Navarro and Tracy Bonham are just a few of the artists that stepped up with no hesitation to donate material for the compilations (click here for the full tracklisting). In fact, Gomoll received so many contributions that they eventually stopped soliciting contributions to focus on releasing the initial volumes.
To date, more than 30 thousand dollars has been raised for The Joseph Gomoll Foundation, and nearly 100 percent of the proceeds (minus only production costs) are earmarked for donation to the Epilepsy Foundation and related charities to help with epilepsy research and advocacy. I recently had the pleasure of spending about an hour talking with Michael about the new releases and the current and future plans for Joey’s Song.
Joey’s Song is quite an amazing project and I think we should start with talking about where things started. Because it seems like things started coming together for this idea pretty quickly after Joey passed away.
Yeah, unbelievably so. Well, the first thing that I’ll tell you is that I think the reason why we had the success we have was that I wasn’t smart enough to know that it was impossible to do. And I mean that in all sincerity. I know it’s a good punchline but it’s the honest to God truth. Not that it was impossible to do, but you can’t do this within a year. And we’re only 10 months since Joey passed away. Right now as you and I are talking, I’m putting CDs in piles to send out to all of the artists that contributed, so the fact that I have actual product in hand is remarkable.
But let’s take a second and talk about how we got from point A to at least point B. Joe, like all three of my children, was adopted from Guatemala and Joe came home to us when he was about 6 months old. And a couple of months after he was home, he had his first seizure. I will not take too much time talking about it because I don’t know a whole lot about it, believe it or not, the entomology of epilepsy and all of this other stuff. But it can take quite while to figure out cause and effect and sometimes you never quite figure all of that out. It became pretty clear within a few months of that first seizure around Christmas of 2005 that epilepsy was going to be a part of our life in some form. We had hoped that it would be in the sense that it was a chronic illness we needed to manage for Joe’s life with medication. It turned out to take some different twists and turns.
But I had thought pretty early in Joe’s illness that this was something I’d like to do anyway, a CD to raise some money for epilepsy research. Because it fulfilled an obvious desire and a personal taste for me[in music], to turn it into something that I could do to help something that was obviously affecting our life and my son’s life pretty deeply. So I’d like to say that within a couple of days of Joe’s passing back in March of 2010 that I had this epiphany, but that wouldn’t be true. I had been thinking about it all along and as it happens, life got in the way for the first 3 or 4 years of it. With Joe’s illness, he also had some developmental delays, so he had some pretty special needs that we needed to take care of. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to watch the EPK that we have online.
I did, yeah.
When you have any person, not just a child, but any person that you’re the caregiver for that has uncontrolled seizures, you are on 24/7 alert. Because seizures can strike at night, during the day, anytime and it’s not just the seizure that you need to try to make sure that you stop. Like, you have to make sure that your kid is not climbing up the stairs without you being there, because they can fall 10 flights of stairs and the whole 9 yards. Try doing that with any 3 and 4 year old and all in all it just meant that while Joe was here, even with the best of intentions, life was about getting from waking up until going to bed at night. But I had always thought in the back of my head that this is something I would certainly like to do someday. So when Joey did die, I needed to do it for a number of reasons. I needed to do it because it is something I had always thought about doing. But I also needed to do it to keep me from crawling into a bottle of Johnny Walker and not coming out for two years. So it fulfilled a number of things in me that I needed to do for a variety of reasons that there’s probably not enough psychoanalysts in the world to figure out, but that’s what I needed to do.
So the first thing I did and you know this, I was already friends with a couple of folks in the music business. Justin Currie [of Del Amitri] has been a friend for 15+ years now and I’m also good friends with Eric Lowen and Dan Navarro who have written top 10 hits for people. To be honest with you, Matt, probably that first week or so when I started working on it, my goal was a pretty simple one. I thought well, I’ll get Justin to give me a track, I’ll get Eric & Dan to give me a track, I’ve got some friends in the local music scene from back in my days of DJing in college that I know are capable of carrying a tune and I’ll put together a CD. We’ll sell it at the VFW hall, the local Methodist church and the Century grocery store, raise a couple of thousand bucks and there will be a sense of accomplishment, right? I’ll take something shitty and turn it into something positive. And that was really my plan, so I sent notes to Justin, Eric & Dan and a few other folks and of course the people that knew me and my family they said sure, we’ll do it.
But also, you get to be older like you and I are and even without living in the music business like you have, you bump into people and you start to get a Kevin Bacon/6 degrees of separation thing going. For a while before she had to stay home and take care of Joe, my wife worked at a local bank here that sponsored the local ‘XRT-like radio station Triple M [WMMM] would do these live from Studio M things and you know the bill all too well, right? The touring acts that need to fill some dates come in and do little private mini shows for listeners and that type of stuff. For the year that we did that, my wife was the bank president’s secretary so we got to meet folks. And it was “grip and grin,” it was no long term meeting, it was 5 seconds, sign the CDs and so on, but it was with a few folks that I liked and one of those folks happened to be Matthew Ryan. Matthew and I had more than a 30 second exchange, we had a couple of minute exchange, but this was 3 or 4 years ago. But I thought, you know what, I can write Matthew a note, I’ll try to find him. So I started doing some detective work, poking around the web page and found an email for him, sent him an email and relayed the story. And Matthew came back and said sure, what can I do, let me know. He and I have met and talked several times since then and I have yet to ask him if he actually remembers this story or not.
There are some other folks like Eileen Rose, who’s on the CD. Iain Harvie [Del Amitri guitarist] from the Dels produced her first couple of CDs. I’d never met Eileen, but Iain’s also a good friend, so I sent her a note and said “you don’t know me, but I’ve slept on Iain’s couch a few times and we’re good friends” and she came back and said sure, whatever you need. So then I said okay, there’s something here – this story is resonating with people and now I was starting to build up between mostly Justin and Matthew, I had a couple [ of artists] that while they may not be names that people walking down the street know, people that are into the music scene are going to recognize both of those names as quality artists. They’re people that are really good songwriters. After I had those guys on board, then it really turned into almost reference selling. I figured what the heck, all people can do is ignore my emails or say no.
So I walked back into the music room here at the house and started grabbing names, thinking of names, did a little bit of detective work and I’d send emails to people. Before we knew it, I had 30-35 artists all saying yes and had 20 songs in the can. Since then, we’re up to almost 80 artists and we have probably 100 or so songs that people have sent. But that’s kind of the genesis of it. We just had a CD release party in Chicago and Freedy Johnston played along with Michael McDermott and the Retro Specz [among others]. They volunteered their time, came and played 3 or 4 songs, signed autographs and took pictures with people. These people, other than Justin and a few folks, don’t know me from Adam. They do now and I’m really proud to call a lot of them friends, but they took a chance on literally a guy in his basement in Sun Prairie sending out emails saying “I think I’d like to do this, will you help” and songs came pouring in.
Now, you touched on this a little bit, but let’s talk about it some more. This certainly isn’t the first charity album in history, but what’s interesting to me about this one is that it really illustrates how the music industry has changed, that an ordinary music fan could organize a compilation like this without going through the amount of red tape that probably would have been required 10 years ago. How surprised were you by the amount of support that came back from the various musicians involved with this project?
Well, that’s an excellent point and one that I wish that more people would pick up on. The role of the label and management is to say no, right? That’s their job and they’re the filter, historically. And what the new Twitter/Facebook/contact an artist website dot com world has allowed us to do is increase our chances of at least getting to the artist. Because the reason that the management is in place is not only for business reasons, [but also because] these artists are as good as they are at what they do is because most of them wear their emotions on their sleeves and when you’ve got a story like we have to tell, most of them can’t say no. So “pleasantly surprised” wouldn’t even begin to say it. As I told you in that opening piece that I said there, I went at it going well, if I get one out of every hundred of these [artists], I’ll get my 12 artists and all they can do is ignore me and say no to it.
So I kind of had an inkling that if I could get to the artists, I’d sell them. Because I think the story, not to sound self-congratulating, I think it’s both a story and a cause that will resonate with people that have a pulse. And most of these people are successful musicians and artists because they not only have a pulse, they have an extra pulse. That’s part of their nature that does that. So to be honest with you, I was smart enough, there were a couple of things in our approach that I will not say were anything other than my own personal bias that also allowed us to have some success. First and foremost, because I do know musicians, I think there are different tiers of musicians. When I think of [artists who are]a little bit above the struggling songwriter yet [someone who's not a] superstar, my friend Justin [Currie] is what comes to my mind. And those are the people realistically at least for this first volume that we were trying to get to.
I know because I’ve been allowed several hours to plunder in his archives, Justin’s got another 200 songs that he’s written and done pretty full production demos for that will never see the light of day, because he does not, other than the rare song, go back. When it’s time to do a new record, he starts fresh. But I also know that when he does a record, whether it’s the current solo stuff or a Dels project, he records certainly 30 or more demos. It’s not like he picks his 12 songs, does his demos and says let’s go cut a record – he’s always recording. So I knew that he had crap sitting on DAT drives, because I’ve seen the stacks in his studio laying around. So my request to the musicians was, you’re certainly welcome to go record something new, if you get inspired by our story. But I’m just looking for something rare or unreleased – it can be a live track, it can be a demo, it can be an alternate version of something or a song that never quite fit on a CD that you always liked. And we have across the board, if we went down song by song, we have a little bit of each.
What that allowed me to do and I won’t pretend that it was any stroke of genius or any strategic thing, it just worked in our favor and it allowed it to be really easy for these people to say yes. Steve Wynn’s track [for example,] he’s got a song on the kid’s CD. Mattel or some toy company came to him several years ago and commissioned him to write a couple of songs that they were thinking of using [that ultimately didn't get used] and I’m sure that they did it with several artists at a time for some sort of product. He had two songs that he had written and one of them was “Monkeys.” When I talked to him, they were finishing up a Baseball Project CD and he and Peter [Buck]and the band were about to go and do some dates. He didn’t have a lot of time but all he needed to do was go over to his PC and send it to me. So we had a bunch of things all working in our favor – the internet world allowed me to have a quicker path to the artist and we were able to do things. And then there was some serendipity – I knew enough about the business to know ways to make the request easier to say yes to. The big answer to your question is yes. I don’t know what I was expecting – someday I’ll go back through the emails from those first couple of weeks, but I was literally thinking that if I send out 100 emails and get five that respond and one of them comes through, that’s a good hit ratio. And I’ll tell you, the ratio is a lot higher than that.
And from talking to you, I know that this is only the beginning – you’ve got some potential bigger fish, artist-wise on deck.
That’s right. Part of the other thing that’s allowed us to have some success is a a few guardian angels in the music business that have some Wisconsin connections. They’ve made us prove that we can do this, so I have to be really specific on my language here because I want to be upfront but I also want to make sure that it’s understood. We’ve had VP-level folks at record labels that have provided guidance for us and let’s call it “course correction” on some things. Even though they’ve become friends, they did very little other than tell us “you don’t want to do this” or “you do want to this.” These artists – everybody that’s on this CD and almost all of the additional names [for future projects] that you’re aware of, are stuff we’ve done as a foundation. Now, because they wanted to see what just happened on Tuesday [January 25th, when the CDs were released], which was us actually following through on this.
Because probably lots of people think “hey, let’s put together a CD to raise money for the Cub Scouts” or whatever. They have all sorts of good intentions and this is really hard. It’s a really difficult thing to do – the stories of road blocks we ran into and getting the artist to agree is the smallest of the steps. Getting publishing, label clearance and writer clearance on a lot of these things [is difficult] because we’re asking everybody to do this gratis. Now that we have physical product that our guardian angels inside the record business can feel comfortable with, we’ll start going to some folks with some bigger names and some bigger catalogs. As history has shown me over these last 10 months, when you get past the label and get to the artist, which our friends should be able to do, I fully expect to have a similar hit rate. I don’t expect everybody to say yes, but I expect a few to say yes.
Since you brought it up, who are some of the unsung heroes behind the scenes helping out on those clearance issues and other important work that needs to be done for these things to happen?
There’s multiple levels to this entire project. There’s the foundation itself – the Joseph Gomoll Foundation, which is the sponsoring foundation behind the CD. And for that, I’ve called upon a friend, Kevin Baird. Kevin was a friend of mine back in my single days in Chicago who worked for IBM. Kevin had some good fortune on a few investments and a few other things and now he’s retired and younger than me! So he’s retired and living a nice life down in Florida so I hit him up and said “you know what, you’ve got time on your hands – congratulations, you’re the new executive director.” Kevin does all of the crap work – he’s the one that figured out how to get the CDs on Ebay, found us interns and some of our bloggers – he’s done all of the stuff that for me is still a delicate balance between emotion and all of the things that you can imagine that go into this.
There are just some days where I don’t feel like doing anything I don’t want to do. Kevin’s the one that does all of that. So Kevin from that standpoint is the one that has really done all of the heavy lifting around the foundation. With our guardian angels, we’ve had several people that have donated their very expensive time and talent. To be honest with you, other than paying for the physical production of the CDs and some support around PR [to promote the releases], we haven’t spent a penny of the foundation money. You pay $11.99 for the CD and we haven’t pro-rated it but I guarantee you that 11 bucks goes back to our named charities. I’m not making a penny, Kevin’s not making a penny – nobody’s making a penny. Now, that may change with volume 2, because we can’t expect people to keep donating [their time] forever. We’ve had Cheryl Pawelski, who is a former VP of A&R at Rhino Records. Cheryl’s job at Rhino – she’s a 3 time Grammy nominee – was to put together box sets. Cheryl’s put together the Big Star box set, which she’s up for a Grammy in the next couple of weeks. She put together the Band box set that she was nominated for a Grammy for.
Cheryl’s been our overlord – she’s a former Milwaukee person who I knew peripherally friend-to-friend, but she’s now helped us with the Foundation. She gives us guidance and has brought in professionals when we needed [things like] somebody to forecast how many of these [CDs] we could expect to sell. She’s also found us invaluable resources – there’s a guy named Bryan George and Bryan has done all of the clearance and licensing for us. So that means not only helping us with the contracts but then sending them out to the artists and working with the publishers, labels, etc. What a fiasco that is and what a fantastic job he has done! Cheryl also brought us a fellow named Greg Allen and Greg has helped us do all of the design work and layout on the 2 CDs. Cheryl finds people and in her usual wonderful bulldog manner just tells them they’re going to help and doesn’t give them a choice. While the story is truly amazing and I’m not afraid to say it – what we’ve done in 10 months, without this infrastructure of music industry professionals to help us, we wouldn’t even be close to where we are today. I think it really highlights what a monumental task this is. Cheryl is the one who was either kind enough or not kind enough to tell me what I was trying to do was impossible [to accomplish] in a year. Since then, she’s told me “oh yeah, that Big Star box, took about 6 years to put together.” Like I’ve said, I wasn’t smart enough to know that this couldn’t be done and I just set deadlines and all of these wonderful people helped us make it.
Who did the art?
The actual art is by a college friend of mine who has one of the songs on the kids CD, named Greg Percy. Greg’s an art teacher here. The idea behind the art is, as I mentioned to you, all three of my kids were adopted from Guatemala. So this is in the style of Guatemalan folk art. What I told Greg I wanted was and I sent him examples, Guatemalan folk art type stuff but then a town square with some music going on. And what we’re going to try to do, we have a five year business plan that we’re trying to do. The volume 1 CD cover, the adult CD, is the main scene.
And if you look closely, the cover of the kids CD is the exact same scene, but down from close on the stage, behind the kid that’s dancing in front. What we’d like to keep doing for future volumes, is different perspectives of the same scene, so if you have all of the CDs, they kind of go together as a theme. So Greg Percy did the drawing and then Greg Allen did all of the layout and theming.
You alluded to this a little bit, but a good compilation in my opinion has a fair amount of artists that you’re familiar with, but it also leaves you with some musical homework for the artists that you are unfamiliar with. I walked away with a good amount of that after listening to the Joey’s Song compiliatons. As a fan, where would you recommend that I should start with the music of Slaid Cleaves? What’s a good starter album?
Being a fellow music dork on here, you’ll understand this well. When you find people that resonate with you, it’s kind of like meeting a girl or something. You remember where you were when you met that person for the first time. For a while, before XM Radio, which I live on these days, local cable had those Music Choice channels. And for a while, Charter or whatever [cable provider] I had while I was in Chicago, had an Americana station, which as you can probably tell by a lot of these artists [on the compilations] is the way that I lean, right? The Wilco, Son Volt, Jayhawks kind of vibe.
So I put it on Americana and Slaid had a CD called Wishbones and the title track is the one that they kept playing and I just liked the vibe. I liked his laid back rich honey kind of voice, but it’s not that deep rich, it’s a strange [richness] – I don’t know how to describe it. There’s something about his voice that is what does it for me and Wishbones is certainly the record of Slaid’s that I think is his best.
Well, the whole thing really does play like a mix tape and I enjoyed listening to the adult CD and trying to make the connections between both you and the artists and other artists. And there were some really cool segues, like the one between the HEM and Michael McDermott tracks.
It’s funny that you should say that, because all I said to people, when they asked what they should contribute, I said I don’t want this to be a sad record. It’s not a tribute to Joe in music, it’s a tribute to Joe in spirit. It’s funny, most people write about love and loss anyway and for me, it doesn’t take much imagination, if you take Justin’s song which is obviously a breakup song or more of an advice to a friend kind of thing, there’s a completely unintended cohesiveness to especially the adult record. The generic themes of love and loss, that’s what this CD is about, it’s about love and loss and that makes it hold together. There’s a lot of them that turned out really great. It’s kind of like the people that try to make Sgt. Pepper some sort of a theme record and Paul will tell you that the only theme was we pretending that we weren’t us. If you try hard enough, you can find all of the reasons in Abbey Road why he’s dead as well. I think without a whole lot of imagination, and I don’t want to get overly metaphysical – I’m an atheist by nature and I don’t believe in any master plans, but I do think there’s some sort of karma weaving through it and I think everybody was led to donate things in a way that certainly made it stand together and if it’s by pure chance, it’s by pure chance. I really do, certainly from the standpoint of the adult CD, I think it’s more important for a CD to hold together and I think it holds together well.
It has a great flow and for instance, I’m not a Crash Test Dummies fan, but I love the way their track (a live version of “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”) fits into the overall scheme.
Yeah, it does. I was so pleased when Brad donated that track. When I listened to it after he said that he was going to send it, while I would take a Top 20 song or whatever it made it up to in the States – believe me, I’ve milked that for all that it’s worth – oh yeah, we have Top 10 songs on our record. I was a little bit weary, because I didn’t want it to be a downer but I realize that even the hit version of it, there’s a lighter nature to it, but when he does his little speech about licensing it to a French cheese company, I just like the direction it takes everything into – it keeps it light and fun.
Obviously, you can tell from the name of the band that they have a sense of humor and that story really makes that version of the song great.
Oh yeah, I agree completely.
We first met in the ’90s via the music of Del Amitri, so I wasn’t surprised to see a Dels track on Joey’s Song. You’re definitely a hardcore fan of the band – were you familiar with the track that Justin donated for the collection?
I was, because as I mentioned to you a little bit earlier, over the 15 years [that I've known Justin Currie], we’ve gone from acquaintances to friends. Because Justin knows that I’m a fan, he usually brings me a CD every time I see him of other stuff [that hasn't been released]. And that’s how I kind of knew that he’s got all of this stuff. I know when he records a record that he has 20-30 songs and uses 12-13 of them on each one. So he basically said “take that last CD and pick one of those songs.” Most of them were more in the vein of the couple of solo records that he’s got – typical Justin slow song stuff. And a lot of the songs on the CD that he gave me were that, but there were two more upbeat songs – this one and another one. He and I exchanged some emails and I said I think “Tears” is the best one and he agreed.
Justin is also one of the people that has gone in, and Michael McDermott is the other one now that I think about it – they went in and both recorded Woody [Guthrie] songs for the kids CD. The problem is that we haven’t been able to get Woody’s estate to clear them yet. And it’s got me so frustrated because I’m thinking that if anybody would understand neurological diseases, it would be Woody if he was still around today. I’m sure it’s like everything else, I’m sure the Guthrie family has almost nothing [to do with Guthrie's catalog], it’s probably been sold three times. But Justin did a version of Woody’s “Wake Up,” and Michael did a version of “Riding In My Car,” which are kids songs that Woody wrote. They’re sitting here on my PC and I can’t do anything with them yet!
But Justin went in and recorded something new as did Michael as did a lot of people. We got a lot of great stuff for the kids CD that getting the clearances is just really a pain in the ass. And that’s why I really mean it, without Bryan George, the name that I mentioned to you earlier, we would have been dead in the water. The nuance and the subtly and the inbreeding of the music licensing business, there’s no way we’d have this out. Because it’s such a morass of legalese, contracts, nomenclature and all sorts of crazy stuff.
Do you know what time period that Del Amitri track dates from?
Well, when he sent me the performance credits, it’s the Some Other Sucker’s Parade [touring] band, so it’s Mark Price, Kris Dollimore, etc. So it must be ’98? I think it was probably before Can You Do Me Good. They could have recorded it as a demo for that record, but it has a Some Other Sucker’s Parade [feel]. I’d put it late ’90s more than likely.
It’s a killer tune and it really illustrates how easily Justin can write songs like that.
You know, and all of those vocals – that little acapella thing at the end, that’s all him layered. He records all of this stuff in a back bedroom with a board and pillows on the windows – I’ve seen him do it and that’s just him doing all of the vocal parts and layering it on top. Oh yeah, the guy is just amazing and truly under-appreciated.
How has the response been as far as sales? Are you getting some good response outside of hometown sales with some of the artists that are involved? What’s your read so far?
Kind of. Technically, it didn’t really go on sale until yesterday [January 25th]. We’ve probably pre-sold about 500 CDs, which isn’t a kick in the shorts. I don’t have an ad budget – we had to do it like I’m doing it with you – one blogger, one radio station and one magazine at a time. What we’re obviously hoping for is that we have enough success at the grassroots level where there’s enough layers that national media will be interested in it. Right now, it’s an interesting human interest story – guy in his basement in Sun Prairie sends out some blind emails, gets major recording artists and somehow puts out a CD. There’s some interest from national media, but when we can show some success and say “then he raised 50 thousand or 100 thousand dollars” or whatever it is, that’s when the lovely ladies from The View or The Today Show or CNN [will] call. And then it just goes exponentially from there.
So we’ve had some good response from the artists blogging and Facebooking, but I don’t know what to expect. I do know that there’s lots of indie bands out there that would tell you selling 500 copies before the release date is rockin’ the house. I just don’t have a good feel for it yet. The other part of it is that there’s multiple audiences for this – there’s the parenting community and there’s lots of parents out there that will be touched by this story. There’s the epilepsy community – people that are looking for a good reason to give another $11.99 and then there’s the music community. They all buy differently and from different places. I’m expecting success and we’ve had success at every turn and I’m expecting the CD to be the same. But until that happens, it’s hard to say.
There are videos for a couple of the songs on these releases, including one for the Crash Test Dummies song – what’s the story behind that one?
Not everyone was able to give us completely rare and unreleased music. The live track that Brad [Roberts of Crash Test Dummies] gave us was actually from a release that he did called Crash Test Dude. I guess there was a tour that he did in Canada and they released an album from it, it sold 7 copies and he gave us that. “And It’s Beautiful” is off their latest record Oooh La La and when I say they, Crash Test Dummies is basically Brad Roberts. It was one that he said had a child-like feel to it and I thought it did too. For some of the acts, including Neko [Case] who I’m just a ginormous fan of – she has such a powerful voice. That’s just a track off of [her latest album] Middle Cyclone. About 85% of the songs on both CDs are not available anywhere. There are a few of them that are somewhere else [previously released] but [I was okay with that] because I felt the artist had enough cache or pull [that it would benefit the release]. I wish I had a better story behind that video, but that’s what Brad did for his CD and they gave us permission to go ahead and post it on the web page. And we’ll get a video for the Neko track as well, because Neko actually has an official video for “People Got A Lotta Nerve,” which is her track. Matthew’s [Ryan] video for “You Are My Sunshine,” I didn’t ask him to do that – he sent it to me one day and he’s been such a godsend and he’s such a super nice man, so talented. He went and cut that on his own and it took me a few minutes to stop crying after that. Because that was just above and beyond the call of duty.
What else have we not covered that you want to cover?
We want to keep doing this. The record people tell us that if we keep on our path that we’re on and keep moving up, the idea is that volume 3 or volume 4 will be our big seller. Our plan is to create a brand and a revenue stream and in 5 years, the foundation is going to donate the CDs and all of the licenses and all of the money that we raised to the Epilepsy Foundation and let them do with it what they want. Because what happened to us, I want the fact that Joe is my son to define my life, not what happened to Joe. This isn’t my calling – I’m doing this for me for today, for my son for today, but our plan when we get done 5 years from now is to have 10 or 15 really great CDs that we’ve released, have Joey’s Song be an brand like A Very Special Christmas or the Red Hot and series, something like that, that people recognize. And then we donate it to the Epilepsy Foundation and they do what they want with it.
I guess the other thing – I don’t know if we’re going to be releasing CDs 5 years from now, because I don’t know where the business is going to be. We may be releasing singles. That’s the other thing that the record industry people told us, our timing is bad – the charity CD is dead. What people do now is the USA For Africa type thing – pick a song and everybody comes in and sings 4 words and then you splice it together. What we are working on as well – I don’t know if you remember last year when the Haiti thing hit, Wilco, another favorite band of mine, put up on their webpage that if you donate 20 bucks to Doctors without Borders, you can download 2 concerts, all on the honor system. Sam Beam from Iron and Wine is going to do the same thing.
He’s touring behind his new record and he’s very hellbent on making it a Madison show. I keep telling him that I don’t care [where it's from]. But that just shows that they’re into it. So Sam’s going to record a gig and we’ll do the same thing – he’ll put it up on his webpage and we’ll put it up on ours, purely on the honor system – to download this, go donate 15 bucks. We may end up doing more concerts and live things than CDs down the road. So while I talk about 5 years of releasing CDs in multiple volumes, I guess I should alter my language and say that for the next 5 years, we’re going to continue to release rare and unreleased music in whatever format and direction the industry has taken us.
Visit the official Joey’s Song website to read more about the story behind Joey’s Song and more importantly, lend your support and purchase the two Joey’s Song CDs.