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"I thought he was trying to kick-start the scene, but all [the artists] did was bitch about it," counters longtime Houston musician David Beebe, who had no stake in the compilation at all — in fact, Jamail turned down Beebe's band at the time, Banana Blender Surprise. "I said, 'Maybe you shouldn't get involved with this if you think someone's going to take advantage of you' — which in my opinion he totally didn't."
Finally, there are those persistent whispers rustling the local grapevine that, back in the day at least, wherever Jamail went, a good time was sure to follow. That he, in the ever-euphemistic parlance of the music business, liked to party. He pauses a long time before answering.
"I don't know where that information came from," he allows. "But I've been sober for a while." His recording sessions, he adds a little later on, always had a strict no-alcohol-or-drug policy. "Those are ten- and 12-hour days," he notes. "You show up hungover and it's hard to get through them."
Dayton confirms this, sort of: "We didn't show up to the studio hammered," he says. "We got hammered later on."
Perhaps not surprisingly, after sitting down with the Press in his office for more than an hour Thursday afternoon, Jamail calls back Friday morning. He wants to make sure the record is clear.
"The more the spotlight was on me, I feel like that detracted from the amazing efforts of my staff and the artists on the label," he says. "Oftentimes it became more about me and my personality, and less about what I considered to be pretty amazing artists and an amazing staff. It's important to me that their talents are at the forefront.
"That's why we didn't do a big press release on the relaunching of the label," he concludes. "We wanted the music to speak for itself. Ultimately, it comes down to music and how good a job we do."Feow! Mix
Justice Records may not exactly be brand-new, but another Houston label is. Feow! Records, started by Pitchfork darling and recent Houston expat Jana Hunter, Bring Back the Guns guitarist Matt Brownlie and Wicked Poseur's Arthur Bates, is officially up and running. First release War Elephant, from the 21-year-old Providence, Rhode Island, alt-country songwriter who goes by Deer Tick, is due in stores Sept. 2; BBTG's own Dry Futures follows Oct. 4.
"It feels like it's taken a lifetime," Brownlie says.
Brownlie and friends had been talking about starting their own label for about a year, he says, ever since BBTG grew tired of waiting for small labels to make up their minds on doing something with the band. "At a certain point, I realized I had all the resources indie labels need," he says. "Connections with distributors, promotions companies, and a little bit of money sitting around — not a whole lot, but enough to get started."
Feow! will be distributed to brick-and-mortar outlets by Revolver (Young God, Ninja Tune, Smells Like) and online through the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA); therefore, Feow! releases should be available "anywhere you can legally pay to download music," Brownlie says.
Hunter recently moved to Baltimore — arguably the hottest music scene in the country right now — and will act as a sort of national and regional A&R, while Brownlie keeps an eye on Houston. Although he admits that, between the label and planning BBTG's upcoming three-week Midwest tour, he hasn't been able to get out much recently, Brownlie says he can think of about a dozen local bands he'd be interested in working with.
"As everyone in Houston knows, we're being completely overlooked, and it's time for somebody to step up," he says. "We plan to retain as much focus on Houston as we possibly can without overlooking anything from outside."
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