It's a new beginning for three music industry veterans with impressive international ties, as well as the arrival of a new record label and management company on the local scene.
Simon Harper, Lauren Bromley and Eric Hodge, the three partners of Effin' Records and Blindin' Management, met in England (two are native Brits). All three have several years of experience working with international record companies (Rough Trade, 4AD and others) and band management (The Sugarcubes).
According to Bromley, the unusual name comes from a London slang term that refers to the act we Southerners popularly describe as being "cussed out. Effin' refers to the forbidden "f" word, as in "f*in,'" and Blindin' refers to the proverbial British epitaph "Bloody." The name choice came about as a natural way to earn a laugh from their British contacts, it being a bit of an in-joke Bromley explains, "We wanted a name that was English, but not so obvious, and something that would make the English people (we deal with) laugh."
Located in a tucked-away corner of Carrboro, the company shares space in a communal house with all three partners and their kids. A testimony to the huge amount of time being spent on the phones, their office space is still undecorated, and even the computers are still undergoing their final set up. Overall, the historic half-timbered farmhouse, surrounded by a large yard, gives the feeling of a country home, the last place you'd expect to find some of the shakers and movers of the British recording industry.
So how does a new music company with such an international background decide to locate to the Chapel Hill area, outside the normal music industry meccas of New York, Los Angeles and Nashville? "Our first consideration was the schools," says Hodge. During an initial Internet investigation considering the possibilities of Austin, Athens and Chapel Hill, the three locations considered as favorable places to start the business, Bromley and Hodge discovered that this area offered what they were looking for. "Once that happened, and having worked with the music of bands like Ben Folds Five and Superchunk in the past, it was easy for us to know we wanted to go to a place that had a pretty cool music scene like Chapel Hill," Hodge says. The proximity of an international airport also contributed, but Bromley adds that Chapel Hill stood out because "There's so much down here, so many good bands, and for us, it's an exciting place to be."
Since the move to Carrboro, Effin' and Blindin' have decided to manage a local band, The Comas. According to Lauren Bromley, they fell in love with The Comas just as quickly as they fell in love with the area. "We weren't really looking to manage a band, although we had all said that we might consider it if we saw an amazing local band," Bromley says. Since taking the band under their wing, the partners have sent The Comas' CDs to several British contacts in booking and promotion, and suggest that Chapel Hill might be seeing a lot less of The Comas soon, as one of Europe's biggest booking agencies is actively interested in bringing the band overseas to tour.
"So many bands that we work with ... you know how far you can get with them, you know where they're going to go, and you know how far it can go, and where it's going to stop. But there are very few bands that you think, 'This band could go all the way--and then some,'" Bromley enthuses.
Likewise, the band is excited about their new management company, which has already helped them buy better amps and equipment for their live shows, as well as helping them find booking contacts. Says Comas bassist-vocalist-violinist Margaret White, "It seems like they have pretty much the same vision as we do, but they've got the connections to get there."
But for the most part, the company's focus will be on introducing music by British and foreign acts to the U.S. market. After years in the industry, Effin' and Blindin' realize that just because a band has a successful European release (or even a platinum-selling album in the United Kingdom), it's no guarantee that the band's success will translate overseas, or that they'll find an American label to release their album. That's where Effin' Records comes into play. With years of experience working between U.S. and British labels and with industry contacts on both sides of the pond, the partners understand what needs to happen to bring foreign releases and bands to notice in the huge American music scene.
Harper started out in the '80s at Rough Trade Distribution, eventually working his way up to a management position before moving on to 4AD (Pixies, Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, etc.) where he worked with foreign licensing, promotions and marketing. Couple Lauren Bromley and Eric Hodge bring experience from One Little Indian Records (where Bromley also co-managed The Sugarcubes) and Imago Records' European office (Henry Rollins, Basehead, etc.). Bromley had also worked at Rough Trade during Harper's time with the company, while Hodge co-owned The Gas Company, a London-based, independent promotions company that worked with such American bands as Hole, Ben Folds Five, Lambchop, Superchunk and Rocket From the Crypt.
As of now, Effin' and Blindin' will be working with both new and established acts from overseas, licensing their music domestically and promoting it to press and radio, the goal being to allow the bands to grow an American fan base. As the artists become more successful, they have the option to either move on to a major label deal or stay with Effin' and grow along with the company. Currently several names of major British acts are being bandied about their offices as possible projects, but as none are as yet confirmed. Let's just say you'd definitely recognize them. (Here's a hint, one name getting mentioned is a hugely popular English band, fronted by a man with the same initials and last name of a late '60s-era singer known for his soulful singing punctuated by lots of accompanying, contorted body language.) So don't be surprised if the next time you're in your favorite music store and you pick up a new release by a favorite British artist, it has a Carrboro address on the back.