There is always pressure on new bands from their record companies to sell a ton of records right out of the box.
In many cases, if the band doesn't meet the target sales figure decided in the company board room, the band is immediately dropped from the label.
That's what makes the case of the Canadian band, The Tragically Hip, so decidedly different.
The band's 1989 MCA Records debut, "Up to Here," sold an amazing 200,000 copies in Canada -- considered double platinum there -- but didn't dent the U.S. market. The band also won the coveted Juno Award, the Canadian Grammy, for "Entertainer of the Year."
"I don't want to rag on our record company, but they kind of feel like they've got egg on their faces because we didn't do too well in the States with the first album," said guitarist Bobby Baker, whose band will be perform tonight at Hammerjacks as the opening act for Jellyfish and Mike Edwards of Jesus Jones. "Even though we don't feel that way, I think they feel like they lost out or let us down."
In fact, MCA Records has seemingly pulled out all of the stops to make the band's follow-up, "Road Apples," as successful in the United States as the first record was in Canada.
"We're just happy to be getting special treatment from our company," Baker said. "It feels good to have their support."
The band, which also features Gord Downie (vocals), Paul Langlois (guitar), Gord Sinclair (bass) and Johnny Fay (drums), went to New Orleans to record "Road Apples" in the studio of fellow Canadian Daniel Lanois.
"It's a small country, music-wise, and everybody seems to know everybody else," Baker said. "We had bumped into him a few times and he said he liked our music so we asked him if we could use the studio."
With Don Smith (Keith Richards, Tom Petty) producing, "Road Apples" is a bona fide rock 'n' roll effort all the way through, dripping with the kind of bluesy guitar and howling lyrics that made such bands as the Black Crowes and The Smithereens success stories last year.
The concert calendar . . .
Also coming to Hammerjacks, Lynch Mob (tomorrow), The Ramones and Saigon Kick (April 6), Todd Rundgren (April 13), Enuff Z Nuff and Child's Play (April 19), The Fixx (April 26) and The Alarm (May 3).
Three of Painters Mills' shows have been moved to the Towson Center: Cocteau Twins (Monday), The Righteous Brothers (April 17) and The Oak Ridge Boys (April 28). For more information about these shows, call 703-824-1527.
Max's On Broadway welcomes Tanita Tikarem (April 4), Henry Rollins (April 9), Lonesome Val (April 11), Wayne Toups and Zydecajun (April 14) and An Emotional Fish (May 8).
Vanilla Ice, The Party and Riff perform at the Baltimore Arena Sunday night. "The Quiet Room" will available for parents with children attending the show.