Bloodhound Gang in-the-news

Bloodhound Gang is on a 'Fierce' roll with Geffen

February 1, 1997Doug Reece

LOS ANGELES-After a few false starts, Philadelphia-based modern rock act the Bloodhound Gang is hitting its stride with "One Fierce Beer Coaster" on Republic/Geffen.

The band's 1994 EP, "Use Your Fingers," which was released on Cheese Factory (now Republic) and picked up by Columbia, was largely ignored by radio and retail, making the warm reception for the band's current modern rock single, "Fire Water Burn," that much sweeter.

In fact, it was largely the success of the song on several major-market stations that inspired Geffen to pick up the album from Republic and rerelease it in a slightly altered version as "One Fierce Beer Coaster" on Dec. 3 (Popular Uprisings, Billboard, Nov. 16,1996).

"One Fierce Beer Coaster" broke into the top half of The Billboard 200 at No. 85 for the week ending Saturday (25), making the Bloodhound Gang a Heatseekers Impact act.

This week, "One Fierce Beer Coaster" sits at No. 62 and has sold more than 80,000 units, according to SoundScan. The Republic release accounts for an additional 6,000 units, reports SoundScan.

The original marketing strategy by independent Republic was relatively small scale when the album was released in September of last year.

"We were just following a regular game plan," says Brett Alperowitz, who along with his partners runs Republic and manages the act. "We got the record out to college radio and were trying to get a buzz going."

In another standard move, the label began sending the album to commercial specialty shows, hoping to build awareness of the act as band members went back to the studio to edit off-color language out of the promising single.

"Fire water Burn."

Before the new cut was finished, however, KNDD Seattle music director Marco Collins started spinning an unedited version of the song during late nights and seeing immediate requests. The station's interest helped the song catch fire at other West Coast modern rock outlets, such as KROQ Los Angeles and KOME San Jose, Calif.

"Within two days, we had seven major stations without even having serviced the song," says Alperowitz. Shortly thereafter, the band signed with Geffen.

The additional major-label muscle propelled the single on Modern Rock Tracks and Mainstream Rock Tracks, where this week it charts at No. 29 and No. 35, respectively.

Geffen serviced modern rock radio Nov. 19 and mainstream rock Dec. 4. Though Geffen is preparing the band's next single, "Why's Everybody Always Pickin' On Me?," with rock remixes and an accompanying clip featuring John Denver, Geffen director of modern rock promotion (U.S.) Ted Volk says that "Fire Water Burn" is still faring well.

"This is still the most-requested record at modern rock stations, and it's been on the radio since the middle of November," he says.

Lately, Bloodhound Gang members have been on a promotional tour, stopping at primary- and secondary-market stations and making appearances on such nationally syndicated radio programs as Howard Stern and "Loveline." lne nana nas also per performed on ry shows hosted by Ricki Lake and Jenny McCarthy.

The act, which is booked by New York-based Artists & Audience, begins a tour with Nerf Herder in March after a European promotional jaunt.

Geffen director of marketing Robert Smith (U.S.) says that the album has matured nicely, building multiformat airplay and overcoming perils normally associated with new-artist releases in the holiday season.

"What started out as a novelty song on a handful of radio stations has grown broadly," he says. "We're getting multiple-format radio play even though we're reaching the point where modern rock play begins to settle.

"For all intents and purposes, this album emerged at the hardest time there is to do something new," he adds. "It more than survived the holidays, and the world is really just beginning to get to it."

The band also did its part, performing at Christmas radio shows in such markets as Hartford, Conn.; Austin Texas; Minneapolis; and Phoenix.

John Artale, music buyer for the Carnegie, Pa.-based National Record Mart, says that the album, which is the chain's No. 22 best-selling title, was a pleasant holiday gift for the retailer.

"We originally had the indie album and were doing very well with it," he says. "We went on from there with the Geffen album. It wasn't on sale, but it performed great through the holidays."

Smith says that the label pursued a standard course at retail, bolstering the project with stickers, ad mats, and other in-store displays.

What's drawing consumers, apparently, is the band's hook-filled swirl of sampling, rock, and rap, accented by humorous, quirky, and often politically incorrect lyrics.

The Bloodhound Gang's songs are published by Hey Rudy Publishing, the Jimmy Franks Publishing Co., and Lowry Music.

Bloodhound Gang lead vocalist and main songwriter Jimmy Pop Aliwhose real name is James Frankssays that he is influenced by such bands as Wu-Tang Clan, Weezer, and Depeche Mode.

"I was in a band that did a lot of Depeche Mode covers when I was about 16," he says. "That was what really helped get me into sampling and synthesizers, but I could never really relate to the lyrics. I mean, I would like to start some blasphemous rumors."

The band has, in fact, run into several problems sprouting from concerns over its outrageous and unique style.

Mainstream rock WAAF Boston PD Dave Douglas says that while phones have been ringing "pretty much nonstop" since the station began playing "Fire Water Burn," he is concerned that the song is a novelty.

"Current music has dried up, and [modern rock] especially is a hit-driven format. This sort of album reacts quickly and fulfills the need for hits in the short term, but it's like an unhealthy addiction," he says. "When you don't have the songs, you go through withdrawals.

"Generally speaking, this act is not going to have [another] song as big as `Fire Water Burn,"' he adds. "That's going to be the novelty hit, and programmers have already moved on, looking for the next thing. It's a very negative spiral."

Perhaps of greater concern has been the band's lyrics.

Alperowitz says that prior to signing with Geffen, the band was in talks with another label until its major-label partner expressed concern about lyrical content and requested that several tracks be removed from the album.

Even Geffen balked at including the track "Yellow Fever" from the Republic release. The song, which Franks says will end up on a vinyl single, will likely spark concern in the AsianAmerican community.

Other attention-grabbers, which did make it onto the album, include "I Wish I Was Queer So I Could Get Chicks" and "Kiss Me Where It Smells Funny."

Franks says that the band has no intention of treading lightly on people's sensibilities in the near future.

"People may dismiss us because our lyrics are silly, but I definitely wouldn't be in a band if I couldn't tell poop jokes over the music," says Franks. "The fact that anybody wants to analyze our music is beyond me."