Eskimo Joe's gamble last year to "crowd-fund" their next album paid dividends, with more than 400 supporters pledging $60,000 for "rewards" ranging from an MP3 of the first single ($1) to a barbecue for 20 people with the band ($6000).
The Fremantle pop-rock trio were only aiming to raise $40,000 via the Australian crowd-sourcing platform Pozible but hit that mark within a few days of launching the campaign in November. The window to make pledges closes tomorrow.
Multi-instrumentalist Joel Quartermain says the result left the band "shocked and stoked" - they could've sold three times as many barbecues as they offered - but also determined to deliver.
"To have fans that will go buy a record without hearing it because they love the band, that's a huge compliment," he says from the Eskies' studio, The Wasteland, where the lads are knocking around ideas for their sixth album.
While the band split from major label Warner to pursue the Pozible plan, Eskimo Joe effectively now have a one-record deal with 400 shareholders. "We don't feel under pressure but we feel like we need to deliver for those people," Quartermain says.
The bulk of the original $40,000 was earmarked for a producer, with the band revealing that they will work with Burke Reid. The Toronto-based musician was a member of Sydney electro-rockers Gerling but more recently has been building a very impressive production repertoire of mainly alternative rock fare, including the Drones' Havilah, the Mess Hall's Devil's Elbow and Oh Mercy's Deep Heat.
"If you look through his discography, it's not like there's any multi-platinum-selling records there and that's what attracted us," Quartermain says. "We want him to come in and really get his hands dirty and push the envelope."
Quartermain and the others, singer/bassist Kavyen Temperley and guitarist Stuart MacLeod, have been communicating with Reid via Skype. They were impressed with his honesty.
"He's gone 'Look, in the past I haven't really been a fan of the band, so I was sceptical about working with you guys but when I heard the demos, I could hear you guys are doing something really different to what you've done in the past' and he was really into it."
Reid arrives on March 1 for eight weeks of recording in The Wasteland. Quartermain says the band - who have co-produced previous albums, including 2006's Black Fingernails, Red Wine - are not over-producing the demos, giving plenty of opportunity for their Canadian producer to leave his mark.
"We're quite excited about what he's going to bring to it," he says. "We're trying to keep it like we're a band in a garage."
Quartermain guesses that Eskimo Joe have around 14 new songs, which friends have said are sounding a bit like their 2001 debut Girl. For the first time since their early days, Temperley is singing in falsetto and the demos are not as brooding as the past two albums, 2009's Inshalla and 2011's Ghosts of the Past.
The sixth album should be out around September, with supporters receiving a single or EP before then.
Of course, the Pozible plan wasn't without critics, most notably outspoken Grinspoon singer Phil Jamieson, who reckons they've got enough money and should not ask fans for donations.
"You're always prepared for a Phil Jamieson bagging," Quartermain says. "He's been bagging us since 2001. It's at the point where if he's not bagging us, we're like 'What are we doing wrong? We're not getting his attention'."
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