You may have heard a lot about the InterWeb, a new network that magically connects people around the world through their Compute-trons. You might have heard about its powers to promote music, perhaps by an ill-researched story yesterday where I stupidly pointed to a UK artist who will go unmentioned here. (As it turns out, which I would have known had I bothered to, um, read, all of the following did indeed happen: “girl produces webcast from basement,” “girl gets fan following,” “girl makes it big,” “girl signs record deal,” “girl hires publicist.” Just in the reverse order. It doesn’t explain why anyone listened to a publicist in the first place, or which “punk rockers”, exactly, wear “flowers in their hair”, or why Sandi losing her cellphone made her want to go back, inexplicably, to both 1977 and 1969. Plot of Back to the Future IV? Moving on.)
Surprisingly, though, the mainstream music press, fawning over faux-indie Scottish pop singers and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, have missed the Web’s one major success story. Here it is. I’ve tried to translate to the language of vacuous promoters, because I know as a journalist we can really never get enough of that. Ahem. (Let me get in character for a second.)
It was in the early years of the 21st Century when a bird of a different feather got to realize a dream. His name is Waldo. He’s a Congo African Grey parrot, with a rich, silky voice that has been compared by fans to “a jackhammer being ground in a compactor.” But, unlike some parrots, Waldo wanted to share that voice with the world.
He was lucky to have some friends. Bandmates Blake and Mark not only provided drums and guitar, but as seasoned studio engineers had the chops to sculpt the sound of Waldo into the signature sonic world of Hatebeak. Thanks to the power of modern digital recording technology, Waldo’s spontaneously-timed squawks and poetic lyrics could be captured and fine-tuned. Breaking open the traditional box of “melody”, Waldo created a new vocal language with roots in spoken word art. And the rest is history.
In the Amazonian warmth of 2004, the world first got to hear the magical sound of Hatebeak tunes like “God of Empty Nest”, pressed lovingly to vinyl. The album, Beak of Putrifaction, was an instant classic. A follow-up coupling Hatebeak with Caninus (with dog vocals) ensured Hatebeak a hallowed place in musical memory, thanks to favorites like “Bird Bites, Dog Cries” and “Bird Seeds of Vengeance.” You’ll hear influences from bands like Morbid Angel and Carcass, but blended effortlessly with catchy, popular appeal.
But getting the word out about the power of avian vocals was a challenge. Record stores generally don’t have a section for the animal kingdom, and many record company execs thought Hatebeak might be seen as having only niche appeal, or, worse yet, that a death metal band with a parrot front man was “gimmicky.” Some suggested Waldo could remake himself as a boy band, taking a cue from legendary acts like Menudo.
Enter the power of the Internet. As loyal listeners connected with the primordial animal power conveyed in Hatebeak’s raw but hummable tunes, buzz spread fast. Sites like Internet magazine Boing Boing and an upstart newsletter for musicians called Create Digital Music pointed to something called an “M-P-3 file”, a special way of formatting LPs that allows them to be transferred using computer modems, without the use of a phonograph. But most point to the turning point when the influential and powerful bird owners’ press caught on, and beloved publications like Parrot Chronicles posted lavish features showing the more personal side of Hatebeak.
Flash forward to 2006. As young audiences increasingly turn away from human vocalists, inspired by avian acts through the power of the Internet, and long for more of the ear-bleeding demonic powers of death metal, Hatebeak is ripe to make it big. Really big. Hatebeak has a new album due this year, and word from the studio is that this one could be the breakthrough crossover hit the band has been waiting for. Add to that a powerful new distribution medium for the band — laser-etched Compact Discs — and you’ll want to make sure you stay logged into the InterWeb with your eyes glued to Reptillian Records. Otherwise, Waldo might just peck your eyes out. Or, probably, just bite your finger.
The bird is the word, indeed.
Hatebeak at Reptilian Records (Think Jurassic Park, folks)
Hatebeak’s MySpace Page (fairly certain he beat Clap Your Hands Say Yeah et al to the punch)
Hatebeak’s MySpace friends page, proof positive that MySpace is the best way for parrot dudes to make lots of photogenic human female friends
Disclaimer: I’m not really Hatebeak’s publicist. Though, Blake and Mark, if you want to hire me, I can proudly say I’ve never handled Beyonce. If that gives me more of your kids’ “indie cred.” -PK