Southern Culture's Long Road

When its label, Geffen Records, was absorbed into the larger Universal Music Group consortium nearly two years ago, Southern Culture on the Skids knew that as a modest seller, it was a band at risk. But drummer Dave Hartman says the quartet wasn't too worried about its future.

"The whole time [was spent] in negotiations with somebody or somebody else," Hartman, 37, says. "We never felt like, 'Oh, God, nobody wants us.' It was frustrating, because it seemed like the whole industry was changing at the very time we were looking for something. Labels were going out of business with entire work forces being laid off. You could be talking to people, and the next week not one of those people would be left at the company."

SCOTS wound up on the Internet-based EMusic label for its newly released seventh album, Liquored Up and Lacquered Down, with street distribution handled by TVT Records. The group made the album while it was searching for the deal, however, recording at singer-guitarist Rick Miller's home studio in a rural area of North Carolina, which he'd decked out with '60s-style mood lights, velvet matador pictures, and pastel paintings of musicians such as Louis Prima and Lightnin' Hopkins.

"We thought that maybe we could record the demos there, or at least do pre-production," Hartman says. "Once we got going on it, we realized it sounded as good as anything we'd done. Usually when you make a record at a studio, you're focused on getting up and in there and today it's this song and this song. This was not like that at all. If we didn't like a version of a song we had, at the last minute we could go in, set up the [microphones] and re-record it. Or I'd get a call in the middle of the night, 'Can you come out here and play this maraca part.' It turned out to work for the better for us."