There was a 6-12 month period of time in 1999, while Kansas’s Ultimate Fakebook was touring to support This Will Be Laughing Week, that the trio (vocals/guitar – Bill McShane, bassist – Nick Colby, drummer – Eric Melin) seemed to play Columbus, Ohio every other week. And, hey, I wasn’t complaining one bit! The band’s power-pop sound bore some similarities to bands I dug like Weezer, Superdrag, and Green Day and it helped them land a short-lived major label deal with Epic Records.
In 2003, after releasing the Before We Spark EP, Ultimate Fakebook quietly called it quits. Colby and Melin formed The Dead Girls while McShane moved to California and got a job unrelated to music. It was a sad and anti-climactic end to a band that, for a while in 1999, felt like family to me.
In June, an Ultimate Fakebook Facebook page appeared and the first status update promised “some very cool announcements coming soon”. Then, earlier this week, this update appeared as well as a link to download a new song: “Ultimate Fakebook broke up in 2003, but the power pop punk powerhouse has just put up a song at ufbrocks.com for a free download and announced a record called ‘Daydream Radio is Smiling Static’ out July 27!!!!!!”
A new song? A new album? What? How? I HAD to know what was going on so I got in touch with Eric Melin. Here’s what he had to say:
Why now? Did Michael Jackson’s death last year make you realize that you never want to have lingering regrets?
Yes and no. This album would never have come out if we hadn’t been able to approach these songs with a new sense of what the hell they sounded like.
How did you keep the recording of a new album a secret?
With the exception of one new song, it’s been done since 2003.
Are the new batch of songs truly new songs or are they ones that had been cooking in the crock pot at the time of UFB’s untimely demise?
They weren’t cooking; they were done. The first batch were supposed to be half of the major-label follow up to This Will Be Laughing Week that never happened. We saved some of our favorites and didn’t put them on Open Up. The 2nd – 4th batches were 3 sessions of new stuff recorded in 2003. They were supposed to come out on the record that followed the Before We Spark EP, which was finished over a year before it finally came out. After a little bit of space, we hear them now with new ears and think “Why the fuck didn’t we do this album,?” Now its kind of a lost record. It sounds really fresh now, like a radio broadcast from another, less cynical time and place. Hopeful, everyone will get that same wistful feeling when they listen to it.
There wasn’t a big and nasty split with Bill, as far as I can tell (never noticed any gossip in the Weekly World News about in-band fighting or sleeping with each other’s girlfriends or anything). Did Bill decide that he was done playing ‘rock star’ for a little while?
You’d have to ask him, but we have all remained friends throughout this time, even though touring took its toll and our own expectations were the hardest to meet.
Are you as excited about putting out something as we are in hearing it?
Abso-fucking-lutely. We stupidly kept no web presence at all and just disappeared when we broke up, so for us, its exciting to know people are still enjoying our music. For a band that prided itself on its connection with its fans, we really blew it and just dropped off the face of the Earth after we broke up. The challenge now is to find everyone who cares about UFB through the Internet and make sure they can get these tunes, cuz we’re pretty sure they’ll like ’em as much as we do.
I loved UFB’s music but what really endeared me to the band was your constant touring with many, many stops in Columbus over a relatively short period of time. Any chance you’ll do another coast to coast tour or is the reunion album a studio project that came together because the timing was right?
No coast to coast tour unless we get Green Day big out of nowhere. So, no. There is no infrastructure to support that. We have no van. We have no money. There is no pool to draw from.
Is this the long overdue final chapter to UFB’s career or is it the sequel?
That’s up to you all. As long as there is demand and we have good ideas that we’re excited about, you never know! The music industry is a pile of shit and we are 100% independent, so we’ll do whatever we want. But that also depends on what the fans want. Making $$$ is not really an option so anything we do will be for the love of the music. We’re just excited to see who we can find that remembers how much fun it was back in the day. You all deserve these songs–we owe them to you.
Jump into the wayback machine after the jump to read an interview I did with the band in 1999.