Here comes the hype

On the other end of the phone, Leslie Aldredge is bragging about being the first person to “discover” Fisher Meehan and his band DrugMoney. And it’s really pissing me off.

Aldredge is DrugMoney’s manager, and the architect of the group’s contract with Hybrid Recordings, as well as being the driving force behind the national mass-media push the band is about to receive. So I guess she’s entitled to a little hubris.

DrugMoney’s song “Small Thinking” will be the lead-off track on the free sampler CD in the February issue of CMJ New Music Monthly. That same month, Blender and Alternative Press magazines will publish reviews of the band’s new album, MTN CTY JNK (see accompanying review). Then in March, DrugMoney will be the subject of a full page write-up in Spin.

In a very real way, each of these now-interested parties will be claiming to have discovered the band as well. So I suppose that it’s not Aldredge, exactly, who’s getting under my skin.

It’s just that more or less everyone I’ve talked with about DrugMoney in the past few weeks — public-relations people, label people, venue people — claim, in their own ways, to have unearthed Fisher Meehan and the music of DrugMoney. But none of them did.

We did. Here. In Asheville.

For more than two years now, a whole community of fans — including myself — has watched as Fisher morphed from the absurdly visceral open-mic performer playing for beer and surfing couches for shelter, to being the face of an entire local music community that has its heart in Vincent’s Ear, the tiny downtown-Asheville bar and cafe just off the Cheap and Shallow Heights Aloft courtyard.

We saw DrugMoney from the moment of its inception, when it was a mess of double-amped guitar and cymbal-heavy garage drumming. We had curious moments of wonder when Fisher somehow got a Pabst Blue Ribbon sponsorship, then a manager, a label deal with national distribution and headline status at The Orange Peel.

At DrugMoney’s free weekly Tuesday-night show at Vincent’s, we watched Fisher and Co. transform from good garage band to indescribably good pop-rock band. It was, for many of us, the first time we started to see the true potential of the local-music scene.

And we started to believe.

None of us, though, can claim to have discovered DrugMoney. We were all just at the right place at the right time to see the whole thing unfold. All we ever discovered was the obvious truth: DrugMoney is good.

Now, years after Fisher’s arrival in Asheville, DrugMoney is, very possibly, about to make it. CMJ, Blender, A.P. and Spin — and that’s just the first round, the starting point. People all over the country — and perhaps even around the world — will soon be talking about how they discovered Asheville’s own.

A lot of words are about to be tossed around about a band that is, for all intents and purposes, completely unknown.

And let’s say — for the sake of argument — that some of those words stick.

What does that mean for the current local-music scene that DrugMoney helped create?

Very probably, a lot.

For one thing, DrugMoney will prove that it can be done — that playing music for a living here can let you live your dream, and that Asheville’s music scene isn’t a dead end for dreamers.

And suddenly, the idea of getting signed to a label, going on tour and putting out an album that someone could actually buy in a record store in, say, Abilene, Kan., seems a lot less mysterious.

After all, DrugMoney did it, right?

And if Fisher’s band actually starts to make the kind of money its label seems to think it can, it’s only a matter of time before other record companies start snooping around the mountains for a musical gold vein of their own. Could some Music Biz type find a market for the unrestrained debauchery of The SexPatriates, the unadulterated innocence of The Mad Tea Party and the uncontrolled weirdness of Dig Shovel Dig?

It’s now more likely than ever.

Should things play out the right way, the Asheville scene that gave us DrugMoney could soon find itself looking down the barrel of a stack of record contracts, our local musicians armed only with ball-point pens.

Nothing is certain, of course.

The thing is, everyone wants to claim to have been there first, to have discovered this marketable musical movement before anyone else in the industry even heard about it. And if history serves as any example, we — the simple native population that’s been watching this “movement” grow — are likely to find ourselves facing a particularly insidious invasion.

Here comes the hype, Asheville.


DrugMoney will hold a CD-release show for MTN CTY JNK at Vincent’s Ear (68 N. Lexington Ave.; 259-9119) on Tuesday, Jan. 27. No cover.

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