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Producers find direction: Things more upbeat and focused for Atlanta band
by Russ Devault
After trying to go several directions at once, losing an original
member and going through a "real depression," Atlanta's Producers
have found a focus.
That's the guarantee from Bryan Holmes, drummer-manager for the
four- man band, which will debut songs from its new album, "Run for
Your Life," Wednesday, May 29, at the Moonshadow Saloon.
"We've always had what it takes as far as talent goes,"
says, "but people have had a hard time putting their finger on what
we were or where we were headed. That's been our biggest problem,
but I truly think it's been eliminated."
It was a painful process of elimination that started in 1983
with a second album, "You Make the Heat," that didn't generate the
interest drawn by "The Producers," the band's 1981 debut album, and
that continued through the departure last September of Kyle Henderson,
bassist and vocalist since the band, then known as Cartoon, introduced
itself to Atlanta on New Year's Eve 1980 at the now-defunct Uncle
"Before Kyle left the band we were losing a lot of unity,"
says. "Kyle wanted to go in one direction and the rest of the band
The schism was particularly noticeable during the band's live
performances with the spotlight shifting from keyboardist Wayne Famous
to Henderson to guitarist-vocalist Van Temple. "In the past," Holmes
says, "Wayne and Kyle butted heads a lot. Kyle wanted guitar emphasisand
Wayne wanted keyboard emphasis."
Now the 28-year-old Holmes, the 33-year-old Famous and the 32-
year- old Temple think they have found visual and aural consistency
with the addition of 21-year-old bassist Tim Smith.
"Van does all the lead vocals, so there's a focal point on stage,
" Holmes says. "We've got a real focus."
And, they agree, an album that sounds much better than their
second for CBS' Portrait label and is much more encouraging than what
resulted when Holmes, Temple and Famous tried to record as a trio.
"When Kyle actually left the band his departure was announced
last June, a lot of people said, `Well, that's it for the Producers.'
They thought we wouldn't get by without Kyle who moved to Los Angeles
and is working with a Christian music band, and that irked us."
So the three tried to prove they could make it as a trio. "We
went into the studio and did a demo tape as a three-piece. The result
gave us a real depression.
"We were a little bit forlorn and we did have some problems.
We tried to like it and think it was good, but it wasn't happening
They scrapped that project and shifted their energies to the
matter of finding a replacement, a process that took until early this
year. "We interviewed about 25 bass players before finding Tim a relative
newcomer with no real band experience," Holmes says, ". . . and he'
s helped the band move in a real solid direction."
It remains a pop-rock direction that Holmes calls "a natural
progression from where we were" when the band had minor hits with
"What's He Got?" and "What She Does to Me" from its first
I call it modern rock," Holmes says, "and it is a lot more keyboard-
oriented than before.
"Everybody contributes to the writing, but Van is the principal
writer. He does most of the lyrics and 50 to 60 percent of the music."
The Producers split with Portrait Records after Henderson's departure.
"We started our own label, Marathon, for our third album,"
Holmes, who likes to downplay his role as band manager but who says
he has significantly reduced recording costs while improving the group'
s self-expression compared to what they were under the band's two
nonplaying managers, one of whom was fired in late 1981 and the other
in September of last year.
"We had the two managers and that just didn't work out,"
says. "The creative ideas we had just didn't get put into effect,
so we decided to take things into our own hands.
"And one of the really interesting things is the money we've
saved. CBSspent about $100,000 on recording costs alone on the first
two albums. This one recorded locallycost us under $40,000.
"We're a lot smarter, a lot stronger than we were. I just wish
I'd known half of what I do now about the business end of being a
musicianwhen we signed the recording contract."
The band hopes to win a new deal with "Run for Your Life" -
apt title because the group does about 200 shows a year - once it
sells enough copies of to offset production costs. "Right now,"
says, "we're selling it with mail-order coupons ($10, postage and
handling included, from P.O. Box 940295, Atlanta, Ga., 30340), although
we are talking to some local distributors about handling it.
"What we want is to get a distributor who can cover our main
base - the Southeast - and we're just looking to recoup our costs.
I feel we can get a major label to take it over once we do that, and
a major label can distribute itbetter than we can."
Its heavy schedule of appearances (about a third of which are
on college campuses and the remainder in clubs and smalls halls) and
its two- year-old sponsorship by Miller Beer (worth about $25,000
annually) give the Producers financial s ecurity. But there's nothing
quite like the confidence and promotion generated by a deal with a
major label, and that's why the Producers have invited representatives
of several companies to their Moonshadow show.
"It's going to be a festive night," says Holmes, noting that
the band will not be playing copies of other folks' songs, which it
did in the past despite having two albums on the market.
"We've weeded that out," Holmes says. "Now we've go
and we've got enough of our own material to play all night . . . but
we do occasionally throw in `Hard Day's Night' as an encore song,
because it's a lot of fun to play and the crowds always like it."
Briefly The Producers: Performing at the Moonshadow Saloon, 1880
Johnson Road N.E. Wednesday, May 29. Club opens at 8 p.m. Music begins
about 10 p.m. No reserved seating. $5. 881-6666.
Copyright 1985, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
Contents of the Demo tape: (After so many years, Alan Ozanne stumbled
across a copy of the demo tape in March 2008 and sent me the track list. Thanks
Copyright © 1997- 2007 by Paul Schulz. All rights reserved.
I'm Paul Schulz in Columbus, Ohio and I'd like to hear your stories about The Producers. Maybe I'll put your experiences on the Fans page! firstname.lastname@example.org.
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