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The best kept secret in music


"Krome - Rocking in a New World"

Krome - Rocking in a New World

With a sound that mixes the old with the new, Vancouver band Krome have finally hit the limelight and are rocking in the new world of rock.
The four piece rock band, who have been compared to Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Nickelback, consist of lead vocalist Shawn Meehan, bassist Troy Zak, drummer Doug Grant and guitarist Randy Robertson. They are a band with a difference however, releasing independently on their own label Loud Sound Productions, and doing all the hard work themselves.
The Budweiser True Music Programme invited Krome, after another independent band, Crop Circle, signed up and recommended Krome to Labbatt’s marketing who were looking for other similar bands. Krome are now touring all over Canada with Budweiser, and on their own as part of an already planned tour.
In June I interviewed Shawn Meehan, after what seemed like a hurricane blew through Toronto, and effectively cancelled the gig they were due to play at the Docks. Krome were due to play alongside other acts including Kim Mitchell.
Meehan had sent a demo to Kim Mitchell’s management company over a year ago, which they really liked, and they pitched it to all the major labels, but none of the major labels liked it enough to take a chance. Meehan says, “I think the state of the music business right now is that I don’t think labels are too keen on developing bands, they wait till they are developed a certain amount, or sold a certain amount. So we thought, what can we do to get their attention and create a buzz? We thought, well ok, let’s start our own label and get them come running to us. Artistically you’re more in control of everything. It’s truer music because you’re cutting the bullshit between the artists and people hearing it on the radio.”
Meehan then came up with a business plan with the help of an accountant friend who is now their business manager. He explains, “He’s the one that done a lot of the dirty work. I only had this concept and he put it together. It’s been difficult to keep it on track as you always spend way more money than you expected. It’s been a rough road and there’s been a lot of potholes along the way. You have to stay focused on the final goal.”
The final goal is, as Meehan declares, to conquer the world. “Why go halfway? I may only get halfway or three quarters of the way doing it but ultimately I want to see and tour the world, we want to get into as many markets as we can.”
Meehan had been running his own band since he was 13, sometimes just joining up to be a guitarist and while waiting around for things to happen, he’d pick up the phone and start to get gigs. Despite the prior experience he still found it difficult to break through and extremely hard work. “It’s such a hard business, I think it’s one of the hardest. There are so many highs and lows, the highs are high but the lows are super low. They’re hard to recover from and there’s been times when you’re putting two or three years into a project, and you’re really thinking things are going to happen, and managers are throwing money in front of you, and then all of a sudden, one of the guys in the band pulls out at the last minute, or something just devastating happens. You feel that’s three years of your life just wasted, then you pick yourself up, and know that it’s three years of mistakes I won’t make again”, admits Meehan.
Meehan has come a long way since the 13 year old boy playing in his first band, those early days when he listened to his step-dad playing the guitar and his brother’s Rolling Stones and Kiss music. He has been influenced by many bands, old and new, and says, “I always like anyone who plays from the heart. I love Metallica, they’re a really great band, I love the Beatles, I mean who isn’t influenced by them. I love late 70’s AM rock radio like the Eagles. Those are the obvious influences, anyone who writes great songs.”
Krome started out in the same way as Nickelback two or three years ago, they are both from Vancouver, writing similar music, touring clubs together and both releasing their music independently. As Krome receive more press, they are compared to rock bands before them, mainly Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and of course Nickelback who hit the big time two years ago. And according to Meehan, it’s no bad thing, “I’m honoured when we compared to older bands like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden because I grew up listening to that stuff and it’s rubbed off. We don’t claim to re-invent rock and roll, it’s our interpretation of what we like from it. I don’t see it as a bad thing, I see it as a good thing.”
The second release from their album is the title track ‘Neglected’ which Meehan says is “the kind of song that everyone can relate to at some point in their lives”.
As Meehan declares in another one of his songs, “get out of my way….” there is a new band is coming through ready to conquer the world.
- Toronto Free Press

"Hard-rockers Krome take one-man band to new level"

A kind of Cinderella myth -- in which musical acts work on their craft, writing songs and performing in the hope that the music industry will some day discover their talent -- has an enduring grip on wannabe rock stars.

The driving force behind reality TV shows such as American Idol and Popstars is that all you need is talent for fame and fortune to come your way. Of course, for every Kelly Clarkson or Clay Aiken, there are tens of thousands whose dreams are shattered. And even the stars often find themselves boxed in by their record labels.

Shawn Meehan and his hard-rock band Krome prefer not to leave their careers up to fate. Like a growing number of flinty-eyed recording acts -- most notably fellow Vancouver rockers Nickelback -- Krome has gone it alone, releasing its debut compact disc on its own label, making its own videos and getting some airplay on radio and television in the hope of attracting and negotiating major-label support on its own terms.

Now Meehan has gone further, developing a business plan that has already earned Krome a space on the Canadian charts and soliciting investment to further the band's climb toward stardom.

"A lot of musicians have this whole misconception of, 'Oh, art and business don't mix'," says Meehan, 29, a thick-set bear of a man with a purple stripe dyed into his square-cropped goatee.

Having played guitar in other people's bands and worked as a studio musician since leaving high school in Quebec, Meehan formed Krome in the summer of 2002. He wanted to return to his hard-rock roots after years of playing poppier fare.

He and producer Ted Moore started writing songs. To make a demo tape, Moore filled in on bass guitar and brought in a drummer he knew, Doug Grant.

Then Meehan called a young guitarist he knew from Quesnel, Jesson Nelson, to crank up the noise.

The quartet immediately created a buzz.

"I remember getting MP3s of the demo and going, 'Hey, wait a sec, you should make an album of this'," recalled Meehan's friend Rob Mashohn, a self-employed management accountant and sometime musician.

A management company in Toronto arranged two showcases with record labels in Vancouver-area clubs.

"There was a lot of interest, there was nothing negative said, just nobody was willing to cut a cheque," Meehan said. "So we were at this crossroads. We really believed in this project, and even the labels seemed interested."

But instead of breaking up or biding their time on the club circuit, Krome decided to raise some money to record a full album and shoot a video.

"We thought, 'Let's not get down on the fact that the Canadian majors don't want to sign us. Let's look at it as a positive thing that allows us to put out our own music ourselves and be in a little more control of our destiny,'" Meehan said.

Still, it would take more than $20,000 to record an album and make a video for the first single, and Meehan had pretty much tapped out his friends and family. So he and Mashohn formed a record company called Loud Sound Productions Inc., wrote a business plan and started approaching investors. At first, all they had to sell were themselves, a handful of songs and the odd concert.

"We could pull people out to shows. People see the band live and they're hooked," Mashohn said.

The formal corporate structure helps in getting investors to part with their cash, he added.

"They're not just giving money willy-nilly with no record of it. We are a registered corporation in British Columbia and you get a share certificate. We have a law firm you deal with. It's all 100-per-cent legit."

The concept for Loud Sound is not much different than for any other speculative venture. Krome is to Loud Sound what an innovation is to a technology startup, or a mineral claim is to a junior mining company: an asset of uncertain value.

Loud Sound owns the rights to Krome's first and an option on its second CD, and if these prove successful, the label intends to take on other musical acts. That way, should Krome break up, there may still be something there for investors, not to mention a 14-hour-a-day job for Meehan, the president and so far sole employee.

Meehan prefers to think of the best-case scenario in which Krome hits the big time, licenses its albums to a major label for international distribution and splits the revenue with Loud Sound 50-50. If it made sense for shareholders, he'd settle for the next best option, where a major steps in with an offer to buy out Krome's recording contract.

With the first of its investment funds in hand, Krome went into Roper Recordings in Coquitlam in May and recorded its debut CD, Neglected.

Problem No. 1: How to get it on the radio? Meehan began hounding Toronto radio tracker Bobby Gale.

Radio trackers act as agents for artists with the broadcast media. They pitch singles, CDs and videos to radio and television program directors. They set up interviews and live appearances. The major labels have their own in-house trackers, but Gale is considered one of Canada's top independents.

Meehan had sent Gale the CD and repeated e-mail and voicemail messages for two weeks before he heard anything.

"He said, 'Wow, this kid's not going to go away.' He went out on a lunch break, put the CD in and phoned me back after lunch saying, 'Hey, when can we start promoting this record?'" Meehan said.

"That got the ball rolling," Mashohn said. "It happened pretty fast."

Suddenly the band was shooting a video for the first single, Acknowledge, with Meehan producing.

"I have a whole new respect for video producer. I will never second-guess [one of them] . . . It's just so much work," said Meehan, who had previously appeared in half a dozen videos with other bands.

When Gale found out that Meehan was bilingual, he suggested the band record a French version of the song. Hard-rock bands do well in the Quebec market, he reasoned, and French-language radio stations have to play 65 per cent of their music in French.

Sure enough, the French version of Acknowledge, Mourir a Lombre, charted first in Quebec in October, rising as high as No. 18.

In early November, Acknowledge entered the Canadian Top-50 BDS charts at No. 45.

"I know this as a fact: Radio stations are playing us in the West because of being the No. 1 most spun tune on Quebec City's biggest rock station," Meehan said.

Just back from a western tour -- which, to everybody's surprise, turned a modest profit --Meehan is planning a video for the second single, Neglected, and working on his investor relations, ensuring his backers get every radio-play chart and new video to look at. All the while he's had to raise more money to pay Gale and cover the cost of the video, but at least now Loud Sound has something to show for its activities.

"If there's anything we've learned, it's to look ahead," Mashohn said.

Still, radio play itself does not equal revenue. Loud Sound pressed 3,000 copies of Neglected in August, and Krome will have to sell a lot more than that before the company breaks even. Thanks to a recently inked deal with FAB Distribution of Montreal, the CDs are just now hitting store shelves. Loud Sound is just now becoming acquainted with big killer of start-up businesses: Cash flow.

Nonetheless, self-publishing has become increasingly common in the rap, folk and alternative niches of the music industry, usually not out of choice so much as perseverance.

After being turned down by record labels, artists such as Ani DiFranco, Aimee Mann and Bad Religion released their own records, proving that they knew better than the labels what the music-buying public wanted. Vancouver's Nettwerk Productions, among the world's largest independent labels, came about to put out an album for Moev, a gothic-techno band founder Terry McBride then managed.

The trend has now made its way into mainstream rock and roll. Last year Nickelback, which produced and released a number of its own recordings before signing with American independent Roadrunner Records, became only the second Canadian act to have a No. 1 single (How You Remind Me) on the Canadian and U.S. charts simultaneously.

Nickelback's sophomore CD Silver Side Up went on to sell nine million copies worldwide, which helped frontman Chad Kroeger form 604 Records earlier this year. 604 has already produced CDs for bands including Default, The Organ and Theory of a Deadman.

Like Kroeger, Meehan sees no conflict being a rock star and a record executive at the same time, and he appears to have the energy to handle it.

"I love both. I love playing music, writing it, touring . . . At the same time, I love this stuff," he said, gesturing around the office of Mashohn's company Premier Business Management Inc. "I love sitting down with Rob and strategizing and locking in investors. There's a whole excitement to that too."

That's not to say he's thinking about sales when he writes a song, but it may rule out some of his more experimental ideas.

"A lot of bands sometimes don't look at the record company the right way. It's a vehicle to get you where you want to go. You can't look at it as the enemy; you got to look at it as your friend, and as a very good friend. I've learned that from being on the inside, from going, 'Oh my goodness, we're spending a lot of money to sell these CDs.' "

The son of an entrepreneur mother and salesman father, Meehan had been mindful of the commercial side of his musical venture from the outset -- like when it came to a name for the band.

"I was at Music West a couple of years ago when one of my heroes, Gene Simmons, was speaking. Part of his spiel was, 'What's with these names? You guys with these five-word names!' He goes, 'Kiss. Now, you can't forget that name,'" Meehan said.

He vowed his own band would have a simple, one-word name that also conveyed its hard-rock sound. One of his bandmates suggested Chrome, and Meehan changed the spelling to make it more memorable.

- The Vancvouer Sun

"Krome Comes To Edmonton"

Vancouver seems to be producing a new breed of bands, and Alberta seems to be appreciating them. Krome has found their way onto the Alberta scene with their music being played here in Edmonton as well as almost every other station around us.”
“Krome… a sophisticated mix of tightly structured harmonies, deep guitars, and dark, often brooding melodies that interchange with bright, ethereal chorus hooks."
- Edmonton See Magazine

"Finally More than one good song"

“I love this CD, it isn’t like everything else we are hearing right now. I like every song on the album, and that is rare because it seems that every CD you buy has only one or two good songs on it.
I highly recommend this CD if you like hard music with good melodies. You can pick up the CD at stores across the country and catch their video on Much Music, (if you watch that kind of thing)” - Vancouver YouthInk Paper


Full Length CD - Neglected
Single - Acknowledge (#45 @ BDS Canadian Rock audience chart, #14 on BDS Quebec Chart)
Single - Things I left Behind (#32 on BDS Quebec Chart)
Single - Neglected (#2 future BDS national audiance chart and top 40 quebec bds chart)
Single-Dying Underneath
Full Length CD - Self Titled
Single - No One Gives (May/06 #97 Media Base Rock Chart)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Formed in 2004 in Vancouver, BC KROME is four guys who live Rock-n-roll thriving on live performances. The band in the past two years have toured Canada coast to coast 4 times, played over 200 hundred shows (including touring with the Budweiser True Music Program), had a successful independent CD release selling over 5000 copies (Neglected), a song in the top 50 (Acknowledge), and secured an army of loyal and devoted fans.

In December of 2005 KROME penned a deal with Shoreline/Universal Records and will be releasing on that label their self titled CD in the spring of 2006. The album contains ten raucous tracks that explore everything from drug addiction (Lost in Travel), the dysfunctional modern day family (Human Zoo), the absurdity of organized religion (Dashboard Baby Jesus), to the tragic nature of love (Until the End), it also includes one cool cover (No Time) made famous by “The Guess Who”. Their first single “No One Gives” has just been released to radio and has already received a strong reaction. Their upcoming CD is a perfect primer for the uninitiated, while continuing to thrill longtime fans.

KROME has received raving, critical reviews and the mainstream support of press, commercial radio and Much Loud. Krome graced the front page of the business section of The Vancouver Sun titled “The band with a plan” the article spanning 2-pages. Quebec praises Kromes hard work by printing: “an English band from the West pierces Quebec, wow now that’s surrealism!” (Quebec LeSoleil), to Edmonton See Magazine stating; “Vancouver seems to be producing a new breed of bands, and Alberta seems to be appreciating them. Krome… a mix of tightly structured harmonies, deep guitars, and dark, often brooding melodies that interchange with bright, ethereal chorus hooks.” The video for Krome’s single “Acknowledge” was added “out of the box” and into regular rotation on the Much Loud TV channel. The same song has been licensed to MLB slugfest 2004 by Midway Games and can be heard on the Feature Film “La Peau Blanche”.

The road has been good to KROME, logging countless hours of van time and stage experience the band has found themselves veterans of the highway and leaders of a new resurgence of independent Canadian touring bands.

For the record, Krome consists of 4 guys who have the uncanny ability to write songs that are commercially accessible while maintaining an uncompromising rock edge. The band is the brain-child & vision of Shawn Meehan, (singer/guitar player) who assembled a line-up of solid players, including Vancouver bassist Rick "The Butcher" Williams, Drummer Rod Senft and guitarist/vocalist Randy Robertson who together have developed the sonic attack that make up Kromes live show.
They plan to do what comes natural with the release of their self titled CD by embarking once again across Canada. The hard-working guys of KROME have made it their personal mission to expose audiences everywhere to what has been described as “a live show that belongs in an arena”.