[ALT-COUNTRY] Even in this sequel-happy world, true stories don't often get a second chance at a happy ending. And singer-songwriter Gerald Collier's hard-luck story is a tale as old as the music business itself: Boy meets band; boy and band make beautiful music; boy and band get signed; record label folds and band gets dropped; boy and band break up. Cue sad, beautiful breakup song recorded by boy and band together; fade out; roll credits.
But thanks to Portland's fertile musical soil, a late-blooming postscript to the tragic tale just appeared. It's a collection of outtakes—demos, live tracks and would-be B-side covers—from Collier's excellent but ill-fated major-label debut, '98's Gerald Collier. The new album, appropriately titled How Can There Be Another Day?, is credited to Collier, but its release (by local label In Music We Trust) has occasioned a reunion of said "boy" and his long-lost band from the Gerald Collier sessions: William Bernhard (guitar), J. Hollis Fleischman (drums) and Jeff Wood (bass and backing vocals).
That 1998 recording actually represented a second trip to the majors for the songwriter: Collier's Seattle alt-rock group, Best Kissers in the World, moved from Sub Pop to MCA for a brief stint in '93. That time, too, both deal and band went south. But he didn't let that stop him: By '97 Collier was signed to Revolution Records, one of those faux-indie subsidiaries of major labels (in this case, Warner Bros.) in vogue in the late '90s. He was sitting on his strongest tunes yet, and he assembled a simpatico band led by Bernhard's heroic rock guitar (which now adorns Sky Cries Mary records) and his own striking voice—a combo of Lennon grit and McCartney smoothness. While Collier pulled the band—which will appear in its entirety Saturday—in a rootsier direction, it pushed him to rock harder. "The idea," Collier says, "was to be a country-ized Pink Floyd."
Does that make Collier (who moved here last year, after some time in Austin, Texas) a hayseed Syd Barrett? Perhaps a witty comment left on Collier's MySpace by famed Portland poster artist Guy Burwell offers a hint: "Shine on you zany zirconia," it reads. True, Collier and company never became rock legends; shortly after the release of Gerald Collier, so the story goes, label support disappeared and the band dissolved (Collier has released a few solo albums since). But this week, Collier and company celebrate the unearthing of more of their fine work together, and—if only for that brief moment—they might shine as bright as the real thing.
Collier and his band celebrate the release of How Can There Be Another Day? on Saturday, June 2, with Ian Moore and Carrie Akre at Lola's Room at the Crystal Ballroom. 9 pm. $7. 21+.