country/bluegrass/gospel/heavy metal outfit Not In This Lifetime takes the stage after ReBirth Brass this Tuesday, April 1, at the Maple Leaf, look for former Sony Music chairman Tommy Mottola lurking by the soundboard.
Mottola is back in town to sign Not in This Lifetime as the flagship band for Golden Parachute Records, his new label. The band's self-produced demo -- with the return address of Kentwood on the package -- first got Mottola's attention. After making some calls and hearing the growing word-of-mouth buzz over the band's recent gigs at the Hi-Ho Lounge and Audubon Zoo's Earth Fest, Mottola got on a plane and showed up unannounced at the door of lead vocalist 2 Smooth.
"I had no idea who the guy was," remembers Smooth over a barbecue shrimp po-boy and Abita draft at Liuzza's By the Track. "It was like 10:30 in the morning, and I was sitting at my computer in my pajamas, trying to download some spaceship sound effects for this really progressive song we're doing that's like a weird mix of 'Mother-in-Law' and 'Hot in Herre.' Mottola introduces himself and we start talking over a pot of Community Coffee, and within an hour, all the numbers were in place."
Mottola says the band's diverse musical proficiency makes it unique, and he plans a global marketing campaign. "They can nail a power ballad, a hip-hop flavored dance track, or a country weeper, which makes them appealing to multiple demographics," says Mottola. "We've signed an exclusive deal with Clear Channel Communications to have the first single from the album played on every one of their 1,200 radio stations across the country. Clear Channel has also promised opening slots on the upcoming farewell tour for The Eagles, which is scheduled for 135 Clear Channel concert venues."
Not In This Lifetime's first order of business is beginning work on its debut CD for Mottola's label, and the group plans to feature a number of local guest appearances on the album. "We'd never forget our homeboys," says Smooth. Hunter Hayes has been slotted for an electronica-tinged take on "Jolie Blon"; Wynton Marsalis is reportedly considering writing an oratorio for the band; and next month Los Hombres Calientes will travel with the group to Guadalajara, to record and play along with the mating call of the West Mexican chachalaca. Spoken-word contributions by Rev. Goat Carson and John Sinclair will bookend the album, and an unreleased track will be featured on WWOZ's Collector's Series CD Vol. 437 as a premium in the station's next fund drive. The planned artwork for the Not In This Lifetime debut is a historical collaboration between George Rodrigue and Frenchy, with limited-edition poster reproductions and Hawaiian shirts available for sale at www.notinthislifetime.com.
Not in This Lifetime has also scheduled its pending world tour with frequent breaks so the group can play to its hometown fans. Festival Productions recently helped the band negotiate a deal with the New Orleans Hornets to sing the national anthem during the Hornets' upcoming playoff run, as well as perform during halftime at the Superdome during all 2003 home games for the New Orleans Saints. Look for Not In This Lifetime on television, also: Louisiana Music Commission Executive Director Bernie Cyrus has chosen the group as the house band for New Orleans After 3 A.M., his forthcoming new cable access show.
Local print media will also fuel the band's imminent breakthrough, as the early press response has been overwhelming. "I've never been this excited about a band," says OffBeat associate editor Bunny Matthews. "I've seen approximately 3,789 shows, and their last gig at Neutral Ground Coffee House was better than Hendrix at City Park, Bob Marley in Jamaica, and Coldplay at State Palace Theater. And their female bassist is really hot, too."
Times-Picayune music writer Keith Spera is reportedly campaigning for a one-hour special on the band on his Friday Lagniappe Live television segment on WWL, and Times-Picayune columnist Angus Lind has been telling friends and colleagues he likes Not In This Lifetime even more than Benny Grunch and the Bunch. Not to be outdone, the Gambit Weekly-sponsored Big Easy Awards is planning a surprise appearance by the band at the 2003 awards show in a segment with host Harry Shearer and theater troupe Running With Scissors.
Talking to Smooth at Liuzza's, it's easy to see that underneath the glow of recent accomplishments and future accolades, there's still something gnawing at him. Peering out the window at the Fair Grounds, he finally snaps.
"All this, and we still can't get booked at Jazz Fest!"
- "We'd never forget our homeboys," says Not In This Lifetime frontman 2 Smooth about the band's decision to include local guest musicians on its debut CD for Tommy Mottola's Golden Parachute label.