March , 1992
By Lisa L. Rollins
"I swear," said drummer Chris Didear, shaking his blond mane in dismay, "it's not how good you are or how much you know about the (record) industry, it's who you know these days."
The Garland native's realization of the ins-and-outs of the music industry has been a while in the making. At least that's the way he sees it, he says. And with said lesson learned, Didear has launched an all-out networking war that he hopes will lead his Austin-based band, Blind Date, to a recording contract. And soon, very soon.
"It's hard," remarked the softspoken drummer, who admits he gets frustrated playing the rock 'n roll game with the big-boy labels. "I mean, you send (promotional) packages out to a lot of (industry) people and you keep your fingers crossed, but you just don't know what to expect.
At 24, Dicker and his Blind Date band mates guitarist J.B. Slimp, bassist Darren Keeling, vocalist Buster Grant and newest member/keyboardist Phillip Nitch have stirred enough attention in the Metroplex to cause Dallas-based Sony Music representative Teresa LaBarbera-Whites to take a peek see at the group's 1130 p.m. show March 6th at Dallas City Limits, 10530 Spangler Road.
Together almost two years, the BD players, to say the least, are thrilled that LaBarbera-Whites will be in attendance. But its not the first major-label industry ear at which they've tugged, said Didear, whoseband has opened shows for the likes of Dangerous Toys, XYZ, Vixen, Lynch Mob and Danger Danger, to name a few.
When asked to name names, Didear takes a deep breath and pauses thoughtfully before aski ng, "It's kind of exciting ... but what should I say? I mean should I actually say it?"
Yeah, go ahead. Say it.
"OK, RCA (Records) has contacted us," he answered hesitantly, as if not to jinx the interest. 'The vice president of RCA freaked on (the Blind Date ballad titled) "She's Walking." The president of RCA freaked on it, but he wants to hear more material, but we haven't sent them more material yet. And Relativity (Records) has called us. And Virgin Publishing called and said they heard we were the band to go see at an annual music seminar showcase held in Austin.
With all that going for them, why not relocate to a bigger music mecca say, L.A. or New York City? Because Didear wants his band to be signed out of Texas, that's why, and he's not budging.
"More and more bands are getting signed out of Texas, like Johnny Law, Dangerous Toys, Pariah and King's X, so there is a market here," he explained. "And we don't see any reason why we should have to relocate. We like Austin, we like San Antonio. We like being in Texas — it's our home."
'The response we've gotten from Dallas crowds has been really good, actually. I mean, we didn't have, like , really huge crowds, because people here didn't know who we were at first," remarked Didear. "But for bein g an unknown band around here, I think the people were really surprised and almost overwhelmed, because the people we've met here who've seen the band and heard the band, were very impressed.
Still, every band has a weak link, no matter how undefinable it may to be the ears of its fans. And Blind Date is no exception.
The name is the weakest link, but once you get to know the band and know the music a little bit, the name doesn't mean sh-t, said Didear of BD's sometimes tennyboppersoun ding moniker. "You can make a name out of any band. I mean, whoever thought Raft would be a good name? But they made that name what it is. I think a catchy name is great, but a band can make the name."
With no shortage of commercial-rockbands in the world, one can't help but wonder what makes Blind Date stand out in a club scene dominated by ear-shattering music, mindless headbanging and smoke?
'The thing about Blind Date is that we try to bring a little class and a little showmanship into the clubs we play. A lot of the bands you see are real sleazy, not professional and just trying to see how drunk the crowd can get," dead panned Didear. "But we're trying to put on a show — we are showmen — and we don't want to be a club band forever.
Formerly with Gypsy Rogue, Didear said Blind Date's layered vocal harmonies and original music are big attractions, too, with the group performing "90 to 95 percent" original material during sets.
"Cover bands, they make good money, damn good money, and I'm not knocking them," admitted the wiry musician. "But they don't have an identity. They're just cover bands."
"It's a lot of hard work, but don't get me wrong," he said, smiling. "I mean, I'm very happy, I've never been happier in my life ... because I'm playing the style and the type of music that I've wanted to play all along, but I never could find the right people to do it until now.
"I'm happy now, though, real happy."