Sharp Notes December 04 2003

DIE KINDER ARE ALL RIGHT: For two weeks after the folding of their Athens-based label, Kindercore Records founders Dan Geller and Ryan Lewis kept their feelings about the situation all bottled up, publicly expressing only "shock" over the demise of the much-loved label they formed seven years ago. But on Nov. 25, they let it all out in the form of a lawsuit filed against their former business partners, the company I.D.E.A., its chief Stanley Hartman and Kindercore general manager Jerod Gunsberg, whom they accuse of breach of contract, slander, libel and various other no-nos.

Geller and Lewis handed over the business administration of Kindercore to I.D.E.A. in 2001 so they could dedicate their time to doing A&R for the label (both also play in bands that were signed to Kindercore). They claim that their roles in the company were then diminished to a point that they no longer decided which bands to sign, something they had intended to be their primary role in the company.

In a letter from Geller and Lewis posted on their lawyer's website, they write that shortly after signing their agreement with I.D.E.A., Lewis received an e-mail from Hartman, stating, "Kindercore no longer wants, desires or welcomes any contribution or services from you now or in the future."

"If you don't understand what we are fighting for," the letter continues, "then please imagine starting your own company, with all of the best intentions to document the music scene in your town ... only to receive an e-mail like this after working to build the company into a viable business for the previous six years."

Depending on whether you see this as a battle between good and evil in the music world, or simply a small business deal gone shitty, you may or may not feel motivated to contribute to the Kindercore Legal Fund (at www.heratyhall.com/kindercore) which has been set up to raise money for the Kindercore founders' court battle. In the meantime, Geller and Lewis are using an independent music publicist to get the word out about the lawsuit.

For his part, former Kindercore general manager Gunsberg sent out a press release of his own the night the lawsuit was announced. With his indie cred on the line as one of the parties being sued by Geller and Lewis, Gunsberg assured recipients of his e-mail that he was "destitute, unemployed ... given no severance pay, evicted from my home (because it also served as the office), and forced to pay Kindercore bills out of my own pocket. ..."

Gunsberg also says that he has offered to help Geller and Lewis in their action. And, echoing similar statements from Geller and Lewis, Gunsberg says his motivation to put out records at Kindercore "was never about the money ... [but] because I believe that independent artists and labels deserve a fighting chance ..."

All this indie-rock virtue floating around just makes your heart warm, don't it? Meanwhile, no public testimonials to being "all about the music" have yet emanated from the e-mail account of Stanley Hartman or his lawyer, but we'll keep you up to date if one should materialize.

COULDN'T GET ARRESTED: Just when you thought the stakes couldn't possibly be lower for a local music-related lawsuit, here comes this beaut: One-time hip-hop heavyweights Arrested Development have filed a trademark infringement suit against the FOX television network for naming a recently premiered series "Arrested Development." Group leader Todd "Speech" Thomas claims the show will confuse the public and "dilute what the 'Arrested Development' name means to our fans."

Questions for discussion: Could anything further dilute the potency of a band name than a band that hasn't put out a major American release in 10 years? Alternatively, could anything provide greater publicity for a band that hasn't put out a major release in 10 years — but has a new CD on the way — than a lawsuit against a major entertainment corporation?

BULLETIN BOARD: Aspiring country singers can try their luck for the next season of USA Network's "Nashville Star" when the series holds open auditions starting Monday, Dec. 8, at Wild Bill's in Duluth. For rules and times, see www.usanetwork.com/ nashvillestar. ... The Atlanta Entertainment Association holds its next "1st Saturdays" free "industry rap session" 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Dec. 6, at Manuel's Tavern. Guests including Bryant Reid (L.A.'s brother) and producer Teddy Bishop discuss "What is A&R?"