Dukes of Windsor – ‘The Others’
The five boys in Dukes of Windsor all originated from the Melbourne suburb of Prahran, and contrary to local rumours they did not take that name from the now defunct rock venue in Fitzroy. Their music sounded nothing like the rock/punk/alternative description displayed on their MySpace, but lean more towards the heavier electro-rock territory dominated by low synth-like bass grooves and streaks of high vocal yelping that highlight the bulk of their songs of their debut album. Vocalist Jack Weaving has no trouble hitting those Darkness-like high notes when I saw them at The Espy a few months ago.
They’re getting decent airplay on national youth broadcaster Triple J, and the band are on the road as unlikely supports for hard rockers The Butterfly Effect. I wasn’t particularly taken by the whole album, there are some two or three standout radio tracks, but most of the songs just aren’t my kind of thing. But what I really find interesting about this band is how the whole record was made possible and brought together by some smart thinking management.
The traditional way of getting a commercial album funded is to record an EP, get some songs on radio, invite record label people for a showcase and if one of them was impressed enough, they band would sign a deal, get an advance to record with a name producer, and have a record that would hopefully get do well on radio. The Dukes and their management have completely gone around this whole process and married their music business approach with product endorsement and sponsorship. Taking a page out of professional sports marketing, portable music player manufacturer iRiver came on board the project agreeing to fund the album in return of logo placements on their website, CD, bass drum skin and all related advertisements. The Dukes of Windsor bravely took on corporate sponsorship in return of album funding, while still maintaining ownership of masters.
With big dosh to spend the five piece enlisted no less than hot producer Jonathan Burnside (The Sleepy Jackson, Dappled Cities Fly, Faith No More) to track the album in Melbourne and sent it off to Tonteknik Studios in Sweden to be mixed by famed hardcore producers Pelle Henricsson and Eskil Lovstrom. In case the names don’t ring a bell, Henricsson produced one of the all time best punk albums: Refused’s Shape of Punk To Come, which is on par with what Radiohead’s OK Computer is to alternative/rock music.
So with some ingenuine thinking, the band now has a top notched produced record with a promising live schedule to expose them to win new fans. Could this be the way independent records will be funded in the future, with corporate sponsorship? This strategy could not work with all forms of music, but it sure beats getting owned by major labels. This is a very different case from the Lenny Kravitz /Absolute Vodka cash in deal, and I’m looking forward to hearing more product endorsed bands and albums like this.