Chan Poling and The Suburbs use Kickstarter to pay for new album

Bypassing record labels probably wasn’t a great option for The Suburbs when the Twin Cities band released its last collection of songs 27 years ago. It’s legit now. The reunited band is recording a new album, and turning to fans to help pay for it.

Steve Brantseg, guitarist, and Chan Poling, keyboardist and vocalist, for The Suburbs have a little fun during a listening party at The Current's studios, previewing their upcoming album Si Sauvage to the staff of The Current in Saint Paul, MN on June 13th, 2013. (MPR Photo/Nate Ryan)
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Lead singer and keyboard player Chan Poling talked with Cathy Wurzer of MPR News about the Kickstarter campaign.  Here is an edited transcript of that conversation:

CHAN POLING: This Kickstarter thing is really exciting. It’s working.

CATHY WURZER: It seems like a well-known band like you guys wouldn’t need a Kickstarter campaign to put out an album. What’s the deal?

POLING: I thought of going to Interscope and back to the big guys at Universal as we were on before. And I thought: What do they actually do? They provide money. We used to call them, in the old days, banks. Because they would provide you an advance and you’d record your album with it, you’d do your videos with it.

But back in the ’80s, the “Love is the Law” video cost $350,000, or at least they told us it did. And that way, you never recoup your royalties. You’re just always in the hole. So I thought well, what if we just raised the money ourselves, made our own videos — which we can make a lot cheaper now — produce and distribute the record ourselves, hire our own public relations company and our own distributors and our own radio promotion people? It’s gonna cost about $100,000. So we put the [Kickstarter] number at $65,000 and we’re almost there today.

WURZER: What do contributors get for their money? Say if someone wants to donate, what are they going to get?

POLING: Donate implies we’re a charity looking for a handout. The way I look at it is, you can pre-order the record. So you give $10 and we give you a download. You give us $25 we give you the physical CD and a little booklet. You give us more money, we give you T-shirts. Then there’s all sorts of experiences — like for $10,000 you can get a concert in your house. Two people have bought those already.


WURZER: Tell us about one of the songs off the new album.

POLING: The first song we released off the record is called “Turn the Radio On.” It’s about the nostalgia of listening to the radio in your kitchen and dancing around the kitchen with your loved one.