A local musician relates how he and his bandmates were chewed up and spat out by the major-label monster

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Any regular reader of "Radar Station" knows how we feel about the major-label system, but every once in a while it's good to hear our opinion reinforced by someone intelligent and well spoken, especially when that someone has been inside the system and lived to tell the tale. "It's very Spïnal Tap -- every single part of it," says Colony singer Ted Bruner of the band's stint as part of the MCA roster, one that ended this past year after the release of the band's debut album, Siren.

"It was horrible when they told us we were going to be on Dawson's Creek and we watched it. One of our songs kicked in during the solo or the chorus or something, while these guys were peeing in urinals. That was when it kicked in. The bathroom door opened; they had two guys talking to each other, looking at each other and peeing in urinals; and our song kicks in. And here we are thinking, "I can't believe we told everyone we knew to watch this tonight.' We were like, this is it. This sums it up.

"We're really not confused by the whole thing," he continues, "because once we got inside the machine we saw what a mess it was and how, as much as they would like to promote "art' or help "artists' or be on the hip, interesting side of the music business, they really are just terrified of losing their jobs, all the way from the bottom on up. You can just smell it when you're walking around the offices.

"We had (famed talent agency) William Morris booking us. So we played the nicest places -- to no one. There was never anybody there. Not a soul. So we saw the country drunk -- we were drunk the entire time in our little van, and it was kind of cool because as we traveled we learned about different kinds of music and learned what we really liked about music, and that started to change our sound."

This is where we catch up with Colony, torn and frayed but still together as a band, with new bassist Andrew Conrad in tow. The sound on their new four-song EP has a rougher, edgier texture, but, according to Bruner, Colony is moving elsewhere: "We listened to a lot of British bands, which had a strange influence on us because our earlier stuff, we kind of wanted -- we really liked early R.E.M. And now all the sudden we're Radiohead and Verve freaks and we're going, wow, this is what we want to do. And we still love pop music. If I had it my way, every band would be kicking out Rubber Soul albums."

Send local tapes, tips, discs and detritus to "Radar Station," c/o The Riverfront Times, 6358 Delmar Blvd., Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130. E-mail: [email protected]

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