By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Five months ago, Prieboy and D'Albert signed a record contract, with MCA Records' Michael Rosenblatt and Jay Boberg, both of whom had faithfully attended the performances since word had begun to spread about it, and paid their 10 bucks at the door. "Jay Boberg was the former president of IRS records when I was on IRS records," Prieboy recalls. "He dropped me in 1986. And he brought in Gary Ashley, who was head of Mushroom Records, who signed me in '94 and dropped me in '96." Which leads Prieboy to offer another bit of advice to spurned musicians who would burn their bridges: "Never send those letters."
With music distribution drifting toward the Internet and CD copying running wild, rock music marketing is bracing for an overhaul. Prieboy maintains that it would behoove record companies to take on the kind of long-term risk MCA has with White Trash Wins Lotto;to get behind a project that's bigger than a single band or a record deal. Rosenblatt gives every impression that MCA has done just that: He even uses "we" when he talks about the show. "We're going to put out an original cast album, then we hope to have an extended run here in Los Angeles," he says. "We'll be taking it to Chicago, New York, Miami. And then we'll get it made into a movie."
The deal is no less than Prieboy expected, but he remains a little bewildered. "I had to ask myself as I walked out the door, 'Have I really sold this incredibly anti-industry piece to the industry?'"
And will he sell an anti-Broadway piece to Broadway? The way things work these days, a movie deal wouldn't preclude a stint on Broadway. That would seem a good thing not just for White Trash,but for the moribund Great White Way, for which Prieboy reserves the bitterest of his cheerily delivered jibes. "Rita and I went to see The Scarlet Pimpernelin New York," he says. "And it would have been fine, except that the composer seems to have written songs hoping Whitney Houston might cover them. It's all puss chords . . . " He plays a few of those major sevenths and ninths, the building blocks of jazz-inflected pop.
"Yeah," D'Albert chimes in. "It's like the kind of stuff you can testify to, you know?" And she testifies a few bars. But it gets worse than that. There's Rent: "The shittiest bunch of rock & roll songs I've ever heard in my life," Prieboy declares.
"My musical is probably wrong," he allows, "all the way down the line. It's just what a dumb rock & roll guy, me, views as 'theater,' and there's something about me being a rock & roll guy that makes theater just foreign. Rock & roll is one of the few mediums in which you can end a show telling everybody to fuck off. It doesn't have to have a happy ending. It never has to resolve. And it's one of the few secular things that is sacred to me, rock music and the way that we, collectively, clean the barn every few years.
"I never approached this like, you know, 'What the American Theater is sorely lacking.' But 20 years from now, when some hack is looking for a property and thumbing through our time and our dreams and our blood and hopes and desires, and they think, 'Oh, here's a real interesting time we can write about and trivialize, turn it into Grease -- maybe, just maybe, somebody will remember White Trash Wins Lottoand say, 'No, you can't do that, you can't water down that heavy-metal guy into a do-gooder hero, because that myth was already dispelled in White Trash.'"
Either that, or Prieboy will be telling a different story in these pages. "God knows what all this is going to be like in five years when the record company drops us and the show has flopped. I'll be talking to the L.A. Weekly,going, 'Wee wee wee wee! That bad record company treated us mean!'"
Which seems unlikely, but not the end of anyone's world. "It's very important at all times," Prieboy reiterates to himself as much as to anyone, "to remember that this started out as a friggin' joke."
White Trash Wins Lotto plays the Roxy Theater December 8-10.
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