"We don't try and chase everybody around to be everybody's best friends," says Rat City Riot singer Noah Bricker. Though the San Diego band maintains a low local profile, Rat City Riot has national distribution for their Dirty Rotten Games CD, and last week they took off for four months of touring that includes dates in the U.S. and Europe.
"We pay for our flights over there," says Bricker about his band's first European tour, which begins in October. "Once we get there, they drive us around and handle our food.... Sometimes we get $300 for a show. Once we got as little as $10. We don't have a strong booking agent. Sometimes we don't have a guarantee."
Bricker says his "street rock" band relies on merchandise and CD sales when it tours. He says that while they were on a six-month tour late last year, Rat City Riot almost ran out of CDs to sell.
"Curtis [Casella] left us in the lurch," says Bricker about the owner of Taang! Records, the local label that released Dirty Rotten Games. "Our last tour was six months long. They gave us a box of 120 CDs."
Bricker sold those CDs for $10 each. When they were gone, he called Taang! and asked for more to sell.
"In Salt Lake City, we were out of money and the next date was in Seattle. We almost came back. When Curtis finally called us, I told him, 'You're fucking us over.' He said he didn't think it was necessary for us to have CDs on the road. He finally sent us, like, a box of 30. But by the time we got them, the tour was over."
Casella says that all 185 titles from his Taang! catalog (including CDs by the Lemonheads, Jerry's Kids, Battalion of Saints, Stiff Little Fingers, and Buck-O-Nine) are now distributed by Universal Music.
"Universal doesn't want the bands to sell [CDs] on the road," says Casella. He admits he balked at sending Rat City Riot the CDs they requested. "They took a bunch of CDs and never paid us. It is their job to play shows and our job to sell records."
Bricker says that although his band paid for the recording of Dirty Rotten Games, Taang! owns the rights to the master and can produce copies if it wants. He says Atlanta-based indie label Street Anthem has released Open Road, Rat City Riot's new six-song disc.