The Straight Dish

Chicago-area quartet to split from A&M

As of September 1, Fig Dish will no longer be playing the role of red-headed stepchild at A&M. A source at the label has confirmed that the band will officially part ways with in A&M in two weeks and Fig Dish will be free to record elsewhere.

"It's like sitting in a cellblock somewhere for four years waiting for the warden to come and give you the nod," says Fig Dish singer/guitarist Blake Smith, only half-joking about the band's lackluster tenure at A&M, where the band's two albums of edgy guitar rock sold a combined 16,000 copies. Smith says the band has no intention of breaking up and has recorded enough material for a double-CD this summer. A source close to the band says the group owes the label another album under its current contract but, according to Smith, "we're not giving them shit. We're out."

Fig Dish have always received friendly radio support in their native Chicago, but the band considers its minimal exposure elsewhere the fault of its label. "As we come up with zero results time and time again, it leads you to believe there's zero effort going on," says the source. The final straw was an estimated $80,000 soft-porn music video the quartet made for the single "When Shirts Get Tight," which featured a handful of elite porn stars. The band reportedly picked up the tab for both clean and dirty versions of the video, but neither of them received any airplay on MTV.

According to Smith, the band is working to regain its publishing rights for its only two releases on A&M, That's What Love Songs Often Do and When Shove Goes Back to Push. In the meantime, Smith's been writing a novel and working with former Triple Fast Action guitarist/vocalist Wes Kidd on a as-yet-untitled side project. Smith can also be heard in non-traditional fashion on the new Local H album, Pack Up the Cats. During the introduction to the song "Hit the Skids Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Rock," the singer is heard leaving a message on Scott Lucas' answering machine, where he tells the Local H frontman he's ordering a spinach pizza and then proceeds to read through the Chicago area's movie listings.

A new Fig Dish album won't be heard until the band finds a new label, and the search will undoubtedly begin on September 1. Before that happens, says Smith, "we'll probably come out of retirement and start touring."