Black Lab, circa 2005. Andy Ellis, r; Paul Durham, l.
|Origin||Berkeley, California, United States|
Geffen Records 1997–1999
Epic Records 1999–2001 (no releases)
|Past members||Michael Urbano (1996–1997)
Michael Belfer (1996–1999)
Geoff Stanfield (1996–1999)
Bryan Head (1997–1999)
Eve Hill (2000–2003)
Scotty Coogan (2000–2003)
They released one album on Geffen Records, entitled Your Body Above Me, and scored two rock radio hits in the US, "Wash It Away" in 1997 and "Time Ago" in 1998. After leaving Geffen in 1999, the band signed to Epic Records, but did not release any material, and left the label after two years.
The band is now unsigned. They have independently released an EP and three full-length albums since 2003, the latest being Two Strangers released in October 2010. Passion Leaves a Trace, released in 2007, featured the single "Mine Again" and gained significant exposure through internet media outlets. Paul Durham and Andy Ellis are currently the core members, with Isaac Carpenter and Brian Paturalski accompanying in the studio. The band works with Secret Road Music Services and Paul Durham's licensing company, Snap Music Licensing, to make the band's available for licensing.
Your Body Above Me
Twin Falls, Idaho native Paul Durham's singing career began when he was offered a spot singing in a local youth choir. After graduating from Oberlin College, Durham supported himself as a substitute teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area while fronting his acoustic band, Durham. Durham did not have any official releases, but some of their recorded material was released in 2004 as part of Paul Durham's solo album Ten Million Years. Paul Durham disbanded this band in 1995, signed to Geffen Records in 1996 after attracting attention from a number of labels, and hired bassist Geoff Stanfield, guitarist Michael Belfer and drummer Bryan Head to form Black Lab. The name is an amalgamation of two of the band's influences, Black Sabbath and Stereolab.
Their debut album, Your Body Above Me, co-produced by David Bianco and the band, was released on October 21, 1997 in the United States. Two singles from the album charted in the U.S., the power ballad "Time Ago" and the alternative rock hit "Wash It Away"; the album also featured the PJ Harvey-penned "All the Money in the World". The LP peaked on Billboard's Heatseekers charts at No. 19 in 1998, and sales of the album eventually topped 120,000. Reviews of Your Body Above Me noted the album's dark, melodic modern rock sound, and were mixed but generally positive. The Washington Post called Your Body Above Me "moodily sumptuous", Guitar Player described the music as having "drama and rhythmic urgency", and Allmusic noted the album's "brooding yet propulsive sound that's actually quite intriguing". The band subsequently toured with Days of the New, Cracker, and Our Lady Peace, and were called "The American U2" by the San Francisco Chronicle. Black Lab songs were featured on soundtracks to Can't Hardly Wait, Varsity Blues, Permanent Midnight, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the song "Wash It Away" was also included on a charity album, Live in the X Lounge. Just as momentum was building on their debut, however, Geffen went out of business after being subsumed by Universal; dissatisfied with the new label arrangement, Durham moved to Los Angeles, and the band broke up in 1999.
See the Sun
In 2000, Paul Durham re-formed Black Lab with an alternate lineup after Epic Records expressed an interest in releasing a second album from the band. The band was quiet until 2002, which saw the release of "Learn to Crawl" on the Spider-Man soundtrack, with a band consisting of Paul Durham, Andy Ellis, bassist Eve Hill and drummer Scotty Coogan. The electronic-flavored result was described as "tightly spun, highly melodic rock" by Rolling Stone.
After a series of delays, Black Lab asked to be released from Epic; legal problems with the record label ensued, but the band won the rights to the master recordings of the material they had been working on. While searching for a new label, the band self-released a six-song EP in 2003, first online and then on CD, which featured "Learn to Crawl" and the single "See the Sun". However, the planned second full-length, called See the Sun, wouldn't see light until 2005, after the band decided on an independent release. See the Sun did not receive any mainstream press coverage, but online reviews noted the band's turn toward increasing use of keyboards and synthesizers to introduce and underlay tracks, describing it as "startling, but in a good way". The band benefited heavily from promotion from online rock site Alternative Addiction, who included the track "Lonely Boy" on one of its compilations, regularly reports on the band's music, and places them in heavy rotation on its internet radio station.
After leaving the major labels, Black Lab essentially ceased touring, fearing that a self-booked and promoted national tour would not be cost-effective. They maintained a relationship with fans via their website and MP3 of the Month Club, through which users were able to subscribe to monthly tracks of new content, such as soundtrack songs, unreleased works, and insights into the band's songwriting process.
Passion Leaves a Trace and other projects
Early in 2006, Durham and a few of his old friends reacquainted to record as a side project, called Cake or Death. This band, featuring Kristin Kelly, Joshua Leavitt and Olya Mokina, have recorded one full-length self-titled LP. At the end of October 2006, Paul also announced that a special "Director's Cut" edition of Your Body Above Me was being released. The rerelease contained two songs originally recorded for the album, extended cuts of several songs, new liner notes and photos. A third Black Lab album, entitled Passion Leaves a Trace, was released on January 16, 2007. The track "This Night" was featured on the promotional advertisement for the sixth series of The Shield; tracks from this album were also featured in CBS's Numb3rs, ABC's 6 Degrees and the films The Benchwarmers and Lovewrecked. The song was also featured in the television series House M.D. in season 7 episode 16.
The band attracted media attention in March 2007 through the campaign "Bum Rush the Charts", in which one of their songs was promoted through podcasting and blogging. The aim of this was to harness independent media and music to promote unsigned bands and to raise money for a scholarship fund. As a result of this effort, on March 22, 2007, the single "Mine Again" was purchased over 14,000 times in the United States. The iTunes charts represent a weekly average of purchases, not just “a snapshot of the previous 24 hours’ worth of sales,” as a spokesman for Apple reported in a Washington Post story about the campaign. “Mine Again,” however, still cracked the top 100 songs on the U.S. chart at No. 99, and peaked at No. 11 on the U.S. rock chart. The campaign had a significant international impact, selling songs in every country in which iTunes has stores and pushing "Mine Again" to No. 53 on the Canadian chart (#10 rock), No. 15 in the Netherlands (#2 rock), and No. 73 in Germany (#12 rock), among others. The song broached the iTunes rock charts in eleven additional countries as well. Songs from the album also became popular on the PMC Top10 podcast, with three of them reaching the site's year-end Top 10: "Mine Again" (#8), "Broken Heart" (#6), and "Hole in My Heart" (#5).
In June 2007, Black Lab released its second album of the year, Technologie. It is described as an album of electronica, techno-rock and remixes. It features remixes of previously released songs, several songs released on movie soundtracks and brand new material, including the band's cover of the Transformers theme song.
In 2009, the band released Give Us Sugar, a compilation of assorted rarities from throughout their career including non-LP b-sides and songs previously exclusive to movie soundtracks. It was intended to be released as a limited edition of only 250 autographed copies, but the number of pre-orders far surpassed that limit, forcing the band to change the publishing and distribution approach.
In 2010, Black Lab released official updates about a new album in the works. On September 29 of that year, it was officially announced that the title of the new album would be Two Strangers, and that its release date would be October 19. Two Strangers introduces orchestrations and pianos by Jonathan Grand on several tracks, cello by Zach Kroff and Banjo by Paul Bohak, on track 11.
- Current members
- Paul Durham – lead vocals, guitar, Pro Tools (1995–present)
- Andy Ellis – guitar, keyboards, programming (2000–present)
- Brian Paturalski - bass, guitar, programming (2007–present)
- Isaac Carpenter - drums, percussion (2007–present)
- Past members
- Michael Belfer – guitar (1996–1999)
- Geoff Stanfield – bass guitar (1996–1999)
- Bryan Head – drums, percussion (1997–1999)
- Eve Hill – bass guitar (2000–2003)
- Scotty Coogan – drums, percussion (2000–2003)
- Michael Urbano – drums, percussion (1996–1997)
- Josh Freese - drums, percussion (1999) (Recorded only 3 songs with the band, one of which was released on Give Us Sugar)
- Your Body Above Me (Geffen, October 21, 1997)
- I Feel Fine (Self-released, 2003)
- See the Sun (Self-released, June 2005)
- Your Body Above Me: The Director's Cut (Self-released, October 2006)
- Passion Leaves a Trace (Self-released, January 16, 2007)
- Technologie (Self-released, June 2007, electronica and B-sides)
- Give Us Sugar (Self-released, August 2009; B-sides and rarities collection)
- Two Strangers (Self-released, October 2010)
- Unplugged (Self-released, November 2011)
- Best of the MP3 of the Month Club (Self-released, December 2012)
- A Raven Has My Heart (Self-released, April 2014)
- "Snap Music Licensing". Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- Bell, Carrie (January 24, 1998). "The Modern Age". Billboard Magazine 110 (4): p. 89.
- Bush, John. "Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
- Reece, Doug (September 20, 1997). "Geffen Act Black Lab Ready to Rock". Billboard Magazine 109 (38): pp. 18, 21.
- "Black Lab Returns With EP". Alternative Addiction. August 3, 2003. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
- "Billboard". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-04-29.
- "Black Lab Artist Profile". EMI Music Publishing. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
- Jenkins, Mark (January 2, 1998). "Black Lab, Your Body Above Me". The Washington Post: p. N14.
- Rotondi, James (January 1998). "Picks". Guitar Player 32 (1): p.107.
- Erlewine, Stephen. "Review of Your Body Above Me". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-04-29.
- Leblanc, Larry (February 7, 1998). "Heatseeker Acts Break Through: Lady Peace a Hit on Columbia". Billboard Magazine 110 (6): pp. 11, 60.
- "Review of See the Sun". Ink 19. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
- Quillen, Shay (March 21, 2007). "Podcasters Aim to Push Song to Top of iTunes Chart" (fee required). San Jose Mercury News. Archived from the original on June 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
- "Black Lab Releases "See the Sun"". Alternative Addiction. July 2, 2005. Archived from the original on February 6, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
- Harrington, Adam. "See the Sun Review". Whisperin and Hollerin. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- "Black Lab to Release New Album". Alternative Addiction. December 30, 2006. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
- "Black Lab to be Featured on the Addiction Vol. 4". Alternative Addiction. August 8, 2004. Archived from the original on February 6, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
- "An Evening With... Black Lab". Alternative Addiction. 2005. Archived from the original on January 3, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-30.
- "Paul Durham Releases Side Project". Alternative Addiction. March 19, 2006. Archived from the original on February 6, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-30.
- "Black Lab to Re-Release Your Body Above Me". Alternative Addiction. November 5, 2006. Retrieved 2007-04-30.
- Musgrove, Mike (March 22, 2007). "Crashing the Charts for Independent Music". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
- Musgrove, Mike (March 27, 2007). "Bum Rush the Charts: More Numbers". Washington Post I.T. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
- Quillen, Shay (March 26, 2007). "Black Lab's "Mine Again" Breaks iTunes Top 100". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
- Doelle, Chris (January 5, 2008). "PMC Top10 – 010408 – Top Hits of 2007!!!". PMC Top10. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
- "Fourth Black Lab Album". blacklabworld.com. September 29, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
- Black Lab – Official Website
- Black Lab on Facebook
- Black Lab on Myspace
- Black Lab on Vimeo
- Black Lab on YouTube
- Black Lab on Snap Music Licensing