Neva Dinova's Saddle Creek Records debut might have come out a lot sooner but for the hard-headed perfectionism of front man Jake Bellows, and the barroom dustup that blew out his left eardrum.
And, oh yeah, there was that flood in the studio, too.
"In general we kind of waited a long time to do (the album), and then when we did start to do it, there were a lot of weird delays and setbacks and things that were kind of unforeseeable,” the singer-songwriter-guitarist said from his Omaha, Neb., home recently.
Delay No. 1: When the first round of recordings was completed, Bellows wasn't happy with them.
"It didn't seem to have whatever that intangible quality is that makes it sound kind of special,” he said. "They just sounded like songs, you know? Seemed like we kind of rushed our way through the studio, didn't do it quite right.”
Bellows wanted do-overs.
"We pitched that idea to Saddle Creek, and we were like, ‘So what are you guys planning on spending on this record?' They kind of threw us a number and I was like, ‘Hmm. Why don't you give me the money and I'll go buy some equipment, we'll make up our own studio, we'll rent some space downtown. You know, we'll just record it ourselves.'”
Now, the Omaha-based Saddle Creek label is a major player among the minor league independent record companies specializing in alternative rock and pop, but they're not loaded with Sony-sized bucks. But given Neva Dinova's longstanding position at the forefront of Omaha's fertile music scene, alongside bands such as Bright Eyes, the Faint and Cursive, to name a few, the label decided to take a chance.
After all, the first two albums from the creative team of Bellows and longtime partner-bassist Heath Koontz, "Neva Dinova” (2002) and "The Hate Yourself Change” (2005), had brought the band well-earned acclaim for its uniquely melancholic, rural-pop textures.
So Bellows took the money and bought a battery of top-drawer recording equipment, installing it in the corner of a rented warehouse in downtown Omaha.
"It was really kind of a chance for them to take,” Bellows admitted. "And what if we ended up coming out, you know, with just a real crap bar, it just didn't sound good and they've already spent their money and we just have a studio now, and they're just like, ‘Damn, we got screwed three times in one swoop.