Meese was supposed to be huge: In 2009, the Denver band had a completed major-label debut, the fawning support of alt-rock radio station KTCL, and big dreams. That’s about as far along the road to rock ’n’ roll glory the band got, though. The hype never translated past the buzz stage, and in May, the act threw in the towel. Frontman Patrick Meese and his brother, Nathan, aren’t out of the business, though. After bringing Patrick’s wife Tiffany into the mix, the brothers have formed The Centennial out of Meese’s rubble. As the trio prepare to release its debut EP, Second Spring, at the Hi-Dive Saturday, Nov. 27, singer/drummer Patrick Meese speaks with The A.V. Club about licking his wounds and recouping.
A.V. Club: There was a lot of hype and expectations for Meese when you signed with Atlantic, but hardly anything came out of that. What happened?
Patrick Meese: It was a lot in a row. By the time our record came out, both of our A&R guys had been fired and the new dude wasn’t too into it. He didn’t sign us, so I understand. We started touring after the record came out. We had a pretty long-term goal about touring and how to get singles out. That kind of got erased. Around the time that happened, our drummer quit the band. We had a replacement who did a great job, but it was still kind of a hit. Then things at the label got worse and crowds weren’t getting any bigger. It felt very sterile.
AVC: That kind of personnel change at the label has caused hundreds of bands to crumble over the years. Did you consider that as a possibility when you signed to the major?
PM: Oh yeah. I knew that the next day, I could wake up and everyone would be fired and I would be dropped. If you don’t have that in mind when you go into a major label, you’re probably in store for a rude wakeup call. Right now, it’s brutal, and the people at the labels are worried about their jobs. That affects how they work with bands on a day-to-day level. We knew what we were getting into.
AVC: You and Nathan were the core of Meese. Does The Centennial seem like a fresh start, or just a continuation of what you guys were doing in your last band?
PM: It seems like a brand new band now. I’m in a different position, musically, playing the drums and singing. It’s all new songs. It’s just very new. The musical communication hasn’t really changed between me and Nate. Me and my wife have always been good about that. Meese was in such an auto-pilot mode that I forgot what it was like to start over.
AVC: Meese played its final show in May, but you didn’t unveil this band until July. Was that to provide some separation between The Centennial and Meese, so they wouldn’t seem like the same act?
PM: I didn’t focus on creating separation as much as getting the new thing right. I think a lot of the Meese fans would like a lot of this music. It’s definitely a little different and more mellow. It was tough starting over because it did feel like we were expected to put something out immediately. “Oh, we’re breaking up, let’s do this band right now.” That’s not how it was. We can’t start bands like that.
AVC: Your previous band played some of the larger clubs in Denver, like the Bluebird. The Centennial’s EP release is at the much smaller Hi-Dive. Do you feel as if you’re struggling to get attention on your new band?
PM: It just depends on what kind of attention you are looking for. With Meese, we had the KTCL crowd. Those guys are great. Most of our fans were because of what Colorado people heard on the radio. We don’t have any of [KTCL support] backing us up right now. I’m not sure if that’s the right route for this band.
AVC: In that respect, will a major label be the right route for this band?
PM: I don’t think we’re going to be shopping to any major labels or anything. We’re putting out the music on our own at the moment. It’ll mostly be free downloads. We really like the Front Range right now. We have some great shows with local bands coming up. I’m enjoying just focusing on that and not thinking about the bigger picture. I’m sure as time goes on, we’ll narrow it down to what we really want to achieve.
Preview a track off of Second Spring via a free download of “1988”.