Moving up

Central Michigan LIFE

September 11, 1987

Moving up

Rock band joins ranks of professionals with major recording contract

By Tony Bittick

They remain humble about the future, but for The Toll the announcement of a contract agreement with a major recording company seems to answer the question “when,” more so than “if.”

And for many Mount Pleasant fans, this comes as little or no surprise.

The Toll, an Ohio-based band, is scheduled to appear Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m. at Tom’s Foolery, 112 W. Michigan, for $3.

The band has been here many times, but this weekend will be different.  This week they announced a contract agreement with Geffen Records.

When they take the stage at the Foolery, they will represent the widely-acclaimed mother-company to artists including Peter Gabriel, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, White Snake, XTC and Aerosmith.

“I think our band has kept everything down and at a low key,” lead signer and rhythm guitar player Brad Circone said.

And The Toll stands as testimony to their own words.  Even after Chrysalis Records, a company responsible for artists like Huey Lewis and The News and Pat Benatar, paid for the production of demonstration tapes last year they still kept things quiet.

“Somehow, for one reason or another, the contract with Chrysalis fell through,” Circone said.  “The guy who found us couldn’t sell us to the other members of the company.”

Circone said out of respect for Chrysalis, they waited before sending the tapes to any other record companies.  Oddly, the Toll never had a need for those tapes.

Circone said George Stein of Mandalay Management was responsible for their next stroke of fortune.

“George was representing us at Chrysalis,” Circone said.  “When things didn’t work out at Chrysalis he invited somebody from Geffen to see us at a festival in East Lansing.”

The rest, although somewhat brief as of yet, is history.

“I could see him at the back of the crowd when we started,” Circone said.  “Then slowly as we played I saw him work his way little by little closer to the stage.  By the time we were playing ‘Anna’ he was euphoric, and when he heard ‘Living in the Valley of Pain’ he got a chance to see the crowd participation.

The Geffen representative is Michael Rosenblatt and Circone and said the band likes him :because he represents the kind of things the band believes in most.”

“We were impressed by Michael and the people at Geffen because the first thing Michael said to me when we met him after the show was ‘Let’s just put out some great rock and roll.’ He’s very up front and he knows what he wants,’ Circone said.

As for Circone and fellow band members, they also seem to know what they want.

“There are going to be a lot of special people coming to see us this weekend, but meaning no disrespect to them, we want the people of Mount Pleasant to know that they’re the reason we’re coming to Mount Pleasant to play,” Circone said.

And in terms of what type of music the people at Geffen and listeners can look forward to – it’s a mixed bag.

Circone admitted early last year their fear always was finding a record label with the imagination and creativity to market such a sound.  It seems Geffen Records may have quenched that fear.

With a music style compared to the likes of U2, Circone has not only been referred to be, but has been billed in some towns as the craziest man since Jim Morrison.

The lyrics always are changing as Circone’s on-stage emotional roller coaster ride seems to dictate the music’s theme.  And that’s the key to The Toll, the music, night after night, always means something.

“I think these shows are going to be fantastic,” Circone said.  “And it’s not that I’m being arrogant, it’s just that the band has a lot of pent-up emotions, and I can feel the release coming on.”

When The Toll came to Mount Pleasant during their earliest days they came with the proclamation of wanting “to fill the gap between what rock-and-roll was and what punk was supposed to be.”

They seem to have done that and much more already.