Article and interview by Arthur van Pelt
Recently, we have seen a lot of discussion going on about the new digital road the Smashing Pumpkins are following, releasing their music. Their latest release, the 20th Anniversary Tour in both a digital format: FLAC & MP3, but also still on a physical medium: the CD, was done by NUGS.NET. SPfreaks.com asked the Founder/CEO of NUGS.NET, Mr. Brad Gregory Serling, a few questions. Here is his insightful information from the side of NUGS.NET. By the way, he mentioned as an important sidenote “Yes, you may post my responses in their entirety, as long as you state that I am merely responding to questions about my company NUGS.NET, and I do not represent the Smashing Pumpkins or their management.”
SPfreaks: How and when was the contact between you and the Smashing Pumpkins management established? Does it date back long ago, or was it just recent?
Mr. Brad Serling: Pumpkins’ management reached out to met at the end of last summer, and later arranged a meeting with me and Billy Corgan. He asked very insightful questions and seemed very eager to release live shows from the upcoming tour. We had both recently started learning mandolin, so we bonded a little over that too.
SPfreaks: Is this Smashing Pumpkins 20th Anniversary Tour a one time cooperation between you guys and Smashing Pumpkins, or are there more tours (past tours, future tours) or specific concerts to be expected as a FLAC/MP3/cd release?
Mr. Brad Serling: The contracts NUGS.NET signs with artists do not oblige the artist to deliver anything at all. It would be unrealistic to lock an artist into delivering X, Y, or Z shows because of the nature of the live concert and touring. Let’s face it, shit happens, and not every night is releasable. So, there was no obligation to release every night of the 20th Anniversary Tour or any future show.
SPfreaks: Can you tell us a bit more about what steps are taken from the moment your organisation knows there is a certain date and a certain venue where the Pumpkins are playing, till the moment the FLAC/MP3 set of the concert given there becomes downloadable at your website, and the CDs are ready to be shipped… It must be a hell of a job!
Mr. Brad Serling: It runs the gamut from band to band, but with the Pumpkins, the hard drives of the multi-track recordings were sent from the road each night to an engineer here in Los Angeles who mixes each night in his studio. He would then upload the finished product to NUGS.NET, where we would post the files on LiveSmashingPumpkins.com and prepare the CD masters. A friend of the band did the artwork for each label and would upload that to us as well.
SPfreaks: Has there been any restrictions (technical-wise, contract-wise, format-wise, language/banter/songs-wise, etc.) that you had to take into consideration, releasing these Smashing Pumpkins concerts?
Mr. Brad Serling: There are no restrictions, it’s “warts and all.” There were no edits, overdubs, or any other doctoring in the studio.
SPfreaks: Why wasn’t the 25th show released (2008/11/16 US : Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville)? Technical issues with the recording? Any chance it will be released someday anyway?
Mr. Brad Serling: Yes, there was a recording melt-down, and it will not be released.
SPfreaks: We have seen a grey CD appearing on 1 of the shows (while most releases on CD where yellow/blue colored cds). Which show(s) appear on grey CD also, and why was it released like that?
Mr. Brad Serling: Shows released before 11/24/08 were printed on grey discs. Our fulfillment center upgraded to all-color CD pressing units on 11/24, hence the grey discs before that date.
SPfreaks: What are the exact dates the 24 CD releases became available?
Mr. Brad Serling:
2008/10/31 Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH on 11/8/2008
2008/11/01 Playhouse Square Center – Palace Theater, Cleveland, OH on 11/9/2008
2008/11/03 Massey Hall, Toronto, ON on 11/9/2008
2008/11/04 Massey Hall, Toronto, ON on 11/19/2008
2008/11/06 United Palace, New York, NY on 11/17/2008
2008/11/07 United Palace, New York, NYon 11/19/2008
2008/11/08 Borgata Resort Spa and Casino Event Center, Atlantic City, NJ on 11/20/2008
2008/11/11 DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC on 11/22/2008
2008/11/12 DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC on 11/25/2008
2008/11/14 Citi Wang Theatre, Boston, MA on 11/27/2008
2008/11/15 Citi Wang Theatre, Boston, MA on 11/27/2008
2008/11/18 Chicago Theatre, Chicago, IL on 12/2/2008
2008/11/19 Chicago Theatre, Chicago, IL on 12/3/2008
2008/11/21 Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL on 12/5/2008
2008/11/24 Midland Theater, Kansas City, MO on 12/6/2008
2008/11/25 Midland Theater, Kansas City, MO on 12/9/2008
2008/11/26 Fox Theatre, St. Louis, MO on 12/10/2008
2008/11/29 The Pearl, Las Vegas, NV on 12/12/2008
2008/11/30 Rimac Arena, San Diego, CA on 12/17/2008
2008/12/02 Gibson Amphitheatre, Universal City, CA on 12/13/2008
2008/12/03 Gibson Amphitheatre, Universal City, CA on 12/31/2008
2008/12/05 Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO on 1/2/2009
2008/12/07 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL on 1/6/2009
2008/12/08 Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL on 1/7/2009
SPfreaks: Same question for the Tour Package?
Mr. Brad Serling: Around 1/15.
SPfreaks: The box for the Tour Package was not that impressive, being too big, a little sloppy cardboard quality and just a sticker slapped on the side. Sorry to say this, because I know you guys put a lot of effort in releasing this stuff, and it shows, really! But for the box… What was the reason behind releasing the box in this quality? Were there thoughts about a more proper box, that has been thrown from the table, maybe because of financial reasons?
Mr. Brad Serling: Agreed. Keep in mind the box was never intended to be a “box set.” It was merely a way to hold all the discs together for shipment. The shows are packaged individually as 2 or 3CD sets, not a multi-disc box.
SPfreaks: From the impressive list of bands that you support via NUGS.NET (amongst them Dave Matthews Band, Gov’t Mule, Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, Metallica, Phish, The String Cheese Incident and Widespread Panic), which of them are on your personal favourites list? In other words, which CDs you press and release can we expect in your car, or which NUGS.NET’ MP3s can we expect in your iPod, presuming you have one?
Mr. Brad Serling: I was touring with the Grateful Dead since I was 14, taping the shows myself and trading them with my friends. In fact, that’s the genesis of NUGS.NET. I launched the site in 1993 as a way to share my tape collection (with the permission of the bands like the Dead and Phish). So my heart lies with the Grateful Dead and Phish. Other personal favorites are Umphrey’s McGee, moe., Widespread Panic, and some interesting festival releases we’ve done over the years.