In 1996, Geffen Records released James Hall “Pleasure Club.” The album, artist and supporting band were expected to be the Next Big Thing. For several reasons, the album wasn’t a commercial success. Geffen was a splintering company, soon to be swallowed up by Interscope, and the record, full of quality material, was confusing to radio programmers and listeners. After exhaustive touring in support of the album, Hall and his band returned home to New Orleans to begin writing for a new Geffen release. While Geffen transitioned into Interscope and all allies at the company were released, Hall’s band was also released to go find new creative outlets. After two years in songwriting purgatory, Hall was also released from his contract, finding himself wondering “What next?” He and former bandmate, Grant Curry (bass) rejoined forces and formed a new band. Pleasure Club (Curry, Hall, guitarist Marc Hutner, formerly of Sugartooth and drummer Michael Jerome from Course of Empire) played their first show to about 30 people at 1 am at the now defunct Dragonfly club in L.A. If you were there, you still talk about it. The band played like it was the last night on earth, delivering each song with razor sharp precision and an angst so palpable it made you uncomfortable and strangely fulfilled at the same time.
Record companies soon started talking with the band, but Pleasure Club was content to make their debut without any outside help or interference. What followed was “Here Comes the Trick”, an album considered by many to be a masterpiece. PC toured relentlessly and easily outsold the previous Hall release on Geffen. A live album “Live! Out of the Pulpit” followed and was issued with a re-release of “Here Comes the Trick” 3 years later. More touring ensued. Audiences were stunned time after time by the powerful juggernaut of rhythm, frantic guitars and the savvy of Hall’s vocals. A brilliant follow-up, “The Fugitive Kind”, was released in late 2004. At the same time, the band was splintering and laden with problems of money, poor management and, again, a production and distribution deal with a label in disarray. In spite of 10 weeks in heavy rotation on Atlanta’s 99x, the band was unable to gain the traction they needed to continue touring on a shoestring budget. Personality conflicts were the ultimate cause of the band’s demise as Pleasure Club disbanded in the spring of 2005. Many believed it was this inter-band dysfunction that made for such explosive music and powerful live performances. Whatever the case, the news came as a great shock and disappointment to fans everywhere.
13 years later, Pleasure Club is rumored to still be full of the intensity, anger and soul that made them one of America’s best kept Art Rock secrets. Their return is a gift to the fans that ardently followed them and whose hearts were broken by their implosion. While Pleasure Club may be returning as seasoned rock veterans, we believe they’re also coming back louder and more pissed off at the injustices in our world and ready to revive their triumphant anthems for the needy, rejected and oppressed. Who knows, they may even bring something new to the stage. Don’t miss this. It may likely happen just once.