Local indie-rockers Life in Bed have been part of Pittsburgh's scene since 2001 -- even longer, if you count the years founding members Sean Finn and Bill Merante spent in another local band, Manifold Splendor. In that time, Life in Bed has done what many local bands do: touring a bit regionally, and essentially self-releasing albums on Finn's Polar Recordings label. But now it seems the band's grassroots hustle is about to get an additional boost ... from Japanese label Moor Works.
"Basically, they contacted us two or three months ago, and wanted to license our record for release in Japan," says Finn. Moor Works has licensed Japan-only versions of albums from groups like Aloha and Xbxrx (both on Polyvinyl in the U.S.) among several others. Life in Bed's latest, Passed and Presents, is already available locally; in the next few months, Moor Works will release the Japanese version with five bonus tracks.
"One is a B-side that didn't make it onto Passed and Presents," says Finn. "And then there's four tracks from 2002 that we never released that we thought would be cool to actually have on [CD]."
It's a nice finale to a tumultuous year or so: Founding bassist Chris James recently left the band, replaced by Thomas Cipollone; in 2006, guitarist Craig Svitek moved away, replaced by Stephen McMillen.
Finn says the lineup changes slowed the band's momentum, preventing them from initially putting a lot of promotional muscle behind Passed and Presents, "but now that we have things solidified, I don't want to just let it fall by the wayside." The band plans to hire a publicist and is working on U.S. distribution for early 2008. As far as record deals in the U.S., band members "haven't really pursued it that much, because my brother [Kevin Finn] and I are really trying to get our shit together with Polar Recordings."
Life in Bed isn't the first Pittsburgh band to attract attention in Japan -- pop-punks Punchline have toured several times in support of Japanese releases. But just how big is "big in Japan"?
"Basically, we get a couple dollars per sale, something small," says Finn. "They said they're gonna send us 50 copies to sell here, and the rest will be sold in Japan, and they'll take care of the marketing and PR over there. It's not like a huge monetary [factor], but as far as exposure in Japan, and potentially having the chance to go over there and play, is probably the most enticing thing for me."