Daily Progress




November 1983

The Deal
Making records not road trips.

The Deal, a five-member Charlottesville band that is so clean-cut its members make Pat Boone look like John Belushi, has taken the high road to rock-and-roll success. It has flouted the accepted wisdom of playing night after night, wailing your guts out and developing a following. Instead, the band recorded demo tapes and brashly knocked on record company doors before it even had a full-time bass player or drummer. It all seems backward, like a child learning how to operate a computer before he knows how to add.

"We're not a seasoned road band," lead guitarist Haines Fullerton cheerfully admits. "We're recording artists."

The ingenious approach to success brought The Deal a record contract with Bearsville, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Records Inc., and a mini-album
due out early next year. The band's sound is strongly influenced by the Beatles with its pop beat and three- and four-part harmonies. The new album is upbeat rock-and-roll, but the band also has a Simon and Garfunkel sound. "We'd like to think we're an 80's version of 60's ideas with strong melodies, harmonies and a wash of' guitar sounds," bass player Jim Jones says. That sound is popular with the band's staple audience - college students.

The five members -- Jones, Fullerton, guitarist and songwriter Mark Roebuck, guitarist Eric Schwartz and drummer Hugh Patton -- exhibit a naive enthusiasm rare in a rock-and-roll band that has made it so far in the rough-and-tumble recording world. Ask the band about its worst experience and you hear about a night when the band's truck broke down. It's career has been plotted with precision. "We know what we're trying to do," Jones says. "We haven't gotten stuck in places where we shouldn't be. We've spent a lot of money on lawyers."

The Deal actually has its roots in Petersburg, where two 15-year-olds, Roebuck and Schwartz, played their acoustic guitars together. Later, at the University of Virginia. they met Fullerton. When the three were sophomores (1978-79) they began recording original songs on a four-track tape in a dorm room. They also set off to New York to have doors slammed in their faces by record company secretaries. By their senior year, they had picked up Jones and Patton, and a friend of a friend suggested they call Linda Stein, who used to handle the Ramones. She came on as manager and persuaded Albert Grossman, president of' Bearsville, to sign them. Their producer is Richard Gottehrer, who produced the wildly successful first albums of the Go-Gos and Marshall Crenshaw.

The band's rise has been so quick that no member has had a full-time job. Fullerton and Roebuck have always wanted to play rock-and-roll, but Schwartz declined acceptance at law school, Jones stopped plans to go into business and Patton, a year younger than the others, dropped out of school when it became clear the band might make it.

Onstage, it's almost as if the band didn't have time to remove the club ties and navy blazers bought at U.Va. That attire has since become a trademark, earning notice in Andy Warhol's Interview magazine as "putting the pep back into prep."

"We have aspirations to conquer the world," Jones chuckles. "But it's a million-to-one shot. Well, actually I look at it like two thousand-to-one installments," he says. The first was cutting the record; the next hurdle is to become famous.