In 2003, Josh Schwartz couldn’t find a band willing to play live on “The OC.” Too teeny-bopper, too tacky.
Today Schwartz has become a modern-day Medici for artists like Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie and Imogen Heap.
For local band Rooney, it was ego that won them over.
“They sent scripts and we were on every page,” says Rooney’s lead singer and guitarist Robert Carmine.
Signed to Geffen, their single “I’m Shakin'” was only getting occasional airplay when Schwartz asked them to appear on the show.
So does that make Schwartz a patron of the arts or a sell-out Svengali? He favors the former.
“Being a sell-out because you’re on TV or in a commercial is an outdated idea,” Schwartz says. “Radio is increasingly consolidated and less varied. It’s hard to make it happen on satellite radio and Internet downloads alone.”
Case in point is Death Cab for Cutie, which appeared on the show last April. The band’s new album debuted Aug. 30 in Billboard’s top 10.
“They’re a little ‘OC’ed out,” says the band’s publicist. “They were thrilled to do the show, but they’ve been a band for eight years and there are many reasons they’ve achieved success.”
Rooney, which is still seeking its big break, isn’t as quick to dismiss the show’s benevolence. Says Carmine, “You can’t be too picky these days.”
Not content with his favorites being background music, Schwartz created the Bait Shop, a live-music venue that’s never too crowded but always sold out. Here are the bands that have taken the stage, what they played and their subsequent star power.
The Walkmen (Record Collection)
Appeared: 11/08/2004 (“Little House of Savages,” “What’s in It for Me”)
Since then: Toured this summer as opening act for Modest Mouse
The Killers (Island)
Appeared: 12/02/2004 (“Smile Like You Mean It,” “Mr. Brightside,” “Everything Will be Alright”)
Since then: Won MTV’s VMA for new artist in a video
The Thrills (Virgin)
Appeared: 1/20/2005 (“Saturday Night”)
Since then: Played MTV’s “TRL” and promoted the European launch of Xbox’s “Halo 2”
Rachael Yamagata (RCA)
Appeared: 2/03/2005 (“Reason Why”)
Since then: Toured with Ryan Adams and Ray LaMontagne
The 88 (Mootron Records)
Appeared: 09/08/2005 (“Hide Another Mistake”)
Since then: Reached number 43 on the CMJ 200 chart.”