Right Away, Great Captain!

Andy Hull, lead singer of Atlanta band Manchester Orchestra, has just finished the third in a trilogy of solo albums under the name Right Away, Great Captain!

On May 17th, pre-orders opened on the $60 4-LP triple-album set, and a $120 deluxe edition. It sold out in four days. We caught up with Andy to learn more…

First off, congratulations. You signed up for Bandcamp the day before your record went on sale, so we were pretty surprised when your pre-sale just blew up.

Yeah, that was crazy. The Bandcamp front page had the real time sales updates and we could see what was moving. That was my home page for a couple of days.

How did you come to release a 4-vinyl set?

The Church Of The Good Thief vinyl trilogy set by Right Away, Great Captain!For me it was a pretty intense decision to print up all three of those albums, especially on a four-LP set with colored vinyl. We’ve done extensive packaging before with the other bands that I’m in but there’s always been a label who’s helped to do it all. This time it was truly just me on my own, with a little bit of help from Jeremiah [Edmond, former Manchester Orchestra drummer]. It’s an investment in yourself, and it’s daunting to put down enough money to print that many.

When the day came to finally put it on sale, I was hoping that in the first hour we’d have 10 to 15 sales overall, of anything. By the time I got back home I think we’d sold 60 of the deluxe package and 70 of the regular, and within two hours the deluxe was gone! I hit a point where I’d made a profit and it was a total relief. It had been an eight-month waiting period to see if it was going to work.

I’d never printed a Right Away, Great Captain! vinyl and I’d only printed 500 CD copies of each of the two first albums. I figured there were fans because people were talking to me about it but I didn’t really know if they were serious, if they were going to be able to drop $60. It’s a pretty expensive package.

You’ve really concentrated on the physical product here, and created something quite extraordinary. Did you make your ideal package or did you try to figure out what your fans might want?

Andy Hull making lyrics bookletsBoth, but when what you like and what the fans like are aligned, that’s usually when you’ve got something that’s going to work. I find more and more that I like the really unique stuff.

When I was planning the whole thing it would have been easy to decide to print it up on standard vinyl and not do the tri-fold packaging (which is really expensive!). But I wanted to make it worth the $120, which is a totally ridiculous price. So the deluxe edition is made by my mom and me in my basement with a Dremel tool, drilling holes in these books. I wrote all the lyrics out by hand and we’re hand-stitching them with yarn. There are 120 of them, and everything’s numbered and signed. It’s totally crazy the amount of work that’s gone into it.

For me it was such a labour of love to finish this trilogy of albums (it’s been six years in the making), and this was the coolest way to release it. Make a limited run of 1000, make sure everything’s top of the line. The fact that it sold out proved that people like something tangible, especially if it’s done well, and that they are willing to pay for it. It’s up to us as musicians to create something that’s cooler than they could imagine.

How did you go about promoting the release?

I partnered up with one website called Property of Zack, who’s a nice kid who lives in Philadelphia. It’s a site that gets some traffic, and that might get reposted by one or two other sites. I just needed someone who puts out good stuff online to partner up with. So we did an interview about three months before the release, talking about this last chapter of the trilogy. Then about a month and a half after that we released the first song from the record and let that sit for a couple of weeks. Then we announced the record, the track listing and the release date. The next week the pre-order date went up.

So it was probably about six weeks of just dropping stuff on the Favorite Gentlemen site, Manchester Orchestra’s site and on Property of Zack. But very little press at all. People just knew that it was coming and they wanted it, I guess.

How valuable do you think the pre-order process is?

Massive! Massive. It was so easy. I’m going to sound like a commercial for Bandcamp, but it literally was the easiest thing to do, and the numbers were right there in real time.

I’d paid for the vinyl and was waiting for it to be shipped, and the pre-order was way helpful for me because it really gave me an idea of how fast I needed to move on everything. I was fully prepared to be moving about ten records a day for a while, but it didn’t work out like that.

In the end you sold 820 vinyl records in four days.

That’s right. Along with another twenty that we bundled with pre-sale tickets that’s 840 in four days, which is pretty cool for such a big package.

Thanks Andy!

You’re welcome. I appreciate everything you guys did to make it possible!

Andy Hull of Right Away, Great Captain!

The Church Of The Good Thief is out today on Favorite Gentlemen Recordings. The vinyl is all sold out, but you can still buy the digital album.