'High Fidelity' Boosts Beta Band Sales

Song's use in film helps The Three EPs quadruple its numbers.

John Cusack's character in "High Fidelity" claims he can sell five copies of the Beta Band's The Three EPs just by playing "Dry the Rain" to his record store patrons.

But by having the song on the movie's soundtrack, it turns out, the Scottish electronic-rock quartet has been able to sell a lot more than that.

The album's sales have quadrupled since the film's release last month, according to the Beta Band's U.S. label, Astralwerks.

The movie's soundtrack includes "Dry the Rain" (RealAudio excerpt) alongside classics such as Blondie's "Heart of Glass" and Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." Cusack has been plugging the Beta Band while promoting the movie.

"As far as new bands, I think I could get pretty heavy into the Beta Band," the actor said in a recent conference-call interview. "I think they're pretty amazing. But I'm always a little behind the curve as far as what is modern."

As for the scene in "High Fidelity" when Cusack's Rob Gordon pitches the Beta Band, Tim Peterson, owner of Hi Fi Records in Chicago — the store on which the movie's record shop is based — said trying to sell new music to customers by playing it is common practice.

"That scene in the movie made me laugh because it's so true," Peterson said. "At big chains, there's pre-paid playlists, but at a smaller store like this we generally play things that have personal interest to you. People buy stuff [I'm playing] all the time.

"You're like a DJ at a club," Peterson said. "You feel the vibe and try to play the right thing. ... You try to turn people on to stuff."

Though The Three EPs is a consistent seller at Hi Fi Records, Peterson said he hasn't seen a rise in popularity since "High Fidelity" came out.

"High Fidelity," a romantic comedy based on Nick Hornby's novel of the same name, was filmed in Cusack's home city of Chicago. Rock legend Bruce Springsteen makes a cameo.

The Three EPs, released in the U.S. in January 1999, is a collection of the group's first three (now out of print) four-song EPs — Champion Versions, The Patty Patty Sound and Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos — which showcase the group's distinctive hippie techno-rock sound. Blending a folky pop sound with elements of dance music and roots dub, the band garnered both rock and techno fans.

The Beta Band's self-titled full-length debut was released last summer to critical acclaim, and the band followed with a successful U.S. tour.

Singer/guitarist Stephen Mason, meanwhile, is finishing a four-track EP for his side project, King Biscuit Time, which may be released later this year on Astralwerks, a spokesperson said.

Mason's debut solo effort, King Biscuit Time Sings Nelly Foggit's Blues, was released in the U.S. last year.

The Beta Band, also including Robin Jones, DJ/programmer John McLean and bassist Richard Greentree, are preparing to perform at the Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, England, in June. They also are beginning work on the follow-up to The Beta Band.