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People subscribe to the opera, become members of museums, and support

public radio stations—why not a band?

So reasoned Dana Cerick, Melissa Lou, and Nancy Tarr of Dead Girls and Other Stories. Maybe people weren’t exactly Dying to Belong, the title of the group’s debut CD, but they were definitely

willing to pay.

“We all brainstormed on inventing the three packages,”

says Lou. “The basic plan: Pre-buying the CD for $12. The namedrop plan for $20: You get your name in the CD and you

get the CD. And the Honorary Dead Girl plan: For $30 you get your name on the CD listed under ‘Honorary Dead Girl’ and

you get a CD.”

In this fashion, the band raised over $1,500 toward covering the cost of pressing the discs. During three months of recording, the band sent newsletters containing Dead Girls updates to auxiliary members. Dying to Belong began as a project among three independent songwriters, rather than the output of an already formed band. Each member contributed five songs; they recorded at the same studio and used the same recording engineer, giving the CD its cohesive sound.

This plan eventually led to the formation of a group. “The original idea was that we all wanted to have a CD…[but] from our first coffeehouse show, we started jumping up onstage and singing each other’s songs,” says Lou.

Still, after the CD was finished, Cerick decided to go her own way, leaving longtime friends Tarr and Lou to keep the band alive. Adding Genny Cruz, a former guitar player for Crystal Waters and Salt N’ Pepa, helped the Dead Girls get their groove back. But Cruz is seven months pregnant at the moment. Until she can go back on the road next fall, Tarr and Lou will pass the time doing acoustic gigs.

“[Cruz] added a totally different element, because she’s played with more R&B and funk,” says Lou, whose musical influences run more to the likes of the Beatles and Annie Lennox.

“I’ve been compared to Kate Bush and Tori Amos,” says Tarr. “I would even say Melissa, to me, sounds like Tori.”

“No, you sound like Tori,” Lou replies, sounding like one of the ditzy sorority girls from Saturday Night Live. “We all want to sound like Tori,” she deadpans.—Holly Bass