When Durham quartet Free Electric State booked studio time to make the follow-up to their excellent two-song debut demo, they aimed only for the next step in size: Cut an EP, and see if any labels were interested in a longer project. Turns out, they didn’t have to wait.

‘Kyle and Steve said, ‘We’re not interested in putting out an EP. We’d rather do a full-length,’” says Free Electric State’s Shirlé Hale Koslowski of Kyle Miller and Steve Jones, who run the Durham label Churchkey Records. ‘We had the songs, so we said we would record more. It wasn’t our initial plan, but it made sense.”

The band cut the core of the LP over three days in late October at the Mebane studio of producer Jerry Kee. Over the last two-plus decades, Kee has worked with Superchunk, Ryan Adams, Bad Checks, Shark Quest and, oh, about half of the bands in the Triangle. In fact, Koslowski and husband David, who plays guitar and sings in Free Electric State, worked with him in their former band, Gerty! Just before Thanksgiving, they returned to Kee’s to add overdubs and finalize mixes. Chicago’s Carl Saff is currently mastering the disc.

The nine-song LP, titled Caress, features a reworked version of ‘Hawks,” from this year’s demo release, as well as two new songs that the band has yet to play locally, ‘Matching Scars” and ‘The Black Sea.” Those tunes will get their premiere Friday, when Free Electric State joins Irata and The White Cascade for a 10 p.m. show at Slim’s.

The record, though, will have to wait: Churchkey plans to drop Caress in mid-April 2010.’I feel like it’s so far away,” says Koslowski, laughing, ‘that we’ll have another album written by then.”

For Free Electric State’s alternate version of how the deal with Churchkey went down, hit the jump.

Hands were shaken, signatures inscribed, and the ink dried to make it official. Local upstart rock act Free Electric State have signed an unprecedented one-album deal with media mega-corp Churchkey Records.

“We got ’em,” reported label owner Steve Jones from a jacuzzi full of $100 bills. “Free Electric State is among the hottest 50 or 60 local acts around, and Churchkey Records is very happy to add them to our lineup.” He paused to light co-owner Kyle Miller’s Cuban cigar before adding, “These guys might sell in the double digits.”

“Steve doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Miller objected, between puffs of expensive smuggled tobacco. “We’re forecasting sales in the triple digits.”

“Sorry,” replied Jones. “Three digits is definitely a possibility.” The two moguls then clinked glasses of cask-aged Lagavulin to celebrate their score.

The band members responded with even more enthusiasm for the deal.

“I made it,” said noticeably drunk guitarist Nick Williams. Unable to contain his elation at the signing of the contract, he screamed “I FUCKING MADE IT!”, whiskey fumes pouring from his open mouth in palpable waves. He then gave the interviewer the finger and drove a stolen BMW into a grove of pine trees.

“I’m pretty excited,” responded normally laconic drummer Tony Stiglitz, in between sips of Bollinger from a Waterford champagne flute. Returning to his copy of Mojo, he mumbled “Actually, I’m not that excited.”

The unheard-of sum of $45 was paid to the band as an advance, which band-leader and guitarist David Koslowski promptly used to make a down payment on a fine sable coat. “Gotta start dressing better…” was Koslowski’s only comment, before punching the photographer and retreating to the bathroom “to write hits, for all you dumbshit teenagers.”

Frontwoman/bassist Shirlé Hale could not be reached for comment, although she was overheard by the interviewer screaming “Fuck that eurotrash shit! I am not wearing Lagerfeld to the goddamn Grammys!” into her cellular phone. All parties interviewed agreed that this is a historic deal, and should make all of them “assloads of the moolah, baby.”