October 26, 2016 - 11:19am
... it crept up again... running a business is "spinning plates" most of the time... and when your schedule is steady... and then full... some things get put off... week after week.
... believe me, I've written a ton of blogs in my head the last few weeks!
... or I guess... months now.
... in short, things are good! :-)
I've been finishing up another children's album with Charlie Hope and keeping steady with several mix projects. The new Parabelle album came out yesterday as well... but while trying to keep on top of all of these... I started another business... using any nook and cranny of time I could find lately.
I produced a few songs for Reid Henry and Brendan McMillan (My Darkest Days) back in January that we've been sitting on the better part of the year now. Reid came out with Age Of Days (Disturbed tour) in February and we got along pretty well (you learn a lot about people on tour). We discussed doing some more tracks but didn't get a chance to "finish the EP" until June/July.
"Do you think we have time to do a full album?"
Reid's tone was half joking... which is fine... since I was thinking the same thing.
We launched the band 3 weeks ago... and I've also taken on the responsibility to manage the project for the time being.
It's been a real eye opener.
It's one thing to suggest bands/artists do things (from the sidelines), but it's (so far) been a lot of fun getting into the game to see what it's like!
Of course, touring gives me that sense as well... but on the business side of being a band/artist... the promotion end... I think back to the days of MySpace and ICQ... and the landscape these days... the ability for bands to reach out to potential fans directly... IT'S AMAZING!!!
Perhaps the initial luster will wear off after a few weeks or months... or years... but as of right now, it's energizing.
I still love the studio side, but I really, really, really miss touring too. I miss waking up in different cities, I miss the 24 hour workday (cycle), I miss meeting the locals, and I miss the adrenaline rush of hearing the intro hit the venue mains. I miss it.
I'm excited about getting back to the tour blog, but also to share some of the discoveries, successes, failures, results, and advice in general from playing in, managing, and producing a band.
The landscape has changed a lot the last few years... and it's not about wearing all the hats, all the time. I look forward to building the team but it's reassuring knowing the group currently in place have similar work ethic, experience, and goals.
...we have big plans for 2017... fingers and toes crossed at least 10% of the plans work out. If you're curious, I'll leave a link to the first single below.
If all goes well... I might need a bigger blog.
- Mike :-)
... such a good show.
I've been a fan of Mew for around 10 years and had a chance to see them 6-7 years ago at the Mod Club here in Toronto. I don't always assume I'll get a chance to see bands from Europe here (Mew is from Denmark), so when they add a date, I do my best to grab a ticket!
... bought back in June... first day they went on sale.
So Mew is doing well over in Europe and it's always a roll of the dice how bands that are used to playing larger venues can handle a smaller club again. When they played the Mod Club, they had an elaborate lighting/video show that went along with the set... not the case last night. No space! But it's a great environment to test a band... small venue... where you can be close enough to see facial expressions even if you're at the back of the room.
I wouldn't say Toronto is a "rock" city, and I wouldn't say Mew is a "rock" band, but they put on a great rock show last night. They took the stage, waved to the crowd, cracked a few jokes, thanked the audience throughout the set, and played the shit out of that stage for 90 minutes. A good mix of older tunes and the new album (which I haven't given a good listen to yet).
One song in particular, Snow Brigade, is what got me hooked years ago. They didn't play it at the Mod Club show, and I was a little disappointed. We always want to hear our favourite songs live... see how well it stacks up to the recordings we love.
They nailed it.
Right off the opening/intro riff, I scanned around to a few friends in attendance and we all looked at each other... this is happening!!!
The set felt a little long (90 mins) but nobody was complaining... the fans got their monies worth for sure. I overheard a few people discussing the show on the subway ride home... thumbs up all around.
The Dodo's put on a decent 45 min set to open the show. 2-Piece (guitar/singer, drums) from San Francisco, very angular guitar driven (duh) rock songs but the drummer made it interesting. The reviews were mixed on his choice of drum parts... he was literally just playing the drums (floor toms) most of the time... it was different, but it worked. They played the tune I wanted to hear early in the set (Competition), so I got my fill early on... I thought they were a good fit for the bill though.
... good ol' guitar bands.
- Mike :-)
P.S. Mew was scheduled to go on at 10:15pm and they went on at 10:15pm. It's always nice when Toronto shows don't run on Toronto time!
Yup... so I went and saw Helmet again. If you've been following along at all, you'll know I missed most of the show I went to see in Philadelphia... a trip loosely planned before the Toronto date opened up.
When I heard it was at Lee's Palace (1/4 the size of the place in Philly).... $25 to see a band you grew up on playing a small club... yes please!
I'll try to keep this short... I saw Trail Of Dead last year doing a similar tour... playing one of their "classic" (fan favorite) albums front to back. I meant to write about it... so good... for fans and the bands.
People can say albums are dead... which I agree in some respects... but I feel like the problem is not enough thought went into full albums as full albums for a while.
My generation was probably one of the last to actually listen to an album start to finish. Why? Partly because we were lazy... but I think a big factor was how much crap you needed to carry if you wanted to listen to music on the go... we just listened to what was our walkman or discman.
... think about that for a second. How many tapes or CD's did you want to carry? You just listened to the same album(s), (maybe 2-3) on repeat until you got sick of it... then swapped it out.
Eventually we started making mix tapes/CD's but for the majority, you happily listened to what was in the player... but then that changed in my teens (late 90's)... we could not only skip to the songs we wanted to hear... we could download them... randomly... then the legendary iPod came about...
I'm a little off topic I know... but it ties into these types of tours.
Even though everyone knew what song was coming up next, everyone was into it. These are tours for core fans. We don't always need hits... we wanted to share the experience of hearing a "classic" (to us) album performed live.
I'm sure the band is a little sick of playing it now but they find ways to have fun with it. They find ways to recreate the tones and production on the album, and present it to the audience.
... and financially, every ticket sold is probably the equivalent of an album sold.
Helmet still played a bunch of "other hits" in a second set but the applause after they played Sam Hell (final song on Betty) was probably a big part of what keeps bands like them going.
Appreciation from the fans... true appreciation... everyone on the same side... celebrating an album that's now 20 years old.
I care a lot about the tunes going on an album or EP (and their order) for this reason. The band should want to play them all live... and they should all work live, as the band, in it's purest/rawest form.
Albums aren't dead... they just got screwed up for a while... too much filler around what people were trying to sell. If you want people to listen to more of your music, you have to give them more music worth listening to. Simple.
I encourage bands to go out and try playing their EP's and albums start to finish before recording... if anything it'll help them realize how much quality material it takes to fill up 45 minutes... and how the audience feels about the song selection.
... you'll spend less time recording too... I guarantee it!
So this post hasn't really been much about Helmet now that I think about it... they were entertaining though... hard to find a band with 20+ years experience playing all over the world who isn't.
Just in case any bands out there still haven't got the message... the show starts the minute you arrive and doesn't end until you pull away from the venue. How you treat the venue staff before the show, and how you treat the fans after the show.
A fair amount had left before the very end... 2 hrs of Helmet is a lot of Helmet... that and maybe the crowd was a little older... lots of glasses, grey hair, bald spots, and mid-life guts in attendance... but just like in Philly, the show ended with Page Hamilton, 54 years old, leaning over the edge of the stage to shake hands with those still upfront... before crouching down for pictures and to chat.
Who knows how long he stays after the show talking to fans... I doubt it's simply an ego boost... he's a smart dude... and you can tell by the way he carries himself on stage he's a humble dude... probably knows there'll be a day when he's forced to stop...
Sunday - February 22, 2015
... well... I'm home now... and trying to avoid watching the Oscars. For some reason watching any of these award shows makes me feel ill. I'm not against the hardware... it's just that if people understood how they really worked, they might think twice about the amount of value that's placed upon them.
... but anyway... I'm home now.
We left Baltimore around 8am to attempt heading back to Harrisburg. The roads were in way better condition but you could see the aftermath of yesterday's storm on the sides of the road. No real damage, just a few parked and abandoned cars. The temperature had gone up quite a bit too which helped.
The highway was pretty clear... and empty... smooth sailing back to Harrisburg which took just over an hour. Again, it was painful yesterday because we really weren't far apart... just the weather was terrible.
... arrived at the hotel around 9:30am... made a few jokes about my first trip to Baltimore but I assured Mark I'd be back! Eventually! lol...
We bro'd our farewells again and I headed up to the room... which was void of life.
I had some pretty funny first lines rehearsed in my head but they were centered around opening the door to the room. I figured they were downstairs at breakfast so I made my way back to the elevator.
... I get in and hit the first floor button.
... doors close.
... doors open.
... Adam and Dave are standing there.
"I'm so sorry guys."
That's all I could say... meanwhile they're all smiles and hugs, just happy I made it back. Kyle and AJ weren't far behind but it was more of the same... it was nice to be back... even if it was just to load the van and make the trip back to Toronto.
I bumped into a few more familiar faces from hanging out at the panels on Friday, then stopped by Nancy and Scott's room to say bye and safe trip home.
Nothing exciting on the drive back though... roads were clear, highways were quick... border crossing was smooth. Again, they seem easier to deal with if you always show them your hands and let them know you're just trying to do the right thing. Once you get familiar with their "tone" you understand that's just how they talk to people.
We arrived in Toronto around 7pm. A thought crossed my mind... aside from the snow storm, this was probably the first serious traffic we've encountered all trip. Good ol' Toronto!
In the end... aside from missing 50% of the shows and 33% of the rehearsals... I think I did a pretty job filling in as a bassist! Might not get a pass in college but definitely good enough for a conditional pass in high school!
I had a blast though all things considered... I like to travel... I like traveling with bands... and even though we were only together 10 days... you feel like a band after... you bond... and you wish you were still out.
... looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow though... I've been wondering all weekend how the studio is doing.
- Mike :-)
Monday - January 26, 2015
… late flight back to Toronto. It's crazy how much quicker the flight is (or maybe just feels) from Calgary > Toronto. Neither flight there or back had TV's on the plane… I don't watch a lot of TV but it sucks without them. I can watch that map and plane channel for hours… it's still better than Desert Bus, for any of you hardcore gamers out there.
I'll be honest… I thought about a bit in the air… what's worse… the situation and having to return early… or what the drive would've been like to do the last show… half joking here… but seriously the drives are rough… they can be fun but laughs don't fill the gas tank… well… unless you're a comedian… and you convert those laughs into a paycheck… or you actually laugh gas... you know what I mean.
So… like usual, there's a bunch left out… but overall the trip was pretty fun. It's always nice to get out playing since so much of my work week is spent dealing with what's on the other side of the glass.
The highlight for me is still having those errant guitar tracks the first night (Winnipeg). One of those situations where you don't know how you'll react unless it happens… and I laughed pretty hard on the inside… oops. lol.
Hopefully we can get some new tunes and tours going soon… there's a few in the works… being in a band is spinning plates in a house of cards.
P.S. Just a reminder, it was 12C+ in Calgary, and now it's like -12C in Toronto.
P.P.S. I will make my hockey game tomorrow though… go ALL CAPS.
P.P.P.S So it's now Wednesday night... we lost 4-2 last night... the other team has probably the best player in our division and they're debatably the worst team... not much you can do when they win 4-2 and their superstar goes home with 3G and 1A. He's a nice guy too which makes him that much more hateable!
P.P.P.P.S I would've posted these last two sooner but like a dummy I stopped by work as soon as I got home and left my charger there... then decided I needed a day away from my laptop... once I ran out of battery.
P.P.P.P.P.S If you're curious about my finger (WARNING... it doesn't look good!)... click here.
If not, click here.
P.P.P.P.P.P.S One last time for good measure...
Work, work, work
Bonus points to anybody who knows what tune inspired that...
Oh the things that pop into my head after what seems like months of non-stop action. I'm not complaining though, I'm having a blast on the albums and EPs that have been in the studio lately.
The downside to a full schedule is while you're working (living the dream!) and helping others, your other life (anything outside the studio) tends to gets lost in the shuffle... time flies by.
It's June... almost mid June. The last time I posted something was in early May.
I get around 150 hits a day here (either searching for my name or "so you wanna make a record") and sometimes I have to remind myself "if I leave it too long between updates, people might think I'm doing nothing." It's often the opposite looking at other producer/studio sites... unless they have a good blog... a personal one.
Anyway, even when you try to schedule gaps in, jobs pop up and you take them.
Because when it rains, you have to collect water one way or another. That's something I've learned over the years that screws up people. They don't find a way to make the opportunities work and willing to sacrifice a little... and often.
Let me clarify... this means good opportunities. Good people + fair budgets/return.
A couple months ago (there's a blog post half written about this by the way) I did a quick 2 hour talk at Durham College about my path in music. One of the questions was along the lines of "I like my sleep... how do balance staying up til 2am seeing bands/emails/research/working and then getting up at 7am to start doing it all over again?"
I held off completely laughing at him in front of the entire class, telling him whoever in the class has insomnia is going to consider it a blessing a couple years after they finish the course... but there's a very clear line in the sand the older you get when it comes to entrepreneurs... we aren't workaholics... we're inspired. When we're inspired, we keep moving... especially our brains. When we aren't inspired, we do something else until inspirado hits.
This ties in with how I view a lot of bands and artists. So many talking about working hard but they have no idea what or where the hard work really is. They get discouraged so easily when something takes too long, costs too much, or seems out of their reach. If it's worth it, you keep moving towards your goals... when it isn't... for whatever reason, smart people change their focus, no explanation needed, no apology necessary.
I'm inspired by so many around me... and I'm not just looking forward to what the future holds, but seeing how many of my predictions pan out regarding who'll also do well.
Short post I know... I should get back to work now though... these songs aren't going to mix themselves!
Another calendar month has rolled over so it means another music festival is hitting Toronto... and my Facebook feed is now flooded with "showcases" and event invites.
As far as giving bands exposure goes, I think these festivals for the most part are pretty overrated. Even if you kick ass this week(end), you're forgotten about soon after... because the focus soon shifts to the next one. If you're lucky, you've made a couple more core fans but it's not often... especially if you weren't playing before a band people already know and really wanted to see.
I could kick quite a bit of dirt on these festivals if you're in a band and thinking it'll help get you some attention... but here's some advice I typically pass on to help people make the most of their weekend.
1. Don't be upset if you applied and didn't get in.
Why? Because you want your evenings free to roam the venues. Plus, if you've been around long enough, you realize how you can apply 6 years, then not apply on your 7th and get in because you know someone who was putting a lineup together. In most cases in this business, that's the pecking order. Sure you can line up and wait your turn, or you can try and get to know the doorman and slip them a $20... or lunch.
2. Don't carry around CD's you plan to give to industry.
Why? How many CD's does someone want to carry around when the average music fan has shown (through sales of discmans) the number of CD's they want to carry around for fun is 0. If someone asks for a CD, you either have your merch setup because you played, or they're drunk. Actually, chances are if industry wants your CD, they just want to see if you have your shit together... see if it looks professional or not. If they really want to hear your band, they'll be Googling you. It sounds dirty and invasive because it is.
3. Make sure your online presence is up to date.
Why? Read above. Anybody who wants to hear more about your band has already searched you... possibly while you're playing or just after your set.
4. Try to avoid playing Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.
Why? Because you probably aren't getting paid to play, and the bands that are getting paid are where everyone is going to be. In my opinion that's where you want to be too.
5. Spend your time watching the best bands... even if they're just hype bands.
Why? Because you need to see what they're doing that you aren't. Not just one stage but their merch, how they get on/off the stage, how their gear looks. Take notes on everything! All of that comes from experience and probably a big part of why they got a great slot and a great crowd.
Will a performance at a music festival help make them a household name? Probably not... but this is an actual showcase. The hype is there, they have to deliver. I'd rather be watching that band and taking notes than playing 9pm Saturday night at Neutral... to 6 people.
6. Go to the conference if you aren't sure what to do.
Why? Because it's a good place to start if you really aren't sure what's going on these days or in the near future. Often the price of admission is a line in the sand. Most bands simply won't spend (invest) the money. If you do, people take notice... mind you lost of bands flush money down the toilet but at least they're trying.
Enjoy your CMW weekend! Hopefully the weather holds up!
P.S. I'm glad I caught Little Dragon @ Lee's Palace a few years ago... I discovered Neon Indian from that show too since they played before. Little Dragon is back this year... $35 @ Kool Haus.
... so it's that magical day where everyone reflects openly about their past year. I wonder what people did back before facebook... seems like everyone is talking about overcoming adversity of some sort... personal, financial, professional, etc... for me though, December 31 just means another year of taxes/bookkeeping comes to an end... if anything, people should reflect on their birthday... speaking of... I turned 30 a couple weeks ago... and thank you. :-)
I'm aiming to do a real 2013 recap next week. In short though, looking back over credits (and projects on the drives) for this year... and the iCal... it's been quite different than the last 4-5... less projects, but better projects, less headaches, yet bigger (more important) headaches... not to mention a few twists in the plot I certainly wasn't expecting at all... lol. People are funny sometimes... the winds of change were a'blowin' pretty hard this year... change isn't always easy, but it's much easier when they're pushing you in the direction you wanted to, and should be going anyway.
I had a lot of time to think while out on tour... I moved to Toronto around 10 years ago now... I think I started at Pocket in Feb '04. Between there and freelance I made $4k that year. Total.
... but I never felt poor because I kept a full schedule... with what I felt was meaningful work with good people... and I never complained about it... and I wasn't ashamed to tell people of what I could and couldn't afford to do at that stage in my life... or what my priorities were... not always easy... but then again... meaningful work is part of my own "meaning of life".
I'm very grateful for finding mentors and friends early on who were older than me... they've definitely shown me a few time saving approaches through their own experiences/advice... the music industry is still going through an awkward teenage phase in my opinion... but I feel I have a pretty good grasp on why some people can turn their passion into a living... and that's why I don't have a panic attack when someone says the word(s) "resume" or "job interview".
I'm sorta just rambling here for a bit while Pro Tools backs up some stuff... off to a family dinner this evening which as far as NYE goes... sounds good to me.
Happy New Years everyone and all the best in 2014!
- Mike :-)
Mike Langford - Official Blog
Being on both sides of the glass, I get the chance to wear many hats in the music industry. This is a place to share my thoughts, views, predictions, rants, stories and news!