Wednesday - January 21, 2015
… yup… another 12hr drive today in the books… 28hrs of driving since Monday… welcome to touring in Canada!
I was going to say "welcome to the Canadian music industry" but that's not fair. There's a lot of great bands working really hard driving back and forth across this beautiful country… that's the problem though… the drives are what drain most chances you have at breaking even, mentally and financially.
I woke up still pretty full and most of us skipped breakfast… we still had quite a bit left over from last night's rider anyway… back on the road around 7:30am.
Nothing much to really talk about since there's nothing really to do cramped in a vehicle for 12hrs… except put Dane's sunglasses and make "Kravitz faces" at people we pass on the highway.
We arrived in Lloydminster around 9pm… there's a pool here!!! Here at the hotel!!!! … WITH A WATER SLIDE!!!
Seems like most hotels have water slides around here… so it seems a little less special now… I don't even feel like water sliding anymore… besides, the pool closed at 10pm and I was more hungry than felt like swimming at the time… maybe I'll go in the morning… after breakfast.
We had a bit of an adventure finding dinner tonight… I searched and there was an A&W just down the road… 10 min walk.
The thing about Lloydminster… there doesn't seem to be any sidewalks here… so we tried walking a little off the beaten path (the beaten path being the road/highway with transports and stuff whizzing by)… everything was fine walking through parking lots but then we tried crossing a field.
Dane: "… maybe we should walk along the side of the road… we don't really know what's out there."
Me: "… let's just give'r a go!"
Matt: "Let's run!!!"
About 100ft later we're up to our knees in snow and dealing with a decent size snowdrift down a ditch.
… but we made it… and burgs and rootbeer were had.
We're back at the hotel now… 11pm… looking forward to getting to sleep and hitting the breakfast here in the morning.
… and now for your enjoyment.
Tuesday - January 20, 2015
… buffet breakfast… buffet dinner… 15hr knee destroying drive is forgiven!
Alarm went off at 8am to hit up the breakfast buffet here… it was pretty good actually… f*n awesome for $6! All the usual suspects except I didn't feel like stuffing myself as if it was an olympic sport to get my money's worth.
… straight back to bed for me for a few hours while the guys ran some errands. It was nice to have some quiet time… people are usually talking and doing stuff which is cool… but you need to find spots to just enjoy some silence.
… and sleep.
We headed over to the venue for 2pm to load in. We knew (better) there'd be nothing to do for a few hours… Buckcherry was sound checking when we got there… just like the good old days! It was more about getting our gear out of the trailer to warm up... especially the drums. It's about -15C here... we'll bring our guitars in but the hardware was pretty chilly when I opened up the bag!
We've probably done 20 shows with Buckcherry now but it never gets old watching them… especially the guitarist… both are just wicked players.
Today they were jamming on classic rock tunes for fun… basically playing as much as they could of whoever started the riff… sorta like a game. Good times.
That's a band! I still don't like jamming but it's fun to watch guys like that jam!
So we set up to sound check around 5:30pm… to be honest, I think I was more nervous to sound check then actually play tonight. Considering this was our first show this year (and we only played one show last year)… there are all these little things you need to get back into the groove of… and setting up on stage is one of those things.
… and I have a lot of things to deal with on stage.
It went well though… Live Out Loud… and half of Bombs Away if we feel the need… the usual.
One thing that isn't the usual, we're doing this tour with one guitar player. Brent couldn't make the trip and Trevor and (Mike) Diesel couldn't make it out because of their own bands. So we decided to just roll with Dane… throw a few rhythm tracks under solos (in the tracks) and see how it goes as a 4-piece.
… yeah that's right we run tracks. Funny story…
So tonight during our set, which was a bit rushed getting set up on stage (we were on 2nd and The Wild! went over time a little... good band though!)… I forgot to grab some water… yeah we're our own techs/roadies too! I grabbed one of Matt's but wanted to replace it... figured during a guitar change was a good time.
We finished Justify, I took out my in-ears and went side stage to grab a couple more waters. I went back to the kit, put my in-ears in and was like "why the hell is Dane playing the riff… he knows better!"… one of my pet peeves is when people play riffs of songs, between songs, before the actual song… and I started hearing the riff for Ready To Go…
I'm actually quite pissed at him right now… then I look over and realize he ain't playing it… then I'm all "shit… that's me playing guitar! My tone is awesome!!!"
Dane and I look at each other and laugh. I hit pause... yeah I forgot to hit pause on my iPod before I got up… let's chalk it up to rust!
The best part about it though was the guy in the audience who yelled out "BUSTED!!!"
… dude… we have congas going on in Justify… we have a string section going on in Live Out Loud… we run a few tracks as hair and makeup, not a crutch… lots of bands run tracks… and incase you couldn't tell, we don't have a conga player or string section on stage with us and nobody seems to care too much... and it sounds great!
… i'm sure some people would've been horrified… I thought it was pretty hilarious.
Overall we all felt the set went well. A couple hiccups but we felt good... and definitely fun to get on stage in general.
Packed up, watched Buckcherry's set, and now we're back at the hotel watching School Of Rock.
… we got a wicked fruit tray… that's our "1,000 brown M&M's" on the rider… never really expect it but when it's there… it's awesome. The Wild! were all "we got pizza!!! we never get pizza!! Nobody ever even looks at our rider!!!" The staff at The Oak did an awesome job with the bands tonight.
Long drive to Lloydminster tomorrow… but at least we have tomorrow night off so there's no real rush.
... meanwhile... 7am buffet it is in a few hours.
P.S. We got our rider food AND dinner buffet at the hotel/venue. Had turkey and all the fixin's for dinner… then took an epic nap!
P.P.S. Here's the water slide none of us got to slide on today… I know. Le sigh.
January 19, 2015
… well… my alarm went off at 5:30am… we loaded up and were on the road by 7am… finally arrived in Winnipeg at 12:30am… now (2:51 am) I'm sitting in an awkwardly long room at the end of our hotel hallway.
If you're doing the math, the drive sucked today… just long… and although the vehicle we're travelling in (Hummer w/ trailer) looks pretty badass… I can't say it's built for comfort if you're in the backseat. It does tow and ride pretty smooth though.
… I think I had 2-3 out of body experiences today because my knees were hurting so bad.
I forget how much I fidget at work. I'm constantly moving around… which I consider a good thing if you're working on music… having to basically sit still, not being able to stretch out for close to 15hrs (yes we made some stops for gas and food) but mostly you feel like you're sitting at a desk… with no work to do to pass the time.
… I still enjoy the change of scenery though... studio life has been non-stop for over a year I'd say.
We made a quick stop in Regina to drop off some rentals we had for rehearsal. I swapped out a cymbal I'd rented… noticed it was cracked yesterday and knew it'd be f*d if I attempted to use it all week.
The point is how awesome most of the people who work in Long & McQuade are. I told the guy I picked it up in Toronto, noticed it was cracked, and wanted to swap it out. He said "good catch" and took me over to the rental section to look through what they had.
Of course music stores have their share of jaded and bitter musicians who fill out the roster… but for the most part L&M employees seem pretty helpful.
… I love how I'm sitting in my pajamas in this weirdo lobby/hall place right now of the hotel… barefoot.
So this hotel… we're at a casino (I'm not checking just in case… that it's actually a casino) or something. We get to the venue/hotel and Matt and Tim go in to check in… and in true Spinal Tap fashion, our rooms are not ready… in fact, Matt's reservations aren't on file… the one he has the confirmation for on his phone that he's showing the front desk.
… figures… after a 15hr drive.
So the front desk arranged rooms at a hotel just down the street… apparently nicer (seems to be the cases so far) so we're not complaining. Bottom line, we're in rooms and no longer in the seated position… well I am in this chair but you know what I mean.
I think I have about 300ft of leg room right now... huge difference!
Breakfast buffet is at 7am… I'll be honest… I'm pretty excited to wake up in 5hrs (well 4 hrs now) to go crazy on that buffet... then go back to sleep!
… also really looking forward to getting the first show of the year under our belt tomorrow… rehearsals were sounding and feeling pretty good on Sunday. Good times.
P.S. My nail looks pretty bad. I tried taking a picture but my iPhone wouldn't focus.
P.P.S. I don't think there's a waterside at this hotel… sorta disappointed that might not happen now.
P.P.P.S. WE HAVE INTERNET AGAIN!!!
P.P.P.P.S. I totally forgot about this... we drove past this guy today... the COOOL BUS!!! It was hard to take a picture on the highway but the driver looked like Charles Manson with dreadlocks. So coool that bus was... so coool.
Sunday - January 18, 2015
… I know I technically could use the data on my iPhone to post this… but I can wait until we get to the hotel in Winnipeg tomorrow… why? Because I'm that kinda guy.
Today was pretty easy… slept in til 10am (noon Toronto time) which felt pretty good. I'm actually surprised I slept that long… it's very rare. It's 12:12am right now and we're planning on hitting the road by 6am. Some people would be freaking about having to get up so early… I'm smiling right now… sorta excited about living on a 24hr schedule the next few days.
I'm going to set my alarm and take a nap until 5:40am.
… right… so today was simply rehearsing for the tour. Please note I said rehearsal and not practice. I believe practice is what you should work on in your solo time… that way you bring everything necessary to the band, and rehearse what you're going to do during the show... together.
#DearBands - Don't just run your set and pretend you're practicing with a purpose. Figure out what goes on in and around the songs in the set. The devil is in the details, especially when it comes to playing live. Let mistakes and hiccups happen and figure out how to correct them (or simply deal with them) next time around. Most importantly, police yourself!
We ran the set about 6 times today. I won't lie… I'm pretty sore. I don't usually play drums that long. In the studio I get lots of breaks around tracking… generally only play a song 3-4 times when I'm tracking then have an hour or 2 before changing tunes. This was straight at it today… for a good chunk of the day.
It's sounding pretty good to me though… and I'm pretty tough of bands… especially my own stuff.
There's a bit of a surprise involved too with these shows… I'll save sharing that until Tuesday night…
My nail hasn't completely fallen off yet in case you were wondering. I showed the guys today and I'm pretty sure Matt left the room because he thought he was going to be sick.
It's pretty gross looking… but I wouldn't expect blood that's been sitting between a finger and a nail for 6 weeks to look any different.
When we were packing up the gear tonight I had The Sole Pursuit record I just finished producing/mixing. It took about 30 seconds for someone to ask what I was listening to after they came down.
It passed the test.
Often I play stuff I think its good around people and see what they do… will they stop talking? Will they talk over it…? Maybe they'll ask what it is… maybe like it, maybe hate it. Worst way they can comment is to be indifferent… aka talk over it.
It was nice they noticed and complimented the songs and production. Everyone in the group has been doing music a long time… so it means a little more coming from them.
I should get to sleep… get this nap going… I have a date with my 2007 iPod tomorrow and a book.
P.S. The guy at Long & McQuade tried to convince me I didn't need cases for the rental kit… said they didn't normally give them out with the mid-level kits. I assured him the cases weren't for me but for them… these drums are going to spend close to 40 hrs bouncing around in a trailer the next 10 days.
I'm sure in an alternate universe I didn't get cases… and those drums are a mess.
P.P.S. There's a water slide at hotel tomorrow. Once Dane found out he was pretty sad he didn't pack swim gear. I've known Dane a long time… and I'm sure he was born with a solution to that problem.
P.P.P.S I haven't even McDonalds yet… nobody has. We've ordered pizza twice though.
Saturday - January 17, 2015
… well… another tour means another tour blog.
I don't think these will be as long as the others but like usual, I'll try and touch on the highlights… and food… and lowlights… like the crappy start I had this morning… I've been awake since 3am (Toronto)… it's 11pm (Calgary) but my laptop is mocking me by saying it's 1am (Toronto time).
Little story... about 6 weeks ago I was hit in the fingertips with a hockey puck. The pain and annoyance it caused was up there with paper cuts and splinters… except X100. I had that grey, spaced out, fuzzy vision feeling after it happened… I tried to play another shift then decided I should go back to the dressing room for a minute. The puck had jammed my nail back into my finger and blood was pooling behind it.
Again, it hurt like crap.
I've kept an eye on the injury, my nail turned black over the past few weeks. Many sources have said my nail would eventually fall off, or should I say, almost rip off… anyway, today was that day… conveniently happening while going through airport security… which is already unnecessarily stressful and unpleasant enough.
Minutes before that my backpack zipper broke. I'm not a light packer on trips. I find it hard to pack light as a drummer but I tend to grab odds and ends just before I head out the door.
So now I'm trying to carry my cymbal bag, carry on suitcase (personal in ears/monitor rig), and my broken backpack… with a fingernail wanting to finish ripping off.
The flight to Calgary from Toronto was decent. I passed out a couple times which made the 4 hour flight go by quickly… mind you we were in the plane almost an hour before we took off.. de-icing… but WestJet did bump us up to "Plus" (so we could all sit together I guess) which was nice… but they had no TVs on the plane which kinda sucked. I'll admit, I do love watching that map channel… and the news.
Once we got to Calgary we ran errands picking up our trailer, gear rentals, and odds and ends such as a new drum carpet.
For the drummers out there… just go to Home Depot and get them to cut it for you (cut a rug! lol). Something 6X4 should be fine and will come in at under $30.
If you're out tour, I highly recommend getting a rug with your kit mapped out/marked on it. If by chance you have people helping you move your kit on/off the stage, that drum rug is the map to put the puzzle together!
Don't be cheap.
So we set up in Tim's basement and started rehearsing… our plan was to set up, then grab some food/naps but we just sorta start jamming out the tunes.
Truth is we're all pretty happy to be playing… and that's coming from someone who really doesn't care much for jamming.
We ran the set for a while, took a pizza/movie break, then went back downstairs to rehearse a bit more.
… I wonder if the neighbours can hear us… then again I don't really care too much... it seems like a pretty boring suburb so at least they'll have something to talk about if they can hear us.
We have the day off tomorrow as well to rehearse (and relax), then we leave early Monday to head to Winnipeg. It's the same place we played with Papa Roach so it should be good.
They have a pool… I have my swim shorts.
P.S. Props to the guy on the plane behind me for letting those man-tears flow at the end of whatever movie he was watching on his iPad.
P.P.S. There's no Wifi at Tim's so perhaps I'll get creative tomorrow to post this.
P.P.P.S. I fixed my backpack zipper in the car today… it can be done!
DRUM BEAT BLOG - Buy On Band Tips
This article popped up a few times on my facebook feed yesterday... and quickly opinions came with it.
For those who don't know, a "buy on" is a spot on a show/tour a band can pay for hoping the slot will put them in front of similar music fans who might like their band... and become fans.
So what's the big deal?
Well... I think it gets down to how you see this "pay to play" opportunity.
The main argument against is that any band or artist could simply raise enough money (the richest wins!) to get on a tour... and that the headliner (the one actually selling the ticket fans are buying) only cares about cash and not the quality of the band that takes the spot.
This may be true... and money does talk... but in my experience, a few things factor (talent, sound, attitude, professionalism, team, etc) into the selection of a band looking to... pay for a slot on a tour that's for sale because the established headliner knows it has value.
Trust me, bands care about who's opening or direct support. The live show is more important than ever so the bigger acts want to make sure the bill is worth every penny... even if the entire crowd is there to see them (the headliner). You can't steal the live show. It has a price and it has an expiry date.
Another valid argument is bigger bands should help smaller bands since they have the audience to help grow talent.
I agree 100% and if my soapbox ever reaches that height, I certainly would!
... that's how I felt several years ago at least.
The problem is once you're a professional touring act (or a professional in any industry I'm sure)... there's tons of people wanting to ride your coattails... for basically nothing in exchange... you know, because they asked, you now magically owe them something.
Maybe they're trying to do it on the cheap, maybe they can't afford to run the band as a business, maybe they're daydreaming hobbyists just looking for that "one tiny chance" to hit the big time... because that's all they need right? Opportunity! They have the talent so that should be able to make up for the money they don't have (want) to invest.
Once you reach a certain level the tables turn and so does your focus... and you can no longer help the majority of those bands.
... because they can't help themselves... and they wave that flag, high and proud.
They tend to be pretty unprofessional (on several levels) and/or they can't afford (or not willing) to run the band as a business... and when you've made the sacrifices (I'm talking financially, since nobody cares about what your time is worth when you aren't willing to invest everything in your own idea), a band or artist knows the value of that spot on the bill and offers it up to someone who's going to make the most of it.
... or has a boatload of cash.
Believe me, if your band sucks (musically, professionally, and/or personality wise), you'd have to offer a lot of money... so much they'd be insane not to take it. In that case, the band (and crew) probably won't care to meet you, interact to you, etc. You're just around for a bit. You're just a wicked paycheck.
That being said... in my opinion, the costs (per show) for this arrangement probably just goes towards the headliners crew. Is it so bad to offset some of the production costs for the headliner? Again... they're the one selling the ticket, not the opening band. They're the one the promoter is taking the risk on to make a profit. Follow the money and things make sense... and this isn't a bad thing.
There's the argument it's just as bad as radio being bought and sold. Well perhaps, but my opinion of radio is it also simply gets down to advertising space.
Radio campaigns can be expensive and a huge risk if you don't have the rest of your musical machine cranking along in the background (single and/or album, touring, marketing/promo, etc).
I get asked often by bands if I think buying on a tour is a good use of funds. Well? Chachi's first point in his post... is it worth it?
Often it isn't.
Why? (... assuming your band is actually ready.)
The headliner isn't big enough, not enough dates, weak bill over all, terrible routing/dates, etc. Sometimes it looks like a cash grab and I don't want to say "go for it" knowing the band is probably going to end up paying $250/show to play to 17 people for 5 nights.
That's just not worth it.
When is it worth it?
When you know the headliner thinks your band is decent and you know they can sell tickets.
... back to radio for a second. When you service a song to radio, you're hoping it a) gets added to the rotation and b) someone hears it... and likes it enough to find out who the band was.
This is asking a lot. Not everyone checks the charts Tuesday afternoon like I do.
So say you were paying $10,000 for your radio campaign, this is high or low depending on genre/market, but it's easy math for the time being.
Your song is amazingly 3 minutes long. You're played 3 times a day for 3 weeks.
9 mins/day X 21 days = 189 minutes or 3 hours 9 mins total playing time.
(... yes we don't know how many people this station reaches... and yes we're sort of a assuming this is only 1 station, in 1 market... but keep in mind 21 spins (3 spins a day X 7 days) a week might get you into the Top 50 on Canadian radio! I'm not joking!)
... stay with me here... yeah I'm sorta pulling numbers out of the air and I know every case is different! It's more about the concept!
... anyway, in our example, you've paid $10,000 for just over 3 hours of airtime. You're hoping someone hears it and hoping they like the song enough to follow up and Google the band.
... keep in mind, if that single takes off... you really should have some money around to tour and support it. Don't pretend money will magically appear giving you the ability to tour!
Now with a buy on, let's say it's $500/show to open for a band you know is going to put on average 500 people in a venue per night.
Simple math again, we have $10,000 to put towards a buy on. $10,000/$500 = 20 shows.
Sweet... 3 week tour! Let's just round it to 21 days.
Now, you have a 20 minute opening set.
20 minutes X 20 shows = 400 minutes or 6 hours and 40 mins.
I know we're not factoring in the costs of touring at this point, but you can see a major advantage in time already... we could even cut that buy on budget down to $5,000, do 10 shows, and have $5,000 left for tour support and be back where we were timewise for our radio campaign.
Here's' the thing though... you're hoping someone hears you on the radio. They are passive listeners. I listen to music playing in the grocery store, but I don't stand around in the cookie aisle and rock out if my jam comes on.
Exception being if Tame Impala comes on.
Again, these are passive listeners, being exposed to the radio... they're doing something else and your music has to catch their attention.
The live show environment is a completely different story. Those 500 fans waiting for your band to hit the stage are primed! Just like if you've ever been to a comedy bar, those inside are primed to laugh. It doesn't take much to get people engaged when they're primed. This is the huge edge to a buy on situation over radio. Active listeners.
If you have a great headliner (the one selling the ticket), you now have a captive, paying, engaged audience who will endure your entire set... and in this case, that's 500 people a night, for 20 nights.
You have your entire set to win them over.
That's 10,000 people... people you can meet at your merch table. People who might buy your album, buy your shirt, tag your band in pics and videos they post, etc. I'm not saying they all will... but if you leave a city with even 5 new core fans (1% in our example)... those seeds will grow.
Do the math.
Consider the cost vs value.
With anything in business, stop thinking you can't afford it and start thinking is it worth it?
The opportunity is there for bands willing to consider the opportunity... the price is often too high for those that complain about how the system works though... and it's usually a trickle down effect of excuses throughout their entire business plan. With any basic business plan, below "concept" is "capital". You have this great idea, but how do we fund this great idea? How do we get it out there in order for it to grow?
If you are in a band and do reach the level you have bands willing to buy on your tour... all I can suggest is do what helps you sleep best at night. Bad business comes in all shapes and forms but I think even though the industry is incredibly wonky right now, it's all for the best... growing pains.
Bands and artists have never had more control over their own careers or direct and instant access to their fan base. Many of the traditional gatekeepers have disappeared or lost power and the (smart) artists are gaining more and more control over what will become their industry... shaped by the fan and the artist through the exchange of ideas, entertainment, and dollars between them.
If you made it this far... thanks for reading and feel free to pass along.
Chachi is an awesome dude and an awesome drummer by the way.
- Mike :-)
P.S. Yes I know many people could shoot many holes in my radio vs buy on math. Please do! I'm aware of the endless variables but at least it'd get people talking about it... the realities at least. This shouldn't be a conversation bands think is on the downlow.
P.P.S. Don't get me started on "promoters" who ask bands to sell tickets to play shows in support of a headliner that can't sell the ticket... because you know, you can say you opened for them. It's just sad... sadder because that headliner often gets paid.
"Why aren't people taking us seriously?"
That's basically what it gets down to when I hear people grumble about why they can't find shows, or a manager, or a label, or sell cds, or merch, or get more people out to shows... or find investors. You name it, there's a good chance it falls under this umbrella.
This video might seem a little harsh at times... and you can sense the hesitation they have on certain topics (so they don't come across as assholes), but in my opinion, it's right on the money.
I've decided to do a sort of "Coles Notes" version for those who might not have the 30 minutes to watch right now. Oh by the way, I tried to setup the link to start at 6:46... the time before that is spent talking about a dog, new born babies, and poo.
So... in a short... this is why people don't take your band seriously.
... and I'm putting the headings in bold caps so the super impatient can skim through... and so you feel like you're being yelled at. I know what your hearing is like... since most of you don't wear ear plugs.. and most of you reading this are probably guitarists or drummers.
1. YOUR BAND PHOTOS AREN'T GOOD ENOUGH.
It's the awful, honest truth, we judge a book by its cover. Life is too short not to. Make sure you stand up to what's going on (aka considered professional) in your genre. Hiring a great photographer doesn't have to cost a fortune and that one great pic can last you a year or two.
If you look like hacks, you get treated like hacks. It might not seem original, but at least try to look like a band... as much of the time as possible. You will anyway if it becomes your career.
2. YOUR RECORDINGS AREN'T GOOD ENOUGH.
We've entered a stage of very affordable record production. There's a lot of misguided carobbyists (career hobbyists) who think they can produce, record, and mix their own albums... or their buddy can do it for a case of beer in his spare time. There's been a few great albums made in the past this way (often demos remixed after being shopped for a deal), but most often they fall short.
Experience, time, and talent... those are three important elements to the outcome of any creative project. When it comes to recording, rarely someone with all three is in the band or doesn't do it for a living already.
Will that change in the future?
Are we there yet?
... lol. No.
I could go on for a while about this but bottomline... do your recordings stand up to what's out there?
Don't just ask your friends and family what they think of your recordings. Actually put your best song between two successful songs on your iTunes playlist. How does it sounds? Then factor in the time/money spent, and people involved on theirs versus yours.
Does it stand up?
Do you need it to? <-- be honest
If it doesn't and it does, perhaps change your formula, and try again.
... backing up for a second... how are the songs?
3. YOUR SONGS AREN'T GOOD ENOUGH.
Now a good song is subjective... but... if you know your genre, and you know a few people with "great ears" within the genre, you'll know what your best songs are... and if they're in fact, good enough at all.
I've met a handful of people over the years who I think have "great ears" regarding "great songs". My old assistant Tyler, even at 17 years old, could pick out hits by new artists well before anybody else I knew. He loved discovering new tunes and has a real ear for it.
This is the #1 piece of advice for bands out there trying to do something serious with music... you can write cool songs that are self serving and please your imaginary fanbase... but you'll learn to love those "hit" songs that put you on the map... they're what can actually launch your career. It's hard to name a successful band that doesn't have a "hit" song behind them... regardless how far in the rearview mirror it is.
4. YOUR WEBSITE ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH.
Update it often. Constant quality content is queen these days.
There's also this misconception that simply buying your domain name and linking to your FaceBook or Reverbnation page is good enough... well it's not... and it's stupid to rely on these things in the long run.
What if they disappear overnight or fizzle out? What happens when people move on? You want these sites to feed into your main, personal website. The one you have ultimate control over. That's where you need to direct your core fans.
I use Weebly for my site... it's easy... and at least someone in your band should be able to figure it out in an afternoon... if not, you've gotta know at least someone who can help you.
I'm gonna go out on a limb though and say a weebly site is better than majority of the dated and clunky sites I see built by friends and family. Keep it simple and don't pad your content if you have nothing to talk about in your bio... nobody needs to read 37 paragraphs about a band that hasn't done anything worth mentioning.
You need three paragraphs basically... who are you, what have you done, where are you going. Your blog/YouTube/Twitter updates are for what you're doing.
5. YOU DON'T TAKE YOURSELF SERIOUSLY.
So many bands play the "we just want to get together in the jamspace and see what happens... it's just for fun... if it goes somewhere, cool" card. Well... as long as you know it's just for fun, have fun! My men's league hockey is just for fun... despite all its glorious moments (W 3-0 yesterday, 1 G) I ramble on about to friends and family.
If that's your attitude, it'll go nowhere... or the people in the band that want it to go somewhere will eventually dump the rest of the band once they find better people to work with.
Lots of successful bands are a collective of what I call "heavy lifters". The ones who get sh*t done... or at least don't make things more difficult for the ones getting things done.
The successful in any industry are hardcore lifers. If you want to do something that's hard, you have to make your goal not to simply "accomplish it", but to see it through... it's the difference between having a kid and raising one... since there's no real end goal if you're in it for the right reasons.
P.S. It was a garbage goal... but that isn't what they mark on the gamesheet. :-)
So it's been just over a week since I arrived back in Toronto. I must say, I felt pretty good until Saturday night around 10pm (I know this because I was trying to watch the Leafs/Pens game)... then I crashed pretty hard. The next couple days were mainly sleeping, eating, naps, and snacks... one of the perks to being self-employed I guess.
So I've decided to list off some stats from the trip... in honor of GTA V being released recently... a game that I will probably play 2-3 years from now when I have time... or come down with a nasty cold/flu and I find it used for $15 (delivered) on Craiglist.
Days On Tour: 23
Total Shows: 16
Shows Nailed: 13
Shows Pretty Much Nailed: 16
Drumsticks Brought: 15 pairs (Vater - Chad Smith Funk Blasters)
Drumsticks Consumed/aka Funk Blasted: 6 pairs
Total Drum Kit Damage Acquired: 17%
Cymbals Brought: 5
Cymbals Broken: 1
Times Intro Music iPod Was Forgotten But Returned By FOH: 9
Best Crowd: Quebec City (they went nuts)
Worst Crowd: Won't name names... but it was a Canadian city
Biggest Crowd: Montreal
Best Venue: Tie between First Avenue (Minneapolis) and Metropolis (Montreal)... and House Of Blues (Atlantic City)
Worst Bathroom: The Kooler (Lloydminster)
Best Bathroom: Cowboys (Calgary) - They had a bathroom attendant!
Best Stage: House Of Blues (Atlantic City)
Best Sound System: House Of Blues (Atlantic City)
Worst Sound System: Van... as in our van.
Worst Beer Spill: Atlantic City - Our Merch Table
Best Beer Spill: Atlantic City - Might have been the same girl... about 15ft away from our merch table.
Best Venue Meal: Winnipeg (buffet!)
Distance Traveled by Car/Van: 13,813 km *based on GoogleMaps City-to-City distances
Distance Traveled by Plane: 2, 716 km
Distance Traveled by Boat: 0 km
Distance Traveled by Elevator (total): 38 floors
Distance Traveled by Escalator (total): 18 diagonal meters
Distant Traveled by Foot: 16.87 km
Times Matt Declared He Is No Longer Driving Anymore: 5
Times Trailer Hitch Jack Bottomed Out: 72
Flat Tires: 1
Tires Changed: 3
Times GPS Blamed: 37
Times GPS Blamed In Pennsylvania/New Jersey: 31
Time Spent in Hotels (Avg): 8 hrs
Longest Time Spent in a Hotel: Coquitlam 36 hrs
Shortest Time Spent in a Hotel: Calgary (Tim's House) 3.5 hrs
Best Hotel: River Rock Casino - Coquitlam
Worst Hotel: Days Inn - Place we stopped after Youngstown, ON (Day 14)
Age Of Days 'Snoretallica' Concerts Attended After Posting Blog at 3am: 3
Best Gym: Holiday Inn Express (Montreal)
Worst Gym: McDonalds (PlayPlace)
Trips to McDonalds: 12
McDondalds consumed per day: 0.52
Trips to McDonalds with the sole purpose of using WiFi: 6
Times Concerned I Might Never Have A Proper Bowel Movement Ever Again... No Reason In Particular: 14
Buffets Found: 3
Trips to Buffets: 7
Water Consumed: 42L
Red Bull Consumed: 3 cans
Chocolate Milk Consumed: 7.5L
Alcohol Beverages Consumed: 2
Salads Consumed: 4
Bananas Eaten: 5
Apples Eaten: 7
Times Ordered As Alias 'Norm': 1
Instant Oatmeal Packets Opened and Consumed: 14
Showers Taken: 19
Showers Taken per Day: 0.82
Times Teeth Brushed: 41
Times Shaved: 6
Laundry Trips: 2
Loads of Laundry: 4
Times I Changed Toilet Paper Rolls After Finding Whoever Was In There Before Me Didn't Think It Was Necessary And/Or Might Not Of Known How To Do It: 5
Times Hit Head Off Roof Of Trailer: 9
"All Nighter's" Pulled: 2
Times Slept On Floor: 4 (2 hotels, 2 venue)
Random Books Acquired From People At Hotels: 1
Stairwell Skype Dates: 2
Tour Completion: 100%
It was a great time overall... and I'm not ashamed to admit it's the biggest tour I've ever been a part of. Most of the others I'd done have been around 2 weeks, but there is a difference for sure with the extra week. As soon as you do laundry, your mindset changes from being on a trip to actually traveling. Speaking of... one of the things I'd do differently next time is not bring any white shirts/clothes... simply because it's a separate load of laundry to deal with... if you care about that kinda stuff... and it's definitely worth bringing a small thing of detergent or picking one up along the way.
Thanks to everyone who read along during the trip. The comments, feedback, and significant increase in site traffic really helped keep me motivated at 2am.
As of right now, we're waiting on more dates... figures crossed we can get a single spinning in the US and it leads to a lot more touring next year. We're all ready to go!
P.S. In case you were wondering... yes... a lot was left out. :-)
P.S.S. I was planning on posting this yesterday... but it was Halloween... and I maybe have been full of chocolate.
... 2:53am... if only you could see the breakfast area of the Super 8 I'm sitting in right now.
Oh wait... you can!
... I feel like I'm in a cottage... I have no idea where we are aside from NY state... only 4 hours from Sayreville though so hopefully the drive is easy tomorrow... 9am van call... last show tomorrow.
October 22, 2013
Big show today... Metropolis can hold over 2,000 people and if it's anything like Quebec City, it should be nuts... I'll spare you the suspense... it was pretty nuts in there. It's funny how quickly an audience can go from "into it" to "into it" over the course of about 2-3 songs. We warmed the crowd up pretty good... Pop Evil took things to the next level... but Papa Roach came out and destroyed in about 15 minutes.
I haven't seen a pit this crazy on the tour and there was tons of crowd surfing going on. The security was really cool about it though... they'd pull people down, ask them if they were ok, then direct them were to go to get back into the crowd... I also think they warned them to not go up again... but still... they were cool about it.
There's been a couple venues where the bouncers have been real dicks about it, and kicking people out of the show. As if crowd surfing is a problem in 2013.
... so I'm pretty tired right now... like vomit tired... I took a bunch of pics today so I'm just gonna dump a bunch in and talk around them.
Oh wait... might as well get this out of the way. Breakfast was pretty good. *Insert several paragraphs worth of details here*
Moving on. :-)
Oh I should get this out of the way too...
Matt and I grabbed lunch at a near by pub/sports bar. They had tons of TVs showing soccer... I was curious if any of the groups of 3 TVs, showing 3 different games, would show 3 different dives simultaneously... only got to 2.
So my ordering in french success rate sorta went up today... the menu was half 'n half (french/english)... so I couldn't really order in french unless I ordered something in french just for the sake of ordering something in french for the sake of improving my ordering in french success rate. Still with me? The club sandwich looked really good though and did not disappoint. I'll give myself half a point on this attempt since I did say "merci" and didn't point once.
1.5/3, 50% "ordering in french" success rate.
... actually... I'm gonna give myself 0.75 of a point because I'm still at 50%.
1.75/3, 58.3% "ordering in french" success rate.
... there we go. Steady improvement if I say so myself!
We milked our late checkout as much as we could today... then drove around the block to the venue and loaded in.
Metropolis is awesome.
I think it's arguably the best venue on the tour... arguably only because a couple people argued with me about it. I'd say Flames Central gives it a run... but as far as a rock venue goes... the setup and sight lines at Metropolis are perfect. Tons of space but still feels small enough you can really enjoy the show. Sound system is great, stage is great, load in/out area is great. It's great!
They had this loading bay elevator side stage... it looked really cool with the fog and the lights so I decided to set my drums up there while Pop Evil was line checking and took some pics.
... then Matt came over and asked me if I wanted him to grab a pic of me on the kit. I'm a pretty poorly documented human being so I said sure why not.
... and then Matt hopped on my kit... and called for a pair of sticks...
... yeah he totally just showed me up on my own kit on my own photo shoot... the nerve of this guy.
... I was laughing pretty hard actually... I snapped a ton more pics but you get the point... he was pretty into it! lol.
I was poking around stage a bit and grabbed this pic of Tony's (Papa Roach) tamb mounted on his kit. I love tambs... but his is all rusted and stuff... it's bad ass. I'd buy this at auction... for the record. (<-- no pun intended)
... moving onto the venue pics.
... yeah this place is pretty big.
Sound check went fine... I was cracking up again because Matt decided to tape off a "no guitar player" zone on the floor. He was getting annoyed Brent and Trev would bump into him/get in his way while he's singing backups.
I mean... he's got a hard enough job as it is hitting root notes on the 1's... trying to sing harmonies and dodge two dudes zippin' around on stage... stuff happens. I thought it was amazing though. I wanted one... but nobody ever really runs into me back there... hell... people don't even know I'm on stage or in the band half the time! lol.
... such an awesome crowd to play in front of. Typically you can't really see past the first few rows when you're on stage under the lights... but the pics give you a better story.
I watched a bit of Papa Roach side stage... we had to head out fairly early because of the drive... way she goes... got to see Angles at least.
... some dad guy ended up, upside down in the pit/crowd surfing. It was awesome. I tried to get a pic but it does not do it justice... it was like watching a synchronized swimmer with their legs up in the air... awesome.
... that was pretty much the day.
Crowd response was great again... still sorta shocked how good it's been considering nobody really knew who we were going into this tour. New fans every night so far... Facebook likes steadily climbing. Lots of compliments from people in the crowd and stopping by the merch table. Good times.
We headed out around 10:30pm... decided to do the boarder crossing (dude was super nice and we chatted bands for a couple minutes) asap and grab a room wherever we were by 2am. I'm so glad we found a reasonable place first try... it sucks driving around finding a place at 2am... in case you were wondering.
I gotta go to bed though.. 3:33am now... if I had my own jug of milk I'd be eating a bowl of Raisin Bran right now... it's staring at me... no wait... it's the neighbouring Frosted Flakes that are... damn you Tony...
P.S. I don't really know what this was supposed to be... probably "art" or something... but it was on the wall in the lobby/stairs at Metropolis. It's neat.
... it's like an Escher drawing... but in drum form.
P.P.S. I know I said I didn't like being in Quebec a couple days ago because it makes me feel uncomfortable (because of the language thing), but I had a blast this time. Montreal especially has such a cool vibe. I'd like to actual come back and visit sometime... when it's warmer of course. :-)
... they had oatmeal. Today was going to be a good day.
October 20, 2013
... aside from seeing a full blown, end to end rainbow... nothing too eventful on the drive to Quebec City. We woke up around 8am, went to the lobby for breakfast (did I mention they had oatmeal?), then back in the van for 9:30am.
We breezed through the border... the officer actually gave us the thumbs up once he figured out we were a band... and then it was only a couple hours drive from there.
I need to get this off my chest... I don't like being in Quebec... I feel so awkward here.
I like Quebec, I like the people from Quebec, and I really do like listening to the language. I can read french and understand it enough in conversation... but I can't write it or speak it so the communication barrier (mainly mental) makes me feel really uncomfortable.
I mumble often and speak quietly in english... so toss in my butchering of a different language into the equation... and you don't have a recipe for success.
... basically... I feel like Mr. Bean when I'm in here.
I know some french lessons would solve a lot of my problems but I'm almost 30 years old... and part of me feels like it's just punishment for my not paying attention in grade 9 french class... or whenever we started taking french in public school.
I do try to speak french when I'm here though... my main problem is I feel like I can't order food anywhere. I always end up having to point or use a number system. It's sad... but at least I try.
Anyway... new trip to Quebec... fresh start... I'm determined to not only eat today... but to order in french.. no pointing... but number system allowed. Baby steps.
So we pull into a service station just after noon. There's a St. Hubert restaurant involved and the guys decide it's a good place to grab lunch.
I'm hesitant to order anything... but I'm definitely hungry and decide to scope out the situation. At least if everyone else is ordering... I might be able to get lost in the shuffle.
... I check the menu posted above the counter... number system.
Awesome... I can do this.
I'm next in line... time comes...
"Bonjour... numero trois... please."
(I always say please... I can't help it.)
She looks at me with a blank stare... then basically mumbles 'huh?'
"... numero trois."
(I'm trying with every ounce of strength to not point at the sign.)
Same awkward stare... she motions to bring another employee over... aka the bilingual one. I'm starting to panic... everyone else has got their order and food already. I gotta say as far as fast food goes... this place is frickin' fast!
I try one more time before the other employee shows up... I'm running out of time here to salvage this attempt.
(I brought out the biggest gun I had.)
"... combo numero trois... s'il vous plait."
... too late. The bilingual employee had shown up to take my order... and to add insult to injury... without my knowing... I found my left arm, holding up my left hand... while it pointed at the sign.
"Allo, can I take your order please?"
"... number 3 please."
"Would you like a drink with that?"
I get my receipt, food is ready in 30 seconds... it's delicious but the loss stings.
0/1, 0% success rate
Ah well... I tried. I'll have to try again the next few days... unless I just live off gas station food for a bit... which is not a bad idea right now... ketchup chips have at least two food groups according to Dr. Denial's nutritional guidelines.
We arrived in Quebec City around 3:30pm. The venue is awesome. It reminds me of a cross between the Mod Club and Opera House in Toronto. Great sight lines, balcony, and lots of space for bands on stage and backstage. We had a dressing room too!
I'll skip ahead since the show went really well...
I wasn't sure how the crowd would react to us since Quebec'ers seem to love the heavy stuff and we're not that heavy... definitely not as heavy as Pop Evil or Papa Roach in my books... but then again all the shows I've played in Quebec over the years, the crowd will get into it. No exception tonight. I think they were already into our set halfway through the first tune.
I snapped a couple pics from my kit... tried to take a before and after.
It was hard to get a good 'after' shot because the house lights were so dark/low. They were pretty rowdy and singing along by the end of a few songs... our choruses are pretty simple that way which helps. I got lots of great shots during Pop Evil and Papa Roach though so you can see what the crowd looked like. It was rammed in there.
Yeah I run around a lot during the other sets... it's fun.
Definite highlight during Papa Roach... some poor lanky kid got picked up and forcibly... forced into crowd surfing. He was pretty scrawny... so once he was up there... he was basically screwed. The crowd was literally throwing him around... like... he was getting air. He was motioning for them to put him down but no dice. He might as well of been a beach ball.
Eventually he did make it back to his feet... and then went straight back into the pit. What a trooper. Kudos to that guy.
Merch went well after the show... took a bunch of pics... I had my disguise on (hat and hoodie) so people didn't realize I was in the band. It doesn't bother me... I'm just the backbone of everything happening on stage. *cough*
Great show though... amazing crowd. Safe to say it could be the best show/crowd of the tour... still two shows left though.
It's 3:09am... staying at a Comfort Inn... breakfast starts at 6:30am. We have tomorrow off so I might cast my vote to stay here until Wednesday The rate is good and seems like a decent hotel. Everyone just wants to sleep anyway... except McLaughlin... that dude wants to party.
P.S. Sometimes this what backstage looks like.
P.P.S. Did I mention I had oatmeal for breakfast? :-)
P.P.P.S Welcome to Quebec!
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!