Reviews, Interviews & Features
News and Features
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New Single: “Home Again” – Dam Gila

Listen to “Home Again,” a song from Dam Gila’s debut LP, So Long, Leisure, out today.

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Video: “The Art of Hanging On” – Sneakout

Watch the video for “The Art of Hanging On,” a song from Sneakout’s Letting Go Mixtape.

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Single: “Mean World” – dAVID sTRANGE

Listen to “Mean World,” a song from dAVID sTRANGE’s self-titled EP, out January 20.

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November 13: Hey Rosetta! at the 9:30 Club

Thursday, November 13 // 7pm // 9:30 Club

Gearing up for their show with STARS on Thursday at the 9:30 Club, Hey Rosetta! guitarist Adam Hogan talked with STPP about the band, their latest album, and touring.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

STPP: How do you describe Hey Rosetta!’s overall sound? Do you think there’s a particular subgenre that fits the band?

Adam Hogan: Hmmm, I always find this question to be a tough one. Not because we’re necessarily difficult to classify, but because I personally have a tough time doing it. I’ve heard us described as indie folk, folk rock, garage rock, indie rock, alternative rock, art rock, baroque pop, and so on. I’m not sure if these labels help to enlighten or simply confuse people as to what our band might sound like!

STPP: How long has the band been together? How did it start?

AH: The band is closing in on 10 years together. It began when Tim (the singer/songwriter) decided to assemble a small group, with the hopes of performing some of the songs he had been writing. The initial idea was for it to be a pretty mellow acoustic­y thing, featuring a piano, cello, double bass, and maybe some light percussion. That setup may have lasted a week or so, and it wasn’t long before there were electric guitars, an electric bass, a full drum kit, and eventually horns, and keyboards. The dynamic range and sonic palette grew larger as a result. We started playing shows in our hometown of St. John’s, NL, a few months after the group formed, and a year or so later we bought a van and started touring Canada. It’s almost 10 years later and we’re still doing it.

STPP: What are the benefits and drawbacks to having seven people in the band?

AH: I think the biggest benefit is our ability to cover a wide range of sound in our live shows. We’ve got seven sets of hands and feet, and seven voices performing each song on stage, and as a result we are able to cover most of the sounds that we’ve recorded on our albums. The biggest drawback of having seven people is that someone is inevitably late for lobby call.

STPP: How did your approach to recording Second Sight differ from your approach to previous releases?

AH: I think the biggest difference was the amount of time we had. Before entering the studio, we spent about a year and a half in St. John’s writing and demoing, and doing little to no touring. This luxury of time was something we’d never really had in the past. All of our previous recordings were fairly rushed, made between touring, with little to no pre-production. This time around, we stopped touring almost entirely, and setup little makeshift studios in various spaces in St. John’s to record fairly extensive demos. We were engineering and “producing” these demos we were creating.

STPP: What do you think was the effect of taking that approach?

AH: The effect of this approach was that we had a pretty good idea of what the record would/could sound like before we even entered the studio.

STPP: What is your favorite thing about touring?

AH: Although there are many wonderful aspects of the touring lifestyle, being able to play five or six nights a week is easily the desirable part of it.

STPP: Have you had any particularly memorable shows so far?

AH: We played the Peats Ridge Festival in Australia on New Year’s Eve a few years ago and had what I think was one of our most memorable shows. This was our first trip to Australia and we’d been there for about week at this point. We’d settled into our campground at the festival and were having drink, relaxing in the sun, when we got a phone call from the stage manager asking us where the hell we were as our set was slated to begin in 10 minutes. Our tour manager had mixed up the schedule; we were all under the impression that we had several hours before our show was to begin. Needless to say, we were all a little panicked during our 5-minute sprint across the campground to our venue. We scrambled onto the stage and set our equipment up in a frenzied manner, simultaneously angry and sad that our set time was going to be cut short as a result of our tardiness. After a rushed line check, we finally looked up, wiped the sweat out of our eyes, and discovered the 200 or so festival-goers that had crammed themselves into our tent… a welcomed surprise for an unknown Canadian band on their first tour so far from home. During the 50 minutes of performance that followed, we experienced this beautiful, joyous, drunken new year’s eve energy from the crowd. It was one those connections that’s formed between performer and audience that gives you such an incredible high…this feeling of all being in it together. There we were, a group of friends playing songs for a field full of strangers on the other side of the globe, helping to create this special moment. Although it is a bit hazy in memory, it felt very poignant at the time.

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New Single: “SHOTGUN” – Bad Cop

Listen to “SHOTGUN,” the second single from Bad Cop’s Wish You Well…and Goodbye.

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New Video: “Revelations” – Dirt Dress

Watch the video for “Revelations,” the title track from Dirt Dress’ new EP, out November 18.

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New Video: “Plants and Worms” – Girlpool

Watch the video for “Plants and Worms,” a song from Girlpool’s debut self-titled EP out November 18.

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Top 10 Reasons Your Band Isn’t Getting Booked For Shows

You can’t get booked at your own funeral? Sometimes you have to look in the mirror and ask why things aren’t going your way. The last couple of years spent drinking heavily with several promoters, club owners, and agents while listening to their loud complaints about bands (including mine) have prompted this completely incomplete list of reasons why your band probably isn’t getting booked. Don’t kill the messenger here; I’m just repeating information from the horses’ mouths. And, since I have previously made most of these mistakes myself, I now have this list tattooed on my forehead backwards so I can read it when getting dressed every morning.

If this seems TL;DR, just read the headers and it should help you out anyway.

TOP TEN REASONS YOUR BAND ISN’T GETTING BOOKED FOR SHOWS

10. Your last show was a disaster and everyone knows about it. 

If everyone in your home town only knows about your band because you blew it, it’s either time to start over with a new band/name or move to a different place. Blowing it completely at a show that everyone knows about is future-crushing for new bands, and it can be embarrassingly painful for bigger artists.

During a recent ACL, there was a discussion back in the production area about the band Foxygen and what a mess they were. Instead of the dialogue being “wow, those dudes are completely INSANE, they must be REAL ARTISTS,” it was “Yeah they were asked to leave, and their show here next week was cancelled; Christ, what a waste of everyone’s time.” And worse yet, these disasters can live on for some time nowadays via iPhone videos, Google Search, and on Youtube. 

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: Flower punk heroes the Black Lips, who basically built their career on scatological, disastrous, shambolic shows that they’ve somehow now refined to an art form. 

9. You or your bandmates have been an asshole to the wrong people.

This is a pretty sticky situation as it can take a long time for people to either forget or forgive or to leave their position of power. If you’ve messed up your relationship with the main talent buyer(s) in your town, you’re not gonna get a phone call or email for any show, period. Hell, if you’ve pissed off another band that is friends with all of the clubs/promoters, it can basically mean the END of your ability to get booked anywhere.

And like a butterfly flapping its wings in South America causing a tornado in Kansas, it’s a small freaking world. I witnessed a bar fight between a couple of stupidly drunk bands in Austin over whether or not Kid Rock sucks that directly led to one band having a legendary music club and agent ban them and the other band getting blacklisted in the entire state of Florida.

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: If everything around you sucks, then buck the status quo and go start your own scene and show series at an underused venue or do BYOB shows at edgy art galleries or warehouse parties, which may be a better scene anyway

8. Your press photo is your band on railroad tracks in front of a brick wall.

It takes less than a second to judge you by your press photo, and it takes a lot longer (and maybe never) to click on those music links that you are trying to send. So a real press photo may be more important than your three-song demo, which is totally fucked up, but hey, reality is reality. NO BRICK WALLS or RAILROAD TRACKS in the press photo.

I don’t want to make you depressed, but several bands have gone from “Duudde that’s a GREAT idea for a band” to touring nationally basically because they have a great press photo and know a couple of people.

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: Pretty much any photo Wampire has. 

7. No, seriously. Your press photo is wrong, bro. 

Does your band have one member that looks like he belongs in Steel Panther and the rest of your band looks like Fleet Foxes? Are you in your 30s but still dressing like Katy Perry? Are you playing shoe gaze but everyone in the press photo looks like they just got back from a wrestling match?

Archetypes are archetypes, and people are going to judge you based on this press photo, whether you like it or not. So review press photos and artwork put out by the bands you are compatible with, then pay a real photographer that shoots real bands that are successful in the way that you want to be successful. That photographer is worth the money and knows what they are doing. It will change your career more than whatever expensive new cymbal the drummer wants the band to buy him.

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: If you are the very rare artist that is truly a unique trendsetter or art house, you can often do whatever the hell you want and be right on… and aren’t reading this. 

6. You can’t play a half-hour set of decent music. 

A half-hour set is usually nine, three-minute songs plus some stage banter. You need a half-hour set of decent (not brilliant) music. If you can’t do that and you say to the promoter you can, well then you won’t get booked again. You can write five original songs that don’t suck and cover four obscure-as-heck songs (or just rip off the Nuggets collection),… right?

On the other hand, if you play over your allowed time, people (and other bands) will get very mad. So if your set time is 30 minutes and you are an opener, play 25 minutes and get your crap off the stage so the headliner can do their job (and tell them thanks for having you). And no, it doesn’t matter how many of your friends are there, doing an encore when you aren’t the headliner will be a gigantic mistake.

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: Obviously jam bands and punk groups will need either WAY longer sets or can pack the set with thirty, one-minute songs, respectively. 

5. You or your band are trying to be something you’re obviously not. 

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Figure it out. Don’t pretend to be something you aren’t. It will waste years of your time, literally. If you grew up a polo-wearing trust fund kid, people are going to call bullshit if you suddenly go gutter punk. If you are a pop-country musician, starting a reggae band is a horrible idea.

The biggest offenders used to be all of the shred-hair-metal dudes back in the 90s that suddenly became “blues players.” Christ. It’s embarrassing for everyone, and everyone seems to make this mistake at some point. You are who you are, and while over time you will change and be influenced by whatever inspires you, don’t suddenly pretend to be someone you aren’t. Everyone will know, and I promise, tastemakers in the music industry can smell a fraud a mile away. Nowadays, everything is a genre, so just take who you are, put it in a blender, and make it 20 times more intense and you will probably have a unique sound that no one else does.

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: Bob Dylan (fka Robert Zimmerman), David Bowie (fka David Robert Jones), and anything they did. If you aren’t going to be as good and committed as Dylan or Bowie at appropriating other people’s styles and becoming someone you’re not, then you probably don’t want to try. 

4. You lied to the promoter or agent or club owner about your draw. 

You can’t have a slash and burn “us vs them” attitude towards agents, clubs, and promoters. A good relationship with a great club or agent or promoter is literally career-changing. Also, a promoter is often taking a risk (i.e. risking their own money) to book a show, and if you lie to them, it can really mess them up, cause them to lose their own cash, prevent them from booking any more cool shows, and definitely prevent them from working with you again.

I’ll take hell for saying this, but EVERYONE LIES ABOUT THEIR DRAW in some way. Seriously. It’s either flagrant or a little optimistic lie. Both can backfire. An optimistic lie can sometimes be forgiven or even turn out to be true, and goes something like this: “Yes, we do potentially have a 30-person paid draw in Brooklyn”. A flagrant lie is like this: “Yeah we can totally pack the club out, bro so let’s do $1,000 guarantee.” If someone trusts that you can make enough money through the door in paid ticket sales to pay you $1,000 and then you only sell $50 of tickets, you are going to be blacklisted, plain and simple.

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: There is no exception to this. You lie about your draw and cost people a lot of money, that’s it. You aren’t getting booked again. This happens to both big bands and new bands all the time. But for new bands, chances are they may know you are lying from the get-go and then you just won’t get booked in the first place at all, and after that they won’t reply to your emails or return your calls anymore. 

3. You just aren’t right for the gig, and you don’t know it. 

Similar to trying to be something you’re obviously not, you are under the impression that you are the right fit for something you aren’t. You aren’t the right fit because you don’t actually sound how you think you do, or you can’t sell tickets, or there’s not any consequence, for good or bad, to you being on a show. While some shows and festivals now have multi-genre spanning bills, most don’t, and when you are starting out, it’s even narrower in scope. Some bands are not appropriate for a small venue, and some bands can’t pull off a large concert stage at all.

Oftentimes, if you have a wall of Marshall stacks, you literally will NOT work in many situations. If you are in a quiet, folky sounding band you shouldn’t be put on a stage opposite a band that’s playing 80s-reminiscent FM Beer Rock Lead Guitar Solos. Usually, a good promoter or agent will think about these things and make the right decision, which very well may mean you will not be on the show. Also, ticket sales trump all. If you are in a local band that can sell over 100 tickets (to people that aren’t just your family members or frat brothers) for every one of your shows, then your fortunes are likely going to change, because quite often if you are anywhere near appropriate and the promoter/agent needs 100 tickets sold, you are gonna get that gig.

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: If you are a very new band that has a very unique sound and a lot of potential in the eyes of a promoter or agent, they make take a liking to you and want to boost your career because some of them are still big fans of music in general and haven’t had all the hope and faith in good music beaten our of their souls yet, and/or want to be able to say they discovered you. 

2. You aren’t respected because you haven’t paid your dues or aren’t really taking it seriously and everyone knows it. 

People devote their lives to music, get horrible tattoos, develop interesting criminal records, irrevocably damage their liver and health, sacrifice any semblance at a normal and secure life, and occasionally lose their lives over music and art. The last thing they want to deal with is a tourist, and those that have paid their dues can spot a hobbyist a mile away.

Don’t get me wrong, being a hobbyist and music lover is all good and heck even being a weekend warrior musician is all good. However, weekend warriors and hobbyists aren’t entitled to the same level of consideration over their craft that someone who is going balls to the wall and committing their life to the art is. It just doesn’t work that way, unless your dad is investing a million dollars in your career and you are 16 and look like a Calvin Klein model. Sit down and look at how you have prioritized your life and resources and see which camp you are currently in. Whether it’s fair or not, those you meet will usually have the right prediction about your work.

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: Taylor Swift. Her father Scott Kingsley Swift is a wealth management advisor and senior vice president at Merrill Lynch that spent an estimated $1 million to jump-start her career. It has since turned out to be an excellent investment for him.  

1. No one has heard of you and no one cares. 

There’s no easy answer here. This is the most painful thing of all, and it’s true 99.999999% of the time. Why the heck should anyone care about your music or my music or anyone else’s music? And how often do we sit down with ourselves as artists or players or writers and say to ourselves: Why indeed should anyone give a damn?

Lately, the answer I hear from everyone seems to be either a great song or pure authenticity. And the music industry in general is very hungry for this. In fact, the major labels are signing bands based upon the premise that those artists and songwriters are either unique, a sure sell, or simply the real deal. In this era of culture, a good dance beat or authenticity are the two things that listeners and festival-goers do have time for. And in a way, for music lovers, that is a very good thing.

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: The fact that you can crank out a dozen songs in your bedroom on free music software that you can then upload online in minutes, go viral, and change your life (pretty much anything Ariel Pink has done so far).  

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Shawn Kyle has been a prodigal son of the Southeastern Music Scene as a songwriter, producer, and tour van mechanic for close to a decade. Originally starting in the DIY warehouse art scene in Florida, he went on to national touring having fronted such marginal bands as the Florida Kilos, Beauvilles, Laurel Canyon, and Heavy Metals as well as performed in/with Thomas Wynn and the Believers, John Wesley (the Porcupine Tree), Geri X, Joey Molland (Badfinger), John Langford (Mekons) during SXSW, and many many more he possibly and apologetically forgets. He is currently producing the new record for Have Gun Will Travel and fronting the Baltimore-based group AMFMS.

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New B-Side: “Teeth” – Dasher

Listen to “Teeth,” the b-side from Dasher’s “Soviet” 7”.

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New Single: “Empty Bed” – Gemini Club

Listen to “Empty Bed,” a song from Gemini Club’s End of Your Life, out in early 2015.

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