We just got back from playing Denver for The UMS. Our first show was pretty crappy and honestly we didn’t play very well. It ended up being OK as people showed up, but for whatever reasons, the stage manager and people running it were non-existent. Not a huge deal, but it made for a rough start after a long trip from Oklahoma and getting in a small fender bender in our hotel parking lot. The second show was much better. Tons of people came out, it was in an actual club (the first was in a stage built into a truck) and we sold a bunch of merch. All in all, not a bad trip.
We also spent the weekend with our manager and generally tried to hash out our plans. After being in the studio for a time we have some songs recorded but the mix is pretty terrible, which is frustrating. The short and skinny is that the folks working on the record could have done a better job. Our expectations might very well have been higher this time around, but at the same time, we still expected more engagement and effort in terms of doing things right. It felt like an up hill battle, which is unfortunate, since we did spend a lot of time and worked really hard. The result though is that we’ll need to get our tracks to get remixed.
This brings me to the actual title of this blog. Our friend Dave constantly tells us to just ask our fans for money and use tools like Kickstarter to raise funds for things like recording. I always agreed with him that it would work for some bands, but for whatever reason I didn’t think it would work for us. Lately, I think I’ve realized why. It all comes down the relationship bands have with their fans.
In my mind, I see our music a certain way. It is probably an ideal vision of super cool people pushing the boundaries of tone and ripping faces off live. The reality is though, I think we’re actually more of a rock band. The concepts of cool that I always try to instantiate in my visions are probably not really there. This isn’t to say we are “cool”, but rather we’re not the leather jacket, cigarette smoking, sun glasses wearing, modern Velvet Underground. Live we try to put on a show and there is intensity, but the more I think about who we are and what we really sound like, it feels like I’ve misunderstood something.
This disconnect between my vision of our music, our aesthetic reality, is what has always dissuaded me from wanting to ask fans for money and be more communicative. In my vision, we’re an enigma and a mystery. The reality everyone says we’re really nice people. We shred on stage and off stage you can come up to us and we’ll smile and talk to you. In short, asking for money from fans and providing a more open relationship with them seems totally natural in reality.
The reason this has begun to feel natural is because fans understand music is entertainment. I don’t believe anyone thinks we are simply acting on stage, but rather they realize that in addition to getting on stage and playing music, we also drive around in our van, eat cheap food and generally struggle like anyone else. The 40 minutes on stage is the show and the rest is real life. Up until this point, I don’t think we’ve connected with our fans in real life and the result is that we haven’t made clear our needs, and more importantly, given them a chance to help. Moving forward, I’m not sure what will change today, but something definitely should. There are some obvious things we can do to shed a little light on what our day to day looks like. There will always be some mystery, but we don’t really have much to hide. One thing that has become exceptionally clear is that we can’t try to be something we’re not and now that I think I have a more realistic view of what we really are, avoiding the things we’re not should be much easier.