The Film Distribution Conundrum

Pat says:

This fall movie season has a few interesting music biopics opening up. The first, called Jimi: All is by My Side stars André Benjamin (aka André 3000 of Outkast) as Jimi Hendrix and it focuses exclusively on Hendrix’s year of reinvention in the 1967 London music scene. Another, Love & Mercy, about the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, stars both John Cusack (old, fat Brian) and Paul Dano (young Brian) as the enigmatic musician and only touches on a few years of his life.

What intrigues me most about these two films is that neither follows the typical cradle-to-grave format of other musical biopics. Films like Walk The Line that try to encapsulate an artist’s entire personal life and career into two hours are seldom interesting to me. Steven Hyden of Grantland hit on why this is the case in a review of the James Brown biopic Get On Up earlier this year:

"Biopics are obligated to dramatize the “real” person behind the legend, but the real person is both unknowable and irrelevant. The idea of the person is what matters; it’s what justifies the biopic treatment in the first place."

I think he is right. Trying to dramatize a lot of biographical details of famous peoples’ lives often turns into just a bunch of silly window dressing with little importance for why we care about the artist. Why look there is Johnny Cash talking to Elvis! And there he is with Waylon Jennings! Is he smoking weed!? None of it ever helps to get a deeper understanding of the artist’s work or what that work meant to our culture.

Anyway, with my enthusiasm for seeing these films being so strong I was disappointed to find that I had basically no (legal) options to see them. There is not a theatre playing Jimi: All is by My Side within a 2 hour drive of where I live and I couldn’t even find any screening information for Love & Mercy within a 500 mile radius of where I live, despite the movie already being released. And I don’t exactly consider Southern Connecticut to be some remote part of the country.

All of this got me thinking about how much better music distribution is for the consumer – at least for small and medium sized releases. When we release our album next year it will be available for our fans to obtain on any number of platforms all at once. The idea that smaller movies like the two I’ve mentioned are not immediately available for me to experience doesn’t make any sense. I have to wait several months for these films to be released on DVD or be available on a streaming service like Google Play, yet these movies are being discussed, reviewed and promoted now. I will have completely forgotten about them in many months’ time. It would be like us promoting our album and then when people ask where and when they can hear it we respond with, “I don’t know. Many months from now perhaps?”

I can understand how a film like The Avengers would follow the old fashioned model of having a theater release followed by a long gap before online distribution. Those kind of movies actually make a lot of money in the theaters. But most movies don’t. And of course those films have to actually be in theaters for one to see them. As I said, I actually want to go to the theater and see these movies but I simply couldn't. Obviously these issues involve a lot of complicated economics (of which I am no expert) but I think it is only a matter of time before all of this changes. Both the artists and the consumers are being hurt by an out of date distribution model.

It's The Time Of The Season...

Pete says:

Well there you have it folks, summer is over. It’s now time for the cool nights and warm days of autumn. Maybe enjoying a long ride into upstate New York checking out the foliage and stopping for a bite. Possibly some fall golf (and you better keep it out of the rough)! Then again maybe enjoying some music and arts festivals around the state. Or my personal favorite, a long ride on my motorcycle. 

Although summer is great, fall seems to have those ideal temperatures, at least for me. Seasonal change can be more than weather; it can be time for personal change and reflection. It can be time to look back at what you've done; your accomplishments, the fun you've had, the people you've met, and the places you've been. Maybe more importantly than that, it may be time to set some goals, make some changes, and take hold of your destiny. Some people have a five year plan or ten year plan. I’ll stick with a three month, six month, and one year plan. Let’s see how those work out first. I won’t bore you with my list of goals, but we should all have them whether personal, professional, or otherwise.

It’s easy to fall off track when you’re trying to reach these goals to, so having people that can help keep you focused can be the most important element of the goals you set. On occasion the "help" from others may seem harsh or just not so nice, but were all adults here and there is no reason for little kid gloves, right?

Seasonal change is going to be my new self-evaluation time. See where I’m at, what I’m doing, and what adjustments I need to make. I’ve recently had some dear friends suggest some changes that I may have been a little put off by, but after careful evaluation, it’s just what the doctor ordered. Although my 100% may never be others 100% due to many factors including completely different lifestyles, they push to only improve and succeed. 

Maybe I’ve gone off course a little here, but what I’m saying is for me there’s a new rule: When the seasons change, so will I! If it means when things aren't looking up for you that it takes true friends to pick you up and push you in the direction you need to go then that's how it works. Ok, I’m all over the place with this one, but that's just the way it is! Hope you got something from it!

Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong

Billy says:

Here's a quick list of six bassists that influenced me over the years.

Duff McKagan (Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver)

McKagan is most known for his tenure with Guns N' Roses from 1985 to 1997. His bass abilities featured on the band's debut album, Appetite for Destruction, was a major influence in my bass playing. One of the reasons is due to how the album was mixed because the bass is very audible and is the central backbone on all the songs. 

But a big resonance of his influence is McKagan's usage of thirds/fifths/octaves for bass fills; a song like Sweet Child O' Mine showcases his classic bass playing. A song like that, besides the very cool bass intro and being a guitar-centric song, is a good tune to learn basics from. Also a song like Rocket Queen displays McKagan's groove with drummer Steven Adler, which is partly based on older R&B songs that the two would listen too throughout the 1980's.

Tim Commerford (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave)

One of the major reasons why I love Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave is the excellent rhythm section by bassist Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk, in which Commerford is central to that emulsion. Such songs like Bombtrack and Wake Up from Rage's self-titled album are a testament to that fact. A lot of easy bass basics can be learned from that particular album and the difficulty can range from easy to somewhat difficult. More complex rhythm movements are featured on Bombtrack or Freedom while more traditional and easier basics are featured on Bullet in the Head and Know Your Enemy (all featured on their self-titled album). 

Commerford's slapping abilities were showcased in the song Take the Power Back and somewhat in Know Your Enemy but after the band's self-titled album, Commerford stopped slapping because he didn't want the band to (in his own words), "sound like another Chili Peppers clone band." In addition, Commerford is known for manufacturing his own effects pedals, such as the verses in Calm Like a Bomb (which has a cool bass intro) and Township Rebellion.

Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Flea is synonymous with bass playing and he's very famous for his slap abilities. I only slap on very limited instances with Chaser Eight and the Chili Peppers' album Blood Sugar Sex Magik is the album that had the strongest resonance with me. On that album, Flea totally changed his bass playing approach and focused on "less is more". 

While he still slapped, it was only in limited moments on certain songs and he focused more on rhythm, tone, emotion and feeling. From that particular album, songs like Mellowship Slinky, Apache Rose Peacock and If You Have to Ask showcase Flea's stripped down playing yet still maintaining a hard line groove and feeling. Other songs like Emit Remmus (Californication) and Animal Bar (Stadium Arcadium) are other good and notable bass lines.

Various 1990's era punk-rock bands including Mike Dirnt (Green Day), Greg K. (The Offspring) and Mark Hoppus (blink 182)

As I began playing bass through the late 1990's, it's very natural to play to songs by bands you were listening too at the time. For me, it was punk-rock and I thought learning songs via that genre was essential because songs were structured easier plus you can learn the basics very quickly. Dirnt's bass playing has evolved over the years with Green Day and it was after their 2000 album Warning where his style changed to a more stripped-down rhythm. The first song I learned on bass was by The Offspring (All I Want from their 1997 album Ixnay on the Hombre). Including blink 182 and The Offspring, the two bands' styles through the 1990's were very easy to pick up on bass and to learn the fundamentals.

Are You There Guitar? It’s Me, Aaron

Aaron says:

I’m always searching for things to inspire me. Whether it be a new way of thinking or a new way to do something, I’m constantly searching. In this recent case though, I found a new inspiration in an old guitar I have been separated from for years. And I literally mean years. I think it has been about seven or so by my count. It’s a simple guitar, an old Alvarez acoustic. I bought it brand new for only a few hundred bucks or so, but it was one of the best guitars I’ve owned in my years as a musician. Now, I've been playing guitar since I was 12 and I’m…well I’m not going get into that, but it’s been a while. Anyways, this was a guitar that traveled with me from solo jams on the couch to weekend excursions in the Berkshires, but one of the more frequent places to play was my buddy Lucky’s house. Yup! That’s right his name is Lucky and it’s not even a nickname! It’s Lucky!

So, after countless jams over a few beers at his house or after beers at the bar with the numerous different characters/musicians that would find themselves there, we had a great idea to leave my old friend at his place. The deal was I would take his mandolin in trade for the while my Alvarez would have a new home. At that time, I’m sure I had more than one guitar and I knew a mandolin would be a cool instrument to learn. Mandolins are tuned in fifths, the same tuning as violins, and I thought that we be interesting to know how to play. Good trade, right? Wrong. It did not work out to be as great as I thought and I was down one favorite guitar. As time went on, the jam sessions faded as did the appeal of playing the mandolin. I didn't see Lucky as much and the mandolin didn't see the light of day out of its coffin like case and into my hands. And as life tends to happen, circumstances change forcing us to move on, figuratively and literally. What I’m trying to say is Lucky and I lost touch for years shortly after that and I was left only to think back fondly about my old friend.

However, in sake of not making a long story longer, we ended up finding one another again over the last year! We would always make plans to trade back our long lost instruments, but somehow still I was still down one favorite guitar. Then, this past Tuesday, that all changed. We finally met up and made the trade: I got my Alvarez back (Woohoo!). And this takes me full circle to the whole point of this post. I love playing guitar and, more often than not, I find a good, well-crafted instrument that feels good and sounds good inspires me to play more! I’m talking about getting lost in the moment as time is only relative to the tempo of the beat and the strums. I mean sitting down for an hour just strumming and picking away to whatever flows out of my fingers. So now that I've just restrung my long lost love, I plan to be inspired daily and just get lost in the time with my old friend. This is something so simple that inspires me. I hope you can find something simple to inspire you. And if you can’t, you may want to try and find a new paradigm, then search again.

So, search on my friends! Be inspired!

A (Much Overdue) Rant: In the Key of Rock

*AUDRA* says:

"Does nobody like rock n roll now? Well I don’t really think so."

Above is a quote from one of our newest songs. At first glance, when I was told to sing it, I thought, "How untrue is this?! People love rock music!"

Well over the course of my (extremely awesome and fast-moving) career with Chaser Eight I've learned a couple truths about the music scene. Allow me to enumerate:

1. Rock is dead. I didn't want to believe it, but it is. True rock that is and especially if you're a woman. The days of Janis Joplin, No Doubt, Garbage, Hole, etc., are over. And that's much to my dismay and sadness. Mostly because girl rockers rule. Seriously.

2. Covering other artists songs makes you way more popular than playing original tunes. This goes for making YouTube videos and performing in a live cover band. I honestly had no idea this had become a career path.

3. If you're a hot guy lead singer you have a better shot of making fans than a hot girl lead singer. Unless you are in the cover band and wear midriff bearing clothes on stage.

Sidebar: Sorry, I'm not dressing up half naked to parade around stage with a wireless mic and dance like I'm earning dollars. I play a white Gibson SG through a Orange Dual Terror and a Roman Custom Cab. And when I'm not playing my microphone game is that of Freddie Mercury: a commanding staff yielding rock power.

4. Pop music has taken over. People would much rather see the hot guy lead singer and/or midriff bearing woman sing upbeat, sappy love songs than hearing the cry of an electric guitar. Pop AND new wave hip indie music. There are a lot of those "indie" bands these days and, yes, it pisses me off. You're so contradictory, clever, ironic, and hip. Get an amp that goes above 1 and rock your ass off for a change. Oh and eat something.

5. If you say you support us, than come out and support us. Live gigs are only as successful as the fans that walk through the door. Get off the couch and listen to good music.

So, put down your iPhone and step away from the crappy pop tunes and support rock music again! There was a revolution in the 60s and 70s. Music was being created that you could hear and feel. Can we get back to that? Or at least get back to the point where people support that?

Note: I'm not hating on the hot guy lead singer or midriff bearing woman and the poppy cover songs they perform. Nor am I hating on the new wave hip indie band. There is room for all of us and everyone has their own path to follow. Just because I think it's soulless work doesn't mean that people don't enjoy it. Actually, it's quite the contrary. I know people love it. Do you. We'll do us. And maybe our paths will cross.

Another note: There several acts in this area that I respect and appreciate for their talent and dedication to their craft. I'll name a few: Seth Adam, Chris Grillo, The Smyrk, When Particles Collide, Atrina (Andre Roman),Goodnight Blue Moon (Nick D'Errico), Echo & Drake, Broadcast Hearts, Moving Brooklyn, Porcelain Clocks, Deception Fades, Danny Henry, and Kevin Reed (I see those videos you're posting on Facebook. Fantastic. Keep it up, kid. Help bring rock back).

So, now, I ask, "Does nobody like rock n roll now?"

End rant. 

Party Like a Rock Star

Pat says:

Tonight, HBO will air the Induction Ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 2014 Class. This year's inductees includes Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, KISS, Hall & Oates, Linda Ronstadt, and Cat Stevens. Though they are all deserving in their own ways, it is Nirvana that is really the significant choice here. The grunge trio is the first quintessential 90's band to get into the Hall and their honoring raises a very interesting and obvious question: what other contemporary rock bands have any kind of chance of getting in?

Sure their are some guaranteed first ballot Hall of Famers like Pearl Jam, but for the most part after Nirvana's demise, multi-platinum, arena rock groups became an endangered species. From the late nineties right up until now, The charts have been dominated by rappers and pop stars. It's artists like Eminem and Beyonce that have moved 1 million units in a week and sold out Yankee Stadium, not The Killers or Kings of Leon. So what is the Hall going to do? Will it embrace these kinds of pop and rap artists and induct them in? I suspect that ultimately they will have to. Really there is no other choice.

Let's first look at the kind of artists that the Hall's Committee selects. Though some critical darlings (Elvis Costello) and early influences (Robert Johnson) get selected, for the most part the Hall selects big-time acts that have made the industry a lot of money. Critical success matters a little (it took KISS a long time to get in) but not nearly as much as financial success and popularity (KISS still ultimately got in).

Additionally, the relevant contemporary artists that sound the most like traditional rock bands are indie groups like Wilco, Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend and some others. And let's face it. None of them are ever getting in (even more popular indie groups from past decades like Sonic Youth and Pavement haven't even gotten in yet). They just simply aren't popular enough and just exist in today's fragmented music landscape as niche artists. Popularity is what gets the most fans to tune into the induction ceremony and then to visit the museum later on. Tupac, Beyonce, Eminem, Kanye West, Jay-Z,  and Taylor Swift are the kinds of artists that have been consistently popular. These are the rock stars of the last 15 years.

This will be contentious no doubt. Many purists will decry that these artists are not rock musicians! Rock music has to have guitars and snare drums to be authentic! But "rock" is really just another way of saying, "popular music that young people listen to." Rock n' roll initially referred to a type of music from the 1950s that bears only a passing resemblance to most of what we have come to consider part of the genre. How much do The Police and Metallica (both inductees) really have in common with Fats Domino (also an inductee)? I certainly hope that guitar rock comes back, but lets face it: this type of music wasn't the dominant force over the past 15 plus years and there are very few guitar/bass/drum bands during this time that will meet the Hall of Fame's traditional criteria for admittance.

Some traditional rock acts like The White Stripes, No Doubt, and Radiohead will still get in, but for the most part the Rappers held sway over this era. As Jay-Z reminds us "that bloke from Oasis said I couldn't play guitar, Somebody shoulda told him I'm a fuckin rock star." When the time comes, I don't think the Hall of Fame Committee will need too much reminding.

 

 

Tis The Season To Be Golfing...Fa La La La La

Pete says:

Ok boys and girls. Tis the season! No, not that one, golf season! You got it: I’m a golfer too. Once it’s warm enough I’m out there hitting the links.

I remember when I was young sneaking out on the golf course that was behind my parents’ house with my friends. We would walk through a patch of woods with a couple of old clubs my friend had and start hacking up the place. Of course, within moments upon stepping foot on there, we were thrown off, but that was all part of the adventure.

I’ve always enjoyed playing and over the years I started to take it more and more seriously. Then about eight to ten years ago, I decided that I wanted to make some real improvements in my game, so I bought a package deal of lessons at a local course. Whoa! What a difference! The changes to my original techniques were so huge and it was almost like starting all over again, but it ended up being the best thing I ever did for my game.

Now, every year I so look forward to my weekends off without gigs. I mean, I look forward to my weekends with Chaser Eight gigs even more, but I love my golf weekends too. Just as much as I love sitting down to the kit with my bandmates, I love getting out to the course with some friends and enjoying the beautiful scenery the course and nature has to offer. There is nothing more relaxing than the warm breeze, fresh air, and serene peace and quiet. Oh, except when you’re playing so bad you’re ready to throw your clubs in the pond!

Every once in a while I’ll even enter into a tournament. A little friendly competition is always fun, but I’m mostly in competition with myself to push to improve my game. So I guess I bring much of the same attitude, drive, and determination to the course as I do behind the kit. Although, occasionally, I go a little too crazy on the course, but like the bumper sticker says: My worse day at the golf course is better than my best day a work!

FORE!

A Song a Day Will Keep the Therapist Away

Billy says:

For the past seven months, I've been steadily improving my life, both mind and body. A large part of the change was thanks due to the band and their overwhelming and excellent support. In addition, I use music for support; these are three songs which have proved to be very encouraging and supportive.

Dream Theater - The Answer Lies Within

My first pick is taken from Dream Theater's eighth album Octavarium. The song's title "The Answer Lies Within" is pretty self-explanatory on what the song is about: wanting to change yourself begins within and if your mindset isn't ready for change, then you're not ready. Written by founder/guitarist/chief lyricist John Petrucci, the second verse is very powerful and clearly spells out the song's message.

"Life is short, so learn from your mistakes

And stand behind, the choices that you made

Face each day with both eyes open wide

And try to give, don't keep it all inside"

The song itself is very melodic and written as a potential single. Flourished by lush orchestra, the song rings true as my main pick because the message is 100% what I strived to change myself. The chorus reflects this as well:

"Don't let the day go by

Don't let it end

Don't let a day go by, in doubt,

The answer lies within"

Bad Religion - Changing Tide

As the last song on Bad Religion's 16th album True North, "Changing Tide" is a great send-off track and grand finale. Written by lead vocalist and founder Greg Graffin, the song talks about how someone can get stuck in the drudgery of everyday life and eventually commits to a lifetime of the same stagnant routine. Instead, you should recognize one's need to change. It's one idea to just wait for that day to come when change occurs and it's another thing to act and actually change oneself.

"Every day's the same routine of endless chores and boring details.

And you know you're waiting for the perfect condition for your ship to set sail.

But of course, the climate's always changing.

Clinging to the past has got you straining.

Comes the recognition now you're on a mission that is born to fail,

Leave it!"

Graffin's lyrics throughout the band's catalog usually reflect social issues and the idea for positive change in your life. In this song, "Clinging to the past has got you straining," is a strong statement on how one can just always yearn to what has happened in the past without committing to a new endeavor.

Iron Maiden - Wildest Dreams

Featured as the lead single from Iron Maiden's 13th album, "Wildest Dreams" describes the idea of not letting your past troubles drag you down and to pursue your goals (or so called) dreams. Written by founder/bassist Steve Harris and longtime guitarist Adrian Smith, the opening lyrics, "I'm gonna to organize some changes in my life, I'm gonna exorcise the demons of my past, I'm gonna take the car and hit the open road, I'm feeling ready to just open up and go" talks about how one should always strive to do what they want and not be hindered throughout their lives.

The upbeat tempo, distinct guitar solo by Smith and catchy chorus reflects the positive message and attitude exhibited by the lyrics. Guitarist Smith rejoined Iron Maiden in 2001 after close to ten years away from the band and songs like this portray his newfound vision and excitement that he previously shown when he was with the band during its 1980's run.

"When I'm feeling down and low

I vow I'll never be the same again

I just remember what I am

And visualize just what I'm gonna be"

The Band Also Known As a Rocket Ship

Aaron says:

It’s been almost a year since I joined this rocket ship known as Chaser Eight. I refer to it as such not just because of the speed in which it’s gaining momentum, but also in the context of the extreme heat and passion that burns deep within all the components involved. I have been a guitarist since the age of 12 and throughout the years I played around on the keys a bit too. Even though I've played the keys here and there, it was never with any of the intensity required to be up to par with the likes of the members of Chaser Eight. It has been a sobering and challenging endeavor to make those black and white keys match up to the rocking style Pat and *AUDRA* bring to the stand.

As a musician, with my main instrument of choice being guitar, playing the keys is a whole different animal. Yes, they both have the same notes possible, and yes, the format of the piano is more uniform. All that aside, one must take in consideration the methods and the patters to each animal. For those of you who are not musically inclined I’ll give a simple example: Scales on a guitar basically have the same pattern in a given key signature i.e. A minor. If you want to play in B minor, just move up two frets and play the same pattern, boom. You want to play C minor? Move up one fret from B minor. D minor? Two from there and so on and so forth. But for piano it's not that easy. For every different key signature you play in there is a different combination of black and white keys needed to make it fit. It’s not just black and white, but alas, I will prevail!

I do like the opportunity and the challenge entrusted to me by my band mates and I look forward to expanding my skills to compliment the rock tones created by the five of us. I am, at the core, a guitarist and get many chances to play on stage. However, as time rolls on, my core will assimilate keys into the whole of being a rock musician with the awesomeness known as Chaser Eight. If you have heard us, that's great; you have an idea what we’re about. If you have seen us, you know what we’re about and how we rock. And if you haven’t done either of the two, well shame on you! This rocket ship is not slowing down for anyone. So climb aboard and take a ride up to the stars with us. Full speed ahead! Hope to see you there.

 

I'm King of the World. Or Queen. No, KING!

*AUDRA* says:

"Your dressing room is this way."

That’s what our escort backstage said. My response, “exsqueeze me, a baking powder?” (borrowed from Wayne’s World) probably wasn’t the best, but it was all I had. Here we were, being escorted backstage to our dressing room. OUR DRESSING ROOM! Not just a little closet, mind you, but a real, freakin’ huge dressing room. With a full bar, buffet, and someone completely at our disposal to procure a hair dryer (required!).

We were competing in a regional contest at Mohegan Sun, this night one of two acts in an eight-week weekly competition. I fully expected to unload our gear, get on stage, and get off. Boy, was I wrong. 

First was the dressing room. Next, the sound check. What a professional, courteous, knowledgeable set of people! We’re used to 30-second sound checks. Nope, not tonight. 40 minutes. We’ve never sounded so good. The sound guys, who, at this point, had been at work for many hours setting up the stage, repeatedly commented how great we sounded and that they were looking forward to the set. What a great way to begin the night. The coup de grace was that we were going to go on last. Headliners!

Suitably excited, the wait set in. It’s 4:40pm. We go on at 9:30pm. What do we do? Gamble! 

Just kidding. Our manager, the band, and I ate a nice, leisurely, ((expensive)) dinner (during which we booked a gig for January), and just had a lot of laughs and smiles, including discussing how cool it would be to win at Roulette on number 8. (Our manager, who got married on 8/8/2008, who coincidentally manages Chaser Eight – DID win $700 on a $20 bet on number 8 on the very first (and only) spin of the wheel - which made for a great beginning night, too). 

And then the music started. We went on last, and played to a full house. We completely crushed the set. In fact, I ripped my finger open during the finale, and have the bloodied guitar to prove it (picture here). Afterwards, the crew, emcee, and even the bartender across the theater came up to us saying how well we did. What a tremendous feeling.

I won’t know for a while if we “won” the contest, but I do know that even a few days later, I’m still on Cloud 9 (or Cloud 8 for Chaser Eight). It’s going to stink going back to small venues, but knowing that we completely rocked that arena is such an amazing feeling that makes it all worth it. Knowing I can get back there and that I was good enough to be there in the first place, is what will motivate me until the next time. And the next.

Oftentimes, we don’t take the time to enjoy what we have. We make excuses for why we’re not happy, or for why we just got in a fight, or settle for something less than what we want. Heck, even I was thinking about our next gig not even an hour after we got off this awesome stage after an awesome set! That’s how I’m wired. But, and it’s a huge BUT, I’m taking the time now to enjoy and revel in the experience. It makes it all worth it.

 

Go Insane - 5 Tips For Maintaining Your Sanity (As Seen on hypebot.com)

(This blog was previously posted on hypebot.com. The largest music information website in the world. http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2013/12/5-tips-for-maintaining-your-sanity-while-building-your-music-career.html)

*AUDRA* says:

I was born with a song to sing. I want thousands of people singing my lyrics back to me.

It’s tough. It really is. As much as I want to be a full-time musician, I have bills to pay. And while our music (gigs, merch, album sales) have climbed substantially the last six months (http://chasereight.com/our-merchandise/), it’s not enough to have me quit. That¹s coming though. How do I know?

First, some background. I’m the lead singer, songwriter, and assistant manager of my band. I’ve played in several incarnations, but this one is THE ONE. I’ve kept us together writing songs, creating arrangements, booking gigs, doing social media, promotions, and playing, all while working. I love it, but it¹s hard work.

Here are my tips as to how I’ve managed, and think these will help you too. I will also tell you why we’re going to achieve our lofty goals.

  1. Have a Strategy, and Keep to It: It’s the most important tip that our manager told me. Paramount to not only my sanity but our increased success has been to sit down, map out our goals and plans, AND EXECUTE. We review it periodically, yet we remain unwavering in our commitment. It’s been very difficult for me to “let go” and want everything to happen immediately, but having this road map and our journey mapped out makes it easier to know that daily mountains and hurdles become anthills. 
  2. RIP: Respond, Interact, and Prioritize: Social media is a huge part of our marketing plan. I’ve turned off all of my iPhone notifications for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook so I’m not barraged with interruptions from social media and notifications. The key for our responses and our campaigns has been to plan them in advance and schedule posts, pictures, and events, but also to interact on sporadic intervals with our fans. I make it a point to respond to every inquiry, post, and request. It might not be immediate, but it does happen. I do have other things to do! That’s a huge change from my past, where I had a slight-OCD complex and had to respond to everything immediately. My life has been better because I now wait. You should, too. 
  3. Read. Refine. Repeat: I hate to read (not really, but I’m busy). I do, however, love to learn. Can’t have one without the other. So I read all the time. Blogs, posts, articles. Most of them are not worth the time, but I try to take something positive out of every one – it’s a great opportunity to learn something new and you don’t know what will happen until you’re done! There are many sources I trust, and many I just laugh at, but there’s always that chance. Read, and be open to new things. We wouldn’t be where we are if I wasn’t open to improvement and change. 
  4. Communicate: I can’t tell you the hundreds of text messages and emails my manager and I share with each other every single week (helps to have an unlimited cell plan, ha!). As much as I hate having emails in my inbox (they mean I have something to do!) I love every one. It means someone cares about me as much (if not more so) than I do. Get someone in your life and your musical journey that you trust. And talk! Share everything. Two minds are more powerful than one. Admittedly, letting go was the hardest thing I’ve done. But in letting go, I gained so much more. You will, too.
  5. (Bonus Tip) Be Gracious. Be Open. Love Others and Yourself. Hamlet. Polonius. “To thy own self, be true.” Share. Bring smaller acts onto your gigs as openers. You have to give it to receive it. Like other bands on Facebook. Tweet support to bands you met on your show card. And by all means, without fail, and without canceling, spend time on yourself. Take time to write. To practice (my band practices every Tuesday, and a day or two before every show) and I take time to practice and write every week. It’s on the schedule, and I stick to it. It’s great for my sanity. And every little bit we give to others comes back in spades to us. Quite honestly, we’ve met phenomenal people and have gotten tremendous success buy just being kind to others. Doesn’t cost anything to tweet or share, and the value received is phenomenal.

We’ve played for thousands of fans at some of the largest arenas in the area, and continue to strive higher by doing everything I just mentioned.

(Try To) Dance Yrself Clean - A Ch8view of Arcade Fire's Reflektor

Pat says: 

“Do you like rock’n’roll music? Because I’m not sure I do,” Win Butler sings on “Normal Person”, a track off of Arcade Fire's new album Reflektor. After listening to the whole thing I certainly hope he rekindles his love for the genre. Recorded with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy as the producer, Reflektor, is the band’s attempt at a dance album. It tries to fold new wave, electronica, dub step, and Haitian music into the group's driving indie rock sound.

Unfortunately for the listener, Arcade Fire’s dance album is not danceable. Especially when Butler’s vocals hit the speakers. Heavy lines like “What if the camera really do take your soul?” delivered with a hushed and moody voice kill the dance vibe pretty quickly (Butler’s wife Regine Chassagne sounds much better on these kind of tracks but is quizzically not heard much on the record). The band’s rhythm section, which is tailor made for the rock n’ roll wallop of songs like “Rebellion (Lies)” does little to help here. They just can’t bring the funk on tracks like “Here Comes The Night Time,” which are in desperate need of some sizzle.  Another problem is the length of the songs. Tune after tune trudge along at the same mid tempo pace before petering out around the 6 or 7 minute mark. Like a lesser Quentin Tarantino movie, this album could use some serious editing. There are a few strong tracks on the album (“We Exist” and “Joan of Arc” in particular) but they are few and far between.

As a band that released three great pop/rock albums in a row (Funeral, Neon Bible and my favorite, The Suburbs) it’s understandable that Arcade Fire would want to experiment on this new record. Some have compared this album to Achtung Baby or Ok Computer, but I disagree. Those albums managed to be experimental while still keeping the fundamental qualities of the bands that made them. Dramatic storytelling, big rock beats, catchy hooks, sharp arrangements – these are Arcade Fire's strengths but Reflektor eschews them as much as possible. I still like rock n’ roll music, especially when its the kind Arcade Fire used to make. I’m sure I do.

Hot Off the Press: News & Upd8tes

Aaron (the keyboardist) says:

It's been a great summer for Chaser Eight and all of our fans. Great, sold-out shows. Many song and album downloads. And our official video and latest EP, At the 426 . I wanted to share with you all of the coverage we've been featured in online (band interviews, guest blog posts, EP reviews). Going forward, we'll be posting the coverage here as it happens. There's a lot of stuff in here we're very proud of, and hope you enjoy!

http://wlso.fm/wordpress/archives/1375    (Radio Song Feature)

http://www.midtnmusic.com/at-the-426-with-chaser-eight/    (At the 426 Review)

http://www.ctindie.com/2013/06/ab-origine-ctindie-radio-spot-june-2013.html    (Show Announcement)

http://www.ctindie.com/2013/07/ab-origine-ctindie-radio-spot-july-2013.html    (Show Announcement)

http://drivingsocrates.com/?p=2741    (Podcast Feature [13:00])

http://andrewgreenhalgh.blogspot.com/2013/10/review-chaser-eight-at-426-ep.html    (At the 426 Review)

http://www.insideworldmusic.blogspot.com/2013/10/cd-review-chaser-eights-at-426.html    (At the 426 Review)

http://supportunsignedartists.blogspot.com/2013/10/at-426-by-chaser-eight.html    (At the 426 Review)

http://newdriven.wordpress.com  – New Driven Radio (CRUISIN SHOW Song Feature)

http://www.ourobouros.co.uk/2013/10/ourobouros-podcast-269-agent-coulson-in.html    (Podcast Feature [3:25])

http://thecelebritycafe.com/contests/chaser-eight-giveaway    (Giveaway Contest)

http://thebugcast.org/2013/09/28/bugcast-281-competition-time/    (Podcast Feature [45:00])

http://party934.biz/podcasts/Front_Range_Radio_September_29_2013.mp3    (Podcast Feature [56:00])

http://www.pierregerard.be/planete/playlists/play13.html    (iRadio Feature)

http://www.inspiremetoday.com/archiveDisp.php?type=0&ref=2007    (Pete Feature Story)

http://2kenscomedy.com/2013/09/23/257-autumn-with-an/comment-page-1/#comment-774    (Podcast Featured Artist)

http://www.soberjulie.com/2013/09/learning-live-drug-free-readers-story-sober-doesnt-suck/    (Pete Feature Story)

http://wlso.fm/wordpress/archives/1328    (Radio Song Feature)

http://wlso.fm/wordpress/archives/1317    (Radio Song Feature)

http://rockthecut.supercuts.com/Home/ViewArtists/1617    (Sponsored Artist)

http://t.thisismyjam.com/CyberPRmusic/_6qlkm8m    (Song Feature)

http://wlso.fm/wordpress/archives/1310    (Radio Song Feature)

http://apple-recording.com/wordpress/?p=350    (Pat Guest Blog)

http://www.groovelovesmelody.com/2013/08/25/back-to-school-qa-2013-a-teachers-best-advice/    (Blog Interview)

http://thepenguinrocksnj.blogspot.com/2013/09/playlist-for-september-1-15-2013.html    (iRadio Rotation Placement)

http://jangoairplay.blogspot.com/2013/09/improve-your-home-recordings.html    (Radio Airplay Blog Link)

http://www.jogtunes.com/jtc/jtcartistsindie.php?a=Chaser%20Eight&Submit=Search    (Podcast Feature)

http://alcohol.addictionblog.org/what-helps-you-get-sober/    (Pete Feature Story)

http://party934.biz/podcasts/Front_Range_Radio_September_1_2013.mp3    (Podcast Feature [56:00])

http://8tracks.com/cyberpr/august-indie-mix    (Song Feature on August Indie Mix)

http://independentartistbuzz.tumblr.com/post/59697669291/chaser-eight-let-it-roll-north-haven    (Music Video Feature)

http://cyberpr.tumblr.com/post/59697597693/chaser-eight-let-it-roll-north-haven    (Music Video Feature)

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/615008    (Cover Story & *AUDRA* Interview)

http://www.hellhoundmusic.com/artist-spotlight-chaser-eight-rockalternative-from-west-haven-ct/    (Featured Artist)

http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2013/08/5-tips-to-improve-your-home-recordings-right-away/    (Pat Guest Blog)

http://11radio.com/archives/10882  (Radio Interview)

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/indieonair/2013/08/19/passion-radio-by-indie-on-air-episode-5  (Radio Interview)

http://theselfimprovementblog.com/self-improvement/featured/a-former-crack-cocaine-addict-speaks-to-you/    (Pete Feature)

http://party934.biz/podcasts/Front_Range_Radio_August_4_2013.mp3    (Station ID & Podcast Feature [12:00])

http://lifeofpauldo.com/6th-annual-sgt-jeffrey-boucher-memorial-show/    (Performance Feature)

http://11radio.com/archives/10882    (Featured Artist)

http://popculturez.com/chaser-eight-up-and-up-e-p/   (Up and Up Review)

http://www.doyd.com/rock/chaser-eight/you-said-i-heard/    (Video Feature)

http://indiemusicvideos.tv/chaser-eight-on-wtnhs-stage-8-tv-interviewperformance-on-indie-music-videos-tv/    (Video Feature)

http://podimouthradio.podbean.com/2013/06/26/podimouth-2013-04/    (Podcast Featured Artist)

http://deliradio.com  (iRadio Rotation Placement)

http://fuzz.com/station/1964/Eclectic-Indie    (iRadio Rotation Placement)

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/chasereight2    (Customer Purchase Reviews)

http://www.moderndaymusician.com/chaser-eight.html#.Uk2kV4bbOSo    (Featured Artist SoundCloud)

http://www.amazon.com/Up-and/product-reviews/B00DPEUXCI/ (Up and Up Review)

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/up-and-up/id668141003?ign-mpt=uo%3D4    (Customer Purchase Reviews)

http://frontrangescribbles.com/2013/07/15/chaser-eight/  (Up and Up Review)

http://hotbandgirls.tumblr.com/post/46949184660/audrachasereight  (*AUDRA* Interview)

http://www.ctindie.com/2013/06/ctindiecom-summer-mix-2013-q-90.html  (Song Feature on Summer Mix)

http://www.unsignedcorner.com/2013/02/chaser-eight.html  (Band Review)

http://supportunsignedartists.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-women-of-indie-music.html    (*AUDRA* Feature)

http://supportunsignedartists.blogspot.com/2013/03/chaser-eight-ft-audra.html    (Band Review)

http://theultimatejamz.blogspot.com/2013/05/up-and-up-ep-by-chaser-eight.html    (Up and Up Review)

A Tap Dance

*AUDRA* says:

This is my correspondence with an interviewer . I thought it was insightful on both sides and worth sharing. I don't tend to agree with everything this person says, but have a look for yourself: 

XXX,

Just a quick note to say thank you for taking the time for the interview yesterday afternoon. I truly appreciate our conversation and am pleased with how it came out. Providing the indie music scene with your coverage and attention to artists like us is a great service, and we've already gotten some good traction out of the interview. Thank you!

One thing you did mention in our talk was that you hear again and again that groups have the desire to make it, but actually do not. For the ones that do "make it", what have you seen that sets them apart from the rest? Obviously it's quality music, of course, but what other attributes do you think help to garner success versus wallowing gig to gig? 

I like to ask this question to get different perspectives. I hope that your offer to help me out could include the above conversation. :)

Many thanks in advance, and again, I truly appreciate your time and our conversation. I look forward to speaking to you again in a couple months when we launch the new EP.

Best,

*AUDRA* from Chaser Eight

____________________________________________________________________

From: XXX
To: *AUDRA* from Chaser Eight
Subject: Re: Thank you!

Thank you for being on the show Audra! We had a great time speaking with you. I am always interested in bands and performers perspectives on their career progression.

I like to ask the question about where bands see themselves in 2/3 years or "down the road" to get a feel for how sincere they are and if they understand the commitment it takes to succeed. The difference to me is being able to understand that it is more than a career choice. It is a lifestyle choice. You have to be on the road in markets where nobody will know you for the most part. You have to understand that is necessary in order to network with others doing the same thing. By building and utilizing these relationships on the road is where doors will begin to open. Believe me there are 10's of thousands of talented bands everywhere. Most never leave their comfort zone and eventually implode from life in general...work, marriage, babies etc. It doesn't mean you cannot fall in love and have a real life it’s just that those people in your life need to understand your choices....being on the road etc. They and you have to be strong enough to handle time apart.

One of the biggest challenges, of course, is money. That is why cultivating relationships elsewhere is so important. You need places to stay, food etc. to keep costs down. You need to have merch to sell in order to have gas money for the next gig. Venues will not begin paying you a decent amount until you build a following in their area. That takes time and work...not just partying with people. (Another roadblock to success).

You also have to ask yourself ...what is your definition of success? Is it fortune and fame or an established career within the industry where you make a nice living? In either case it takes full commitment to the lifestyle and a consistent approach to your craft every single day. You are a professional artist first.

I hope this helps Audra. I am always available to answer your questions or give you insight. If I am able to introduce you with others that might be good for you to work with I will do so....other bands, promoters, etc. Just keep me in the loop on what you are doing and we can take it from there. Contact me anytime you wish. Ask me anything you wish.

Peace, XXX

____________________________________________________________________

Hey XXX, thank you for your reply. Right now, we definitely want to build a huge following locally; drill a niche an inch wide and a mile deep and fill it with people versus broadcasting to anyone everywhere and having a very thin following. Not that I don't agree with your views, I just think the game is a bit different now with the ever-expansive use of the internet to market music. I think you can stay in your comfort zone more now if you are making great music and have a great web marketing plan that can reach millions of potential fans. Or if you are making music that is good enough to license (as a mentioned yesterday we already have a few deals). This way you can make some money off those avenues or gain traction in your own area through doing local shows then you can do a tour. I would never want to be like some of the bands we see out on "tour" now; playing everywhere to no one and just to say you did it. I would rather dominate my market then go on tour opening for bigger acts. Make a new for ourselves and leverage it. Otherwise, it can just be a terrible waste of money.

Every single member is fully invested in the Chaser Eight lifestyle and everything that entails. Even our manger (our 6th member). Unfortunately, we all have day jobs to pay the bills right now, but we drop everything for a commitment to the band. Also, the day jobs do help as it allows us to fatten up our band fund with the weekly dues. This way new merch, music videos, studio time, and whatever else can all be afforded. But one of the main band mottos is: Always show up. And we live by that.

Success would have to be both for me. It would be the fame and fortune and an established career within the industry making a nice living.

I always tell people that I didn't choose music, it chose me. So for me and for the band is this lifestyle choice AND a career choice. I believe it has to be both. In this age of DIY musicians if you don't treat your band like a business and make the best and informed business decisions, you'll also fail at achieving your goal. The goal being "making it."

Thank you again and we will definitely keep you in the loop and appreciate your help and advice!

*AUDRA*

What Rhymes With Hug Me and is the Song of the Summer?

Pat says:

It seems that for the past few years there has been a bigger and bigger deal made about what the song of the summer is. Normally, I can't claim to be tuned into pop music enough to add very much to the conversation, but this year I can! That's because very important people have decided that the song of this summer comes down to just two candidates: "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk and "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke. Thankfully, I actually know them both. Let's take a look at each of them.

"Get Lucky": As someone who was a fan of Daft Punk before they got huge with this song, I can say that I am inclined to choose them over the syrupy pop of Robin Thicke. They helped to usher in the entire Electronic Dance Music (EDM) movement with both their sound and their legendary stage shows. After a long absence everyone was eagerly anticipating what the EDM godfathers were going to do with this latest offering. The duo decided to throw everyone a curve ball, releasing an album that completely eschews the aggressive sounds of current electronic artists like Skrillex, instead opting to create a disco pop album with a slew of guests. Random Access Memories is a solid, if surprising release. But even more surprising is that a couple of obscure French guys in their 40s have been able to ride this single to the top of the charts. I must admit that when I first heard the album, I never imagined that "Get Lucky" would have become such an incredible sensation. Great for Daft Punk! About time they got their due. I just wish I liked the song a little more. Don't get me wrong, legendary rhythm guitarist Nile Rodgers adds some solid disco infused guitar lines, and guest vocalist Pharrell Williams is perfectly serviceable. The main problem is that the song is just too long. Even the slimmed down radio version takes a long time to get to the duo's patented vocoder embellishments. The hook isn't catchy enough to sustain endless repetitions and even the magic of Rodgers guitar work starts to drag after a few minutes. Hopefully the success of Random Access Memories will drive people to hear some of Daft Punk's older work, but I can't say that this is the winner.

"Blurred Lines": A white male R&B vocalist. A famous guest rapper. A big time producer. I could be dishing out clues for Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie", released earlier this year. That tune, with its overly serious music video and exceptionally lazy verse from Jay-Z didn't quite work the way JT probably hoped it would. "Blurred Lines" doesn't make any of those missteps. Robin Thicke is well aware of some of the silliness inherit to a song like this, practically laughing as he says the line "What rhymes with hug me?" T.I. is way better than Jay-Z, keep his verse succinct and rhythmically interesting. The hooks are great, and the production details by Pharrell Williams (it has been a good summer for him) are spot on. Also a few more points are awarded to Robin because when Daft Punk recently cancelled their performance on the Colbert Report without notice, he stepped up to the plate and performed.

That's my two cents on this topic.

Until next summer...

Spotify and The Dilemma (Catchy Band Name)

Pat says:

Recently Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, has decided not to let the online music service Spotify use his new Adams for Peace album "Amok." He is claiming that the streaming service is unfair to new artists, paying them far too little for their work. Artists are paid fractions of a penny for each song that is streamed on the service and thus they need to rack up outrageous numbers of plays in order to earn any reasonable income. Additionally, Yorke notes that catalogue recordings (Pink Floyd, ZZ Top, etc) which have long since recouped their costs, receive higher rates than new artists' music. Mr. Yorke's protest is unlikely to bring about any major changes but it does at least open up the discussion about how new artists are supposed to navigate  in the current music industry.

The days of artists being granted cushy promotional budgets and generous advances from their record labels are long over. The terabytes of music downloaded illegally from torrent clients each year have gutted the record labels' profits. The royalties from legally downloaded music and streaming services pale in comparisons and artists have virtually zero leverage in negotiating the rates. So how is the artist supposed to make a living? Nowadays its more important than ever to make money from a diverse range of opportunities - gigs, licensing in tv/movies, merchandise, legal downloads, and many others.

In order to do this, artists need to be more entrepreneurial than ever. To leverage all of these different revenue streams bands need to build the foundation of their business themselves. If you are an artist and you are reading this, that means you  have to build your own website, pursue your own publishing deals, manage your own YouTube page, write to promoters, and on and on. Once you've built that foundation its a great idea to seek out help from more experienced business professionals, but the days of letting someone else exclusively handle it while you focus on your art are long over.

This is exactly what we are trying to do as a band. We built up our business foundation and now we have gotten exceptional help from our manager Doug Grabowski and Cyber PR to help take it all to the next level. What do other people think of this Spotify issue and how new artists are to work in the current environment?

Further Reading: 

On Point Radio: Is Spotify Fair To Musicians? 

The New Yorker: If You Care About Music, Should You Ditch Spotify? 

The Way to a Man's Heart

Pete (the drummer) says: 

So they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach...

Other than the drive to constantly better myself as a musician and performer, a passion for food and the culinary arts is a close second. Studying cultures for their music, always...studying them for their food is just as amazing. Just as music is more than entertainment to many cultures around the world, food is more than just a meal. It brings families together, celebrates holidays, has spiritual and religious meaning, and so much more. Like music it also allows for creative freedom. Of course there are the traditional dishes that do not need changing: Take the time open a cook book and do it. You could surprise yourself and others with an extraordinary dish.

Cooking has been a long time passion for me and always will be. For at least twenty plus years I’ve done most of it in my home and some professionally. The idea of people enjoying my cooking, the looks on their faces and my favorite sound, mmm, brings a smile to my face and puts joy in my heart. It’s the same feeling I get when I see people enjoy our music. So if the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, does that mean I’m a man after my own heart? No it just means nobody else in this house can cook!

Buon Appetito                                                       

P.S. A quick and simple dish: Shrimp Scampi

As long as the pasta took to cook is as long as the dish took to make.

One from Column B-Sides

Billy (the bassist) says: 

When a band records an album together, there's bound to be extra tracks that won't make the official cut -- these extra songs are usually referred to as b-sides. Take a trip back in history and the terms a-side and b-side actually refer to the two sides of the 78 rpm records (vinyl records, gramophone record, same terms). 

The earliest known double-sided 78 rpm records appeared as early as the 1910's in Europe. The a-side is the actual recording that is expected to be a hit and is on top of the vinyl while the b-side is the song on the flip-side of the vinyl and is usually the "other song." Interesting note, the artist who has the most popular double-sided records in the U.S. Hot 100 is Elvis Presley with 51 records.

Many popular artists release their B-Sides: Nirvana's 1992 Incesticide, Metallica's 1998 Garage Inc., Oasis' 1998 The Masterplan, Pearl Jam's 2003 Lost Dogs. One of my favorite bands is Red Hot Chili Peppers and the band has a history of releasing their B-Sides after their major CD releases.

The band's 2006 double-disc album Stadium Arcadium featured not only 28 songs on the two discs but the band also released an additional nine songs on a "bonus" CD! The two CDs are named Jupiter and Mars while the fans dubbed the bonus tracks as Venus. Much like Stadium Arcadium itself, Venus features a wide-spectrum of styles. Originally RHCP wanted to release all 38 tracks over 3 CDs.

Funny Face (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=938KsIzN7pw) has an interesting groove, which is provided by bassist Flea. 

Million Miles of Water (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j38FapaYtE) is an upbeat rock song and the chorus becomes a bit melodic with Frusicante's backing vocals and Flea's playing the bass at a higher register. Plus Frusicante's solo has a neat wah effect.

My favorite B-Side from Stadium Arcadium is called I'll Be Your Domino (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXWNPUbRsnM). This song is straight up funk and features a slick slap bassline by Flea -- he evens adds wah during the second verse. Also, Frusicante chirps in and out with his guitar. I was surprised this song didn't make the album.

RHCP's most recent album, I'm With You, has a large number of B-Sides too. Surprisingly the band recorded 48 songs for I'm With You! 14 made it on the album and the band plans to release (even up to this day!) 17 B-Sides! Six songs are planned for release this month. In a sense, we're getting new music over two years, and you can't complain about that.

So what does this say for Chaser Eight? I've been playing with Pat and *AUDRA* for over nine years and we've written tons and tons of songs together. That's the beauty of music, the magic will always flow and I can predict Chaser Eight B-Sides in the near future!