Getting Your Band Out Of The Garage And Into Bonnaroo (Part 1 of 3)
Real True Confessions With Padre Pienbique
Right before I started cracking beers, cueing up Slayers Reign In Blood, and fishing for adjectives in earnest to inspire this months column, an email came to my attention. It was from the other staff conservative on a forum that I used to write for when I was destitute enough to accept $400 paychecks to heckle Al Gore for being such a weenie. (Now that Ive put actual revenue back in the stream, I can afford to spew this kind of junk for the fun of it.)
Anyway, Thrice (his screen name) forwarded this along:
The Washington Post runs a weekly contest in its Style section called the ‘Style Invitational’.
The requirements this week were to use the two words ‘Lewinsky’ (the Intern) and ‘Kaczynski’ (the Unabomber) in the same limerick.
Now, remember, the following winning entries were actually printed verbatim in the newspaper, no bleeps or xxxs:
There once was a girl named Lewinsky
Who played on a flute like Stravinsky
‘Twas ‘Hail to the Chief’
On this flute made of beef
That stole the front page from Kaczynski.
Said Clinton to young Ms. Lewinsky,
We don’t want to leave clues like Kaczynski,
Since you made such a mess,
Use the hem of your dress
And please wipe that stuff off your chinsky.
And the winning entry:
Lewinsky and Clinton have shown
What Kaczynski must surely have known,
That an intern is better
Than a bomb in a letter,
_When deciding how best to be blown. _
Ah, BJ jokes. Im telling ya jambanders: The classics never get old- they just come again.
As for my current literary employer, Relix/jambands.com, I noticed an unusual band made the cover of Relix: Tool.
The funny thing is, when I saw them standing with white jumpsuits on the cover, I didnt even bat an eye. Perhaps it was my affection for the only metal band making relevant music other than Megadeth that I forgot to wonder why Trey/WSP didnt take their usual position on the front page.
Or maybe Im used to Tool being on the cover of every other music magazine. Either way: What the fuck? Tool on the cover of Relix?
I guess times are changing like they always do. and now even Relix is coming full-circle: Ozzy made the cover somewhere back in the Diary Of A Madman days, circa 1982.
But some things never change. Back in 2000, when those blow-hards from Phoenix Rising were courting The Big Wu before they did their best to strangle our careers, the president gave me a copy of an Ozzy Osbourne show they owned the rights to in an effort to gain favor. It was one of those Westward One/King Biscuit-type radio shows where they interview the artist 90-seconds before they go on stage. And it happened to be about a week or two after Ozzy bit the head off a bat in Des Moines, so his notoriety was just reaching a new plateau.
The chump talking to Ozzy kept referring to him as the bat-man of rock & roll and poor Ozzy (I mean that literally: He was later quoted in Rolling Stone, moaning I wont make a penny on this tour) repeatedly relied No really we have a great band and a terrific show Bring the kids! This is fun for all ages!
Even the Prince Of Fucking Darkness has to play the shill to break even.
Well, things worked out for Ozzy- if you count a steady diet of booze & blow supplemented with enough trips to rehab to have a wing in a treatment facility named after him, not to mention an attempt to strangle that manager/rascal/wife Sharon, worked out. Other than that, hes sitting pretty. (Insert Kelly Osbourne joke here.)
But as for the bands that havent made it to the cover of Relix: Whats your plan?
Ive blathered on a-plenty in these columns regarding the foolish follies of my bands mishaps. While I hoped these tales would serve as fair warning to younger jam-kateers, the truth is: Theres nothing like fucking something up until you do it to yourself. So I thought it would be a refreshing change to offer solid advice on what to do, instead of what not to do.
Dont worry- If youre in a band, youll piss it up anyways. But at least you can read some solid advice on: Getting Your Band Out Of The Garage And Into Bonnaroo!
If youre not in a band and dont play an instrument: Read on! The truth is that you like music, or else you wouldnt be reading this at all. You might as well see what that favorite local band you dig so much does in order to reach out to folks like yourself. If nothing else, youll appreciate them all the more for the time and effort it takes to turn countless hours of writing and rehearsing into a show that you can groove with by simply paying five bucks at the door.
If youre in a band and want nothing more than to get it on: Then Pay Attention! The rules of the game havent changed since Mozarts time- theyve just gotten a little more umm, ahh, well, hands on. (And thats good news for you!)
BIG IDEA: Okay- Youve got a band (or at least a few folks that keep showing up to practice) and its time to take the act to the stage.
I know what youre thinking: Hey! Lets put some stuff on myspace, make some friends, announce where were playing, and presto!- Were in business
REALITY CHECK: Oooops.
The concept that myspace levels the playing field for bands works too well: Anybody and everybody is playing on that level ground. Now youre back where you were before: Standing in a crowd, hoping to get noticed. While myspace is a must for every band, its nothing more than one possible pit stop amongst millions. So dont fool yourself: Its a post card from la-la land in lieu of an all-inclusive paid vacation to music heaven.
What you always need to do is get some music into the hands of folks that may listen to it. I wrote may instead of might for a reason: May listen to implies that the opportunity to hear your band comes with a better known bait- The music is already on something a person wants to hear. Might listen to refers to a CD that you handed out to anybody.
This is an idea put forth by the Big Wus first (and best!) manager/skid-greaser, Paul Hagen. Paul was an avid taper (back when music was traded on Maxell- and only Maxell- tapes) who had a reputation for not only possessing, but would spin copies of good shows.
The idea was simple, yet ingenious: Heads would ask Paul for a copy of (name band/show here) and he would oblige. His twist would cleverly fill up the unused space at the end of a tape with his other favorite band. Whether it was by design or by accident, it didnt matter: People would be listening to their new tapes and when the regular show was over, fresh Wu would start. It didnt matter if they were driving (thus grooving too much to ditch the tape) or too stoned to get off the couch and change the tape for something else, the Wu got in their ears.
Now, compare that to the relatively weak approach of: Hey dude! Go to w-w-w-dot-myspace-dot-com-slash-BigWu and then shut your friends up, get some popcorn, and listen to twenty-three minutes of our awesome jammin epic Red Sky!
Ummmm Sure Ill be sure to get around to that AfterUmmm I get, ya know, around UmmmTo that Ummm Who the fuck ordered a pizza?
See? There is a difference: One option asks for people to go out of their way, while the other asks absolutely nothing of them- just dont get up and change the tunes. And if you enjoy the kind of Glaucoma medicine I do, its not too much to ask.
Oh, by the way: Do yourself a favor and put a good song on there. People like good jams. But people love great songs.
So if Yonder Mountain is in town three days before your big gig: Go ahead and burn 100 disks with forty minutes of YMSBs last show in town piggy-backed with two of your best songs at the end and stick the CDs under their windshield wipers before the show is over. Just dont forget to pimp your gig on the paper sleeve.
BIG IDEA: Somebody in the band starts believing their own good press- or worse, takes advice from an internet columnist- and gets jittery/overexcited about their musics copyrights or smash-hit possibilities. (Thus fucking up the bands internal chemistry with absurd measures to protect his/hers Grand Artistic Achievement)
REALITY CHECK: Legally, aside from the VERY remote possibility that any given song will go on to become famous on its own accord, nothing could be better for a songwriter than for another artist to steal it.
Quite frankly, the more complete job of ripping you off they do, the better. Of course, artists steal others work all the time; its nothing new. But when somebody goes from writing a good song to a little Hitler, nothing good can follow: They begin to believe theyre more important (theyre not), they should have certain privileges reserved (they dont), and best of all, theyre the guiding light/future of the band (oh my God, please nooooo!)
Catchy songs are written all the time; Great ones less often. Countless bands have broken up before they really got started, quite often due to an artist forgetting who they are playing with.
I can count the examples of great songwriters that made a dime in this genre without using all the fingers of my left hand. To count the bands that have thrived by tucking away the petty bullshit in favor of working together would require an Abacus of the Gods.
There is no replacement for group effort and enthusiasm. Everybody needs to count in order to do their best. Remember, Im talking about bands that have to spread their wings. The bedroom Lennon/McCartneys can go post on myspace. Best of luck to you
Next month, Ill bring you Getting Your Band Out Of The Garage And Into Bonnaroo: Part 2. We will touch on getting a manager, and what to do with them, (or perhaps, to them.).
RECIPE OF THE MONTH
I dont know about you, but Ive always hated those packets of fajita marinade. No matter whats in the hermetically-sealed bag, theres no way a cup of oil and a splash of water is going to transform that crap into a usable marinade.
The Big Wus long-time chef, Monte Behm, uses a fool-proof (I tested myself with terrific results) recipe that not only marinates the chicken in a proper fashion, but provides a tasty glaze to the final product.
The secret is a can of Coke, which not only provides a sweet base for the marinade, but citric acid, which breaks down the chicken tissue, leaving you with a soft and tasty piece of meat.
This recipe gets Official Padre Double Bonus Points for ease of cooking (anybody can make this) and, availability of ingredients. (If you dont have a can of Coke, garlic, cumin, hot & soy sauces: Go shopping for once Its fun!)
CHEF MONTES FAJITAS
ONE CAN OF COKE CUP SOY SAUCE CUP FRANKS HOT SAUCE TEASPOON CHILI POWDER TEASPOON GARLIC POWDER TEASPOON CUMIN
CORN STARCH SLURRY: 2 TABLESPOONS CORN STARCH AND A LITTLE WATER (ENOUGH SO ITS RUNNIER THAN A PASTE)
ONE LB (GIVE OR TAKE) CHICKEN
SLICED PEPPERS & ONIONS
EVERYTHING ELSE YOU WANT: FLOUR TORTILLAS, JALAPENOS, SOUR CREAM, CILANTRO, BEANS, ETC.
MIX MARINADE TOGETHER AND ADD CHICKEN (SLICED INTO STRIPS)
MARINATE CHICKEN AT LEAST 4 HRS. EVEN BETTER, LEAVE IN THE FRIDGE OVERNIGHT
SAUTEE CHICKEN UNTIL DONE
ADD PEPPERS & ONIONS FOR THE SECOND HALF
REINTRODUCE MARINADE, BRING TO A BOIL, AND SIMMER FOR A COUPLE MINUTES.
WHEN CHICKEN IS FULLY COOKED, KEEP THE MARINADE SIMMERING, ADD CORN STARCH SLURRY, MIX UNTIL THE SAUCE THICKENS.