Brownie Unlocked: Conspirator, The Biscuits, Electron and Onward
How familiar do you think most of those audiences were with your music? How many new faces were you playing for?
It really depended on where we were. In Albuquerque nobody was familiar, but that was really cool. In Dallas, it was a huge jamband crowd. It was a Sunday night in Dallas. Sound Tribe Sector 9 had played two nights at Stubbs in Austin. Pretty Lights had just joined the tour two nights before that. All the stars were aligned. When we got on stage it was like, “Whoa, what’s going on here? Why does everyone seem to know what we’re doing?” It was super cool. After the show I was like, “Why are all you guys here?” And people were like, “Sound Tribe was close and Pretty Lights were here.” It was a little more our crowd. I want to get in front of the kids that are not our crowd.
Right, I assume that’s why you did the tour.
Yeah, I’m not sure that they were sold at first… a lot of it was like, “What’s that thing you’re holding?” It’s a guitar. Check at your grandfather’s house. There might be one in the attic. It’s an ancient instrument (laughs).
Some wanted to hear about balancing fatherhood with the life of a touring musician? “Do your kids enjoy the music? How do they influence your music?”
The kids love the music. My daughter doesn’t like it as much as my sons. My kids love electro and dubstep. They’re really into Conspirator. Zach was into the Biscuits a couple of years ago and then he started getting into Justin Bieber and stuff like that. We just try to let them like whatever they want to like and not push our music on them. We don’t take them on tour. They come to Mayan Holidaze, they come to Camp Bisco. They’ve been to Jamaica. If they have to miss some school to go to Mayan Holidaze then they have to miss some school.
We were talking the other day and my son said, “We never get to go anywhere” and I was like, “Really? How many times have you been to Jamaica? How many times have you been to Mexico?” You get to go to a lot of places. You’re not going to the arcade right now, big deal.
I read something in Bass Player magazine once, Les Claypool said, “When you go on tour you don’t get to see them at all, but when you come home you’re with them all the time all day, every day.” There’s a lot of work to do when we’re building a band like Conspirator but, he’s right. You get to see your kids more than anybody who has a nine to five job. I don’t get a two week vacation every year. I get 30 weeks of vacation. And in that time I’m my own boss. So I figure out when to work and I do it after my kids go to sleep.
Alpha Data, who’s this glitch-hop artist I’m managing right now, asked me if I ever sleep. And I was like, “Yeah, I sleep eight hours every night.” He said, “Well it seems like you never, ever sleep. You’re always talking to me on the phone, or you’re on Facebook, or Twitter, or in the studio, on tour, you always seem to be working.” I go to sleep at 3 o’clock when I’m home and I try to get up by 10 or 11. I go dark when it’s really dark and I wake up at a normal time for a musician. I like it like that.
How did you come to manage him?
Well you look at a guy like Ozzie Guillen or really any baseball manager. All those guys were players. All the coaches in the NBA were players. Why is it that these players go on to be coaches or managers? In sports, you get to that point where you can’t play anymore so you have to find another job. Musicians don’t have that. You could be like the Grateful Dead and play for your entire life until it’s over. It’s incredible. I aspire to do that. B.B. King, is 88 years old and plays 200 shows a year, you know what I mean? I aspire to play forever, but the reason those guys become coaches is because they learn the game inside and out. Who’s better qualified to become a coach than someone who knows the game inside and out. I’ve been doing this for 16, 17 years; I’ve learned the game. I’d like to learn a little bit more about licensing and publishing. I’ve definitely produced and released records by myself. I produced the Progressions DVD that won the Jammys a couple of years ago. I produced the Wind at Four to Fly CD. For a couple of years it was my personal job to be in charge of the record label. I know how to produce an album. I know how to release it. I know the ins and outs of that, but I’ve never gotten that deep into publishing. The music industry changes so fast, the technology. You have to always be on top of it and learning it.
I’ve managed Conspirator for many years. Jon and I have managed the Biscuits on and off. I feel like I have the connections and relationships and the ability to help an artist along if I find someone that I really believe in. That’s the hard part: Finding someone you really believe in who doesn’t already have management. That’s the tricky part of being a manager. Alpha Data came to me through Facebook. There are many people who send me links to their songs and say, “What do you think?” There are so many that come in, it’s hard to sift through them all. About a year and a half ago I started listening because I decided it was time to help out another artist. It occurred to me that maybe managing wouldn’t be a bad thing to do. And he was one of the first ones I listened to, his name was Photosynthesizer at the time. That was one of the first orders of business, changing his name. I’m not sure if we have a better name, but at least it’s not a trademark violation. I was like “Wow, I’m a great manager. Dude you can’t have this name.” A lot of my fans are fans of theirs I figured that out in like 14 seconds.
I was blown away by this guy’s production. It was incredible. I thought, “This guy is going to be huge. I want to help him advance his career.” He opened for the Biscuits on New Year’s Eve. It was really fun taking him, getting him a sick spot, getting him in some festivals. We released one of his EPs and it went to number one in his genre on Beatport.
And then there’s Michetti. He has his dubstep project. I manage that and that is absolutely ridiculous. It’s just starting to gain traction in the dupstep world. We haven’t released anything, but we put out an exclusive on dubstep.net and I just got an email from them today saying, “We’re getting so much positive feedback on Michetti ’s stuff.” Our fans aren’t the biggest dubstep people. It’s tricky for me. It would be easy for me to help somebody that’s making the same music as me. But, somebody who’s making music that my fans aren’t into, now that I have to actually manage. I can’t just pass him along to my fans. I have to figure out how to break him into the genre that he’s playing music in. That’s a lot harder than being like, “Hey, fans. Check this out.” But, that’s what I’m learning. You have to actually manage your artists if you want to take them on. It’s a responsibility. It’s a lot of work, but it’s really rewarding. It’s really fun. We got them great agents. Who knows where that’s going to go…