Railroad Earth: The Outlaw Way
Something else that really jumped out at me…we were talking before about getting the samples out and letting people hear little cuts of that. What really popped out at me was on your Facebook page, you guys announced the pre-order for the new album, which is great and I think the signed-copy promotion is always cool. But along with it on Facebook there was a statement – and I don’t know who handles it or who wrote it – that said “If one out of every two of you who ‘like’ this page were to pre-order a CD or digital version of the new album, Railroad Earth would hit the Billboard charts as one of the top five best sellers in our first week of sales.” I think that is such a good point because if you’re looking at it, you have well over 95 thousand followers on Facebook. So that would be almost 48 thousand pre-orders and that would be pretty incredible.
That would put you on the map, you know? It’s more of a statement about record sales and what has happened and the point that the industry is at. But yeah, you’re absolutely right. It’s an interesting thing when you have a certain amount of fans that come out to see you and you have shows like we played at Red Rocks where we filled it up with over eight thousand people, which is a bit mind-blowing for us to headline a show like that. You get that many people here and you realize how many fans you have and then you actually try to make a studio record and put it out but, yeah, it’s a strange time. I think it’s going to work its way out eventually and we’ll find a model that makes a little more sense.
Well that’s a good point you make, too, that it will work its way out. I think it has to work its way out because the music is not going to stop, so where else can sales go?
Music is not going to stop and trying to play on people’s consciences – that they will buy the record because they should – I don’t think is a good business plan. It’s a noble idea but you’ve got to have a better idea than, “You know I think you guys should really do this,” because I don’t think that’s going to last. It seems like subscription-services and these things are really – people don’t understand – but they really need to work things ahead. And I use them myself! It’s opened the world of music up to me where I can listen to all sorts of stuff all day, which is awesome. Yeah, we’ll see. It’s fun to make the music. At least I have the opportunity to have a vehicle to be an artist and make music. That’s the important thing.
Obviously you guys share the Grateful Dead mentality and business model where touring is king and because you play so many live shows – I’ve seen your touring schedule and it’s extensive – do you think that helps with sales at all? I would hope it helps so many people come so often to see your shows and hopefully that translates in album sales.
You know, I think the best promotion of the band is the band. The experience that we’ve had from the very beginning is that it’s not that there’s any other kind of sales pitch with it, it’s just that people need shows going, “Hell yeah, I just had a good time.” Moving people live, that is where we’re at our strength. So if you want to advertise a band like that, be it to sell a record or anything else, the best thing you can do is to have people in front of you. So yeah, it’s a big part of it for sure.
How reassuring is a show like a packed out Red Rocks? It’s such a beautiful and large venue, which you’ve played several times in the past, but now you get to be the top billing on that stage. How reassuring was that to see all those people come out?
It’s very reassuring. And it’s great to feel the music that you’ve played on all different kinds of stages and all different kinds of venues, and to put it on that level of stage. I think the most satisfying part of Red Rocks was that there was a certain feeling that we belonged. It would be one thing if you were there and you were freaked out and you were in over your head and you just got to the show. Maybe it’s because we had played there a few times previous but, being there and having our own night, it felt like the time was right. I just felt that the best part of that experience was that I thought that we played a good show. And I felt like the music and the band belonged there. It’s not just being there, it was that this music sounds good on this stage being played to this many people, which was great.
Greensky Bluegrass opened for you there, right?
Yes, we had Greensky and we had Galactic.
Greensky is actually one of my favorite bluegrass bands and I’ve loved them for a long time. And they played a Halloween show this year dressed completely as Railroad Earth. But since they lack a drummer, you sat in…dressed as yourself for obviously reasons. I can imagine how much fun that must have been. Can you talk to me a little bit about that and how it all came together? How did it feel playing with phony members of your band?
Well first of all they nailed it; the costumes were hysterical, right down to the mannerisms. I was the only one in on the joke but I was supposed to get all of our band to stay up until two A.M. when they were actually taking the stage for that. It was a late-night set and it was a blast. They’re great people and I’ve known them for a really long time. They played a festival in Michigan and I can’t even tell you, it must have been 2003. It was a long time ago and we were paired up for a workshop with a band called Greensky Bluegrass in Michigan. We didn’t even know how to pronounce their name; we thought it was Green-ski. We thought, “What the heck are these guys?” We did a workshop and together and since then we’ve been bumping into each other. It’s great to see how they’ve grown and they are great people and certainly a great group.