People sometimes ask me what made me get into metal or why I chose metal as the focus of my music career. Let us take a time machine back to fifth grade when I was starting to learn the alto saxophone. It was that year when music started becoming very important to me.
Through my middle school years I listened to bands such as Blink 182, Green Day, AFI, and Taking Back Sunday. It was the “alternative” years for me, and I was searching for something more. Eighth grade came around and I began listening to “heavier” music such as Trivium, Lamb of God, and As I Lay Dying.
Let’s skip through high school, because I could name off about a thousand bands that helped me gain an infatuation with the metal genre. When eleventh grade rolled around it was time to start taking the passion I had for music to the next level.
When I started Fail to Decay with my brother and a few friends I never saw it as a big deal, but more of simply something to do with my time. As we continue forward college brought on another huge responsibility and in my last blog you can read about how that affects me.
In college I started listening to completely different genres such as, folk, indie, and instrumental. Bands such as Iron & Wine, Foals, Russian Circles, and so many more. This was a time where finding other genres helped me better myself as a musician and lyricist.
So today I can skip between singer/songwriter to death metal and everything in between. Having that many variety of genres makes me more accepting to other genres and seeing multiple points of view. Even though metal sometimes sounds dark, there are plenty of folk artists that can really write a depressing song.
What kinds of music have affected your life? If so was there a specific artist?
I started to talked about this in an earlier post, but just didn’t get in depth enough with it. The balance between being in a band and going to school is something I’ve been doing since this whole thing started. High school was easy to balance since it is simply that; high school. With minimal homework and studying involved it was easy to put the band first in my life and school second.
Once I started going to college though, it became tug-o-war game between my school work and working with the band.
It may sound simple, take time during the week to focus on school, and on the weekend focus on the band. Although I have made this work, it has been hard to put a full effort into both when you have to focus on one more than the other. For example, during the week you’ll have your typical agenda; go to class, receive assignment, finish assignment, repeat process. But having time to sit down and talk with other band members and continue to forward the band also has to be put in there. And yes, I know this sounds like a simple task, but somehow it really isn’t. Keeping up with the band’s social media pages, emails, and phone calls with band members takes time. This is the tug-o-war factor I was speaking about, and there is always a pull in the back of your mind when you find yourself focusing more on one than the other.
Basically what I’m trying to get at is, there are hundreds, probably thousands of guys (and gals) who are doing the same thing I am doing and I’m sure they feel the same way. For me, I love getting off campus during the weekend to head back to the jam space, pack up the gear, and play shows. It feels as if there are two different worlds and you are constantly jumping between them.
So if you are one of those musicians who balances school with your band, tell me about it. I’d love to hear how you balance the two and make the time for both to work.
The last two years or so I have seen something change in the music scene. Ego’s have been on the rise by 200% and it is quite pathetic. When I first started playing with the band back in late 2008, everybody who went to a show was your friend, because everyone was able to relate through the same thing; music. Now the scene has changed to where no one even wants to take the time to meet someone new.
As a musician, meeting new people is one of my favorite things to do other than getting on stage and playing a great show. Taking the time to get to know another band or even just someone who really enjoyed your music means so much more to the ones who do love music. Both of these things will make connections that may help you later down the road.
When it comes to talking to fans or new listeners let them do the talking. By nature, we as humans love to talk. So simply take ten minutes to let them just say what’s on their mind and acknowledge that you are listening. Without people like them, you’d be playing for no one and personally I love meeting new fans. Hearing their stories helps me build memories and hearing they have a passion as strong as you do for music simply puts a smile on my face.
Talking to other bands or musicians comes with a little more dedication. This dedication has to come in the sense that we are all in the same musical boat trying to get our names out there. SO TAKE THE TIME TO MEET NEW BANDS. Sometimes you will run into plain out assholes who simply don’t care about you, because they have the ego the size of the statue of liberty. You need to be able to at least try and meet them even if they forget about you. One thing I’ve learned is never burn bridges with anyone. When it comes to bands who enjoy meeting other bands, it makes playing with them again that much more fun. I personally love playing shows with other bands that I’ve taken the time to get to know and have a personal friendship with them.
Basically what I’m trying to get at is if you are a musician or an artist of any sort, networking and making connections with others is so important. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. So if you are an artist of any sort post a comment and I’ll check you out. If you’re in the hardcore/metal scene and post a comment with your band I’d love to get to know you and play a show with you!
Fail to Decay and We Paint the Sky (2012)
Let us take a trip back to the past, about a year ago today. We were asked to play a show outside the small town of Plainview, MN for a benefit concert. The promoter who set up the show said it will be a big turn out, and although we hadn’t heard of the place, we were optimistic and hoped for the best.
The day of the show came, so we packed up our gear and headed out into the rural countryside that is southern Minnesota. After our GPS lost satellite reception and we ended up at a church in the middle of nowhere we began to ponder on if this was going to actually be a show. So after the brief stop we pulled out the iPhone’s and finally figured out the address.
When we pulled into the driveway we saw our stage. The floor of a garage with nothing more than a few carpets to set the drum set on. As we began unloading our gear through the pouring rain we started losing faith in how this show was going to turn out.
The line-up had us playing second to the last, so while we waited we decided on if this was even going to be worth our time. The clock slowly ticked away until it was time to set up our gear and hope for the best.
There were no monitors and the system used for vocals had more compression than a WWII fighter pilot talk back system. As we played through our set, we found ourselves not caring what people thought and just had fun. Even though there was one drunk lady constantly jumping around and touching us, overall… It was a blast!
I guess what I’ve been trying to get at is don’t judge a moment by the surroundings. When we first rolled into that driveway I thought it was going to be nothing more than a lame excuse of a show. Now, looking back at that moment, I can reminisce with the other guys and get a good laugh in. I would definitely play there again simply to just look back and have one hell of a time.
So I pose another question. What is your craziest moment at a show?
Being a small local band from Rochester, MN your opportunities for playing shows in the area are few and far between. Usually the closest venue we play at is the Warehouse in La Crosse, WI. So needless to say, after five years of playing within six hours from home, I am ready to hit the road and see what other states have to offer.
Booking a tour isn’t as easy as I expected.. Yeah you can read online about how to properly do it, but I’d rather learn on my own. So the first tour I am in the works on is heading out to Grand Rapids, MI. It’s only a four day mini tour, but I think it’ll be worth seeing other parts and if kids like what we are creating.
After this tour, I am looking into a week long one. This would hit places like Fort Wayne, IN, Columbus, OH, St. Louis, MO, and several others. I enjoy traveling around in a van with three other guys, creating what we call art. As long as we continue making music that we enjoy, that’s all that will ever matter to me.
So back to the booking part.. What I’ve been doing is contacting venues in the area seeing if it’s possible to play at their establishment and could set up a show around the time we will be in their area. Another approach that I’ve tried is contacting band around the area to see if they could help us out. One problem with this is getting a guarantee or simply getting paid. Something I’ve noticed with the music industry today is that promoters let the word “guarantee” mean something more along the lines of, “well if we get that much through the door, then I’ll get it to you.” It isn’t free to get from venue to venue, so as long as we are making enough to pay for gas money, that’s all that matters to us.
With that I ask a question, if you’ve ever booked a tour, how did you set it up? I’d love to hear what others do, because it’s networking that keeps small bands alive.
This past week was “Spring Break” for me so off the band went to Shawano, WI to play at The Well. Shawano is about five hours away from Rochester, MN so the promoter of the show promised us we could crash in his basement. (A kind gesture that is often overlooked)
So after we packed up the gear in our pearly white van we hit the road through scenic central Wisconsin. Taking the role as driver, I took this as nothing more than mindless driving past thousands of trees. This was well worth it though, because through hours of driving, band bonding time occurred.
FINALLY we reached Shawano and played a solid set. We sold merch and got paid the guarantee we were guaranteed (which doesn’t happen as frequently as it should). After the show was over, we packed up our gear/merch and headed down to a locally owned restaurant which stayed open 24/7. This was a good time to sit down with the other bands and get to know them a bit more.
A big reason why I enjoy playing music so much is the fact that you meet so many new and interesting people. When we were eating I got to know several members from several bands which makes a home away from home experience.
After indulging in mediocre food we headed over to the promoters house to crash with another band. Before falling asleep (at like 4 am) I took some time to think about what other people my age look forward too. I am almost every weekend heading to a different town to play shows and that has just become my lifestyle and what I’m always excited for. If I wasn’t playing music I wouldn’t meet the interesting people and the friendships that come along with that.
All in all this post is to express the bonding between musicians and the feeling that you can still have a home far away from your actual home. It’s a community spread across the entire nation, and having that entwined networking makes me feel as if I have accomplished something far greater than simply playing music with my friends.
So I pose this question, what makes you feel that sense of home away from home? Is it music like myself or is it something else? Let me know!
When someone asks my why I am in a band, I could respond a thousand different ways. Though.. I only ever answer the same way each time and it’s simple. I absolutely love music and everything about it.
Playing music is the greatest feeling I have ever felt and it cannot be described. Whether it is playing for 20 people or 200, being on stage is a feeling that gives me butterflies and make me want to throw up. I love it though and wouldn’t trade for anything.
I started making music in fifth grade playing the alto saxophone for the concert band. Music has been around me all my life and I honestly do not know what I would do without it. There is this internal drive that pulls me in and makes sure that I devote every ounce of time towards bettering myself through music.
It’s when people say things like “being in a band is like burning money” I will never understand. Being in a band isn’t going to make you millions of dollars or make you famous worldwide. It is about sharing your creativity and love for something in which words will never describe. I honestly have to say I would rather die than not have music be a part of my life.
Fail to Decay has been an ever changing life process that I would never give up on. It has grown me into a more mature person as well as seeing the world for what it truly has to offer. It has made me sacrifice time, friendships, money and so much more, but I don’t regret this. There is nothing in this world that will ever mean more to me than making music.
With all this being said I purpose one question. What do you have a burning passion and love for in life? Whatever that may be, never let it go, and never let someone get in the way for what you truly care for.