Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Comedy + Rock = Comet

Can a comedian deliver at a rock show? That's the question before us now. Actually, it's not. I know this guy will deliver, but will he fit? See, for our Dec. 9 CD release show, we've got one slot that the club wants to fill with someone of their choosing. Today, they suggested a comedian. I think it's a swell idea, since it will make it a party atmosphere. I called the guys and only got Mike, who was deep into reading the dictionary. No joke. He was concerned that Sir Frances Drake and Antartic explorers make the dictionary, but Elvis Presley and John Lennon are oddly absent. Anyhow, Mike was into the idea, too, and noted that Bob Hope and Hank Williams often made the one-two comedy/music punch way back when. He's right! So, I'll wait to hear what the other two guys say and what the agent says about where he wants to play on the bill and how much he wants, and maybe we can work this out. Man, what a party!

Last night, I had a nice chat with my old pal (friend since 6th grade when he was just the weird kid in my class counting down the days to the release of Nintendo64) and ex-Duffer cohort Jimmy last night. He's now a blossoming recording engineer and TV producer, and singing lead vocals and playing guitar for the old ska group Designated Johnny. All of which got me thinking: With no disrespect to Jimmy or my old hometown, man, am I glad that Cassavettes is in Boston. Dallas just isn't a hospitable town for certain types of music. Sure, they've put the Old 97s on the map, but for every Old 97s the city launched 10,000 Drowning Pools. They love their metal. Anyhow, I remember figuring that Boston was a good place to start a serious band. Why? Because it's not easy, but there is respect if you push hard enough. If a mostly untrained lot of musicians can share the stages with the technically-impressive bands that Berklee shoots out, and can make a dent in a scene that's not the coziest, then we're doing something right. At least that's my hope. This band got a crash course early on, since we did our first record WITH Berklee kids breathing down our necks. So, we had to prove ourselves from the get-go. I think we've done pretty well up north thus far. Just a pat on the back kind of thought.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Check-in on the company dime

Even though the dateline above says I'm posting this on Saturday, I'm actually posting this on Sunday. This is what I wrote last night (Saturday):

"So, I'm at work right now, with my main man Ricky, and I figured I'd try to do a quick update."

Right as I finished that line, I was sent out to do a couple stories -- one of which paid off nicely. So, I never got to continue writing the blog from work, but nevertheless, I saved the draft and the title, and now I'm prepared to update a bit -- although because I saved the draft it will say I wrote this last night. It's like time travel.

The band was able to get together on Thursday for the first time in awhile, and we sounded good. Nice and solid. Played a couple tunes, and a cover... ooh, mysterious. We've also been working out a new version of "Saint Anthony" which I think we'll debut at the Nov. 6 Great Scott show.

In other news this week, Clay sent me the actual print-outs for the promo. They look good. We ended up using an old band photo in it, but other than that, I'm pleased. Erstwhile, Jaclyn has sent me PDFs of the entire innards and outtards (?) of the CD booklet, and they're also looking good. Dan ended up printing the initial computer art on textured paper, then photographing it, so it now has a darker color and more texture. I was hoping Jax could scoop that dark blue from the new shapes to use for the text of the album. That'd be swizz.

In the bad news department, we discovered yesterday just by looking at MySpaces that a band thought they were playing a show with us, when the bill is already filled. The lines of communication were crossed, I guess. Anyhow, sending them a message telling them they aren't on the bill was a real bummer, and I felt like an asshole doing it. But hopefully we can set something up with them real soon.

Matt is away this weekend -- he's playing drums for Ted Drozdowski's folk act in Philadelphia. Hey, it's a sweet gig, he's getting put up for the weekend and everything. While Matt was away, we just got down to biz -- the biz of celebrating. We had a two-pronged Scott birthday bash on Friday (at Tara's and at the collective Matts') and then last night I hear there were two ill bashes at Bobby's and Melanie's. Unfortunately, I was reporting at The Four Seasons.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Huh, time really does fly

Sorry, gang. It's been an entire week with no update. Sounds like someone is lagging behind. The truth is, I've been quite busy these past few days with midterms and papers and the what not, but I'm starting to see a break in the clouds.

First things first, today is Scott Jones' 21st birthday. Last night, when the hour officially struck (which by his calculation appears to be 10/25/1985 at 12:54 a.m. CST when he first came from the womb; thus making it 1:54 a.m. EST last night), Chris and I hoisted the boy to the heavens. Tonight, we're going to get some food and go check out our friends Age Rings and Ryan Lee Crosby at TT's.

So allow me to recap, for what I didn't post about. I'll do it day by day, and then general notes:

DAY BY DAY...
WEDNESDAY - Tara and I went to see our friends Fly Upright Kite play at afterHOURS, and then hopped a bus to Cambridge to see Age Rings and Christians & Lions play TT's. It was a wild night, but I picked up both Age Rings and C&L's new albums, and they are both really tight. Plus, Ryan was there, which always ensures a good time. He was also wearing a really nice leather jacket. Later, Tara and I discussed whether I would look good in a leather jacket. The decision was unanimously YES.

THURSDAY - Matt had to cancel practice to do some stuff with his long-time metal band Pipe. I didn't mind because I had some reading to do and other stuff. However, I canceled practice on Sunday, as you will see, so we're a bit behind. Earlier in the day, Matt and I talked about looking into consignment for the record. We don't have a label, and we don't have a distribution deal, so we better do this part ourselves. Matt's talked with Newbury Comics about getting "It's Gonna Change" into a number of area stores. Which reminds me, I want to make little stickers to put on the front of the album to pique the interests of passersby. Any idea how that would be accomplished?

FRIDAY - There was a party for our friend Ricky's 21st birthdays. Why is everyone turning 21 at the same time? Either way, I'm never opposed to good time parties. I left the party shortly after it started to see an old friend, Brad Skistimas of Five Times August, play at afterHOURS. Totally bizarre that an old bandmate and producer is touring and happens to stop at my college. But Brad's always impressed me; he works very hard and earns what he gets. Our music is nothing alike, but I think we respect each others' work ethics. Anyhow, it was awesome to see him and see how good he's doing. A number of girls who heard his songs on "Laguna Beach" and "One Tree Hill" were at the show, and a few of them KNEW THE WORDS. That's a pretty big deal for a completely independent artist.

SATURDAY - I had a doctor's appointment for a minor infection and now I'm on crazy pills that make my legs tingle. I also found out that after dropping 25 lbs. my freshman year, I gained it back slowly, then quickly added another 30 lbs. Which means I'm way overweight -- bummer. But the day got so much better from there. Scott, Mike, Chris, and I tried to take a bus over to Harvard Square to see Nada Surf play Row-A-Palooza (incidentally, we were submitted to play this but not picked -- not that I'm bitter). Anyhow, the bus didn't come so we walked a long, long way. And surprisingly, we only missed a bit of their set. We strolled into a huge outdoor crowd and got an AWESOME spot near the front, passed out a few flyers for Nov. 6 and saw my main couple Tim and Katie. It was awesome. We had to leave early because Mike, Scott, and I were on a podcast at 4 p.m. (Matt had a wedding to attend), and we were trying to figure out how to get to Davis. By great luck, our buddy Matt McLaughlin happened to be driving by at that moment, and gave us a ride. We listened to some of the new Slow Century disc, and were revved up. Now, we got lost trying to find the podcast Band in Boston (or The Flophouse Sessions) which is in a quaint house in Somerville occupied by Jen, Andy, and currently three fine dogs (one small named Smokey, one medium named Stella or something -- sorry, I'm bad with names, including dog names, and a large golden retriever named Duffy). Right as we were about to take a wrong turn in the Somerville hood, a man said, "You don't want to go left." I thought the dude was a nut, but alas, it was just our fine host, Andy. We went and did the show, and had a total blast. We did acoustic cuts of "Seasons," "Saint Anthony," "The Nadir," "Debts," "The Devil's Arms" and "Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This." It should be posted before our Nov. 6 show. Let me just say here though how much we enjoyed this. Jen and Andy are the type of people you love to meet -- just nice people, loving music for all the right reasons, and doing something really cool with their passion. We really enjoyed meeting them, talking with them, playing with their dogs. Man, we'd love to go back. Also, amongst folks we've been interviewed by, they were easily the most prepared. They knew a whole lot about us in advance, which, as artists, is very flattering! Listen to their podcasts and support! Anyhow, that night was a second party for Ricky's birthday. It was pretty cool, but at a bro bar. Tara and I left, apparently, shortly before a bro rumble broke out and someone got thrown on a car right next to Chris. The police came with a paddy wagon. Sorry I missed THAT.

SUNDAY
I slept forever then ate a good meal at Boston Market. And I mean good. Anyhow, that night, as previously mentioned, band practice was canceled due to the fact that Tara and I went to see Paul Simon at Agganis Arena. It was pretty cool, I guess. He played a lot of that world stuff he does, which gets on my nerves after awhile. Even stuff from "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" was subject to reinterpretation and doing that weird off-key singing. All in all, it was OK. We're seeing Dylan there in a few weeks. Anyhow, late that night, after it got out, the band assembled with Aram for a photoshoot for the inside of the album jacket. We did a couple of locations around the city -- standard alleys, old cars, the bridge the Red Line runs over (my choice). However, the alley thing is so played out. And we do indeed look a bit angry, as some have said, which is not too accurate of our fun-loving personas. Check these out: in alley, in front of car, jack-knifing 1, and jack-knifing 2. Due to a general inability to agree on a photo, Aram is going to see if there's any better ones from the 100 or so he shot that night...

MONDAY - Mike felt sick and practice was canceled. However, I was assured by the company that we're still looking good to hit our Nov. 1 t-shirt deadline. Meanwhile, I had an excrutiating exam to study for.

TUESDAY - Took the exam. Finished my news column. Felt good. Hoisted Scott to the heavens and gave his a DVD of The Band.

TODAY - Clay is sending me some samples of the 3-song promo. He says it looks good, but I'm just hoping it doesn't delay anything. Meanwhile, Jaclyn is almost done with the artwork, and Dan's cover is almost finished. From what I understand, Dan is sticking with the computer art, but printing is on textured paper with raised ink, and then photographing it. This will give it the textured look we crave, hopefully.

Big plans for the rest of the day. Let's see how Scott's 21st shapes up. He took five days off work to party, so hopefully I can hang in there, too.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Blog buzzzzz

Turns out, the good folks over at Bostonist.com got hold of a couple of our new tracks and posted them, along with some info about last night's show. Check it out. Tell us what you think!

Last night at Bill's (photos) was a bizarre show, fun, but bizarre. We did the switch up and went first instead of last. We pulled a decent sized crowd out, nothing too big, but I didn't expect huge numbers -- it's midterms week at both nearby schools (Northeastern and BU). However, the other bands had some trouble pulling out folks and the crowd unfortunately was small after a lot of people filtered out after us (that's always rough, I don't like that). Now, clubs pay themselves before they pay bands. They need the money to pay the bartenders, security, sound guy, door staff, as well as their bills for lighting the event, insurance, etc. Usually it's a few hundred bucks. Any profits over that amount would be split at a rate determined by the club and the bands, say 80% to bands and 20% to the club. Last night's show brought in over 50 people, but the cover was just $5, so it would take a big crowd to meet the club's need and pay the bands richly. As a result, the club didn't make what it needed to make. Thus, none of the bands got paid. Even if we brought enough people to warrant payment, the unfortunate situation of all this is that it doesn't matter. IT IS NOT THE CLUB'S FAULT. THEY NEED THAT MONEY. You can't blame anyone else -- it was a rainy Tuesday night and a tough night to draw. It's just unfortunate. I suppose we could have pulled a few more folks ourselves but the room was pretty crowded during our set and we flyered, etc. Anyhow, while it's a bummer we didn't get any money, since we really, really could use some right about now, it's a good lesson I suppose. I still had a good time last night, a few good things came our way as a result of last night, and the other bands we played with are talented and kickass dudes. Besides, it's all about community.

Now, one of the things about this blog here, is that while I keep saying there is "transparency" -- an unobstructed window into the band's workings -- there are a few things I've been holding back that you should know about. First of all, let me just say that the concept of transparency is bizarre when applied to bands. Many musicians make careers out of building an image around looking cool and keeping their mouths shut, unless they have something nasty to say in the press. I don't know if giving this insider look is really ruining our chances at building an "image," but I would hope that our image would be that of nice guys who play good music who nice folks can relate to. That's the hope, at least. As I said in this blog's first post, I want you to feel a part of it. Anyhow, two things about nontransparency/transparency:

1) For the most part, I do not post monetary figures. This is because what we get may differ from other bands, not necessarily what we make at shows, but if we get a special rate for recording or something. I don't want any "Well, Cassavettes says you gave them this rate..." Thus, it's unfair to those who are trying to help us but also help their business. Now, this doesn't happen a whole lot, but I figure it's good to set the rule now. Plus, money is such a tender topic with the band right now, considering we're moving a lot of it around, that I'd just prefer to keep it personal. Finally, I feel there is a security risk in telling people how much money you have or make. Even if it's not much.
2) We will use foul language sometimes. In a lot of our online stuff, we try to keep the image and message clean, mostly just because online cursing is unnecessary most of the time and we don't know who reads what. Well, on this blog, since I want it to be a clear look at the band, how we interact and talk, I feel like if there are direct quotes, I am not going to edit them for content. I want you to get an idea of who we are and how we talk, which includes a lot of cursing. A good example of this would be a rather crude conversation between Matt and his cousin I posted last week. That's how the boys talk, and I found it hilarious. Plus, that had a good background story about Ratatat and used our running joke about busting balls, from the Abbey show. So, the writing on here will be relatively clean, but there may be some harsh language occasionally. That's just a fair warning.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Update: How to manage?

OK, a couple of quick clarifications on last night's ranting post. I just spoke to Matt, and we're all good, but I wanted to make a few things clear and pull a couple key sections of the post.

1) I'm not asking for help. I can handle the workload, especially with Chris' assistance. See this line: "I'm not asking for anyone within the group to take a greater role, because I'm happy to do this for us and again, I have Chris to make the load lighter (thank God)." What I am asking is to not get griped at if some of the more minor decisions are made in a less democratic way. I'm not want to override any other member, nor do I want to operate in an underhanded manner. If things could be democratic, I'd love that. But so many little decisions need to be made right now, with the album coming out and all, that my role I feel enables me to make those decisions. As Jabe would say during recording, "You're speaking for the band." I just hope my decisions aren't causing problems. If so, please tell me and we'll figure something out.

2) I don't want to make an issue of this. See this section: "As I told Scott, I would never, ever want money to be a source of friction within the group. (On the same note, nor would I want betrayal of their trust over posting about them, so if this violates any bro codes, please let me know.) I would not want to put that band in a position to lose a member or break up over such trivial matters." I'm just writing my feelings, so that they know and so that the blog serves its purpose as a transparent window into the inner workings of the band. If this steps on any toes, I'd also like to know that.

3) I know the blog's mission isn't being fully fulfilled, because one member can't read this due to lack of Internet. Unfortunately, most of the contact we do with people outside of the band is through the Internet, and I can't call each member each night and brief them about the day's activities for an hour, so I try to include as much in this blog as I can. See here: "(On a side note, one of the motivations of this blog is that I found that the other guys in the band were reading it and getting an idea of what we were working on, because I often forget who I discussed what with. So, I may think I told Matt something (this is a random example), but in actuality, I told Mike and forgot to tell Matt. Hopefully, he can read about it in the blog though and bring it up to me, if he wants. While I was excited that this works in theory, I forgot to take into account that one of our members is currently sans computer and thus operating under the handicap of not having the same access to information as the other two members.)" However, I'm still doing my best to verbally brief folks, I just can't remember who knows what.

4) I know money talk is boring, and like I say, I wouldn't want to hear it either. See here: Money "often gets little to no response beyond bored looks or guitar noodling. Because if it's not your money, you don't care. Sorry, but that's true. I wouldn't either. Thus, I noticed long ago that my briefings were falling on deaf ears and I gave up talking about it." Even JUST NOW when we discussing last night's post and its implications, and I was just telling Matt about how I subdivided my Excel spreadsheet to pay my parents back first from all assets, then myself back at a 10% clip to the band's 90% (to replenish our financial resources, even if it means I don't get paid back for years), Matt admitted he was having trouble paying attention. No love lost here. I understand that. Money's boring and it sucks. But I'm just doing what needs to be done.

So, in summary, I'm not looking for an extra hand here. I think we'll be fine handling things how we've done so thus far, I just don't want to be upsetting folks if I have to make snap decisions. I think that's fair. But if other members want to get involved, I'm happy to delegate some of the workload. Matt said he had free time today, so I asked to fax the IPR proof form back to Clay at A to Z. I proofed the pages this morning and they looked GOOD. So, Matt's helping me out big time because now I don't have to search for a fax machine.

I think that's a good clarification...

With that out of the way, here's a quick daily update...
For the rest of the day, I'm just doing classes and taking care of biz before the Bill's show tonight. Chris, Tara (who has agreed to help me pick the best working girly shirt) and I are going over to the T-shirt place at 3:30. Then, we'll be on our way. Just waiting on a possible design from MK, but not holding my breath.

By the way, the band voted for Tim Jacque's yelling bear unanimously as the top t-shirt choice, followed by Dan's bear on a bike and Monica's bear in a crown. Funny, I didn't ask anyone to design a bear shirt, and yet every submission we got, except one, was bear-oriented. It's cool. We love bears.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Time warp

Just circulated the regular Facebook, MySpace, and e-mail list reminders about tomorrow's (or I guess, tonight's) show at Bill's Bar. Mostly, it was important to note that we agreed to switch from headlining the gig to opening the gig because Alpha Juliet (the scheduled opener) couldn't make it by 9 p.m. While I think some bands would have a problem with this "demotion," I was actually thrilled. It's midterms week and a) I could use the extra time to study and sleep and b) I know a lot of our fans could, too.

How to manage?

I don't mean to "call out" anyone here, but in the essence of this blog's "transparency," I feel I should write out my feelings relatively unfiltered. Thus, we get this...

Lately, I've been having a prevalent thought of feeling drowned in what goes on in managing this group. This is new to me, as I have always been a pretty good task-balancer. Even when something bothers me on the managerial side, I'm usually pretty good at cloaking it so as to not affect others' work. (In the same vein, this post's sentiments are not meant to impede progress, but simply provide a window into my thoughts lately.)

But, man, sometimes this can be really, really trying. Everything in a band is so tender. Like if an "executive" decision is made, it counteracts the definition of a "band" -- a core unit. I understand that, and I try to honor that. But every successful operation has a primary facilitator, and one way or another, the job has landed squarely on me. Now, this isn't a bad thing. I love task and people management. I think I'm pretty good at it. Plus, as far as my role in the band, it makes sense. I also have the tireless efforts of Chris to help me out -- and he does, big time. So don't go thinking that I'm trying to pawn off a single duty onto anyone else... that's not really the issue at hand. I'll hit that topic in a moment.

But back to the "tender" issue. I think that I often get in the mindframe that I'm going to accomplish a goal, large or small, and I take the necessary steps to ensure this. That is all well and good in my personal life, but with a band, I have to consciously tell myself repeatedly to be more democratic. This can really get tiring, though I recognize it is essential. Everyone wants to be, and should be, involved.

Now, I do not mean to diminish the role of what anyone else does for the band. Every member is so important to the success of this band, in different ways, I would never discredit them. Still, that does not mean they are involved on the business side a lot of the time, which can cause some conflict when Chris and I shuttle the process along. Plus, if I am constantly making sure I'm not just calling the shots, I want something viable in return. Also, not the case oftentimes.

I feel bad because last night I ranted at Scott for a good long time about money. I often think that I hate money, and I don't like thinking about it, but I need to get a good grasp on it. I've started keeping records of every expense and it is an exhaustive process. Why am I the money manager? Last year, the band voted me as the money manager to collect our payments and save them. I established a band bank account, which I oversee and operate. But more recently, I've become a much more obvious facilitator, by my own hand. Since most of the band funds were depleted prior to recording by our summer tour, I have self-funded this entire record. Now, I'm going broke fast, though that's not really my concern. But the fact is, I ran out of money more than expected and had to do something I never wished I'd do -- ask my parents for money. They agreed, and while I really, really, really appreciate it, I'm not too thrilled about it. I hate being in debt.

This issue of money, coincidentally, is something I also brought upon myself. I knew the other guy's funds were tight, and I was comfortable at the beginning of the process. So you can consider it an act of volunteerism (which I'm happy to do because I realize you need to invest to earn, or "spend money to make money"... I don't know if I personally stand to profit from this, since that was never the plan, but I'd like to see the band account become self-sufficient). We turned down money offers earlier in the year, because a) they weren't right for us at the time and didn't wow us and b) we've been so pleased with our progress as a DIY effort thus far, we didn't see a need to involve anyone else yet, unless they offered something we couldn't provide. They offered money, which we appreciated, but we had that and needed more "what we're going to do for you" ideas, so we figured we'd be OK on our own. And we will be OK, even money-wise. But, as I told Scott (who was arbitrarily picked, by the by, since Scott didn't do anything particularly inflammatory), if everyone wants to be involved in the process, then I want people to listen when I brief them on what Chris and/or I are up to. That includes money, which often gets little to no response beyond bored looks or guitar noodling. Because if it's not your money, you don't care. Sorry, but that's true. I wouldn't either. Thus, I noticed long ago that my briefings were falling on deaf ears and I gave up talking about it.

(On a side note, one of the motivations of this blog is that I found that the other guys in the band were reading it and getting an idea of what we were working on, because I often forget who I discussed what with. So, I may think I told Matt something (this is a random example), but in actuality, I told Mike and forgot to tell Matt. Hopefully, he can read about it in the blog though and bring it up to me, if he wants. While I was excited that this works in theory, I forgot to take into account that one of our members is currently sans computer and thus operating under the handicap of not having the same access to information as the other two members.)

I am confident in my ability to manage this band, both on the personal side and monetary side. I hold nothing against my bandmates, especially financially. As I told Scott, I would never, ever want money to be a source of friction within the group. (On the same note, nor would I want betrayal of their trust over posting about them, so if this violates any bro codes, please let me know.) I would not want to put that band in a position to lose a member or break up over such trivial matters.

But some decisions need to be made with the money in mind -- not necessarily what we WANT to do for our own enjoyment/progress, but what we NEED to do to make money to fund the more fun aspects of band life. And if no one is up to date on the money matters, then how can I act any way but unilaterally?

Anyway, it feels like that a lot of the time lately. As we enter the final phase of putting this record together, I'm micromanaging like none other. Every little detail must be addressed and I'm spending huge portions of the day working on the band (let's see, this week is midterms week at school, causing me great distress, and yet today I've followed up with our graphic designers, circulated T-shirt ideas to the bandmates, made sure they responded with their choices, contacted our printing company about shirts, proofed our CD label and trayliner, drafted and sent out a press release for our CD release with Chris, followed up with A to Z about printing, talked to Jaclyn about the final album design and meeting with Dan, arranged a time for Fritz to help us move our equipment from the practice space tomorrow, checked in with the bandmates about meeting up tomorrow with Fritz (twice), sorted out a practice space money qualm, and tried to schedule a photoshoot for this weekend with Aram that probably won't happen, then tried to re-schedule a photoshoot for a night this week, but waiting to hear back on that). Anyhow, if I'm putting in the time, I don't want or need thanks. I don't have any use for that. I just want people to understand the effort, and accommodate it to the best of their ability.

But sometimes when I'm working like this, and not getting much of a response, if the few responses I do get have even the slightest tone of negativity, I go nuts. That happened twice today. It makes me feel like a mother -- I remember getting lectured for not appreciating all that my parents do for the family. And you know what? I DIDN'T properly show my appreciation when I was growing up. There's so much behind the scenes that I didn't even realize it. I have a newfound appreciation for all the stuff my parents did for us growing up, because managing the life and business of a group of a few people is HARD. Mom, I don't know if you read this, but THANK YOU.

Well, that's how I feel. I'm not asking for anyone within the group to take a greater role, because I'm happy to do this for us and again, I have Chris to make the load lighter (thank God). And we work well together, Chris and I. Plus, I think I have some business acumen, and I like doing the work a lot. And I'm OK at it. All I want is some constructive feedback, or possibly just less complaining if things happen while people aren't paying attention. Is that unfair? I don't really think so. If it is, let me know.

Either way, this has been written after several days of mental anguish on this topic, and I've thought about NOT writing it on numerous occasions. But I think it's fair to the nature of the blog to show the internal struggle, as well as the more tangible struggles that a young band encounters. If you want to chalk this up to recurring "heat of the moment" frustrations, that's not far off base. But I'm just being honest and hopefully just writing it out brings some clarity to the situation.

Friday, October 13, 2006

An aside

The exchange between Matt and his cousin Alex on each other's MySpace walls is really amusing me right now. Perhaps most famously, Alex's final retort. I'll copy and paste the exchange, and first add a bit of commentary to clarify what Alex is talking about.

CLARIFICATION: When we played a show at the Mid East Upstairs last month, Ratatat was playing the Downstairs the same night. One of the dudes from the band was chatting up some fans before the gig in front of the club. There were free magazines outside the club, and lo and behold, Ratatat was prominently featured, picture and all. So we coerced Alex (although he was pretty willing) to pretend he just happened to be reading about Ratatat and just happened to be walking by the guitarist at the same time, and then get ready excited and ask for an autograph. He did so, in excellent form, right in front of all the fans. It was a triumphant moment and probably an ego trip for the band, unless they saw us all laughing afterward.

The exchange:
ALEX: Man it sounds like some one is a little jealous of my LIMITED ONE OF A KIND SUPER FANTASTIC ratatat autograph that currently sits stuffed in between my back seat all ripped up....shit i shouldnt fuckin say that cause im totally tryin to swindle someone to actually give me money for it
MATT: nobody cares about your lame ratatat autograph...douche
ALEX: Ever try not being a piece of shit. Notice my period. Fucker.

For some reason, I always find it hilarious when these two rip on each other. It's all love, afterall. They're cousins. But one thing's for sure: Alex really likes to BUST some BALLS.

The importance of flyering

If I haven't stressed this enough, this has been a DIY effort thus far. But there is no possible way that the four guys in Cassavettes could have made the progress that we have if it wasn't for some really special contributions. Today's subject: flyering. It's a two-pronged process of making the flyers and distributing the flyers, both of which we in Cassavettes have little to do with.

When the band first started, Mike would make flyers by taping together pictures he cut out of a cowboy picture book and then just write in all the details by hand. It was a noble effort, but we didn't distribute a whole lot of these flyers and they looked like exactly what they were: handmade. Which is why we go to people with more expertise than ourselves on this one.

Perhaps one of the best things about being a college-aged band is that we have so many resources available to us -- people who are eager to help and know the fields they are studying/looking to enter. Last spring, I asked a girl named MK Fabila who I worked with and who does graphic design to make us some flyers. And boy, did she ever. MK cranked out some seriously amazing work. In fact, I chronicled all (well, most, I'm missing a couple flyers) of her work and other friends' work today by posting links to all the flyers and the shows they correspond with on our detailed history section; just scroll down to right around the time that the band recovers from the doldrums and you'll find perhaps a paralleling storyline.

From our April 26 show at TT the Bear's onward, we saw an incredible leap in attendance at shows. Was this due to the fact that we began properly flyering or was it just time for people to come to Cassavettes' side? MK and I discussed this the other day and agreed it was probably a combination of both. You CAN NOT underestimate the power of advertising. Hell, there are bands I've never seen play a show who I think are big-time bands just because I see their stickers on the T. Putting your name in front of folks is crucial. And flyering, with both the name and specific details and even that these people can check you out, is the best way, in my opinion.

So, with MK, and then Ren, Tim Jacques, plus more recently Ish and Mike's girlfriend Julie, and now our friend Brenna making flyers (for free) for us, we were sitting pretty. But like I said, this is a two-pronged effort. The second leg is distribution of these flyers. That's where Chris comes in.

I have a lot of praise for our fire-headed boy manager, another student who puts in unreasonable amounts of time and effort to help out. In fact, I really could tell Chris got "into" the band late last year when he stopped referring to the group as "you guys" and started saying "we." I like that. We are we. Anyhow, Chris flyers like it's nobodys business. The kid goes everywhere -- Cambridge, Allston, Somerville, Back Bay, wherever. Numerous people have come up to me and said, "I see your flyers everywhere." Hell yes, that's Chris' work they are talking about. The guy hits the streets hard, without being asked, and it is unbelievably important. Plus, it's sooo kind of him. Once in awhile, I'll accompany Chris, but honestly, sometimes I don't even known he's gone on a flyering expedition until either a) I see one of the flyers while walking around town or b) he tells me in his faux-Southern accent, "Oh, I already done that." Sorry, I just wanted the opportunity to make Chris' written voice sound like a hick for my own amusement. But seriously, he gets the job done. I remember when we showed up to play the Random NEST show in June at Great Scott, we walked in to drop off some flyers, but disturbed one of Ben Sisto's meetings. Later, Ben tells us that we were the only band who flyered for the show and, as a DIY guy himself, he appreciated the effort. Pretty cool, eh?

So, important rules about the ever-so-important role of flyering:
1) Make sure the flyers look as professional and good as possible.
2) Make sure you distribute properly, especially if you don't have the luxury of a workhorse like Chris.
3) I didn't talk about this yet, but mind the rules of particular clubs about flyering. For instance, some clubs don't allow you to post on/in government property (mailboxes, etc.). Check with the club first. Also, don't try to walk into a nearby club and put up a flyer for a show at another club. They will yell at you -- it's happened.

Anyhow, that's about it. On a final flyer note, I received Brenna's final copy of the flyer for Tuesday's show at Bill's Bar, but it won't load to any computer properly. This is a big pain, and not her fault. I'll try to post the flyer to MySpace before the weekend is through, but we'll have to see. Either way, not much time left to run off copies of the flyer and distribute. We'll make due.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

T-shirt frenzy

OK, so it looks like we may be able to pull off the incredible feat of getting shirts made by Nov. 6. I spoke to our printers of choice today, and they say if they get them early next week, they'll meet our deadline. The price wasn't right on 200 shirts, so I scaled back to 100, with a split of 30 of one men's design, 30 of another men's/unisex, and 40 girl's shirts. Any color choices? Just now, Dan submit his bear wearing a siren hat sketch for consideration, and MK, Holly, Ish, Tim J., and Dave are possibly trying out some designs too. I figure we'll pick the top three, give the winners a free shirt, and that will be that. Right now, we need to figure out colors and sizes, etc. Last night we needed only a few XLs, not many larges, and a bunch of smalls and mediums. So if I were to order 30 for unisex, I'd go:
3 XL, 5 L, 13 M, 12 S -- does that work? Keep in mind, we'll be getting 100 shirts total, so on the men's choice side that will give us a total of: 6 XL, 10 L, 26 M, and 12 S. I'm not sure what we should order for girly sizes...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

MySpace, you crazy site!

So, our file is still corrupted on MySpace. To recap, we uploaded our new single "On Our Own" a couple days ago, and since then it's been sporadically playing, but mostly just not playing. Apparently, if you link the song to your profile, you can listen to it. But you can't hear it on our main page. I sent the MySpace folks a note and they sent back at automated message. It gave NO information as to how to fix the problem, rather just telling me how to set up a music MySpace page. I've already got that! Any ideas on how to fix this?

Anyhow, for our next trick, I would think that we would release "The Nadir" or "Debts" on our MySpace sometime in November. However, Tara came up with an idea last night to post "Shine A Light" (the album's closing track, which uses a refrain of "If it's always the lesser of two evils, who can we trust to lead us?") the week of the general election. Ooh, timely and relevant. We'll see what the other fellas think about this.

Deadline one: Met

What a whirlwind day. It started with a flurry of emails as I sped up the send-out date of the promo from tomorrow to today. I inundated Jaclyn with stuff to do, and being email, I didn't know if she was doing it. But like a pure champ, the girl pulled through. After fiddling with programs on the computer, I managed to burn Jaclyn's artwork onto a CDRW and send it off. At roughly 5 p.m., I sent out the promo master, the album master (to save postage), and the promo artwork to NYC. I went the rush delivery route, so they will get them by Friday. Maybe that means we can get this thing rolling even sooner!

Anyhow, I spent a good chunk of last night drafting a one-sheet and an album press release to be included in our revised press kit. Then, I updated the "Brief History" section of our MySpace with a similar, concise history -- effectively changing this section for the first time since the band really came together. It used to be about Scott moving up and how Mike and I went our separate ways and rejoined and a brief mention of Matt joining, but now it cuts US as individuals out, and focuses on US as a band, winning awards, making waves, etc. I like it. Any feedback?

Finally, I just went to Ryder to meet up with MK, who has done many flyers for the band over the past year. This girl is incredible, she does such awesome work. I think I will go back through our history section of this blog and link all her flyers to the shows they correspond with. That might be cool. Anyhow, she designed a new flyer for our upcoming Nov. 6 show at Great Scott. It is smoking! Our friend Brenna, who we met while playing some Rhode Island shows this past summer, actually designed a flyer for next week's show, after reading about our need for one ON THIS VERY BLOG! How cool is that?

Last night, Chris said he'd check with his buddy Ryan to try designing a new website for the group. Our current one, while very handsome, needs to be updated more frequently. So we figure we need someone close by. After a friend of Fritz's fell through, Chris mentioned this Ryan character. I'm down to letting him see what he can do. Maybe we can get this blog embedded in the site, for easier access. That'd be cool. I have some ideas to spice this blog up with some multimedia content and stuff. I'm going to look into it, and you'll probably see a shift at some point soon. Sound good?

Finally, earlier today, Matt and I spoke briefly online about shows for 2007. The goal is very clear: We want to play bigger and better shows with bigger names and better acts. We've established ourselves at The Middle East Upstairs, TT The Bear's, Great Scott, and other venues, and we want to continue playing those places. But we also want to try to land big bills at The Middle East Downstairs, The Paradise Rock Club, and maybe even Avalon and Roxy. I know it seems ridiculous to mention our name and these clubs, but as I told Chris last night, this band can't have any ceiling. We need to aim as high as we can, because I am confident we'll get there. It's all about going the right path. Anyhow, a step toward the Rock Club would be to play a few more gigs at The Paradise Lounge, so Matt emailed the booker there to see if we could set something up for late January (which may make us turn down a potential bill offered to us already at another club, by a friend band). I also said I'd like to play TT's again, since it's been awhile since we played there last (April), so we should shoot for a February bill. Plus, we should not only be trying to get great venues, but also be keeping an eye on what bands come to town. I sent Chris a message earlier today, since he notoriously keeps the biggest show list known to mankind, asking him to watch out for shows that we could potentially jump on. It's an ask and you shall receive situation. If we don't ask, nothing happens. If we keep asking, eventually someone will probably say yes. No harm in trying, right? And that's how it's done, I figure, especially when you operate without a conventional manager.

The DIY route can be a beast, but we're doing our best right now. I'm very happy with our work ethic and our progress. Today, we got a lot done.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Stick to your deadlines

I always heard that. Stick to your deadlines. It's like the journalist's code, and in my various years of working the ranks, that was always wisdom imparted -- forcefully -- onto my soul. Anyhow, deadlines are big right now. I'm trying to keep a few of them, and yikes, it's tough.

Here's the skinny:
I want the artwork for the single from Jaclyn by Thursday. I don't mean to twist her arm, but in order to get those promos out in any sort of timely fashion, I'm going to need to send out the master by Thursday. It takes 15 business days, so we'll assume, I'll get the 1,000 discs by Nov. 2 -- which gives us just over a month to promote the single before the CD is released on Dec. 9. YIKES! But the ever-helpful Clay of A to Z, who I am now very much in favor of using, sent along some guides to the promo artwork:

For the layout on promos, I usually recommend:

Back of traycard: Band name, album name, street date of album, numbered tracklist with the track times, band/album bio, website & myspace. Just remember not to go crazy with the design since that is what college radio deejays and press people are looking at to quickly get info.

Inside of traycard: contact info (phone number, e-mail, website & myspace), any band photos, etc.

Disc face: band name, album name, street date of album, numbered tracklist with the track times, website & myspace


Easy enough. So, I sent Jax the e-mail and we'll see if we can pull through with deadline number one. This also sets up a subset deadline of deadline one: By Nov. 2, I have to finish drafting the press release that will be included and by Nov. 3, Chris and I should have everything addressed and ready to be sent out in mass. Deadline two is for the shirts to be released at the Great Scott show on Nov. 6. This may be a tough one to meet since, well, I don't have the shirt designs yet. I hear Dan has a couple kicking around and if he can get those to me this week, I may be able to get an emergency order run off by Nov. 6. We'll see.

We posted our new single, "On Our Own," on MySpace today. I couldn't upload it to my computer without it being turned into a stupid M4A so Chris uploaded. After changing the bitrate a bit (HA!), he got it to go through. But now NONE of our songs will play. MySpace we need you now! We'll keep following this one.

Also, we have not adequately promoted our show next Tuesday at Bill's Bar. Last week, I asked MK to do flyers for the next 3 shows (Bill's, Great Scott, and the CD release) or as many as she could. She was revved about it, and said she already had some ideas in mind. However, if I don't have a flyer in hand by Friday (deadline 3), we won't flyer for this show at all! So we'll see if that one comes up roses. Regardless, I think it should be a good drawing show, because it's 18+, nearby and an amazing $5!

Last bit of news is a bummer. One of our favorite bands, who shall remain nameless at this time, dropped out of the CD release show today because they got a huge show in NYC. While we're very excited for them, this puts us in a bit of a bind. The club has tried to tack on a couple foreign bands, that hopefully can draw, but on our part, we need to really stack this bill with great-drawing awesome bands that we love. Mostly we need to sell out the club. Simple as that. So we'll need to track down at least one more for this baby. Suggestions are always helpful, but I think we have a couple in mind.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

From Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach, Va.-
I put a dateline on this entry to show that I am outside of the normal boundaries right now. I'm in the good ole South, visiting my parents, and relaxing a bit after finishing the actual audio part of this album. Last night, I was on the phone with Tara, and she asked me if I was relieved to get the record done. And I think it's important to note that it's not done. Not by a long shot. Like I told her, we're about maybe 1/8 of the way there. See, after you wrap up the audio portion (recording, mixing, then mastering), it's time to do the behind-the-scenes stuff: promotion, building hype, bar-coding, printing the disc and the single, trying to get press in advance, sending out the album, making a new website to correlate with the album's art, trying to make a splash on radio airwaves, then releasing the album, etc. There's still a long way to go on this baby. But yes, I am relieved to get this part over with.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day with the affable Ian Kennedy at New Alliance Studios in Cambridge. We all know the New Alliance tale... they were famously ousted from their home near Fenway Park and had to set up shop on the other side of the river. Turns out, it's a stone's throw from the Middle East and a great, great space. Ian was a true delight to work with, too. He listened, he made really helpful suggestions, and I am, surprisingly, very pleased with the final product. The acid test will come on Monday when I get back and the other guys hear the final version. We'll see. But my guess is that they'll like it. I do.

It was kind of a hectic day. I hardly got any sleep the night before, then I got to the studio about 10 a.m. Ian hadn't slept at all after taking the wife to the airport, so we just went about the biz. He didn't have the song "Trouble From That Start" -- I guess Jabe never gave it to him. Or forgot to. Either way, we just figured it was too much of a hassle to get it from Jabe and mutually decided not to include that song on the album. Just kidding. Jabe hooked it via the Internet and we were rolling, mastering up some "Trouble." Then, I thought that "On Our Own" could use a harmony boost, but Ian couldn't do it without the raw tracks. Turns out, those tracks only live on a harddrive we stored everything on during recording. It happened to be back at my house. So I left the studio, waited for a bus that never came, took the train, grabbed the harddrive and took a bus back to the studio. We laid down the harmony, boosted it, mixed, sequenced, and burned. I listened quickly and then hopped in a cab to the airport. The cabbie says, "Do you want the meter or to give me $32?" I was confused, and just said $32 will be fine. Unfortunately for him, I only had $32 on me, plus some change, so he got a $2 tip in quarters. Sorry dude! In between all this, I nearly missed my flight, got stuck in airport traffic and didn't eat. It sucked. But then I sat next to a cool guy on the plane from San Antonio and all was well. Hey, all's well that ends well, right?

I tried to upload our new single to MySpace last night, but this computer only does M4A format, unlike MP3, and that ain't working. So we'll deal with what we've got now, and I'll post the song on Monday.

For now, I just need to wrap some stuff up for class and take it easy. Real easy, hopefully.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Moving toward printing

OK so I'm fairly convinced we'll be going with A to Z Media for our new album's printing -- if you recall, I met Clay last week at NEMO's Trade Show. He sent me a price quote for our initial shipment of 1,000 CDs and the numbers are better than anything I've seen thus far. So I'll check back with Ball Media and give them a chance to match or beat, but they still charge shipping since they're based in Canada. Which is a drag. Which is why I'm leaning toward A to Z.

Over the past 24 hours, Jaclyn (who is designing this baby PRO BONO) and I have spoken twice at length about the design of the innards and outtards of the album. I just copy edited the album's lyrics, to make sure everything was looking right. It's looking to be a blue and white theme, as chosen by Dan (who is doing the artwork PRO BONO), with an 8-page booklet that WILL have the lyrics on the inside. This is very exciting to me, as I've never had an album with the lyrics inside for monetary purposes, plus I think the lyrics are really one of my favorite parts of this disc. As far as the front cover, I ended up talking it over with Dan after the band dispute. Turns out, he was thinking basically what I was thinking -- that it needed some texture. I think that will give it the immediacy we were hoping for. This kid rules, by the way, he did our last album cover and is just a phenomenal artist. I have a lot of faith in him to pull out something really sweet for this album cover.

Anyhow, getting this printing project ready to go will be a huge weight off my back. Right now there are miniscule details to go over. First, there are two printing projects. The first is the most immediate -- a shipment of 1,000 unpackaged bulk CDs -- of our "single." This means Jaclyn needs to only make the template that will fill up the CD's face. That needs to be ready to go by next week. Then, the second part is the big printing project of the whole CD. That can wait until the end of the month, but I want to allow ample printing time before the Dec. 9 release. So I hope to ship those templates out by Oct. 27.

Finally, I started a new money management system yesterday, adding up all the record's costs and then seeing how much that meant we should charge for the album. The rough estimate is $10 per CD, and we need to sell half of the records we get to break even. I also am about to invest in new shirts (we recently sold out of our initial design), and there has been demand for girl's shirts. So, I hope to get 200 new shirts in the next month, and maybe some stickers, in time for our Nov. 6 show at Great Scott. So there is plenty to keep me busy.

Tomorrow, Scott and I are going to see Ian at New Alliance to master the disc. That will be the final part of the process that deals with sound. Then, I'll post our new single, "On Our Own," on MySpace. We'll see how that all goes.

On a personal note, I am very much smitten with RSS and newsreaders. Talk about a time saver! Man, I need to figure out how to get RSS for this site -- that would be swell. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Now YOU bust MY balls!

So here I'm sitting, full of pasta, and Chris tells me that Bonehog got a quick mention in the Northeastern News this week. Fancy that. Here's our part:

Afterward, the Northeastern metal band Bonehogg played a short set reminiscent of '70s rock 'n' roll giants The Rolling Stones. They also covered a song by the band's alter-ego, the Cassavettes.


Ha, there's a lot that's funny about that. First of all, two of my bands are mentioned there and neither one of the names is correct. Where did they get Bonehogg with 2 g's? In all the promotional material, it said Bonehog. They probably thought Bonehogg was more metal. And as far my main group, our name is Cassavettes. Not THE Cassavettes. That's a frequent error, but come on, let's get it right in the print edition. Kidding. We don't mind at all, we're totally used to the mistake.

Second, if it's all the same members of Cassavettes playing all the same instruments that they do in Cassavettes but calling themselves Bonehog, can a version of "Carolyn" really be a cover? Weird universe to think that I'm covering my own song.

For the record, I'm allowed to bust the News' balls, as our friend from the Abbey would say. I used to be the managing editor there. And I can tell you, Bonehog is flattered by The Stones comparison. But we really consider ourselves more akin to Vanilla Fudge.

Living it up in Paradise


Well, I'm not posting as frequently as I initially had planned. Hopefully I can pick up the pace a bit. Anyhow, we've had some crazy times lately, so I'll try to hit them all.

Last night, we finally played The Paradise Lounge, a club we've been trying to get into for the better part of the last year. Actually, we've really wanted to work towards getting booked in The Paradise Rock Club, the conjoined club, but that ain't happening anytime soon. Regardless, the Lounge was totally bitching. We put together our own bill of friends Cherryaxe and Dearborn Valley. You may remember both of them from interesting shows in the past. Cherryaxe joined as in July in Rockland, Mass., where we played at The New Song Folk Arts Center -- a two-story complex with three rooms that crowds could rotate through to see the three bands. It was an odd night, but these guys made it a total party. So we invited them to The Dise. Meanwhile, Dearborn is a group of older dudes who can really play, they're like The Jayhawks. They were on a bill with us in June at Bike 2006 in Laconia, N.H., playing inside an enormous tent to a "country music" crowd of like five people. They were almost forced from the stage that night by a crazed woman running the ill-fated country music showcase who hadn't done her homework and checked out the talent for that night. If she did, she'd realize -- Oops! Neither Dearborn Valley nor Cassavettes plays Shania Twain or Kenny Chesney covers. They don't even dress in all leather! Dearborn was particularly scolded for doing something original. Imagine that. Anyhow, they ruled, despite what that woman said to them, and so we wanted them on the bill, too.

Last night was a blur of party times. We danced during Cherryaxe and got a lot of the crowd involved, the crowd was all on their feet for Cassavettes and moving it, I played a cowbell for a bit of the set, Scott jumped off Matt's bassdrum about 50 times and Mike did that leaning thing -- all in all, it was a great night. The Paradise thought so, too: They invited us back any WEEKEND we want.

A slew of pictures was posted by Fritz and Melanie (log-in req.) here, here, and some in here.

I was concerned we wouldn't pull too many folks out. See, around here, it's against the rules of most clubs to book two shows within two weeks of each other, on either side of the date. This is to prevent small draws, which makes sense. If someone can just say, "Oh, I won't come to The Paradise tonight because I can see you next week at Great Scott," then you're not doing your job as a band. So, obviously, we broke that rule -- just this once. We just played The Abbey Lounge on Saturday night, and here we are, three days later, playing The Paradise Lounge. Why? Well, two reasons:

1) NEMO doesn't pay bands, so we were just happy to get the chance to play a showcase at The Abbey. But we NEED money so badly at the moment, and we didn't sell much merch that night at The Abbey. So we took this opportunity, but we DID NOT announce the Paradise show before we had played The Abbey.
2) The Paradise is a place we've wanted to break into for ages, and never could. So, the first date they threw at us, we hastily agreed. And I'm glad we did. It worked out fine, despite being a big gamble. We brought hefty crowds to both The Abbey and The Paradise.

Anyhow, it was a signficant day for the band, as well. We got a new home. For the better part of the past year, we have used a rehearsal space in The Sound Museum -- dank, two floors beneath street-level, but down for jammage at all hours. After viewing a room in Allston that was really inconvenient to get to, the guys decided on another room in The Sound Museum. I went to get the keys and check it out yesterday. It's fantastic. $58 per member each month, plus a security deposit upfront, but not bad. Anyhow, we moved in last night after the show, and it was fantastic.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A bit overdue

Sorry for the delay, folks. I intend to update this daily, if not a couple times a day if I can find the time, but this should be a pretty long post covering the recent updates. So, when we last spoke, Bonehog was going to play afterHOURS. The show went thusly: We played out of tune, but really really had some good times. Mike and Scott stood on their amps a lot and Matt knocked over all his drums, broke his cymbal stand, and cut my knee with his hi-hat, but that's what rock and roll is about. I also wore a pair of size 29 black Diesel jeans. I don't think I've been able to wear a size 29 since like 4th grade. I wear a 32 up to a 34 usually. So to accommodate my curves, I just didn't button the fly all the way. THAT, my friends, is rock and roll. Fritz, as usual, posted some pictures of the chaos (log-in required, I believe).

Anyhow, so that was Thursday night. Then Friday we just kicked it and I talked to Jaclyn about the design of our new album (details on this coming up later in this post. Mostly, the band just got ready for NEMO on Saturday -- and I think Matt went to Tool or something. HA! Sure enough, when Saturday rolled around we had a busy day. Matt, Chris, Mike and I attended NEMO's trade show where there are booths and panels of people who can potentially help you in this business. We walked around, talking it up, and actually I am surprised to report that it was a helpful experience.

First, I spoke to a dude named Clay from A to Z Media for a good long while. He was a REALLY nice guy, from Ft. Worth, and turns out, he knows Cory from Black Tie Dynasty. Totally bizarre. Anyhow, he was helpful in a number of ways. First, he told me that even if we don't get accepted to South By Southwest, that it is just as useful to head down there and play house parties or record stores. Why didn't I think of that? We know a ton of people in Austin, so it makes complete sense. So, we're going to see if SXSW accepts us, which would be totally bitching and a dream come true, and if they don't, no sweat, we're going anyway. Consider this our official announcement: CASSAVETTES IS GOING TO SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST. Anyway, he also told us he'd check out our show at the Abbey Lounge last night and suggested a few bands we should play with in New York, including Todd Deatherage (although he just moved to Michigan, I think) and Vietnam (they are on tour with THE LEMONHEADS right now). Anyhow, his company does good work, like Basement Jaxx and Thom Yorke's new record, and he was a cool dude. Their offices are across from Merge Records, so they do a lot of work with them, too. Since I'm looking into a few places to press the new album, including Ball Media and the predictable Disc Makers, this may be a good option as well. I'll keep in touch and we'll see what the rates look like.

Anyhow, the second good encounter was a guy from a company called Armed Forces Entertainment, which is a company that selects bands and comedians to go entertain troops in areas like the Caribbean, the Balkans, and Europe on two to six-week tours. Travel and lodging is taken care of. Now, this sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me, travelling the world for free, playing to receptive audiences. But some of the songs on our new disc have a semi-political nature to them which may not fly with this group. But this guy says no matter, and he actually took a shine to us. So I'll submit and see what happens, though I'm not holding my breath.

Finally, we met a really chilled out guy named Erik and his wife, who own and operate MF Magazine. But get THIS: The dude used to be the drummer for our buddy Nathan Ryan (with whom we played a show last November and remains one of the most courteous performers I've ever met) when Nathan lived in Portland, Ore. So Erik tells us any buddy of Nathan's is a buddy of mine, and hooks Mike up with a free shirt. He then goes above and beyond and attends us our show that night WITH NATHAN. We talked outside before our set about topics ranging from me spilling butter on my sweatshirt and having to retire it to us taking a case of butter and tortillas on the road with us. I really liked hanging with these guys and hopefully we can work with them and keep in touch. These are the type of people you hope to meet at these trade shows. Anyhow, let's talk about the show last night.

As the final day of NEMO drew to a close, we finally were prepped for our Abbey Lounge show last night (flyer by Tim Jacques). We were the fourth of five bands, with The Televangelist and The Architect opening, then the EXCELLENT Tennessee Hollow, followed by the last minute add-on Lomita from Austin.

Quick story about Lomita. I don't mean to start beef wars, but these guys were so rude (or at least the lead singer) last night, that I could not stay for their set. I went outside and chatted with a good-sized group of people. Here's what ticked me off: When they were loading in, I was unknowingly blocking their path. Rather than tap me kindly on the shoulder, this guy with curly hair SHOVES me HARD. I yelled at him and he shrugged. Then later when I was hawking merchandise like a 1920s paperboy (hey, you don't get paid for NEMO, so you gots to make money somehow), he gave me a look that let me know just how uncool he thought I was. You know when someone looks at you and you can tell they're judging you? Yeah, like that. I really strongly disliked this guy, which is very rare for me to dislike anyone we share a stage with. So, my advice: Stay away from Lomita. They don't deserve anyone's support if they're going to treat hometown bands with hostility and treat the crowd like they are inferior. Or maybe that dude was having a bad night and was stressed and I should just take it easy. But maybe not.

On the flip side, Tennessee Hollow was one of my favorite bands we've played with in awhile. These guys were from Boston, but now live in Asheville, N.C. Totally chilled out dudes and their songs are killer. Hopefully we'll play with them again.

Anyhow, Lomita was on the bill because Stella Panacci dropped out. Unfortunately, these guys had just played down the street at Johnny D's and a) brought nobody, b) cleared out the club and c) have a total jackass in the band. But the show was running late, and they went ahead and did a nice, long set. Which sucked for us, because we only got to play...ohh, 25 minutes or so. We were kicking out the jams and had our largest crowd at the Abbey ever (it's a hard club to draw at for us) -- here's a set list: Debts; The Nadir; Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This; Trouble From The Start; On Our Own; It's Gonna Be Alright. But our friend Andie from NEMO told us they'd make it up to us somehow. I'm not sure how, but I half-jokingly made one suggestion: "Get us a BMA next year." Anyhow, unlike Matt (who made his feelings pretty apparent), I wasn't going to fight it when the soundguy told us to wrap it up only six songs into a 10-song set. Our engineer/producer JABE was headling, and I didn't want to cut into his time. Jabe, by the way, can play. Dana from Morphine joined him onstage and they played a tight set. Good times.

The highlight of the evening may well have been an old man, who was probably just a dude from the neighborhood, who came down to check out the music and dance -- a lot. He first approached us outside the club where Scott was trying a German accent. Matt didn't think it was very good, and SLAPPED scott. Very inappropriate. He felt bad and apologized a great deal. The old man, hearing the slap (since he was listening to our conversation and laughing with us from afar), walked over and asked Matt the bewildering question, "Are you from Colorado?" Not sure what that means. Later, he grabbed Scott and I as we went onstage to tell us he's sticking around for our set. Then he added: "You're 22 years old, how good at guitar can you be?" We looked puzzled again, before he exclaimed: "Now YOU bust MY balls!" What a guy.

In the midst of the evening, the band had a couple disagreements over the artwork and the single. These are standard when you have a democratic system in a band, and four people. We get a lot of 2-2 splits on decisions. Either way, it appears "On Our Own" is a 3-1 decision to be the single, and then we just have to pick two other tunes to put on a radio sampler. That was being discussed... My votes would be "The Nadir" (which I think is the all-around strongest song) and then probably "Debts" (which is another short and catchy tune and shows the breadth of the band with dueling vocals and tight harmonies. The main argument arose around the album's design. Mike's brother Dan designed the cover for "Whitewash The Blues" and did an absolutely incredible job (he actually burned the image into the wood!). This time around, he has a more abstract, but very cool theme comprised on many shapes that come together to form figures all over the album (you kind of have to see it to understand). My only concern is that it isn't immediate enough, and when someone sees the disc in the record store or gets our press kit, they may not be immediately moved to pop it in. This is not a diss to Dan's design, because he's doing it pro bono and is way more talented than I could ever be. But the last album design had such immediacy that I was just looking for that in this. Matt feels the same way I do, and Scott and Mike are on the other side. Scott brings up the point that he likes it plain and doesn't feel we should have to conform to please anyone else but ourselves. That is a good point on the artistic front, and sometimes if I let his ideas sink in, he makes sense. But again, I feel that it is so crucial with this album to have an immediate design that we should try to get both an artistic perspective we like and the immediacy we need (i.e. something like the last disc). Unfortunately, I have no better ideas, so it's kind of self-defeating in a way. Also, I don't want to post too much from my perspective on this argument because it isn't fair to what Scott and Mike are contending. Either way, I think there will be more discussion and then a resolution. My guess is that the current design will stick, but be modified in some slight way to where all parties are happy and to where we don't go and force Dan to do more work than is really necessary for him.

Anyhow, the highlight of last night came around 2:30 a.m. when Matt called us after leaving a post-show party at our friends the Matts (it's two Matts that aren't OUR Matt). He told us that The Paradise Lounge, where we are playing on Tuesday, had posted the marquee with our name on it already. This is a dream come true. Way back last year, I announced my New Year's resolutions for 2006: At the top, playing the Paradise and seeing our name up there. What I meant was the Paradise Rock Club, the bigger club of two joint clubs, but to have our name on the marquee for the Rock Club, we'd have to be headlining. And that would practically be impossible, since they book almost exclusively nationals. So this is close enough to announce that I have fulfilled a resolution...

Pictures of the entire evening, from the Abbey to the Paradise and a short-lived party at the Matts in between, can be found here.

I'll try to keep up better!