Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Political talk

So, it's a bit early, I suppose, for me to say where I stand on the 2008 presidential elections. After all, we don't even know all our options yet. But that doesn't mean I can't write a bit about what I see and how some of my opinions have changed. I'm no expert or even a truly "political person," just a mere voter looking to be informed. Now, feel free to leave comments on this, because I know politics can ruffle some feathers, but if so, let's keep it clean and honest, kids. And if anyone has any good links I should post, let me know. I'm still sizing everyone up.

There was a point when I thought I'd never vote Republican. Not that I've been very impressed by Democrats in recent years, but the thought of supporting a Republican sent shivers down my spine. That's what happens when you come of voting age in the George W. Bush-era, though I've been loosely following politics since I was a youngster. Anyhow, after the 2000 elections, I read a piece on John McCain that somewhat changed my mind. It was a Rolling Stone piece, a publication who can sometimes have acceptable political pieces that appeal to younger folks (though I think many, flip past it to see the Panic! At The Disco spread). Anyhow, the piece made him seem like the anti-Bush, a straight-talking, no-nonsense, widely-appealing, center-riding politician who didn't think, let alone vote, on party lines. But as McCain now shifts toward the 2008 vacancy, I've seen a change in him (not too surprising). He's visiting evangelical groups, knowing he needs their votes and support. He's changing gears and stance on the war too frequently. Which leads me to the latest email I received, toting the outing of the "Real McCain" (a nice play off the "Real McCoy" by the way). Check it out here to see it, but warning: watch for major spin.

Anyhow, my opinion of McCain has steadly dropped over the past, eh, nine months (not that I was ever a "McCain guy"). And he's the only Republican who has ever looked half-good (Romney WILL crash and burn, and perhaps won't even get that far due to his religion being somewhat unfairly attacked -- I say this for the first-time as a Bostonian who has watched him ignore his own people long enough; meanwhile, I loathe Giuliani and can't understand why everyone adores a man who is so two-faced and I don't even want to talk about the Bible-beating Brownback. He just angers me). I, like many others, have been dazzled by rising star Barack Obama. I've been reading his latest book, and interestingly, rather than make me feel closer to him, I've found it to be pushing me away (which may say something about his honesty, in a good way). He's an excellent writer, no doubt, and what he's doing here is precisely laying out his plans for his potential presidency. He would be a welcome change in politics -- he's energetic, tough but compassionate, and quite eloquent. But that doesn't make a president, many say, it's experience. The all-important record. And yeah, he doesn't have much of one (he may have thrown himself into this race a bit too quickly, riding a wave of hype and celebrity, though he directly says his opinion to run for president was not based on hype in his declaration video). In fact, in some ways I kind of like his lack of experience for that, because he doesn't seem disillusioned in the way some politicians do. But I still need to be convinced. Big time. Many of the same questions about Obama can be applied to John Edwards, as well.

At the same rate, it seems Hillary Clinton may get the nomination. We all knew she was going to run, but honestly, I didn't think she'd have so much support (and I'm a big Bill fan). Well, is it support, or is it money? Either way, she's doing dandy but I'm not into this whole down-home facade she's put on to combat her image as a chilly character (though I see her point). Don't believe me? Watch her "let's chat" declaration video and count how many times that right elbow goes onto her back-support cushion. None of this really has to do with her politics, but rather her viability as a strong candidate. I personally kind of align with some of Clinton's stances; truth be told, I'm just not sold on her yet.

Which brings me to my big conclusion. Who should run from the Democratic side? On the Republican side, it looks to be McCain (right now, at least). But amongst the major contenders right now (Obama, Clinton, Edwards, Vilsack -- OK, maybe not Vilsack), nobody seems perfect. But secretly, I've been pulling for Al Gore. I think he's made a lot of good moves since losing in 2000, and it's true, he can beat everyone else in the pack -- well, for the nomination. In fact, there's a decent article in Rolling Stone right now called "Run, Al, Run" by Tom Dickinson. It brings up the reasons of why he's a viable candidate. Right now, I'm just waiting to see who does what and who throws their hat in the ring. But like I say, I still need to be convinced.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Good news heals all wounds

So, last night we played a show and it was pretty bland. But that's not exciting, so we'll talk about that after exciting talk.

In one of the biggest honors to date for Cassavettes, we were invited to play the WBCN Rock 'N' Roll Rumble. Don't know what it is? If you trust Wikipedia, here's a history lesson. Our good friend Kier from Three Day Threshold, who I often think of as a mentor to this band in some ways, told us awhile back that the Rumble is the bridge for Boston bands, or as he put it: a "rite of passage." Most groups that have gone on to bigger and better things must first prove themselves locally by owning the Rumble. Jake Brennan & the Confidence Men did it, so did Dresden Dolls, all the way back to Gang Green in 1986. At the same time, some notable bands have fallen, including Morphine, the Lemonheads, Piebald, and Kier's band itself. Win or lose, we are enormously honored to be a part of it. So, how about that?

And it makes last night at the Bulfinch Yacht Club feel better. It also parallels the reality that we aren't big time or anything. A lot of internal focus lately has been on not getting down if the crowd is small or uninvolved. It happens -- you max out a draw by playing too many shows, it's not a good night, or maybe the crowd isn't going to feel it no matter what you do. It's not a personal offense in my book any longer. I'm having fun every time I'm up on stage, and you know what, I'll say it: as corny as this is, I love playing live shows, even to nobody sometimes, because I realize how amazing it is to play onstage with three of my best friends. It's a special thing, and I don't want to take it for granted. I can't get so caught up in worrying about draw, and who's there and who isn't, because when it's time to play, all you can do is PLAY. That's it. Scott says he has more respect for bands who overcome small crowds by still turning the place upside down, and I'm inclined to agree with him. Playing to small crowds is part of the life of a band, and we better get used to it again if we hit the road. Like Matt said, not everyone can be those losers from Panic! At The Disco, where were playing packed stadiums before they ever played an empty bar. It's all luck. But playing small shows toughens you up in a way that group never will be tough -- in some ways, it already shows since they have ZERO stage presence from what I understand. If you want longevity in a business, you need to take a hard road to get there oftentimes. So, while we played a few sold-out shows and were riding a high, when we maxed out last night, it was a reality check. A necessary one. We still met the club's minimum at the bar and ticket sales, so we didn't get in hot water, and we're buds with the talent buyer there. Our set was strong, we played pretty well (despite some technical difficulties) and amazingly, we sold a fair amount of merchandise. That's EXACTLY why you don't fold in the face of a small crowd -- in fact, there's MORE pressure to play well, I think. And I'm proud of these dudes, because I think we did play well. Pictures here.

Speaking of playing, we did not do a conventional set. In an attempt to snag some people who'd seen us recently, I baited the show by saying we'd do all new stuff (two), covers (one), and rarities (three) -- (We also did four recorded tracks). And for the most part, we did. Here's the set list:
Whitewashed / Loose Lips / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / On The Lam / The Devil's Arms / Research Blvd. / Shotgun Wedding / Bad Luck / The Weight (The Band cover) / Better Than This

All in all, the night turned out OK. And sometimes that's necessary. We're playing a lot lately (next show, Feb. 6 at afterHOURS/Northeastern University), anyhow, for two reasons: we have debts to pay off and we're getting as tight as possible for SXSW and, well, now, the WBCN Rumble. So, it's a good, hard-nosed experience.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Worcester, the town that sticks with you

As Fritz posted on my Worcester wrap-up, there are indeed photos from Saturday night's show at Ralph's. However, they are from a camera phone. Regardless, one struck me, so I re-touched this shot of Mike tossing a balloon into the audience, amidst the carnival-esque lights.

Anyhow, more on Worcester. Apparently, Worcester Magazine saw my recent tag on the Ralph's wrap-up and this blog will be featured in their next publication! Wild, eh? It feels strange writing up someone writing about this blog that I write on them about. It's like one big circle that just keeps turning.

Anyhow, interesting show at the Bulfinch Yacht Club tonight with Cassavettes and good old buddies Dirt Water Refuge, and Nathan Ryan. We'll be playing almost all b-sides from "It's Gonna Change" (songs we love but that just couldn't fit), new songs, covers, and perhaps some jazz oddysey. It's cheap ($6), so if you're around, you won't want to miss this one.

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Photo frenzy

I've got some words later. For now, let's just post some pictures from last night's band meeting and hang sesh. This is for a project of sorts, so we weren't necessarily just hanging around with a camera. Although that's cool, too.

Don't believe Scott and I are serious about growing our hair? Look how long his normally close-cut locks are now...

Matt was showing off for girls, I'm not certain why. Well, I am, but really? Using a harmless photoshop project to pick up chicks? Actually, on a complete side note, I've known more than a few folks who like to use their photo skills to pick up girls. Either way, it didn't work for him. Besides, I was taking the pictures.

Finally, here's a shot of Chris theorizing the look on my face when posting these very pictures...

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Woostah and more

Sorry, it's been a good while since I've written anything. I just switched to the new version of Blogger, so I now must conform with Google rules. Still seems cool, though. Quick sidenote: yesterday, Chris and I watched this Neil Young performance from the Harvest-era on VH1 classic and it was totally weird. Everything he played was a "new song" and he'd introduce it as such and then play "Heart of Gold" or "Out on the Weekend." And he was actually apologizing about this! Like, "Sorry to hit you with all this new material." I hope that crowd knew how lucky they were. I talked about this last night, and dedicated it to a Canadian in the crowd. That's as good a way as any to get into the fair amount that happened this week. I'll start with the most recent stuff and work backward.

Last night, the group played Ralph's Diner in Worcester. The last time we traveled out to Massachusett's no. 2 town we played the infinitely smaller Java Hut. It was weird, and a long time ago, so we shan't discuss. Regardless, last night was interesting. There were promises of a "built-in crowd" for Saturday night gigs, so regardless that we were the headliner, there were supposed to be a few people out. Interestingly enough, the crowd seemed to shift band-to-band (and there were a whopping SIX bands on the bill, meaning we didn't play until 1 a.m.). We brought more folks than I anticipated, and despite some early grumblings about playing so late (not realizing that Worcester folks don't travel via the T, and thus aren't used to leaving at midnight), it was a really sweet show. The place is cool -- this was my first time there in general -- and I feel that we played a decent enough show despite only getting about 30 minutes to do it. No pictures or video, though.
Set list: Shotgun Wedding / Shine A Light / Loose Lips / Trouble From The Start / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Debts / We Could Be Solo Acts

Either way, the club wants us back, which is always a good sign. Also, when we arrived at the club we got our first peek at the new issue of Performer, which features a live review of our Dec. 9 show. It's pretty good on the whole -- they pegged me as being uncomfortable that night. That's true, I had finals and was out of my element. Since then, I've decided not to let there be any internal distraction when onstage. And I've kept that promise thus far. So, the review was pretty good on the whole, considering that Dec. 9 was one of our "off nights," in my opinion. So, I'm pleased with it. The only bummer news of yesterday is that we did NOT get one of the festivals I had high hopes on, the Heart of Texas Festival in Austin. I wrote a follow-up email, just in case they reconsidered, but these days so many groups submit to those things, it's hard to discern. Plus, they favor Texas bands, according to submission guidelines. I guess I couldn't spin our Texas tale to sound Texan enough. Ah, well.

On Thursday, I got the day off work (computer problems) and so I spent most of the day doing promotional stuff with Chris. We sent the CD out to a few publications and got in touch with some press contacts, I mailed out some CDs internationally (we've had a surprisingly large amount of interest overseas lately... strange, eh?), and we put our discs everywhere in the city we could think of. It felt really productive. I've got to do that more often. We must have cleared 150 discs in one day. Something like that.

Still, plenty to come -- a show on Monday at the Bulfinch Yacht Club in the North End with a couple good buddies.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Reelin' in

There's a nice Rodfest V write-up in the Boston Globe yesterday, that I somehow missed. Either way, Jonathan Perry's got kind words for the whole night, and some cool things to say about Cassavettes.

The Boston buzz band Cassavettes, who last year won a Boston Music Award as "Outstanding Americana Act," followed with an exuberant set of Laurel Canyon-tinged country rock that fell somewhere between the Beachwood Sparks (the quieter, pastoral moments) and Old 97's (the louder ones).

As such, the foursome's pearl-buttoned Western-style shirts and Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers matched its tastes perfectly.

Again, we didn't win that award, we were nominated, but it's cool. The myth is starting to become bigger than reality. I like the comparisons though! And are we a buzz band? That's alright by me. By the way, here are pictures from that fateful night, from Aram and from ExploitBoston.

So, anyhow, we're playing more shows in the next five weeks than ever before. It's going to be awesome, I just hope we don't wear out our draw. A minor bummer: Yesterday I got an application for this year's Northeastern Battle of the Bands (which we won last year, and as such, may have saved this band a little bit), but we can't play it this year! The qualifying rounds are Feb. 16 and 17, and we have shows BOTH those days, one in New York City with Hymns and the other at Harper's Ferry with Girls, Guns & Glory and 3 Day Threshold. So, we can't defend the crown. Also, they tightened the rules this year, noting 50 percent of the band must attend Northeastern. Uh oh, only 25 percent of Cassavettes does.

Last night's practice was lackluster; I'm guessing everyone was tired. Either way, we better get pumped for this weekend with a big show at Ralph's in Worcester and then the Bulfinch Yacht Club in the North End on Monday.

Also, hopefully some things will come together for Texas soon. I hate not knowing anything about it. But we got an offer to play the start-up SXSA (South by San Antonio) festival, which grabs bands heading for Austin and gives them a show in the Riverwalk city. I'm ready for it. As long as they don't find out I hate the Spurs.

Oh right, I'm watching my basketball talk.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The clip

Friday, January 19, 2007

Longest/best day in history

What a crazy night! Man oh man, what a night! This may be the most fun we've ever played, besides MAYBE our one-year anniversary. Rodfest SOLD OUT the Paradise Rock Club -- capacity 650! That's twice as big as any room we've ever played. And for those keeping score at home, that's THREE, count them, THREE consecutive Boston sell-outs for Cassavettes (12/9 CD release at the Middle East; 12/15 Milky Way Holiday Party; 1/19 Rodfest at Paradise Rock Club). Though, that figure is arguable for these reasons: the Milky Way holiday party was free and just hit capacity quickly and Rodfest was just a flat-out excellent bill put together by the man I have the most respect for in all of Boston music: Kier Byrnes.

Now, it's too late to get into how long this day really was, so here's a short summary. I didn't sleep last night, but my buzzer went off at 5:15 a.m. this morning to head to the practice space than Dedham to play Fox 25 Morning News to promote tonight's show. We did, and it's posted here. Though, for the record, this clip is the WEB clip and not the same interstitials and what not that ran on TV (plus it doesn't include the interview). Luckily, Aram taped it in high def and we're working to get it up on YouTube pronto. So, upon arriving back in Boston, Scott and I hung and then I had to clock in for my FIRST DAY at a NEW JOB. No joke. I was way out of it. But a co-worked alerted me that Cassavettes had a huge picture in the Boston Globe today promoting Rodfest, so that was cool. From work, I went straight to the club and got ready for show time.

Oh, also, before I talk about Rodfest, we confirmed a show in Worcester next week at the excellent Ralph's Diner and posted another show for 1/29 at the BYC with John Mazcko's new/old group Dirt Water Refuge and the reliable Nathan Ryan. I was really pumped to see Johnny and co. promoting that show tonight at Rodfest, passing out flyers and promo CDs! We've got some other exciting stuff coming up, too!

Now, onto the actual show. We played second, but already the room was packed. The crowd was surprisingly into it despite the fact that a) we played 2 new songs, b) we played a 10-minute song (during which I attacked Shannon, kind of unfairly, but she seemed to be cool with it so it's all good), and c) most of them didn't know us all that well. But that's music for you. During our big closer, the standard "It's Gonna Be Alright," we got some folks onstage and had ourselves a bit of a hoe-down. And then we heard it was sold out.

I'm just so happy we could be a part of something so special. I'm very thankful to Kier and all the other excellent people and bands involved. And I'm obviously sounding emotional, but tonight was emotional. Tonight is a good example of the reason I started playing music. What a night.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Was I right or was I right?

I'm fairly certain the Dallas Morning News' David Moore has been reading this blog. Proof? Here's proof:

Johnson was loathe to shower individual praise on players last season because he was busy building a team. It conflicted with his message.

Now that this concept is ingrained, Johnson is willing to reward the players for buying into his system. He has said he wouldn't take anyone over Dirk Nowitzki for MVP and admitted he didn't tout the forward's performance enough last season. Johnson has endorsed Josh Howard's All-Star candidacy and wondered aloud if there's a better defensive point guard in the Western Conference right now than Devin Harris.

"I don't like to false-promote guys," Johnson said. "If a guy is worthy of something individually, I'll say it."

Uh, remember when I said that last week:

One thing about Johnson though is that when he was a freshman coach of the Dallas Mavericks (a freshman coach who inevitably took his team to the Finals for the first time -- yeah, he was a really good freshman coach), he tended to focus on what went wrong during a game's course, rather than issuing any praise for his player's efforts. Even after wins, he'd talk about botched defensive sets during the post-game interview. This is probably due to the same reasoning I have: There's always room for improvement. However, as an avid Mavericks fan and sports reader (though I don't like pretty much everything else), I've noticed that in his second season, after the humbling loss of four straight games in the Finals after holding a 2-0 lead, Johnson has loosened up in his quotes. Suddenly, he has praise where praise previously wasn't found. And his team is playing well -- really well. Best record in the NBA. So, here's my theory (and follow me here, because this relates to music eventually): In his first season, Johnson had to establish his place with the team and make a statement that he expects the very best out of them. In order to do so, he was a little harsh sometimes -- ignoring the positive and focusing solely on what could be better. A lapse in defense. A moment when the player's focus drifted from the game. In order to win a championship, he drilled it into his team that they needed to all be on the same page, and he did so with brute force. But now, his team knows. They're playing with a chip on their shoulder after losing their grip on the Finals last year, so he hardly needs to motivate them anymore. And now he can now give them hell occasionally, but also reinforce the positive. See what I mean?

OK, so I'm more long-winded, but know this: David Moore, I've got my eye on you. Or maybe we just think alike -- great minds, etc. Either way, good column today!

Side note: Perhaps I've been writing about the Mavericks too much lately. I'm starting to feel like Bill Simmons, when all he does is write about the Celtics. OK, I'll keep it in check.


OK, so yesterday I was writing too passionately. Or maybe just being rude. Either way, I don't wish I had never booked the March trip. I do want to go to Texas, play during South by Southwest, and see what happens. Eight days is a long time, I'm sure something will work out. Plus, I'm going to get a Grumpamoose burger.

Anyhow, things are looking good for a Portland, Maine, show in mid-April, I just have to find a venue, but Jason Anderson has signed on. Also, we'll be playing a lot in the next few weeks, and might add one Worcester date to that bill. We'll know by tonight.

Now, to ponder on this Texas issue some more...places to play...folks to play with...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A possible disaster I didnt see happening?

If I could take it all back, right now, I would. I'd take back the $25 I spent submitting an application to South By Southwest and the time I spent filling out their application, which I never even heard back about. I'd take back the additional $60+ I spent submitting to related festivals that week, both of which are still so far up in the air that it makes planning a trip around them nearly impossible. I'd take back the tickets I already got for the trip to Dallas, I'd take back the time I've wasted contacting bands, venues, and looking up information to make this trip possible. I'd take back telling the other guys the times and dates I'd worked out, and if I did take that back, I wouldn't get the flak I got for them having to take a week off work (I do, too, and a week off school). I'd have focused on Boston, played a good show here, and then when we're really there, when we're really a touring band with the backing and support, we'd go to South By Southwest in Austin. Not this year. But we are, and instead of being a WHOOHOO, it's a lackluster yay.

But now, we are not this band with support and backing. And I can't take back these things. And for all the planning (in the midst of not being able to plan), I realize that this trip isn't going to happen as I thought it should.

I think this band should be a band going to Austin to see what happens. I think we should play Dallas/Ft.Worth, then head south and hit as many venues in as little amount of time as possible. People are everywhere. But it's easy for me to have that attitude: I have very little to go back to in Texas, beyond some scattered friends (I don't even have a place to stay arranged yet, or a mode of transportation).

Meanwhile, two other members of the band DO have people to go back to. Their families. Assorted friends. They'd like to spend time with these people, which makes sense. But I've been planning this trip like a business trip -- trying to pack as much into it as possible, because we're going to be there, so why the hell not?

I don't think it will cost that much more money, and even so, I expect the band to be somewhat on its feet by then. The only money it really costs is the plane ticket, which I've already got.

I can't go to Dallas to "hang out" -- ditto Matt (and Chris and Fritz, if they choose to come). I'm paying for school I'm missing, I'm losing money from work I'm missing, and all I want to do is play as much as I possibly can. If that happens, then it is all worthwhile. But one show here, another there? That's not enough.

I am working very hard to make this trip more than last year's trip to Dallas. It shouldn't be hard -- last year, we simply played a tiny club to a handful of folks and a house party. This year, it's realistic that we'll be in Austin. I'm almost certain we'll have 1-2 good metroplex shows, to boot. But I want more -- even if it sucks -- to seem like we really got our money's worth (Waco? San Marcos? College Station? All of these areas are en route, or close by, and we know folks in them. I feel like we could play an additional couple shows there).

But I need to know if everyone else wants to do this. This might be a homecoming, and I don't want to get in the way of anyone and their family. I'd never want to do that. But I overlooked the fact that some would see this more as a trip home than a band trip. That's selfish of me. At the same rate, I couldn't ask Matt to take a week off work and not follow through with the goods in Texas.

Quite the conundrum.

Either way, it's happening and we'll have to see what happens as it all comes together. For now, I'm not slowing down, I'm going to keep trying to make things happen. I have to.

Not to get ahead of ourselves, but...

The most urgent news is such: There's a big show on Friday that we're playing at the Paradise Rock Club -- Rodfest. Tickets are still available here, though you save the service charge and an extra $5 if you buy them before the day of the show from the club directly. We're even doing a TV show the morning of, to promote it. But still, I can't help but look toward the horizon.

And it's been a good day for horizon watching.

Just today, we've firmed up bands for a couple of shows in February (more details on those coming soon) and locked down a bill for March 24 at Great Scott, featuring Hallelujah the Hills (who, rumor has it, just signed to Misra, home of Centro-matic) and Lady of Spain. There are some really cool shows coming up this spring. You should be excited. I know I am.

Also, I sent and long and detailed message to the band's email this morning so that we're all on the same page, as we take the next step. We're on a good pace to pay off our debts from the album -- about halfway to paying off exterior debts. And then, we'll hopefully get some money in the band account to play some out-of-towners and put out another record. Maybe something this summer? Tour this fall? For now, unfortunately, everything is motivated by money, how to get it, and what to do with it. It's just how it has to be. Luckily, the band feels better than ever.

I'm keeping on an eye on the calendar, particularly the first week of July, which marks Cassavettes' two-year (wow, doesn't seem that long) anniversary. Last year, we had a huge shindig at the Middle East which was unequivocably the best show we ever played (not due to us, necessarily, but because the crowd was so amazing). This year, we hope to make it bigger and better, and hopefully soon, we can book a good date that week. In the meantime, we're going to keep April and May open for now, just to see what comes along. We waited for awhile on the first few months of 2007, then filled it up quick. Now, we need to go back to being patient again.

In the meantime, Chris has been actively pursuing out of town shows, most notably in Portland, Maine. Rumors and bills have been flying, some including local legend Jason Anderson. But I do hope to hit Maine, Worcester, Connecticut, Providence, maybe Vermont, and New York City (more and more) as the year progresses. We'll stick primarily in New England for now, and hopefully hit the road big time this fall.

Finally, it is important to note, that officially starting today, I will be maintaining this blog for an online journalism class until the end of April. Previously, I enjoyed that this blog was so independent and I could do and say whatever I wanted. However, I don't feel as though I'm losing any freedom in writing for class. I can still give the insider's glimpse at life in a working band, and plus, one of the main benefits of doing this for class, I'll be updating more than ever! Also, I can incorporate new tools, like podcasts. Excited? I am. Two birds, one stone. So, keep reading, because there's a lot of cool stuff coming for the blog and plenty more cool stuff coming for the band.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Quick blog run down and the vibe that keeps on giving

Nice write-up about "On Our Own" on ThaBombShelter, a Columbus, Ohio blog. Check it out here. Plus, nice words about the group in general.

Cassavettes are Texas by way of Boston. Furthermore, according to the readers of the Boston Phoenix, this is the best band in Boston. Now, I can't really speak for Boston, having never been to Bean Town, but if these guys were from Columbus, I might just be forced to agree. With some roughness around the edges and some grit in the recording, I can only imagine how great these guys might be live. They've got a sound like a soul-tinged love child of The Avett Brothers and The Old 97's. There's twang and dueling vocals and harmonica, which is just what this blogger needed once winter finally decided to make an appearance in Columbus. They make me long for some banjos and bluegrass and Americana (yes, with a capital fucking A).

Good practice tonight, despite the blistering cold (it's about damn time, right?). I think we'll play two new songs on Friday -- "Shotgun Wedding" and Mike's new Lemonheads-y one, which I just found out is titled "Loose Lips." Pretty exciting, eh? Plus, the performance is being filmed for Dirty Water TV, which means that a good portion of our day on Friday will be captured on film in some way, since we're playing the Fox 25 Morning Show that morning.

Anyhow, really good vibes flowing in practice lately. Don't believe me? Check this testimonial from the bass slapper himself.


P.S. One more note. I know I write about the Mavericks a good bit (like here) -- and recently said coach Avery Johnson isn't content even with the best performance. Here's proof, from the Dallas Morning News:
Guard Devin Harris said Johnson's video sessions can last as long as 45 minutes and tend to focus on defense. Johnson finds flaws even in Mavs' blowout wins.

"It's not so much nitpicking," Harris said. "Those kind of things will win playoff games for us."

That's exactly what I was talking about! There's always room for improvement, and as long as no one perceives as being TOO nitpicky, you're fine. There's nothing wrong with aiming high.

Also, in blog/new media AND Mavs news, it says the Mavericks are launching a site called that will feature the team's history and game recaps and allow fans to comment and post photos. Wikis are so wacky. Prominent blogger/mentor of this blogger Dan Kennedy must be loving this!

Solo act? No, not really

Still, not much time for blogging these days. But here's some important news: I played a solo show for the first time in ages on Saturday. And correct me if I'm wrong here, but I believe the last time I played a full-on solo set was at Rubber Gloves in Denton, Texas, when I played "Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This" live for the first time and Scott, moments away from moving to Boston, told me it was a rocker. That'd be June 2005. Anyhow, I decided last month that I'd like to play solo shows every so often - not because of problems with the band, but actually because it gives more flexibility to the band. In theory, I could play a solo show the same week as a Cassavettes show without drawing away from either and still get paid and sell merch at both. And I need money now, in a pretty big way. So it's all good.

Anyhow, the show was at Northeastern University, opening for the Times New Roman comedy troupe, and it was OK at best. I played a bizarre set, including a song I had written the morning of the show called "You'll Be Crying Soon," which actually got the best response of the night. By best response, I mean the sound guy had high praise for it and told me to get a recording of it -- pronto. So, that was cool. To the best of my memory, I played the following set:

1. Ambivalent Farewells
2. Seasons
3. Set Free
4. You'll Be Crying Soon
5. Rainy Days
6. Like Secrets Beneath

It was a good time. I meant to make "Rainy Days" into a medley with "It's Gonna Be Alright," but I wasn't feeling it and kind of concluded soon. It's alright. I also wore pants with a huge rip in the crotch which led to a joke about my hogan. S'all good.

Anyway, I've been feeling really good about the band lately. We've been playing some new songs, and I've been really feeling them. Well, most of them. I'm not too hot on one of my own right now, and I think it may need to be reworked a bit. But for the past few weeks, we've been working on a (hate to say it, because of it's negative Phish connotation) "jammy" song called "Shotgun Wedding," a piano-driven song of mine called "One Step Ahead," and a new one by Mike that I'm not sure of its title. Kind of an epic-sounding song. Then, in the last couple days, Mike and I have both introduced new songs that have a feel good sound. Mike's is perhaps my favorite song he's brought to the group in a while (Scott rather astutely compared it to the Lemonheads, which is a huge thumbs up in my book); in fact, the feeling I got when hearing it for the first time was a lot like when I heard "Trouble From The Start" for the first time. Kind of nodding along, thinking, "Yeah, I can see where this is going" and then coming up with a little dippity-do-da for my part. Meanwhile, my latest for the band is a song called, "It's Gonna Take Time," which is a conventionally-structured pop song. One of my first in awhile of that variety. It makes me feel like "Carolyn" in the way it came together. Scott's got some issues with the way it's being played on the whole by the band right now, but we'll get that all smoothed soon, I'm sure. And if not, I've been very productive lately, and I have a lot of stuff to show.

The big question I keep rolling around in my head is whether the band should play songs like "Like Secrets Beneath" and "You'll Be Crying Soon." I'm really into those types of tunes lately. Even if they don't sound like us, I think it could expand our sound a good bit. Into quieter areas that is... Besides, "Set Free" was on the last record, so these could make an interesting new dimension of the band. And both call for more instrumentation, if we see fit.

Quick final notes: New shows are posted (and will continue to be posted), the new record is now on iTunes, and we'll be playing live on TV on Friday. We have nailed down March 10-18 as our Texas tour dates, and we just need to book some more shows and see what happens with SXSW and related festivals. More to come later!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Paid in compliment

Total bummer. Last night I wrote this long post about receiving the best compliment of my musical life, it took forever to write and included some really cool stuff, and Blogger quit! So, I lost it. If I have the energy again, I'll do it later.

Anyway, it dealt with last night when we played what was by all measurable accounts, a last minute show in Matt's hometown of Maynard, Mass. Our buds Slow Century invited us out, but we never confirmed and only found out about this a few days ago. Still, for the first show of 2007, it felt pretty good. But hey, don't take my word for it. Read this unbiased wrap-up post from Ryan's Smashing Life. Photos here.

Also, I believe the "couple of minor snags" he refers to were Matt and I messing up the end of Carolyn. Check this though: I was off the stage dancing in the crowd, and stuff happens. That's the biz.

All in all, quite possibly the best time we've collectively ever had in Maynard.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Music as sport

I find that I often think of managing a band in sports terminology. Like, the same way a coach motivates his team, this can be used to motivate your bandmates. The same way a coach (if he's a good one) always talks about taking everything to the next level and accomplishing that ultimate goal (and furthermore, declaring everything is moot if the goal isn't achieved), I find myself thinking that way about a band's track. Which is kind of unfortunate if you think about it, because it means you never dwell on small successes and are perpetually discontented or anxious. Though that sounds it a bit overblow. Either way, I guess you could say that I'm as inspired by Avery Johnson as I am by Neil Young, albeit in different ways.

One thing about Johnson though is that when he was a freshman coach of the Dallas Mavericks (a freshman coach who inevitably took his team to the Finals for the first time -- yeah, he was a really good freshman coach), he tended to focus on what went wrong during a game's course, rather than issuing any praise for his player's efforts. Even after wins, he'd talk about botched defensive sets during the post-game interview. This is probably due to the same reasoning I have: There's always room for improvement. However, as an avid Mavericks fan and sports reader (though I don't like pretty much everything else), I've noticed that in his second season, after the humbling loss of four straight games in the Finals after holding a 2-0 lead, Johnson has loosened up in his quotes. Suddenly, he has praise where praise previously wasn't found. And his team is playing well -- really well. Best record in the NBA. So, here's my theory (and follow me here, because this relates to music eventually): In his first season, Johnson had to establish his place with the team and make a statement that he expects the very best out of them. In order to do so, he was a little harsh sometimes -- ignoring the positive and focusing solely on what could be better. A lapse in defense. A moment when the player's focus drifted from the game. In order to win a championship, he drilled it into his team that they needed to all be on the same page, and he did so with brute force. But now, his team knows. They're playing with a chip on their shoulder after losing their grip on the Finals last year, so he hardly needs to motivate them anymore. And now he can now give them hell occasionally, but also reinforce the positive. See what I mean?

Well, being in a band, this analogy doesn't stretch all the way across the spectrum but it does relate in a lot of ways. For one, if you're going to be the primary motivator of a group of people, you need to make sure everyone has the same goal. More importantly, you need them to believe that that goal is rational, even if outsiders doubt it. When Avery Johnson took over the Mavericks with 16 games to go in the season two years ago, he immediately declared the Mavericks could win a championship -- not next year, but now. Everyone ridiculed him. But guess what? They almost did. The next year, they got even closer. And this year, they are nearly every sportswriter's pick for the title. But belief has to come from within before it can be reasonable to those outside. This is something I tried to establish very early on in the band.

I recall having a conversation with Matt during the recording of "Whitewash The Blues" and he told me that he thought our songs were good, the musicianship and chemistry was good, but that he couldn't really foresee any real commercial success. All I asked for was faith. And depending on your definition of commercial success, I doubt anyone would say we've achieved that goal on a large scale yet, but most people who know us probably don't think it sounds totally ridiculous anymore. But that belief came from within first. Today, I believe Matt has a totally different perspective on the band where he not only believes we can accomplish great things, but expects it. That's exactly the way it should be. And it's a testament to Matt's personality and character that he was able to perceive the change and welcome it. In fact, not to go off on a Matt-love-fest too much, but one of my favorite things about the chap is his ability to adapt. By all reasonable standards, Matt could have given up many times by now or just said we aren't his style. But alas, he remains, and we're a much better band because of him.

Another thing coaches preach is knowing your betters. The Mavericks archrival is, has been, and will be, the San Antonio Spurs. Johnson made it clear last year that the Mavericks would not be an "elite" team until they conquered an elite team. Which they did in the 2006 Western Conference semifinals, in epic fashion. What I'm saying here is that you have to have confidence, but more importantly, you must have humility, too. You have to know deep down that everyone around you is all competing for resources (an NBA title, an audience). In music, we can help each other sometimes (and should), but much of the time, it feels as though it's every band for itself. And when the majority of your time in a band is spent telling people how great you are, writing bios that make you out to be the best thing since sliced bread, and building your own myth -- for instance, Oasis says that "if you tell enough people you're the greatest band in the world, eventually some people are going to believe it" -- deep down, no matter how far you go and how great people say you are, you must also know that you're not the best. Cassavettes won't be the Beatles. We're lucky if we ever come close to being 1/100 of the band the Beatles were. That fraction may even be a bit too generous. So, while it's good to advance your career by advertising yourself as the next big thing (everyone does it, just as they should, and if they don't, they're a fool), you can't get too caught up in believing it. In short, don't believe your own myth. Otherwise, you're nothing more than an asshole. And no one wants to be an asshole, right? So, know your betters, know your competition, but also know who you really are (cheesy as it sounds) and, unlike basketball, be helpful to other groups. Remember what people have done for you, and keep your head on straight. If your ego inflates just because your band's reputation has, then pretty soon both your ego and your band are due to pop like a balloon. Having steady confidence, but more humility is the best route in my mind.

Now, obviously Cassavettes' accomplishments are pretty modest in the grand scheme of things so you may perceive those preceding lines of advice as total balogna. That's fine. But through adherence to these principles pulled from sports, we have exceeded even my own lofty expecations. And that's not only due to this structure -- that's due to the fellas in the band knowing what they want and going after it. We're all working for the same goal. All pushing for that next tier. And not to be an asshole about this, but honestly, it's only a matter of time before we get there. I think we have the right confidence and belief.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Be back soon

I know it's been a long, long while. The last two weeks I've been in Virginia, New York City, and now I'm entertaining a couple friends from Austin, Texas. The other dudes have been in Dallas and Maynard. So, it's been busy.

Meanwhile, the band has been good -- we did our first practice of 2007 and it felt good. We just need to shake off the rust and keep grooving it. Feel me? Don't forget there is a big show Jan. 19 that you MUST be at. Read Scott's update on the feeling right now here.

Also, I'm still working on 2006: A Year in Review. It's been dragging a bit, but I will get on the ball soon. I promise. Then, it shall be posted right here.

In the meantime, please note that our new CD is available for purchase at Shipping and all! If you already have the CD, please write a review at the bottom of that page. It really helps! Also, please spread the word and buy, buy, buy! We're still paying off huge debts on this one. Early sales have been good though, really good.

OK, I'll check back soon.

Love, Glenn

P.S. Doesn't this seem fishy? Like, really fishy? "Weird weather"? They aren't even trying anymore.