Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Working all the time -- unless sick

Rough week, man. Not that the Delaware show was bad, but boy, was it high stress. Enough stress to give me...eck, shingles. So I've missed work today and I'm missing it tomorrow. We'll see what happens coming up. But let's not talk about this awfulness, and rather, let's discuss Delaware.

So, we left at 10:30, plenty of time for a 7 1/2 hour drive down to the first state. We had high hopes for a good crowd after the last time we were there on tour, so spirits were high as well. But things changed shortly after we got out of NYC and on the NJ Turnpike. We moved one mile in one hour. No joke. Sucked.

So, with Matt behind the wheel (highly revered for his quick driving skills), we high-tailed it down the Turnpike. But we should have seen the writing on the wall. Cops aplenty, and alas, we netted a ticket. I'll say one thing, though, that the Delaware staties are the fastest I've ever seen. He must have known we were late for our gig, because we got going in a hurry. This time, no speeding. Matt did a great job stewarding us toward the big gig.

We arrived and I'll let my mother, who wrote a family letter type email to the family to recount the "Life & Times of Everyone," take it from here:

They drove 8 hours (“lots of NJ traffic!! We almost didn’t get here in time!”). With practiced precision the four boys unloaded every bit of drums, cymbals, guitars, amps and microphones—incredibly, (magically really) stuck into the short cargo area of the van—makes you think of a clown car with the 4 tall boys erupting from the side doors. One eye and a nod to the bouncer checking ID, they rapidly moved the empty van to a regular parking spot.

Taking the stage to assemble it all, they moved wordlessly, heads down (glad we got a quick hug when they arrived, but no words), wires, cords and metal objects meeting wooden ones, until they were satisfied. Eric pressed 4 beers into their hands (they hadn’t had time to stop for dinner!), they seemed grateful, but put them down on the floor for the most part, still at work, ensuring they had room to roam the stage with all those wires.

Clown car, eh? Microphones? Anyhow, the show was cool -- at first, there were some people just standing around, but by the middle of the set, they were feeling it. It's always a good feeling when you can win an audience on the road. I'd say we've gone 2-for-2 this month. With the road behind us, we've got some stuff to look forward to.
SET LIST (I think): Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Debts / Golden Fleece / On the Lam / Whitewashed / Don't Get Me Wrong / I Come From the Water / Shotgun Wedding / Shine A Light

Now, the big deal is just pushing the presale tickets for our three-year show. I'm really nervous about it, so if you can, help us spread the news. It just might help me feel better. Here's the email we sent around:
Hello friends,
Ready for the summer and music/partying/good times/surprises/FREE STUFF? As you may know, each July Cassavettes celebrates its founding -- WITH THE BIGGEST PARTY OF THE YEAR! This summer, Cassavettes' Three-Year Anniversary Party is at the Paradise Rock Club (Main Room) in Boston on Saturday, July 5 with our good friends Girls Guns & Glory and Teenage Prayers (from NYC). Tickets are $12 in advance and the presale starts TODAY!

But, wait, do you need more persuasion to come? OK, how about this: The first 65 people to buy presale tickets will get a FREE silkscreened gig poster designed by famed artist Jason Kochins specially for this show!!! Act now, my friends, because this presale/poster deal ends next week.

Get your tickets now by clicking this link:

We hope to see you for our biggest show of the year!

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Drag me closer

A shortlist of currents bands that would mean the most to play with that I decided on the drive back up from Philadelphia yesterday: Ryan Adams, Wilco, Old 97s, Neil Young, Centro-matic, Nada Surf, and Superdrag. Consider one down. Almost 1 1/2 really, since our VIP treatment at Nada Surf/Superdrag in NYC the night before our Philly date almost felt like we were on board, too. And take into account that three of those bands rarely use openers and one of those bands is on-and-off again, and we've done pretty well in one night.

Yes, friends, the little jaunt down the east coast this weekend was a total success, in my opinion. I'd place the Philly show in my top 5, maybe top 3 Cassavettes shows of all-time, as long as we're making lists. It was unbelievably special, and what may be most unbelievable of all is that, like Scott says, this was a natural progression to where it almost feels -- well, normal. Moving into this relationship with Superdrag, as said one of my favorite bands ever, and Creamer has been a really comfortable, seamless transition. And we are just lucky.

To recap: We left Somerville at 4:30 or so on Friday, not realizing we'd miss all of Superdrag's set. So we did. We arrived at 9:30 and Nada Surf was setting up. Nonetheless, we got VIP badges and unreal seats directly above the stage on one of the club's two balconies. We sat next to Matthew Caws' family, lead singer of Nada Surf, and I was a bit starry-eyed, I suppose, just by the overwhelming venue and the outrageous treatment. To wit: The bathroom, always a measure of how good or bad a club is, had its own attendant who would lead you to a private room that was bathing in blue light. Creepy, and it required a tip, but fairly classy, compared with some of the club toilets these eyes have seen.

After the show, the plan was to meet up with the Superdrag guys and get a beer, but they were late getting out of the club. We went to a diner for breakfast, and a bar, but by the time they were up for hanging, Matt -- yes, MATT -- was tuckered out. So we went back. Too bad, too, as we found out the next day that things got fairly crazy.

After a sleep in Queens at L Ro's, we headed for Philly. The last time we were there we didn't have a show, but we did have two cheesesteaks each in two days. This time, we did have a show, with Superdrag. It's still wild to me.

We played a venue called Johnny Brenda's, which also had a balcony overlooking the stage. It was a medium-sized club, but most definitely cool. I think the crowd was a bit wary of us at first, but by the end, people were making a lot of noise and we spent the evening talking to folks who had great things to say about the show. When Scott came unplugged and looked at Mikey in a fruitless effort to get re-plugged, it was Superdrag bass player Tom Pappas, not Mikey, that remedied the problem. He was jamming, by the way, and his big hair was everywhere. I remember after 2-3 songs, I turned around and looked at Matt and just said, "This. Is. Cool." That's all that could be said. It was unbelievable. Then, of course, Superdrag took the stage and just killed it. The crowd was so loud, and they played an all-out set. TD asked me if they'd do "Do the Vampire" and they did, and I happened to make it back from the packed downstairs just in time.
SET LIST: Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Debts / Don't Get Me Wrong (debut) / Golden Fleece / On the Lam / Madeline / Bad Television / Shotgun Wedding / Shine A Light

Anyway, I can't imagine a better time for this band than this weekend. It was, hopefully, a taste of what's to come. Or just a tease. A tease or a taste. We'll see which is which.

Finally, we decided, after many jokes, what to call the live record: Animal Friends. There was last minute talk of calling it "Live Animals," which gets across the live theme and the animal-nature of us and the friends we keep company of, but hey, the live thing is about friendship and so, in dedication, we give it to you, our Animal Friends.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Not enough like Dirk

Yes, it's true. Cassavettes didn't ever make it to New York City last Friday, as were sidelined by a bent rim, courtesy of a huge pothole. We could have been like Dirk Nowitzki and played through a bad wheel, but alas, he's tougher (German) and he's metaphorically carrying a team of 12 people while we were literally carrying a team of seven people (meaning a ton of weight on that donut). All in all, we couldn't make it so it amounted to a $400 fix out of my pocket, which is tremendous. That's the bad news, though. Missing the show wasn't AWFUL, comparatively speaking. If it had happened en route to Philadelphia, our show with Superdrag, I would be livid. But among the shows we've got this month, this might have been the most expendable, as cruel as that sounds. We wanted to do it -- quite badly -- but just couldn't. It was literally impossible, by time and other considerations.

So, I got the van fixed yesterday and it's running fine now. It was actually cheaper than expected, so that's a plus. It should be ready to go for the big show this weekend (and then, of course, the long trip to Delaware the weekend after -- I just booked a hotel today for a great rate!).

Now, as non-sequitors go, I've got one for you: Here's a little news article in Tastemakers magazine that features some thoughts from me on "making it" and making money in a band. This e-mail interview was conducted long ago, so I can't remember what I said exactly, but it sounds pretty good to me. It actually sounds like what I blog about a lot (or recently, less but still some).

Cassavettes, who have been voted Boston’s “Best Local Band” in a Phoenix poll, expressed similar sentiments. When asked via email if the band makes money, musician Glenn Yoder replied, “Yes, but not a whole lot. What we make is usually pumped directly back into the band.”


So does getting signed constitute “making it?” Both Yoder and Easton believe that joining a label is not so much about the money as the partnership. Yoder said that Cassavettes has had the opportunity to get signed, but so far nothing has felt right. While they are not opposed to joining a label, Yoder told us “it just has to be the right offer where someone says ‘I can do [“blank”] for you’ and it’s something we can’t do ourselves already.”


So for most of these musicians, working with the band full-time is their next ambition. Everyone in Mayola, including Easton, works other jobs, as do Cassavettes and Medicated Kisses. Even though these acts are garnering much attention, the members continue to subsidize their bands with their own funds. When asked if Cassavettes have considered becoming full-time musicians Yoder replied, “That’s a big issue that we’ve discussed. Is quitting your job and going music full-time how you define ‘making it?’ We haven’t figured it out, but I think we’d all certainly like to give it a try. All the money the band makes goes back into the band. As for spending our own money, I spent a substantial amount self-financing our last record. We still aren’t out of the trenches.”


Yoder knows that marketing Cassavettes requires tactical planning. He said of his group, “We’ve always made money. There are a myriad of ways to get it, it’s just a matter of attack. We get paid for every show (that is, unless it’s a benefit); we get paid for album sales—online and at Newbury Comics and at shows. We’re licensed through ASCAP, and if you’re really courageous, you get licensing opportunities. That’s the best way to make money in this day and age.”


Do you feel that your local music scene has allowed the band to perform at its full potential? A lot of bands opt to move out to LA. Do you see any benefit in this?

Cas. (Boston): Yes and no. Boston’s been great, it’s an excellent city to bring up a band in because you have to work hard to distinguish yourself. There are tons of musicians and more bands than almost every other American city (I think NYC may be the only one with more). So, we’ve been cutting our teeth the hard way. It’s arduous and it can get you down. But we’re here to stay, it seems, and we’re proud of how far we’ve come. No LA for us. Maybe if we were speed metal, but even then, I’m not sure there’s much of a market for that in LA anymore. We’d probably move to NYC before LA, as far as scenes go, but even that is a stretch. We’re staying put. There’s no reason to uproot a band and start from scratch, especially when a city has been as good to you as Boston has to us.

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