Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bad day

Nothing -- and I mean nothing -- gives me pause about my time spent in the band like doing taxes. Since everything is filed under my name and information, I pay the band's taxes. Which means my refund goes way, way down. Just watching my refund, my PERSONAL refund (i.e. not band, although in the eyes of the IRS, it's one in the same), plummet by thousands of dollars from entering 1099-MISCs earned by the band is enough to make me want to leave the country. It doesn't seem right to me, but it is sort of my cross to bear since I am the one financially responsible for the band, and have been. And it's been like this every year the band has been around, because we are still fairly unprofitable and the money we do make is untaxed -- until I file, of course. And best of all, my taxes aren't even done yet. So take heart: there's still money to lose.

I need to find a solution to this. Creamer is calling his accountant, but that's no sure bet. I've talked to Todd about this before, but he files personally since he is his band, basically. I've tried to file for a business tax ID number before, and I need to continue doing so, because this is getting beyond ridiculous. Anyhow, advice is appreciated. Have at it.

Compounding my frustrations, the Mavs just blew a 15-point lead to Cleveland and lost by almost 30. A 45-point swing. And it's raining outside. And I threw out my back playing basketball yesterday (though it feels MUCH better). And I have a bunch more to complain about, but neither the energy nor the willing audience, I'm sure. Either way, bad, bad day.

Anyhow, the band played two shows this weekend, one at the Dive Bar and the other in Pawtucket, R.I. at a bar called the Blackstone. Both were pretty cool, but fairly unthrilling. Truth be told, I'm not really thinking about that right now, so I'd rather not recap. Maybe later.

Pawtucket SET LIST: Ordinary Girls / Lights On / Don't Get Me Wrong / Golden Fleece / Someday Darling / Seek Cover / Cedar / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tickets going fast

We've got to move some tickets to justify hanging with the big boys, Superdrag. In case you missed constant warnings, Cassavettes will be rejoining SUPERDRAG, a band that I personally have loved since the 4th grade, for a couple shows this month -- one in Brooklyn, the other in our hometown of Boston. These are can't-miss shows!

The first show will be Friday, April 10, in Brooklyn at the Music Hall of Williamsburg with Superdrag and Boston-boys-done-good Aberdeen City. Doors are at 8 p.m. and it is an 18+ show.
Tickets are $20 and can be found here.

The next night, Saturday, April 11, we come back to one of our favorite venues, The Paradise Rock Club in Boston, with Superdrag and Mic Harrison & The High Score. Tickets are $18 in advance (and we strongly suggest buying them from The Paradise box office, as it will save you a boatload on Live Nation service charges) or $20 day of. Doors are at 8 p.m. and it is an 18+ event.
The tickets are here.

In the meantime, keep your ear to the ground for new tunes from Cassavettes. Our new record is in the home-stretch now, gang, it's just a matter of the finite details coming together. Check for new tunes soon, and keep an eye on the schedule for upcoming shows in Rhode Island, Delaware, Worcester, and more.

Enough of the PR thing, I must get back to work. Here's to hoping those back-to-back Superdrag shows are a smashing success!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Luck of the Irish

I'm feeling more Irish than ever this year, which is quite rare. I don't really take an active interest in my Irish heritage, you see, and at the risk of sounding horribly naive, I'm just not all that interested in that particular culture or section of my past. I know I should be. For one, TD is pretty darn Irish (not to mention a good swath of my maternal side of the family). And yes, country music is directly derived from Irish folk. I'm not saying it's all bad or that I strongly dislike it. I just don't seek it out, like I would with other cultures, particularly ones I studied in college. It's just not something I connect with very much, even if I minored in history (although it was African-American history). But for whatever reason, this year, the Irish side of me got its due.

Not only did we attend the Southie St. Patrick's Day parade on Sunday for the first time in years (usually, we can't go because it directly coincides with the week of SXSW, and given my pick, you know where my allegiance lies), but Kier from Three Day Threshold organized the Irish Lads to play some tunes for a packed house of revelers at The Asgard last night. I was hesitant, and almost didn't make it. But I'm glad I went. I told Kier to get Mike in on this, as he is the Cassavette with the most exuberance for the Irish culture (though Matt's beard may argue otherwise). I'm sure glad that happened, because I got a drunken call from Mike at 4 p.m., yes, 4 P.M., yelling "Hey man, THIS IS SO FUN!!!" I showed up an hour later, he was leaned over the table, playing an unplugged (and thus un-audible) guitar and knocking back Guinness. He also was talking a lot into the microphone about the name The Irish Lads and how his microphone was hot, but he's been a "Hot Mike all my life." I was cracking up. Quite a sight to behold. All in good fun, and the spirit of the day. It's always good to get out and play with some musicians outside your inner circle, so for that, I am most grateful. Kier is a fun guy to watch interact with the audience, although he seemed stressed most of the night. Then again, when you're doing a four-hour gig with an unrehearsed group, wouldn't you be?

Anyhow, along with the parade on Sunday, we spent the weekend with our buddy Jaclyn, and somehow fit in a long night at the Dive Bar on Friday and a recording session with Todd on Monday. The Dive Bar was fun, as always, if not a thinner crowd than usual. No disappointment on our end, though, as we had a good time (including dusting off two Neil covers, "Walk On" and "Cinnamon Girl"). The recording went smooth on Monday, too, but now we just need to figure out a couple final details before mixing on April 13 and 14. For now, all we can do is chill. That's why TD and I are headed to the beach this weekend for a much-needed escape from the wintry doldrums. Maybe I'll look further into my Irish heritage while there -- though this week has given me plenty to chew on.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Band of brothers

I did not succumb to the madness of U2 one block away from my home yesterday, when the biggest band in the world (by some accounts) played the Somerville Theatre. But I did read Sarah Rodman's wrap-up in today's Globe, and a brilliant little nugget about being in a band was dropped during the band's Q&A session with the audience. And it comes from their drummer, Larry Mullen Jr.
Mullen in particular thoughtfully responded to a question about advice for aspiring bands. He spoke of good songs and even better arguments but stressed democracy "where everybody feels a stake in what they do. The idea of hired hands in bands just doesn't work, it's about respect for the individual."

That is solid advice. And it speaks to an area that I believe our band, thankfully, gets right, and far too many forget about. I've known too many bands, not that I'm calling out anyone in particular, who don't allow "the band" to grow for whatever reason. That's why bands built on friendships or mutual respect in some area (playing ability, charm, etc) are effective and usually longer-lasting than bands that put forth a one-man show with a collection of unimportant backups. It can't be about you -- it's about everyone together (the guys playing the instruments, the audience, etc). Really, we are just lucky enough to be standing in the middle of the madness, taking it all in.

I'm not saying you can't have success as a solo artist, but I think people naturally gravitate toward bands. The chemistry is more attractive than the individual charms. That's why people are excited when Springsteen reunites the E Street Band or when bands like U2 (who have had their close calls with breakups, apparently, over Bono's social/political duties and its priorities alongside the group) stick it out together through thick and thin.

I've said from the beginning of this band, and certainly from the beginning of this blog, it starts with selling the belief in yourself. If all four of you believe that great things can happen, then you're setting yourself up for something -- whether that's the success you seek is up to chance, luck, and fate at some point, but at least you're making an honest go at it. Often, I likened this to the Dallas Mavericks quest for a championship, as I did a few years back.
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.

Obviously, Avery Johnson is now out, and there has been plenty written about his flawed leadership. But say what you will, he got the Mavs closer than any coach before or since. And the principle of preaching belief in yourself is universal.

Having four guys emotionally invested in the music they are creating is what makes music magical, and it's something you just can't replicate with studio musicians or hired hands. That's how bands collectively find an identity (and again, look at U2, they couldn't even play their instruments when they formed, and together they grew into the massive group). That's how great records are made, and beautiful magical moments are created, and hopefully, caught on tape. That's the true essence and beauty of BANDS, by definition, a collection of individuals. All having their say. All committed to each other. All sharing the glory and the heartache. That is a band.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Tale of Three Itty-Bitty Cities

OK, they aren't itty-bitty. Well, one is. But the other two cities were quite large. On this three-date swing (which was supposed to be the front end of our now-aborted tour to Austin and back), we hit Troy, NY, Brooklyn, and Philly. And the good times didn't end. Maybe it was the good weather (OK, it was definitely the good weather). Maybe it was the male bonding time. But all in all, the trip was a success, even if it looked a bit cloudy (figuratively) from the get-go.

The first night we played with our old pals Quixote at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy. College gigs are always fun, but this was no ordinary college gig. It was part of a tour, so we needed a place to sleep afterward. Furthermore, it wasn't at a club, but rather a student activity space that had been converted, quite nicely, for shows. It was cozy, comfortable, and it turned out to be quite fun. Scott got to eat Long John Silver's, which made his mouth smile and his heart hurt, and I tasted red meat for the first time in two months in the worst way possible: Taco Bell. Luckily, I only had a few bites before abandoning ship and finding a turkey sandwich elsewhere. Anyhow, it was the start of the RPI kids' Spring Break, so the room wasn't exactly full. But it wasn't empty either. It was a nice mix, and those that were there, were there to party. They crowded the stage, danced, and generally had a good time. They even let us sleep in their student activity space/the venue after the show was over. So, that solved that problem. It evened out to a nice night -- Scott and Mike went to drink with the college kids and townies at a local bar, Matt and I stayed and got reacquainted. Some drunk college students wandered in, and didn't seem surprised to see us sleeping there. Instead, they wanted to jam, before deciding it was a bad idea. The two boyos wandered home about 2 a.m. and we slept a solid seven hours before hitting the road. We stopped in Albany, NY, on Broadway, for breakfast at this little diner. I had oatmeal. It ruled.

Driving through upstate NY can be a mix of feelings. Regret for hitting that deer years ago. Awe at the surrounding beauty. Luckily, the second day's drive was mostly filled with the latter. We drove past Woodstock and other scenic mountain landscapes en route to the big city, finally ending up in Brooklyn's DUMBO area. We parked and made a day of it. The weather was unusually nice, so we strolled through the park, part of the bridge, and down to the waterfront. Several brides were taking pictures, as the city rushed to get outdoors for what was surely an Indian summer cramped amidst the usual dull gray March days. Finally, we got lunch at an upscale bar (well, Scott got wings; everyone else got drinks) and then headed for the club (our old stand-by, Pete's Candy Store). It was closed, so we ducked into a neighboring bar, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the day. The owner was a cool guy who talked our ears off in the best way possible. I stole Mike's cigarettes in an effort to get him to quit. It was fruitless. The dudes got some food, I held out for pizza next door which we ate later. By the time the show started, I think everyone was in full-on hang mode. The show passed quickly (followed by locals Lake Street Dive, who I possibly mentioned onstage 20 times, including one time saying they wrote "Seek Cover," which was quickly and vehemently rebuked by someone in the crowd), and for the rest of the night, we were on Pete's back patio, yucking it up with old friends. It felt like a summer night in Austin -- for some reason, that's what Pete's always reminds me of. This time, we had the weather on our side. It's funny to go from Pete's, which is quite small, to the Williamsburg Music Hall in a matter of weeks, but that's exactly what we'll be doing on April 9. It'll be good. Our buddy Steve let us sleep at his place, which was a relief, because it was only a couple blocks away. Matt undressed before anyone had put down their bags, fell face down on the couch, and snored his ass off while Steve showed us his working R2D2. Good night -- except for Matt's snoring.

The next morning we grabbed breakfast at a convenience store across the street, and ate at Steve's place. We watched a substantial amount of "Selena," which I believe may be one of the movies I've seen the most in my entire life. Every Spanish class I ever took we watched it. Why? I'm still not quite sure. But then again, anything for Selenas. When every grew a bit antsy, we hit the road (and the dregs of the Jersey Turnpike), en route to Philly. This turned out to be the first time we played Philly that we didn't get cheesesteaks. Instead, we headed straight for King of Prussia where Matt's sister lives to take our first showers of the trip. It felt real nice. We headed for Johnny Brenda's, where once upon a time we played with Superdrag, before finally ending up The Fire for an early show. The last time we played there, it was just awful. This didn't look much more promising. But an encouraging set by a band out of Columbia, S.C., who hung during our set and were quite enthusiastic, put this show into good-feel territory. Actually, believe it or not, I'd venture to say it was the best show of the tour. We didn't make a dime, but we did get to hang at another cool bar afterward -- North 3rd -- where Scott couldn't keep his jaw from dropping at the erotic art.

A long drive home in pouring rain wasn't exactly my dream, but I had to get back to record vocals with Todd on Monday. Alas, he canceled on me! Good thing, too, because my throat is shot. I don't know what's going on, but it feels like I've got golf balls stuffed on the sides of my neck. Hopefully it clears up before this Monday, when we're giving it another shot. Before then, we've got the Dive Bar in Worcester on Saturday, where our buddy Jeremy takes care of us. He's hooking up a cool 4th of July show which we're on, up in Vermont, and already this summer is shaping up to be pretty darn cool. We just got added to Dewey Beach Popfest, which means good times are sure to follow. I'm still determined to keep tradition and have a four-year anniversary show -- maybe in late June. We'll see. Lots to consider...

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Review roundup

From this month's Noise magazine (which has historically been hot and cold on us) comes this review of Rodfest, which actually has very little to say about our set, beyond that we shared a backline. Good stuff on Three Day and Rogue Heroes, though, and a nice picture of Kier.
After host Ric Gill, clad in full baby costume regalia, gets things going, Cassavettes take the stage with their mix of Replacements via Fastball garage rock. They set the tone of the night with signs of things to come, equipment wise. The downside of a show with many bands is often not enough time to get everything tested. All night there are broken drumheads, strings and amps, just about every band is delayed, but it doesn’t seem to kill the enthusiasm at all.

Scroll a little further down, and you'll find a review of my CD release show from the Lizard Lounge in January. This one is a bit more detailed -- and quite nice! Then again, it's a Kier special.
The Lizard Lounge, Cambridge, MA
It’s a beautiful thing when a band just gets up on stage and with their first song, they completely captivate you. Tonight, Glenn Yoder and his boys do just that. One song in and I’m practically knocked right off my barstool. Ten songs, a plate of delicious pepper jack covered sliders later (with some curly fries from the bar menu, of course), I’m still hooked. Glenn’s band is essentially a four piece that plays a mix of Americana that is sort of along the lines of the Jayhawks before they got poppy. Sometimes Glenn tones it way down and brings in guests like singer Sarah Blacker on backing harmonies, which gives the music a sensitive Joan Baez folk rock feel. At other times, the band explodes with playful energy. It’s at those times that Glenn especially reminds me of a young Paul Westerberg. Coincidentally, just as Westerberg did with the Replacements, Glenn is exploring a solo career and branching off from Cassavettes, his main band. There doesn’t seem to be much tension between the boys however, as Glenn’s Cassavettes bandmates look on proudly, even jumping up and joining in for a few songs. It shows some real class and support for their friend and fellow musician. Overall, it’s a great night of music. (Kier Byrnes)

Not too bad! Finally, as an add-on, Kier just sent me another review for my solo CD from What's Up magazine, coming out in a couple weeks.
GLENN YODER – Okono Road
Glenn Yoder is one of those guys who just know how to write a good tune. Combining the right parts of catchy, captivating and melodic, Glenn has proven himself as a quality songsmith. This isn’t big news to anyone who’s ever heard of the Boston by way of Texas band, Cassavettes, Glenn’s main project. Glenn’s solo debut is outstanding and while he may not take the listener to the same places as he does with his band, where he does bring you is an amazing journey unto itself. The music is a bit folkier, and at times a bit softer and rootsier but the result is an intimate look into the soul of a musician. Well done sir, well done.

Pretty sweet.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Four-finger discount

Four, not five. Scott got a nice dislocation on Friday, hours before we were set to play at the Lizard Lounge. I went for an aggressive block during a particularly heated game of basketball, and turned Scott's pinky in a mangled Z. Despite my father telling me to pop it into place myself as he used to do to us, we decided to go to the ER, in case there was a fracture (there wasn't, we found out six hours later). Nonetheless, Scott has been a major trooper this weekend, playing back-to-back nights with a giant splint on his finger (the first night he tried buddy taping the finger to his ring finger, but gave up on that idea on Saturday). Either way, he reports that he is playing at about 85 percent with the dislocated pinky, which is certainly impressive.

The first night at the Lizard Lounge was a bizarre show. On stage, it felt as if no one cared to hear us at all, despite a nearly full capacity room. There was very little applause, and only scattered dancing. It was pretty hard to get into. Oddly enough, upon finishing we found that a large group from Chicago had come to see the show after seeing us years back at the Kings of Leon show and they were SO enthusiastic (and requested two last minute songs, which we played). Furthermore, people legitimately seemed to enjoy the show, which is nice to hear. I didn't, and I couldn't get myself into it for the life of me. Matt contends we played well; I'm going to say it was one of our sloppier performances in awhile. Poor stage presence too, but as Mike said, it's hard to jump around when the ceiling is just a foot above your head. All in all, as much as I like the Lizard Lounge, I am furthered convinced it is the wrong room for us. We're too loud, it's a strange shape (more of a listening room than a dancing, party room), and I should have seen that from the start. The only reason we booked that was because this was supposed to be a show trade with bands from New London, New Haven, and Northampton, and I figured there wouldn't be much pressure at the Lizard because of the small capacity, and our ability to draw there. I figured they wouldn't have a problem with three out-of-town bands on board (and most other clubs would). However, due to a miscommunication, the bands from Northampton and New Haven didn't even know about it. So, a two-band bill it was, and it worked out just fine. The New Londers, who go by Gone for Good, did a fine job and later slept here at the house. The next night, we got to hang with them in New London.
SET LIST: A Hard Rain / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Madeline / Lights On / Don't Get Me Wrong / Golden Fleece / Someday Darling / There's a Reason / Ordinary Girls / Whitewashed / On the Lam / Seek Cover / Research Blvd / Nothing From You / Cedar / I Come From the Water / Shotgun Wedding / The Nadir / Debts / Shine a Light

Ah, New London. Always a good time. So strange. This time, Pat (our notorious stage-flipping friend) brought out some new Coast Guard folks to share a 24-inch pizza with us, including a dude named Jimmie and his son. Jimmie lived in San Antonio, and despite being a Spurs fan, he was about the coolest dude we've ever met. He used to rap, so we brought him up to do a rap in "Seek Cover." It actually sounded pretty cool. He was knocking it down. Afterward, he was really pumped up and kept telling me, "you guys are phenomenal. And I know phenomenal. I once had a song called 'Phenomenal." Phenomenal means, 'GAAAAWWWD DAMMMMNNN. HEEEEELLLLL YEEEESSS." Like I said, a really cool dude. Pat flipped off the stage again, and this time, no one caught him. He's probably pretty sore today. Scott also took a fall, into Matt's drums. Amazingly, it was captured in one of the below photos. Other than that, it was just a good time hanging with Naughty Mike and some other friends, and taking in some real New London culture. That's a GOOD night. I'm trying to get Sean to give us March 14 at The Oasis, so we can fill up our final weekend in March. Other than that date, we're playing every Friday or Saturday (except the 20-21, when I'll be out of town). So we're keeping busy.

SET LIST: Ordinary Girls / Lights On / Don't Get Me Wrong / Golden Fleece / Someday Darling / On the Lam / Seek Cover (w/ Jimmie rapping) / Nothing From You / Cedar / I Come From the Water / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

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