Sugar Ray Journal – Vancouver 2001

Sugar Ray on GetMusic
Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect/Getty Images

*after reading this post it’s kind of redundant and a little boring perhaps… but such is the way of life on tour sometimes. It’s not always the most exciting thing. You’re just trying to do things right sometimes and not drink yourself into a coma to be some lame-ass rock star casualty. So, sometimes you turn in early and don’t go big after a show. This post reminds me of how business like some days can be. When I read the ‘signed a few autographs.. ‘ it seems flippant as I read it back, but it wasn’t meant that way. It was just something I did. You always feel grateful if ANYBODY ever wants your signature. But it was also just one of the things out of many that you do during the day: eat, sleep, drink, perform, meet, hang out, screw around, watch TV, read, rest, rinse & repeat. So although this may never be counted as great prose, it does capture a very typical day on the road. Some days were more controversial that others. This wasn’t one of them. Cheers. Continue reading “Sugar Ray Journal – Vancouver 2001”

Find A Friend Who Believes In Your Band More Than You Do

-2
McG, on the set of a movie, was our friend who believed in us more than we did

If you are delusional enough to not just play music for fun, but to make it your living and have it pay every bill you encounter as you grow up and get older, then let me help you right now.

Quit the dream.

Just play music for fun.

Keep playing in that indie band and just ‘put out’ EPs on iTunes. It’s pretty damn easy these days.

But if you’re a massively stubborn individual, and you don’t care what anybody says, and you’re willing to starve for years, and willing to work shitty jobs on the side, for years, and willing to forgo health, friends, and a social life, well, then, maybe you’ve got the mindset and are obsessed enough to give it a shot. Cause that’s what it takes. It takes a committed, obsessed person. I’m sure you’ve heard from countless people that you might need a ‘backup plan.’ Forget the backup plan. That’s half-assing it before you even get started. I never believed in that. Maybe you can. But I’m ADD so I have to focus 100% on one thing at a time or it gets convoluted and the original plan suffers. There are some things you need, however. Continue reading “Find A Friend Who Believes In Your Band More Than You Do”

Happy Endings

Mt Fuji Fest-1
(me onstage in japan at the Fuji Fest)

This isn’t what you think. It’s not about a bathhouse in NYC or hookers in Singapore. It’s about the day that a tour ends. It happens to every bad on tour. At the end you’re wiped out. Crispy. Fried. Flambeed. Salty. Dirty. In a single word: sapped. You’ve given everything you can night after night and now you have nothing left. And when the final show comes up, you have this inner glow. it’s not the light at the end of the tunnel, the light is finally upon you. So a few things happen. And they do not happen during the last week, or the 2nd to last day, only on the final day have you actually slugged through it all and have your airline reservation emailed to your iPhone. The two things are:

1) You get elation about you because you’re going home to all things familiar. As humans, we desire a certain amount of things that are predictable. Touring is not predictable. It can become routine, because you are playing the same music in a different city every day, and you trace a lot of steps in the same way. So we are happy to go home to all OUR things. Our home, our toilet, our wives/girlfriends, our favorite places to eat, workout, drive. All those things run through your head.

2) A shared ‘look’ between band members. This is the real happy ending.  Craig and I did this to each other at the end of every tour. We just look at each other. We know we’re stoked it’s over and that we’ve pulled it off. We may try to hid it because you need to give a great show, every show, but it’s still there. Lurking in the body of someone who’s standing onstage and performing and has a giddy underbelly about him that knows tomorrow he’s flying home to be with his family, friends or just his pillow. That is, unless you get too drunk and miss lobby call. Then you’re screwed.

If you’re lucky enough to see a band at the end of a long tour, see if you can spot some band members giving each other the happy endings look. The longer the tour, the deeper the look will be. The deepest one I can remember was during Every Morning which was the last song of our tour with Uncle Kracker in 2000. We were trashed at the end of that one. I’ll never forget looking at Craig during the bridge at the end of the song.

Elation.

Portland, Oregon

portland-maine-downtown-arts-district-by-hint-of-plum-on-flickr

*this is a journal entry after our show in portland in 2001.

7/25/01

Wednesday. Portland. The gig, an old theater, is next to a park where the homeless hang. I saw this dude brush his teeth in the water fountain. I’m not sure he was homeless, just mad. He had this funny look on his face, as if he was wondering what everyone was doing in his bathroom. It was a strange vibe there. A few people were meditating, some were reading books, this one guy was strumming a beat up flaminco guitar with his shirt off.

I went inside and took in the venue, checking out the stage, the seating arraingments, the backstage facilities, the shitters, the showers, the whole burrito fandango.

Catering was downstairs, I had lunch next to Rod, Matt Shafer, Derek. Euros were the fare (however you spell them) so I had a tuna salad. I didn’t feel like lamb in Portland.

I took a walk after lunch. I was looking for a book store, but not in any particular direction. I just wanted something to do. I walked past the main downtown streets and found some out of the way shops. One was a clothing store, vintage and new stuff, I went in for a second, and feeling out of place, split quickly. Another shop was this mini book store that sold racy books and I’m-too-cool-for-you stuff. Everything was so indie in there I was tripping, laughing and thinking how much the guy could possibly hate our band. How rabbits f*$k, devil books, witch craft, pictures of dead or decomposing bodies, ya know, traffic accident victims, stuff like that. So I peer in and see this guy behind the counter who couldn’t care less if he sold a thing all day long. He’d rather finish that book on migrating fire ants. And all the books looked like crap anyway, dusty and not cared for. It’s just the fact that they’re bizarre that you’re supposed to buy them. All I wanted was Golf Digest. I tried to contain my hypothetical mind, laughing at the paradox I would be if I went inside. I don’t remember specifically what I was wearing, a surf shirt, shorts, Adidas shoes, hair slicked back, something like that- and I picture myself opening the door, bell jingling from a string. He looks up through greasy hair and thick glasses, ponders for a moment how he’s going to answer- sarcasm, hostility, pity, disgust, they all cross his entombed mind, but he just finds one, “Up the street,” he waves with his right hand, “Pike Book Store,” and our moment is over.

But alas, I never went inside. He knew all I wanted was the Tiger Woods tutorial on the full shoulder turn.

I did, however, get to Pike Book store all by my self, and found a copy of Golf Digest. (I also grabbed Golf magazine) The people there happily took my money and I was off.

When I got back I was a wee bit late for a meet and greet, which I promptly sat down for and started signing, shaking hands, smiling. It was easy for me to smile now, I had golf magazines under my butt.

Finished that and got a message that Julies cousins had a problem with the list, so I remedied that and went backstage to commence my gig preperation.

Did said gig, meet Julies family, signed some stuff, and had them meet Mark, which they were happy to do. Mark was extremely cordial, signing their stuff and giving hugs and ‘Prom’ style pictures for all.

Split for the bus. There was a small crowd on the other side of the street who called me over for autographs. I signed their stuff, and hit the bus for aftershow dinner. Chowed that down, and took a runner to the hotel with Craig. Slep and Craig were in the middle of an argument. Slep was pissed that Craig wasn’t coming out to sign autographs. Slep was contending that they’re the reason you’re here and have a house and a nice car. Slep was getting in his face and animated like he can do. It was very convincing.

How To Submit Your Demo (Music) To A Record Label

console-1-6

How To Submit Music To A Record Label

Since I have been working with Suspended Sunrise Recordings, I’ve been getting emails from people who want me to sign a particular band or artist they know of to our record label. Various people submit (bands themselves, friends, parents, family dentists) because they think they know of a band that has ‘what it takes’ to be successful.

But before we can even address if the band is amazing or horrible, we first need to address how you submit it. Because from my limited experience, there are good ways and bad ways.

First, the BAD:

Don’t write a long email. Keep it simple, short and to the point. Record labels love a band who knows exactly who they are and where they want to go with quiet confidence. Too many emails feel like they’re trying to hard. Don’t do that. This is not an opportunity to amazing people with your fancy writing. It starts and ends with great MUSIC. Let the music talk.

Never let your music be hard to find. If I have to go more than (2) two clicks to get to your music, then you have failed. Maybe somebody has enough time in their day to click through long winding emails and links in the hopes that we will find the next Lumineers, Lady Antebellum, Imagine Dragons, or Green Day, but the reality is that we probably don’t, so it would just be smart of you to put your music ONE CLICK AWAY.

console-1

Do not talk about response you have been getting from family and  friends. How would I know how to judge their listening abilities? I wouldn’t. So avoid it altogether.

Do not try to tell a record label that you would be a good ‘match’ for them.  Essentially you are asking for a loan of cash and a significant time commitment from many individuals who you consider to have experience in the music business who could help you get to where you want to go. Beyond the investments in recording, producing, mixing, mastering, promotion & marketing for you are the salaries for the people who will be ‘working’ your record, your release. All that money is included as well… so who is to say you are a good match? If no one in your family wants to take out a second (or third) mortgage on their home to float you 10-50k then why should we?

console-1-7

Don’t tell us about anything that isn’t finished yet. This is not very bright. And I say that with love. Does it sound harsh? C’mon people, why would you tell us in an email about a song or website or download that is about to happen. Keep focused on the stuff you have now. No excuses if you have a new song in the pipeline that sounds ‘like a hit’ but you haven’t uploaded yet. We want to hear it now, not later. We are trying to discover you. Help us help you.

Do not write emails IN ALL CAPS. Not sure why some submissions come this way. It just makes you seem like every word is being screamed at the top of your lungs with your shirt off and you just got thrown out of your favorite bar at 2:00am. Avoid it.

Now the GOOD:

Be different than everybody else. Just stand out. If you are asking us to invest all our time, energy and money into you, is that what you’re doing too? Have you gone all the way? And I’m not talking about being fancy spending money. I’m talking about being clever and using your brain to be different from everyone else. That’s free. If you are so dedicated to making music your career choice, standing out in a clever way couldn’t hurt you. (I’ll give an example- back in the horse and carriage days before my band got a record deal, we delivered IN PERSON to record labels a finished VHS tape [which was yellow with our sticker on it- different] INSIDE A PIZZA BOX. Get it, delivered? We were delivering our music in a unique way. If our music sucked, no, it wouldn’t have helped, but at the very least it gave us a chance to put a smile on people’s faces and really pay attention to who we were amongst all the piles of bland CDs that bands of our time were submitting. In short, it made us different and it gave the impression that we cared. Do the same.

console-1-2

console-1-8

Include links. We like links. Even if your email has too many words, we can still see those links and we know we are very close to the music. We can then decide to skip your story and get to the point.

Call it your Music. ‘Demo’ is an old word and not used that much anymore because technology has made it where you can record great sounding albums and EPs on your laptop. To me what a demo really means is that you’ve recorded a bunch of ideas that aren’t really finished yet. What record label wants to hear that? Unless you’re an unbelievable superstar yet to be discovered, I think it would be smarter to wait until your realized vision is put down on your Garageband, or whatever you record on, then send THAT and call it your MUSIC.

Offer us something. Imagine what it would be like to read emails all day long about people telling you how great they are, and how they want something from you. It begins to feel less like discovering talent than people trying to withdraw cash from your company. A few emails have been different, and they offered us something, that is to say, they didn’t just tell us about them, them, them, them, them, as if we were blowing it because they were the next U2. Those few emails were well thought-out, and although they may not have resulted in a signing, we will remember and appreciate them more than the others, which isn’t a bad place to be.

The perfect submission: A short & to the point email, explaining where the band is from, what style they are and why they’re submitting to this particular label at this particular time. The email then points us in the direction of an online download hyperlink of an album or a song, for free, and it’s one click away. Two is fine. The music is recorded well, and the art (or photos) attached in .pdf form matches what they have mentioned in the email and looks professionally done, as if they spent time and energy making decisions to get their entire essence to be represented correctly.

If you’re a young band hoping to get the attention of a record label, hopefully these tips will help you in your cause.

Good luck.

I’ll be waiting at murphy@suspendedsunrise.com