Story Time with Jake – The Question

Story Time with Jake – The Question

Please welcome our bassist Jake. It’s his turn to write a blog. 

Most of what follows, unfortunately, happened. 

Date: Anytime someone finds out you’re in a band.
Venue: The street, work, gig, bathroom… anywhere.
Crowd: The inquisitive bastard in front of you.

Oh no. It’s happened again. Will it ever end? No. Never.

A new person has found out that you’re in a band. They’re curious, which is great. Yay. You can promote the band, maybe this person is a fan-to-be, a super-fan-to-be, maybe they own a record label… dear gods of punk maybe this is Mr Epitaph himself.

Whoever they are, they’ve asked you THE question. Now there are many questions musicians might hate… Will you play my kid’s birthday? What’s the money like? Can you play something by Taylor Swift? (yes, but that’s not the point) How about you play for exposure? Who wins in a fight between Lemmy and God? (Trick question, Lemmy is God)

No. This one is worse.

“What do you play?”

Shit.

No, wait… we don’t play shit. Well sometimes we do, bad gigs happen. I play a bass. No, that’s not what you want either. You want genre. You want me, in a short sentence, to sum up my music. I’m not about to drop amp right now, produce the rest of the band out of the wormhole in my wallet (that’s why it’s on a chain, dangerous stuff) and rip through a taster set. No, you want me to explain our sound in an easy to digest way that will allow you to decide whether you want to hear it or not.

I don’t blame you. There is a vast amount of music out there, how on earth will you know what to drip onto your eardrums like sweet, sweet poison if you don’t at least have a guiding light? Genre is your guiding light.

Except it’s mostly bollocks.

Genres have been divided, subdivided, re-imagined, re-worked, been through multiple waves, been back to their roots, been cross-pollinated, hybridised, bastardised and melded until the question barely means anything above the base line. Worse still, our understanding can vary wildly… the nuances of musical genre are mind-splittingly deep.

But wait! There’s another problem! I’m a musician! I don’t want you to think I’m derivative, I want to tantalise you, sell you the mystery of my art. I can’t just say…

“Punk.”

Who cares? Plus, what kind? Post? Pop? Pre? Papier mache? 

“Well, we play kind of a Neo-Rock/Punk-Dissonance with Vibing-Bluegrass-Jazz harmonies.”

Now you’re intrigued aren’t you? You’ve only heard some of those words before and rarely strung together in that order… maybe you’re hooked, or maybe I’ve gone too far… the eternal struggle. Now I just sound like a jerk and the moment between you asking the question and me answering has become an infinity. So I answer in the best way I can…

“Loud.”

Image by Veronique Debord-Lazaro via Flickr

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Bunch of Animals in This Town

Bunch of Animals in This Town

Most of what follows, unfortunately, happened.

Date: Long time ago, in a hive of scum and villainy far far away.
Venue: The thunderdome.
Crowd: Us.

The next song is a short one, but a good one.

A few miles down the road from our hometown lies a place that would’ve made Mos Eisley look like Kensington. At least, that’s what people from out of town thought. I went to school there. To me, it was another run down seaside town with not enough jobs and too many pound stores. To the rest of the band, it was renown for the drug use, homelessness and petrol station stabbings.

Naturally, we played there all the time.

On one such occasion we were already venturing into the bowels of the centre when Jake voiced his concerns.

“I don’t wanna play here.” Jake mumbles.

“We play here all the time.” I reassure him.

“But it’s not safe.” Jake is currently wearing a badge saying “See you in the pit”.

I sigh. I do this a lot in conversations with Jake. “We’ve been playing here for three years. Have you ever seen any trouble here?” Jake pauses, furrowing his brow. “Exactly. The second we actually see a fight, or anything else, then you can complain. ‘Till then? Suggest you shut up, or book the gigs yourself.”

Ritchie slams on the brakes as two guys fighting each other tussle and bumble into the road. We sit, watching this bizarre scene unfold. Fists are exchanged with reasonable commitment, before they stumble towards the car. I look to Ritchie for a solution. The answer comes in the form of a shrug.

The two struggle, rolling around on the bonnet of Ritchie’s car. It’s hard to pick a winner, the two are a blur of limbs. But as quickly as they’d appear, they scuffle and roll their way back onto the pavement and into the night.

I turn to Jake, awaiting the barrage of abuse and complaints. But he says nothing. Without saying a word, Richie drives on.

Bunch of animals in this town.

 

Photo by Katherine via Flickr.

The Punk Guide to Social Media

The Punk Guide to Social Media

Most of what follows, unfortunately, happened.

Date: Every minute of every day.
Venue: The WWW.
Crowd: 0-1 billion, depending on your popularity.

The internet has irrevocably changed the way we discover and consume music. No longer do we trade CDs with friends. Gone are the days of holding a tape recorder up to the radio on the off chance they’ll drop the new Wildhearts track. You never, ever, have to venture into another HMV.

Happy days.

But with brave new frontiers, come the indigenous population. Enter: social media. What follows is a punk’s guide to internet based promotion. How to get the best out of what technology has to offer your band.

 

Facebook

Facebook is the perfect platform for your band. Assuming you want your music buried amongst birthday notifications and pictures of cats in hats. The one chance you have is to name your band “Cats in Hats” in the vague hope someone looking for pictures of feline headgear stumbles across your musical offerings. It’s a niche market, but worth pursuing if you’re desperate.  

 

Twitter

Twitter restricts you to 140 characters. Which is perfect, because that’s 100 characters more than the average punk song. You can post your entire album’s lyrics and still have space for the thank you notes. The significant downside is that Tweeters cram the majority of Twitter space with snarky memes about Piers Morgan. And memes of cats wearing hats.

 

Instagram

Instagram, being a pictorial platform, is a critical addition to your band’s social media presence. It’s the most useful way of proving you were at practice. Except no one will see it, because Instagram is dominated by pictures from a milliner who makes bespoke hats for his pet cat Douglas. Douglas has 100 times more followers than your band.

 

Snapchat

Snapchat posts disappear after 5 seconds. This is approximately the same as the attention span of your average drummer. I’d recommend using it to organise practices, except most drummers still use Nokia 3310s. Therefore stick to using more conventional methods of rhythm section communication, like tattooing rehearsal time on the drummers forehead.     

 

Youtube

YouTube is the land you travel to in order to display your band’s new killer music video, crowdfunded and shot in an abandoned warehouse just east of Shoreditch. It’s free to post, and easy to share. But punk bands don’t have music videos. Your best option is to get grainy phone footage of a gig, and share it with your friends. Far more authentic. Douglas has a music video. He’s playing a piano whilst wearing a handmade, gluten free fedora.  

 

LinkedIn 

LinkedIn is for people with briefcases. If you carry a briefcase to practice, you’re either playing the world’s most compact guitar, or you stumbled into a rehearsal studio whilst looking for the local Starbucks. Even Douglas shuns LinkedIn. It’s beneath him.  

 

To summarise, Social Media is the system. And as punks, we brave new frontiers to do one thing: f**k the system.

Please follow: @B2Thebone
And like: facebook.com/Band2TheBone

 

Photo by Sean MacEntee via Flickr.