How does a band do it?

Earlier this week, Hoag responded to a fan’s email with some pretty insightful pointers about how Full Service approaches making our way in this music world. Here is the email exchange. Later, when I complimented Hoag on his response, he said he just wrote what he thought I would write since he didn’t think I saw the message. The made me think that maybe he and I should switch roles for a while! Nice work, Hoagman – BS

Laura’s Email:

I just wondered if yall would be cool with befriending me and giving me a few pointers regarding the music industry. I am helping my best friend with promoting his band Gypsy Devil. And im completely new to this stuff but have been doing a lot of research. Just wanted to reach out and give it a shot. I know yall have been around for a while and being from austin yall were my first choice to ask advice. :)maybe even if yall could help me with listening to a couple of their songs and givinge feedback…im having a hard time writing the bio. I would appreciate yalls opinion.

Hoag’s Reply:

I’m not sure about reverbnation. i don’t know that anyone uses that anymore. as far as i’m concerned it’s youtube, facebook, itunes, and spotify for bands.

very cool that you are helping your friends’ band! most important thing with a bio is making it have flavor. avoid the words “unique”, “fresh”, and “blend”. Bios are so tough. Used mostly for press releases that–if you’re unsigned–get ignored anyway, or for booking purposes. Most important thing to get booked (if you’re just starting), is having music easily available on your website for clubs to listen to, that way they can match you with other bands on a bill at a stylistic level.

best piece of advice i could offer (and this is hoag, so bonesaw may also have wisdom for you) is to do shit that other bands don’t do. Look at what bands do that you think is annoying and go the other direction. Also, interact on a real level with fans. No spamming, no mass-stuff. It’s gotta be personal. It’s a long slow burn. Also, no time limits on “making it”, you do it forever, and you don’t give a fuck about money, at first at least. You give a fuck about making fans, and turning those fans into friends that would die for you cause that’s what you try to do for them.

Spend as much time being creative with your marketing as you do being creative with your music.

Use social media in ways that others haven’t figured out yet, or are too lazy to follow through on. Shit like “UStream” for instance.

Make awesome merchandise that is comfortable and will sell. Keep designs simple and catchy. This is a great source of income. Download “square” app to sell merch via credit card. Use “etsy.com” to sell your merch online.

Don’t play covers that everyone has heard other bands cover.

Not sure how much of this was needed or what if any applies to Gypsy Devils, but hope it helps! And what do we know, anyway? What works for us might not be right for another.

Hope to see you soon!

–Hoagie

Hoagman says….

For the past two weeks I’ve listened to “I Hear a Symphony” by the Supremes 3 times a day. Once in the morning and twice at night (back-to-back).

I’ve been in love a few times, mostly with women, but also with songs. Not like “oh, I love that song”, but long-lasting, tumultuous affairs where every time I listen I’m completely washed over and rocked.  For a while it was “In the Morning” by Nina Simone, then it was “Time to Get Alone” by the Beach Boys, then “Estranged” by Guns n Roses.

Anyway, now I’m on the Supremes’ song. The other night, when nobody at FSHQ was home, I danced around the living room singing along, and as the song ended I spun around to find our cat Jack sitting eye-level on the counter. It looked like he was concerned for me. I told him to loosen up.

My favorite part of the song is 2:00-2:13. When she sings these lines she is so dialed in. I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard a more expressive vocal performance than those 13 seconds.  Her eyes are open, but she’s not seeing the wall or ceiling or whatever she’s looking at, she’s seeing something else entirely, something that’s not really there and that only she can see. She’s definitely in a “blossom world”, as they say in “Good Vibrations.” And I love that little arm swing she does right at 2:14-2:15. Check it out HERE. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yg-ercNIHQA

I’ve been doing nothing but music-related things lately. Rehearsing at the HQ, recording at Ohm, writing in my room, teaching lessons in the jam room, seeing my buddies’ band “Brass Buckle” at Jovitas, and watching that Supremes song on youtube. I feel like maybe I should make room for something else in my life, ya know…in the interest of balance and personal development.

Enter the “Zing” bow and arrow set. Long story short, my cousin Donna is a toy-tester (that’s a job, really) and she sent a big package of toys to the HQ. Included are two sets of soft bows and arrows by a company from Portland OR called “Zing”. I’ve gotten quite accurate with them, and I feel that it has given me the equilibrium that I need in my life, something non music-related. Although last night I broke a window in our living room. So it’s become somewhat of a hazard as well. Check out one of our great ZingBow sessions.

But really, there’s no escaping the fact that it’s music (and soccer in the backyard) every single day of my life. So let me bring y’all up to speed on the goings-on over here on Wilson st.

  1. First of all, Smell is really ramping up his side-project band “Smell and the Senses”. I’m not sure if I’m part of the band, but I did sing back-up on a beautiful track he recorded recently called “The Canopy”. I don’t know what his plans for releasing material are, or when he’s gonna start playing shows in town, but I’ll urge him to keep everyone posted.
  1. Sean is officially moved into the old Whale in the backyard. A bed, neon blue shag carpeting, two shelves, lots of big hippie tapestries, and electricity (drawn through a hole drilled into my room). You really gotta see it to believe it. WATCH THE VIDEO .
  1. The winter tour is coming up soon. We leave early Wednesday morning to get to Baton Rouge. Then I think it’s Houston, Austin, Dallas, and after that we leave Texas for some other states. (All the dates are posted on facebook and the website. I should probably check one of those sites myself). We’ll be doing most (or all?) of the shows with our old pals from Badfish, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen them so I expect much high-fiving and revelry in the coming weeks.
  1. The new album…Here’s the deal on the new album. We write a ton of music, some of it soft, some of it heavy, some of it loud, some of it happy, some of it a little bit sad, etc. And much of the time, songs come in groups according to the creative channel one of us (or all of us) is dialed into. We call these groups of songs “families”. They have similar DNA, if you will. So here’s what we’re going to do. Every couple months we’re going to release a new family of 3 songs. We’ll record maybe 8 families. Each family will only be available digitally, until we put all of them on a hard copy album that will be available at the end of the project. The name of the entire project is “Home Is Where The Yard Is”. So the first family will be called “Home Is Where The Yard Is (Vol. 1)”, then (vol 2), etc. We’ve commissioned friends and fans to draw/paint the album cover (a portrait of our backyard here at FSHQ), and we’ll unveil the chosen design in the coming weeks. “Home (vol 1)” will include the songs “Revisited’, “Apples”, and “Like a Pony”. Revisited is about pulling ropes and the knots just getting tighter, Apples is about a man sitting in his yard watching punk kids cause mischief, and Like a Pony is an homage to my late dog, Nessie. I know you all probably think it’s weird that I still write about Nessie, but I guess I haven’t gotten over it yet.

There will be a video announcing HiWTYi and previewing the first family of songs in the coming weeks, but for now, take a look at some of the studio sessions we’ve been involved in lately at Ohm here in Austin. The songs in this video will be included in Volumes 2 or 3 of HiWTYi. There’s also a priceless clip of Bonesaw bitching me out for being a jerk in the studio.

“You’ve given me a true love, and every day I thank you love…”

~Hoag