Posts Tagged ‘Small Town Bruises’

So you have to get a press shot…

July 21, 2014

Well, we have good news and we have bad news:

If you are in a band, at some point you will have to have a press photo, whether you like it or not.  The good news is that it will all be over soon. [Maybe]. The bad news is that it still sucks and you’ll feel rather dirty & ashamed for a while. So…yeah. Take as long as you need to get comfortable with that.

Depending on your particular band, your style, your philosophy, your audience, and whatever other aesthetic guidelines you have placed on yourself (or have allowed to be placed on you), this may or may not be the start of a long & tumultuous personal debate that often spills over into using actual words to talk to other people about this very personal yet collective aspect of bandom. Essentially: how much am I willing to feel and act like a total knob in order to not look like one?

There are exceptions to this.  In fact, there are heaps of them. For starters, if you play a genre of music that is not afraid to take itself seriously, then congratulations: you can win this game without fretting over your vanity, your ethics, your principles, or any other inane aspect of your precious & fragile artistic ego. Metal bands? Ace! You win hands down.  You’re SUPPOSED to wear black and look straight into the camera with a scowl. Pop Princess? Winner-winner-chicken-dinner! Spending 2 1/2 hours in makeup and prancing around on a set making fish lips is exactly what you’ve been training your whole life for. Happy-go-lucky-acoustic-storyteller? Go on, wear those floral suspenders and have 3 puppies in your lap! Crack a smile! You’ve earned it!

In a band such as Royal Chant, getting a picture taken has, so far, ranked as one of the most impossible and unpleasant experiences we’ve yet had to face. Essentially, if we’re one of those “ego-less” bands (HA!), then how does one go about getting a photo taken, much less contemplating or talking about the idea?  It’s sort of supposed to be anathema to our very existence, but that still doesn’t change the fact that YOU STILL HAVE TO GET IT DONE.

So….we mostly just have shit photos. Seriously. And the best/worst part is: the shittiest ones seem to circulate the longest. If you don’t bother updating and sending out regular new photos with every press release, then the press/the media/some blogger is just going to google your band and find the first one that comes up, which, as luck would have it, happens to make you look like a bloody hayseed wearing ill-chosen, ill-fitting t-shirts.

Want to know what our conversation turns to when we’re in the van or hanging at the airport?

No? Well too bad, I’m going to tell you anyways.

On more than occasion we have wished that we were a heavy rock act or metal band, coz at least then any questions about fashion, countenance, and attitude would be immediately solved by the very nature of the genre, but noooooo….we have to try and become artistically “transparent”, which I guess means trying to look at the camera without looking at it, or maybe we’re supposed to look away without looking like we’re trying to pose for a Daniel Steele cover, or maybe WE DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL WE’RE SUPPOSED TO DO WITH OUR HANDS.  It fucking sucks.

I think deep down, we just want to look OK. Asking to look cool is way, way, way out of our league. What you really need is someone who can look at you, understand you, and then tell you to do exactly what is needed in order to best visually represent yourself and your music to the wider world.  So yeah, that means taking yourself seriously and acting consciously for at least a little while, but at least you have someone holding your hand through and essentially whispering, “It’s OK, this will all be over soon.” If you ever have that opportunity: take it.

Artists are often as guilty of undervaluing or underestimating other art forms just as much as the general public.  Lord knows I’ve been guilty of being visually ignorant, just as much as I’ve seen visual artists be completely clueless as to what is involved with writing or recording music.  It’s cool, it happens, but where musicians get into trouble is when we think that getting a decent press shot is just going to happen to happen by accident.  The word “just” should be banished from that conversation, because if you want a good press photo you actually have to dedicate yourself to that very purpose, which means you have to….[gulp]…care.  About what you look like. About how you will be perceived. Just. Bloody. Care.

Is it any wonder we’re stuck with normally shyte photos? At the very beginning of Royal Chant, we paid a photographer friend $60 and actually lucked out with some decent ones, but ever since then we’ve pretty consistently hit the toilet bowl when it comes to photos.  Bad lighting is often the culprit, but on a few occasions there’s been so much tension in the air that the photographer was afraid to say anything. Sometimes we get really really really close, but we either need just a little direction, (coz we’re not photogenic in any way), or else we quit right as we were getting into the groove.  We are our own worst enemy.

We did mange to wind up with a decent crop earlier this year when it was still just James & I all by our lonesome, thanks to the kind & patient hand of Kate Farquharson….

RC 1  RC 2  RC 3  RC 4

 

It wasn’t until we were faced with the prospect of taking new photos that I really began to appreciate the photos she took (or maybe I was just too smitten with the Designer Mutts photos she snapped in the same session)….

 

DM 1 DM 2 DM 3 DM 4 DM 5 DM 6

[As an aside: those Designer Mutts photos were easy as guts, because it’s a joke, and joking around in costumes is easy. Maybe we should just wear them all the time and be done with it.]

In any case, last week we had to get a new photo done, because now we have Ryan in the band and people get confused when the band photo doesn’t match what they see on stage.  So once again….we were in the same situation as we always were.  Three guys, awkwardly standing in front of a camera, with things unraveling fast.  Now this is what we have to live with until we start all over again.

RC 2014

It’ll do.

In case you haven’t heard, our new album is out now, so if you’re feeling like a modern consumer you can head over to iTunes and pick up a copy.  Technically it is a double EP consisting of Small Town Bruises / A Day At The Wauchope Races, but in this digital age the concept of a double EP is hard to convey so they wound up being separate beings.

You can also head over to our bandcamp site and get it that way, like all the young kids these days. Pay what you like, or else you can put in an order for a hardcopy which we will then lovingly send your way courtesy of Australia Post.

It’s starting to get a bit of airplay around Australia, so if you’re ambitious & drunk you can always ring up any random radio station and yell your request into the phone.  Then, after they say “Wait….what?!?!?”, you can politely explain that you’d like to hear our latest.  A few reviews are coming in as well, one good, one shit, plus I sat down with Mess + Noise for a fun interview where I was clearly out of my depth but did my best to fake my way through it.  You know, all the usual jazz….

That’s all from here. Holler back and let us know what’s going on in your world.

xoxo

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Bang & Beggar’s Gloves

December 9, 2013

First, a little theme music to keep you company through the course of this short post…

[And now on with the show]

Being in an independent band is rather the worst possible enterprise if one was looking to make money.  Not only is there not much money in music, (nor much music in money, if you think about it), but if you’re doing anything remotely artistic (or making a noble failed attempt), then there is a reasonable chance that the attributes & characteristics of monetary success are the very things repulsive to our sensibilities.  Even if one is a gutter poet reveling in visceral decay of the human soul, there is likely a streak of the romantic that keeps us from being dickhead money-mongers, and thus the problem: how does one survive?  Even further, how does one prosper?  Money itself is one of the many awkward evils that some of us have a hard time reconciling ourselves to, so of course we are often the most hapless & helpless when it comes to making, taking, keeping, and dealing with money.

In a perfect world, we would be so good that we would be free of the need for hawking and handouts, but the world is not perfect, and we are not that good.  With that in mind, James & I finally sucked it up and did the inevitable: we launched a kickstarter campaign.  We have recorded yet another EP, 7 new tracks that will comprise our upcoming Small Town Bruises EP. The problem (because of course there is a problem), is that we can’t afford to actually have them printed up.

We’d prefer not to have to do this at all, but unfortunately when we are playing shows we’re still getting people wanting to buy them from us, which is annoying because I think more than a few independent bands wish the world would make up its mind: ARE YOU GOING TO ACTUALLY GO ALL-DIGITAL OR NOT?!?!? The last thing anyone wants is yet another box of unsold CDs cluttering up our already cluttered flats, but it seems like it’s not time to give up on the physical formats of the world just yet.  We used to have CDs, then we sold them all (or gave them away in various states of drunken magnanimity), and rather than put the money aside like responsible adults we spent it on things like petrol, beer, & matching tuxedo t-shirts.

Small Town Bruises Kickstarter

So there you have it: a garage band with it’s hands out, asking you to have a listen and chip in to help us get our latest project out.  There’s lots of cool rewards, from the small to the mighty, and if you’d like to be the first to get your hands on our latest offering, this is the way to do it.  Of course, we could always be like a metal band or pop group, which has no problem whatsoever in selling themselves.  We actually mean that as a compliment, not necessarily equating selling with “selling out”.  Watch the way their man their merch stands, and the eagerness & enthusiasm with which they talk about their music.  They have just as much pride, conviction, and belief as any football team, and it’s enviable, to say the least.

It’s been a painful exercise, crossing this imaginary fault-line of actively begging for money as opposed to doing it passively like we always do, but not as bad as I would have thought.  It requires one to stand up and acknowledge to the entire world that: yes, this is what I do and I believe in it.  As much as we’d like to pretend our music says that for us, the self-deprecation, whether real or feigned, is just a mask that fools no one but ourselves, if that.

So, for a brief moment, I have stood up and said, loud & proud: I am in Royal Chant and I think we are worth it.

Big hugs & peace xoxo

-M

[lastly, we’ll leave you with the first single of our upcoming Small Town Bruises EP to get you in the mood :)]

Somebody left when somebody came…

July 26, 2013

Hello again,

not so long between posts this time, which is a nice change from the usual turtle pace. There’s a long convoluted story buried in here, but there’s a very large part of me that just can’t be bothered to take the time to do it properly, because it’s a very narrow tale with very fine strands of narration, and after thinking about how to go about it I realize that even if I told it perfectly it still wouldn’t be that interesting.  It would be like doing an excellent job at telling a very mediocre tale, so I’ve decided to quote my own on my own song lyric in the title and say it like a caveman:

Designer Mutts is a new band I’m a part of and this is our debut EP.

The “How” and “Why” are the boring details, but let me also add that Royal Chant has a new member and somehow, at the very bottom of it all, those two things are intertwined.  So, with that being said, I am proud to present A Day At The Wauchope Races. If You’ve got 23 minutes to spare I think you might enjoy the story it tells, or tries to anyways.

Keeping in the spirit of the age, we’ve given up on trying to make any money at this, so if you like what you hear please feel free to download it for free without any guilt whatsoever. It’s the way of the world, and we’re cool with that. If you like it we’d be happy just to hear from you, so holler back! If you really want to help out a struggling band then you can do us a solid and tell a friend or share it with someone, (if you actually like them.) We like the small, personal steps. It means more.

So…some of you that have been with us a while would know all about the trials and tribulations of being in Royal Chant, and it should probably come as no surprise that we shed and replace members from time to time. This past March, immediately following our show with Bob Mould, we found ourselves without the services of our long-time drummer.  I can’t really say I was surprised, and in fact I had an intimation for well over a year.  It’s not for nothing that the last song we recorded together, “Did You Pay Cash For That Panic Attack?”*, closes with the line It’s almost over, and Goddamn! That was fast/It’s almost over, and it don’t come back.

Thinking back on this band, if you were inclined to put things in a typical Hollywood-style narrative then the story would be about a band that got close but never quite made it.  As nice and tidy as that is, it’s also a fair amount of BS.  This is work.  It takes longer than you can imagine, and if you skip any steps in the process you will wind up paying in one way or another.  Don’t believe me? How’s the latest crop of X-Factor grads doing? We thought as much.

Anyways, rather than panic (as poetically perfect as that might be), we carried on, and eventually wound up with what we consider the score of the century. We are happy to introduce…Stephen Hopkins! Rather than more words, I thought I’d let music do the rest of the introductions, so here’s your first glimpse of Stephen, playing some brand new tunes from our upcoming Small Town Bruises EP.

There’s more to come about all that, but that’s pretty much the gist of it.  If you compared snapshots of me from 4 years ago and right now, you’d find me sitting at the same desk, still booking gigs and still doing all manner of banal minutiae that I still find strangely satisfying, for better or worse.

That’s all from here, for now.  We’re always curious to hear what you think.  It’s hard to know if we’re really saying what we think we are…

-M

ps–I received an email early this morning from a dear friend in Brooklyn, informing me that James Bentley had passed away.  If that name fails to ring a bell, James was the producer/engineer of “Did You Pay Cash For That Panic Attack?”, which we recorded at his studio, The Fort, in Brooklyn while we were on tour in the US. My friend didn’t pass along any details, as he didn’t know any, but I was saddened by the news and wanted to mention it, for whatever good it does.  As a requiem, we thought you might give it a spin, (really loud, of course) and remember that it’s all happening faster than we think.