Thursday, February 4, 2010

About Hosting House Shows..

So as some of you may know I (alex) host house shows here in Berkeley. We play many house shows on tour and I'm going to be presumptuous here and post some guidelines I gave to a house recently that was starting shows.

Some stuff about hosting house shows: finding bands, hosting, before and after the show, money/food.

Finding Bands: they find me most of the time. sometimes I ask bands to play if I see they need help in the bay area. I'll probably start referring people to you. Put your house up on and other listings of houses that do shows.

Hosting: If you have an audience, there will be lots of people (hopefully) and with that you have to be careful of your stuff, roommates stuff etc.. Leave out cups for people to use for water or else people will be invading your kitchen and going through your stuff. Make your alcohol and drug policies clear, remember the legal reprecussions of them if the police show up (which they will at some point). Be careful with people hanging in the front or wherever the easiest access to the street is. Lots of noise is produced there and it could get you in trouble.

Before the Show: People will NOT show up on time. Say the show starts earlier than it probably will. Offer food, entertainment, or something for people to do before the show so they arent sitting around bored (we're actually not very good about this at our house..). Make sure you tell the band what goes on, the order, the money situation, the time situation, make sure they are set for the night (place to stay, know what they are doing the next day etc..) and INTRODUCE THEM to people and the opening bands. House shows are a small intimate things where people should get to know each other and form a community.

After the show: Figure out what you want to happen and make sure it does. After our shows I like people to maybe hang out for a while quietly, and generally I like people to disperse from the front yard since we live on the quiet/study side of berkeley. I make sure the band has everything they need for the night (we have one couch here but I keep lots of blankets for the band to use. I dont provide breakfast but you can if you want. Most people I know dont except big houses with lots of people that have lots of food (aka not ours). Also figure out when they are leaving so you cna lock up or leave instructions for them to lock up if you have to leave in the morning before them.

Money and Food: ALWAYS collect donations, even if there are no touring bands. You will have random things to pay for int he future and shows that bomb so have extra cash to give to bands, buy food, pay tickets, buy better things for the space (related to music). Don't just "pass the hat" that doesn't work anymore. Every show I've played or hosted where the hat was just passed for donations you end up with not a lot of money cause people think someone else will donate instead of themselves. Give a speech, be a host. Go up to every person there and ask (that's what I do) because a band isnt going very far with 15 to 20 dollars. People will have excuses, people might have fresh booze in their hands when you ask, but dont be a jerk, be kind when you beg for other people haha. And make it obvious that you will be asking for donations. Put it on flyers, mention it on your myspace. This community survives on donations. Not everyone is Michael Runion (that's so cool he played your house by the way) who can draw people. Most of these bands that will ask you have ZERO draw so it's up to you and the openers to get people out. One thing that's interesting about house shows, if every person there could donate 2 dollars (at least at our shows) bands would leave with at least 40 to 50 dollars plus merch sales! I don't know why people don't understand that and won't even donate a dollar but whatever... I won't tell you what to ask for in donations BUT always have a firm dollar amount or sliding scale. I know people that ask for 5 to 10 dollars and here we ask for 2 to 3 dollars typically (since this is a college town and what's worse than college students for trying to get donations? College students who spent their money already on booze.)
Feed bands, and feed the show attendee's if you want, but mostly Feed the Bands. It sucks (I know this from touring to 50+ house shows last year) when you have a crappy show and you weren't even fed food. That is the low of lows on tour. IF we have a crappy show, at least I know I took the band to the dining hall where they could eat all they want and steal food from there if they wanted as well (which I encourage them to do if they can haha). Make sure to ask if they are vegetarian or vegan if youre preparing food. Sometimes they wont show up ontime and will be eating at the show so ask beforehand. When I toured as a vegeatrian is sucked to roll up to a house where they had food prepared but it was a lot of meat.. (worst time being "fed" was showing up to cold chicken and cheese filled hot dogs without buns.. ugh).

Give them your contact info.
Be prepared to possibly have to entertain them for a few hours, I'm really terrible at this and it makes me feel bad everytime someone has to sit around for a few hours while I do homework or something dumb..
Make a flyer, something else I dont do enough of.
Make a facebook event/group/page for your show/house.
Put your events on bay area entertaiment calendards (something I don't normally do cause of my landlord situation).
Know the law about noise limits and disturbing the peace ordinances (that one gets us here in berkeley).
Be open to different bands and styles.
Make sure you know and inform the band of your noise limits, don't be afraid to say no to loud bands.
Be honest and forthright about what you think you can do moneywise, soundwise, audiencewise, promotionwise. Don't give the band high expectations, its better to have an unexpectedly good show than bad show.

Don't host more shows than you think you can provide a good show for.

Most of all, meet and greet people as well as the band. Everyone wants to have a good time and for bands it's so hard being in a completely new place trying to integrate with tons of new people.

AND HAVE FUN as well as respect.


Friday, January 8, 2010

To The Northwest!

So we arrived in Salt Lake City in the dark of night where we preceded to Dominos for pizza and the Boing! Collective for the show. It was a quiet show and everyone was a bit tired so we kept it quiet and subdued. That might have not been the best option (since we didnt get much in donations and didnt sell a CD) but it was a nice atmosphere. We took off to Ogden with Alyson after the show and had a fun night at her families house! In the morning we hung out till like 5 or 6 in the afternoon/evening after sledding, making food and playing video games. It was wonderful and we even left with a couple scrapes and bruises as well as an array of school children wondering who the hell we were. We then took off to Boise where we stayed with one of the members of the band The Very Most.

We don't think they took too fondly to us but were kind and accommodating (especially considering how late we arrived at the house). We also found out that Phil Elvrum from The Microphones played in the room we slept in! WOWOWOoWOW! We then preceded to drive all the way to Seattle with a quick stop off in a foggy truck stop. This was the most beautiful drive on the whole trip and despite the cramped car, weird driver changes, we still had a good time.

We arrived in Seattle ready for a killer show. And a killer show we received! We played a quick game of basketball (me and ryan won) and then geared up for the show. The bands that played were all wonderful! JB played great and had ladiezzz all over him. We played a killllllller set that had the audience skanking, swing dancing, waltzing, crunking and all sorts of other crazy dancing! We got Neutral Milk Hotel comparisons again and it was just awesome! The closing bands were amazing as well. Nettle Honey played great folk dancing music and even a waltz in which a cute seattle girl taught me to dance. There were so many cute girls and well dress guys and awesome people. We had a crazy night which ended with some folk jazz/punk jazz/gypsy jazz whatever you like to term it. People were swing dancing but I was too timid to ask this one cute girl that I kept catching the glance of to dance.. We were so disappointed when the night ended but luckily we made popcorn and more food whie watching Pokemon! So fucking cool!

The next day we explored the U-district of seattle and ran some errands with a girl that lived at New Crompton (the house we played at). We at awesome Mongolian BBQ and then packed up for Olympia. We sat in traffic in downtown Seattle (which was nice since we didn't see much of the city besides the U-District) then we went to Olympia.

We were nervous about the show in Olympia. We had heard cool things about the city and obviously it has a huge DIY history dating back to K Records in the 80s. As people started rolling into the show we got some distinctly Washington/Olympia vibes and then went on and played a awkward set (at least by our standards) since we didn't have a PA but had a drum riser haha. We then preceded to hang out and observe their mini-sub-culture. It was really interesting since they had such a distinct sub-culture (within the whole DIY culture which share similarities across the country). They did some killer swing dancing and some of the old traditions, styles and attitudes from the 80s olympia culture still continue, which was wild to see them/experience them in person after reading so much about it. We even got interviewed in a sneaky way by this girl who was walking around with a tape recorder all night. We finished off the night with toast.

I woke up today around 10 and chilled out for a while then went downtown with Tim. It was a quaint small town vibe but yet the city is still important to DIY culture and to washington in general since it's the state capital! Now we're chilling here with Simon and friends playing guitar and ukulele. We're showing off some covers and playing some original songs and teaching each other. Later were going to head to Portland and get some Voodoo Donuts and play with Silly Rob Childish at Full Life Coffee House again! Woohoo!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

We're In Olympia

Yes we have made it to our show in Olympia. We will be playing music here at some point tonight I hope.

Seattle was nuts last night. More of an update later.

If you need to contact me (alex) call ryan or tim since my phone died a watery death in seattle this morning.

Monday, January 4, 2010

From Texas to Colorado (via Missouri)

So here we are in Boulder, Colorado at The Danger Zone, formerly the Soulquarium. These kids here are super chill and just do awesome house shows in their backyard showspace which was padded and sound proofed. The road to get here was not a short one however.

We leave Abilene for Granbury, Texas. We arrive in this bedroom community/way out suburb of Fort Worth. It's New Years Eve so we partied with the people living there who were, at least some of them, self-proclaimed rednecks. They showed us a good time lighting fireworks till 4 am, lighting their lawn on fire, and peeing in the freezing backyard. We played a fun little show for the few people that watched the music and then we rang in the new year by playing Auld Lang Syne!

We took off for Plano the next day to hangout with my buddy Korok. He showed us a great view of Plano, Texas at this huge tower in this park. We then went to 5 Guys Burgers which was INSANELY GREAT! We had huge burgers, great fries and peanuts! We then preceded to Fayetteville, AR where we met the awesome Stuart and Christie. They were super accommodating and great to us. We then explored the University of Arkansas before our show and it was quite crazy. Their sports facilities were insane! We played a pretty cool show and then had a great chill sesh after the show with the people hwos tuck around. They told us how crappy arkansas was but how happy they were that they kept something good alive via their college radio station and the house shows. We went with them to Waffle House at like 1 or 2 in the morning and then settled in for the night.

In the morning (or around noon) they brought free hot dogs and polish sausages for us! Then we departed Fayetteville for Kansas City and our tourmate JB/All Blood. We passed Walmart-ville (aka Bentonville) and then we rolled into snowy Kansas City. We hung out in JB's house all night which did encompass a show in someones bedroom! We rocked the bedroom with delayed vocals and effected acoustic guitar. We got some cool comparisons to Neutral Milk Hotel and people loved the performance. We stayed up playing video games and hanging out till like 2 am till we all passed out.

The next morning we woke up really early and started the arduous job of figuring out a new packing scheme. We did this fairly successfully although everyone was barricaded into their seats and stacked with stuff. We made the hell drive through snowy Kansas City to the open road where we preceded to drive to Boulder.

Here in Boulder we arrived at the house and it was cool and laid back. Little did we know it would amp up when show time started and it turned into a good old fashion anarchist/radical kickback. We hung out and played card games and stuff with the people still at the show. We also did some jamming and watched some King's Cup which is really quite a fascinating game.

Today we head to Salt Lake City where some more punks await us and a nice mormon family has a house for us to stay! Hopefully we'll make a video update later today or tomorrow.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dreams and Things

So we're here in Abilene, Texas today. I (alex) just woke up from crazy dreams. I don't know if its being on tour singing sad love songs and happy love songs and talking to new and old people everyday that is making my mind schizophrenic but whatever it is, it's making my dreams schizophrenic as well.

On the new EP "El Dorado County: A Tale of Love and Loss" there aren't many songs that are about one person (whereas our last album Orange County, is a conglomeration of songs including love songs about one ex-girlfriend). There is a thin storyline on El Dorado that isn't totally fleshed out by the released songs. The original storyline was going to be a rough sketch and partly fictionous account of a weekend I had in Lake Tahoe. It started with a lot of excitement for the trip (hence the first track) and it ended in Placerville with the realization of failure with 2 girls. Placerville is second because it basically vibes the whole EP and story. It's a glorious failure complete with dark horn choruses, meandering piano, swelling cymbals and long songs of epic prorportions (at least for Your Yellow Dress).
As the EP progresses there is The Desolation Wilderness, a dark tonally uncentered instrumental. Ryan wrote a trumpet part that fits my intentions perfectly. The dark trumpet gleams for moments but the dissolves away into beautiful piano. The trumpet continually tries to make a stand but then cannot maintain, a perfect metaphor for many people I have interacted with or even tried to "flirt" with.
Forgive Me is at best a resignation, at worst a woo-ing love song gone wrong. It's shiny, is plinky but it always gives way to the chorus minor chorus. The song asks for forgiveness for doing things that I should not do but I do them anyway in playing the game of love. This song is about 2 different people, possibly 3 subconsciously.
If there is any glimmer of hope it comes in the form of the last song, while it is a resignation, its also a proclamation. A proclamation that I will do better, that I am going to keep doing what I need to do and be a better person. If no one (in this case women) accepts that or finds it "right" it's ok cause I've done my best to be a better person.

Maybe its the fear that no one will accept you that really permeates the EP, and that being single is frustrating (especially after a letdown from my last relationship) but hopefully anyone who reads this will have a better understanding and appreciation or this EP. A few people have told me its good, bad, confusing, and most of all different from our last album, but ultimately instead of coating the frustrated songs and disappointing (love) songs in major chords and melodies, this EP manifests itself with a schizophrenic melancholy which I hope you will enjoy.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winter Tour Update #1

So we're in a Motel 6 in Roswell, New Mexico. We got caught in a snow storm which prevented us from getting to Carlsbad but everything is ok since we didn't have a show! Anyway here is a video update:

In Tucson we played the Hangart which was cool like last time. We could've used some practice before the show, but people seemed to enjoy it. We hung out with Jake at the Hangart a bit and then went to Renato's house to stay with him. We had a awesome chill sesh with cookies, tea and cool new friends, even a cute girl.
We went back to the Hangart in the morning to practice (which paid off) and then went to Phoenix.

In Phoenix we went to Walmart and rode bikes around the store until thwarted. We then headed to Trunkspace which treated us even better than last time. We played with Hello the Mind Control (wonderful as usual, so glad we got their CD), Alex Benson (more amazing with a live band), Little Swamp (classic DIY, their set just reminded me of all my friend around the country), Iji (zach played NEW SONGS! they were great), and Gilmore Girls (awesome pop punk to finish the night). We played pretty ok for how much we've practiced but the PA was malfunctioning a bit.
After the show we headed to a diner with the Iji/Little Swamp crew and had some fries and relaxed. We then stayed at Zach from Iji's house and had a good night and played with his friendly dogs. The next morning they fed us and we met his family who were also super kind to us.

We then vacated to New Mexico. Things were good going through scenic Arizona but then as altitude rose so did the intensity of snow. Visibility got low and we took it slow which delayed us a few hours. We stopped at a gas station in Quedamo New Mexico and made our video update. We drove on and on till it was too late to continue driving and then plopped down in Roswell.

We're heading to Abilene to meet up with Neil the Deal and play a show, then onto Fort Worth for New Years Eve!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Summer and Final Jaunt Back to Berkeley

What happened after the tour? Well we separated ways for the time being. Ava was back in LA living with her dad and working on her own music and art. Richard hung out for a few days and then went back to Davis for the summer. Steven went back to Isla Vista to write music and move to the Santa Barbara. Me and Ryan went back to live at our Dad's house and enjoy his final summer of being a high schooler. Tim went back to his family to take some community college courses and play lots of Rockband.

Me, Ryan and Tim (as well as Josh Chang who recorded cello on the album) all worked at he Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach. We also climbed a few mountains, watched movies, played Age of Empires and generally enjoyed life.

Steven (Existential Hero) came back down to Orange County to record his new album with me! We knocked it out in 2 or 3 weekends with some crazy all night recording sessions mixed between me working. It's a great album that was finally released in September: download it!

During this time Morgan Orion, Jack F.E. and Bunny Zewt Suit stopped by. We had a great show with them in my backyard and we went to the beach with them! We also recorded a song by Morgan called "Mister Miss Her". Its a great song but he never figured out what he was going to do with it.

I finished recording an EP this summer which was alternate takes of Orange County songs and covers of the summers greatest songs: "Will We Ever" and "Chill Out, Griffin" by Nana Grizol and Wabash respectively.

Ryan and I took the EP on tour with us as we drove back up to college...

Santa Barbara: We stayed with Steven and played a show with him at Mel's place. it didnt end up being much of a show but rather a round robin of songs, covers and hookah. Afterwards with hung out with Steven and Layla, tramping around Isla Vista doing crazy things and going to forbidden places. Oh the lives of college students!

LA: We drove back to LA to play the Tribal Cafe with Ava. We played with a typical LA "experimental noise/garage rock" band and 2 punk bands. The punk kids really wanted our music so we gave it to them for very cheap. They were all total glam punks and all of them it seemed were underaged. The guy who owned the cafe was really into recording the sets and video taping them. He interviewed everyone after their sets and interviewed the audience.

San Luis Obispo: So Ava accompanied us back to Steven's where we stayed the night. We then headed up to SLO to play a show at The Clubhouse. First we went to beautiful Morro Bay and climbed rocks. It brought back memories of touring to SLO back in high school with david and my ex-girlfriend (and originall YYD co-founder) Carrie. We headed back to the venue after picking up some groceries. Ava had a rocky set but we killed it! We had Morgan Enos play with us again and it was wonderful. His guitar made up for my guitars failures and the people loved Ryan's horn and Ava's bells. We got extra donations and CD sales after the show because people liked us. This really pissed off the promoter though who hates Morgan and seems to despise music that isnt boring singersongwriter or "true" folk music.. But we got many compliments including someone saying that we were like a tiny Polyphonic Spree! WHEW what a compliment!

We had to find a hotel that night though because Morgan couldn't put us up and neither could anyone from the show. We paid for a motel and waited till we had to drop Ava off at the Greyhound at 2 am. We woke up in the morning and went to Santa Maria.

Santa Maria:
We back tracked to play this show but it was well worth it! We had a hard time finding the venue but we got to play with Steven again and some cool SMDIY kids in a band called Hello My Name is Cirus. People again loved us and bought lots of CDs and stuff! We almost sold out of our Tour EP! We left for a long drive to Berkeley. Ryan was a trooper and did most of the driving which I was really thankful for. We arrived around 2 am.

Davis: Now you might be wondering: why was it only you and Ryan? Where is the rest of the band? Well, Tim was working at his schools welcome week earning some extra cash and Ava had business to take care of at home. Richard was in Davis. Tim rejoined me to go to Davis. Ryan had to stay in Berkeley for CAL Band. Me, Tim and Richard played a short set after barely making it to Davis. We played and people again dug it. No microphones or anything yet people across the busy street still stood to watch us for a bit! We sold almost all the rest of our EPs and met Nadav whose going to have us on his radio show someday. We saw our friends David A Good Pillow and Neil Ruud which was wonderful as usual. We also got some awesome smoothies at the gallery we played in front of!

Berkeley: Technically the last day of tour was the first inaugural show East Bay DIY show at The Carpentry, my house! We played a packed show with some berkeley friends of ours and had a great time. The sets were recorded:

Tour over we set up camp for a long semester of school. Ryan and I are at Berkeley, Tim is at San Francisco State, Richard is at UC Davis, and various other people who played with us during tour and on record populate the campus's of Saddleback College, UCI, and NYU.

If you want to download the tour EP we recorded it is up for free here:

We have since been here at school. Ryan's studying chem but switching to history. I'm studying business and music and having way too many classes. Ava is withdrawn from Berkeley trying to figure out her major for next semester. Tim is at SFSU and SFCC trying to transfer to Berkeley and we have added new/old band members:

Andrew Davis: Guitar and whatever else we can convince him to try. He goes to Berkeley and is also from Orange County! Huntington Beach to be exact!
Josh Reyman: Bass. Josh also goes to Berkeley and dates a fried of ours, Mandie Russell who I'm producing some songs for this year.
Jake Satola: Drummer. He also played the wicked solo on the end of "(Un)happiest Place on Earth". He is going to be touring with us this winter through the western USA.
Mandie Russell: Flute. There are the facts mentioned above but interstingly we unknowingly went to high school with her but didn't meet her till after she graduated.
Alyson Durrant: Violin hopefully. She goes to Berkeley and went to high school with us.

Currently there are a few things going on:
I'm writing new songs about El Dorado County. No I'm not writing songs with snappy titles like, "James Marshall! Look What You've Done!" or "Skiing the Sierra, How I Broke Your Leg at Heavenly and Never Said Sorry", but instead its going to be a mini drama about a weekend spent in Lake Tahoe with friends and a girl I liked. This fateful weekend I found out she had a boyfriend. Major Bummer. Maybe that is what we'll call the record "Major Bummer in Tahoe" hahah.
No, we're getting personal this time around and we have a few songs together. The first song is called Placerville, it starts our story at the end. The other song is untitled but has a big group singing thing at the beginning and a driving midsection. We also have an instrumental called The Desolation Wilderness we developed with Jake this summer. There are a few other this floating around like "I Just Want to Dance With You" and other ideas but nothing firm.
I'm also working on a covers album and a Christmas album. In fact I am rehearsing with my friend Audrey who is going to sing a version of "Baby It's Cold Outside". Some other songs for christmas will be "Silent Night", "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", "White Christmas", "Oh Come All Ye Faithful", "O Holy Night", and an original song called "Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad".

We're also embarking on a winter tour! If you could help us our with some dates that wouldbe wonderful:

26 - Orange County - TBA
27 - Phoenix - Trunkspace w/ Iji and Little Swamp
28 - Tucson - TBA?
29 - Santa Fe/New Mexico - NEEED HELP!!!
30 - Lubbock/West TX - NEED HELP!!
31 - Arlington and Dallas - early show @ Love and Reason, Late show TBA

1 - Arkansas or Oklahoma - NEED HELP
2 - Kansas City, MO - JBs House
3 - Denver, CO - The Soulquarium
4 - Salt lake City - TBA w/ Drew Danburry
5 - Boise, ID - NEED HELP
6 - seattle - New Crompton
7 - olympia - TBA w/ Sundance Kids
8 - portland - NEEED HELPPP
9 - arcata, ca - TBA w/ David Jaberi
10 - davis - TBA w/ Neil Ruud
11 - santa cruz - NEED HELP
12 - san luis obispo - TBA w/ Morgan Enos
13 - ssanta maria - Cafe Monet w/ Hello My Name Is Circus
14 - santa barbara - Biko Garage w/ NANA GRIZOL, Mount Righteous
15 - day off
16 - day off
17 - Berkeley - The Carpentry