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Crafting an Album From Raw, Emotional Experiences
INNOVATIVE WAYS TO BOOST MERCH SALES MAXIMIZE YOUR ON-AIR PERFORMANCE CRUCIAL INSURANCE FACTS FOR BANDS HOW TO ADD FILTERS TO YOUR MIX
INTERVIEWS AARON DESSNER GOBLIN REBIRTH REFUSED
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 7
The Relevant Elephants
by Mark Cowles
24 Chief Ghoul cover story
by Jaclyn Wing
by Benjamin Hansen
4. Letter From the Editor 6. Vinyl of the Month 8. Live Reviews 32. Give Your Songs a Home on Songspace 34. 10 Inspiring Tips for Musicians 36. 5 Ways To Maximize Merch Sales 38. What Bands Should Know About Liability Insurance
39. Make The Most of Your On-Air Radio Time
40. Recording With Filters 42. My Favorite Axe: Crystal Bright 43. Gear Reviews: JBL, Mackie, BC Rich, Shure, Harbinger
by Taylor Haag
48. Flashback: 1969 Fender Mustang
PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 3
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Howdy, y’all! We’re heading into the home stretch of 2015, so I figured now as good a time as any to give an informal “state of the union,” if you will. Performer has changed immensely in the five years I’ve been in the editor’s seat, and there are more changes to come. For starters, we will (finally, after much teasing) launch our new podcast series this year. We hope to bring to life the topics that working musicians encounter on a daily basis, through engaging conversations with artists and interesting industry professionals. The goal is to make the program both educational as well as entertaining. After all, if we bore you all to death our listening audience won’t be worth much to advertisers (I kid, I kid).
rather hear an exciting new band talk about the creation of their latest album? Or both? None of the above (for you Brewster’s Millions fans)?
Volume 25, Issue 7 PO BOX 348 Somerville, MA 02143 CONTACT
Ultimately, the show will only exist to serve you, so it stands to reason you should have a say in its content and format. So sound off – let us know what you think. What interests you? Which subjects do you think are worth debating? And for old-times’ sake, fire off an angry email or two demanding your MTV! We can be reached, day or night (but mostly day) at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you. Benjamin Ricci, editor
Phone: 617-627-9200 Fax: 617-627-9930 PUBLISHER
William House Phone: 617-627-9919 email@example.com EDITOR
Benjamin Ricci firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN & ART DIRECTION
Bob Dobalina email@example.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Anyway, this is the part where YOU come in. What topics would you like us to tackle? Would you be interested in music industry discussions with a panel of professionals, or would you
Amanda Macchia, Benjamin Hansen, Benjamin Ricci, Chris Devine, Chris M Junior, Crystal Bright, Don Miggs, Frederic Sahyouni, Ian Doreian, Jaclyn Wing, Jordan Tishler, Lesley Daunt, Lorena Hatfield, Mark Cowles, Michael St. James, Rosalyn Lee, Taylor Haag, Zach Blumenfeld CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS
P.S. – Next month we present another in our ongoing series of special issues for musicians. This time around we tackle the amazing, sometimes-confusing, ever-changing world of home recording. So stay tuned in August – and a special shout out to our new friends at MetroSonic Recording Studio in Brooklyn. When you’re in NYC, stop by to pick up a copy of the mag, and perhaps schedule some studio time in their fantastic facilities.
Performer Magazine, a nationally distributed musician’s trade publication, focuses on independent musicians, those unsigned and on small labels, and their success in a DIY environment. We’re dedicated to promoting lesser-known talent and being the first to introduce you to artists you should know about.
Did we make a heinous blunder, factual error or just spell your name wrong? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know, cuz we’re big enough to say, “Baby, I was wrong.”
MUSIC SUBMISSIONS We listen to everything that comes into the office. We prefer physical CDs, cassettes and vinyl over downloads. If you do not have a physical copy, send download links to email@example.com.No attachments, please. Send CDs to: Performer Magazine Attn: Reviews PO BOX 348 Somerville, MA 02143
4 JULY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS In the words of our esteemed forefathers at CREEM: “NOBODY WHO WRITES FOR THIS RAG’S GOT ANYTHING YOU AIN’T GOT, at least in the way of credentials. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be sending us your stuff: reviews, features, photos, recording tips, DIY advice or whatever else you have in mind that might be interesting to our readers: independent and DIY musicians. Who else do ya know who’ll publish you? We really will... ask any of our dozens of satisfied customers. Just bop it along to us to firstname.lastname@example.org and see what comes back your way. If you have eyes to be in print, this just might be the place. Whaddya got to lose? Whaddya got?”
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William House Phone: 617-627-9919 email@example.com © 2015 by Performer Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any method whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher. The magazine accepts no responsibility for unsolicited recordings, manuscripts, artwork or photographs and will not return such materials unless requested and accompanied by a SASE. Annual Subscription Rate is $30 in the U.S.; $45 outside the U.S.
...ARRIVING 2015 #PodOutWithYourRodOut
Listening to the new Marshmallow Coast LP is kinda like having a big ol’ bong-rip blown in your face outside of some seedy motel. But only kinda… Vangelis Rides Again is, for the most part, a hazy, dreamlike pop record. Which is a good thing. It’s also trippy and ominously dark at points. Also good things. The brainchild of Athens musician Andy Gonzales (ex-of Montreal and Mind Brains), the latest offering from Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records is a strange brew of synthdriven nightmarish mysteries. “Hills Are Alive” is haunting as all get out, while remaining a uniquely beautiful centerpiece of the record. The album closes with “Forever,” which moves like a lost Belle and Sebastian B-side slowed down and played through a jar of honey. HHBTM continues to prove why they’re releasing the most interesting vinyl in the country. Vangelis Rides Again deserves your attention… if only to haunt your daydreams. Follow on Twitter: @HHBTMrecs
“Chilled guitar-based dream pop to haunt your late nights…” 6 JULY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
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REVIEWS 8 JULY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
REVIEWS The Lone Bellow
BOSTON CALLING City Hall Plaza – Boston, MA May 22-24, 2015
always find urban festivals to be interesting. They sit in a vein of their own. The music ends before midnight, the lineup is often decidedly pop-centric, lacking a certain diversity, ever erring on the side of caution. There are far more young children and teens running amok. There is less dancing and, whether a correlation can be made or not, there is much less drug use. Simply put, inner city festivals are far more contained, safer both in their construction and in the experience of the event. Located in the heart of one of Boston’s biggest and most publically decried eyesores,
City Hall Plaza, Boston Calling’s setting posits a major challenge for festival organizers. How to make a big, ugly, concrete box welcoming, inspiring, and beautiful. I have to say, they took to the challenge admirably [editor’s note – read more on the following pages from Boston Calling curator Aaron Dessner of The National]. A small portion of the festival grounds were laid out with fake grass, which was always full of people sitting, laying about, and playing games. The looming City Hall building provided an abundance of shaded coves and sitting areas which, at night, were lit up with colored lights that swooped about, swirling with patterns and
shapes. Located near Downtown and just a hop skip and a jump away from the T, Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, and the North End, one could never got sick of seeing Boston’s beautiful, historic buildings as the backdrop to their concert experience. The biggest issue one could take would be that of sound. Any audiophile knows that a concrete plaza would be a difficult place to channel good sound consistently throughout the venue. Probably near impossible. But the plaza was so big that the festival was never too packed. I was always able to find that sweet spot, where my ears could hear exactly what the performers and engineers had intended for them to. PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 9
TV On The Radio
Sharon Van Etten
My Morning Jacket
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Although it would have been nice to see a more diverse lineup, this year’s festival had undeniable gems that couldn’t be ignored. Beck’s set was one for the ages. He covered Donna Summer and played “Debra,” which I never thought I’d see live. I remember years ago I saw him perform at Governors Ball. He played an entire set of Sea Change, with a couple of other songs from his catalog teased in. It was low key, and not what I expected. This year, he took me by surprise. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him have so much energy live. At one point he went to jump onto a stage monitor, before quickly realizing it was unstable, backing off, and running to the other side of the stage. Other acts that shouldn’t be ignored include Australian psyche-rockers Tame Impala, whose live show ups the ante on any music video they have ever released; the anti-pop princess herself, Marina and the Diamonds; the explosively original, bestthing-to-happen-to-popular-rap-music duo made up of the ineffable El-P and fan-favorite Killer Mike, Run The Jewels; and of course, Tenacious D. The D came out in full character, never breaking from their comedic routine once during their set. Jack Black approached the front of the stage with a steely, serious gaze pinned to the crowd. Kyle Glass’ eyes pointed toward the dark night sky. His face as hard as stone. Then they began. Opening with “Tribute,” followed immediately by “POD,” “Rize of the Fenix,” “Low Hangin’ Fruit” and “Señorita,” they played hit after hit after hit. In between songs Black bantered with Gass and threw orders at his stagehands. He puffed his chest out and strutted across the stage as he yelled “Jazz! Jazz! Stinky Jazz!” Their set was my favorite. They had me the minute they walked out on stage, strummed their guitars, and began with “A long time ago….”. The rest was rock and roll history.
Follow on Twitter: @boston_calling
PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 11
Aaron Dessner of The National on Curating Boston Calling With a Spirit of Collaboration M
usic festivals, with their undertones of muddy camping, desert heat, or breakfast tacos, can become a series of hashtagged clichés. Yet for Boston Calling, its two years of concerts have reimagined how music festivals can be hosted within an urban center. We spoke with musical curator Aaron Dessner, day job as guitarist with The National, on how Boston Calling has established itself as a vibrant festival through building a community of artists. Even with the brutalist backdrop of City Hall and brick terrazzo, Boston Calling has an intimacy not found at other festivals. Dessner notes how with two stages there is “no overlap between sets.” The continuous f low of music 12 JULY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
ensures that “all artists, from the first local act of the day to a major headliner like Beck, play uninterrupted to the entire audience that’s present. That is pretty unusual in the festival landscape.” This communal vibe echoes how Dessner wound up curating Boston Calling, a position rooted in friendship with festival co-founders Mike Snow and Brian Appel. The two had extensive experience with local media, and had started Crash Line Productions as WFNX/Phoenix Media Group receded. Buoyed by a run of summer block parties in Downtown Crossing, Snow and Appel asked Dessner if he would be interested in selecting artists for a new festival. While Snow and Appel adroitly navigated permits
and logistics, Dessner invited performers and convinced his band The National to play opening night. For all involved, Boston Calling was a gamble. And its subsequent success is grounded in a desire to run a festival that cares for fans and bands. Dessner describes how Boston Calling “allows you to come and go as you please, which makes for a more integrated f low with the city.” This was displayed with amazing efficiency last fall as lighting storms required a massive exodus from City Hall Plaza, and then a reopening of the gates for celebratory sets by Lorde and Childish Gambino as the skies cleared. Bands playing Boston Calling, Dessner
Dessner’s musical friends. “Two of my very favorite artists (and collaborators), who also happen to good friends of mine,” Dessner says, “are playing the festival this year: St.
“Boston Calling has a focus on giving lesser-known local bands the opportunity to play a major festival.” lineup…an interesting cross section of artists we love.” Without specifically mentioning radius clauses that restrict when and where a band can perform before and after a festival, Dessner contends that “booking a festival is always challenging because of availability and how artists tours are routed.” Still, Dessner firmly believes in “the quality of artists Boston Calling has been able to offer fans” and in the importance of “giving new artists a platform to grow.”
says, feel taken care of because “the festival is artist-curated and very well run from a production standpoint. Mike, Brian and I made sure that the atmosphere would be a positive one for the artists, as that isn’t always the case.” For Dessner this means having “amazing local catering, a wellcurated backstage bar and picnic tables for artists to hang out and catch up with each other.” These basic considerations are “quite simple really,” yet “unusual in the festival landscape.” As music curator, Dessner has brought bands to Boston that range from indie legends (Neutral Milk Hotel), to hip-hop royalty (Nas), and the upcoming festival even welcomes The Pixies for a hometown
Encouraging and supporting other musicians has been central to Dessner’s work with The National, and it shapes the Boston Calling lineup as well. “We have hopefully used every platform available to us to champion other artists, whether through inviting them to festivals or helping make music or spread the word -- and we have been fortunate to have many artists do this for us also, REM and Arcade Fire for example.” In extending the same support offered to him, Dessner contends, “There is a very warm, mutually supportive community in the music world that I know.” The integrity of these relationships, and resulting community, is what Dessner calls, “the main motivation” for even holding a music festival. He explains, “The music we are all making (and listening to) takes on a deeper meaning when you share it with friends and music festivals. The good ones anyway, are hopefully an opportunity to celebrate and build community -- and ultimately to collaborate and take risks creatively.” Boston Calling has been the beneficiary of this vision, as bands that Dessner has connected with are excited to play the festival. In fact, this May showcased a full lineup of
reception. Even so, Dessner says that Boston Calling has “a focus on giving lesser-known local bands the opportunity to play a major festival.” This, he hopes, results in “a diverse
Vincent and Sharon Van Etten. They are both brilliant songwriters and performers.” Another example of this community in action is The Lone Bellow, who performed on Sunday. The band picked Dessner to produce their latest album, even using his garage studio for some recording. Dessner says the sessions pushed the band to “explore the edges and corners of their music. They wanted to achieve something tangible, an unpolished sound you can put your finger on.” Dessner continues, “They are absolutely lovely people and it was one of my favorite studio experiences.” The audacious idea of holding a bi-annual music festival in Boston was borne from relationships and is sustained by this energy. Speaking of this, Dessner sees a personal responsibility for how Boston Calling operates. “I have always been aware that the sum of what I can do with my brother and other musicians is greater than anything I might do on my own. And the enjoyment of working together is more for me than working alone.” This spirit of collaboration is natural for Dessner, as he says, “My brother and I grew up staring at each other’s hands playing music from a very early age. And our music has always been a product of our community.”
Follow on Twitter: @aaron_dessner
PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 13
The Strawberry Music Festival Grass Valley, CA / May 21-25, 2015
hings have been different for The Strawberry Music Festival. The event was birthed in 1985 at Camp Mather, a little outside Yosemite. Ever since the fires at Yosemite hit in 2013 the festival has switched the location to Grass Valley, at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. This springâ€™s fest really set up its roots again and felt like the Strawberry we all knew and loved. Generations and generations of Strawberry families and newcomers all came out to enjoy the festivities. The food vendors were tasty, the art vendors were unique and beautiful, and the music: folk, blues, a little funk, jazz, country, Americana, grass roots, gospel and everything in between completely satisfied the tastes of any music enthusiast. The forest was filled with life and love this weekend and so were we. Thank you, Strawberry Music Festival.
Follow on Twitter: @berryfest
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Gaslight Anthem's Brian Fallon
Parlor Mob's Paul Ritchie
Skate and Surf Festival W
hen a touring band plays a festival on or near its local turf, any homefield advantage that presents itself is embraced and appreciated. Hours before The Gaslight Anthem’s headlining set to close out the Skate and Surf Festival in Asbury Park, NJ, guitarist Alex Rosamilia (who lives in Jersey City, about 50 miles north) verbally checked off a few perks that mattered to him. “There is a level of comfort” to a Jersey gig, said Rosamilia as he nursed a beer inside the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel. “I couldn’t
Asbury Park, NJ / May 17, 2015
tell you how many times we’ve played Asbury Park, and we shot our first video ever on the same field where we’re playing later.” Another plus: All four members of the Garden State-groomed Gaslight Anthem drove their own cars to Skate and Surf. “And she gets to come,” added Rosamilia, gesturing to Zissou, his dog. Comfort and convenience did not result in onstage complacency: The Gaslight Anthem played with typical passion and purpose, and in his between-song comments, singer Brian Fallon was pleasant and observant. “Can they fix the ‘f’ and the ‘r’?” Fallon asked, looking across the fenced-in festival grounds (the modest Bradley Park) at two darkened letters in the lighted “Greetings From Asbury Park” sign on the Paramount Theatre. On the GameLoud stage, the lighting was textured and moody throughout Gaslight’s set, matching the music. A slowed-down
“Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis?” was a standout, as was the stomping “American Slang” and the Jersey Shore-centric “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts,” which mentions nearby Cookman Avenue and contains the lyric “sleep on the beach all night.” Earlier, Asbury Park’s own The Parlor Mob played a brief set highlighted by a blistering version of “Into the Sun.” The Front Bottoms, also a Jersey-based band, had fans bouncing up and down in rhythm and shouting along with joy to “Maps,” among other tunes.
Follow on Twitter: @SkateandSurf
PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 15
Q&A with Dennis Lyxzén on songwriting, the band’s accidental fame, and their new record, Freedom.
We Dance To All Songs: The Story First Album in N 16 JULY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
All The Wrong ry of REFUSED’s Nearly 20 Years PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 17
n October 6, 1998, in Harrisonburg, VA, four boys from Umeå, Sweden found themselves in a crowded basement with 45 Americans. Not even four songs into their set, police arrived and threatened to arrest anyone who played on. This, after an arduous tour and mounting internal tensions, would be their last show. The band called it quits and vowed to “never play together again” in an open letter. The Shape of Punk to Come seemed like it would never arrive. Having gone their separate ways for over a decade, focusing on diverse solo projects, the original members of Refused, including hardcore’s elder statesman, Dennis Lyxzén, joined forces in 2012 to create a chimerical bombination: they reunited. Now, three years later they are back with a ferocious new album that is both earnest and exquisite. Freedom is a dynamic and calculated progression from their magnum opus, The Shape of Punk to Come, but equal parts contemporary and iconoclastic. For Lyxzén, after more than two decades, several dozen albums and an estimated 500 nights of sleeping on the stage after a show, the explosive front man looks backwards, and forwards, on a life in music, harnessing creative potential and breaking the band’s legend. In the 20 years since releasing your debut This Just Might Be…The Truth, what has or hasn’t significantly changed, personally, and for the band? We could talk about that for hours. When you’re
young and you get together and force people to be part of your crew and play music with a naïve idea about how it works it just seems to happen. Then Refused became a proper band. None of us had any idea that it was going to become a big band that was going to be part of our lives forever.
When they asked me if I wanted to be a part of it, I was very skeptical because of the legacy and the past and I have another band [INVSN] that I am very focused on. But, when I get curious I can’t stop myself—I had to see what this was going to be like.
We never anticipated the way Refused became this huge entity that just kept going…without us for a long time. Now it’s been 20 years of touring, recording and seeing the world. In some ways you could say, everything has changed.
Then it got really intense. This wasn’t just being in a band and practicing your friends’ songs. With Refused the bar is pretty fuckin’ high. The standards of the music that we created were as well. There’s no end to how much we can work on a song.
Describe the creative process behind Freedom. It was a very intense process. I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea to do another record. I mean,
Typically, Kris comes up with the riffs then David applies structure to those. I come in with lyrical ideas and David and I work together to structure the lyrics and finalize the song.
“I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea to do another record…I’m a pragmatic man and I look at the world and I see the legacy, the back catalogue and the expectations…With Refused the bar was pretty fuckin’ high.” I’m a pragmatic man and I look at the world and I see the legacy, the back catalogue and the expectations. The other three guys, Kris [Steen], David [Sandström] and Magnus [Flagge] were already writing music that wasn’t Refused related, and once we did the reunion in 2012, they said, ‘Maybe this is music that could be Refused’s music.’
Discuss some of the themes that exist on the record, lyrically and sonically. Sonically, we wanted to make something that was both aggressive and interesting. When people heard it, we wanted them to be certain they were hearing a new Refused record. We wanted it to be challenging. Our producer, Nick Launay [Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire], really sought to capture our live sound in the recording. Lyrically, it’s ten different songs with ten different concepts. One overlying theme is that we aim to examine and deconstruct the meaning of the capless structures and ideologies that we live under and how that affects people. Leading up to the recording of Freedom, in the time since Refused was last writing new material, what are some modern influences that are evident on this record, musical or otherwise? In your youth you’ll often hear a song and try to emulate that sound. Now that we’re older we were more decisive. We wanted to write a record that sounded like a Refused record. Individually our influences may vary within the group and may be completely different than they were 17 years ago, but leading up to this we all knew what kind of record we wanted to make.
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For Freedom, I was very hands-off in the production process. I’ve recorded between 25-30 records, but have never been too interested in that phase of the process. I just try and stay focused on my role in the music. In growing from a D.I.Y. group to a band with international acclaim, describe how the band’s resources have developed and changed. When we were young pups on a small label we were recording on a tight budget. Then we became a big band without even trying—we broke up and became a big band. Now there is a little more leverage about how to manage your life and a bit more of a budget. Life on tour is a bit more comfortable than it was in the ’90s when we toured in a van and slept on floors. The same goes for recording. When we did the first record, This Just Might Be…The Truth, we had three days to lay down all of the music and two days to lay down all of the vocals. My voice was shot cause we were out playing shows. So I did the vocals and my voice doesn’t sound good. Back then there was no concept for us to be like,
You mentioned Nick Launay produced this album. What was it about his track record and creative approach that attracted the band? My other band, INVSN, was making a record a few years ago and as we were looking for someone to mix it, his name kept coming up. I thought, ‘Holy shit! This guy is working on some amazing records.’ After he mixed a few tracks on that record, he came to an INVSN show and was super excited and wanted to work together again. I said to him, ‘I have another project I’m working on. It’s called Refused.’ He was very excited and started hassling me about working with us on the new album. After discussing it with the other guys, Kris explained how he knew him and was a major fan of his work. It was easy. In addition to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Arcade Fire records, he’s done the last seven Nick Cave records and worked with Gang of Four and Birthday Party. We wanted to capture that rawness of our sound and he was able to do so spectacularly. We were lucky enough to work with him. He is both a fantastic producer and a wonderful person. Throughout the 2000’s, The Shape of Punk to Come became noted as a highly influential album to many musicians. During this time period, did the reverie and shadow cast by Refused affect you or other projects you were involved in? Not particularly. I’m not a nostalgic person and I never chased fame or acclaim—I just wanted to express myself. Anything else I’ve ever done musically has never sounded like Refused.
off. People just kept reminding me how much they love Refused, but for a long time I felt very disconnected from it. It became something that was no longer relatable to my life. What is it about what you do that keeps you from doing something else? I absolutely love doing this. I really love playing live. There is a special emotional connection that transcends the mundane aspect of everyday life. I was very young when I got bit by that ‘thing’ and I knew that I just wanted to continue doing it.
At one point in time The Shape of Punk to Come was mixed in 5.1 surround sound, which was unheard of for a hardcorepunk LP. Can you explain any creative and innovative production techniques used on Freedom? Initially, that record was mixed regularly, and the surround sound was applied to a special edition. I own it, but have only listened to that version once. I was in a cinema.
I’ve put out a couple of records that, in hindsight, weren’t that great and people weren’t excited about. But, I’ve been lucky enough to release a couple of records that people are excited about. It’s all a part of it. When I was young I knew I was ‘different’ from most kids. I was fortunate enough to find punk rock to help me define the feeling of being different. The older I get, the more different from the world I become. This is where I belong.
Follow on Twitter: @Refused
“People just kept reminding me how much they love Refused, but for a long time I felt very disconnected from it. Refused became something that was no longer relatable to my life.” ‘Oh, maybe I’ll come back next week and redo the vocals,’ because that was not in the budget. This time around, we worked on the record until it was done. That’s a big difference between being ‘Refused 2015’ as opposed to ‘Refused 1993’. [Laughs] I loved that part of my life and it’s good for your soul to do, but at 42 I kind of want to sleep in a bed and shower—it changes. But I’ve done 500 shows where I slept on the stage. It’s all part of the process.
The way it would affect me is that when I would put out a record with another band and people would say, ‘Aww, man! It doesn’t sound anything like Refused.’ None of those records were supposed to sound like Refused. It’s been an unfair comparison in that a lot of the music I have made has ended up in the shadow of Refused, which at times has been a bit frustrating. It was all very weird. We broke up and then The Shape of Punk to Come became this entity and Refused became this thing that kinda just took
REFUSED FREEDOM STANDOUT TRACK: “DAWKINS CHRIST”
PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 19
Legendary Italian Proggers Return To Inspire New Nightmares
20 JULY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
f you love concept albums, progressive rock and horror movies, then the new self-titled album from Goblin Rebirth is a must have for your collection. The latest incarnation of the iconic Italian band Goblin, who are known for their frequent collaborations with horror maestro Dario Argento, have delivered a nightmarishly beautiful experience into the macabre with the dirge-like melodies, dark progressions and eerie storytelling for their latest installment. I had the extreme honor of speaking with the band’s guitarist Giacomo Anselmi to learn more about the wisdom, history and inf luences behind what inspired such a spectacular album, available now on Relapse Records.
Can you tell me a bit about the recording of the album? We started a couple of years ago and we took a long time to [put] the songs together because every member of the band took time to compose the songs. It was the first time for me because I wrote the song “Requiem for X” with Fabio Pignatelli, the bass player, and the other members started to compose like two years ago. Then after a year of working out ideas we started to put the things together. We recorded separately and I did guitars in the studio with Fabio Pignatelli; we have the record out with Relapse Records now. When it first became available for streaming, I was so excited when I heard
“Requiem for X.” I really enjoyed that creepy lullaby kind of sound it had... Yes! That was my idea. That came directly from me because I really love the music from Goblin and that kind of mood and atmosphere. I love the creepy feeling it gives you while listening to it. What are some of your other personal favorites on the new album? I really enjoyed my guitar playing on “Book of Skulls.” I love playing all the songs, really. Because I love this very much and I’m very into much into Rebirth. But I think [“Book of Skulls”] is a very big composition and a lot of hard work that went into that song in particular. PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 21
SPOTLIGHT What are some of your favorite Dario Argento films? The first Dario Argento film I ever saw was Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) and then I saw Suspiria - my favorites are the first movies that he did. I’m very much into horror movies and I’m very fond of his earlier work. I was also really into Inferno. I liked it very much because I love the soundtrack by Keith Emerson. I really like that style of piano playing. How did you wind up getting involved with Goblin? I found the guys because I was playing in a tribute band, the music of Yes, the band obviously; and we started to play together with Fabio and Danilo Cherni, who’s one of the keyboard players, and we played together the music of Yes for roughly three years. Then I started to talk with Fabio about Goblin because Fabio and the drummer Agostino Marangolo, they 22 JULY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
were not playing the music of Goblin at this period but [original Goblin members] Claudio Simonetti, Massimo Morante and Maurizio Guarini were together in a band. So the idea was to make another band and so we started
started to think about concepts because we were looking at the titles of the songs and we started to think, ‘ W hy don’t we ma ke a stor y out of it? ’ W hen we write songs it ’s like doing soundtracks because
“I love the creepy feeling it gives you while listening to it.” ‘Goblin Rebirth’ together with Aidan Zammit and with me, Fabio and Danilo. Can you tell me a little bit about the story behind the new album? W hen we put the songs together, it was an idea from me, Aidan and Danilo and we
that ’s the mindset…the whole stor y of Goblin Rebirth rea lly because it focuses on the death and the birth of Goblin. So the songs are a ll together in the order where they tell the stor y and you could read the booklet inside the CD or the record and see what it ’s about.
What have you been listening to lately? Lately I’m very much into djent metal and math metal like Periphery, Animals as Leaders, the band Intervals from Canada, old compositions from King Crimson and even the modern albums of King Crimson. But I’m very much into like the old progressive and the new math metal because I think math metal and the new djent metal is kind of like a new evolution of the old progressive music. What motivates you in the studio as far as the creative process goes? A lot of ideas came together with Fabio because the way I compose my ideas, it’s not really by myself. I always need another musician to talk with and so it is really a collaboration between me and the other guys, and in this case Fabio [in particular]. And he did a lot of the mixing too. How do you feel horror culture has influenced modern music? I think that horror music and horror theme songs are pretty close to heavy rock and metal music in similar ways…so I think it’s logical to think that horror music has had a good impact on music in general. Because heavy music is more influential than some people may think. Heavy sounds are something I can hear even sometimes in some of the modern pop music.
What were your biggest inspirations growing up as a kid? As a kid I started with bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and then I listened to a lot of heavy metal. Bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, obviously. And then Goblin was definitely a part of it. I also listened to a lot of prog music like King Crimson, Yes and then Genesis as well. How old were you when you first started playing the guitar? I think I was 6 or 7 when I first really picked up the guitar and I played left handed (because I am left handed) and then I turn it to the right because I saw the pieces of previous performances of Jimi Hendrix playing and I thought would that be difficult - to play a Fender Stratocaster the left-handed way, you know? So I turned it (laughs) and then I did some classical music when I was about 10, and
How would you describe the chemistry between the band mates? We’re pretty much like ‘the classic band.’ The new members have a lot of respect for the old members. I think that Fabio and Agostino are good leaders so we can pretty much say that the band has no real leaders, we are all one. Because Fabio and Agostino, they’re very kind with us so we can do a good job when we’re on stage and there’s great atmosphere between us. I think that it’s very relaxing when we do shows all over the place.
On comparisons to the classic Goblin lineup: “I think the writing and creative approach are a little more modern.”
then I started in the States at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood when I was 20.
more updated keyboards. And I think the writing and creative approach are a little more modern I think, but not too much - it’s still akin to the old material, you know? Because we can hear the similarities of the original Goblin in the compositions so the fans would be proud about it, I think. I think they’d be satisfied with the new compositions. Especially if you like the old stuff and you like stuff that’s more modern and up to date. It’s a great combination of both. What are some of your favorite songs to play live? It’s just a wonderful, highly emotional feeling for me playing the riff of “Deep Red.” It’s kind of scary in a way (laughs) and emotional at the same time, because you know, playing that riff is like playing the story of us all. It’s like, playing that song, when it happens it’s like the first time I’ve seen the film and first time I heard the song, it’s just a huge rush. I’m so grateful to be a part of Goblin Rebirth, I’m just so grateful.
Follow on Twitter: @GoblinRebirth
Are we going to have the pleasure of seeing you guys on tour here in the States? Well, this is one of our priorities because Relapse made it really an amazing job for us so we can’t wait to come to the U.S. - we’re just waiting for the album to be released and we plan as soon as possible [to tour] the U.S. I also think that we can do something in Japan. How would you compare the old material of Goblin to the new material of Goblin Rebirth? I think that the old material is very much Italian progressive that clearly sounds like it’s from an earlier time, and I think every one of us knows the old compositions by Goblin. I think Goblin Rebirth improves that with new sounds from
GOBLIN REBIRTH GOBLIN REBIRTH STANDOUT TRACK: “BOOK OF SKULLS”
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Ghoul Making The Most of Haunting, Sparse Production to Record a Raw Masterpiece
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SPOTLIGHT PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 25
ee Miles aka Chief Ghoul is no stranger to introspection. I’m sleeping on a bed of nails, but when I get home, I’ll have a story to tell (“Bed of Nails”). Lee has returned and is gracing us with this third album, appropriately titled III. Everyone has a story to tell and our beginning is just as important as our middle and inevitable end. Flashing back to when he was twelve years old, Lee first picked up the guitar and made things up as he went. Having grown up in Kentucky, he made the move to Chicago when he was twenty-
the blues, immersed himself in Chicago and dug into the city’s history. “Chicago is a gritty city and I mixed that sound with Louisville and ended up with a good merge of the two.” Lyrically, Bob Dylan inf luenced Lee; structurally, Duchess and The Dukes inf luenced his strong writing, but King Dude is the one who got him writing in the first place. Recorded at The Nook in Chicago, Lee completed recording the LP in just three days. His dedication to driving 90 minutes to the studio every day is ref lected in the solid,
“When you get discouraged, use it and don’t let it defeat you.” one; at the time, he wasn’t writing music. The Chicago music scene greatly inf luenced his musical perceptions. He became one with 26 JULY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
well-crafted album he has produced. The atmosphere was relaxed, as it was just himself in the studio, first laying down the guitar
tracks and then the vocals. He wanted the album to feel natural, and he was wholly successful in that endeavor. “It just happened. It is important, to me, to have a live experience.” Upon listening to the album, it felt like I was standing in front of the stage, and Lee was singing solely to me. The album experiments with elements of alt-country, folk, rock and blues; it’s a truly special sound. The writing and recording process took place during a particularly difficult time in Lee’s life but he seems to have harnessed that and turned it into a raw and emotional listening experience. His lyrics are like poetry; he takes elements from the past and his present experiences. Lyrically, he finds himself turning to a lot of Biblical references; he considers himself spiritual and on a journey. “I wrote about things that I was going through and there has never been a different feeling for me across my albums.” Ref lecting upon his songwriting experience, he notes, “It is really therapeutic [for me] to sit down and write a song. I want everyone to relate to my experiences and as a result, relate to the songs.” Inspiration sometimes strikes randomly and sometimes is planned. For Lee, it is a mix
of both, however he makes it a priority to sit down and write songs, guitar tracks, and lyrics as often as he can. A lot of songs have been started and then left behind to be eventually matched with music composed at another isolated time. He’s inspired not only by his own introspective moments but from seemingly monotonous activities like reading, walking and watching movies. “When I read something and like the way the words sound, I try to spin it and relate to it personally.” Walking, a seemingly mindless activity, allows us to interact with the outside world, providing mental stimulation. Watching movies, on mute, “relying on only the visual elements, gives me inspiration.” Speaking of visual elements, Lee just unveiled an epic video for “Roll Baby Roll, Kill Baby Kill.” He explains, “It’s a biker exploitation- a sub genre of film in the ’60s and ’70s. We are drinking and riding and having a good time.” The video is a solid visual representative of what Lee expresses lyrically. There is a hype around this catchy song, and knowing that Lee was hanging out, drinking beers, shooting guns, and having fun with the video, makes it an even better musical experience. Every song on the album is identifiable by its uniquely different sound and lyrical theme. “Wild West” comes across as longing for a sense of belonging and seeming unsettled. When I spoke with Lee, he affirmed my assumptions, and noted that at the time he wrote the track, he was planning on moving to California but it did not work out. Having the ability to convey a deeper meaning through musical and lyrical elements is rare, and to have those equally expressed across an entire album using just raw, sparse production is even rarer. In discussing the “Wild West” and its relation to feeling unsettled, Lee expressed that “the more I think back to the wild west, that era of time, and how it would have been… it would have been tough times, but it would have been an experience.” Insightful moments like these are strewn throughout the album. I belong in the wild west (“Wild West”). Lee would be an equal mixture of a cowboy and outlaw. “You have to do what you have to do all while having a moral code.” With a song title like “I’m On Fire,” one expects it to be filled with more angst about something specific but upon listening, it is obvious that Lee has harnessed and accepted whatever his demon was. It is by far the bluesiest song on the album. A lot of topics are touched upon and each listen reveals
something different – layers of truth with just a voice and guitar. The best advice comes from someone who has been through it all. Lee put me at ease: “When you get discouraged, use it and don’t let it defeat you. Don’t let it overwhelm you to the point where you don’t do anything at all.” Music is a therapeutic experience, whether you listen to it or create it. “Do it for yourself. It will come out they way it comes out and it will have special energy of its own.”
CHIEF GHOUL III STANDOUT TRACK: “ROLL BABY ROLL, KILL BABY KILL” Follow on Twitter: @ChiefGhoul PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 27
ELEPH THE RELEVANT
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How To T
To Transform Street Performers into a Full-Fledged Rock Juggernaut
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hat do you get when you take a group of four eccentric street musicians and make a band out of them? You get the Relevant Elephants. These guys (Zack Hankins on vocals and acoustic guitar, Drew Lucas on vocals and electric guitar, Adam Khalil on bass, and Mack Suhre on drums) are based in Boston and crank out pure, hooky, guitar driven rock music. They’re known for taking their upbeat garage sound into local bars and out on the streets to perform. Their debut four-song EP shows their diversity and gives us great hopes for what an eventual full-length album look like. How did you guys meet each other? Zack: We met up over the course of a couple years. I started the band with our old guitarist, and after we set our first gig we needed to get a bassist and drummer. So we asked Adam, who was his roommate at the time, if he would play
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bass for us. Neither of us actually heard Adam play bass before, but he owned one, and luckily it turns out he’s pretty damn good at it. Mack came along in February 2012 after we tried out
of ours and we always seemed to keep coming across each other at house parties. He was also working on his solo project at the time, and Adam and Mack would often back him up at his shows
“Writing was my outlet for when I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about what was going on in my life, good or bad.” a couple drummers in the previous months. Our old guitarist met him through school and at our first practice he fit in immediately, it was like he had already been playing with us for years. After our old guitarist left the band in the summer of 2014, Drew joined by August. We all met Drew at some point between 2009-2014, he was a friend
before he joined The Relevant Elephants, so again it was a pretty natural fit for the band. What kind of music do you find yourselves listening to most often? Zack: Classic rock, prog rock, alt rock, actually we could probably just say ‘rock’ because we
but in the studio it would be my Les Paul Studio Deluxe. I wouldn’t consider myself a slide player, but I always have a lot of fun pairing it with a brass slide and my Fender volume/tone pedal.
Drew: You don’t have that much control of life in general, but you can control what goes on in your music. You can choose your endings, which is something that I enjoy doing; I like having a handle on something.
Drew: My Morley pedal, because it’s such a weird and unpredictable pedal (in a good way!).
How does your creative process work? Zack: I usually write words first. I write down whatever is bothering me at the time, even if it may seem strange, and build off of that because I know now that whatever is bothering me, no matter what it is, somebody somewhere is going through the same. After that I just play with random progressions and almost try to the mash words into the melody. Then after some editing with the words to make them fit, hopefully I have a song. Drew: It comes out whether I want it to or not at all hours of the day really, which can get annoying sometimes - especially if it’s in the middle of the night. Dry spells happen too, so I just do my best to capture it when I get what I think is a good idea. Often times at practice we can just start jamming, find a part we like, then build off of that together, which makes things much easier. You guys have a song called “Allston and Brighton are for Drinkin and Fightin.” Can you tell me about that one? Zack: It’s just a fast-paced, reckless, rockin’ tune about one of our favorite neighborhoods. All of us in the band went to the crazy Allston house parties, and this song is us trying to capture the attitude of the area.
listen to any form of that possible. However, we definitely dive into funk, metal, and other genres, too. Some of you guys come from a street performance background - how do you think it affects your music? Zack: It makes us much tighter as a band. Also, it’s just a great way to build your fanbase. We have had so many people already take pictures and videos of us and post them online, saying things like, ‘These guys totally made my day, great music!’ That really makes our day, too, and it definitely helps people get just a taste of what we sound like live, and hopefully makes them want to see what we sound like at an actual show. What inspired you to start writing? Zack: For me, writing was my outlet for when I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about what was
going on in my life, good or bad. Once I started it really made me feel good just to write down my thoughts, so I kept doing it to the point where these thoughts became songs.
Zack: All I really own gear-wise is my Seagull guitar, so I’ll go with that! I do my best to take care of it, although it recently got scratched up pretty good after a flight. Thanks a lot, TSA. What’s your favorite thing about being a musician? Mack: Stickin’ it to the man. Adam: Improvisation, and seeing my limitations melting away over time. Ultimately working towards being able to freely express myself in any musical context to the point where the music just comes naturally. Drew: Just always having something to work towards. Zack: It helps keep my mind sharp, and everything about writing and performing songs - what we create is such a great outlet for me. Everything about it makes me feel good!
Follow on Twitter: @relephants
Do you feel like this new EP reflects your live sound or is it something different entirely? Zack: We definitely aimed to have it reflect our live sound; it might be a little bit more [sonically] balanced obviously, but when we record we always have the band play together to hopefully capture the energy of the song that people would hear when they see us live. If you could choose anyone, who would you go on a tour with? Zack: Cage the Elephant, and not just because having two elephant named bands on one bill would be awesome. Also, Arctic Monkeys, Weezer, Tool, or Parliament would be some of our other picks. It’s so hard to choose just one! What’s your favorite piece of gear? Mack: My bass drum, because I just love dropping that bass.
THE RELEVANT ELEPHANTS S/T EP STANDOUT TRACK: “A YES OR A NO”
Adam: With the band, my Yamaha 5 string bass, PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 31
How to Better O Song Catalogs & Give Your Ideas a Home on Songspace
et’s be honest, most of us artists and songwriters are not very good with keeping our creative lives in order. That’s not meant to be offensive, I personally know the struggle is real. In this DIY world, it’s especially hard when working; between gig calendars, rehearsal schedules, social media profiles, emails, texts, etc., it’s hard to even know what you’re missing. But the songs are the reason we’re doing this. The songs are what will live on forever. The songs are what will eventually make you enough licensing and royalty money to call this a career. And unfortunately, we tend to neglect organizing our song catalogs the most. I don’t know about you, but I have had lyrics on napkins, scraps of paper, countless notebooks, some Word docs, on my iPhone Notes, in Twitter drafts, and so on. I have had some on my laptop, some on my desktop, and even some on Evernote. It’s the same with audio notes. I have had some on my iPhone, some of Evernote, some in Logic, Pro Tools - I even have a folder on my desktop called “Z music scraps” with just random .wavs and .movs of audio recordings. It’s not sustainable, and it weighs on me as a songwriter that my words and melodies are just randomly floating around, uncategorized. If only there were some way to organize my audio notes, pair them with lyrics and save them for later editing. I do a lot of co-writes too. It’d be great if this magical place could be shared with many collaborating songwriters, all of whom could add audio snippets and edit lyrics. It would have to be mobile, because I am constantly being struck with a line or a melody in the strangest places while out and about. And what if I could place my whole catalog, songs already written and recorded, in the same place? Well, I think I have found a solution and I want to share it with you.
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It’s called Songspace, and it is like a playground for your songwriting. “ Tech nolog y for Music People” is how t he compa ny descr ibes it sel f. From t hei r site: Songs pace i s a mu sic social network that powe rs the c reative workf lows of professional s , ar ti sts , and songw r ite rs via the projects they share . O ur company wa s founded on the pre mi se that songs are the foundation of the mu sic bu siness eco -s yste m , and that a natural network already exi sts betwee n people who c reate , manage , and market the m .
Let me unpack just how powerful Songspace is for the independent musician. First, you can sign up for free here: http:// songspace.com .The free account includes up to 12 songs and 10 MB in storage. The Pro account is pretty much all the space you’ll ever need for your entire catalog for just $5/ mo. They also have a Business account, if you are managing a lot of different catalogs and writers. The platform is setup for your songwriting workflow in three sections: “Ideas,” “Songs,” and eventually “Network” (which is in Beta right now).
(1) Click the “New Idea” button and start writing lyrics. (2) Then click on the Audio Record button and add music. (3) Press Save, and then “Convert to Song.” You can hear the world premiere of “I Love Performer Mag” at performermag.com. (4) And this is what your song looks like to prospective licensor or a co-writer, after you’ve edited the song’s information including a photo for each.
r Organize Your s & Sync Pitches 2
And when you sign up, we can work on finishing it together! In addition to being a very powerful song creation tool, Songspace’s “Catalog” feature is great for songwriters with a lot of back catalog who are also pitching for sync opportunities. Like most services, you can upload songs from your own computer, but you can also sling links from SoundCloud, Spotify, YouTube, and even sync with Box. In one simplified “Song Edit” area, you can add metadata, ISRC, tags, descriptors, lyrics, and more. And when you need to pitch, you simply choose to keep it private or public and share the link.
Oh, and did I mention that Songspace is also mobile? It is, for both iOS and Android. So, you’ll never again lose that killer melody in your head while you growing old in the Department of Motor Vehicles 8th Circle of Hell. So, what are you waiting for? Put the tools in your hand to organize your musical ideas on-the-go, get your catalog organized, collaborate with others, and pitch more effectively. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.
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10 Inspiring Quo Musicians By Wor
hether you are in it for the fun, or you’re serious about making money at what you love to do, being a successful musician is not easy. But if you follow some of the advice below from fellow working pros, you could soon see you hard work pay off.
HOZIER - Take Your Time and Focus On Yourself “Take Me to Church” took him almost a year to write, and most of the other songs on Hozier had been brewing for a year and half before the album came out. His oldest songs, like the happily romantic “Someone New,” predate even his current repertoire. “I remember writing lyrics for ‘Take Me to Church’ for a long time before I even had a song in mind for it,” he says. “It’s not that I was trying to write that song for a year, but sometimes you just kind of collect lyrical and musical ideas and don’t actually complete the song until you feel like they work together and have a home.” The Grammy nominee also told aspiring musicians to spend time by themselves – if they want to make the big time. “People come and go in life, so musicians should focus their attention on bettering themselves.” KELLEE MAIZE - Don’t Do Free Shows “I love to perform and connect with people, I’ve probably done around 150 free shows over the years. It’s amazing practice, but once you get to a point where you feel like you have confidence in creating an engaging live show, I suggest not continuing to do it without some compensation. Unless of course it’s for a cause you care about, it can be a lot of effort and time that does not amount to very much tangible support. The sound systems at most shows asking you to perform for free could also be a poor representation of your voice and generally folks won’t know your music, so there will be little engagement. Especially if you are a rapper, your lyrics might be too hard understand. You may get a few die hard fans from a show, but that same effort you put into an online marketing campaign could yield thousands of new die hard supporters. At the same time, I don’t suggest not performing for more than a month or two, to keep you limber and in touch.” 34 JULY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
BEN FOLDS - Don’t Wait for Your Big Break “I realize the big question for most aspiring musical artists is how to get your break. There isn’t really a break. It’s a lot of different breaks, some good and some bad. There will be significant lucky opportunities that you may or may not recognize as such. It’s not an exact science and the landscape is constantly morphing. Advice on how to ‘make it’ is dubious business. I do believe that if you’re not ready musically, the best opportunity in the world isn’t even an opportunity.” DEREK SIVERS - Bring Out Your Weird Side “What’s great about the long tail is that there can be infinite niches. Be (and trumpet yourself as) the best at your tiny, sharplydefined niche. Better to be the world’s leading songwriter of songs about seaweed, than yet-another normal-but-good rock band or folksinger.” ED SHEERAN - Push Yourself Hard “It’s like if you want something so badly go out there and grab, just keep on doing it – because there are people out there who do want it just as much as you do and there are people out there if given the opportunity to take my place will, so it’s just as important to keep pushing yourself and working at it.” DAVE GROHL - Play Live as Much as You Can “Just play live. Honestly, if you’re good at what you do people will recognize that. I really believe it. I really believe that going out playing good songs live as a great live band will make you successful. I really think it will, it doesn’t matter if you’re at the shithole down the street or you’re on the side stage at Bonnaroo or you’re headlining Lollapalooza. If you’re a great band with great songs people will notice it. That’s it, that’s all it is, it’s that simple. Fuck product placement and fuckin’ labels and A&R people and all that bullshit, it doesn’t fuckin’ matter, I swear to God, it doesn’t matter…But you’ve got to be bad ass, you’ve just got to be really good. It’s the other things that make up for your musical inability.”
MOBY - Diversify “Musicians are making money in wildly different ways than they did fifteen years ago, and it’s more important than ever that artists have a number of different music-related skills so they’ll have an easier time piecing together a good living. Here’s the reasoning: if you do something you hate and have success, you’ll still hate it; if you do something you hate and fail, all the worse; if you do something you love and fail, at least you did something you loved; if you do something you love and succeed, double win.” LINDSEY STERLING - Love Yourself “Increase your confidence in your self-worth and in your ability to contribute good things to the world.” THELONIOUS MONK - It’s About Quality, Not Quantity “Just because you’re not a drummer, doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time. Pat your foot
uotes for Working orking Musicians Lorde
and sing the melody in your head when you play. Stop playing all those weird notes (that noodly bullshit), play the MELODY! Don’t play everything and don’t play every time. Let some things go by. Let some music just be imagined. What you don’t play can be more important than what you do play.” VINNIE PAUL - Put Your Heart And Soul Into It “It’s very difficult. First of all, you really have to want it. You’ve gotta be willing to sacrifice just about everything in your life. And if you really believe in it, you’ve got about a ten-percent chance of getting lucky and getting somewhere, but that ten-percent chance does exist. So put your heart and soul into it and give it everything you’ve got, and more power to you.” LORDE - Have Clear Goals “If you want your music to be heard…you can just put stuff on the Internet and people can
love it and that’s cool. I think the industry is much less scary than people think it is. You have to go into it with an idea of who you are and what you want to do, and you have to have an idea of the things that you won’t do, and the things that you want to aspire to. Because if you have clear goals and absolute no’s for yourself, then people can figure it out. And then you won’t be left like, ‘Oh, shit, why did I do that juice commercial?” THOM YORKE - Do It Yourself “Release music yourself without the help of a major record label. It is only a matter of time — months rather than years — before the music business establishment completely folds. Don’t sign a major label contract, instead venture out on your own. I guess I would say, don’t tie yourself to the sinking ship because, believe me, it’s sinking.” KARMIN - Connect With Fans “Work really, really hard. Be consistent. It’s also
important to be connected with your fans on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, as these are great avenues to help promote any band.” DICK DALE - Learn How to Market Yourself “Don’t sign with a label, don’t sign with a record company, ’cause the minute you sign your name, you’ll lose all the rights to your music and you’ll never see a dime. So what you should do is build up your following by continuously playing, save up your money, and record your own stuff and your own CDs and then learn to market yourself. Sell your own CDs right out of your vehicles, right out at your shows, like Johnny Cash sold his records right out of the trunk of his car. By doing that you’ll make all the money from the CD and make your money back ten times faster then take that money and buy ads in magazines and learn how to market yourself.” [editor’s note – yes, we definitely agree with that last recommendation!] PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 35
“How do you make money from music?” Ask most gigging musicians this question these days, and they’ll probably give you the same answer – “tour, tour, and tour again”. What they’ll no doubt neglect to mention is that, while on tour, you need to be selling a boatload of merch if you want to see a return. For young bands, the amount of merchandise sold at a gig can make the difference between breaking even and turning a profit. In my experience, this is as true at a local level as it is on the touring circuit. Merchandise can be a nice earner for your band. But, it has to be done right. Unfortunately, there are many groups out there who fall at the first hurdle when it comes to merch, putting out poor quality, badly priced, and uninspired products that end up doing more harm to their brand than good. Whether you’re thinking about investing in some merch, but don’t know where to start, or you have merch, but aren’t sure why it isn’t selling, check out my top five tips for maximizing your merchandise sales.
1. Make Sure You Have Merchandise from Day One There seems to be a pervading myth that bands aren’t supposed to have merchandise until they’re ‘established,’ That is to say, you should work on building up a fan base before you try and sell people anything. I’ve always found this approach bizarre. In fact, I’d argue that having merchandise is a hugely useful tool for getting people to be fans of your band. There are two strands to my train of thought here. The first is that always having merchandise available is a good habit to get into. When you’re starting out, merch sales won’t matter that much to you. But once you start touring, how many t-shirts and CDs you sell will have a major impact on how well your tour does for you financially. Get in the habit of selling merchandise now, and it’ll come a lot easier to you when it really matters. Secondly, having merchandise from the get-go makes you look way more professional than the average band on your local scene. Even if you’re just selling some stickers, badges, and demos, it shows that you’ve got your shit together and that your band could be going
places. People like to back a winner, and having merchandise on sale from your first gig shows that you mean business. 2. Go for Quality It’s one thing to have merchandise, it’s another thing to have merchandise that doesn’t look like crap. If you want to maintain a professional appearance and, y’know, actually get people to buy your stuff, you need to get your merch done properly. Bands often balk at this idea because it requires an initial financial outlay. But, as they say in business: you’ve got to spend money to make money. A factory pressed CD with professionally printed, full color artwork is always going to be much more appealing to your fans than a CD-R in a Xerox’d sleeve with your band’s name scrawled across it in Sharpie. Fortunately, there are loads of great websites out there that offer good deals on CD replication, stickers, and badge production and t-shirt printing, so you don’t need to break the bank to have a quality product. And, provided you follow my next tip, you’ll make a return on your initial investment much sooner than you’d think.
5 Ways to Maximize You
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Sure, people like to get a good deal. But when you’re selling your band’s full-length album for under $5, the message you’re sending is that your product isn’t very good and not worth paying for. It suggests that you don’t have much confidence in your music, and it actually puts people off buying it. As an example, a few years ago, a friend of mine was on tour with a band that was selling their t-shirts for $10. While they thought that they were giving their fans a good deal, they found that they’d shifted few units by the end of the tour. As an experiment, they doubled the price to $20 at their final show. The result? They ended up moving double what they had sold all tour at that one gig. The lesson to take from this is that people don’t mind paying for a quality product, which brings me on to my next point…
4. Make it Interesting If you want people to buy your merchandise, then it needs to stand out from the crowd. To put it another way: no one will buy your t-shirt if you’ve just slapped your band logo on it! The bands that do the best from merchandise sales are the bands that make their merchandise interesting. They utilize cool designs, unique packaging, and generally create products that look better than what other bands are offering. As was astutely pointed out to me recently, these are products that look so good that you’d still buy them even if they weren’t affiliated with the band. If you’re not a design-minded person, then you may need to collaborate with an artist or graphic designer to achieve this. Again, this is an expense, but one that will pay off in dividends. It can also lead to a great relationship with an artist who comes to form look of your brand. Think Derek Riggs and Iron Maiden, or Roger Dean and Yes. Merchandise sales may be your lifeline while on the road, so make sure your stuff is as appealing as possible. 5. Think Outside of the Box Of course, another way to stand out from
the crowd in terms of merchandise is to produce items that no one else is making. T-shirts, CDs, badges, patches, and stickers will always form the core of your swag, but there are plenty of other options out there if you want to take a different approach. I’ve seen a weird and wonderful range of unusual band merchandise over the years – from tie-in graphic novels to branded condoms; beachwear to signature bourbon. And, from my experience, the uniqueness and scarcity of these items means that they tend to sell well.
3. Don’t Undercharge Undercharging for merchandise is an easy trap for bands to fall into. For some reason, there are many people seem to believe that charging lower than the average for their CD or t-shirt will make more people want to buy them.
If you’re thinking about going down the unusual merchandise route, you need to ask yourself two questions. First, “Is producing this item cost effective?” And second, “Does this item fit in with my band’s ethos and music?” If the answer to both is “yes” then you’re probably on to a winner. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Alec Plowman is a SplashFlood contributing writer. He is writing a PhD thesis on liveness in rock music at the University of East Anglia. He is also a freelance media journalist and the frontman of Norwich-based hard rock band Monster City.
Your Merchandise Sales
PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 37
5 Things Your Band Needs to Know About Liability Insurance
s a musician, practicing and scheduling performances can be time consuming - and business decisions such as purchasing liability insurance can sometimes fall off the radar. Whether you’re an amateur band playing at a few events for fun or a professional musician growing your career, insurance coverage requires careful consideration and should never be a last-minute decision. Choosing a reliable insurance provider, deciding on the amount of coverage you’ll need and completing the insurance applications are all steps in a process that will ultimately protect you should an incident occur. Why should I buy insurance? Defending yourself against and paying for a liability claim is expensive and purchasing liability coverage is the best way to protect your band from expensive claims and legal defense costs. For example, if a venue claims you damaged their f loor loading in, your liability coverage will cover claims within the limits of the policy. Liability insurance not only pays damages for which you are held legally liable, it also covers the cost of investigation and defense of claims (even if they are groundless), which can quickly add up to thousands of dollars in legal fees. Additionally, some events or facilities may require artists to purchase liability coverage that adds the venue as an “additional insured.” An additional insured is an entity (the facility or event), which has an insurable interest for claims arising out of your negligence as the named insured. By providing the venue additional insured status, they are now sharing your coverage and are entitled to defense and indemnity (up to the policy limits) under your policy. This is very common request and, unfortunately, can sometimes be a source of added costs from insurance organizations who charge an extra fee for certificates of insurance - sometimes as much as $25-$50 for each certificate you request. This is an important financial consideration when choosing your insurance provider, especially for musicians participating in a number of shows. What kind of insurance should I buy? Commercial general liability insurance. Often referred to as simply liability coverage, it protects the insured against liability lawsuits or claims, from a third party, for
38 JULY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
bodily injury and property damage arising out of the performer’s premises and operations. How much should I buy? The policy “limit” is the dollar amount of protection you purchase to cover future claims. For example, you may choose to buy a policy that offers a $2 million occurrence limit with a $5 million aggregate limit. This means that your limit for an individual incident is $2 million with a total limit of $5 million for all incidents occurring while the policy is in effect. Some venues mandate minimum limits for performers, so before purchasing coverage be sure to check with the venue for any specific limits or coverage requirements. If there is a performance contract or agreement, it will often contain any insurance requirements. This is an especially important item to note on your contract when booking festival or special event appearances. How long does the coverage last? The “term” or length that an insurance policy is in effect can vary so that you may select a policy term that is right for your needs. For example, you may have decided to perform at a local music festival. In this case, the most cost-effective choice would be to purchase a single-event policy designed to provide insurance for the duration of just one event. On the other hand, perhaps you are planning to perform at several different locations over the course of a season. In this case, you may want to look for an annual policy that covers all performances on a yearly basis. What should I look for when I buy insurance? When choosing an insurance provider, always ask about the financial stability of the carrier; a high rating (A or better) by an independent rating company such as A.M. Best Company is the safest choice. Also, choosing a carrier that is “admitted” (licensed) is preferable because choosing an insurance company that is non-admitted (called surplus lines) may require you to pay extra fees or taxes. Of course, experience is also a factor. Organizations familiar with the unique risks associated with the entertainment industry will be able to accurately price coverage and more importantly, provide prompt and reliable claims handling and resolution services. You
may also want to look for convenient services such as the ability to apply and purchase coverage online, as opposed to completing a paper application that must be mailed and approved before coverage is in force. While it may not be the most exciting step you take in preparing for your show, purchasing insurance will ultimately give you peace of mind while performing in public. Choose the right liability coverage and you’ll be able to focus on a successful musical performance, knowing that you’ve got the coverage you need. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Lorena Hatfield is Marketing Resources Manager for K&K Insurance, a leading provider of sports and entertainment insurance since 1952. For more information on entertainer coverage, visit www.entertainerinsurance-kk.com.
5 Tips On Making The Most Of Your On-Air Interview
ongratulations! A radio station has taken a liking to your music and wants to bring you in for an interview and on-air performance! This is a huge opportunity to win new fans and gain valuable online content— just look at how one NPR Tiny Desk Session revitalized T-Pain’s career—and you need to capitalize on it. Here’s five ways you can do that: 1. Prepare a unique version of your music. Your fans have been listening to your studio recordings and digging them. And if the radio station wanted to bring you in, they’ve probably been spinning your tracks for their audience. So why give them more of the exact same thing? A fresh take on a song you’re promoting will grab your fans’ attention and effectively give them a new track to obsess over. Additionally, most broadcast studios only have the equipment to allow for a stripped-down or acoustic setup. Making the most of a limited instrumentation will allow your talent and creativity to shine through, as well as making for compelling video content if such content is produced. 2. Think of some funny stories beforehand. A good interviewer will have researched you and your career beforehand, and will be able to ask questions to guide the conversation in such a way that keeps it informative yet entertaining. But a great interview is a two-way street, and you need to come prepared to talk about yourself in a memorable way. The real purpose of your time on-air is not only to promote your recent releases, but also to get your fans to invest more deeply in your personal brand—and their investment is correlated with how well they feel they know you. Telling good, relatable stories will cultivate this
connection, especially if they generate laughs, and thinking of them before you go on the air will help reduce dead time that you’d otherwise be filling with “ums.” 3. Promote it like crazy on social media. Social media works best when various content creators coordinate their posts to reach the largest possible audience. A well-run radio station will have a robust social media presence and should be telling its listeners to tune in for your interview, and by joining the station in promoting your on-air special, you’ll bring in listeners who may not follow the station online. Tagging the station and interviewer in your posts will connect you with all of their followers as well, plus it’s just polite to give such a shoutout. Be sure to ask if the station streams its broadcasts online—a common strategy given the decline of terrestrial FM radio—and if they do, provide your fans with a link to the feed. All of a sudden, you’re reaching a global live audience. Use every possible platform—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, etc.—and post both before and after the show, because even if your fans missed the broadcast they should be able to catch the replay as long as you… 4. Make sure you know where footage of the interview will be posted. Most radio stations or podcasters are able to record their broadcast feed, and in an era when a strong online presence is necessary to a media outlet’s success, they should be posting that feed on their website. Oftentimes they’ll also have someone taking video of your interview/performance that will be paired with the audio to create a high-quality product that can accrue thousands of views on YouTube.
Find out where and when this content will be posted and share it with your online fanbase— they’ll snap it up. That said, not every station will have the resources or wherewithal to do this, so ask beforehand if they’ll be taking video. If they aren’t, bring someone along to do it. YouTube is still the most frequent way that people discover music, so it’s crucial to ensure that video of your on-air experience is available. Even iPhone footage will work as long as you have decent audio from the station or an iOS-compatible mic on hand. 5. Give the station a keepsake or two! Cultivating good relationships with the media is essential to your success, even in a DIY world, because their support grants you legitimacy and a larger audience. Taking a picture with your interviewer for Instagram should be a given, but a physical token of your appreciation leaves a lasting legacy of your visit. CDs or vinyl are ideal for this, particularly because the station can then spin your music during request programs or other shows with a flexible playlist. Stickers and koozies are inexpensive giveaways that you can hand over in bunches to all the station’s employees. And if you can swing it, homemade baked goods are memorable and a key to the heart of a hungry midday DJ. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Zach Blumenfeld is a recent alumnus of WRVU Nashville, Vanderbilt University’s student radio station. Over the past three years, he has interviewed over forty songwriters and bands on his weekly program The VU Backstage, as well as contributing music commentary and reviews to the WRVU blog. He has also worked at Nashville radio station Lightning 100. PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 39
Cut The Crap: What is a Filter & Why is it Your Most Important Mix Tool?
elcome to the wonderful world of music mixing! Your assignment today is to make everything sound great: huge drums, pounding bass, roaring guitars, thunderous synths, and captivating vocals. Sound easy? It’s not. You’ll know it’s not that easy when you push up all the faders and instead of sounding like a radio hit, what you’ve got sounds like a tiny little…demo.
There are many factors that go into taking the raw tracks and unifying them into 40 JULY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
something polished, moving, and engaging. Over the next few months we’ll talk about many of these elements. Today, we’re gonna talk about garbage: sonic garbage, not the band Garbage. As I think about it, sonic garbage comes in two forms: The first kind is the low frequency rumble, noise, hum, whatever, that’s always present in recorded tracks. The source may be the room, or an amplifier, or the output of a synth. Yes, even samples may have junk down
there! When you put up all the tracks, all the gunk adds up, and makes a cloudy, messy lowend. If your kick or bass sounds great in solo, but seems small or wimpy in the mix, likely it’s getting stuck in the muck. The second sort of garbage comes from the normal sound of the instrument, but the parts that you don’t need. This is, of course, rather subjective, but if you are willing to cut away garbage sound, you will allow other elements to shine. For example, electric guitars, particularly the more they’re distorted, eat up the
entire sonic spectrum. They can put out 100Hz to 8KHz, leaving no room for any of the other elements we listed above. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of getting the drums, bass, and vocals to sound perfect, and then you bring in the guitars, and suddenly everything goes to hell. This is where style, taste, and genre come into play. You have to decide which elements are key in which frequency ranges. Much of that furious guitar isn’t helping the song! Cut it away. FILTERS Filters are the simplest element of an EQ. You’ve probably spent some time with EQs before, boosting or cutting frequencies to shape your sound. Likely, however, you’ve overlooked the filter section that is often built into the more complex EQ. Often labeled High Pass Filter (HPF), this simple band has a slope that more or less steeply approaches –inf (minus infinity, aka no sound passing). This is the simple tool for cutting away the gunk. Generally, for simple filters I will use a
hear the instrument changing. Stop and roll it back just a touch, and there you have it: bye bye garbage!
Notice, first, that I’ve set the plugin to “HPF” using the button on the left shaped kinda like a square-root sign, but is actually a mini graph of the filter. Next, I typically turn the filter Q knob fully clockwise to 24dB/oct. This makes the slope of the filter as steep as it can go. Sometimes you’ll want a softer slope, but most of the time a steep filter is good. In the analog world steep filters can introduce phase shifts that can, themselves, muddy your work; properly designed plug-ins, however, avoid this issue.
started to change tone; now, maybe we want to change their tone for the good of the song. At this point we have to consider what other instruments are sharing in the same sonic space and which are most important in each frequency range.
Now we begin to cut. If we’re looking to remove super low garbage from a kick or bass, aim really low, around 20-30 Hz. But wait, you say. No one can hear that low! A few of us can hear down there, but more importantly, the gear can hear down there – a speaker on which you or your audience listen will try to reproduce those frequencies causing distortion. It will react to signal even if we can’t hear it. For example, if you run that super low junk through a compressor later in the mix, you will find that the compressor reacts to that super low stuff, not to the audio you want to affect. With instruments that live higher in the spectrum, you can start to cut higher. I often start around 100Hz. This works for guitars, vocals, snares, and synths. But here’s the key: you’ve gotta do this by ear, and with the whole mix going. If you do this in solo, you’ll fool yourself! So turn it all on, and then slowly raise the frequency of the HPF until you just start to
Now that the low frequency garbage is gone, let’s think about the second type, the parts of the instrument that you don’t need. First, we rolled off the low frequency on the guitars only until they
plug-in, even though I typically do most of my processing in the analog domain. For filters and other surgical tools, I just find plug-ins to be more precise. In FIGURE 1 I’ve shown a basic filter in Avid’s EQ3 that I use often. Remember this isn’t intended to augment the sound, but rather to transparently remove elements that are getting in the way.
For example, maybe we rolled off the guitar to 200Hz but the guitar is still crushing the snare, or fighting with the bass. Try rolling off the guitar up to 400Hz. Did that kill the guitar or increase clarity? If it killed the guitar, you’ll need to roll back down to 200Hz, and consider another band of EQ to carve a smaller amount away from the guitar at 400Hz. These frequencies are just examples, you’ll have to do this by ear. Once you understand that it’s the junk that leads to muddy mixes, you can see the solution. Grab your trusty filter, your most valuable tool, and carve your way to clarity. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Award winning mix engineer and producer Jordan Tishler runs Digital Bear Entertainment in Boston. With a large Augsburger designed mix/overdub room with SSL console and racks upon racks of analogue outboard gear, tape machine, and gazillions of instruments, Tishler has credits including B Spears, JLo, Iggy A, MOTi, Justin Prime, SIA, and London Grammar. Contact me about producing your next record, or mixing the one you’re working on now! Fore more visit www. digitalbear.com. PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 41
MY FAVORITE AXE
Got a favorite instrument you’d like to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bright has an eclectic, haunting yet whimsical, carnivalesque world folk sound, dubbed “kaleidophrenic cabaret.” She plays accordion, musical saw, concertina, piano, Taiko drum, Ugandan harp, and others, leaving people captivated with her operatic vocals and virtuosic command of her exotic instruments. NAME OF INSTRUMENT
Titan 120 Accordion WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU
I’ve been performing with the Titan for four years now, and it has been a reliable road warrior. I’ve gotten used to the feel of playing it, but it also causes me a lot of neck and back pain from long periods while dancing around, so there’s a love/ hate relationship. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE
and the Silver Hands
Accordions in general have such a full sound, and going through a bass amp helps it have an even fuller and warmer tone if you EQ it right. I mostly play the right hand keyboard side with the “master” button on, which is the richest, fullest sound for melodies. SPECIAL FEATURES
It’s a smaller accordion so it’s easier to jump around and perform with. It has a pick up so it can be heard easily through a bass amp and replace having a bass player if needed, but not preferred. CAN BE HEARD ON
The Absolute Elsewhere & Muses and Bones
Follow on Twitter: @ cdbright
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Phenomenal sound, versatility and control options. CONS
The cabinet is well-designed for roadie-handling and suitable for a stage monitor, or to be f lipped the other direction as PA mains. In either application, you’ve got a rugged enclosure that can withstand the abuse of the road. Lastly, you’ve got sound-shaping options built in that are also controllable by handydandy Bluetooth. A nice touch considering that it’s often difficult to make on-the-f ly adjustments on a dark stage or when monitors or PA speakers are literally out of reach. We can’t speak highly enough of the new EON 615s. They sound phenomenal, they’re built like Soviet tanks, and they offer up a wide array of versatile options. Throw in a street price under $500 and we’re sold. -Ben Ricci
› System Type: Self powered 15”, two-way, bass-reflex › Max SPL Output: 127 dB
BL engineers decided to build the 600 series from the ground up, and just when you thought there was really nothing left to improve upon in the monitor/ PA arena, these bad boys hit the street. So what makes the EON 615 so great? Let’s talk power. You want watts? We’ve got watts. 1,000 of them, to be exact (at peak usage). These speakers can get LOUD, without sacrificing clarity, a big problem we typically encounter with 15-inch models such as these. Oftentimes bass tightness and mid-range clarity is demolished in the name of decibel-boosting. Not here. So of course you’ve got the sound quality. Then there’s the build quality. Constructionwise, these beefcakes are solid as a rock (and actually a tad lighter than we anticipated).
JBL EON 615 Two-Way Speakers - $499
› Freq. Range (-10 dB): 39 Hz - 20 kHz › Freq. Response (±3 dB): 50 Hz - 20 kHz › Coverage Pattern: 90° x 60° › Amplifier Design: Class D › Power Rating: 1000W Peak, 500W Continuous › Net Weight: 17.69 kg (39 lbs) PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 43
MACKIE ProFX8v2 Mixer - $229
n music analogies the ProFX8v2 we’ve been testing out is like the Mark II lineup of Deep Purple. It took something you liked and made it something you loved. The footprint for the 8-channel model is small, which is great if you’re using it for a FOH mixer or as a compact unit for mobile or home recording. And the chassis is strong – much more rugged than we were expecting at this price point. Honestly, at the $200 range, we’re typically thinking it’s gonna be the dreaded BPC (black plastic crap). Not the case here (no pun intended). So it’s small and it’s built well. Yeah, yeah, but how’s it sound? Transparent, that’s how. With compact mixers, that always puts a smile on our face. When my mic sounds like it’s supposed to without added coloration, I’m happy. And the four built-in Mackie Vita preamps allow that to happen with no worries. Plus we’re digging the Hi-Z input that allows us to directly plug in our guitar. Bonus! The 7-band EQ is simple enough to use, and we actually liked the digital effects available (somewhat rare as we’ve been quite unimpressed with lousy sounding reverbs and delays on mixers from other manufacturers in the past). USB connectivity means you can also record with it, a nice touch that gets even nicer when you realize a copy of Tracktion is included (of course you can use your own DAW, too). Plus we like the ability to have a headphone-out onstage if you’re near the unit. For smaller gigs or solo outings it means you can keep your f loor monitors in the van or at home. Look, it’s ultra-affordable, it’s built well, has tons of options for even the most finicky knob-tweaker and it sounds great. What more could you ask for? Ben Ricci
› 4 low-noise Mackie Vita mic preamps
› ReadyFX effects engine with 16 effects › 7-band graphic EQ
› Aux output for monitor mixes › 3-band EQ and 100Hz low-cut filter on all channels › Hi-Z input lets you directly connect guitar, bass › 48-volt phantom power on all mic channels › Headphone output with separate level control › Balanced XLR and balanced/unbalanced 1/4-inch main outputs › USB for playback music and recording via Mac or PC › Includes Tracktion recording software 44 JULY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Small enclosure, great preamps, good fx, low price. CONS
n the 1980s B.C. Rich was one of the standard hair metal, day glow, go-to guitar companies. Most don’t know that in the 1970s they offered a high quality custom instrument that was an excellent alternative to the standard fare of the day. The Mockingbird Contour Deluxe is a return to that classic-era form. It’s constructed with a mahogany body and a quilted maple top, seamed together with a nice 3-ply binding. The 24 5/8” Les Paulstyle scale mahogany neck has a rosewood fingerboard that sports the traditional ’70s B.C. Rich pearl cloud inlays, jumbo frets, and a comfortable “c” shape with a 12” fretboard radius. Combined, it really gives it a classic vibe that ends with the traditional 3 per side headstock. The bridge and tailpiece are the usual tune-o-matic style, but the pickups are new “rich hot hex” models, and feature a volume control for each pickup, a master tone control and a 3 way toggle switch. The tone knob is a push-pull, splitting the humbuckers into single coil mode (a nice touch for added tonal variety).
Even with the somewhat unusual design it balances well, and feels comfortable with no neck dive. The neck shape feels familiar, and our test guitar came with an excellent setup, with an even feeling across the entire fingerboard, and low action that makes for a very slick and fast feel, while still being able to really dig in. The set neck joint (which at first we thought was thru-designed but turned out to be a clever long-set construction) is super smooth; shredders should have no problems accessing the higher frets. B.C. Rich’s of the ’70s had tons of knobs, switches and on-board pre-amp options, so seeing a standard control setup on a classylooking Mock like this is odd, but each pickup sounds great, in full humbucking mode it really rocks, responding like a vintage pickup that’s been given just enough oomph, without getting too tight or compressed. In single coil mode, it can cover some Tele and Strat type clean tones easily. It feels and acts like a rock guitar should, with power and definition, while not going over the top. In higher gain settings, it can really get into the metal zone, with plenty of low end, while still cutting through the mix. The street price is under $500, and for that, it’s a lot of guitar. Style wise it may not be fashionable to take to the local pub’s blues/ jazz open mic night, but for a guitarist that’s in a good hard rock/metal band, it’s sure to get attention for its looks and sounds. Chris Devine
B.C. RICH Mockingbird Contour Deluxe - $449
Great sounds, excellent playability, quality construction. CONS
› Long-Set Neck Construction › Pearl Cloud Inlays › Mahogany Body › Rich Hot Hex Humbuckers › Tripe Ply Body Binding › Modern C Shaped Neck Profile PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 45
SHURE PGASTUDIOKIT4 MIC KIT - $299
hure has been making quality microphones for decades at decent prices, all of which feature great sound; they’re a brand that makes them a great choice. Their PGASTUDIOKIT4 is a great package of complementary mics, and accessories that can be filed under a “no brainer.” In the kit comes (2) PGA181 large diaphragm condensers, (1) PGA52 kick drum mic, and (1) PGA57 instrument mic. 4 XLR cables are included as well as (3) mic clips; as the PGA52 has a mic stand mount built in, a mic clip isn’t needed for it. Rounding things out is a nice padded carrying case to hold everything. The PGA57 instrument mic is derived from the industry standard SM model, which can be used for almost any application, but worked best in our tests with guitar and bass amps, as well as snare drums or even hi-hats, and vocals. While the PGA52 is designed for kick drums, a great application is for bass guitars and other instruments that sit firmly in the lower end of the sound spectrum. The two condensers in this kit are the PGA181 – with two open sides, these work great for things that sound better with a little “air” in the mix, such as pianos, acoustic guitars, drum overheads and hi-hats. There’s plenty of high-end shimmer without getting “ice pick to the ear” frequencies. The price clocks in at around $299. Purchasing all of these mics separately would run you about $400. So for $100 less, you also get all the clips, cables and a travel case! This isn’t just a dainty studio kit either; these are robust enough for live applications, with metal construction all around. In fact, we were greatly surprised with the heft of these beauties. This gathering of microphones is a great journey for any musician, sound guy (or gal) or studio proprietor. With a well-thought-out kit like this on the market, there’s no way you can go wrong. Like we said, it’s a complete no-brainer. Chris Devine
Great selection of mics, all accessories & case included. CONS
› 1x PGA52 Cardioid Dynamic Kick Drum Microphone
› 1x PGA57 Cardioid Dynamic Instrument Microphone › 2x PGA181 Side-Address Cardioid Condenser Microphones › 1x A25D Break-resistant Microphone Clip › 2x WA371 Break-resistant Microphone Clips › 4x C15J 15-foot (4.6 m) XLR-XLR cables › 1x 95G16526 Zippered Carrying Case 46 JULY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
GEAR REVIEWS PROS
Ridiculous price, no frills, easy to use. CONS
Specialized power supply connector.
HARBINGER L1202FX Mixer - $109 that have combinations of reverb and delay, and reverb and modulation effects. A rotary effect that works great for guitars and keyboards can get a swirling modulation that’s usable in many applications. Phantom power is available for mics that require it, and a single master fader covers the overall output. The unit has a small footprint, smaller than a MacBook in fact. For a band that wants a mixer for vocals, and a few other items, it’s a great choice. Once things are set, there’s not alot of tweaking that’s needed, other than the master volume, really. It can also be a great
input device for a home studio, not taking up alot of room in the process. The sound quality is great, and the cost is even better with a $109 street price. The only downside is the power supply; it’s a specialized connector, which if something happens to the power supply, such as getting lost or damaged, could really grind things to a halt. There are so many high-end mixers out there, that to see a bare bones mixer that is both inexpensive and still sounds good, is quite a breath of fresh air. Chris Devine
› 4 LvL Series ultra clean mic preamps › XLR and 1/4” TRS balanced/unbalanced line input › 4 TRS1/4” balanced/unbalanced stereo inputs with +4/-10dB sensitivity selection
ess is more - it seems a lot of companies’ cram so many features into a product to fill any possible need that it over does it. Harbinger’s kept things simple, making a mixer that delivers without useless bells and whistles, at a more than reasonable price. Let’s clarify that – this mixer comes at a ridiculous price for what you get. Within the all-metal enclosure are 12 channels; 4 with XLR & 1/4” inputs, and the remaining channels with 1/4” inputs. Separate outputs exist for mains as well as dedicated control room outputs plus RCA Aux inputs for items such as mp3 players, and 1/4” headphone outs. The 4 XLR channels have a 3-band EQ, a High Pass Filter which cuts frequencies 75Hz and below. Then an Aux level control, Pan and level control round things out. The remaining channels are a bit more sparse; Aux, Balance and Level. Channels 5-12 share controls, and the balance control works between the shared inputs. A +4/-10 dB pad switch is available to bring levels up or down as needed. There are 16 digital effects that can be utilized, including modulation effects such as chorus and f langer, delays, reverbs, and a vocal detune that can fatten up vocals as well instruments. There are a few patches
› Built-in effects including tap tempo delay › Versatile 3-Band EQ › 75Hz high pass Filter on mic inputs › Aux Send › Full-size master fader › 48V phantom power PERFORMER MAGAZINE JULY 2015 47
1969 Fender Mustang Ready for the competition… 48 JULY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
HISTORY The Mustang was introduced just before CBS originally took over Fender as part of the “student level” guitar line, but at a higher level of sophistication than initially given to most low level guitars. 1969 was the first year of “competition” finishes with racing stripes. Makes the guitar go faster :) WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE Many alternative and indie bands tend to favor the sound because it’s a bit ratty and broken up but more pure and direct, if that makes sense. NOTABLE PLAYERS You know, some unknown guys like Kurt Cobain (Nivoona), John Frusciante (Red Hot Chunky Poppers) and David Byrne (Talking Feet). INTERESTING FEATURES A shorter 24-inch scale length for more playability.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Don Miggs is a singer/songwriter/producer and fronts the band miggs (Elm City/Capitol Records). His love affair with vintage instruments and gear only presents a problem when he’s awake. Chat music & gear with him @donmiggs or miggsmusic.com, lalamansion.com, or his radio show, @thefringeAM820 (Saturdays 5-7PM EST).
Hey Marseilles. Nectar Lounge. Seattle, WA. 09.17.2014
EVERYTHING FROM ANYWHERE
Free yourself from the confines of FOH. With the DL32R, you get 32-channels of powerful digital mixing that’s completely controlled wirelessly — MIX FREE.
Freedom from FOH – mix from anywhere!
Hardware: Flexible, professional I/O in an incredibly compact 3U rackmount design
Wireless: From mic pre gain to control over multi-track recording and playback
DSP: Powerful processing on all inputs and outputs that replaces racks of outboard gear
Recording/Playback: Complete wireless control over multi-track direct-to-drive recording and playback
Master Fader: Intuitive wireless control over everything, proven at more than 2 million live mixes
iPad is a registered trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. ©2014 LOUD Technologies Inc. All rights reserved. Wireless router and iPad required for operation (not included).
studio • coiled / long cable
studio • straight / long cable
portable • short cable
REMASTERED M • SERIES
It’s the same M50. The one praised by pro audio engineers, online reviewers, and cult followers worldwide for its sonic signature, long-wearing comfort, and excellent build quality. But now with refined earpads and three detachable cables. So you can take these iconic headphones from the studio to the street. And everywhere in between. PURE. PROFESSIONAL. PERFORMANCE.