Friday, December 27, 2013

Support - Part 2 of 2

In my last post, I talked about the support a band needs from friends and family. This post will be about the other kind of support - what I call “organic” or  “earned” support.

Let me start by saying organic support has nothing to do with granola. 

Granola is delicious, though.
Organic support comes from the actual, real fans that you earn with your music and from sponsors. Friends and family can become real fans, but they usually don’t since, as I mentioned in my last post, they tend to have a certain vision of you off stage that trumps whatever kind of amazing rock star you are on stage. They’re invested in you remaining their little brother/college roommate/co-worker instead of a rock star.

So real fans usually don’t know you outside of your band. The thing that makes real fans so awesome is you know their fandom is real. If they tell you you’re awesome, that’s how they really feel, since unlike friends and family, they don’t have to be nice to you. Strangers who don’t like you either walk out or drunkenly scream at you just how bad they think you are.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Support - Part 1 of 2

One of the things that a band deals with (and by "deals with" I mean "struggles with") is support.

It's a big enough issue that I'm going to break out the topic into two posts. Yes, I'm saying that blog readers have short attention spans and don't want to read posts that are too long. With that acknowledged, this first post will be about support from friends and family.

When you're first getting started, you're mainly focused on building the band - lining up your musicians and learning songs. At this point, "support" means someone giving you a place to rehearse or neighbors not calling the cops on you when you do.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Art guitars

Our gig last night at the Pleasure Pier in Galveston was cancelled due to weather, but that freed up me and Johnny to attend a very cool event instead - the "HandPlayed: Austin Paints Guitars" exhibit and silent auction. 

HandPlayed is a project between Moniker Guitars, a custom guitar shop here in Austin, and 12 local artists. Moniker provided each of the artists with a guitar and asked them to paint, engrave, etc. the guitars to create fully playable works of art. They then put the art guitars on display at Up Collective, the show we attended last night, and they're auctioning the guitars at until December 15 to benefit the Austin Music Foundation.  

What makes this event especially cool for us is that Moniker is currently building a custom guitar for Johnny, so by the end of January, Johnny will have his very own guitar work of art, though admittedly, the guitars we saw last night were slightly more artistic than the one Johnny will be playing. 

Upon seeing the awesome pieces last night, I decided I needed to share the art with you guys, so here are some images from last night's exhibit. (If you'd like to buy me and Johnny a gift, we would like either the one by Graham Franciose or the one by Kong Screenprinting. We like to give people options. Thank you in advance for your generous gift - you are the bomb diggity.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

An angel in the studio

Joe has a guardian angel in our practice studio. That very special angel, who watches over him from a point high over his left shoulder as he plays, is supporting him and his Movember mustache/beard:

Baby, baby, baby, ohhhh!

Will the angel shave when Joe shaves December 1? Should he???

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Smooth operator

Well, there hasn't been a lot to report on the band front lately, because we've mostly been doing private gigs, and now we're slowing down for the holidays, but there is one super important thing that's happened this past week: the annual Johnny Goatee Shave.

Take a second to catch your breath.

You see, every October, Johnny grows a goatee. He also lets his hair grow, and he often builds his Halloween costume around his excess hair. This year he was Thor, and I was Thor's MC Hammer (can't touch this!). I'd share a picture, but I don't like the only one I have, and since I control this blog, I get to avoid posting unflattering photos of myself. It was something like this, though:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Heckling done right

Technically this post isn't band related, but I'll do my best to forge a connection so it will seem at least somewhat relevant for this blog. A few months ago, I wrote about the worst heckler we ever had. This week, I was reminded of the best heckler I ever saw. (There. I did it. I forged a connection.)

It wasn't at a music show. It was at a volleyball game I attended several years ago.

Wow, okay, not that long ago. And it wasn't guys, and it wasn't on sand. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Is Twitter necessary?



Humbug, even.

We started a Twitter page in August, not so much because we wanted to (with the blog, our Facebook page, our Reverbnation page, and, you know, making and performing music - what our band is *actually* about - we have plenty on our plates), but because we felt like we should and because it enables us to respond to folks who gave us shout-outs on their own Twitters.

We've seen a few folks give us some love in the Twittersphere over the years, but we couldn't thank them or let them know we saw their posts. So we launched our own page to make sure we were connecting with our peeps where they are.

But I have to say, I'm not feelin' the love for Twitter.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

To cover or not to cover

As a working band, one of the things that often comes up when we're talking to people about our band is whether we are an "original band" or a "cover band." The answer seems to be very important to some people. Those people need to decide how to feel about you before they've heard you. Those people decide whether you are a "real" musician based solely on whether you write and perform your own music or someone else's.

I find this an interesting, and wholly unfair, judgement.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Live on-air!

We took a couple of weeks off, so I've been a little slow to post about this, but just before our vacation, we had the pleasure of participating in our first live radio in-studio appearance!

A while back, our good friend Bill Paige with KDRP asked if we'd like to join him on his "Friday Free For All" show sometime - do a little interview, play a song or two - and after thinking for a half a second (long enough to digest what he'd offered), we shouted, "We'd love to!!"

And on August 16, we did.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Day in the Studio - Part 2

The tale of studio recording continues...

So, in Part 1 of our studio adventure, we laid down the percussion and rhythm tracks for our new single, "Ride a Rocket," and ate bug-infested snacks. After getting that foundation in place, it was time for vocals!

Yay! Singing!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Day in the Studio - Part 1

It's been just over a year since we released our CD "Sex & Coffee," and while we're still introducing new fans to those songs, our loyal fans at our live shows have been hearing some of our new material and asking when the new stuff will be available.

"Well," we said to ourselves, "if folks are gonna ask for the new music, maybe we should start recording it!" So, this past weekend, that's what we did.

Now, in the interest of managing expectations, it takes a while to put together a full-length CD. So we probably won't start recording the full LP until January, but we do have a single that we're going to release this fall - "Ride a Rocket." That's what we're working on now. The song will be on the full release next year, but it will be available as a single in a couple of months.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Change your station once in a while

We had a great gig this past Thursday at the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. Instead of having two bands on Saturday (one in the afternoon and one in the evening), the management  decided to have just one band play in the evening, and they switched the Saturday afternoon slots to Thursday evenings.

This is a great switch, because the way the stage is situated, the band is pretty much in the direct sun with no shade whatsoever all day. Playing the afternoon slot was agony. We've been lucky in that we've only had evening slots, but we've seen some of the other bands suffering in the afternoon slot and we'd heard stories that it was a real challenge, so we were grateful that the management made the switch.

I *know*, but Batman doesn't have to try and play
and sing music in the blistering summer sun.
I did discover one down side to the switch, though - the canned music that plays in the absence of a live band. We got to the pier early on Thursday, and rather than just sit in the van or walk around and get tired, we headed on into the park and found a nice spot to wait until it was time to set up.

While we waited, I listened to the music being piped throughout the park. It was pop music, which is fine. I like pop. But when song after song after song ended up being almost exactly the same - a power pop ballad sung by a female singer who primarily just belted relentlessly through the whole song - I started to get miiiiiighty tired of it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

That's assault, right?

I don't have a great memory. I tend to not really register things that I don't think I'll need to remember, and I block out things I don't want to remember. It's part of the reason I learned to write everything down. And it also must be how, when I wrote my last blog, I forgot the worst heckle we ever experienced.

It was in Dallas. We were headlining a long list of bands scheduled to play a bar in Deep Ellum. There was some kind of zombie walk going on in that part of town. For the uninitiated, that's where people dress up like zombies and then do some kind of 5k or 10k. I'm not sure if it was for charity or what, but who cares? People are dressed like zombies!

I don't see the appeal.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hecklers suck

One thing that any performer is likely to deal with at some point is hecklers.

Muppets notwithstanding, hecklers suck. Let's just sit with that for a moment. Hecklers suck.

We've had our share. We've been heckled about our car, our set list, just general heckling while we're performing - I've even had people come up to me on a break or after we're done to say something biting. In his solo days, Johnny had a guy put his heckle in a note that he put on stage so Johnny would think it was a request. Good job - you did it. You said something shitty.

Aw, Bill - not you, too!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The view is everything

Last week, we had the pleasure of playing our first gig in West Texas' own The Shack in the Back in Odessa. There's plenty we could say about the gig - namely that much to our surprise, about 500 well-dressed people came out to a random, but lavishly landscaped, club situated behind a Pepsi distribution center on a Wednesday night and paid $10 a head to party like it was 1999.

But that's not what this post is about.

This post is about the view - the view from behind the mic. Because this blog isn't about all those young, good-looking people with a lot of money and the ability to drink until midnight and still go to work the next morning. This blog is about US - the BAND. So, let's talk about our perspective. Literally.

Here's what we saw looking forward from the stage:

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tips to beat the heat

Summer has come to Texas.

Yes, that's right. It's hot.

Seeing as it's June, we can't really complain about the highs now consistently being in the 90s. It was a pretty mild spring here in Texas, so if it's only just now getting H-O-T hot, then we've gotten a reprieve this year - especially since April and May were two of the busiest months in our band's history.

If the connection isn't hitting you, let me explain. We play outside a lot. In fact, we play outside way more than we play inside. And sometimes we play outside in the middle of the day.

I'm not gonna lie - sometimes it's brutal.

But as time goes by, we figure out ways to work around the challenges of playing in such hot weather:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Thoughts from a busy weekend

We made up for our weekend off last week with three gigs this week - a private party, a public show and a sound gig. Many thoughts arise from such a busy weekend. Here's a rundown:
  • Summer has arrived in Austin. Criminey, it gets hot here.  

  • In light of bullet #1, air conditioning is a wonderful thing. And whoever thought to put it in cars should be knighted or something.
  • You can do a song a million times, and one day, you stand on stage, and your brain just farts. You can't remember lyrics, notes, nothin'. It can even be a song you wrote. I don't know why, but it just happens sometimes. It sucks pretty much anytime it happens, but it particularly sucks if it's the first song of the show, because anyone who hasn't seen you before hears about 10 seconds of you stumbling around, and the die is cast - "Hack." You can kill it the rest of the set, and maybe you redeem yourself somewhat, but as the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and I'd prefer for that first impression to not be that I just stepped on stage for the first time.

  • If you buy a house next to a live music venue, please don't complain about the live music and make it your mission to kill said music. Move.

  • It's pretty cool to watch kids playing instruments and performing on stage, some for the first time, instead of spending their time watching TV or playing video games. Hope for the future of music!

  • If you want to feel like an amazing singer and/or musician, go watch some kids who are just learning to play instruments. (Oh sure, it's pathetic to feel superior to kids, but you're never going to feel like a stud if all you compare yourself to is actual rock stars.)
I know this image doesn't exactly match the bullet point,
but I found it and couldn't NOT post it.

  • If you manage a venue, and someone brings an event to your venue that will make you money during a time you wouldn't normally make much in the way of sales, instead of being a sour, gripey pill to the people who are putting on the event, try being nice. You're not doing them a favor. If anything, it's the other way around. 

One last thought, not inspired by any of our gigs but by the Billboard Music Awards - when is Justin Bieber going to go away?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Band vans and missed TV

We've been talking a lot lately about what our dream band van would be like. Of course, the DREAM band van would look something like this:

But unless one of the members of U2 adopts us then dies immediately, leaving us his estate and future royalties, we're not likely to be traveling in that kind of style. And if we DID travel in that kind of style, I guess we'd have to call it a "bus" rather than a "van."

You know what? We don't have to do anything. We're calling it a van even when they're profiling us on a "Extreme RVs."

And when we get this VAN, I'll have to re-join Netflix or something. If we're rolling around in this bad boy, we'll obviously be traveling a lot, and you see that awesome TV mounted where you're supposed to be looking at the vistas ahead? Well, there are a number of TV series I've missed and would like to catch up on while on the highways and byways. Among the shows I would force Joe to watch with me, beginning to end (since Johnny would be driving):

Mad Men
Boardwalk Empire
Downton Abbey
24 (Nope - never seen it.)
Eastbound and Down 
Flight of the Conchords (I've seen several episodes of this when my TV provider has given me free HBO preview weekends, but I want to watch EVERY episode! Love, love, love.)
Chapelle's Show

After I worked my way through those, I'd probably give Friday Night Lights a shot. I saw the movie, but I never watched the TV series, and that seems wrong, given that it was filmed near Austin and it's about football in Texas - two of my favorite things in the world. I also adore Connie Britton (we've been watching "Nashville" and never miss an episode).

I'd probably also have to give Doctor Who a shot (starting with the original episodes from the '60s), mainly because I'm curious about it but also because it would be the one series out of my whole list that Joe might actually watch with me instead of sleeping through. Never having seen it, I'm fairly certain that Community's imaginary series Inspector Spacetime is based on it, so that seems an endorsement if nothing else:

Should we fail to achieve Super Band Van Amazingness, I'll have to some day set aside a few months devoted to nothing but watching all the shows I've missed over the years. I suppose some would call that "retirement" but I like to think of it as a sabbatical. I could announce what TV series will be playing non-stop on our TV until it's through, and anyone who wanted to watch could come join me and bring me food. When I'm done, I'll return to my regularly scheduled life.

Seeing that I don't have time these days to watch the stuff currently on our DVR, the dream of this little sabbatical kind of keeps me going. "Someday, I'm going to sit down and watch every episode of Mad Men, in order. Then I'll know what all the hubbub is about." I hate not knowing.

What series did you miss out on that you'd like to go back and watch all the way through?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I'm not a douche

To the guy who came up to me at the end of our show in Kemah this weekend, took a sticker and said, "You guys sounded good":

What I thought you said was, "Were you guys any good?" as if you had just gotten there, were waiting for the next band, and were asking one of those questions that people sometime ask us just to see if they can throw us off-kilter and make us look stupid. People do that. I'm not sure why - maybe it's so they can show their friends or their girlfriend how, even though they're not on stage, they're cooler/smarter/more clever than we are. But for whatever reason, people do that. And you learn to have quick answers at the ready.

So, when I answered you by saying, "Of course! We were amazing!" I promise I wasn't being an arrogant asshole. I was just trying to have a good-natured response to what I thought was someone being a jerk.


It was only after you'd walked away that I realized what you'd actually said and how my response must have sounded.

I looked for you the whole time we loaded out, so I could explain, but didn't see you again. (sigh)

On the upside, Johnny found my response hilarious when I told him about it later. He's very sensitive.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Head west, young man!

This past Saturday, The Staylyns' loaded up the van and headed west for our first trip to San Angelo, Texas - hopefully of many! We had a beautiful drive, but before I get to that, let me tell you about the gig.

We played a bar called The Office:

This little hottie greets you at the door. I have no idea why the bar's mascot is a sheep. Are they saying all office workers are sheep? That seems insulting. And slutty sheep? I don't know - I think more explanation should be given.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Aren't musicians supposed to sleep late?

Johnny often says that one of the reasons he became a musician was so that he wouldn't have to get up early. So, it figures that in the past eight days, he has had to get up before dawn five times - all for music!

He can't really complain, though, because along with these early mornings has come thousands of spectators, newspaper coverage, television coverage, and even a few private plane rides. Rock star stuff!

Here's what he's been up to:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Running - what's up with that?

We survived! At least for this weekend.

Epic April has begun, and so far, so good. We had a really great show at Junior's in Round Rock on Friday night, followed by a music e-bike tour on Saturday afternoon, capped off with playing the Cap 10k Sunday morning. Then I took a nap.

The Cap 10 is always a fun event for us. Getting up before dawn is somewhat insane (I will never understand people who do that so they can go RUN - and they're even not being chased or paid!), but there's such positive energy from the runners, and it's fun to see the costumes, though I'll admit there are fewer of those every year. Makes me kinda sad.

We did get a little love from the media this year. We made the photo roll for the Austin American-Statesman:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The calm before the storm

It's been pretty quiet the last couple of weeks for The Staylyns. We needed a breather since our marathon Spring Break/St. Patrick's Day weekend. We had three great shows that weekend and covered a lot of miles. But we're going to have to put on our rock n' roll stretch pants, because that weekend was just an appetizer for the giant show buffet that's going to be April.

We're probably going to fight over which
one of us gets to wear these on stage at some point.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Handmade, bandmade

Have you ever bought a shirt at a concert, and later when you put it on, you thought, "This shirt is just another machine-made, carbon-copy garment, cranked out by some t-shirt company in between orders for softball team jerseys and church-logo polo shirts. Does the band even know what's being sold in their name? I'm not sure I can even wear this."

I know. It's like I'm in your head.

Well, rest assured, when you buy a Staylyns t-shirt, you are getting a handmade, bandmade work of art, crafted by your favorite rockers with their very own hands. That's right - we make every t-shirt we sell!

Why am I telling you this? Because we are about to embark on a whirlwind weekend of 3 shows in 3 cities in 4 days (Pleasure Pier in Galveston, Thursday, 3/14, 6-10pm; Kemah Boardwalk, Friday, 3/15, 1-5pm; and Pluckers in Round Rock, Sunday, 3/17, 4-6pm), and Johnny and Joey prepared for this little tour by restocking our inventory of shirts. Here's how it's done:

Caaaaaarefully set the screen juuuuuuust so on a white tee.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Frat party

If you are a musician, you read the title to this post, and you involuntarily made a sour face. I'm making one right now just typing about it. Go ahead - ask any band you know.

See that look they just made? That's it. That's the face. They can't help it. They're being flooded with memories of mayhem and vomit.

If you're 19, mayhem and vomit may sound fun. But when you're trying to work in the midst of it, and you've got thousands of dollars worth of equipment in the direct line of fire of it, it's way less fun.

That's how Johnny and I spent this past Saturday - trying to protect our beloved sound system from the drunken destruction of a frat party.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The tax man cometh

Big fun for The Staylyns this week. (Not really. That was sarcasm. You can tell because I put a period at the end of that sentence instead of an exclamation point.) It's tax time. And you thought it was all just music and good times!

Yes, even musicians have to pay taxes. Many musicians may knot know they have to pay taxes, but they do. Ask Willie Nelson.

We've spent this last week plugging all the numbers into our tax software, shaking our fists at the sky, cursing the government, getting really depressed and asking why we bother to work so hard, then visiting a CPA, getting some great advice, redoing some numbers, and then cursing the government again but without the shaking fists.

You are correct, sir.
We're now at the resolved stage, where we accept our fate and decide that we beat the system by not letting it beat us. We create our own victory.

Now, we just have to wait until April 15. Yes, we've calculated our taxes now, but like all good Americans, we'll wait until the last minute to actually pay. We will pay everything we owe (we swear!!), but we like for our money to stay ours for as long as possible. We're pretty sure we'll do a better job with it than the government will.

How 'bout you? Have you done your taxes yet? Was it super fun? Do you like to curse?

Saturday, February 9, 2013 is personal?

We had an interesting experience this past week. Someone we know who has a studio remixed one of our songs.

For Johnny, this wasn't a new experience. When he was 19, he was in a band named The Arrleys that had a record deal in Nashville, and they recorded several of their songs with a producer there.

Yup - that's for real, y'all.
Who likes that 90s hair and the matching outfits??
Johnny's entire experience in Nashville was a defining one, because he learned how the big-music machine works, and one of the things he walked away with was the realization that he didn't like the loss of control that comes with signing the various contracts involved: management, development, recording, etc.

Yes, with the right scenario, you can become Keith Urban. But in the wrong scenario - say you're 19 and don't really know what you're signing - you can end up with a very dissatisfying situation.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Scenes from an e-bike tour

It's been a fantastic weekend for The Staylyns! We had a truly great show at Junior's on Friday night, and Saturday, we did a live music tour for Rocket Electrics during a postcard-perfect, sunny February afternoon. Today, we'll put down the guitars and turn our attention to snacking, commercials and football for the Harbaugh Bowl. Johnny grew up a 49ers fan, so he's pretty psyched about this year's Super Bowl!

Note: This is not Johnny. This is Sourdough Sam.
That's a real mascot name.

We've gotten a lot of questions about our music tours from friends and family, so I thought I'd do a blog post about it to explain what we do. So, if you've been wondering what that "tour thing" is that we're always talking about, read on!

Monday, January 21, 2013

New for 2013...

So, I've been a little lax this January with my posts, but that doesn't mean nothing has been going on for The Staylyns.

Since our awesome gig at the Pleasure Pier in Galveston, we have been busy with fun stuff like private gigs, un-fun stuff like preparing our taxes (did I say "un-fun"? What I meant was "our civic duty, which we are honored to do" - just in case The Man reads this), and super AWESOME stuff like rolling out our new signage and merch promoting our 2013 sponsors!

You read that right - The Staylyns are sponsored for 2013!!

Close-up of our side window on the band van.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year's Eve - piertastic!

A new year has begun, and we ushered out the old one in Johnny's favorite way - playing a New Year's Eve gig!

Even better, we got to play a new venue, and it's one we've been wanting to play for a while now - the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier:

It was a gig that came close to not happening, thanks to the weather. When we left Austin on Monday, this is what we saw out the windshield: