Saturday, December 2, 2017

Our first Christmas song

It's hard to believe we've been making music together for almost 10 years and we've never written a Christmas song, but there it is. Until now!!!

That's right - The Staylyns have written a Christmas song, and it's available just in time for the holidays for your listening, sharing, downloading pleasure. Please to enjoy, Christmas Christmas (The Bestest Time of Year):

This song is a great example of how songs sometimes have a mind of their own. I started writing it with the intention of writing something sentimental - something you might here on a Hallmark commercial.

(Like John Mayer needed the money, right? Choose indie music!)

But as I started writing, it just...took a turn. I'm not sure why it veered into "fun" instead warm fuzzies, but what can I tell you? The creative process is a mystery. 

All I can tell you is we really got a kick out of it once it was finished. We even had some trouble getting through the first rehearsals because we kept laughing. Hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as we do.

So, grab a cup of cocoa and enjoy a little fun Christmas music - something for when you're getting ready to watch "Elf." Because Christmas really is the bestest time of year!

And Merry Everything, everyone!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Holiday gigs and a new rig

Well, they're here - the holidays! A lot of people think of "the holidays" as Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I like to think it starts with Halloween and ends with New Years Day. That means we've been in full-on holiday mode for at least two weeks. And now that I think about it, I haven't had anything pumpkin-flavored yet, so I'm dropping the ball.

For the band, this time of year often means a shift in our gigs. Some of regular gigs get booted, either for weather or because the venues we play are hosting private parties. But we also usually end up playing a party or two ourselves, so it all works out.

This year, we've got a few party gig possibilities, but we're most excited about the show we'll be playing New Years Eve. We've been hired to play at the new Culinary Dropout in Tucson, Arizona - ROAD TRIP!!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Holding ourselves accountable

Well, hello, there. I know - it's been a while. But sometimes you need a break. You're not feelin' it. Things are just "meh."

You get it.
Joe's been keeping busy with lots of projects, but Johnny and I have been having some trouble breaking out of the vortex of "meh."
So we took a vacation. It was awesome, and we documented some of the highlights on our Facebook and Instagram pages. It was a great way to reboot some of the hard drives, but as we headed for home, with a gig coming up the following week, we knew we weren't quite there yet with regard to our music. We still needed to do something to get the musical meh's to take a hike.

So, we decided to make a pact. For one year, we're going to practice every single day. Now, that could mean working on new material, just doing jams or exercises, or it could be practicing songs already in our catalog. It could mean each of us working on our own, or it could be playing together. It could be for 10 minutes or an hour - just whatever the day calls for. But every day, we do something.

It's been 16 days, and...we've already missed one day. We realized it as we were getting ready for bed, and we didn't have the energy to play at that point. But despite that one misstep, we're sticking with it. And we can actually feel the difference already.

Well, I'm not sure it's amazing. But we're definitely feeling a boost in our energy, and the two gigs we've played since we started our pact have been surprisingly smooth. After a three-week break, we would normally be really rusty. But instead everything has felt really easy. Not perfect, but just...easy.

So, hopefully as we go forward, we'll start seeing some other great results. I'd love to get some new music in the pipeline, and most importantly, it'd be great just to keep those meh's away. We are really lucky to get to do what we love. We meet people all the time who tell us they'd love to be doing what we're doing. So, let's keep the music going and the good energy flowing!

I know, Debra. I know.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The importance of a big set list

We recently had someone comment on how large our catalog is - how many songs we know. We've got about 120 songs in our catalog (and still growing), which is less than some bands but more than many. Having that many songs in our repertoire has been a real advantage in getting shows since we can fill so much time without repeating songs.

Some bands that know more songs than we do don't actually know the songs, meaning they have them memorized. They use iPads or song binders to tip them off about chords and lyrics. That can be a good way to help you build enough material to fill time especially when you're starting out, but if you do that, make sure you get a stand of some kind to hold your binder/tablet.

But we don't use reminder devices, other than each other, which sometimes leads to awkward moments of brain freeze or one of us stumbling through a song that we've played a million times because all of a sudden your mind and fingers just aren't cooperating. But we figure that's part of the fun. We're flying through the air without a net, y'all!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Still crazy (about this band) after all these years

Most bands have a lot of turnover. Even at the highest levels you can have some musical chairs (Van Halen to Van Hagar back to Van Halen anyone?), but at the bar-scene level, it's a given.

It's not awkward at all!
People's lives get busy. People get bored. Someone has a baby. Someone moves away. Band members fight. It's rare that a band holds a steady lineup of musicians for longer than a year or so - and sometimes even that's an accomplishment.

That's why I'm all the more grateful for the stability of The Staylyns. It occurred to me the other day that we have actually been together with the same three people since March 2010. That's longer than some marriages!

The first few years, when we were still a band (not just a frontman) named Johnny Austin, there was some shape-shifting. First, in 2008, it was Johnny on guitar and his longtime friend and occasional bandmate Scott (aka TS Mothership) on drums - a duo. Then Johnny added a lead guitar with the handsome and talented David (aka Davey H).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bypassing SXSW...and record deals

When you're a musician in Austin, everyone automatically assumes you participate in SXSW. After all, it's your hometown festival. Surely you've lined up showcases for every day, right?? Not necessarily.

Lots of Austin artists do exactly that. Some people even play multiple slots per day. And we have played several showcases over the years. In 2012, I wrote about our participation in the Fiesta Red Indie Fiesta - an unofficial showcase held in conjunction with SXSW. There are probably more unofficial showcases and events than official ones!

But over the years, we've realized that SX is not really our thang. I wrote in 2012 about what a hassle it can be, but more than that, it's a question of what you want to get out of it. When it started, it was an opportunity for local bands to get in front of industry tastemakers to try to get a record deal. Now tons of bands come from all over the world to play, and many of them already have record deals.

It's still an opportunity to get discovered, but without already having some connections, it's not terribly likely. And not only will you not get paid for your performance, if you're from out of town, it's probably costing you quite a bit in travel expenses. If you get a golden ticket from it (i.e. a record deal), the cost may be worth it. But that's a reeeeeeeally long shot.

Look out, Charlie. That golden ticket might be
more like gold-plated handcuffs.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Be the audience member you'd like to have

We recently had a fellow musician attend one of our shows, and it left me with a bad taste in my mouth about them - which was disappointing, because I had admired them before they came to our show. Let me back up.

If you're in a scene for any length of time, you will come to know other musicians, and you'll attend their shows, and they'll attend yours. Hopefully some of those other artists will become (if they weren't already) actual friends!

Okay, well, that's not -- whatever. Sure. Friends.
Everyone tells you networking is really important. What no one tells you is that no matter how much you like other artists, you'll always feel a certain amount of competition with them. That competition can be motivating and provide an opportunity to learn from what others are doing and grow as an artist, or it can ruin your relationships.

If you allow it to be toxic, you'll find yourself jealous of the gigs they play, trying to find fault with their performance, hoping they'll fail. This is a shitty way to feel and to be, for you and for them.

But it's also probably not realistic to say that you should be hoping all the other bands you know will be super successful even if you're not. You're working hard. You believe in your product. You want to be successful. Hoping for someone else's success when you're getting nowhere may be very Jesus-like, but it's probably not very human-like.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

New music for a new year

It's a lovely winter here in beautiful Austin, Texas. We've had a few cold snaps, but mostly nice, mild weather that's allowing us to play our outdoor gigs. But we've managed to get some important work done indoors. By that, I mean that we're releasing a new CD!

We've been hard at work the last few months, recording some new material and pulling together the singles we've released since our last CD. The result is a brand new disc called "Wait It Out."

Wait It Out will drop worldwide on all major digital platforms on Feb. 3. We received the hard copies this week and are working feverishly putting together both a radio campaign and a CD release show. It's requiring a little more hands-on preparation of the merchandise than usual.

But we're really excited about it all! So if you're interested in buying a physical CD, stay tuned to our social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for more information.

And our radio campaign will kick off in mid-February. So, if you hear us on a radio station in your area, let us know!

Off we go, 2017!