((Features)) - Oh My Rockness

Random Rockness
February 17, 2015
Photo

Written by Patrick McNamara

How to Be a Buzz Band

You’ve rustled up a capable crew of players, came up with a really great name (maybe involving no vowels/vwls, ALL CAPS, celebrity puns, or bodily functions such as vomit, barf, diarrhea, and fart), and now want to know what it takes to turn your regular band into an exciting new buzz band. It’s an admirable goal. Buzz bands live a life of leisure, basking in the splendor of never having to wait in a line, pick up a check, or feel sad and/or inadequate about anything ever again. But how does one get there? How can you bring this elusive buzz to your band and instantly scurry all your worries away? You’re asking the right questions of the right guy because I’ve been writing about exciting new buzz bands for over ten years. I’ve seen the trends and know what it takes to make your band really hum. These closely guarded secrets I am giving away to you right here, right now, today, for nothing, free.

#1. Write songs other people might enjoy listening to.

This one has tripped up many an aspiring buzz band so it’s very important you remember to first think, “would anybody living in existence on earth other than myself and the liars I’m related to enjoy listening to this” before finishing any half baked song. The “I make my music for me” credo is cool if you’re a true artist and also cool with never having any fans besides your family and once-in-a-lifetime friends who just want to see you happy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Family and friends can really prop you up when you’re feeling down as many popular songs in contemporary culture have suggested. But for your band to buzz you’ll need to throw down the sounds that even complete strangers can appreciate, respect, and choose to listen to every once in awhile. If your band is into making, say, carefully crafted fifteen minute “post-something” noise missives that take their precious time to drone nowhere, well, you can still have a good time being in a band like that, but the buzz will be busy humming for somebody else. Write songs and play them for whoever in your life will tell it to you straight - a mentor, co-worker, the dude at the liquor store, etc. (forget family, they’ll love whatever you do, and want nothing more than to see you succeed, and therefore are always holding you back). If you hit on a few jams these trusted personnel say they appreciate, respect, and would even maybe listen to the again sometime without you standing there forcing them to, you’re one step closer to the buzz.

#2. Record your best songs.

It is now time for you to take your very best cuts (music industry buzz speak for “songs”) and bring them to the studio to record for posterity. If studio time sounds expensive, it’s noble you’re being so cost-conscious about your dreams, but laying down hot tracks (that’s more buzz speak but now’s not the time to get into translations) doesn’t have to break the bank. Luckily in 2015 A.D. there are many affordable DIY recording options, all fully programmable, that can deliver a stunning high-quality product - or shitty, depending on your calculated artistic method of choice - without you ever having to leave the “bless this mess” that is your own subletted bedroom. Ask about the leading DIY recording kits at any of your leading big box e-commerce retailers today!

#3. Get recorded songs on the World Wide Intrasphere.

You’ve received positive feedback from a few friends and you now have your greatest songs living and breathing as robust digital files. It is now time to upload your future hits (fingers crossed) to the WWI’s vast network of leading digital listening platforms. It’s remarkably easy to do this in 2015 A.D. and if you started the process at the beginning of this paragraph you could have already been done by now. From your head to your bedroom to the world just like *snap* *snap* that. It’s nice living in the future. But guess what? Just because anybody on this slowly burning planet with access to a wire or a cloud can now play your songs if they want to (to be clear, at this stage, they don’t) you’re not done. Your band still doesn’t buzz. Not yet.

#4. Get your digital ducks in a row.

It is essential you now provide dynamic supplementary materials about your band and post them to the WWI in the event a tastemaker (perhaps they run an important music blob) happens to stumble upon your band’s Intrapage and somehow impossibly decides to press play because they have absolutely nothing better to do that day. And just for the sake of hope, let’s say your songs blow the important music blobber away like they did liquor store Steve. It still doesn’t mean they are now willing to whisper up some initial buzz for your band. A tastemaker will be much more inclined to write about you if you write about you first, thus make their jobs significantly easier. Therefore, you must also provide a detailed bio alongside your songs that clearly states your band’s intentions - a mission statement, if you will. If your band represents all that is dark and discouraged in this decaying world, find a way to sneak that in the first sentence. Or, perhaps your band just wants to have fun and fuck around because everything in this life is just an illusion and a grand game anyway. That’s fine but be sure to highlight this in red. Tastemakers aren’t mind readers and might take your band’s obviously playful vibe super seriously. Also (and please don’t forget this part) you MUST reference the right buzz bands of the past in your bio to allow tastemakers to connect the dots of musical history and make the same easy comparisons. But distance yourself from your own name dropping a touch so it doesn’t appear you’re reaching too hard for the low hanging fruit (which you are). “It would be easy to say that our band sounds like early _________ meets late _________ meets Fugazi, but such comparisons don’t quite get to the heart of why we’re so good.” Finally, provide a hi-res band photo, preferably one in which at least one band member is scratching the back of their head at the exact moment the picture is snapped. Even though it’s a phantom itch, this is a look that consistently suggests buzz.

#5. Play a bunch of shows.

Maybe by now you’ve managed to get some important music blobbers to write about your band based on the strength of your digital sound files, band bio, and hi-res photo. The buzz has awakened but it hasn’t fully stirred. Even though it’s 2015 A.D. and we’re all living comfortably in the future, your band will now unfortunately have to start playing your best digitally recorded songs in real life. It’s one of the antiquated quirks of the system. You’re going to want to be smart about your show strategy here because you are a reasonable person who understands that being a buzz band isn’t a game and with great buzz comes great responsibility. But don’t overthink this step. Simply beg, plead, scheme, and conive to get your regular old band added to any show that will have you, because getting even one booker or promoter to care about your band at all is a miracle and a privilege and anything but a right. Beware the folly that is the new band who says “we’ve decided not to play any weekday shows - only weekends - and we don’t always have to headline - but we’ll never open.” Kill that noise. Play shows early and play them often, wherever and for whoever. If that means playing the baggage carousel gig at the Austin Airport during SXSW, so be it. You never know what important people might be among the tired, frustrated travellers waiting for that goddamn little light to start flashing so they can grab their bags and rush to sign buzz bands at whatever buzzy show is closest and also has free tacos and plenty of places to sit down. The more shows you play, the more people will hear your highly relatable songs, the better chance someone will like your band and say something to someone who will then say something to someone else who has the power to reach a person with the wherewithal to summon buzz.

#6. Ingratiate yourself with other buzz bands.

Now that your live set list is tight from playing so many shitty shows you’re going to want to try and buddy up to some other buzz bands. Who knows, if you play it perfectly, maybe a buzz band will invite you to do, say, a short East Coast tour in February together. But let’s not daydream just yet. Getting access to buzz bands can be tricky. It’s not as if buzz bands are just regular people who are open and available and just trying to make sense of the void of the world too. They are are often sealed off behind heavy curtains and sturdy ropes. But sometimes even the buzz bands emerge from behind their marble doors to walk around us regular people. Probably the best time to catch them is after their own shows while they work their own merch table and make approximately $37 for a full night’s work which later slightly reduces their guilt for buying the large coffee instead of small at the sad gas station in the middle of the night off the mostly quiet interstate that still somehow seems menacing. Should you be fortunate enough to meet a buzz band, be friendly, make yourself known. Careful though - bend - don’t break. Don’t shove the Uniform Resource Locator to your band’s unique Intrapage on the WWI in the singer’s eye and demand they listen to your band’s songs because you’re pretty sure you’re both pulling from the same influences like early ________ meets late ________ meets Fugazi. Keep it cool. Keep it chill. Your smile and winning personality will do just fine. And if during the course of your friendly conversation with a buzz band it becomes known that you too are in a band and that leads to a stimulating conversation about your band’s buzz goals, so be it. Let it happen naturally. Dance with the buzz bands - never wrestle.

#7. Don’t be a dick.

Perhaps up to this point everything has impossibly fallen into place for your new band. You’ve got the songs, some press on the music blobs, you’re starting to get added to bigger and better shows (you’re done with the daytime convention hall circuit), and people are starting to give you several shots to showcase your band’s unique skillset that the music world has never quite heard a million times before. The buzz has begun to flow but has yet to fully explode. These first initial opportunities need to lead to other opportunities which will lead to the future opportunities that will finally ignite the buzz that will ultimately burst your band into flames. For any of these exciting opportunities to happen, however, you have to be invited back to shit. So don’t be a dick during your first sniff of success. Finishing a triumphant short East Coast tour in February with another buzz band is not the time for you to expect the best of everything from now until the world dies due to human greed and opulence. Be nice to people who like your band, no matter how many times you’re told - reassess if you think that’s getting old. Be nice to people who book your band because they don’t have to. Be nice to people who promote your band because they don’t have to. Be nice to the sound guy just because. Be nice to anybody anywhere that recognizes your band as existing in any way and you’ll store up the goodwill necessary to steal the buzz from some other band who’s been working just as hard as you to keep it and you can then sit back, relax, and watch everything burn.

If, thanks to these guidelines, your regular band somehow impossibly becomes an exciting new buzz band and you are able to bask in living a life free from obligations, inconveniences, or pain, enjoy it, enjoy it all, but please remember to also prepare for the comedown when people unrelated to you stop caring about your exciting new buzz band (not to bury, the lede but they always do) and your band reverts back to regular again. This WILL happen. The buzz giveth…. the buzz taketh away…. Sic Transit Gloria…. dust in the winds, dudes. But at least you can take solace in the fact that you played the game the right way, met some nice people during your journey, and for a fleeting sliver of a moment on the spectrum of time you were the luckiest asshole alive.

*and in ten years there’s always the short East Coast reunion tour in February to look forward to

Follow Patrick on Twitter @ohmyrockness

Band We Like
January 22, 2015
Mitski_625_2
Photo by Daniel Dorsa

Mitski (Miyawaki) recently moved to NYC props from the Purchase, NY and its vibrant SUNY music scene (the onetime home of LVL UP + Porches + Frankie Cosmos + SIRS+ probably a lot more good bands - I haven’t been up there lately as Google Maps tells me Purchase is currently one hour and nine minutes from Brooklyn counting traffic and I like to stick within a four-block radius of my shitty apartment at all times). She now makes fuzzy pop hits that used to sound more classically inclined. More on that later.

So yeah. How about more on that right now, then? Mitski released a sublime album late last year called “Retired From Sad, New Career in Business” that reminds me of a Sufjan Stevens type situation. Something those Dessner brothers would blast. It's very ornate and precise and perfectly crafted. I even hear some strings, tho. What I mean is, it sounds like Mitski is a real musician who knows what she’s doing - because she is and does. It’s a good album to get nice and sad too. But things have changed a little bit since then.

Mitski’s new album “Bury Me at Makeout Creek” comes out November 11th (in the Year of Perdue Wunderchicken - see Sad Actor’s profile to continue to slide further into the abyss with this joke) on the record label Double Double Whammy and from what I've heard so far it doesn’t sound sad at all. Fuzzy pop hits hardly ever do. (Even the ones about growing up and quite possibly disappointing your parents in the process.)

This blob is ready to put all his chips on the table and bet that record is going to be good. I base this assumption on the following song (referenced in the parentheses in the previous paragraph) that I so generously sourced from the World Wide Intra-Saucer for you. It’s called “Townie.” And guess what? It’s good. Real good. It almost sounds like Mitski knows what she's doing. Oh wait. She does.

File Under: good bands

RIYL: songs that don't suck

Catch MITSKI at SXSW 2015 - specific dates and times coming soon.


Band We Like
January 22, 2015
Girlpool_625

Vocalist/bassist Harmony Tividad + vocalist/guitarist Cleo Tucker = Girlpool. No. They don’t have a drummer. It’s just the two of them and they met at The Smell.

The two play singer/songwriter punk. Now, if you’re going to pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say singer/songwriter punk, that’s fine. It’s your journey. You do you. But that’s what this is. The songs are catchy and simple (not to be confused with simplistic) and honest. Many of these jams seem wrapped in some pain. I get that. We’re all just trying to deal out here. Just trying to make it.

In summation, here's a quote from Girlpool taken from their shortest song. “We go to the parking lot. We don’t really say a lot. Love spell. Go to hell. Drink my wine. Everything’s fine.” I love it.

Catch them at SXSW 2015 - specific dates and times coming soon.

Random Rockness
August 14, 2014
Email_625

Learn why people say things like this about our email newsletter:

"The intros to @ohmyrockness make me laugh every week. Please never stop writing them."

“Goddamnit, I love, I mean love these emails, to the point of unhealth. Almost makes me not even care about the shows! Relax, I said almost.”

“i want to say thanks so much for everything. i literally open your email each week, take the entire Bands We Like list and chuck all that music immediately into a playlist and routinely find most of my favorite new music there.

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Recommended Show
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Sxsw_sat_best_625

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DAY - 10am
Quantum Collective
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Whole Foods Rooftop - FREE

DAY - 11am
Reverb
Kishi Bashi, Avi Buffalo, Breton and more.
Dirty Dog Bar - FREE

DAY - 11am
Do512
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Palm Door - FREE

DAY - 12pm
FADER FORT
Rick Ross, Julian Casablancas, Nothing, Wet, Destruction Unit and more.
FADER FORT - FREE - RSVP CLOSED

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Brooklyn Vegan
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, The Hold Steady, Wye Oak, Bob Nanna, Speedy Ortiz, Potty Mouth, Quilt, Tweens, Palehound and more.
Red 7 - FREE

DAY - 12pm
Ty & Panache present
Ty Segall, The Coachwhips, The Entrance Band, Destruction Unit, Saint Rich, Calvin Love and more.
Spider House Ballroom - $5

DAY - 12pm
Wild Honey Pie + Pretty Much Amazing
Kishi Bashi, Pure Bathing Culture, Small Black, Oberhofer, High Highs and more.
Cheer Up Charlies - FREE

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Empire Auto Garage - FREE

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Hype Hotel - FREE

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Complex
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606 & 608 East 3rd Street - FREE - RSVP CLOSED

DAY - 12:30pm
Breakthru Radio
Marijuana Death Squad, Zorch, Milagres, Diane Coffee, Gringo Star, The So So Glos, Clouder and more.
The Liberty - FREE

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NIGHT - 6pm
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Beerland - $10

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Ray-Ban x Boiler Room
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Hole in the Wall - FREE

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Stubb's - RSVP CLOSED

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Mohawk - FREE

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Red 7 - FREE

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San Jose Hotel - FREE

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FADER FORT - FREE - RSVP CLOSED

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Spotify
Real Estate.

Spotify House - FREE

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Scoot Inn - FREE

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El Sapo - FREE

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The Grackle - FREE

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Wonderland Austin - FREE

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606 & 608 East 3rd Street - FREE - RSVP CLOSED

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Clive Bar - FREE

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Starr Building Rooftop - FREE

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Palm Park - FREE

DAY - 3pm
Dr. Martens / FILTER
OFF!, Perfect Pussy, together PANGEA, INVSN.

Bar 96 - FREE

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NIGHT - 4pm
JUXTAPOZ and BRIXTON
Reigning Sound, Tijuana Panthers, Team Spirit, Big Ups, Destruction Unit and more.

Yellow Jacket Social Club - FREE

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Austin Music Hall - FREE - RSVP CLOSED

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The Belmont - FREE

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Gypsy Lounge (Sailor Jerry House) - FREE

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OFF!, Residual Kid, Broncho, Diarrhea Planet and more.
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The French Legation Museum - FREE

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606 & 608 East 3rd Street - FREE - RSVP CLOSED

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Hype Hotel - FREE

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KEXP
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Cheer Up Charlies - FREE

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Palm Park - FREE

DAY - 3pm
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Yellow Jacket Social Club - FREE

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1st and Red River - FREE

DAY - 3pm
Dr. Martens / FILTER
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Bar 96 - FREE

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NIGHT - 5pm
Tiny Moving Parts, Framerworks, Happy Diving and more.
21st street Co-op - FREE

NIGHT - 6pm
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Trailer Space - FREE

NIGHT - 8pm
Austin Imposition
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Longbranch Inn - FREE

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