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  • Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes... New Lineup... new songs... new direction

    Talk about a rough year.... I know Dave and some others have shared some stories... I could write a best selling autobiography about the trials and tribulations of my band over the past 10 months.

     

    WHAT HAPPENED?

    I know most of you know me and my band through past posts. We've been a band for 11 years that started as a hobby and started managing it as a business. From our height in 2007-2012 we dominated the local club scene and played regional clubs in 4 states. The big achievement really was growing a large local following of fans that gave us leverage with club owners and made us first call for public and private events. Even though the band was functioning like a machine there were some definite cracks. And those cracks became a big fissure when our singer abruptly quit the band last January. It started around Thanks giving but the truth is there were signs as early as a year or two before that things were brewing to a head with him. He was feeling burnt, sometimes isolated (he did that to himself). In the summer of 2012 he asked the band to book less often (he wanted 3-4 times a month-we were booking 7-10). The band agreed to accommodate and some players formed a side band to pick up the extra dates. In the Fall even though we were playing less he seemed even more detached and irritated over things little and big. After Thanksgiving weekend last year we had a weekend off and when he returned the following weekend (in Dec) he was not the same. He did not want to be there. We played an excellent show to a very friendly venue and he was not interested in being there. The morning after he sent us all an email... he was moving on, after 11 years. He was frustrated over many things and felt that they would never be fixed and he couldn't work with that any more... so he was leaving at the end of the year. His last show was going to be Jan 5th.... 4 weeks away.

     

     

    We were stunned of course. Shocked but not surprised. After all as I said we could see little signs over the course of the year that he was drifting away. He wasn't excited over any material, had let go of many responsibilities, he didn't want to do travel shows... load out was never fast enough. It wasn't that he was openly negative... but he was rarely positive. The only time he really smiled was on stage or talking about something other than the band. He was also in a fairly new relationship (which we all believe played a role). Most of us reached out to him within 24 hours independently and received no response. So how did we handle it? A meeting with him... and intervention... and begging to reconsider?

     

    HOW WE HANDLED IT?.... um poorly LOL

    We met the next night to draft a strategy of keeping him on.. reducing his responsibilities, maybe even offering him just a hired gun... show up, get paid, leave. etc. Any of it didn't seem very feasible. Just like the recent Budget Wars in Congress we would be capitulating to him on his terms. When we did make contact about his departure he was very glib and very matter of fact about it. He had some definite problems with our band co-founder (him and our bass player were the defacto leaders of the band) and they had been friends and musical partners over 20 years. It seemed on his end that things were irreparable. Things had been building between the two for years... decades even. It was always a creative tension between the two... ying and yang... polar opposites that really drove the chemistry of the band. Like Henley and Frey, Lennon and McCartney, Martin & Lewis. What drew them together at first, over time drove them apart. Finally our singer felt that the only way he could resume being in the band was is the bass player wasn't in it. The bass player didn't care one way or the other. So guess which member the band went with. 

     

    So we decided very quickly to annouce his resignation from the band and start advertising for a new frontman. Then and only then did our singer start to backpeddle. He didn't quit... he was pushing for a reaction... some reaction. I honestly believe looking back he thought the band wouldn't continue without him. It was an incredible blow to his ego. He really pulled a Mike Portnoy... in my 10 years of playing with him in a band I would never have thought it would come to this. We were pretty good friends up until this point. In the early days we vacationed together. But at this point we couldn't be farther apart. Things between us have been awkward since. 

    So January we recruited a local singer of a popular rock band that didn't gig very often to substitute for us until we could find a permanent replacement. We cancelled all of January off the calendar and figured that we would have until April to get a new singer in place. That would leave the summer intact for bookings (our busiest period). We put together what I believe was a reasonable timeline. If we could find someone quickly enough we would have 2 months and 8 rehearsals to get things tight. How hard could it be to find a singer willing to step up to the plate and join a band that was making great money, had a terrific reputation and was booked nearly a year in advance? Answer: Pretty **** hard! 

     

    JAN 2012-FINDING A SINGER 

    We quickly found out with our sub singer that just having someone sing the setlist the way our singer sang it was like someone other than Christopher Reeve wearing the Superman suit. These were HUGE shoes to fill. Our singer was a very popular frontman. He was an important part of the chemistry and most of our setlist material was molded around his vocal style and delivery. It was foolish to think that no one would notice or care that our frontman was no longer with the band. We acted as though our hands were tied yet it was our decision to move foward and believe everything would work out that really threatened the viability of the band. People were soft at first. They didn't immediately reject the idea of us with a new singer... but having the sub or anyone play songs that were our setlist staples just drew immediate comparisons to our former frontman. There are few Van Hagar moments in the real roick world.  Any negative feedback was testing our resolve.

     

    We knew that just anyone couldn't fill this role. Who ever was a frontman had to be able to engage the audience. So we immediately checked off all of the singers in other bands we already knew would not be considerations (classic rock singers, blues singers etc). We didn't get much response from our Craiglist and other listings looking for a singer. But low and behold the first singer who showed knocked it out of the park. He showed up late but looked the part... like a rock singer. Tats, hair and a great voice. He sang "Don't Stop Believing' and literally sounded like Steve perry. He wasn't familar with any of our material so there was lyric sheet shuffling and some other nervous tics but when he walked out we all looked at each other and thought "OMG is this the guy???". Sure enough the next two guys who walked in were train wrecks. We continued to audition for a week and then brought him back in.  By the 2nd audition he seemed more confident and we saw the potential. So we extended him an offer to join. He accepted and we laid out a rehearsal schedule that would keep our sub singer in play but would also rehearse new material. When we played our first show in feburary at a packed venue and had the whole crowd chanting we all looked at each other on stage and thought "we can pull this off".

    FEB 2012 DEFECTION and GRRRRL POWER!

    Of course when you go through an event like this you have some people who buckle down and work to endure the suck that follows. Then you have others who will look to escape the lifeboat to find a better ship. At the time we were going through auditions a popular regional band was having a complete lineup change. They were looking for a guitarist and we knew that our guitarist was interested in the job. He was single, 25 and completely dependent on the income.  We felt he had run the course with our band and the fact that we stumbled onto his intent to audition didn't give us a real warm and fuzzy feeling. In truth... I thought it was a great opportunity for him and I encouraged him to take the job. This band traveled often and he wanted that experience. I thought it would be a good opportunity for him. What we didn't know was he had put this bandleader in touch with our drummer. Our drummer had been a friend for years but only a part of the lineup for 9 months. Both him and the guitarist sent a joint resignation note to the band... in an email... 'please don't be mad'. We felt punched in the gut. They gave 6 weeks notice. They would cover gigs until 3/17. St Pats. We were between working with a sub singers and getting the new guy up to speed we now needed to find a drummer and guitarist. It crushed us. In my head I didn't blame these guys for leaving but in my heart I felt asskicked. Both musicians held their exit date over our heads to limit blowback and pissed reactions.

    So again we met... now just four of us... two keyboard players, our manager and founder/bassist. First question out of our bandleaders mouth "So does anyone else want to leave?" It just so happened he could sense this could happen (our guitarist was exceptionally nervous about losing our singer) and he ahd made contact with a former guitarist. He was looking for work and was happy to rejoin! In the course of the night... the guitarist was solved. He could start in April.   We just needed to find a drummer. So again in late Feb we plastered ads looking for a drummer. We had three that responded... a local guy, a seasoned drummer from 90 mins away and a local unknown talent... a girl! The local guy was a great drummer but not the right fit... the seasoned drummer was a bit arrogant (check). Both made excuses why they didn't have the material down. Guess who showed up fully prepared with the audition material???. Yep... the girl and she nailed the audition! 

    She's 21. Here we are... men... 35-42 in age... missing a singer and replacing the guitarist and drummer.... we gave her two weeks and just ONE rehearsal to learn all our songs and medleys. She's quiet, low drama, and has been an extremely positive addition to the band.

    (Her very first gig with the band. We hired her March 11th and this gig was March 22nd)

     

     

    APRIL-NEW LINEUP MINUS ONE SINGER

    So we had given ourselves a deadline by April 4th to have our new singer in place, and to let our sub focus on his primary band. While we were struggling with the lineup changes we really weren't paying any attention to our new singer. In hindsight we really should have been more disciplined with him in terms of his conditions for hire. We would suggest he come out to shows to see how we perform the material but he would never show (we should have made his attendance mandatory). We would ask over email if he had questions regarding material (we gave full live recordings of the whole show) and he would reply he was fine. But he wasn't. Our drummer literally learned our setlist in less than two weeks.By mid March he was still asking questions at rehearsal like "Do I sing this part?" "Oh we are doing that verse?" Slow going doesn't even describe. In late March we had our first full rehearsal and he couldn't get through half of the material. He was so stuck on lyric sheets that we were afraid he was never going to look at the audience. WTF!!!! His lack of experience was clearly showing. He was a singer NOT a performer. And we were again in a terrible position. We asked the current sub to stay on through the end of May and we fired the new singer. 

    JUNE/JULY-THREE SUBS IN A BLENDER

    We cancelled all of our shows in April (between Jan and April we gigged just 8 times) because the sub had many conflicts. We reached out to another singer of a band that had said he was looking for extra work. He knew alot of the same material (his band plays mostly pop music) and his band only played 3-4 times a month. We met and instantly we all connected. He knew the material, the drill he just needed to learn our presentation. We sent him live tracks and he drilled it, showed at rehearsal and he nailed it. Nailed it so much that at the end of his first show he asked our manager if he could fill in indefinitely until we hired a replacement. Our eyes lit up... he was great onstage and really worked the crowd. So what if we had to share him. So we agreed to work around his band schedule and try to search for a new singer while putting on the best show possible. But like all things temporary it could sustain itself. Already by June he had backpeddled on committed dates with our band b/c his primary band had two surprise opportunities. We would always be 2nd fiddle and then we caught wind that he was starting a third band. LOL Still he was doing us a great favor and he was doing a great job fronting for us. We couldn

    so over this signature BS!!!

  • #2
    That sounds really exciting! What really struck me was the competition fronting for you. It's nice when people can see further than the tips of their noses.
    <div class="signaturecontainer">--<br><br>Hammond: BC, M3, Split L111, L122 / Leslie: 51, 760 / Yamaha: DGX-620, PF-85<br><br>Follow my new band, <a href="http://DrBombay.ca/connect.html" target="_blank">Dr. Bombay</a>! We're going to be organasmic!</div>

    Comment


    • jeff42
      jeff42 commented
      Editing a comment

      good luck saturday. I hope to see some video!


    • wheresgrant3
      wheresgrant3 commented
      Editing a comment

      wesg wrote:
      That sounds really exciting! What really struck me was the competition fronting for you. It's nice when people can see further than the tips of their noses.

       

      Well most of the local band scene have been sitting on the sidelines trying to see what happens (where the pieces will land). I imagine more than a few bands are wishing for our demise thinking that will open a slot at a local venue for them. One local venue has already proven that won't happen. A date that we cancelled several months ago they filled in with a DJ. I know one fellow band friend when I mentioned that we were staying together and thriving couldn't hide the disappointment. He was hoping to snag me as a keyboard player for his band. One band I know of in particular has been circling us like a vulture for years. There was a dustup last spring when they showed up at a gig and made some tacky comments on Facebook and Twitter about our band... as they were leaving the venue.  The same band told the 3rd sub you referenced they were pissed at him for helping us out. Their guitarist literally said... "They are on the ropes, why are you sticking your neck out to help them. " He was dead serious!  LOL I've posted many stories about this band before. They have a terrible reputation and still after many years of performing they have no clue about community. LOL

       

      Now I will admit that we are no strangers to schadenfreude. But I would never hope for a band to fall apart or crumble. I like to giggle a bit when someone makes an assjhole move or has a healthy dose of karma shoved at them. But over all I want all bands to be at their best.  I believe a little healthy competition keeps everyone on their toes. And I'd never openly root for someone's misfortune. 

      You are right... the more surprising fact is some of the bands openly supporting us... almost rooting for us. The 1st sub we used plays in a terrific original band that started playing covers for recording money. I love these guys and feel honored their singer devoted a few months and several shows to keep us afloat. There was little overlap (they cover Tool, RHCP, Incubus, Hobbastank... pretty much rock radio a decade ago. To see this big, towering Samoan singer singing Katy Perry and Lady Gaga was a sight to behold and he did it with a smile! The 3rd singer I talked about pulled me aside at his own gig last March and asked how the band was. It was right at the point we had just fired the new singer (for lack of preparedness) and we had no candidates at all for the future. I was frank when I told him I would be surprised if we made it past June. His immediate response was "If I can help cover shows, coach a new singer... whatever it takes I will help. He have to keep you guys in business or we will all suffer. half of the venues are going all DJ and you are the only band the pulls in huge crowds. If you guys go down the whole club scene goes down with it". 

       

      And for the record he's right. Since last spring after we pulled dates from venues we felt we couldn't keep focus on almost all pulled back on bands. Our main venue... 800 capacity place is considering bands only on Saturdays or none at all. They are the reason why we've rushed this lineup into place so quickly. They put us on notice and told us they needed to see what we were going to give them in 2014 or face a serious pay downgrade or possibly no bookings at all. they were very frustrated at the revolving door of singers. The truth: They don't care about the singer at all... all they know is that we are on the ropes and that puts them in the drivers seat of negotiations. 

       

      Here is a sneak peak at part of the new lineup. It's like two different bands on stage. This video was taken at our last show last month (as you can see our turnout and draw has greatly suffered. LOL). The first 3 minutes are with our 3rd sub... we never rehearsed with him. We just sent him setlist, recordings... met at the venue and we took a deep breath and said "Well here goes nothing". The last 3 mins are with our new singer... his 2nd time on stage... first time playing this song. You can see the contrast of what we've been working with and what we have to look forward to.

       

       Look at the moments past 4:56. That's the moment I knew this guy was more than a singer...he is a natural frontman! 

       


  • #3
    You guys sound awesome! Congrats!
    <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
    <br />
    <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

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    • #4
      I was thinking as I watched the Haddaway cover that Nuts in a Blender seemed like a mismatch name for that lineup. It would be nice if there was a different moniker to use for corporates and weddings. Even that might be outweighed by the NIAB name recognition though. It's a really difficult place to be, but in the long run I don't think you can really lose too much given time to show people this lineup. I really don't think it can fail as an act.
      <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
      <br />
      <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

      Comment


      • wesg
        wesg commented
        Editing a comment
        "Blender" might work as a new name with brand preservation.

        or NIA Blender.

    • #5
      My honest opinion is it might not work as well as the old lineup as a club band, but would be an incredible private commercial band. Empire was just so unbelievably good. But it's not like a GNR booze flowing party tune. That's the transition from rock to soul.

      I can go overboard with praise here, but three hours of that quality and I would leave saying "that is hands down the best cover band I've ever seen." But will it sell booze and keep folks dancing and lose? I guess, from a club owner's perspective, I'd be cautious about that too.

      But if I had a corporate event with live music? Are you freaking kidding me? Yes. I want these guys. Weddings I could see folks being concerned about you guys stealing attention off the bride and groom. But folks will pay to have the best. There's a whole new reputation to be built right now.
      <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
      <br />
      <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

      Comment


      • wheresgrant3
        wheresgrant3 commented
        Editing a comment

        Thanks man! I agree... in some cases it's not what you would expect on the bar and night club scene. IThe old lineup could bounce between the two, play almost every gig under the sun. 10-12 weddings a year, nightclubs, bah mitvahs... I see this new lineup as an upgrade. 

         

        Evem on our dance material we have been playing for 3-4 years they completely crush it. The challenge is convincing all the college kids to experience a band that's full of talent and diversity. They've been fed a steady diet of "MAKE SOME **** NOISE!!!!" of rock and pop dance anthems. Here are two people that could be touring in support of a major artist actually delivering it instead of the usual rock band playing the material because it's popular in the clubs. Perception is alway key in these situations. 

         


    • #6

      Heck of a story. I live and play in a band in your area and had no idea what was going on. I just moved into the Beacon area from Sullivan County, and this area is like Nashville compared to where I was. Ever since I  left the Bronx five years ago I've followed your band. I've only seen you guys a few times, but I always check on what you're doing, because you just get it. You know what it takes to have a successful band. I wish you the best, and when I'm not gigging I'll catch you when I can. 

      Comment


      • wheresgrant3
        wheresgrant3 commented
        Editing a comment

        mike6lee6 wrote:

        Heck of a story. I live and play in a band in your area and had no idea what was going on. I just moved into the Beacon area from Sullivan County, and this area is like Nashville compared to where I was. Ever since I  left the Bronx five years ago I've followed your band. I've only seen you guys a few times, but I always check on what you're doing, because you just get it. You know what it takes to have a successful band. I wish you the best, and when I'm not gigging I'll catch you when I can. 


        Well if Beacon is like Nashville then Sullivan County is like Siberia LOL. The Raceway is the only gig we've ever had there. And I see the new Town Crier just opened on Main St with Robben Ford, Southside Johnny and a calendar full of talent. We really do live in a great place for live music.

         

        Thanks for the kind words. I'll come out when I can and catch a few sets. . 


    • #7
      Does that camera handle high levels pretty well? When I used the H4N as a stereo mic for the 6D, the noise and distortion sucked, but when I used it on its own and synced later, it never clipped, and I boosted the living crap out of the unaplified speech between playing with no noise whatsoever. It probably helps with pure live video to only have one level to worry about.
      <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
      <br />
      <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

      Comment


      • wheresgrant3
        wheresgrant3 commented
        Editing a comment

        The G20 mic on Auto handles levels remarkably well. In fact, I'd say that is one of it's best features. I had it as a staionary on a tripod about 5 feet away from the speaker main and I ended up using that as the base audio track for almost all of the video I shot. Sometimes I'll take the board recording and sync it with the video audio to really beef up the vocals and brighten things. But... that get's time consuming. 

         

        Canon 6D? I've completely given up shooting with DSLR's Unless you have someone decicated to manually control shutter/aperture settings using a DSLR in a guerilla filming environment is pointless. You can't auto set it and forget it b/c the AF will continually reset and focus after every strobe flash. Fimographers LOVE DSLR cams because of the lensing... but even the smallest most independent movies may have someone seperate on set pulling focus. 

         

         


    • #8
      Interesting- that's awesome!

      I agree on DSLR's for video. I like them a lot for what you CAN do with them. I like to rack focus a lot on pickup shots or times when it can tell a story in an interesting way. But a few limitations, it's very hard to get right, it's easy to overestimate how open a lens you can realistically handle, and that's exaggerated by the fact that you're doing it on a 3 inch screen. Too many people fail to realize, and it's not their fault because no "expert" salesperson tells them, you can't replace your camcorder with a dSLR. If it has a full-time AF at all you'll get motor noise in all your shots. And it'll be sloppy, jerky, and unreliable, not like the smooth roll of a camcorder or video camera on AF.
      <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
      <br />
      <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

      Comment


      • #9
        Oh yeah, Grant, if you do like the results of the board mix enough, this may be worth your while. http://www.redgiant.com/products/all/pluraleyes/

        There's certainly nothing wrong with your camera audio though.
        <div class="signaturecontainer">Free prog-related metal from Michigan.<br />
        <br />
        <a href="http://www.silentlapse.com" target="_blank">http://www.silentlapse.com</a></div>

        Comment


        • wheresgrant3
          wheresgrant3 commented
          Editing a comment

          Check out the video of Suit & Tie I posted (page 2 of this thread). It's the G20 video and audio set to auto. The only problem was the 'sub' vibrating the pic slightly. 


        • wheresgrant3
          wheresgrant3 commented
          Editing a comment

          SLScott86 wrote:
          Oh yeah, Grant, if you do like the results of the board mix enough, this may be worth your while. http://www.redgiant.com/products/all/pluraleyes/

          There's certainly nothing wrong with your camera audio though.

          Holy ****... that's exactly how I feel after a gig. LOL Looking into it!

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