Sunday, February 24, 2013

Locals Only - Under The Radar

Something I've wanted to do for a while is do some coverage of my favorite local bands out here in the wastelands. Welcome to the first edition of Locals Only!

Much like any local scene wherever you go, things are weird. The trends may vary from region to region but one thing is for sure; you're either playing what 90% of other local bands are playing or you're playing something too different and off the wall to appeal to the masses.

I used to heckle bands from the sound booth here at a local club - I've seen hundreds of bands perform over the last couple of years. I've seen everything from huge national touring acts play to an empty room to a small local band play to a sold out venue. It's fun, entertaining and keeps the music out here going. I love local bands, especially when they step in with zero fucks given and do something different. One that note, one of my favorites is a band called Under The Radar. On the subject of playing music that doesn't appeal to what's hot - These kids are smack in the middle of the battle. They've only been together for a short amount of time but they're slowly coming together with the lineup. Newest to the front lady slot, a gal named Stephanie, sings quiet, low and has a great range. She stands in one place with her sunglasses on. It kinda drove me nuts, but at each show it doesn't change - and if there's one thing I can get behind, it's consistency. If you got a schtick that works - do it! I recently spoke with Maxx about the past, present and future of the band. Fresh from recording their EP "Rolling Stealth," here's our very first edition of Locals Only:

Give me the story behind Under the Radar:
Well when Brandon and I (Maxx) first became friends we had almost nothing in common musically, I was raised on punk and Brandon on rock. Reggae was really the only thing we both enjoyed and it started from there. After jamming for several month we were asked to play a Christmas party, we found some fill-in members to round it out and that was our first ever show under the name Rolling Stealth. After a great night, Travis stepped in full time on guitar and bass and we were delighted. Eventually, a long time friend of Travis, Stephanie came forward, we loved her voice and she fit right in. We started playing local Industry Theater shows with any bands we could. We've recently added Daniel on keys and have been playing shows all over southern California. Recently, we've released our debut EP - Rolling Stealth. (Press play up there if you haven't!)

Members and instruments with a little background:
Maxx - Drums. I've been playing the drums for about 10 years, including several years in marching/jazz band in school. A lot of punk and ska influences, I also really like modern Progressive Metal which I think influences my playing.
Brandon Beckwith - Guitar. Brandon has been playing for 7years, and with influences like Ernest Ranglin, George Benson, Randy Rhoads and Roy Buchanan. 
Travis Steinbock - Guitar, vocals, bass. Travis has been playing for 7 years. His influences: Jimi Hendrix, Zakk Wylde, Joe Satriani, John Mayer, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Stephanie Leathers - Vocals. Shes been singing for almost 15 years with influence from Etta James, April Smith, Roger Waters and Chino Moreno.
Daniel Hoghoughi - Keyboards and Synth. Daniel has been playing for 9 years with influences from Hans Zimmer, Tom Tykwer, and Ramin Djawadi.

Favorite/influential bands:
This is always a hard question for us. We have a lot of influences ranging from classical composers to modern metal. Sublime, Bob Marley, The Expendables, The Slackers, Hepcat, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Scale The Summit, King Tubby, Jimi Hendrix are probably some of the major ones we can all agree on.

Worst habits of each member:
We are all pretty loud, and annoying with twisted senses of humor, and we probably smoke to much. I have a terrible memory that's probably the worst of it all! [Laughs] The hardest part trying to deal with overlapping work and school schedules.

Which Star Wars character would you be and why?
Personally, Boba Fett. Nothing beats being a bounty hunter for hire roaming the stars with a jet pack! But that's one of the worst death scenes in the series! [Laughs]

You guys just did dropped an EP - Tell me aboutit :
We recorded our first demos back in like October/ November and they were all covers. We recorded at 33rd Street Recordings with Matt Lubrick; a Sublime cover and A Red Hot Chili Peppers cover. We just released a new EP called Rolling Stealth, 6 original songs one being an instrumental. These songs were mostly written within a week of recording and were done on the first take, we are extremely proud of ourselves for making music we truly enjoy and hope others enjoy it just as much.

Favorite UTR song and why:
Oh, this is hard. I've become quite find of Blue Dream, but I love playing the Instrumental songs because I get to go crazy on the drums! [Laughs]

What does the song writing process look like?
Usually Brandon comes to us with a basic guitar melody and we work together from there, we do a lot of improv jamming to get a flow going. Then Stephanie comes up with a melody and lyrics.

Most memorable show:
Opening for Fortunate Youth at The Coach House. It was an amazing experience with great bands that all seemed to be helping each other out. After [the show] we got such a great response from the crowd and had several people approach us with positve comments.

Future plans for UTR:
Well we have been focused on our EP, but we're already writing a full length. We'd love to play on some festivals and tour in the future but who knows what that holds.

Any upcoming shows?
We don't have any more booked shows since the EP but we are always looking- check any of our sites for show information!

Last words!
We're basically a group of friends that get together make some music. We put ourselves into our music because it means everything to us, whether or not as a career, we will be doing this the rest of our lives. Thank you to anyone who takes the time to listen to our music. Even if you don't like it.

You can find Under The Radar at any of these links - support local and not-so-local unsigned bands and give these guys a "like" on Facebook and most importantly; go out to a show!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's not made for you

As some of you may or may not know, some of us AHTCK members are pretty nerdy; we spend a lot of our time playing videogames, watching Firefly, or spending countless hours on Memebase. One thing I've seen come up over and over and over again is the whole trend of disliking Nicki Minaj, Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga, etc. Now, I've already spoken of my love for Lady Gaga. That ship has sailed. She's awesome. Let's take a look at Nicki Minaj for a moment...


Let's look at some numbers instead!

First album: Hit number one on Billboard 200, then went Platinum within a month.
First female solo artist to have seven singles on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time.
Her seventh single, "Super Bass" has been certified quadruple-platinum by the RIAA, and has sold more than four million copies, becoming one of the best-selling singles in the United States.
Second Album: over a million copies sold world-wide.
Two WORLD-wide tours that both sold tickets pretty well.
Her songs have earned her six BET Awards, four American Music Awards, two MTV Music Awards, an EMA and the Billboard's 2011 Rising Star award.

She's obviously doing something right - some of her songs I really don't care for but some of them are super neat. The production is really good and there's a lot of work put into it - I can appreciate that. Here's the problem though:


Her music isn't made for you. Same with Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga, Kanye West... A grown ass man (or lady) complaining that the Beibs is ruining music? C'mon. You're not in the target demographic for him. Of course "Baby Baby Baby Baby Baby" isn't going to inspire you to get off your lazy ass and change the world. Unless you're 12 years old, none of that music is meant for you. Most of these artists are making music for the dance clubs in Hollywood and hip hop radio stations and the tweens in middle school. Even if you're not into the weird music/off the wall lyrics/over the top outfits - you're talking about it. Truly; no such thing as bad publicity. Now, am I going to run out and buy all of her CDs? No. Maybe. Whatever. Watch this awesome video from the Lonely Island guys featuring not just Nicki Minaj, but John fucking Waters. Anyone who is this successful and takes the time to make music with a bunch of jokers is good in my book. Don't take yourself too seriously - do what makes you happy, etc. etc.

Lastly; Remember - if the music isn't made for you to begin with, stop wasting your time complaining about how awful it is. Go start a band and make better music and become super famous creating the next big thing - that'll show them!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Doing it the old-fashioned way

Each day I wake up and think about new ways to market the band. I've come to the conclusion (or at least, I feel like) that the old fashioned way of writing a bunch of cool songs and playing as many shows as possible just isn't enough anymore. In today's day and age - the technology available to most of the musicians we run into makes it easy for anyone to record a song and have the quality be through the roof. There have to be 2 million bands in the Los Angeles area alone - 10 on every corner - and you need a way to stand out. How the hell do you do that? Start beating each band down with your "listen to me!" signs?

We remember what happened when Steel Panther tried to chase us off...

For a long time I was stuck on Facebook. My last blog post, however, detailed the disorganized and frustrating EdgeRank system - basically, it's ruining your communication and connections with your online fan-base. So what next? What can we do to increase fan-base, increase merchandise sales, convert random viewers of your YouTube videos and increase your fan attendance at local or out of town shows?

I hit a wall.

Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Instagram, Blogspot, Bandcamp, ReverbNation, YouTube, PureVolume, DailyMotion, Indie on the Move, TuneCore, Soundcloud, Tumblr, iTunes, You can find us on any corner of the internet. We are in random forums and message boards talking about things that we enjoy and encouraging others to also check us out. Our online presence is awesome - if you google "AHTCK" - we will show up as every result until you reach page 4 or 5 (and even then, we are most of the results). Even googling "All Hail The Crimson King" will give you our websites mixed in with fan pages and posts regarding the Dark Tower universe in Stephen King's novels (which, yes - we are heavily influenced by!)

I sit and count all of our hits and numbers; over 100,000 views on our YouTube page... over 600 likes on our Facebook... lots of followers on Instagram and Twitter and other social media sites... Great reviews on iTunes... Why do we not pull people into local shows anymore? Why are we not selling more merchandise online or at shows? Why is the increase of our fan base such a small trickle? How do we change that? How do we reach new listeners that fit into that "target audience" that we're looking for? I think I found the answer.


 Hang on - let me Google that word...

Gone are the days of asking thousands of people on Myspace to be friends with your band. Gone are the days of expecting those 250 "suggestions" to "like" your band page on Facebook to turn into actual fans to come on out to shows and buy your shit. If you're anything like me, you've been playing in different bands for years and years - your friends are getting tired of coming out to shows and buying shit they don't want.

Do we need to step back and take an "old-school" approach to advertising, marketing and promoting? I think we do. I volunteer some time at the local concert venue here in town - I've had bands come up to me and say "Here is a free CD. Hope you like it!" That is always super impressive to me. I've found some really cool bands out there (look up Intake(CA) for a good example) and I've found some really BAD bands that way. The point is - I gave the music a listen, I checked out their website and it got me into the band. That is way more effective than "Joe Schmo has invited you to like his page "Awful Band Name" again!"

So where do we start? Do we go up to the mall and start handing out fliers? No - they'll kick you out. I've spoke with the management.
Do we walk up and down the local farmers market with our giant zombie handing out fliers for our next show? Sure - it worked in the sense that we had a lot of little kids taking pictures with our giant zombie (thank god I spray painted our website on it's shirt.) Unfortunately I didn't really see a return on that - our website hits didn't even budge.
Do we leave a bunch of fliers/business cards/stickers under the windshield wipers of everyone's vehicles at the mall, local shows, wal-mart parking lot? Sure - but if the city catches you, they fine you $200 PER item that you leave behind.
Do we pay to run an advertisement in the local paper that no one is subscribed to?

I'm getting ahead of myself here - the point is this;

Where the fuck did that building come from?

We need to get off of Facebook, open up the window and get a fresh breath of marketing air. Do a Google search for "Projected marketing trends 2013" and see what you can do.

We've already made a big long list of what we plan to implement for this year. What are your ideas? How do we break this damn marketing wall and reach potential fans again?

Oh - Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Facebook's EdgeRank system sucks and is bad for your band

Well, I knew I didn't like the Facebook changes that have been forced upon everyone but I knew eventually we'd all get over it. Remember the force over to timeline? Oh man - that thing is awful. But we manage, right? We move forward and we try to make the best out of it. To be fair, it's given us a bit more creativeness with the whole "top picture" thing. That's always fun, right? Right!

These changes, no matter how frustrating, usually do not affect the user outside of forcing us to figure out how to use the damn thing. Unfortunately, Facebook eventually makes changes that really really fuck us over as musicians. Ladies and Gentlemen... I would like to introduce to you; Facebook's EdgeRank!

Here's how it works; When you post something on your band (or product) page - Facebook's EdgeRank automatically kicks in. It looks at your post and makes a decision based on a random algorithm. Is this post going to interest the hundreds or thousands of fans that have liked your page?  What about relevancy? Does this post have anything to do with what all of your fans are talking about? Is it selling a product?

All of these things are factored in to a magical math machine that may decide that it's only going to test the waters to 10% of your likes. As of today, we have a little over 600 likes on our Facebook page (we need more, damnit!) so when we post something along the lines of "Come out to our next show and RSVP on this event page!" EdgeRank decides that because everyone is passing around the chain letter about copyrighting personal pages, our post to get more people to our live show isn't relevant enough. 75 people will see that post and maybe two of them will like it. None of them will RSVP. From now on, when we post about a show, very little people will see it.

What's an even worse scenario? Asking for your fans to purchase your product.

We are in the middle of writing a full-length album. That costs money! As much as we like to pretend that we're a big ol' fancy Post-Apocalyptic Rock and Roll band - we all have day jobs and all of our funding comes from out of our own pockets. Unless we sell some merch at our shows! We rely on at least some of our funding to come from what you good people buy from us. We have all of our music available for purchase on all corners of the internet. We offer merch through pay-pal off our website. We try to sell as many CDs and stickers and stuff as we can at live shows. We pimp ourselves out a lot because when it comes time to hit that big red "record" button - we would like some help.

The minute we post on Facebook that we have tracks for sale, new merch on the way, links to where you can purchase our EP or anything having to do with selling a product - Facebook's EdgeRank automatically hides it from the fans.

Why would this be? Why would Facebook go out of it's way to make things hard for your band? I'm glad you asked! It's very simple.


If EdgeRank determines that you are offering a product it will automatically hide the post from most of your fans that you've worked so hard to get. There is a way, however, to get every single one of your likes to not only see your posts, but to have their family and friends see it too.

It's called "Promote" and it's a crock of shit.

Every single post that you make on your page can now be promoted. Depending on how many likes you have, you pay different amounts of money to show it to specific amounts of people. For example:
For just $10 - EdgeRank will lift all restrictions on our 600+ likes and let all of them see it, plus MAYBE an estimated 400 extra people.

Not enough for you? EdgeRank has you covered.
For just $15 dollars they will not only show your post to all of your likes, but also an estimated extra 1000 people!

Still not enough for your post? Don't worry - they have a premium option.
For just $20 dollars, EdgeRank will show your post to almost 5000 people! Who cares if they're not interested in your product or are your grandmothers who don't have a taste for metal! We'll show it to them, damnit!

What started out as a way to help remove some of the clutter from your Facebook wall (we don't all care about your ugly kids, damnit) has turns into another way for Facebook to make a quick dollar. For a company that claims that they'll never charge you to use their services, it's a pretty shady move to charge you to reach out to your own fans.

Who knows - maybe they really are just trying to limit the clutter on our walls. Maybe they're not a bunch of greedy bastards who want to make easy money.

I've mentioned before that the music scene (especially locally here in Southern California) has lost a lot of what made it a mecca for music. However, I didn't expect Facebook to turn into a complicated version of the seedy pay-to-play clubs we have all come to hate.

Thanks, Facebook. I never thought I would say it... but you're making the New Myspace look pretty damn promising right now.

Check out out website at - nothing is hidden from you there!

Also a quick note; Help us pay for our album! Purchase our tracks from our BandCamp page. $5 for The Break Out EP - 8 awesome songs for the price of a cup of coffee. Thanks to everyone who has already helped out. New album out next year! See you on the road, travelers.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Album delay, recording time and a big ol' party!

Hey there AHTCK Squad!

There is so much awesomeness on the table right now with the album, some photoshoots we're getting ready for and the big "end of the world party" coming up in December, that we decided to sit down and figure out exactly where we stand with the new songs that we are ready to record.

Turns out - we aren't anywhere NEAR ready! Oops...

The new songs, ideas and concepts that we're building around the new album are still forming and coming together very nicely - unfortunately we had to cancel our first studio run at the end of this month because we kind of got wrapped up in the whole Wasteland Weekend thing.

That being said! We are already WAY behind our original release date of December 21st - the same day as our party at Industry Theater in Lancaster CA.

On that note - we will still be playing a show on that day, and we will be handing out certificates to anyone who comes - the certificates will be free and, assuming you survive the apocalypse and there is still internet connections post-December 21st, will grant you access to a special page on our website where you will get a FREE copy of the album! Our gift to you - free music. Because we suck at planning more than one thing at a time.

Keep your eyes on the sky and ears to the static - more updates to come soon! 

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Post-Wasteland Weekend Blues

You know, it's always hard to come back to the real world after spending over a week out in the Southern California desert and lending a hand to the fine people who put together the 4-day long festival. From driving in and only seeing about a dozen other people ready to get to work, to the sight of those same dozen people in my rear view mirror as I drive off into the dusty sunset, I'm always really sad for a good month or so after the events have ended.

Over the last 6 months, my friends Brian and Rob and I have spent many many days with the build crew, creating things like the Atomic Cafe, the Wasteland Gates, the Info Tire and the Stage. After putting all this work into the event that we've come to love so much, it was beautiful to finally watch everything come together.

Mike Darling over at Mike Darling Photography put together this awesome time-lapse of our build crew putting up the Wasteland Weekend gates. Many thanks to the entire build team for lending a hand and putting this together.

Our tribe "The AHTCK Squad" grew in population almost 3 times as much as last year. Our members stretch from all over the country - from Los Angeles to New York - we have a pretty nice mix of friends and family members.

But our friends and family don't stop inside our camp - we shared camp space this year with Captain Walkers Scrounge Lounge and Road Rash - both Northern California Tribes - both of them fucking insane! (In the best way!) We had a lot of fun this year - Rivet brought "Happy" out again - it's a strange, apple-like drink (mead?) that tastes super awesome (smoooooth) but gets you super messed up - really quickly. It's our favorite part about Wasteland Weekend!

Once Saturday night rolled around, it was time for us to take the stage - All Hail The Crimson King not only put on a bad-ass show, but in the middle of the madness, I proposed to my long-time girlfriend - I even got the crowd to shout back "I HOPE THAT SHE SAYS YES!" instead of the usual call back of "THEY DROPPED THE BOMB ON US!"

Well, if you're wondering what her answer was (and how the rest of the show went)... watch this:

We wrapped up the weekend with lots of wine (what I'm drinking in the video) and beer (what I'm ALSO drinking in the video) and lots of new friends and new family members. Like I mentioned before, Wasteland Weekend is always the highlight of my year and I'm glad I get to share it with so many friends and buddies while out in the middle of nowhere.

Wasteland Weekend is meant to be a celebration of life and survival. Once a year, we all come together to celebrate the survival of another year - one more year in the real world, surrounded by the comforts of society. This year was a defining moment in my life - the celebration of life and freedom and happiness - and now, love. I'm super excited to marry this gal and I can't wait to see what future Wasteland Weekends hold in store for us.

Now... time to tackle the album! Headed into the studio at the end of the month to churn out - The Ascension! See you in the wastelands!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wasteland Weekend and the End of the World!

Last year, the band went out into the desert for a few days and came back completely changed. We had the time of our lives and met some of the greatest people and made friends to last a lifetime. We went to Wasteland Weekend in California City. It's a 4-day long Post Apocalyptic party in the desert that's completely themed and full of awesome.

There was a bunch of flaming sword fights, music that went into all hours of the night, a mini Thunderdome (I called it the Rumble Bubble), Jugger matches (Think... football/soccer/rugby played with a dog skull), a post apocalyptic sermon, an "Atomic Cafe" replica from the 3rd Mad Max film that was stocked to the sky with booze and so much more that I can't remember... probably due to the Atomic Cafe.

Anyways, moving on! We are proud to announce that we will be performing this year! If you want to purchase tickets to Wasteland Weekend to see us (and all the other cool shit going on that you really don't want to miss...) then head on over to - ticket sales go up as the event gets closer! Check out the website for more information and to purchase tickets or volunteer if you're too cheap! See you in the Wastelands!

Speaking of post-apocalyptic...

With all the hoopla surrounding the whole "End of the World!" thing, we decided to hop on the band-wagon and bring you something TRULY post-apocalyptic.

We are proud to announce that we are halfway through the writing process of a new, full-length album from your favorite post-apocarock band!

Titles are tentative right now, but we are going to tell you a great story about a world that has moved on, a world that has torn itself in two and the story behind the band, the Crimson King and the False Prophet.

Divided into four cycles, the story will arc across the following segments:

Cycle I - Pestilence - The Birth of Captain Tripps
Cycle II - The Requiem - The Death of the American Dream
Cycle III - The Apostate - The Loss of Faith
Cycle IV - Redemption - The Rise of a New Nation

Each segment will tie in together and will bring to fruition the story behind "The Break Out EP" and the new album. From the beginning of the end, to the rise of a new nation. Get ready! The AHTCK has begun and it's ready to come full circle to smack you in the face, take your pants and run away giggling like a little girl! Keep an eye on the sky and ears on the radio - AHTCK Squad Transmission is incoming...