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!