brianbotkiller.com
Electronic Musician, Drummer, Sound Designer and Technologist
Tinseltown Takeover Tour Overview/wrap up
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Alright, so I’ve been saying I’d write this for awhile.

We got back from the Tinseltown Takeover tour a little less than a week ago, and we’ve been catching up since then, so it’s taken me longer than I’d like to blog about this.

The tour was a success in many ways, and I’m going to outline a few things about it.

The buildup to this tour was a LOT of work, more than I think I’d have expected, but at least as hard as I’d think it’d be to book a tour on a shoestring budget. I’ll go into some detail about how we booked it later on in this post.

We left on Thursday, Oct. 4th, for Phoenix AZ, where our friend Dave Strand of Industrial band The Strand lives. We played that night at Chaser’s, a venue we’ve had the pleasure to rock before. We played with a new local band called Human Experimentation; the crowd was not huge, but Dave took good care of us, putting us up, feeding us, and getting us ready for our next night in Long Beach. At some point in our set this night, the new Keytar we’d build crapped out; the next morning, we wrenched on it to find that it’s sending incorrect MIDI signal between two of our keyboards. Unfortunately, the Radium 49 keyboards are not easy to factory reset, which is a serious design flaw. Dave sent us off with an Alesis Micon, “just in case”. That was a good thing, we’d find out.

On the 2nd we drove to Long Beach, CA, for a gig at Que Sera bar with locals Crush, Slomo Erotic and Shitting Glitter. The venue was quite cool, with a nice staff and a fairly well sized stage. Nice sets by everyone led to us closing the night to about 20 or so heads. We found that our keytar was indeed not working correctly at this time, and had to go it without Jeff on Keys. This was disheartening, but we pressed on.

We moved on that night to stay with my friend Zach, who was kind enough to put us up for the entirety of this trip in his apartment in LA. Take heed, folks; this is not an easy undertaking. We were VERY lucky to have this support.

The next day we took on the challenge of two shows in one night; the first, at The Anarchy Library in Downey, CA, was the most punk of venues and shows I’ve played in awhile. Rolling up to the front of the venue to find guys wrenching on cars in the front lot, to the back, where I was greeted by a grip of punkers smoking and arguing, I knew this would be one of the more memorable gigs of the tour. The interior of the venue was a black cave with a few tables, a bar, and a tiny drum riser; the stage was the floor. This was a true punk bar. We all cut down our stage footprint to the bare minimum for this show; I played my kit in four piece (as opposed to usual six piece) configuration, Chris played with only one guitar effect pedal, Kenny went straight into his amp, and Jess and Jeff played one keyboard each, and we stuck to a distinctly punk and heavy set. Those in attendance enjoyed what we did, which was nice, being that we were so different from their usual house band. It takes a lot to impress punkers; I should know, I’m one of them.

We packed up the van and moved on to our second gig of the night at Mr. T’s Bowl, a converted bowling alley in LA that now houses music shows. The venue was by far one of the coolest that I’ve ever been in; it had a feeling like I was stuck in the late 60′s or 70′s, with just the right darkness and air to it, as if I was in the Big Lebowski for rock bands.

Unfortunately, not much of anyone was around for the show. We were informed around 10pm that all bands would have to cut their sets, due to the bar being slow, and so we did. However, just as we ended our set, LA’s hipster elite began to show up to the venue, and of course, things went back to normal, with the following bands being allowed to play full length sets. This was pretty annoying, as the two touring acts, that being ourselves, and the awesome Warren Tegarden from San Francisco, were given the opening slots of the night. At that point, all we could hope for was that we’d be paid a little money from the door. Sadly, we found, after waiting around for the entire night, that we were being paid nothing. The best thing I can say about this gig is that Mr. T’s sound guy, Arlo, is indeed one of the best. I’d read about him on the internet, and his reputation stood up. The man could probably make a wind up toy sound awesome.

Sunday the 4th’s gig was one that I approached with much trepidation; I’d booked it via Myspace with a venue called TRiP in Santa Monica. The kicker? We’d be following an acoustic singer/songwriter themed night. Awkward? Yes. However, we stepped up, and canvased the crowd with stickers, asking them to stick around. We had a fairly good crowd, despite the change in pace, and met some promoters who said that they would be interested in getting us on as the supporting act for Right Said Fred on an American tour. This made it all worth it.

Monday the 5th was our only day off, and we spent it in Santa Monica, bumming at the beach a little, and hanging out.

Tuesday the 6th was a gig in East LA at a venue called the Airliner, in MexicoTown. I wasn’t sure how to feel about this gig; the stage reserved for us was RIGHT in front of the bar, and was more like a runway stage; too long to have us all in usual formation, and so we had to make due and twist ourselves around it. The night was called TANK!Tuesdays and was an electro themed night, with DJs upstairs and in the outside patio – it made it hard to get people in one place all at once. We again didn’t play to many heads, but those we did enjoyed what we brought. Luckily, the night’s promoter, Vince, was kind enough to understand that we were a touring act, and passed some money our way. We also shared the stage with a great band called Antique Imp, who reminded me a lot of my friends Model A from Sacramento, mixed up with some David Bowie. I was glad to have played just to have met these guys.

Finally, on wednesday the 5th, we took some time to walk Hollywood blvd. and pass out demos, visit some local shops, and get some pizza. We closed our tour playing Hollywood’s Dragonfly Bar; a great venue with an impressive stage, we again shared the stage with Slomo Erotic and Shitting Glitter. again in the closing slot of the night (which I’m still not sure that I agree with, but it’s how thing went), we played probably the tightest set that we’ve ever played, in my opinion. We did show that we have what it takes to blow some Hollywood heads on their asses, and did it with style. I was also glad to see many of my old friends come out to this show (thanks to Angus, Oyuna, JJ, Leah, and Elektra), as well as some folks we’d met at our other shows. We finished the night hanging out at a house in Hollywood Hills, and then took in a little much needed rest, before beginning the 14 hour trek home.

Overall, I can’t complain about this tour in the slightest. It allowed us to make some good connections, meet some good people, and get some music out. It was an experience that can’t be forgotten, and was still more fun than doing nothing but working and playing music sometimes.

So, how did we do this tour? I’ll tell you.

Firstly, as to booking shows; we were lucky to have help from Devin of Shitting Glitter, who got us onto a couple shows with his band. Secondly, we used Myspace HEAVILY. Say what you want about Myspace, it is still one of the best networking tools at your fingertips. We spent night after night adding people as friends in the LA area, and booked two of our gigs this way, thanks to random Myspace adds. We also used Indieonthemove.com , byofl.org, and Yelp.com (to get information on venues)

We promoted heavily; we printed 11×17 tour flyers and made demo CDs to send to those who booked and promoted us. We got these packages out no later than two weeks before the gigs. We sent out press releases to local newspapers and blogs about the tour, and contacted any and all radio stations we could. The internet is your friend, plain and simple. It can do more walking for you than any other tool that you have, save for getting street team folks to walk the streets for you. When you don’t have that, lean on the internet. We stayed in constant contact with those who booked us, checking in, and making sure things were good to go.

How did we raise money for this tour? Firstly, we worked, a lot. We played gigs and saved money. Secondly, we asked our fans to donate money to our tour fund, and we’re lucky enough to have some very good fans who helped get us on the road (thanks Che, Adric, Leah, Jason, Maggie, Massimo, and others). Finally, we of course poured a lot of our own money into this venture. We printed a lot of Tshirts, made Demo CDs to sell, buttons, stickers, patches and more. Jeff built a great Merchandise stand, probably the most creative one I’ve ever seen, and did it to get attention to our merch while on the road. Jess pushed her calendars heavily, selling a lot, and promoting like crazy. Chris and Kenny got the word out, promoted and booked. We all did everything we could to make this thing happen. We sent out email blasts, bulletined like crazy, and used Twitter to its max; I was on Twitter constantly with updates and photos, and it allowed me to get the word out about shows very easily.

Oh, and one other thing; get yourself a phone that connects to the internet. You’ll thank me. My Googlephone (the Tmobile G1) single phonedly got us around LA and into every nook and crannie that it had. Using Google maps as a GPS, combined with a compass App and other tools (as well as being able to browse the internet via phone), was a huge help. Also, running Twitter on my phone was a very viable tool for what I needed to do to keep fans updated on what we were doing. You may not like the cost associated with a “smart phone”, but it’s well, well worth it.

In the long run, we probably spent about $700 on merchandise, and about $400 or so on gas for our van, as well as some other money for new tires and van tuning. We didn’t sell much merch, but we did use our stickers and demos like crazy. We came home with no demos left, and very little stickers. Remember, the point is to get them out there, folks. Get them into people’s hands and begin the process.

After the tour, I suggest you follow up with everyone you met, and the promoters you worked with; keep your connections alive, they are all you have sometimes.

The final thing I can say about touring is that you will find yourself learning more about yourself and your bandmates/friends than you ever expected. You’ll get frustrated, be happy, confused, ecstatic, and about a million other emotions under the sun, while you’re doing this, but you have to remember that you’re doing it because you can’t NOT do it. There’s no way to get your music to more people than to tour it around; even the internet can’t always take the place of that. Remember why you’re doing it, take everything with a grain of salt, work to be calm, and remember that the people you’re in that van with are some of your best friends, and probably some of the people you’ll ever be closest to. Treat it well, and soak it in; not many people or bands get to do this, so the fact that you even do counts for more than you’ll ever think.

/brian

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