By: Jessica Hopper Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame. Dear Fan, Hey, my name is Adam and I'm in a band called Walter & The Conqueror and I was wondering how can my group can get more shows or could you help my band get more shows, we just released an album and now all we need is some exposure. -Adam
Dear Adam, Making things happen for your band is going to be much more than a simple matter of exposure. "Some exposure" really puts the onus on everyone else just happening to pay attention to your band. I mean, it's laudable that you just wrote to me and straight up asked if I could get you some shows -- asking for what you want in a direct way is always worth a shot -- but getting your band exposure and gigs is your job and no one else's.
So, you live in Hood River, Oregon, as of Sunday, May 5th, 2013 have 555 likes on Facebook, a serviceable website and appropriate internet presence. Going by YouTube and Google results, you have played a few festival and club gigs around Portland. All of that seems totally on par for a small, virtually unknown local band; you are right where you should be.
You guys obviously know how to get gigs, so I needn't instruct you on how. (Though if you truly do not know how, consult the archives of this fine column for a how-to.) More gigs? Intensify your efforts in all the logical ways. Befriend the dudes who live in your local party house, hit up the bookers you already deal with and let them know you are down to play Monday nights and if they do throw you a bone, let them see how effective you are at promoting a show, and how you can drag 39 people out to see you open.
Become an asset to the Hood River scene and find a place to start putting on shows for your band and others -- promoting nights at clubs, putting together shows for touring bands, or doing it basement style. Be the nice band that other bands like to play with and call to play their show when there's an opportunity. Or text, which, going by your website, is the way you prefer to book shows.
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Bigger picture -- your band, while competent, is pretty generic. Also, the teddy bear on your album cover confuses things, though perhaps that was your intent. Depending on the kind of gigs you want to play, your hard rock sound could help or it could hinder. A lot of people might super be into a sort of "blues-licks Creed covers 30 Seconds To Mars" kind of band -- though the underground clubs in Portland are likely to be more interested in acts that are more unique and original. There are plenty of places for a young, traditional post-grunge hard rock act to play -- you just have to sniff them out.
All that being said, judging by your videos you guys are maybe in high school (or freshly out) and perhaps so are your fans -- so don't sweat exposure or trying to make it right now. Goofin' in some half-lousy high school band for fun is always the things grizzled rockstars look back on as their purest, most ideal musical times in their memoirs. No one has fun once you get to the part where you tour on a plane, even though that's probably what you are dreaming about now. Savor the innocence of your motivations now, so you may properly weep when you are some old, prematurely jaded John Mayer-type and you hear Mellencamp croon, "Hold on to 16 as long as you can," because he is too right.
Sure, some bands blow up young, but wait until you drop out of college or graduate and are working some really shitty job, because then you will be truly motivated to make it happen for whatever band you are in then and it will be that much easier.