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I Quit the Band

January 11, 2017

After many months of contemplation and unofficially quitting 6 months earlier, I final gave my notice to my band mates. I was out. The whole band thing just wasn’t working for me anymore. The band had been together for around 3 1/2 years. Not all members were original. After going through 2 drummers, 4 bassists, 1 keyboard player, and 3 lead guitarists, I had finally had enough. Yup, there is lots of drama and egos when it comes to musicians.

There were many reasons as to why I had lost interest. The novelty of playing live had warn off. I didn’t want to play live plus it was such a pain in the ass trying to find shows. The whole pay to play thing was a complete joke. I bring people to your bar, they spend money all night but we get nothing in return, except a chance to play at your shitty bar? No thanks!

There were other reasons. Writers block, band members unable to commit to practice due to work commitments, stage fright, ageism, and members getting fucked up at live shows, among others. Ok I’m no spring chicken and I started thinking what the hell am I doing up here? Is this a middle age crisis!?

Whatever the reasons were, it was just time to try something else. I have another jam that I attend playing a different instrument. It’s low key with no real pressure. Only to maybe not fuck up too much. But that’s what I wanted, no pressure. It’s always good to try something different if it starts getting stale.

It’s only been one month, but it’s a weight that’s been lifted off my shoulders and I’m relieved. I can still have my jam and make music, with no expectations! That’s how it should be. If it’s a hobby you have to have fun.

Nobunny full frontal nudity

How Far, is Too Far for Onstage Antics?

November 19, 2016

So, I was at the Silver Dollar last night checking out ‘Night Owl Festival‘. It was a great night, with some awesome music. One of the headliners “Nobunny” took the stage at 2am.

The whole band is dressed in bunny costumes. a Very entertaining and fun band. At one point the drummer lit his ride cymbal on fire and there were some pretty big flames. The lead singer normally plays in his underwear. There were a few episodes whereby he came out into the crowd to interact with everyone. It wasn’t till near the end he decided to lose the ‘tighty whiteys’ and strip down to nothing, other than the bunny mask he wears.

Anyhow, it was odd, bizarre and comical all at the same time. Nobody seemed offended and I don’t believe he was charged with public nudity. Warning full frontal nudity in picture enclosed.

So my question is, should this behavior onstage be accepted? It wasn’t too long, ago that Jim Morrison was thrown in jail for allegedly “whipping it out”. How far can you go to make a statement? Is this rock n roll?

I don’t know if the band is known for this behavior but the lead singer, Justin Champlin, certainly exposed it all to everyone that night!

I’ve been to many shows over the years and witnessed some outrageous shit, but nothing compares to what Nobunny expressed on stage. Anyhow, it was a fun night but not for the faint of heart.

What's the deal with pay to play?

What’s the deal with Pay 2 Play?

December 17, 2014

I’ve never been an advocate of pay to play venues. The majority of musicians I know believe that the bar should be paying the band members and drawing the crowd. The pay to play mentality insists that bands have bring a minimum crowd, whereby they collect a portion of the proceeds from the admission costs. The venue will in turn pay the band after the show a portion of the proceeds that the band originally collected.

There has always been a debate that bands starting out need exposure and have to grow their following. The pay to play advocates fully believe that if you want to play their venue, then you have to bring in the people.

The venue owners are not accountable for bands being paid and it is usually in the hands of the promoter that money is being exchanged. For the most part promoters are working with the venues and have a deal struck between them. This keeps the venue out of the equation, when dealing with the bands. Although this isn’t always the case, venue owners need to be held more accountable and ensure that the bands are being accommodated by the promoters. The problem is that promoters don’t always “keep their word” when deals are stuck with bands.

If a band brings in 20 people all of which that paid $10 to enter the venue, then clearly there is money and the band should be paid a portion of the proceeds. Unfortunately, bands don’t always get paid what they should. This can be a venue and promoter issue and is not the case with all bars.

It almost seems like a contract needs to be signed outlining exactly what deal is being stuck between the band, promoter and venue. It’s a lot of bullshit to endure when so little $$ is being passed around. We want to play music, entertain crowds and fill venues and put some cash in our pockets to help pay for all the time and money we have put into this craft, without having to get lawyers involved.

Just make sure that it is clear up front what the band is getting in exchange for providing entertainment for a venue that is profiting. If it is a portion of the door, count all your friends that came to your show tell the promoter and venue. That way it is clear to them what percentage you deserve and should be paid. To be a real stickler, find out how many drinks all your friends/fans purchased and use this amount when negotiating your payment. If bars are trying to stiff bands have hard figures available to back up your case.

Bass forsale on Kijij

Buying and Selling Gear Online

October 23, 2013

One thing about musicians is that we love gear. We also love to brag about the gear we own. It’s not uncommon for people to post pictures of their gear on popular forums and even Facebook. Having an addiction for new gear can be also be very expensive. Especially if that shiny new guitar has a $2000 dollar price tag.

In Toronto there is no shortage of music shops to buy gear. Some of the more popular places are Long and McQuade and Steve’s Music. There are also specialty stores that sell higher end gear like 12th Fret, that deal only with guitars or Mikes in Kensington Market that has used gear.

With a plethora of music stores available, one should not overlook the option of buying and selling gear if you’re budget concious. Enter Craigslist and Kijiji. Depending on what you’re looking for, there is normally an abundance of used guitars, drums, amps and pedals available at incredible discounts. You can even find people giving away gear, especially old pianos and organs.

You can expect to find ‘like new’ gear at 40% off the retail price. I have personally bought and sold lots of guitar related gear over the past 5 years on both of  these sites and find it difficult to stay away. It really can become an addiction for the guitar afficionado. The collecting of guitars has become a popularised acronym – G.A.S. – guitar acquisition syndrome.

The beauty is that it gives you an opportunity to buy a quality instrument at a great price. If in the future you decide you want something else, you can just resell the item very close to the price you paid. Some people don’t feel comfortable going to a strangers home or having a stranger come to theirs. If you’re one of these people, than buying used is probably not for you.

Some of my advice to buyers is: 1) Make sure you try the item before you buy. Make sure it plays fine and there are no issues. If it’s an electric guitar and the seller doesn’t have an amp, bring one. 2) Be weary of those that want to meet at a location outside of the home. If you can’t plugin, then don’t bother. 3) Make sure you’ve agreed on a price before you arrive. Unless the item isn’t as described, you shouldn’t be haggling on price. If there are issues that weren’t mentioned like dents or scratches, then by all means try to get a better deal. If the item has bigger issues ie. not playable, then pass and politely ask the seller for ttc or gas money for wasting your time.

If you’re a seller: 1) Take a minute to clean up the item. It looks better in the pictures and makes it easier to sell. 2) Take as many quality photos as you can, to add to the listing. No pics, no sale, it’s that simple. Refrain from using photos off the internet. If it isn’t the actual item, then it is false advertising. 4) Let the potential buyer try the item. I have always let the person into my home to try out a guitar. I’ve actually made friends with a few people that bought gear off me. Musicians are cool people! Again, if you don’t feel comfortable allowing a stranger into your home, find a mutual location to meet. When I am selling something, it is always pick up only. I am not wasting $6 on TTC to sell a $50 distortion pedal.

So there  you have it. Good luck with your next sale or purchase and beware of G.A.S, it is contagious.


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