Even with a finished CD in hand, you are only halfway to being mistaken for a credible rock luminary. You need to book some preliminary shows, and rather than wear out your friends' welcome with too many half-cocked tryouts, play a bunch of under-the-radar openers in remote places so you can get your stage legs. And if someone says, "Break a leg," it's probably a good idea to wait 'til the end of the set to do it.
"When you first start playing out, you're in an altered reality where you think you can do anything," cautions Greenhaven front man Matt Strangwayes. "It helps to know the logistics of where you're playing beforehand. At an early show, I did front handsprings eight feet into the audience, two songs in the set. And when I landed on the concrete floor, I could hear the bone snap above the music. Fortunately, the bartender was a nurse. But I had to finish the show sitting down with my feet in an ice bucket."
If you've chosen this juncture to ask yourself, "Am I making money yet?", just laugh at yourself until you get the hint. Because in the end, you're really doing it for one thing -- no, not that! YOU'RE DOING IT FOR THE KIDS!!
Until August hit its stride once it started to play all-ages shows. "People under 21, they tell their friends faster than someone who's drinking at a bar and is there to go see their friend's band," says Trombley. "If [over 21s] like you, they're not going to e-mail anyone or call radio stations or spark anything." Or toil in an Until August street team and flier shows with the promise of free merch and pizza!
You'll know once you've connected with the kids, because your old friends become the new haters. Says Adam Panic, "The more success you have, the more people turn off. Senior year at my high school, people were throwing stuff at me in math class because I asked the teacher if he could play the radio at 9:15 when my song came on."
But one detractor later wrote Panic a fan letter. "That's fucked up," he says, laughing.
No, Adam, that's rock 'n' roll!
Where to find players
Until August found its first drummer and guitarist through New Times ads, but found its second drummer at a blues jam at the Rhythm Room. Going to other people's shows and stealing their musicians is a great time saver!
Where to buy amps
If it's a custom sound you want, then it's custom amps you should have! Cremona, bassist for The Cremains and Green Lady Killers, uses Krank Electronics of Tempe (The Cremains are Krank Amp spokespeople, and the late Dimebag Abbott was just one high-profile Krank customer). Tony Dow's homegrown company fashioned its first-ever bass cabinet for Cremona, which necessitated Green Lady Killer guitarist Kathleen Ryan to consider upgrading a Krank Revolution amplifier just to keep up. (www.krankamps.com)
Where to buy stage clothes
Kathleen Ryan of the Green Lady Killers confesses that "Phoenix isn't the best place for clothing. We go to Buffalo Exchange and Plush in Tempe, and to the Spectrum Mall, and go to the cheesy girl shops. You can find cool tank tops and tight pants, short skirts. Cheap stuff that looks good." For you guys not into the androgynous look, try Mervyn's!
Where to take voice lesson
Most vocal teachers want to meet with you. We found an affable voice and guitar instructor in Scottsdale online named Craig "Lumpy" Lemke, who promises, "I can do exercises with you that will show improvement in six seconds." Although metal is not his thing, he has steered many shriekers toward achieving that pterodactyl sound through less vocal-cord-damaging means. (www.digitalcartography.com)
. . . Or skip 'em. Kathleen Ryan, singer for the Green Lady Killers, took voice lessons 15 years ago. "If you're looking to expand your range, it's not a bad idea," she says. "But it might change your style too much. Like if you're grindcore, it would suck if you enunciated."
Where to record demos
If you don't have a home studio or a friend with one, girl power trio Green Lady Killers recommends Logan Hallay's House of Hallaj studio (480-710-0721).
Where to record
Adam Panic recorded his EP We All Do at Flying Blanket Studios in Mesa, as did Until August. "It doesn't matter where you go," says Until August singer-songwriter Adam Trombley, "it's who's controlling the knobs, who's going to produce the record. Bob Hoag gets a great radio sound with 10 times crappier equipment than many bigger studios."
"You'll have to excuse me for going all hippie here," says Hoag, "but the things that stand out on radio are the things that were made with absolute sincerity and love." (www.flyingblanket.com)
Where to get on national shows
Despite the number of shrinking venues, there's still plenty of places to play. Although many national acts often come with openers, contact independent promoters like Nobody In Particular Presents (www.nipp.com) or Stateside Presents (www.statesidepresents.com) for national bills you might be compatible with.