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Epic Proportions Tour Offers a New Model for Paying Bands. Is It Worth It?

They started with just an old school bus that ran on vegetable oil, but in three short years, the Epic Proportions Tour slowly has approached the hyperbolic standards of the name.

Co-managed by Peter Sotos and Gabe Kubanda, Epic is a local venture that books self-sustaining tours across the country, mostly playing local high schools and college campuses, but they also have been present at major music festivals such as South by Southwest, CMJ, and the Vans Warped Tour.

"Today's music business is really, really tough," Epic co-founder Peter Sotos says. "There's no more real tour support out there, so it's very, very difficult for a band to get a lot of exposure."

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Sotos, who quit his job engineering high-end software to book musicians, says his company isn't trying to make money off the bands (their income comes from the booking anyway) and is upfront about how much his talent gets paid -- $500 per touring month, to be exact. The bands also get to keep 100 percent of their merch sales.

With more than 300 shows under their belt since 2011 and an average of three tours per year, Epic Proportions have represented more than a dozen bands from places including Austin, New York City, Canada, even Australia. But, being from the Valley, Epic has a special connection to local music as well, having represented neighborhood favorites like UFN, Eclipses for Eyes, Lost in Atlantis, and Halocene. The upcoming spring tour, which kicks off March 3, will feature Phoenix's greatest sci-fi freaks, Captain Squeegee, as well as Sydney's emo export Far Away Stables and Gabe Kubanda's solo acoustic pop.

We called Danny Torgersen, the lead-singing captain of Captain, who says he's excited about bunking in Epic's 40-foot motor coach.

"I feel like it'll be like living in a Star Destroyer!" Torgersen says, giggling. "I think I'm also excited how young people will react to when we roll up like that . . . We also have some SXSW showcases in the middle of that tour with Epic. It's kind of like a one-two punch. We do all the shows on the way and back, and then we have South By in the middle. Hell, yeah."

Ten shows from the spring tour will be in the Valley, a good handful of dates at local high schools. It's important to Torgersen and to Epic to not only give back to the community, but to leave them feeling educated.

"We also want to provide instruction for the kids to promote their art. One of our other goals is to show the kids that there can be a viable career in art," Sotos says. "And we do lectures on that in many, many high schools across the country. We call that Edumusication . . . Plus, we've also been doing this smart touring panel at some of the major music conferences. That is where we teach bands how to tour. A lot of young bands will make a lot of mistakes touring and lose a bunch of money. So we just want to tell them, hey, here's the way to tour that we've learned and we just want to help them out. And that's been amazingly popular. We did it at NAMM [National Association of Music Merchants] and it was standing room only."

"Now that everybody's starting to hear of us, we're getting submissions from all over the world," Sotos adds, emphasizing that they listen to every suggestion, regardless of the band's popularity. "We just look for their stage presence, their musical ability, their songwriting. It's all of those things. They don't have to have a draw at all because we provide that."

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah