Tag Archives: After the show

Interview: Adult Mom

I spoke to Steph Knipe of Adult Mom about the band’s upcoming album, U.S. tour, and playing Rilo Kiley songs on guitar.

Adult Mom’s new album, Soft Spots, comes out on 5/19/2017.

Photo Credit: Bao Ngo

After The Show: So looking ahead to June, you’ll play your first west coast shows ever. What will those shows be like?

Adult Mom: It’ll be full band, and we’ll be touring out with free cake for every creature, which will also be full band. It’s a little daunting – we’ve never been out for that long, so I’m very scared about my health and stuff, but I think it’ll be fun. Hopefully there will be no issues.

Is there a song on Soft Spots that was the most challenging for you to write or record?

I think “Steal The Lake From The Water” was definitely the most intense song on the record, and it was definitely hard to write because I was very angry. And a lot went into recording it – we tried a lot of stuff and we were just experimenting a lot.

What about a song where the writing or the recording just went really smoothly?

I think a lot of the record was like that. But when we recorded “Same” – it wasn’t a full band song – but we were finishing up the record and we were going to add a song, and I had written a solo song and played it for Mike [Dvorscak], and said ‘what if we just put a microphone on the other side of the room, and I just play this nylon string?’ And we put it on the record. I did two takes of it, and we just added a couple harmonies and that was it. It was definitely the breeziest song to record and it was really cool how that worked out.

It’s interesting to listen to a song like “When You Are Happy” as a slower, acoustic song in its earlier form. Is there going to be any chance for people to hear the original incarnations of the new songs at all?

Yeah, definitely. I’m working on putting out a demo tape actually for all the songs on the record. I think it’ll be a show-exclusive tape, so you have to come to a gig to get it. Maybe, we’ll see – we haven’t worked it out yet.

A song like “Paws” is so good and catchy, and it’s also really short. When you’re writing, what makes you decide to end a song (and not add another verse, for example)?

I think it’s just when I feel like I’ve hit a resolve in the lyrics, where I’m happy with where I’ve ended up in writing the words — that’s why I end the song. It’s just one of those feelings where you’re like ‘I’m done with this train of thought.’ And a lot of the shorter ones just end up like that.

I’ve discovered so much new music I really like through your Twitter – bands like Infinity Crush and Crying.

I went to school with the members of Crying and that’s where I met them, that’s where I first heard them. Other bands like Infinity Crush I’ve met mostly through the internet. I used to be heavy, heavy on Tumblr and I met a bunch of those artists just through Tumblr and also being on Twitter. Every band has a Twitter so everyone eventually meets on that website.

I read that you played a lot of Rilo Kiley covers when you were learning guitar…”Pictures of Success” is a great one to play. What were your favorite ones to play?

“Science vs Romance” is definitely a biggie. “Wires and Waves.” Anything off the first two records. I only learned bar chords because I learned “Science vs Romance.” I don’t do Blake’s parts, I do Jenny’s parts (the rhythm guitar) [laughs].

“Survival” has almost a million listens on Spotify – that’s amazing. Do you have any career goals in terms of this next album that you want to share?

My career goal for this album is to try my best to not force wanting it to be successful, if that makes sense. Obviously I want the album to be successful. I want people to listen to it, to buy it, to come to my shows. But I’m trying not to put so much pressure on it, because it’s really scary and if nothing happens with the record, it’s a heartbreaking feeling. So I kind of just want it to exist and for people to like it. That’s all I can ask for really.

Thanks Steph! Check out Adult Mom’s tour dates, and catch the band play at Junior High in LA on 6-12-2017.

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Interview: Stephen Dima

We asked Stephen Dima, Talent Buyer and Head of Production for 4Knots, about his work preparing for NYC’s upcoming 4Knots Music Festival, happening on July 12, 2014 at the South Street Seaport.

The lineup includes bands such as Dinosaur Jr, Those Darlins, Speedy Ortiz, and Dead Stars.

Interview with Stephen Dima 4Knots

After The Show: I love that 4Knots showcases emerging/indie bands and helps them increase their fan base. How involved are you in marketing the event and bringing in audiences?

Stephen Dima: I’m not in charge of marketing specifically, but I love bands and set out to program 4Knots in a way that would appeal to The Village Voice’s audience. If there is a great band on the lineup, the marketing is inherently there, and The Village Voice is amazing with marketing the festival, the bands and the programming.

Why choose Webster Hall as opposed to a venue like Bowery Ballroom as the host of the Official After-Party?

Everyone involved loves both venues, The Village Voice wanted to go bigger this year in terms of capacity.

Can you describe a typical day or week in your job? How much of your time running Dima Productions is spent on music-centric events, as opposed to producing events like the New York Comedy Festival or Children’s Day?

Every production/event requires something slightly different and unique, so there is not really a typical day at Dima Productions (unless you count drinking lots of coffee and listening to great music to stay sane). The majority of the events are music centric, though, so I guess that’s where we spend most of our time.

I came to 4Knots in July 2012 to see Hospitality play, and their set was interrupted when a big fire erupted on the pier behind them! As the promoter and producer, how do you deal with emergencies? What kinds of contingency plans do you have in place?

First and foremost work with a really good security service, one that you trust and have great communication with. Also having a good relationship with the NYPD and FDNY works. They were amazing that day honestly. We basically evacuated 10,000 people from a mall and then continued on with the festival. You don’t see that a lot.

It’s interesting how you said that you can take a lot more chances if you’re putting on free shows. Why did you initially choose to make 4Knots free, and given the large audiences that show up, why keep it free?

With my history of free summer shows in NY and The Village Voice’s own history with Siren, etc. making 4Knots free just made sense. It was a perfect marriage of people who love to bring great bands to the masses, and I hope we keep it that way. And yes, of course you can take a lot more chances with free shows but you still have to be smart about it, hopefully!

How much of your job is dealing with permits and city ordinances? Is working out the bureaucracy/logistics less enjoyable than picking and booking bands?

I try to spend way more time thinking about bands but to be perfectly honest, working with the city and the community to develop a strong and solid relationship has definitely had it’s rewards. I’ve learned a lot over the years and have met some very good people. NY loves to put on a show.

What was your favorite concert that you put on at the World Trade Center, pre-September 11th?

There were some really great ones (The Box Tops with the late Alex Chilton, NRBQ, the Latin shows that we did on Friday nights were really exciting) but hands down my favorite was Dave Davies of the Kinks playing a lunchtime show to 10,000 people on the plaza. I still meet people who say they were at that show. I remember he did “Father Christmas” as an encore, it was August. That was just a few short weeks before September 11.

As a curator of live shows, what do you think about other methods of curation, such as Spotify playlists or blogs? Why are you drawn to the live/outdoors/real life aspect of music?

I’m not too keen on the whole Spotify, Pandora thing honestly. I mean if you own a restaurant I’m sure it comes in handy but if I’m sitting at my computer it wouldn’t be my preferred way of finding new music. Blogs on the other hand have been the lifeblood of what I’ve done over the years.

I started outside with live music at the Trade Center and then the Seaport. It seems to be where I am most comfortable. There’s something a bit more magical outside – summer, tall buildings, ships, water, nighttime sky, great bands. Makes me want to be there now.

Thanks Stephen! Click here for more info on the 4Knots Music Festival.

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Interview: The Belle Brigade

I checked in with Ethan Gruska of brother-sister duo The Belle Brigade about their new record, playing two shows a night on their current summer tour, and being on the Twilight soundtrack.

Ethan Gruska Belle Brigade

After The Show: Since you’re opening for Ray LaMontagne and playing in his backing band on this long summer tour, how are you keeping up your energy/stamina?

Ethan/The Belle Brigade: Warming up before shows and giving ourselves good vocal rest will be key!

You felt your first record was a little too polished and reminiscent of the past. What did you learn from working with Tony Berg on Just Because?

We cut the record at Tony’s studio in Brentwood and it was amazing to have him around for advice and guidance but we didn’t make this record with Tony… We actually co-produced this record with Shawn Everett who has done a ton of work with Tony for many years. Working with Shawn was amazing. He is such a talented and creative engineer and was totally on the same page about trying to branch out sonically. He is fearless about trying something new, has a totally open mind, and is so calm, warm and patient. So is Tony! Being in that environment was amazing.

Older songs like “Belt Of Orion” and “Where Not To Look For Freedom” are so strong lyrically. How has your songwriting process changed from your first record to this new one?

The songwriting process was actually pretty similar to the first record… We wrote the songs acoustically and then made simple demos of the them before we went into the studio. I think the main difference between these songs and the songs from the first record is how we approached them and treated them once we got into the studio to really record them. We were much more open this time to changing them and re working them. I think the biggest difference in these new songs besides production is a little bit of freedom lyrically… We tried to be a little bit more visual and less attached to a story line than a lot of the songs on the first record.

Ethan, your voice sounds similar to Barb’s and I sometimes find it hard to figure out who’s singing what. As a vocalist, how do you approach your singing in the context of the band? 

Yea, sometimes it’s hard for me to tell who’s singing what when we listen back to background vocal stuff :). It’s really fun to be able to blend so much with somebody and honestly I don’t think too much about a vocal “approach” while singing with Barb because our voices naturally go together and our harmonies usually fall into place pretty quickly.

The Belle Brigade After The Show

How difficult from a business perspective (like contracts, legal obligations) was it to leave Reprise/Warner Brothers and move to ATO Records?

We were really lucky with that and were treated very well by WBR when we parted ways… It took a little while but we left with a lot of mutual respect and no hard feelings.

How useful was your experience studying music at CalArts? Are you happy with the foundation in theory/analysis/ear training/arranging you got there?

Both our experiences were very different there but in both cases they were very positive! We met a lot of great people and it’s the type of place where if you seek something out there’s gonna be someone there who can impart some serious knowledge… They have a great theory and ear training department! Learned a lot in those classes.

Was being on the Twilight soundtrack as big of an exposure boost as you had hoped? That song is by far the most played of yours on Spotify, but you still played a residency at The Echo earlier this year.

Yea it was a great thing for us to get a song on there and definitely got us a little more exposure, but these days when a bunch of people stream one song or even buy one song it definitely doesn’t mean they are going to go listen to or buy the rest. We knew that going into it and didn’t expect it to be our big break at all… It was just really cool to have a song in a big movie like that 🙂

Thanks Ethan! To catch The Belle Brigade on tour this summer, head over to the band’s website.

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Music Think Tank: Go The Extra Mile

Music Think Tank Suzanne Raga

I wrote an article for Music Think Tank called Beyond The Basics: Go The Extra Mile To Get Featured On Music Blogs.

Read my advice for bands and artists on how to get tastemakers to write about your music — over at Music Think Tank.

Update: You now need an account to login to read the article, so you can read it below:

How do you get “tastemakers” (aka music bloggers) to write about your band?

Although I prefer to encounter bands organically (for example, opening for a band I already like), I’ve featured plenty of great music on After The Show by bands who have directly approached me. Not every tastemaker will like your songs, but music blogs need a lot of content, so you have a good shot at getting featured somewhere.

You should already know the basics. Do your research: don’t pitch to a hip-hop site if you’re an alt-country act, and read everything you can about each music site you’re submitting to (scroll through the archives and see what they tweet). Be professional: keep your email typo-free, succinct, and include a link to streams (Bandcamp, SoundCloud) instead of mp3 attachments.

2 Indie Band Case Studies: Pay Attention To the Big Picture 

Jim Ivins Band

Jim Ivins first emailed me around a year ago to say that his band would be opening for Robert Schwartzman in New York. Jim clearly did his research – he saw I had interviewed and written about Rooney before, so he knew I’d be interested in attending – and he allowed plenty of lead-time before the show (a month) before offering a list spot to cover the set.

A blog is not going to listen to your music & then decide to post it, a person is! Jim addressed his email to “Suzanne” not “After The Show.” I was planning on going to this show anyway, so I eagerly accepted.

Start relationships (online if different locations prevent face-to-face ones) with music bloggers and anyone who can help your music get exposure. A few months later Jim let me know on Twitter about another local show the band was playing. I couldn’t make it, but I appreciated the update and later dropped by a show that I could make. A couple months down the road, he sent me a video the band recorded that was relevant to what we were currently covering on After The Show.

Once you establish a connection, stay on the blog’s radar and give updates on your band every few months. Don’t inundate any blog that gives you some attention or coverage, but maintain smart, positive relationships.

Jeremy Sparrow

Browsing YouTube over a year ago, I came across an amazing cover of The Lemonheads’ “Paid To Smile” by a band named Jeremy Sparrow. This cover was better than the original and even Evan Dando commented on it. After leaving a quick comment, I posted the video on my site.

Lasse of Jeremy Sparrow messaged me on YouTube to thank me, introduce his band, and say he’d keep me updated on their EP that would be out in several months. Simply sending that message helped his band stand out – he was responsible and proactive. I didn’t expect to hear from him again, but I got an email several months later about the band’s completed EP. I remembered them and was happy to listen and write about the EP.

Don’t get discouraged when you send out hundreds of emails and only hear back from a few people. The hardest part is often getting some initial traction. Once your foot is in a door, use that leverage to get more press. Opportunities beget more (and even better) opportunities.

Suzanne Raga is the creator and author of the popular indie music blog After The Show and does consulting work for music licensing and publishing companies. She is a recent graduate of Princeton University.

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Interview with Allie Gonino

Allie Gonino is one-third of the band The Good Mad and plays Laurel on ABC Family’s The Lying Game. Allie talks about recording in Nashville, songs she uses to help get into character, and what she learned from opening for Justin Bieber.

Allie Gonino After The Show Interview

After The Show: What was your experience like recording The Good Mad’s EP in Nashville?

Allie Gonino: I had such a blast recording ALTA. The first smart thing we did was hire Phil Swann to produce it. He kept things moving swiftly, and put together a really good mix. His energy is so fun to have around, so the recording process was always light and enjoyable for us. Another treat was getting to work with awesome studio musicians such as Joe Spivey and Paul Scholten.

It was amazing to watch/listen to Joe work, he played mandolin, dobro, bazooki, and banjo on ALTA. He added all the necessary touches needed to complete the feel of the EP. And Nashville in spring is definitely something to experience. Beautiful countryside and so many awesome places to hear live music and eat delicious food. I know that will always be a sacred memory for Adam, Andy, and me.

You play guitar, violin, mandolin, and piano – do you prefer one instrument over the others to compose on? What about playing live?

Believe it or not, I don’t do a ton of composing with instruments. I tend to enjoy writing songs with my voice, acapella. I’ve written a few songs on guitar, and they’re probably my more “marketable” songs. Playing live though, I definitely prefer the violin.

What’s the most challenging part about playing music as Laurel on The Lying Game? Is it hard to separate yourself from the character when you’re playing music (with a fictionalized version of your own band)?

Honestly, playing the musician side of Laurel is the least challenging aspect of that role because it is so close to real life. The only thing different between the way Laurel performs is that she’s a little more timid and less experienced. I don’t try to “put on” any act with Laurel, as opposed to when I perform, I’m telling a story, and I usually like to embellish. It’s always surreal because we do have so many similarities, and I believe life and art imitate each other.

Every character I play is a different aspect of myself, or at least, there are things that we definitely have in common. Part of keeping my head on straight is realizing I am already the woman I’ve always wanted to be. No character I play is separate from me, and ironically, no character I play is me. That’s the paradox.

Do you have any advice for teens about managing stress and balancing school with all the activities they do?

Yes, let’s talk about managing stress! First thing for managing stress is to stop eating sugar, and other foods/drinks that cause acidity in the body. Caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, fried and processed food, red meat, drugs (both legal and otherwise), all create acidity. This doesn’t mean you should never consume these things, but combined with our public water quality – which is another conversation altogether – air pollution, social media obsession, relationship stress, and many more environmental factors, eliminating such dietary factors would be one smart way to lower stress levels.

Massage therapy, meditation, reading entertaining literature, laughing, dancing, and restful sleep are all great ways to keep balance. The body gets its most restful and repairing hours of sleep between 11pm and 8am. And the number one way to manage stress: mindful, deep breathing!

How does your songwriting process/collaboration work in The Good Mad?

A lot of the time we’ll write songs on our own and bring them to the rest of the members to put everyone’s scent on it. However, there definitely have been instances where we’ll get together and someone will bring a hook or a melody line, or lyrics and we’ll work on it. It’s different for every song. We just try to make the song sound the best that it can, no one person is trying to hog the attention. The most important thing is that the song feels whole and moves the way that feels best to us.

What did you learn opening for Justin Bieber, performing for crowds of 17,000 people a night?

I think most importantly, I learned I definitely want to play to crowds like that again. Alternatively, I’m so unbelievably grateful for that experience, that if it never happened again, I’d be fine. That’s not to say I’m not going to shoot for it though. It’s a rush like no other. I know I wouldn’t have been prepared for that kind of gig without all the experience I’d had leading up to that. I also learned how important it is to know how to operate a water gun.

What bands have you been listening to lately? Do you listen to certain songs to help get into character before filming a scene?

I’ve been listening to Feist’s Metals, Alt-J, and Nicki Bluhm a lot lately. Usually if I need to get in the mood to cry for a scene I’ll listen to a Coldplay song or two. Katy Perry’s “The One that Got Away” has been helpful in those times, as well as “Holocene” by Bon Iver. If I need to get pumped up though, Beyoncé and Emily Haines are my go-to ladies.

What Metric and Lana Del Rey songs do you most connect with?

All of them? Ha. Most recently Metric’s “Poster of a Girl” and “Synthetica” have been on repeat. As for Lana, “Video Games” is the song that totally captures the feeling of my early twenties. Not even so much in the lyrics, but more in its whole vibe. Sometimes, I imagine myself as an old woman listening to that song and feeling all the power behind it, and it makes me cry. Not in a sad way, but in a fond way.

Despite all the trials, terrors, mistakes, heart breaks… when you reflect on your memories, if you’ve lived a life you’ve loved, you’ll be filled with an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude. That’s my favorite thing about music. Music is the closest technology we have to time travel.

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Interview: Pierre de Reeder of Rilo Kiley

Pierre de Reeder After The Show Interview

Photo by Tom Moratto

Yesterday I spoke to Pierre de Reeder, bassist and founding member of Rilo Kiley, about Rkives (released via his record label Little Record Company).

After The Show: So Rkives came out last week — how’s the release going from both a label and band member perspective?

Pierre de Reeder: So far so good…It’s hard to separate those [perspectives] at this moment. It’s exciting that it’s out and people are buying it and liking it – people who have been fans of the band for a long time. There’s an overwhelming amount of good comments which is awesome to see.

I think you’ve set up Little Record Company as an admin label…how does it operate?

I’ve started more of an administration label. It’s more an artist funded label and I deal with everything a label would do otherwise to release stuff – hiring independent press and radio and putting everything through a distributor. This [RKives] is a more traditional release actually as far as handling everything.

I like the prominent bass on “I Remember You.” The songs on Rkives cover years and years. Is there a track you most connect with and one you least connect with?

Our opening track “Let Me Back In” is something that’s been endearing to all of us for a long time and one thing I’m glad we’re finally able to release. The second song “It’ll Get You There” has always been a favorite of mine as well that didn’t get put on any record. I relate least to “Dejalo” but it’s fun.

What’s a typical day for you –is most of your time taken up by running the label?

The label for this release has been one of my full time jobs for sure that’s taken up a lot of time. I also own a recording studio and produce and record a lot of records so that is another very time consuming endeavor. I’m also a family man and I have kids – my priority. My days are very long and packed full of stuff in various directions.

Photo by steven dewall

Photo by Steven Dewall

Artists can love the process of creating their work, and then they have to promote it and do Twitter and be a salesman, which is an entirely different skillset than creating the original art. What’s your perspective on that?

Certainly you become a peddler at that point. You’ve got your coat open, watches dangling on each side and you just do your best. There’s people that know a lot more than I on the business side…this release is the most engulfing. But it’s interesting – I can’t say I’m a businessman first – never was, never will be – but I think I fake it pretty good and get everything done. I do get engrossed in trying to be a peddler. I did major in business and marketing in college so I do try to apply that. With my label, I just try and give friends and people I like an outlet to release their music.

You have a recording studio — what qualities make a good sound engineer or producer?

Interesting question – I guess it’s such a subjective thing because there’s the technical side…you need to know what you’re doing from a technical perspective but then there’s the subjective ears and taste. From the producer perspective, it’s completely subjective. What you bring to the table is your experience in music, [they’re] hiring you for your opinion and what you can bring to the music based on your taste.

You and Jason Boesel have both released solo albums and can obviously sing – why did you guys never sing lead vocals on a Rilo Kiley song?

The band is established as Jenny as a singer and Blake as a singer…it’s already plenty of singing cooks in the kitchen. We love the dynamic between them. It’d be too schizophrenic and just not appropriate for that band. We have other musical outlets.

Will you release a follow-up to The Way That It Was?

I think so, yeah. I’m slowly writing new things and then recording them eventually. It’s funny and ironic having a complete, robust studio at your fingerprints and not utilizing it for yourself. That record took me 5 years of thinking about it and recording it to finally release.

At what point in Rilo Kiley did you realize you could support yourself just by playing music – was there a specific turning point or was it more gradual?

It was always a gradual process, at some point yes we were able to be a working class band able to make a living, between sales and touring.

If you could be a musician in any time period in history when would you choose?

Hmm I have thought about this…I guess I relate sort of to the late 60s early 70s era…I could see myself there. I don’t know if I would prefer that to my own period. I kind of like my own period of time.

There’s mystery and conflicting reports about the origin of the name Rilo Kiley – a dream about being chased by a sports almanac, an Australian football player from the 19th century, a character who predicted the date of Jenny Lewis’ death…do you want to clear that up?

I can totally confirm that all of those stories are true.

Thank you Pierre! 

Get Rkives +RiloKiley.com +PierredeReeder.com

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