* Musician’s Journal: This is the first of a new series we will be publishing from different young musicians as they work through the exciting times of a young, up and coming band trying to make it, whether it’s going on a big tour, trying to put out a record, etc. This is from the musicians mouth to you. It’s meant to give an inside, behind the scenes look at the good, the bad, the struggles, the exhilarating happenings of being a musician in today’s world and the hard work that it takes to “make it.”
This first series follows one of our favorite young folk bands from Atlanta, City Mouse, taking their talents West for the first time. Check out these guys, catch their show when they hit your city, and check back here throughout their tour as Brian Revels, guitar, banjo, and vocals, keeps us up-to-date on the latest behind the scenes of their tour.
The preciousness of tour life is temporary. It feels sacrilegious writing that as Arizona’s desert, framed by its mountains – easily the most expansive view of land we’ve ever seen in our lives! – surrounds us. However, we know that in a few weeks we’ll be back home with bills to pay and we’ve got to be sure of why we’re doing this. We need tangible, measurable proof that our efforts have been worthwhile. We track expenses, profits and, of course, those goddamned social media stats.
Now, allow me to digress…
You may be asking, “How is that specific to a band on the road?” And the oversimplified answer is ‘the people’.
We are salesmen. We are missionaries spreading the good word of our convictions to new places and the people therein. A musician, especially the songwriting sort, is saying, in essence, “This is what I’ve made to feel more fulfilled in life. Maybe it will have a similar effect on you.” Ultimately, the single-most important facet to any live show is the individual who responds, in one way or another, to that silent statement, “It does.”
As altruistic and abstract as that may seem, it is also an important factor in a band’s marketing efficiency. Firstly, there is no platform as effective as word-of-mouth — well, next to an individual hearing the music themselves. A Facebook ad that’s labeled “sponsored” isn’t going to be nearly as convincing as someone with whom you share interests posting – or, god forbid, actually telling you in person – how much they love a particular band or album. On tour, we’re hoping to find those people – in cities where we have no friends or acquaintances – who will champion our music to virgin hearts and open ears (wink!).
Secondly, exclusivity plays a huge part in any band’s appeal. On this tour, City Mouse and Reverend Hylton have sold and signed more CD’s per show than at any of our hometown performances, aside from album releases. Why? Because no one knows when we’ll be back (not even us!).
We want to make a living at this. What’s the old cliché? ‘Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’? Yup. That’s the target.
We are traveling this beautiful country because of our insatiable appetite, not the wanderlust, but for that deep connection that comes from someone hearing/ seeing/ knowing your dearest creations, our most honest selves incarnate in our art, and giving you the sense that you have made a sincere impact on their lives — that it has not been in vain. What’s more is that they’ll very likely bring a friend or two the next time we come back. Kenny, in Ocean Springs, Mississippi bought our albums, one copy for himself and one for his daughter and told us how much he enjoyed hearing our “old souls”. Brian, in Austin, Texas, said our sets at an open mic we attended blew him away.
Pardon me for gushing but this crazy, collective happiness that comes from the communion of listeners and musicians is humbling and utterly self-affirming. Maybe I’m only speaking for myself at this point but the doubt that permeates my life is, for the moment, subdued. The demons are sleeping and every choice I’ve ever made has been justified and every mistake forgiven.
Now, amidst the euphoria, we must draw our conclusions. We need the tangible and intangible to be recorded. We have no managers, no labels and no plans to acquire them. We’re not against the help, but those aren’t the goals to which we orient ourselves. Instead, what is going to grease the axles and ultimately pave the way for those, more recognizable measures of success is the tedious progress of tours like this.
So, onward we move, with a skateboard in one hand and a spreadsheet in the other.
Check out the 1st post from this series as City Mouse prepared to head out on tour along with their tour dates on this trip here.