* Musicians Journal: This is the first of a new series we will 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.
Just over two years into being a band, City Mouse is finally going on a real live tour. The trio and our dear friend and talented Atlanta songwriter, Reverend Justin Hylton, are taking our respective sounds and souls across Woody Guthrie’s homeland.
So, ya know, if you’ve got friends in any of these places that are fans of roots music our music routes, tell em we’ll be there soon!
6/27 – The Shed BBQ and Blues Joint (Ocean Springs, MS)
6/28 – Strange Brew (Austin, TX)
7/2 – (In Session with:) Little Fella Media (Palmdale, CA)
7/3 – Forchetta Bastoni (Sebastapol, CA)
7/5 – Hotel Utah Saloon (San Francisco, CA)
7/7 – Monolith Bar (Reno, NV)
7/9 – Concert Window – 8PM EST)
7/9 – Aspen Square Grouper (Aspen, CO)
7/14 – the Five spot (Nashville, TN)
7/15 – WDVX Blue Plate Special (Knoxville, TN)
We thought that along the way we would -with the help of the beautiful people of OpenEars Music – keep you posted on the more interesting aspects of our freshman tour. With it all laid out before us we are still in awe that it’s even happening. Which begs the question that has been rattling around in our brains most recently: How is this happening?
So, I gave it some practical thought. What’s our strategy?
Well, we play for free.
If you’ve ever seen City Mouse at any of our regular haunts throughout Atlanta, you were watching 3 individuals play music for zero dollars a peace.
There’s no one formula for making this whole “being a band” thing work but we can hardly see how doing it any other way can be as easy (for lack of a better word. Maybe ‘possible’ is more accurate?), as a young collective like ourselves. Sure, there are other variables too. In Atlanta, we have the immense fortune of being constantly engaged and endlessly inspired by our peers and our hometown idols. This place is flooded with some of the industry’s hardest workers and most talented individuals, whether you’ve heard of them or not. Certainly, we would not be a band readying ourselves for tour without the support system that we have in this vibrant city.
Of course, we are all gainfully employed individuals otherwise. We have simply agreed to not divide it amongst ourselves after shows. Not by any percentage. We do this for a couple of reasons:
1) At the level we’re at, the money just isn’t so lucrative that it would make an incredibly significant difference in our individual lives (…and that’s a whole ‘nutha article).
2) It takes a huge chunk of the variables out of being a band. And that’s half the battle: just being a band. Instead, we simply pad up a consolidated account that has little overhead to come out of it — well, between tours anyway.
Our logic is thus: “Why give 3 people $26 (or some other relatively insignificant amount of money) when that money consolidated – that hypothetical $78 – can accumulate faster and be a clear-cut amount to be put towards band needs like merch, marketing and gas on tour?” We’ve approximated that our gas alone for this tour is going to be about $2200. To introduce the conversations that would be needed to have members forfeit their own savings for the band’s mutual needs introduces the dynamics that are prone to expose a weakness in a band’s bond.
Of course, to take this conversation to its ultimate destination is to say that we pay to play. For some amount of time – possibly the entire existence of a band – what you make is going to be dwarfed by what you’ve put in to musicianship. Even this band account that we’re so proud of pales in comparison to cost of our instruments, equipment and maintenance. And we’re just a friggin’ string trio (looking at you Umphrey’s McGee cover bands…)!
A more practical person might ask “why do you do that?”
Alas, the choice to not do this is no choice at all. Whatever cosmic conception has yielded us four musicians the lives, legs, lungs, lust and alliteration to fuel our depravity is surely the religion we are blindly faithful to. Furthermore, the love that has been afforded to us, individually and as a band, is perhaps our greatest asset.
Thanks for everything, Atlanta! We’ll see you soon.
Article by: Brian Revels of City Mouse
Photo by: John McNicholas