If you ever read our article, “How To Get Booked At A Music Festival,” then you saw that we mentioned The Dread Crew of Oddwood as a prime example of a band targeting the right market. The reason I knew that they were doing it right, is because just a little bit before writing the article, I had seen them at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. It was at that point that I realized they would be a great band to have as one of our featured artists. What I didn’t know was how they snuck their way into the faire in a manner I would have never even thought of.
Q: What inspired you guys to create such a unique project? Where did the idea come from?
It just…happened. It was inspired by Ecco the Dolphin, Heavy Metal, and Alcohol. Much longer story than that, but I don’t want to lose your readers this early in the interview.
Q: Image is a large part of what makes Oddwood so original. How important do you think it is for every musician to create their own image?
Image is important in many ways, but it doesn’t really matter if you aren’t making decent music to begin with. If people are finding out about you because you look cool, make sure your music is produced well, at least. Even if your music isn’t good, if it’s produced well, you might still be able to snag some superficial fans. After you do, ask yourself if you’re in the right industry, for the right reasons.
Q: You’ve been playing Renaissance Faires and Festivals since your incarnation. It’s obvious that you are a perfect fit for them, but can you give the rest of us some insight into how you were able to land those gigs? What advice do you have for other musicians looking to get their foot in the door?
Well…we were buskingPerforming music or other forms of entertainment in a public place while soliciting money. Also known as street performance at a Renaissance Faire, and they asked us if they could pay us to take it a little bit more seriously. We probably started taking it less seriously as soon as we were hired as performers, and I think that’s what made people like us so much. Chaos in the midst of a bunch of well-oiled, organized acts. That’s entertainment, right?
Q: Do you approach venue gigs and festival gigs differently? If so, how?
We usually ask for more money at festival gigs. It’s a good idea to have a minimum price for each type of gig, but be flexible. Sometimes it’s even worth doing pay-to-playWhen a venue requires a guarantee from you in order to play. For example, the venue may make you responsible for the sale of 50 tickets. If you don't sell all of the tickets, you are required to pay for the tickets anyways., if you know the crowd will like you. We opened for Rhapsody of Fire recently, made no money on the door, but sold more than enough merch to make the gig worth it. You’ll do much better if you know your crowd. The other big difference is remembering that a lot less of the people watching you are going to know who you are at a festival. Impress people at a venue gig, but make sure you blow them away at a festival.
Q: At the end of this week, you guys are starting your west coast tour in support of Heavy Mahogany. The idea of booking their own tour can be very overwhelming for a lot of independent musicians. How do you guys approach booking a tour?
Make phone calls, send emails, ask friends, ask other bands, do Google searches, be prepared to get no response or a “no” response, and don’t give up. Most people tend to treat touring bands better than local bands, so don’t be afraid to ask for a guarantee, but remember that at the end of the day, having a show on your way to the next one and not making money is usually better than not having a show at all. Just make sure the gig isn’t pay-to-playWhen a venue requires a guarantee from you in order to play. For example, the venue may make you responsible for the sale of 50 tickets. If you don't sell all of the tickets, you are required to pay for the tickets anyways.. It’s not abnormal to go out of pocket for a tour, but it’s a good idea to try to avoid that. Find a gig that pays well and cross your fingers. You’re going to have fun either way, but it’s a lot cooler if you make enough money to cover your expenses. If it’s not going to be fun and you aren’t making money, don’t go on tour and figure out what you’re doing wrong.
Another thing to watch out for is double booking a night. In a DIY tour, it’s probably a good idea to assign each day/city to a person in the band, or just figure out who is best at booking and have them do the whole thing. If everyone is trying to book all the dates, you’ll end up with dates that are double booked or venues thinking you’re a crazy person with four personalities that all send similar emails.
Finally, be realistic about the venues you contact. If you can’t fill that 800 seat hall, you probably shouldn’t book it. Don’t lie about your draw. Lots of promoters and club owners know other promoters and club owners. If you’re nice and you tell them the truth, you’re helping them, so they’ll probably help you (and probably direct you to a venue that is more suited to your draw/style of music).
**I&U Note – You can see a full list of their upcoming tour dates on their website.**
Q: Your newest record, Heavy Mahogany, was funded by your Kickstarter campaignA funding platform for creative projects. Used often times by musicians as a way to fund recording, touring, or music videos. that reached 150% of your goal. How were you able to create such a successful campaign? Would you recommend Kickstarter to other musicians?
I don’t think it would have worked if we didn’t have a fan base to begin with. Our project was selected as a featured Kickstarter project, and even with that boost in traffic, the majority of the money came from existing fans. I definitely recommend trying it if you have a solid following online. Set your goal a little bit higher than you need it to be, too; Kickstarter takes a cut of the money you make. We’ll probably use Kickstarter or something similar to it for future projects.
Q: What made you choose to forsake a record label and do it yourself? Would you ever consider signing to a label in the future?
Once again, it just happened. A few of us were getting into production work when we started the project, so we just used it to practice. We have at least one very good graphic designer in the band as well, so we never had to outsource things like booklet and album layout. Having said that, we would sign to a label if the deal was right. We’ve been thinking about looking into finding a distribution deal in Europe to help get our music out to an international fan base. We think about a lot of things, though, and we don’t get all of them done. Things like recording a cover of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” definitely takes priority over shopping for a label.
Q: Any words of advice for other independent musicians?
Learn how to do everything. Even if you aren’t going to be doing it yourself, knowing how to do what you’re paying somebody else to do is immensely helpful when you’re trying to avoid being screwed over. You’re going to meet a ton of sketchy people out there, and you’ll also (hopefully) meet some nice folks. Know who’s who.
Q: Last but not least, can I have The Oddkit?
No. If you want one, Gunmaster Castle will build you one for a “nobly seductive” fee.