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Be A Sponge!!!

March 23, 2011

The Lifeline is a five-piece alternative rock band from Chicago that, no doubt, stands out amongst their peers. They have performed in venues throughout the U.S. and have shared stages with artists such as My Chemical Romance, Saving Abel, and 30 Seconds to Mars. With band members originally living in different states, one could say that The Lifeline was born touring.  So they should have some pretty good stories, right? Right.

We got to sit down with guitarist/vocalist Ryan T. Hope and violinist Rebecca Faber before their CD release show in January at Chicago’s Metro to talk about life, touring, and everything that goes wrong when you’re on the road.

 

About the Band

Rebecca: I started out as a classical violinist and studied throughout college. I always loved rock music, but I never considered playing it until I met Ryan. It was a very cool coincidence. It wasn’t until then really that I learned anything about touring. I knew a little about promotion through chamber music and stuff like that, but not very much. When I decided to start doing this, I would go to Barnes and Noble and just read and read and read. I read books like Tour:Smart trying to get as much advice as I possibly could to educate myself on what I was getting into. I knew it was tough, but when you’re actually doing it, you see how tough it really is.

Ryan: My experience is kind of the polar opposite of Rebecca’s. I’m the rock guy. I started off playing in bands when I was in eighth grade. I always loved music and being around it, so if I wasn’t in a band, I was always going to shows, listening to music, just totally into everything, but I was completely clueless. I had a band when I was in high school. We played one show about every six months, or something like that, but it was a big deal for us then because we were just young kids. It wasn’t until I got into college and I started getting involved in Student Entertainment Services that I got a look at what it’s really like to be in a band. I actually ran a club on the campus for a year and a half, and I think that experience is what shaped my views of what being in a touring band is like. It was from those experiences that we decided you know what, we want to give it a shot with the music that we’re making. I took a lot of those experiences—things that I saw other bands doing that I was booking and used it as a strategy for The Lifeline. I’m also classically trained vocally and I played bass for four or five years in school, so when we did start playing music together, we definitely had that chemistry as to knowing musically what we wanted to accomplish.

 

When did your band start touring?

Rebecca: We actually started playing. He lived in New York and I lived in Champagne, so we started the band touring. My very first show ever was a battle of the bands in upstate New York, and we won. Then our very second show, we opened for My Chemical Romance. And then I would come back. It was awesome.

Ryan: At the very beginning… after we did those shows, we did some acoustic shows. I would fly from New York out to Chicago to play a show or she would fly out to New York and we’d play in the city or someplace like that and it was always just buying plane tickets and trying to convince the airline to let you carry your guitar on. It was always a struggle like that at first but once we started doing stuff with a full band and really started playing legitimate shows as a band, then we had to do the whole trailer thing.

 

What advice would you give to newer bands thinking of touring?

Rebecca: Prepare for bad things to happen. Always be as prepared as you can because something is going to always go wrong, no matter how much you prepare. But also, in general, be a sponge and try to soak up as much information as you possibly can, whether it’s musically or business wise. And never expect anything to fall into your lap. No matter how good you are, you have to work your ass off.

Ryan: I think, for me, the biggest thing was actually getting out there and doing it myself. I can’t tell you how many mistakes I’ve personally made on the road, but just pay attention to what’s going on around you. Like Rebecca said, be a sponge. I think one thing that really works well for us is that—not everyone in our band is the most responsible person in the world, so, I think the best thing to do is delegate certain things to each member of the band. I’m the band dad. I drive the van, if our manager isn’t with us, I make sure everybody is up at the right time, I make sure everybody is out the door when we need to be out the door. If you can have somebody in your band where that’s their job, do it. It’s going to make everything flow a bit better. If you don’t have a tour manager, make sure there’s somebody that can take on that challenge because it’s really, really important. If you show up to a gig late, you could lose your guarantee.  If you forget something in another city, you could lose out on selling merch. You just have to be responsible as far as the different jobs that everyone has going, because it’s really important.

 

Any advice about what NOT to do?

Ryan: If you’re driving your own van or vehicle, maintenance is so important. Before you go out on the road, make sure your vehicle is working. Get an oil change and all that stuff, because you never know what can happen on the road. We played CMJ last year and we had a couple shows on the way to New York City, a few in the city, and then we had a show in Albany, New York the next day, so we decided to leave the show and drive straight to Albany that night. Well, the gas gauge on the truck wasn’t working correctly, and we forgot to calculate the city mileage. So we got half way to Albany and the van just completely stalled out on the highway in the middle of the night. All of the guys were sleeping in the back and I’m just sitting there with the drummer like “Man…”  Anyway, moral of the story is, we had to pay for a tow truck, we had to pay for gas, and it set us back a couple hundred bucks. Small details like that need to be worked out before you head out or else they could come back to bite you.

 

What strategies do you use to promote your band?

Rebecca: All types. Right now the big thing is Facebook. The way you promote is constantly changing. You have to be on top of what everyone else uses to get the word out. Word of mouth definitely works the best. If you can get a good buzz going on through Facebook or going to shows and talking to people about your band, I think those things are the best.

Ryan: Honestly, I’m awful with Facebook and Myspace and all that stuff. I find what works the best is just being genuine with people. You can go ahead and send out a mass invite to a show, but I don’t think that works quite as well as trying to connect individually with people that you know are going to come to the show. Or somebody that you know came to the last show, just send them a message saying “Hey man, what’s up? I’m really happy you came out to the show, I’d like to see you again.”  Something that is going to make that person feel like you’re connecting with them on a personal level rather than just using a social networking site to let everybody know about your band.

 

What is your proudest moment as a band?

Rebecca: We paired up with a video director and made three videos, basically, that became a short film. It went to film festivals around the country and ended up winning a lot of awards. When it premiered, it premiered here in Chicago at the Century Cinema on Clark. Our short film was being screened on this huge screen, and it was a really proud moment because we were doing something that no one else was doing. You have to work really hard to facilitate the whole thing. It took a complete year to go from contract negotiations to that screening.

Ryan: My passion is performing. I love recording music, I love writing, I love doing all that stuff involved, but playing shows really is the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing, so my proudest moment is probably the first year that we played South by Southwest. We just kind of got booked on a whim. We decided to plan this tour to support it all the way down there. Before the tour happened, we lost a band member, which is something that would usually cripple a band and allow you to not move forward, but we found somebody in the right amount of time and once we got to Austin, we played the show and just killed it. I just remember feeling this enormous sense of pride, and just feeling like this is really what I want to do with the rest of my life. I think that was the moment in time where I realized that I really have a legitimate shot at doing this, so I’m going to try my hardest.

 

Check out more information on The Lifeline HERE!

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Get excited Ladies and Germs! From this moment on we will be throwing something new into the Tour:Smart blog. Something so great, even I’M excited. Something that you can be a part of. Something so cool even your grandmother is going to read this shit. THAT is how great it is.

Martin says that any band on the road for more than a week is going to be brimming with ingenuity and tricks, both real and mental, simply to keep things straight on the road. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have some bands share those things with the rest of us?

Here’s how this hoopla is going to go down:

Every few weeks or so (depending on how many entries we get), we’re going to be blogging about different bands. That’s right. YOU could be featured on our Tour:Smart blog. Everyone makes mistakes and even when you think everything is great, something is bound to go wrong. Especially when you’re on the road with a band. We want to hear about your experiences and strategies. This is your chance to show everyone that you’re not only a badass musician, but that you can hold your own on the business side of things as well. If nothing else, show your parents that your college degree is paying off!

Maybe your band is unbelievably innovative. Maybe one of our books has helped you. Maybe you have some good advice on touring. Maybe you found a different use for our book and want to tell us (Seriously. This guy used our book as firewood during the fucking blizzard that KILLED the Midwest last month. Crazy shit!). Maybe your band is terrible and you have absolutely no talent but can bullshit well enough to convince us that you belong on here. Or maybe we just like you.

Not in a band? Not a problem. If you’re checking out our site, chances are you go to concerts or know someone in a band or at least listen to music. Are artists you listen to doing something different than everyone else out there? We want to hear about it.

Finally, everyone has a brain that they want to pick. Here’s your chance. If you had the chance to interview your favorite band, what would you ask? Send us some questions and we’ll throw them into the mix when we do our interviews!

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Check it the Fuck Out!!!

February 1, 2011

Take a look at what Martin and other industry professionals have to say about music trends in this awesome article!

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Get Fucked For The Holidays

December 1, 2010

Martin Atkins’ (author of Tour:Smart) new book, “Welcome to the Music Business… You’re Fucked” is finally available! 120 or so pages filled with the next generation of ideas from Tour:Smart: Distilled down, readable, road tested and full of his twisted look on everything that makes the dark truths of the business fun. Laugh out loud […]

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1st Session of Band Tune Up SOLD OUT! 2nd Session added Nov 13 5-8PM

November 3, 2010

After an overwhelming response to the Martin Atkin’s : Band Tune Up (to be held at Madison Media Institute Nov 13), we’ve decided to add a 2nd FREE evening session.  The 2nd session of this must-see seminar geared to help you tune up the business of your band, is scheduled for Nov 13th from 5-8PM. […]

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FREE Seminar!!! Martin Atkins:Band Tune Up #BandTuneUp ~ Nov 13 Madison, Wisconsin

October 20, 2010

We’ve been keeping you up to date with all the most innovative tips and marketing strategies from the creative mind of Martin Atkins.  But all of us here at Tour:Smart can personally attest to the fact that NOTHING can compare to seeing Martin speak live!  That’s why our latest event, Martin Atkins: Band Tune Up […]

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11 MORE (of 29) Tips Touring Bands Can Do Now To Make a Difference

October 6, 2010

Tip # 17. Have tip jar with hilarious message : (“Guitar lessons needed, drug fund please help!”) Make people laugh and give them a reason to put 25 cents or a dollar in your tip jar. Soon it’ll add up to fill your gas tank, your tummy or, if in fact you are a drug […]

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Fall Speaking Tour

September 28, 2010

Well, Fall is officially here and it’s turning out to be a crazy season for Martin Atkins and the Tour:Smart team! Not just because of the crazy fucking cats roaming about the Invisible neighborhood. (see right).  Traps have been set.. rabies shots administered.. updates to follow… It’s mostly because we’re getting geared up for Martin’s […]

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Give, Get, Make – The Increased Velocity of Reciprocity

September 22, 2010

GIVE, GET, MAKE It used to be that we did something and we got paid for it. It used to be pretty straight forward… 1. Sell a t-shirt 2. Make money But now there is a general epidemic of what I call three times removed payment opportunities.  Your money is actually three times further away than you […]

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