We come from a small town in Ontario called Manotick. We have been touring relentlessly for 4 years.
For our first American tour, no-one wanted to book us. So, instead of booking shows, we drove as far way from our homes in Canada as we could get. We would then show up at venues where a show was going on and tell them we were 2000 miles away from home, had a gig booked down the street but it somehow fell through. “Would you guys mind if we played a short set here tonight?” IT WORKED! We played countless shows this way.
Since we rarely got paid more than a few drinks and sometimes pizza, we needed to make gas money.
We had a laptop with the the tracks to our demo CD. We would go to best buy, get a CD burner and a couple spindles of blank cds. We would burn a hundred demos in the parking lot and then return the CD burner to Best Buy. We would then put the demos in ziplock bags. (hence the name of our first record….record in a bag).
Once we had a stash of demos we would drive to the nearest mall and set up shop in front of Hot Topic (probably the most shameless thing we have done for our band). We would stand there for hours, with discmen and demos asking anyone who would stop to take a listen if they wanted to buy a demo in a bag. We could sell the discs for 5 bucks and still make $4.50 to put towards gas.
We did this for 2 years. Anything to avoid having a real job, right?
In February 2009, we released our first full length album for FREE online.
That same month we invented the RESIDENCY TOUR. We took the old concept of playing a residency one day a week at the same bar and made it psycho. We booked 7 residencies for the month, one for each night of the week. Every Sunday of that cold February we played in at the same club in Boston, every Monday at Piano’s in NYC, Tuesday was Lacolle Quebec, Wednesdays – Hamilton Ontario, Thursdays – Toronto, Friday – Ottawa, Saturday – Montreal. Repeat 4 times. 28 shows in a row. over 12,000 miles of crap Canadian winter driving in 28 days.
In February 2010, we started our own record label to release “record in a bag” in stores in Canada. Although every distributor we talked to said it was impossible, we were finally able to convince one (Arts and Crafts) that we could literally package “record in a bag” in a ziplock bag filled with goodies. So far we have sold over 10,000 copies of it in Canada. With no label support, our first single “Juliette” went top 5 in mainstream Canadian alternative radio.
Things began to take hold in Canada and we soon became privy to the Canadian grant system for touring acts. Still, when they gave us a budget to play a showcase in China, we took the budget and stretched it for all it was worth. We turned it into a 3 week tour deep into China. We recorded a song in mandarin Chinese and released it on the internet in China. We were able to return for another tour 6 months later.
We can play our instruments. We play live and we play live a lot, hundreds of shows a year, we sweat. We take requests. We play covers we don’t know. We play for the audience, as much as each other, because without them we would still be in back Manotick, working jobs we hated. We play anywhere anytime. It is what we love more than anything.
We are 4 best friends (2 of the guys are brothers). We intend to do this for a long time. We want to have careers and catalogues that we can be proud of. Personally, I think, our song for the video you talked about is not nearly our strongest. Since then we have written a whole bunch more, and like anything else, they are getting better with practice.
Slightly edited, via Poke the Box by Seth Godin.
Anyways, now you know what real passion for what you do looks like. Yes, it does not look like your current job.
Why is that?
Because some people have the courage to do the above and some are too afraid that they will fail.