Oh, so this'll be my first show in Ottawa in a while or two. Gonna be trying out some new stuff, plus old new stuff and then last -- but by no means least -- ...old stuff. Bruce Enloe and the Burning Sensations will be opening. I worked on Bruce's two rad records, Unseasonably Cool and the raw, live-off-the-floor Bonfire. Both worth checking out, Bruce is an excellent songwriter. Geoffrey Gibson made us this beautiful poster:
See, it’s a postcard? But if you put it on a turntable it’ll play a very scratchy, low-fidelity version of my song Making Me Nervous? Disclaimer: I’ve tested them a bit and some auto-return type turntables haven’t been able to play them so uh: no guarantees they’ll work on your system. But they’re neat!
If you want me to mail you one, just Paypal me $10 USD and send me your mailing address and I’ll get it out to you asap.
I’ll be doing an in-store (duo) performance at 3pm at Backbeat on Saturday. Everybody who buys a record gets a free flexidisc! Details here.
After that, I’m heading to Kingston to play a full-band Brad Sucks set at The Mansion in Kingston. Details here.
I think that’s it. After that, I’m gonna lay down for a while.
Thanks to y'all who came out to the Montreal show. I'm actually glad there weren't more of you because I'm very shy. Winding down the year here -- I'm playing bass December 27th as a replacement member of The Burning Sensations. The next day there's a Brad Sucks show in Kingston on December 28th and then it's time to get cracking on rehearsing and recording some new things in the hopes of a musically productive 2014.
(poster by Geoff Gibson)
Hey party people. Got a few real world things coming up, which I must share with you: Thing 1: On April 27th I'll be in Boston at the Rethink Music conference (a Harvard/MIDEM/Berklee College of Music joint). I think my panel's at 4:45. And I think I'm doing something at the Berkman enter while I'm down there.
(Poster by Geoffrey Gibson)
Saturday, May 14th I'll be playing Kingston with Dave Norris & Local Ivan at The Mansion. I believe it will be six Canadian dollars. (Here's the Facebook event.) Next:
(Poster by Bill Mead)
Saturday, June 11th we're playing Ottawa. I don't know who the opener will be yet, but I'm sure whoever it is will be great. I'm trying to only play one show a year in my hometown so if you miss this sucker I'll see you in 2012. (Here's the Facebook event.)
If you can attend or know of anyone who might, please spread the word. Thanks!
Hey, the Toronto show was nice, thanks to everyone. And so ends the first few shows with the new band. They've been fun, I'm pretty happy with how everything sounds and I don't feel totally ashamed which is new.
Anyway, gonna take some time out and work on the next record and think about what's next. There are a bunch of things that'll need some adjusting as I go forward with the live show - like not losing money for instance. That would be awesome to not lose money.
After a lot of planning, promotion, practice and worry, the show in Ottawa last night went pretty good I think. It was the first real club gig with the new band and I was surprisingly happy with the sound.
The crowd was energetic and fun, if not as large as I had hoped from the amount of frigging time I put in promoting it. Lots of people sang along with my songs and knew the words and I guess that might be the best feeling in the world.
I still feel scared having a laptop on stage. I wish I had a better solution but I don't. I love computers and am good with them but that also makes me aware of how easily they can fail. When girls are dancing on stage all I can think about is "I hope they don't accidentally yank out my firewire cable." So, not exactly a carefree experience.
But it was good. Total success basically by all goals I set for it. And I'm looking forward to Toronto next Saturday. And then more shows?
All I've been doing lately is trying to promote my upcoming shows (July 31 Ottawa! August 7 Toronto!) Previously I've been lazy about show promotion due to insecurity and shame but desperation has once again won out.
I'm pretty sensitive and protective towards people who subscribe to my mailing list. I don't want to piss them off with bullshit updates or waste their time. This is mostly an issue when I have an occasional show - nobody cares if there's a show far away from them that they can't attend and it's annoying to get those emails. So I built this mappy email signup thing which you can see on my live page.
I've built up a good number of email addresses in there and they're targeted nicely. Anyone in there has specifically entered their email address and selected their location. That's about as opt-in as it gets in this world. "Please contact me if Brad Sucks is in this area, no fooling."
So while I went about contacting folks I tracked the event detail clickthroughs with a url shortener and the results were disappointing:
First I sent email the way I usually do -- I use Listmessenger from my server. I've had suspicions for some time that my mail was not getting to most people on the mailing list but I didn't have anything super important going on so I didn't stress about it.
The clickthrough rate for Ottawa was 8% and 16% for Toronto. From what I can see that's not a bad rate for your average semi-spammy email list. But again - this one is as targeted as it gets. Why isn't it much, much higher?
I have a decent number of demands over on Eventful. I've bitched before that they don't give me access to my demanders' email addresses (and was laughed at by the CEO for the suggestion I should have them if Eventful gets access to them). I sent out mail to my fans in areas in and around Ottawa and Toronto. For Ottawa and Toronto both I received zero clickthroughs. For Toronto I got 1.
I'm pretty shocked at that. What's the deal? Did the emails bounce? Are the addresses invalid? Are the Eventful emails getting marked as spam? I have no way to know. You fire your message to people who have demanded you in the area and that's that. Hope for the best.
Anyway I've put the Eventful widget up places (including my live page) thinking it couldn't hurt but I think I'm done with that. No point gathering fans through a service if I can't reach them.
Frustrated with these results I signed up for MailChimp. It's a pay mailing list service that's been highly recommended to me and they appear to have a great reputation. My best guess was that ISPs were maybe shitcanning my emails? Anyway, I bought some credits and sent out apologetic new versions of the emails to the same lists (removing anyone who replied that I knew had received the emails).
This time Ottawa got a clickthrough rate of 10% and Toronto got 3%. So it got me some extra eyeballs but it wasn't a huge improvement.
In the end
Out of all the fans in and around Toronto and Ottawa who voluntarily gave me their locations I have been able to contact only 5%. Awful.
Of course I feel bad for selfish reasons - I want these shows to go well, I want lots of people to come out, I want them to be a success. I've rented the club in Toronto and I'd like to not lose money. And psychologically a lot is riding on them for me. These will likely determine if I go ahead with some tour plans next year.
But I also feel like I'm letting these folks down. They've specifically asked me to tell them if I'm playing near them, which is such a nice thing for them to ask. I've promised to tell them when I'm in town and now I feel like I'm not able to hold up my end of the deal. That sucks and I have no idea what to do about it.
Trying to remember to blog things when I go out in to the really real world:
On May 17th I was on a panel at the Toronto Audio Engineering Society. I'm never sure about these things - I always feel like I'm just a mouthy imposter on panels but it was fun regardless. I tried to go to a 'taco bar' and it was closed. :( The panel was recorded and is up on torontoaes.org somewhere. Oh and I met Phil who was on the panel with me and now we hang out all the time and are buds. Here he is dancing:
On May 27th I was on a phone-in panel for the Open Your World forum talking about Creative Commons. One thing I like about panels is that when they go well there's a lot of interaction. On the phone that does not really happen. I wanted to debate with Daniel James as he seemed to be saying making easier to use music tools is a bad thing, but the phone made it weird. But I got to be on there with Curt Smith from Tears for Fears and am now lying to everyone and saying him and I hang out all the time and are buds.
On May 28th I was a (special!) guest at Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm's concert in Ottawa. We played SOS by ABBA (my and TheHipCola's cover of which can be found here). Paul and Storm particularly took it to another level with their accompaniment -- and the melodica/acoustic guitar/kaossilator/tamborine solo we came up with moments before the show got big laughs. The audience was so polite it made me nervous I would disappoint them with my life choices.
(Photo credit: WTL)
Then. on May 29th I did the first Brad Sucks show with the new band (Ben on acoustic & electric guitar, Justin on drums, myself on electric and two computers and keys) at the Dandelion Festival/VegStock. Here's me and a bit of Justin (drummer) and also the laptop (laptop) in the paper:
With only a 15 minute turbo setup/sound check I've come to believe it was a success even though there were some hiccups. I feel decent about the sound and will have some shows to announce soon. But I would like to have longer sound checks from here on out, please god please.
On May 30th I purchased Red Dead Redemption and spent the next few days drinking and completing it. It was very fun but Jesus Christ, lay off the cutscenes there Rock Star Games. I mean I have to watch a poorly paced ten minute cutscene and then I have to ride my horse next to a guy for another ten minutes while I listen to dialog? NO. YOUR SIMPLE PLOT DOES NOT REQUIRE THAT.
And this week it's all been trying to book shows and working on music.
Despite some shows coming up in the next few weeks we decided to try and add some lead synth to the set at the last minute. I had been playing solos on guitar but it doesn't have the same feel.
So the past week and a half has involved me trying to put together a stable PC running Windows XP, Reaper and various VSTis that can reliably run headless (no monitor, no keyboard, no mouse). ASIO drivers are provided by an Edirol UA-1EX as the ASIO4ALL drivers were too clicky and laggy.
The plan is then to cram all that into a 2U rackmount server case and then stuff that into a gig case for an instant on, portable, minimal worries synth machine. It would be great to get a solid state hard drive to minimize the moving parts, but my budget for this is low as balls.
As you can see from the photo on the right and my torn-up bloody hands (not pictured) it's been a struggle to find a combination of working spare parts. I thought I had solved it all a week ago but the motherboard I was using was only USB 1.0 and would intermittently flake out with the M-Audio Axiom 25 I've drafted into service.
Of course I'm currently running the show off a laptop but I felt having it do synth duties as well was too risky. At least this way if the laptop fails we can still put on an OK show. And if the synth machine fails I can still shred out some crappy guitar solos. If both fail, I will just run away from the venue as fast as I can.
I'm coming out of hibernation soon. So here are some places I'll be:
- May 17 - Toronto, ON - Toronto Audio Engineering Society: I'll be speaking on a panel on May 17 from 2pm-4pm. It's called "How You Are Delivering to Your Market", a topic on which I am clearly an expert since I have not delivered anything to my market lately. More info: torontoaes.org
- May 28 - Ottawa, ON - Jonathan Coulton: My pal Jonathan Coulton will be in town and I will be there. There was some talk about doing a song together but I'm not sure what's happening there. We're doing a song together, who knows what it could be!
- May 29 - Kemptville, ON - VegStock: This is an outdoor music festival that happens right around the corner from my house. It'll be the first show with the new band and will be kind of a disaster test.
- June 10 - Montreal, QC: There's a potential show in Montreal for this date but it's not 100% yet.
- June 11 - Ottawa, ON - The Cajun Attic: This will be a show.
- June 12 - Kingston, ON - The Mansion: This will be another show.
I'd like to get to Toronto and maybe a few other places this summer but I am not the greatest booker. If you have any hook-ups let me know.
If you happen to be any of those places, please say hi.
Update: June 10th, 11th and 12th shows are no longer happening!
Update #2: Updated the Jonathan Coulton show to confirm my participation.
So Brad Sucks should be coming out of live show retirement this year. There's an interesting show I've been offered but I need to gauge interest + probably sell tickets in advance to make it happen. Here are the potential details:
- The show would be at Beau's All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario.
- There would be a round trip bus from Montreal or Ottawa (depending on which city has more interest.)
- Cost would be $30, which is your cover and a brewery tour.
- It'd be in the spring or early summer.
Anyway, please let me know if it's something you'd attend. Thanks!
Tonight's my first show since the crappy Denver one in November and my first since breaking up the previous live band. As I've mentioned, the last band setup was super fun and a great learning experience, but I got a lot of comments/complaints that it didn't sound much like my albums (it was a harder rock sound) and I wasn't sure what to do about that.
After taking a break, I decided to simplify and hooked up with a local guitar wizard named Ben and I've been pretty happy with the sound in rehearsals. It's the laptop doing bass/drums/noise, Ben on acoustic/electric guitar and background vocals and myself on electric guitar and vocals.
I've been pretty bummed out about a lot of the sound and technical issues at the last batch of shows I did, so I'm hopeful doing a show in my little hometown will be a nice baby step. We will see!
Update: It all went well technically, was a bit awkward. I'm trying not to be too demoralized.
There are some upcoming Brad Sucks shows:
November 7th & 8th: Playing two nights at Kelly's Welcome in Manotick, ON. Full band.
November 20th: The Bluebird Theater in Denver, Colorado. Solo.
There's a pretty good possibility I'll be doing some touring in the new year, so be sure to put yourself down on the map on my live page.
Bunch of things coming up:
- February 11th - Harvard University [Cambridge, MA] - Q&A and a few songs.
- February 12th - The Middle East [Cambridge, MA] - Full show
- March 7th - Canadian Music Week [Toronto, ON] - Speaking.
Hope to see you there.