So yes, I am going down to Austin for SXSW this year, and while I'm looking forward to eating copius amounts of Tex-Mex and drinking myself silly on Shiner Bock, I also will be technically "working" as well. Inspired by the extensive Chicago presence at the festival every year, I'm shooting for a future Newcity cover feature documenting the experience of two local bands running the extensive schmoozing and boozing gauntlet that is the South By Southwest music festival.
To get some context going prior to the event, I sent out the same four questions to the heads of both of my "subjects," Office and The 1900s. I was just hoping to get some notes down for my piece before jumping into things in Austin, but I ended up getting some great responses from both Scott (Office) and Ed (1900s) so I thought I'd share them here on RFC.
Scott: OFFICE was really green when we went to SXSW in 2006; not comfortable in our skin as performers yet, and still searching for our collective energy. Plus, Jessica Gonyea wasn't even in the band yet....so there was definitely a void in our dynamic. Something wasn't "complete" in OFFICE yet.
This year, we know what to expect from the festival. We don't necessarily need to show up to places we don't want to be at, and we won't have that added pressure to be something we aren't, which a few folks were trying to push on us last year. We are one of those few bands who survived the pre-game hype and post-game backlash of '06, and I'm very grateful for that. We just want to do our thing this year, and command respect from the audiences....not beg for it.
Ed: We were not accepted last
year. We stayed home. -In hindsight, would
you have done anything different? Like to have taken anything back? Any other
interesting happenings/anectdotes from last year or years past?
Ed: We were not accepted last year. We stayed home.
-In hindsight, would you have done anything different? Like to have taken anything back? Any other interesting happenings/anectdotes from last year or years past?
Scott: So many things I would have done differently. I'd rather wait and answer this question later.
goals/aspirations for this year at SXSW?
-Any particular goals/aspirations for this year at SXSW?
We're showing up in Austin as a real band..... not a bunch of kids who are trying to get signed. We've grown up a lot this year, and judging by the photo shoot we had today, I'd say that we have become very comfortable with ourselves as individuals under one umbrella project. Hype will always fall out from underneath every band who receives it. If you can get used to the idea that the upswing is a cruel joke, then you'll be alright, and you'll just shut up and make decent music while you still can.
Ed: I'm worried that everyone won't stay sober enough to play. We're not really a band that gets wasted and performs. We save that for afterwards…I also want to buy some boots and a Stetson hat. And meet George Bush.
We try to never keep our expectations too high. So many potentially big things have already fallen through for us, we try to keep a healthy 'If it happens it happens' kind of attitude. Basically, we really want to shop around our new record, which we financed ourselves (badly in debt!). SXSW is a great opportunity for people outside of Chicago who have shown some interest to see us perform live, which pretty much everyone wants to do before working with a band. We also want to get copies of the new record, which we're very excited about, into lots of hands. The 1900s are a tabla rasa right now, we could go in a million different directions - if nothing else SXSW will help us gauge where we're at.
-What are your thoughts
on SXSW overall? A)Non-stop party that you look forward to every year or B)An
exhausting non-stop gauntlet of jumping through industry hoops or C) somewhere
in the middle
-What are your thoughts on SXSW overall? A)Non-stop party that you look forward to every year or B)An exhausting non-stop gauntlet of jumping through industry hoops or C) somewhere in the middle
Scott: SXSW is a great place to see up and coming bands of all shapes and sizes. The air is thick with energy and diversity, which is always refreshing for artists and the people who go there to watch it take place. To answer your question more thoroughly, I'd say SXSW is "somewhere in the middle". It's whatever you want it to be.
Ed: I'm not sure any of us have really had to maneuver around industry BS yet. We're all very timid about self-promotion and find it very off-putting when bands over-promote. We've been lucky enough to have good people come to us because they like what we're doing, which is the ideal situation in my eyes. Of course, there is the rush of tricking out Myspace with press quotes and burning the sampler CD's and getting artwork done and all that cliche stuff. I'm trying to make the most of it but I'm not sure what that entails. Nobody is around to tell us what to do, which is both good and bad.
We all really appreciate the part of being a musician that puts you in fun situations. We can't wait to let loose and party with our friends from Chicago and meet some new friends as well.
Having not been there and just hearing all the stories, I'm envisioning SXSW as Spring Break/Cabo Wabo for indie rockers. The difference is that bands want to get blown by some A&R dude instead of some drunken sorority chick.