Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Feeling unmotivated?

Part 92

  I am back in Dublin after Sliotar's first tour of the year. I love touring, but as much I love coming home.
We had our first rehearsal with JPKALLIO.COM in few weeks yesterday and it was good to be playing again. The contrast between going from the Sliotar world to JPKALLIO.COM is quite big, to say the least. But that's what makes it fun for me:-). Now we are playing a concert in the Sweeneys basement this Friday, so come along.
  I was reminded of something during the week by a good friend of mine. In the past playing in all the bands that I have, I noticed that I do go through fazes of being more motivated. I think it is very natural thing that you can't keep your energy and enthusiasm at the same level all the time. Sometimes you need a break, you need to take distance to get re focused. I would say most musicians go through this from time to time. Does this mean you are weak or a bad musician? Well, as long as you get the job done, no. We all need to charge batteries from time to time. I also find that when I have quiet time like this, I very often come back with guns blazing and full of fresh ideas. I look at things that used to seem impossible and now they seem possible. I notice things where I was stuck in a routine and take a fresh approach to them. If I was only starting out, I could possibly mistakenly take these unmotivated times as a sign of failure and quit all together, but now I know better. It is just my minds way of finding time to refresh and get going again. Obviously band like Sliotar this would be harder to do as we play live every week, but you just get on with the concerts for few weeks and find the time to enjoy the world around you for a while. And sooner than you know, you'll be back up again. I do find though that these motivational dips can be effected very much by your band mates, stale gigs etc. To my delight this year I have been full of fire as Sliotars new album has kept me busy and our tour schedule for the year is busiest I can remember. And with JPKALLIO.COM the addition of Patryk in the band has given me a big lease of life and April was one of our busiest months ever. But somewhere in the future when all the dust settles, I know there will be a time I'll feel like I need a bit of a break, and when it comes, that's just what I'll do:-)
  So next time you feel your band is not going anywhere, just allow your self to take some distance. Later you will come back to it with fresh eyes and ears.


Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Stick with it.

  Week two of Sliotar tour got me thinking about persistence. As I have mentioned in the past Sliotar has been on the go for past 16 years and I have been in the guitar duties for the past 12 years. Through out that time I have had good times and bad times. Played some great concerts in front of big audiences, but also played in horrible conditions with only hand full of people. When things are going great it is easy to believe in the band, but if things are going bad it is easy to loose faith. Even though mostly it has been great, there were times when I did not see any future in the band, especially my part in the band... I was contemplating something else to do, even quitting music... Now I am very glad I stuck through it.
   The biggest secret in success is sticking with it through thick and thin. No one said this was going to be easy, but if you give up, you fail. If you stick with it, there will be a time you will be rewarded. It might not be today, it might not be this year. But the time will come. There will be times you loose faith in your band and feel like giving in. These are times you just need to put the head down and struggle through. Something will come up and things will start looking much brighter. But also remember you're not in it alone, unless you are a solo artist of course. Every one in the band need to be willing to stick with it as well. If you are the only one who believes in what your band does, it might be tough. And in this situation it would be time to sit down and have a chat. In my experience, musical differences and unrealistic expectations are some of the biggest stumbling blogs of any band. Personality clashes you can work on, as long as both parties are willing to do so. I still believe you can teach person skills, but they got to have character. This is something you cant learn.
   So where am I now? I could not imagine my life without Sliotar. I do want to pursue other things, like JPKALLIO.COM, writing this blog, sound engineering... But Sliotar will be a big part of me for a long time to come:-)

Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Thursday, May 17, 2012

One step at a time

  Once again I am writing this while on the road. We have started our first 2012 Sliotar tour. I am in Munich at the moment, and let me just say that this is a great city. Architecture is out of this world and the city has a really nice feel to it. We have four concerts here, two in Kilians and two in Kennedys Irish pub, before we head to the Greenfarm festival. To my surprise I have found it hard to get online here, so it looks like I'll be spending lot of time in Starbucks... But hey, it's all part of the business. Sliotar is having a busy year with the new album out and all, we'll be on the road probably 10 weeks this year. It is a great feeling though, when all the hard work and preparations finally come to end and you actually get to play concerts. Let's face it, that is why most musicians do this.  We all would love to just get up and play gig after gig, but there are very few who get to do that. For most of us we need to be able to do also all the bookings, travel arrangements, promotion, merchandise... But that just is the way things work these days. To be honest with you, I am grateful that I had to do it this way. I learn something new every day, and we get to control our own careers. If I could go back and do it all over again, would I change anything? For sure, knowing what I know now, I would take control much earlier instead of waiting around and hoping for those small breaks. I would definitely get in to making videos much earlier, as they have been a great tool  for both Sliotar and JPKALLIO.COM . But over all, I am happy where I am now, but most importantly how I got here. I enjoy the journey and too often we forget to do that. Waiting around won't get you anywhere, getting up and doing things will. It's like learning to play. The best guitar in the world will sound crap until you learn what to do with it and only way to learn is practice.
   So get up, write down one music related goal you want to achieve, whether it is playing a concert in certain venue, learn to play particular piece of music or what ever you like. Then break it down to steps. Write down what you need to do to reach this goal. And start doing it one step at a time. And remember to enjoy it as well:-)

Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hard facts about running your own gigs and A Joyful Slog

Part 89

   I am starting to get ready for the first of this years Sliotar tours. It is always a relief when you start the tour as all the preparations come to an end and finally you get to play live shows:-) The logistics even behind a small tour is a quite a task and it ends up being a team effort from the whole band. As I write this, Des is driving our equipment from Dublin to Munich, where we will start the tour next week. This is only going to be short two week tour, but in July we head back for nearly five week tour.

   I had an interesting conversation on Friday night after JPKALLIO.COM's show in the Thomas house. Fellow musician and a friend of mine was very surprised when they heard that when we put on a show, we actually pay for sound engineer, posters and sometimes even venue rental. I suppose there are many people out there who still are disillusioned about the way this business works. It got me thinking that I will organize an interview with some promoters to explain this side of the business in the near future. But let me just say this. When ever you see a band posting a concert on facebook, or see a poster around the town, unless it is a free concert, there is a big chance the band stands out to loose money. We take risks all the time, to be able to do what we love and if we break even we usually consider it a success... Most independent touring bands make most of their income from merchandise sold at shows. So for local bands that haven't been on the go so long yet, you might not have your CD, T-shirts etc. to sell. And before you even think of saying that what you need is good manager, let me remind you something I have been saying since the beginning of this blog, No manager will be interested in you until you can fill a venue regularly. Managers need to make money, it's a fact of life! And if you can't make money, how do you think they can make money out of you? So until you are in a position where you are gigging nearly 100 concerts a year and making money out of it, you just need to keep on taking those risks and booking the gigs you'r self.

   On another note, I came across this very nice documentary on the DIY scene in Ireland. This is a great inside on how the real underground music scene works. It is a Dublin Community Television production and was made by the Community Of Independents collective that works with the channel. Featuring live footage and audio of various Irish artists as well as insightful interviews with some of the people that have been involved in the growth of this scene.

   This Friday the 11th of May JPKALLIO.COM will be back in the Slaughtered Lamb for the Blitz band slam quarter final. Hope to see you there:-)

Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, May 2, 2012



 We are organizing an album fundraiser for the JPKALLIO.COM's first album, so we can go back to the studio. The night will take place in the Thomas House, this Friday the 4th of May 2012. Doors 8pm and Adm €5. On the night obviously JPKALLIO.COM will do a set, but also we got few bands to help us out:-). On the bill we have our drummer Sebastians another band Down the river, who are going to kick off the night, also we have Kerouac, who have been making noise in the Irish underground lately. I sat down for a chat with Kerouac's bass player Keith O'Neill, who also takes care most of the promotion duties in the band and I realized we had more in common than we thought, when it comes to the music business.

  J.P. First of all big thank you Keith for taking the time to talk to us. Could you tell me a bit about your background in music?

Keith Back ground in music... I started playing guitar when I was twelve. Guitar is my main instrument.
I wen't to Ballyfermot college studying guitar in the music course. That's where I met the lads. So went in as a guitar player and came out as a bass player! Amazing stuff. But guitar is still my main instrument. I do lot of acoustic instrumental music. So that would be me in music, between that and metal. I play bit of drums as well. One of the first bands I was in was a Nirvana covers band where I played drums when I was fifteen.

J.P. So let's talk about Kerouac a bit. I've seen the band live few times now and I was delighted that you agreed to play with us in the Thomas house this Friday. How did the band get started?

Keith No worries, we were delighted to be asked. We met up in the college in 2002. There was another bass player in the band before I started. He left the college after the first year, so they were looking for a bass player for the second year. So I said I'll play bass. I was playing guitar with lot of other people in the college, but the D C D chord thing just does not do it for me. I am delighted I came out of college with Richie ( Mason, drums) and Aaron (Gaffey, vox and guitar). When we left the college we did not do much for few years. We were occasionally jamming in Kilkenny where I am from, Richie was in Cork and Aaron in Dublin. So we rehearsed in a mate of mines house in Kilkenny. We did about six gigs in four years. That's the way it went until about two years a go when Richie moved back to Dublin and we've gone full belt at it since then.

J.P. You've done some quite big gigs in the past and seem to be gigging a lot. Any highlights you'd like to mention?

Keith Germany obviously. That was brilliant. We entered the Emergenza battle of the bands that goes on in eighteen different countries. We entered 2004 and didn't get out of the first round and then entered again last year and ended up winning it! So they flew us out to Germany for five days to play at a three day festival. It was nice as there were only two stages, the main stage and the second stage and we were on on the second stage on Saturday. It was really good, some amazing bands, as I said it went on in eighteen countries so we got to see lot of bands. It was 35000 people at the festival. Iggy Pop was on on the first night. Some energy for his age! It was cool, we did the gig and then we could just sit in the back stage and drink free beer. Yeah, we'll remember that one for a while.
  We are doing the Ballymurphy fringe festival this summer. It is kind of the only festival in Ireland we could get in to. We seem to be too heavy for lot of the festivals, but then not heavy enough for the Metal festivals. But sure, what can you do?

J.P. Yeah, it's tough. It seems so many bands put so much effort in trying to get to play at festivals, makes me wonder if they could use that energy on something else.

Keith Yeah, the usual answer you are going to get, even though there are over 200 festivals in Ireland, is thanks but no thanks. It still seems to be all Indie stuff they are looking for.

J.P. I think that is a bubble that is about to burst.

Keith Yeah, me too. Somethings got to give, it's gone stale...

J.P. Tell me about it... But as always, it takes time before the mainstream catches on to whats brewing in the underground.

Keith That's it. Some amazing bands out there around Ireland!

J.P. One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you was because I know you do most of the booking and promotional work for the band. What advice would you have for any new bands on how to get out gigging?

Keith Unfortunately I have to say that Facebook is a handy tool to have in your artillery. I do lot of bookings through Facebook. I have all the pubs we play in added up on my Facebook. So anytime a gig comes up the venue post it up and it says support to be established. So I'll email them and ask if there is any chance on getting in that. There are lot of gigs going on around Dublin and you can get in on support. Which is good. You get to meet other people, meet other bands, get to know them and maybe get to play with them later. And when you do put on your own gig, you'll actually get in couple people. I Kind of approach it like that.

J.P. What's your take on the battle of the bands?

Keith We have entered couple of them, but I kind of do it to get the name out there. When you go to play at these things, there is a mixture of lot of people there. So you have lot of people seeing you play. We did the Hard rock rising one. That was to support Bruce Springsteen. We got to the final on it. And they had some influential people in the jury. It could have taken us long time to get these guys to come see us play live. And even we did not win it, which we knew we would not as Kerouac would be just too heavy to support Bruce Springsteen, we got lot of good contacts out of it. Take it as a gig. And if you do well, you get through the first, second or even third round, that's three gigs in few months. You are going to end up meeting promoters, sound engineers, the bar staff, the people that book the gigs. I think its a great way to get the name out there.

J.P. You guys have very professional live show. While playing at many band nights you get to see many bands at all levels. Would you have any tips for young bands on how to improve their live show, or is there any mistakes you see bands do regularly?

Keith I think being very well practiced is one. For band to come across professional you need to be well rehearsed, you can't keep making mistakes. It kind of puts the audience off a bit. Your songs need to be tight and structured well. So I would say practice! If we were practicing new song, we could end up jamming the same riff for a half an hour, taking it to different places and seeing what happens. So I would say be well practiced and have fun with it. Go mad on stage! After doing lot of live shows, you do get comfortable in your spot and you start putting across a good confident live show.

J.P. We all know this is expensive business to be in, no getting away from that. If you wan't to take the music seriously, you need to invest in to it as well. What is your take on this and how would you prioritize it?

Keith Get a CD with three songs sounding very good and get a website. You need a website! We have played with lots of bands and if you would put a list of 20 bands on front of me, I'd say maybe three of them would have website. I am the administrator of our website. We got a friend in IT to set it up for us for few hundred instead of eight hundred by a professional web designer. We use Wordpress on our site. It's amazing! It took me three weeks to figure it all out, but once you have it done it looks well and come across professionally.

J.P. Hallelujah! I'm glad I am not the only one saying that :-D. It seems to be a big step for any Dublin based band to get to play outside Dublin. How important do you think this is and how do you guys go about it?

Keith Find out the venues that play your kind of music. There are some cracking venues up and down the country that are looking your kind of music. We've done Waterford, Wexford, Cork, Kilkenny, Galway. Some great venues out there. It is always good to play to new audience. And it is good idea to play with maybe two local bands. For the music we do, there is only few bars in Dublin, so it is nice to get out and play somewhere else once and a while.

J.P. It still seems to be most bands dream getting signed. Do you think up and coming band should still try to get signed, or should they work on making their own record?

Keith I'd say work on making your own record. Send it off by all means, but concentrate on building a bit of a fan base, so if the record company comes along you can show you have something to offer. But you need a good sounding recording. There is so many people out there who want to do it, so you need to stand out. It needs to be done right!

J.P. I like to put lot of emphasis on playing a live show when it comes to our band. Would you have any other promotional tips or recommendations?

Keith CD, Website, Facebook and a video. People like to see what they are listening to, even if it's a collage of pictures put together in Movie maker. Videos are great promotional tools.

J.P. So what are the future plans for Kerouac

Keith The plans are to get the E.P. finished in the next few weeks, then get it mastered. Book lot more gigs, even though we have had a busy year so far. we did about 30 gigs last year, and we have already booked 30 gigs this year and its only May! So get out and play lots of gigs and promote the E.P.

J.P. Once again, big thanks for your time and just to wrap up, what should people expect from Kerouac this Friday night?

Keith To get your ass kicked! Expect loud, heavy, smelly, riff based, energetic madness. Any time we go to do a gig, it's 110%. I'm really looking forward to it  now. It's been a while we played in the Thomas House and its a good spot! So see you on Friday night!

Rock n' Roll road house show
Down the river
In the basement of the Thomas house this Friday the 4th of May 2012.
Doors 8pm  Adm €5

Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio