Wednesday, February 27, 2019

How I Found a Drummer: The Inside Story of the Beginning of Red Treasure

My current band Red Treasure began in November of 2015.  I was working at my day job and there was a new guy who seemed really great.  This new guy got the job in part because his good friend Scott, who was now also my friend at the day job, had let him know about the opening. Scott was a bass player, and had told me he himself had been in a band for a while that had broken up before he came to work there. At some point, either in talking to Scott or the new guy, I found out the new guy had been in that same band that had broken up with Scott.

The new guy’s name was Gabriel. He was soft-spoken, smart and kind. Scott told me he was a great bass player and a decent guitar player.  That wasn’t the best news for me - my immediate need was for a great drummer. I could sing and play rhythm guitar. I definitely wanted to have 4 or 5 musicians in the band eventually, but if I got a drummer, I would officially have a band.

I don’t remember exactly how the next part went. My guess is that Scott mentioned to me at some point that Gabriel also played the drums. I do remember that I didn’t ask Gabriel about playing together immediately after that. I recall that it seemed to hit me like a new idea sometime after that...wait, Gabriel also plays the drums. And I need a drummer.

I went to Scott first, and asked how good a drummer Gabriel was.  Scott said he was fantastic, but not to trust what Gabriel himself would say about it. 

“The way he tells it, he’s not that good. He’ll tell you he’s much better at guitar. But don’t believe him. He’s amazing. He used to teach the drummer in our former band how to play the really complicated parts that he couldn’t figure out on his own.”

Scott has been known to spin a tall tale from time to time, but it’s always when he’s joking around with you, and he lets you know eventually that he was messing with you. When he’s talking about real life, you won’t find a more honest guy. So I knew that Gabriel was a great drummer.

A short while later I asked Gabriel if he had any interest in being in a band again. He told me he was definitely interested. I asked him if he’d be up for jamming with me, him on drums and me on vocals and guitar. He gave me the self-deprecating spiel Scott predicted he would, saying he hadn’t played drums ina while, so he wouldn’t necessarily be the sharpest on Day One. I told him that was fine with me.

Like all the bands I’ve ever been in, the first “jam session” was in fact our first band rehearsal. I started right off playing some of my songs, and Gabriel joined in without hesitation, making up the drum part on the fly, refining it the second time through, making it even better the third time through. There was little doubt on my side at that point that I had found my ideal band mate. And I’ve never had one moment of doubt since.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Here's Why My Band's New EP Isn't Out Yet

Red Treasure, my rock band, finished its second EP, containing 5 new songs, a while ago.  When it was first completely finished, I was all ready to release it the way I released my solo album Just Keep Goin' in 2012, and the way we released Red Treasure's first EP, The Hothouse Trip, in 2016.  We were just gonna post about it non-stop on all our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages for a couple of weeks, and hope that some miracle happened - that it somehow would go viral, and be spread to the masses, instead of only to our friends and the people who knew the band already.

Some rock musicians don't care about marketing and advertising, and I completely respect that.  For me and our music, it feels like marketing and advertising is necessary.  The tricky thing to me is, a rock band and its music aren't the same as traditional products.  We can't sell our music the way someone might sell a vacuum cleaner or a car.  With the way people's purchasing patterns around music have radically changed yet again, it doesn't even seem like a good idea to focus on selling the EP.  We really just want people who dig it to find it and listen to it, and to come to our live show someday when we tour and play their city.  So how do we DO that?

When I realized I was about to do the exact same thing with Red Treasure's new EP that I had done twice before, I stopped and had to admit something.  I didn't know how to market or sell our band or our music.  I needed help.

A good friend of mine who knows a ton about marketing has been helping my bandmate Gabriel and I put together a marketing plan for the new EP.  That's no guarantee of any particular result, I know.  But I do feel like we are going to at least give strangers who have never heard us before a chance to hear us.  It's taking a while...turns out marketing involves a lot of work!  The artist in me has been jumping out of my skin since we finished it to share it with as many people as possible.  But I'm practicing patience, and trusting that if we take a little more time, and humbly begin to learn what we don't know, our music will get to more people and therefore create more joy in the world.

It isn't sexy, in fact, it's super-un-rock-star-like to having to keep telling people who ask, "No, the EP isn't out yet.  We're not exactly sure when it will be out.  We're working on our marketing plan right now."  But it feels like the right thing to do.

I know many people might read this and think I'm the antithesis of rock n' roll, talking about a marketing plan.  But I always remember - Kurt Cobain sent the Nirvana demo tape to every record label he could think of - and sent most of them a second copy when he didn't hear back.  He eventually signed the band on to one of the largest record labels in the country at the time.  I have enormous respect for his music, I feel he never once compromised or tried to come up with a song by trying to figure out what lots of people would like to hear.  He created his art his way, and he was ruthless about it.  But he definitely had a marketing plan.

I wish I could tell you the release date of my band's new EP.  I can't right now.  I know it will be this year (2019), and I'm hoping it won't be any later than this summer.  But I'm not 100% sure.  Because I'm still learning about marketing.

You can listen to our first EP, The Hothouse Trip, HERE.

The Hothouse Trip EP on YouTube

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Amazing Night: Beach Slang and Lithuania Rock L.A.

The Boys of Beach Slang, L to R: Ed (Bass), JP (Drums),
James (Vocals/Guitar), Ruben (Guitar)
 Last night my girlfriend Teri, our friend Todd and I went to the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles to see the sold-out show of Beach Slang.

The first opener was Brooklyn's Worriers, who play a great set.  Next up was Philadelphia's rock trio Lithuania, who really blew me away.  I bought their new record Hardcore Friends after the show and am now a fan for life.  I highly recommend checking them out.  That record is available now on iTunes.
Then Beach Slang, a four-peice band also from Philly, came out and delighted the packed house for what must have been at least 2 hours.  They told us that they played every song they knew of their own, added in four great covers, and then played two of their most popular songs, "American Girls and French Kisses" and "Punk or Lust" a second time each to close out the incredible show.

It was a special treat for me, because I've known James Alex, the frontman and primary songwriter for the band, for years, dating back to when I was in my old band Victor Bravo, and James was in one of his early former rock outfits Cordova.  From the first time I ever saw him play at the old Knitting Factory in lower Manhattan, I've known what nearly everyone who has ever seen him knows - that he is an extremely gifted and talented songwriter and rock performer, born to be on stage and thrill audiences.  He also happens to be one of the sweetest, nicest and most genuine guys I've ever met.  A pretty incredible combination.

I was so happy that Teri, Todd and I could be there last night to witness such an amazing show.  Beach Slang are officially big, with their most recent record getting rave reviews from SPIN magazine, Stereogum, Pitchfork and Rolling Stone Australia. But it's reasonable to assume that they will continue their incredible journey and get bigger still, and in my opinion they deserve every ounce of success coming their way.

If you haven't heard their music yet, check it out and buy their 2 amazing EP's, Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken? and Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street, and their brand-new LP, The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us, all available now on iTunes.  Hear for yourself this band's infectiously catchy rock music and James' raw and magical lyrics.

I hope Beach Slang and Lithuania come back to L.A. again real soon, so I can rock out with them again.  Until then, I'll be blasting their records and singing along.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Awesome Shows!

I had an amazing time playing my first L.A. show EVER at Elderberries Cafe on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood on Saturday. I played 5 songs from the new album I'm working on: 

1. You Can Go Home Again
2. Quiet Cries
3. Fly Baby Fly
4. 20 Faces of Love
5. Landed

I had SO MUCH FUN!!!  It was wonderful to be up singing and strumming on stage for people once again.  I am so grateful to everyone who came out to be a part of it..special thanks to Teri, Corey, Ashley, Esther, John, and Todd for being there. Big thanks to Todd Pate for booking me, Brad for assisting me with set-up, and Elderberries for hosting the show. And extra extra thanks to my amazing partner-in-crime Teri for taking photos and shooting video. I'll be posting some of those soon! 

 Also wanted to elaborate on my last post - the Corey Landis and The Attacks show at The Viper Room Sunday Oct 11 was incredible. I've been a fan of Corey's for many years now, but had never seen him play live, and had never seen him with his band. The Attacks' drummer Mike and bassist Ryan are awesome, and the trio put on a high-energy show that had the whole crowd rockin'. I was very glad I could be there and be a part of such a great night. They're starting work on a full LP and I want to buy it already.  After the show was done at The Viper Room, Corey and many of his friends and fans went to dinner at the legendary Rainbow, up Sunset a bit near The Whiskey-a-Go-Go, which put the perfect stamp on a fantastic evening. 

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Show Tomorrow at Elderberries Hollywood

The Corey Landis and The Attacks show at The Viper Room this past Sunday was off-the-hook. I hope to write a more lengthy post here about that in a bit. Also... I am playing my first-ever L.A. show! It is tomorrow, Saturday Oct 17 at Elderberries Cafe, 7564 West Sunset Blvd. I am SO EXCITED! Show starts at 3:00PM, I am scheduled to start playing at 4:00PM. SO HAPPY to know I will be playing for real-live people in about 24 hours!! WOO-HOO!!
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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Upcoming Show: Corey Landis LIVE at The Viper Room L.A.

I'm super-excited about a live show I'm going to tomorrow at the Viper Room in Hollywood. My friend Corey Landis and his band the Attacks will be performing.  I've been not only friends with Corey, but a huge fan of his music, for a long time, but he's always lived and done shows in L.A., and up until recently I've always lived somewhere else!  So this is the first time I will watch him play live, and I am stoked.

I've worn out all four of his amazing LP's.  If you've read my series here on my favorite album covers of all time, you'll see the covers for his first two records on the list.  He is incredibly talented and has a really unique songwriting voice, and he writes kickass songs.

If you happen to be in L.A. this Sunday night, I highly recommend this show.  It's gonna be pretty epic! The listed start time is 7:30PM.

You can check out Corey's music at


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Update: Music Video, New Album and Shows

Recently I began collaborating with my girlfriend Teri Temme on a music video for "Landed," one of the songs that will be on my next album.  We've been shooting footage in different parts of L.A., and it's been really fun.  I look forward to showing off the finished product in the near future!

A while back, I settled on the 12 songs that will comprise my next record.  I spent a day working with my good friend Corey Landis to discuss possible arrangements for each of the twelve.  It's clear we need a full back-up band to do what feels right.  So I have been working for quite some time on raising the money to produce the record, and I am still in that process.

Several people have asked me if this will include a crowdfunding effort, using Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or some similar site.  At this point I'm not sure.  I'm not ruling anything out, and I feel like the right next step will become clear at the appropriate time.  If you enjoy my music and have any thoughts on this topic you think might be helpful, feel free to e-mail them to me at

Teri has also been assisting me in revamping all the different components of the web presence for my music....the website here, my Facebook page, Twitter account, Soundcloud page, Bandcamp site, Instagram account and YouTube channel.  We're simplifying various elements, to make it easier for people to navigate around and find cool stuff on the various sites and pages.

Right now I am very excited to play live for people, so I am exploring lots of different opportunities to do so in Southern California.  Of course as soon as I have something booked I will post all about it here.

As always, thank you for visiting here and supporting me and my music!  Keep rockin'!

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