It’s always a blast having a TuneCore band or artist come in to visit our offices! The artist gets to ask questions, answer questions, and meet some of the folks working everyday to make sure their music is distributed with ease. Likewise, the TuneCore team gets to ask questions, learn more about our artists and get a pleasant reminder of why they do what they do everyday!
While Chicago’s The Kickback are in town for a few shows during CMJ, they graced the TuneCore Brooklyn office with their presence to play a few songs and hang out with the team. Billy, Eamonn, Jonny, and Ryan play thoughtful indie rock tunes and have been distributing with TuneCore since 2011. The band tours regularly throughout the year, and go above and beyond to provide their fans with extra content in their Disastour podcast – a fun, (and funny), inside look on the band’s experiences on the road.
We were able to chat with The Kickback about their “American Splendor” Tour, what it means to be independent, and, of course, Batman!
- What does being an independent band mean to you?
Typically, it means a 162-thread email chain where the band debates the merits of a t-shirt or poster design. Those are the spoils of independence.
Having the “freedom” to do what we want, I think, is a gift that we don’t really appreciate because we didn’t come up in the ’90s where if you had a haircut and a novelty song about vegetables, you might catch some of that sweet major label runoff. The price you paid for that money seemed to be almost immediate dismissal or–more likely–the loss of any decision-making concerning your art and a slot on the fair circuit. I started playing music when all of that was already in an urn on the mantle, so “independent” just feels like the way it is for most bands.
Offer me a moderately priced Ford Impala to sell out all of my ideals and then we’ll make this interesting.
- Congrats on recently kickin’-off the tour that will last until December! How do you plan on keeping the momentum going each night?
There are the assumed realities and then the down-the-road aspirations that fight for competition when preparing for time on tour.
My hope, like most rational performers, would be to hole-up watching the ’89 Batman right up until game time while advocates and well-wishers rock the van back and forth chanting the band’s name. At that point, dressed like Batman, I would crowd surf into the club and up to the stage, high-fiving the other guys as they also crowd surfed from their various pre-show stations and stools. That would, I think, be enough to keep the blood pumping most nights.
Barring that, the more likely scenario involves doing your best not to strangle the people you’ve been stuck in the van with for a month, doing what you can to deter your own contributions to that situation, and fully committing to seppuku (harakiri) if you ever, ever walk offstage feeling like you phoned it in.
- It’s great that the band has used a different medium by creating a podcast! How has that affected the relationship between you all and the fans?
The podcast is sort of for a very small segment of our fans that are either incredibly bored at work or are interested to better understand the dynamics of how making a band work works.
We run into bands on the road who listen and we automatically have a shorthand to commiserate about that booker in Philly who screws bands on a regular basis (I bet you think this song is about you) or finding out that another band also saw those super racist bumper stickers at that gas station by Talladega Speedway.
It gives a small audience a better idea of what it’s like to be a grown adult trying to live like Peter Pan, but, you know, responsibly-ish.
- Do you use trend reports available for you in your TuneCore account? If yes, how do you use them? What other artist services have you used through TuneCore?
Tunecore has been great to us.
While performing at SXSW, NXNE, and CMJ, Tunecore always reaches out to help promote the shows. Our “Please Hurt” single wound up on iTunes’ ‘New & Noteworthy,’ and we had worked with Tunecore to submit it for consideration. It’s always a gamble, but Tunecore really seems to go to bat for their artists.
- What tips would you give to other indie artists looking to grow their careers?
If your end goal is to hand off the work you do as an artist and self-promoter to someone else, you have a Judas Priest-sized-thing coming your way.
Nobody cares about you like you. You’re practically in love with yourself. I mean, look at you. Nobody is going to work harder for you than a) you or b) that girl at work who has started cutting her hair like you and dressing like you and I think we both know how this ends so you probably shouldn’t entrust her with your music career.
- What’s something your fans can look forward to after the tour?
2) Season 3 of Twin Peaks in 2016
3) Ben Affleck will do a great job as Batman even though I think the movie is doomed
4) Our debut album…probably.
5) Nurture that nagging feel that this is all a joke and contemplating a move to/away from advertising.