On quitting a band.

More on quitting a band.


I just realized this weekend that I missed something in Friday's post.

So, if you haven't already, take a look at the dates, and allow me to prepare a meditation on why November seems to be such a drag for touring bands... Surprise! I'm a cliche! All of these announcements were dated sometime in November - Billy in '06, Ben in '07, Zac in '08, and myself in '09. I already asked, what is it about November that makes one of us flip out and quit our band each year? Well, obviously, all of these bands are summertime festival circuit bands. That was RRE's bread and butter, sort of like the hippy band equivalent of Black Friday. Remaining closed on Black Friday is not an option for most retail businesses, just as not hitting the road each summer is not an option for a band that also wishes to remain a viable business. So, how does that end up laying out your touring year? We'll start in the spring...

Spring tour is great. People have been bottled up all winter and are ready to party. You've had all winter to get creative (or not) and hopefully have a boatload of new tunes ready for your crowd. These are all club dates since festival season hasn't begun yet, and usually they are packed with a fired up crowd. You deliver. Your job is the best one on earth. March, April, May.

Festival Season! It usually starts some time in April for most of us, though if you're lucky enough to be on the Judy's fav list you might get to start early at SpringFest. The majority of your summer is spent doing what's called "routing", which means getting from good gig to good gig. Hopefully, those good gigs are every weekend and Tuesday night is paying for the gas between Fridays, but if not, and your next gig is on an opposite coast, then you might be playing some of the dreaded "routing dates". These are the gigs in Winters, CA on the Wednesday before High Sierra Music Festival, or the Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS before or after Wakarusa. They're rough, not only because you get yanked from festival land back to club reality, but because the vast majority of the live band audience isn't really interested in going to the Bottleneck in the middle of summer. Club owners don't have the option of shutting their club for the whole summer, and some scenes probably do a really good business in clubs in the summer, but ours ain't one of them. File under : necessary evil. It's cool, though. On weekends you're a rockstar.

Now it's fall. You've already been on the road for half the year. September might throw you a festival bone or two, but mostly it's back to the clubs. The edge has come off of what were fresh tunes and a fired up crowd. It's time to start laying out plans for the winter. You need to write a new record, but you also need to keep the business going, so it's a constant push and pull. Oh, you're on the road while you're deciding all of this so usually you're too tired to really be able to puzzle out the correct combination of dates that will keep the business far enough above water to enable you to do what you really want to do, and that's be home with your family and write some new music. Your crowd will be there, and they will be expecting you to prove your otherworldly talent by delivering them fresh new tunes, preferably originals but whatever they want at the time will be fine. Do not disappoint, my friends.

So you walk the line, and don't line up a winters full of shows so that you can get creative. The problem? You've been on the road for so long by this point in the year that you don't remember how to write music. Better line up some shows for February, since payroll is running out...

Wash, rinse, repeat for at least 7 years and what you have is a subconscious dread of winter.

On quitting a band.