Virgin Mobile FreeFest did not disappoint the masses

Jack White – 2012 Virgin Mobile FreeFest
Also M83 / Nas / ZZ Top / Alabama Shakes / Ben Folds Five /
Trampled by Turtles / Portugal. The Man
Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD

All photos by Dan DeSlover – Concert Capture

Jack White - 2012 Virgin Mobile Free Fest

The 2012 Virgin Mobile FreeFest took place on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md. Roughly 30,000 tickets were “freed-out” within minutes of availability. At least that many packed into the Pavilion grounds, under sunny skies, to catch artists that varied from Alabama Shakes to ZZ Top, while Jack White and Skrillex headlined the two main stages. A third stage was also positioned up the hill to provide a “Dance Forest” with DJs mixing original beats throughout the festival.

Business mogul and Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson created FreeFest as a way to give back to the community while drawing attention to youth homelessness. The music festival sponsors The RE*Generation, an organization to assist homeless youth, via donations and awareness.

The Fest is also about the music and having a good time, and there was no shortage of either on Saturday. The music flowed non-stop from noon until just shy of 11 p.m. Most artists were afforded at least a full hour for their setlist, nearly double what most festivals allow outside of the headliners.

Continue reading the rest of this review (and find more great photos) at The Examiner!

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2012 Hangout Festival–a musical oasis on the beach

Hangout Music Festival
Gulf Shores, Alabama

All photos by Dan DeSlover –

Crowd photos of Hangout Music FestivalThe sunny Gulf Shores of Alabama were treated to the 2012 Hangout Festival on Friday through Sunday, May 18-20. Four stages–Main, Chevrolet, XBOX, and Letting Go–and an expansive beachfront ensured that those who attended would be entertained.  Attendees agreed, purchasing the 35,000 allocated festival tickets within weeks of a 2012 lineup announcement that featured Jack White, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Dave Matthews Band as headliners over the three day event.

Gates opened at 11 a.m. and parking logistic nightmares were assuaged by a shuttle system that efficiently transported concert-goers from west, east and northward distances to the Hangout entrance gates. Though there were some minor congestion issues that delayed travel early on Friday afternoon, the problems were resolved quickly by designating a lane of traffic exclusively for bus travel near the gates. Outside of staying within a few blocks of the festival grounds, the shuttle was easily the best method of transportation.

Check out photos from Day One: Jack White/Chris Cornell/Yelawolf/Alabama Shakes/Sleeper Agent/Dawes/Wilco

The Main and Chevrolet stages flanked the beachfront, while opposing one another with music rotating between the stages throughout the day. Fans who wished to arrive early and camp out on the sand all day for each day’s headliner were treated to shady conditions, the massive Main stage on the westward side of the beach blocked the sun by early afternoon. A large tented sculpture residing between the two stages provided additional shaded relief. XBOX sponsored a covered stage inland from the Chevrolet stage that hosted electronic and hip-hop artists. The Letting Go stage, inland from the Main stage and west of the XBOX stage provided a third rock stage.

These stages provided the cornerstones to the festival. Within their confines were plenty of food choices.  Options included a number of food trucks that comprised vegan and healthy alternatives to the ubiquitous pizza and hamburgers. Food stalls also provided local, Southern specialties such as Creole and seafood. Liquid refreshments were never more than a short walk away.  There were also enough restroom facilities and ATMs that a few minute wait in line was more of a rarity than the norm.

Crowd photos of Hangout Music Festival

In terms of music experiences, the Hangout Festival location on a sunny beach was close to paradise. Those who opted to pay extra for VIP perks had a number of options, including perhaps the nicest VIP package available at any festival.  The ‘Super VIP’ experience granted exclusive access to meal choices and unlimited beverages, but the highlight was access to a veritable oasis near the Main stage. The half of the Main stage closest to the beach was open to all attendees, but the inland side was limited to Super VIP patrons. The pit in front of the stage was standing room only, but just beyond that area (further left from the stage) were a pair of pools a mere 50-60 feet from the performers. Just beyond the pools was a shaded veranda with several hot tubs, bars and cushioned lounge chairs. Plush would be an understatement.

Crowd photos of Hangout Music Festival

One of the greatest benefits of a solid music festival is exposure to new music. This can be in the form of an up-and-coming artist, a newly reunited band or a musical genre that might typically fall outside a general listening range. Hangout offered jam bands, world-class DJs, gypsy punk, hip-hop, reggae, straight-up rock and roll and a touch of gospel. There’s a strong chance that most attendees walked away with a broadened musical palate.

Friday’s lineup was solid from the start, with the 12:15 p.m. lineup yielding a choice between San Diego based Switchfoot and alternative rockers Sleeper Agent. One of the day’s surprises was Alabama Shakes, a local band featuring soulful Southern rock fronted by Britanny Howard. YelaWolf mixed it up at midday with a mashup of speed rap and word flow that inspired body to move. Those that weren’t inclined to YelaWolf’s rhythmic pace could chill their afternoon away with the likes of Dawes and Wilco.

Crowd photos of Hangout Music Festival

The Main stage was closed out on Friday by a pair of artists that have a great deal in common. Chris Cornell and Jack White have independently reshaped the rock and roll landscape, Cornell’s vocals and White’s fretwork are unique unto themselves. Both artists have fronted a handful of genre-defining bands:  Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog and Audioslave for Cornell; The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather for White.  Each performed under their own solo moniker on Friday night. Both Cornell and White reached deep into their arsenal, performing hits and deeper cuts that transcended all their previous associations.

Cornell’s set was akin to his solo Acoustic Songbook tour, performing alone with his acoustic guitar.  His was a relaxed show that included requests catcalled from the crowd.  A fan shouted out “Sunflower” after the second song and Cornell acknowledged the request, after giving a brief intro into the inspiration behind the song. Cornell’s voice was beyond words, guttural yet angelic. Cornell meandered through his archives, covering an equal share of Soundgarden, Temple, and Audioslave, the entire set was a highlight reel. He closed with Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Jack White’s eccentric personality shows through his music. His obsession with red, white and black while fronting the White Stripes seems to have turned blue for his solo career.  A soft blue light enveloped the stage, casting an eerie glow that spread out from the stage; even the plastic Solo beverage cups on stage were blue. He performs with two bands, one female (The Peacocks) the other male (The Buzzards), and notifies them on the day of the show which will be performing. Friday’s performance started with the male entourage and finished with the female. It’s hard to argue with a set that began with “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” and finished with “Seven Nation Army.” However, Rome’s “Two Against One,” and a couple deeper cuts “We’re Going to be Friends” and The Raconteurs “Carolina Drama” were other highlights in the 19-song setlist.

Photos from Day Two at Hangout: Red Hot Chili Peppers/Skrillex/Dispatch/Mac Miller/Flogging Molly/Gogol Bordello

The XBOX stage was the place to be for those needing a jump-start on Saturday. Mac Miller, the Pittsburgh rapping sensation, got the day started with his quirky raps that generally referred to sex, drugs, alcohol and the occasional mention of Donald Trump. Those needing a bit more of a charge had to wait just a little longer before Skrillex took the stage. His pounding beats reverberated across he festival grounds while a haze of smoke, swirling lights and fog engulfed a swarm of dancing bodies below. Skrillex easily had the highest crowd density at the festival, and it was the only time a noticeable security force was present.

Crowd photos of Hangout Music Festival

Gogol Bordello, a conglomeration of global musicians based in New York city, gave the crowd a taste of gypsy punk. The energetic frontman Eugene Hütz is pure entertainment while their music is a potpourri of styles that change direction on a dime. An Old World fusion of accordion and percussion would suddenly become rap with accompanying dance.  The perfect way to follow their set was to head over and witness Flogging Molly perform their punk-influenced Celtic music that enlightened the crowd with stories of politics, love, history and drunken debauchery.

Recently reunited Dispatch, the Boston based jam band from the 90s were the perfect tonic to decompress after a number of supercharged sets. They ended their seven-year hiatus last summer and have that they will release new music in August of this year. Though Dispatch have always been about charitable and humane causes, the beachside vibe and chill coffeehouse jams with a reggae beat during sunset induced one of the better mood altering performances of the weekend.

Whether it was a relaxed state of mind due to Dispatch or the fact that the Red Hot Chili Peppers hit the stage with a vengeance, Saturday night ended with an exclamation. Touring on I’m With You after a seemingly lengthy break between albums, RHCP are in the midst of an extensive world tour. They are one of few bands that were born during the 80s Los Angeles music explosion to remain active, Van Halen’s semi-reunion recently fell flat with their 2012 tour postponement/cancellation. They were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.

Photos from Day Three at Hangout: Dave Matthews Band/Cage the Elephant/The Flaming Lips/Paper Diamond/Young the Giant

RHCP’s trademark blend of funk rock would not be complete without Flea’s signature bass lines. Frontman Anthony Kiedis pranced the stage while belting out a 20-song setlist. They opened with “Monarchy of Roses” and continued with a bevy of hits including “Scar Tissue,” “Suck My Kiss,” Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” “Under the Bridge” and “Californication;” while saving “Around the World,” “Soul to Squeeze” and “Give it Away” for their encore. Easily the most dynamic and best sounding performance of the weekend (though Dave Matthews jam session to close out the weekend was a close second).

Those who wished to continue rocking on Sunday could look forward to Cage the Elephant’s energetic set.  A sea of bodies floated above the crowd during most of their performance, including a couple trips from frontman Matthew Shultz. At one point he said, “If you drop me like you just dropped that guy, and I’m knocked unconscious, just continue passing me around for the rest of the day.  Maybe put some sunscreen on my chest though.”

Cage the Elephant at Hangout Music Festival

Cage the Elephant at Hangout Music Festival

Aside from Cage’s performance, Sunday provided a change of pace to the previous days heavier theme. Michael Franti and Spearhead jammed hip-hop with a reggae vibe that made attendees fully appreciate the beach theme.  He spoke highly of those who have helped the Gulf coast after the BP oil catastrophe. He was also presented with a key to the city by the Mayor later that afternoon.

The Flaming Lips take psychedelia to a new level.  Though their performance of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” in its entirety was a perfect complement to Sunday’s artists, the daylight performance slightly detracted from Wayne Coyne’s quirky stage presence. They performed a handful of The Flaming Lips classics, including “She Don’t Use Jelly” and “Do You Realize??” before cutting into “Dark Side.”

The Dave Matthews Band closed out the weekend with a lengthy three-hour set in typical DMB fashion, squeezing less than 20 tracks into the time slot with plenty of improvised jams. The haze emanating from the crowd matched the smoke from the stage and definitely ended the festival on a high note. DMB gave the crowd a mixture of deeper tracks that should have satisfied the true fans who patiently waited a dozen hours for their set to begin.

Dave Matthews Band at Hangout Music Festival

Dave Matthews Band at Hangout Music Festival

Even the artists were impressed with Hangout. Both Chris Cornell and G. Love tweeted positive impressions about Hangout.  Cornell tweeted that he was impressed and provided a photo of a sign that adorned his dressing lounge, while G. Love wrote, “Are you serious!? This place is crazy Niiice.” Dispatch also claimed they were busy being fans and had to hurry back to the stage to perform.

The 2012 Hangout Festival was an emphatic success. The first day was outstanding and each successive day were just additional reasons to be happy. If I was forced to choose the most frustrating aspect of the festival, it was having to decide which artists to check out in a given time slot.  The latter problem was solved by catching portions of different sets, though sometimes just chilling with the music and sunshine prevailed. The Hangout Music Festival should be a bucket-list event for any Coachella, Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza regular.

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Crowd photos of Hangout Music Festival


Jack White Headlines Lollapalooza 2012

Jack White Hangout Music Festival Alabama 2012

Jack White is a busy man these days! Not only does he run his own label (Third Man Records), he plays in a slew of bands including the Raconteurs, and formerly the White Stripes, along with taking the production helm for several artists.  He is also on an extensive tour this summer including stops at the Hangout Music Festival and Lollapalooza in Chicago.

White’s current album, Blunderbuss, was released on April 24th on Third Man Records/Columbia Records and has already sold 137,554 copies domestically, debuting at #1 on the U.S. albums chart. It’s also experiences great success by hitting the #1 spot in the UK, Canada,  and Switzerland. If that weren’t impressive enough, Blunderbuss is in the running for the world record of  “the fastest named album in history.” This is pending at the moment, but since we are talking about world records, Third Man Records announced that Jack White has again decided to take on the challenge of getting into the Guinness Book of World Records this time for “most metaphors used in a single concert.”  Jack will continue to attempt this record for the remainder of this summer tour dates.  He also asks for fans not to interfere with his attempts during the shows, as it may led to disqualification.

Jack White will be playing Lollapalooza on Sunday August 5th. Sunday passes are still available!

To witness Jack White’s attempts at breaking the record, pick up tickets to one of the stops on his tour! The full itinerary is below.

Jack White on tour:

05/21/12      NY, NY      Roseland Ballroom +
05/22/12      NY, NY      Roseland Ballroom +
05/24/12      Detroit, MI      Scottish Rite Theater +
05/24/12     Detroit, MI      Scottish Rite Theater  (all ages matinee show) +
05/26/12      George, WA       Sasquatch Music Festival
05/27/12      Vancouver, BC      Queen Elizabeth Theatre +
05/28/12      Eugene, OR       Hult Center for the Performing Arts (Silva Concert Hall) +
05/30/12      Los Angeles, CA      The Wiltern +
05/31/12      Los Angeles, CA       The Wiltern +
06/21/12      London, UK       O2 Academy Broxton +
06/22/12      London, UK      Hammersmith Apollo +
06/23/12      Hackney Marshes, London, UK      Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend
06/25/12     Amsterdam, NL      Heineken Music Hall
06/26/12      Berlin, Germany       Tempodrom +
06/27/12      Cologne, Germany      E-Werk +
06/29/12      Werchter, Belgium      Rock Werchter
07/01/12      Belfort, France       Les Eurockeennes
07/02/12      Paris, France        L’Olympia +
07/03/12        Paris, France      L’Olympia +
07/05/12          Hamburg, Germany     Docks +
07/05-08/12      Roskilde, Denmark       Roskilde Festival
07/20-22/12      Dover, Delaware      Firefly Music Festival +
07/25/12             Melbourne, Australia      Festival Hallm
07/26/12             Sydney, Australia      Hordern Pavillion +
07/27/12             Byron Bay, Australia      Splendour In The Grass Festival +
07/27-29/12     Niigata, Japan      Fuji Rock Festival +
08/03-05/12     Chicago, IL      Lollapalooza
08/08/12            Morrison, CO      Red Rocks Amphitheater +
08/10-12/12      San Francisco, CA      Outside Lands
09/08/12              London UK      iTunes Festival

+ sold out

In Photos: Jack White at the Hangout Music Festival 2012

Jack White
The Hangout Music Festival
Gulf Shores, Alabama

Jack White Hangout Music Festival Alabama 2012

Jack White headlined Day 1 of the Hangout Music Festival this weekend down in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The set was a mix of new material, Raconteurs, White Stripes, and even a Danger Mouse track.   Worth a quick note, Jack actually has two back up bands. One is a complete female band and the other is completely male.  He never lets them practice together and he also doesn’t let them know which one will be performing until the night of the show.

Photos from Jack White’s set:

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Wanda Jackson Announces More US Shows + TV performances with Jack White And The Third Man House Band!

Wanda Jackson Announces US Tour Dates in February

Live Shows Planned To Follow Release Of New Jack White-Produced Album The Party Ain’t Over

Rock and Roll Hall Of Famer Wanda Jackson has added further live dates to her sold-out New York City and Los Angeles record release shows. Jackson has added a special shortened set in Nashville at the Ryman Auditorium for the Grand Ole Opry on January 15th, as part of a show with Del McCoury and Vince Gill, as well as a second night at Los Angeles’ El Rey Theatre on January 24th with The Third Man House Band featuring Jack White on guitar, while the newly announced February tour dates will take her back through New York as well as to Philadelphia, Boston, DC and Dallas.  Tickets for the additional Los Angeles show will be available for Third Man Record’s Vault subscribers starting Friday, January 7th at 10 am PST, and for the general public on Saturday, January 8th at 10 am PST. This string of live shows will be Jackson’s first stateside performances following the release of the highly anticipated new album The Party Ain’t Over – produced by Jack White and released on Third Man and Nonesuch Records on January 25th. With a remarkable career that began in 1955, Jackson, credited with being the first woman to ever record a rock and roll song – “Let’s Have a Party” in 1958 – was convinced by her friend Elvis Presley to cross over from country to rock and rockabilly music. Now known around the globe as “The Queen Of Rock-A-Billy” and “The First Lady Of Rock N Roll,” Jackson recently performed on the BBC’s Special New Year’s Eve “Hootenanny” Jools Holland Show, providing the United Kingdom with their very first song of 2011, a rollicking version of album track “Rip It Up,” as well as a rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.” Jackson is scheduled to perform with Jack White & The Third Man House Band on The Late Show With David Letterman on CBS on January 20th and Conan on TBS on January 25thThe Party Ain’t Over was recorded in Nashville at Jack White’s studio, where he brought together a formidable band, including himself, Jack Lawrence (The Dead Weather/Raconteurs), Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket), Patrick Keeler (Raconteurs), Ashley Monroe, Jackson Smith and Karen Elson, to name a few, and hand picked the songs – 11 tracks dating in origin from the early 1900’s to 2007.  The result: a retro modern collection of music that showcases Wanda, now in her seventh decade and sounding as charismatic as ever.  Wanda Jackson’s new single, a wickedly energetic cover of Bob Dylan’s “Thunder On The Mountain”, is out now.

Wanda Jackson tour dates in full:

Jan 15                   Nashville, TN @ Grand Ole Opry *

Jan 21                   Brooklyn, NY @ Williamsburg Hall Of Music (sold out) *

Jan 23                   Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre (sold out) *

Jan 24                   Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre *

Feb 22                   Philadelphia, PA @ World Café Live

Feb 23                   Boston, MA @ Royale

Feb 24                   New York, New York @ The Bowery Ballroom

Feb 25                   Washington DC @ 9.30 Club

Feb 26                   Dallas, TX @ The Kessler * Special Record Release Show featuring Jack White & The Third Man House Band

Jack White-produced Laura Marling Single To Be Released Nov 9th 2010

Third Man to Release Jack White-produced Laura Marling Single on November 9th 2010

Laura Marling blue

20-year old English folk star Laura Marling is the latest artist to take part in Third Man Records’ Blue Series of releases. The series of limited edition 7-inch records, produced by Jack White and recorded at his own Third Man Studios in Nashville, has featured releases from Wanda Jackson, The Black Belles and Secret Sisters, amongst others. [Read more…]

New Wanda Jackson Album, Produced by Jack White, Out Jan. 25, 2011

Wanda JacksonThe Party Ain’t Over
Produced by Jack White
(Third Man/ Nonesuch Records – January 25th 2011)

Third Man and Nonesuch Records announce the release of the new album from Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Wanda Jackson.  The Party Ain’t Over, produced by her friend Jack White, will be out January 25, 2011.

With a remarkable career that began in 1955, Jackson, credited with being the first woman to ever record a rock and roll song – “Let’s Have a Party” in 1958 – was convinced by her friend Elvis Presley to cross over from country to rock and rockabilly music. Now known around the globe as “The Queen Of Rock” and “The First Lady Of Rockabilly,” Jackson will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2010 Americana Music Awards in Nashville tonight, September 9th. The award – in the category of Performance – will be presented to her by Jack White.   [Read more…]

New Bond Theme Song

Jack WhiteAlicia KeysJack White will be teaming up with Alicia Keys for the 22nd James Bond film that will be out in theaters this November. The duo will be recording the theme song to “Quantaum of Solace”. “Another Way To Die” is the first duet in Bond history that was written & produced by Jack White. The soundtrack releases this October.

OK Go Gets Down to Business

ok go

When OK Go performed at my school, Columbia College, in May for our annual Manifest I jumped at the chance to sit down and chat with them. I wanted to pick their brains about all things related to music business, since it is what I am studying. Read on to hear what Damian Kulash (vocals/guitar) and Tim Nordwind (bass) had to say when I grilled them about their careers as professional musicians in today’s flailing recording industry. I consider myself lucky that the guys even answered my questions – it really got uncomfortable at moments!

1) If you had the opportunity to take lessons for your instrument, who would you want to study under?

Tim: To me, it’s not about taking lessons. Obviously, I’d like becoming a better bass player and guitar player. I feel like with us, generally it seems like it’s more about improving on song ideas and concept ideas. I’m trying to think. I’m sure there is, but…
Damian: It’s kinda weird, because it’s not like…People’s ability to teach very rarely has anything to do with their success. I would imagine David Bowie’s probably not the best voice coach out there, but one of the greatest singers. The people you want to learn from are not necessarily the people you look up to in other respects. I mean, the best guitar teacher I had was Ted Green.
Tim: Which one was he?
Damian: He was a guy out in the Valley. He’s like a jazz monster, but in his whole life he only released one record. But he taught Wendy of Wendy and Lisa fame, you know Prince’s guitarist. He’s taught some of the greatest guitarists that rock has ever known, but you wouldn’t know who he is. In general – in fact, I think I’d like to start taking lessons again. I’ve gotten sort of in a rut with my playing where I’m just used to the things that I do. Again, we’re not like a player’s band. There are people you go see just because you can’t believe they can play like that. The Steve Vais of the world. But even like, the black metal bands are sometimes like that. You can’t fucking believe they can play that fast, and it’s amazing. But it’s more like The Pixies school of music making where it’s more about a certain –
Tim: It’s like about a feeling.
Damian: It’s about a relationship between the people. It’s about something we do as a collective – not about each individual person’s playing. Individual players in The Pixies – like Joey Santiago is not a particularly good guitarist technically, but he’s still my favorite guitarist ever in some ways. It’s their songwriting and that feeling that they can create as a foursome.
Tim: Yeah, but I’m not sure they can teach you that. I think that the way you learn is just sort of by listening and getting inspired by that. But I don’t know, maybe you can do that. We should try.
Damian: Ha, yeah. Call up Joey and be like, “Can you make me awesome like you?”

2) What are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned from mistakes you’ve made in your career so far?

Damian: We’ve never made any mistakes. We are perfect. I think certainly not trusting the sort of institutionalized successful people? Let me think of the right way to say that. I grew up in D.C. where do-it-yourself punk-rock was the mantra. I always distrusted major labels and I always distrusted the sort of system. And even with that basic backdrop I still sort of figured that there was still sort of magic behind the doors of the industry as if someone back there is pulling strings and making things happen. And the more we have…All of my suspicions as a teenager have been confirmed that there really is no one back there doing any special magic. There’s no reason to trust the sort of suits because they say they can make things happen. I’m not saying it in a very specific way. I’m not saying it in a very lucid way.
Tim: You can’t trust it.
Damian: We’ve been lucky to steer clear of the major potholes of signing away things that we shouldn’t have signed, or getting involved with people that we really didn’t want to get involved with. I look back on periods of our career and I don’t love our first record anymore. But I wouldn’t go back and change the way we made it, I just wouldn’t do it again.

3) What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned from other music professionals in the biz who have more experience than you?

Tim: Maybe to shoot for longevity versus a quick success.
Damian: Not to lose sight of why you are doing this in the first place. The reason anyone gets in this business, or the only good reason to get in this business, is because you really like music, you know? And you really like making music and you really like the ideas and you really like the creative process. We’ve seen so many people sort of get side tracked by this thing – at the smallest taste of success. And what they shift into is people who are in the business of chasing success. And that’s obviously an oxymoron. I mean, you can’t be in the business of chasing business. Or rather, it doesn’t make good music. The only people who seem to stay happy at it are still doing what they want to be doing 20 years into their career as opposed to still trying to chase the opportunity to do what they want to do. Does that make sense?

4) As far as commercial music licensing goes, are there any television shows that you enjoy and would like your songs to be placed in?

Damian: Our music’s already in tons of shows. Our operating theory is that if a TV show is bad, that usually reflects badly on the show and not on the music in the show. So we tend to be pretty easy to license from. We will not – we’ll stop things if we really find them offensive. But for the most part we feel like music speaks for itself and if you have to protect your music from it being in a bad TV show, then you’re in the business of marketing again. All you’re really doing is trying to figure out how to game the world to make them think you’re cool, which is just not fun. There are some good shows.
Tim: I’d like to have a song in The Office.
Damian: That would be impressive. They don’t have music, do they?
Tim: I don’t think they have music, so that would be real difficult.
Damian: I think The Wire does a pretty good job music-wise.
Tim: Really?
Damian: No, not The Wire, I’m sorry – Weeds. They have a different – they have somebody new do the theme song every week. We should tell them we want to do a theme song.
Tim: I’d like to be the ending song on Entourage. They actually pick pretty good music. I’m surprised to hear a lot of Kings of Leon on that show.
Damian: I wanna be in Casino. They’re just gonna have to re-edit the sound. Because the soundtrack to Casino is fucking great.
Tim: I’m sure it’s gonna get expensive as hell if they have to renew.
Damian: Oh yeah, good point. Eventually they’ll have to like, take out Il Divo and put us in.
Tim: Also, that reminds me, it’s the same thing with the TV show the Wonder Years. The reason they haven’t put a DVD box set out yet is because they can’t afford to use all the songs because it’s like The Beatles and every great classic song.
Damian: Yeah, how did they get them in the show in the first place?
Tim: They must have had some sort of limited deal or something. They probably paid for it the first time, but from what I understand it’s just way too expensive for them to do it right now.
Damian: I wonder if TV rights were just a lot cheaper then or something?
Tim: That may have been the case. So we could do the entire seven seasons of Wonder Years, haha.
Damian: I was listening to an interview with somebody, with a filmmaker whose first grad school film has never been released for the same reason. Anyways, onward…

5) What are your thoughts on having your recorded live performances downloaded online for free by your fans?

Damian: Obviously I’m not very good at answering these questions quickly. They’re complicated ones. In general, the short answer is we love people having access to our music. Especially because our business model has very little to do with control of the recordings. We just want people to be able to hear our music. We’re smart enough to understand that if there’s not money flowing through the system, it will be very hard for anyone to make a living in music. We’re not out to see labels and the system implode. Selfishly, all we particularly care about is our own fans getting access to the music. So, yeah I’ll leave it at that.

6) How do you feel about up and coming online music companies that let fans download artists’ recorded live performances for free?

Damian: I think that what you’re sort of chipping away at here is, what is the model of the music industry that we propose? I don’t have one that will solve all the industry’s woes. It’s hard to answer these atomized questions, you know, because I don’t… I think that musicians need to get paid for what they do. I don’t know if that’s the revenue stream that is relevant. For us, it is not particularly relevant. Recordings of our live shows are not a revenue stream that we are trying to Exploit. I think if a big business grew up around selling them and we weren’t getting a part of it, we would be pretty pissed, you know? The macro changes in the music industry I think need to be – it doesn’t make sense for me to sort of think of it and try to take a stance on every micro question. It’s sort of more like, how are we, in a world where music is no longer tied to physical objects that can be commodified and sold, traded, distributed they way they used to be, then what is the revenue stream for music? The sort of obvious top-down solution to me seems to be to have a system like a rights organization that is not necessarily connected to limited access ideas of music. I mean, there’s several people who have proposed models where basically all music is free everywhere, but there’s a monthly tax and it would be pretty easy to track who was listening to what. Or in rough numbers what was successful. That sort of answers all these questions at once, you know? I’m not sure that can be done. Of course it’d raise a whole lot more questions. All the little questions of like, should you be getting paid for this? Should you be getting paid for that? Should you be getting paid for that? Those all seem like corollaries to a much bigger question of like, where does money come from? Because in music, money right now, it all goes to iPod. People spend tons of money on their iPods, but then nothing on filling them, you know? People are happy to spend $80 a month for broadband so that they can download big files, which are of course, movies and music, and of course they don’t pay anything for the files. There’s lots of money in the system right now, it’s just not going to music. Slicing the hairs of whether or not it’s a live performance, or the label owns it, or the publisher owns it, the artist owns it, it’s an independent artist, it’s a major artist… All of these things seem to me like, they’re all tiny facets on the same side of the globe, which is sort of like this entire – like the rug was pulled out underneath the entire system, and so build a new system, you know.

7) Your last album came out in 2005. What are you up to now? Any plans for a third album?

Damian: Um, yes. We are writing now. We will be in the studio by August at the latest. I mean, we’re recording now, but they’re demos. We expect – I’m sure we will not put it out in the fourth quarter of this year because fourth quarter is just a stupid time for anyone but Paul McCartney to release a CD.
Tim: And he does every fourth quarter.
Damian: And every fourth quarter there he is – Oh, look Paul… So we will probably put it out in February, March, something like that.

8 – How do you feel about being known to millions of people as the “YouTube treadmill video band” and for your infamous video versus being known as OK Go and for your songs?

Tim: That’s one way to know us.
Damian: We would be morons if we thought that like, the entire world was simultaneously – like, everybody was going to watch the video and the 35 million hits – “they all bought the album and they all came to the shows and they all read about it in the New York Times and everybody knew everything about us and we were the world’s biggest band!” That is certainly the most conspicuous thing we’ve done. Nothing has gotten more exposure than that treadmill video. We’re not surprised to see that it’s the thing people know us for. Obviously we don’t think of ourselves – like I don’t brush my teeth every night and think, “Well, there you are – treadmill video guy!” It was a video we made, and it was a great video.
Tim: What do you say to yourself?
Damian: Like, “Can I be Tim’s friend?” The way I think, whenever you’re playing to more than your social circle, like your friends… I mean, our first show in Chicago was to about 300 people. I think we probably knew about 295 of them. It was the music scenesters that we hung out with. I would say in that room, probably 150 people were in bands – we knew all their bands. Tim’s roommates were there. My roommate was there. It was your friends. In that world, you know exactly who you are and what you are. It’s all a known quantity. After that, everything is sort of a numbers game. It’s a numbers game that you can engage in if you’re a person who cares a lot about exposure and marketing and numbers. Or if you just want to make music, you hope there’s someone out there who likes it. You hope those people are sort of similar enough to you that when you talk after shows, they’re people you can get along with. Or that you don’t feel like you’re being horribly misunderstood. But when our video got viewed 30 million times, or whatever it is, that exposed us to a whole shitload of new people. And my guess is, somewhere in the realm of a half a percent of them or something, decided to go farther and check out some other song online. Or come to a show, or do whatever. The other 29.99999 million people – they’ll always know us as that treadmill band, presumably. Hopefully those people who gave a shit will like the rest of the music and come to shows and that’s our fanbase, you know? If you think of what it would’ve been like without the treadmills, then you’re dealing with 1% of whoever happened to see the video before that, or hear the song on the radio, or whatever it is. In the small indie world, maybe half the people who come to your show will become super fans. But when you’re playing to 10,000 people in Johannesburg, you don’t expect that 5,000 of them are going to go buy the record the next day. They came for the show, they had a good time, they might’ve known who you were, their friends said you were really cool, whatever. And that might be the last time they ever hear of you. It’s like, when the numbers get bigger you have to sort of assume that you are specifically talking directly to a smaller percentage of them, but they give a shit, you know? Am I making any sense?

9) What do you do on stage to try and win over the crowd when playing to an audience that doesn’t consist of your typical fanbase?

Damian: I think you need to put yourself a little more in the perspective of people who make things because they want to make things. For us, this whole thing is not a strategy to fool people. We hope the people have a good time tonight. We will enjoy ourselves on stage. Our show is mostly sort of about riling up the crowd and getting everybody excited. If people don’t want to have a good time, they won’t. But if people do, they will. There’s been shows where we’ve been like, “Ugh, what a shitty audience,” but for the most part, when people come out to have a good time, they do. So I don’t feel like we have to trick anyone into liking us.
Tim: If they don’t, they’ll just go…haha.
Damian: We’ve played to a lot of big urban audiences and mostly because college festivals like this tend to be us and Common. Or us and –
Tim: Who by the way…raps about us.
Damian: Who by the way raps about us recently. We were dropped – name-checked in the most recent Common hit. And we talked to him in L.A. once. Remember that?
Tim: Yeah, I do.
Damian: And we played with Ludacris a month ago, and Gym Class Heroes. These college festivals are very often sort of like, they try to get one band for each perceived segment of population. So there’s a rock band, there’s like, a girl singer/songwriter, and there’s a hip hop band. The audiences don’t necessarily go ape-shit for…like, the obvious hip hop crowd doesn’t necessarily love us, but they have a good time.

10) With CD sales declining by 25% every year, the record industry is constantly searching for other revenue streams. Do you make more money from CD sales and touring or from licensing and publishing from writing your own songs? How do you see yourselves succeeding financially?

Damian: To be honest, we make our money through licensing – almost entirely. Well, licensing and touring. We’re sort of back to the same thing. I don’t have a magic pill for the music industry. It has been our experience that people who make good music and are relatively intelligent about the business choices they make are still doing fine. It’s not that hard… Music is doing really well right now. Record labels are not. It’s not impossible to make money in music. The model that your money should be coming from a physical object is just outdated. Anybody at Columbia who’s getting into the music industry worrying about CD sales should be picking a fucking different industry. They’re already way behind the times if they’re thinking about CD sales. CD sales have nothing to do with the music industry anymore. The heads of the major labels just figured that out this year and they were supposed to know it ten years ago. Licensing is one thing…
Tim: And that could all go away easily right now too, though.
Damian: Yeah, but that could go away too. No one really knows. I think you have to have a basic faith that people want music in their lives and will spend a certain amount of money to have it in their lives, and that there will be money to be made in music. You have to be flexible enough and intelligent enough to be in the right place to accept some of that money. But again, the reason you should get into music is because you fucking love music. I mean, if you want to make money, go elsewhere. It was never a smart place to make money. 10, 15 years ago, you could into the music industry with the dream of having a hit record that would sell millions and make millions. But you know what? You would have been just as stupid to do it then, because there’s still only one band a year that does that. Maybe five bands a year that do that, and guess what? You’re probably not going to be in one of them. So anybody that wants to make lots of money should just find a different business. There’s more than enough money to go around to make good livings for people who make good music and for people who are willing to work hard for it. People who want glory and riches always go down hard.
Tim: Or go to Law School.
Damian: Or go to Law School. You’ll find very few bands, few big bands, where they guys in the band are going, “You know what? We all sat down, decided we wanted to make a lot of money and this is how we did it.” Every band I can think of, every interview is kinda like, “Yeah, we were playing music for our friends and I don’t know, it kinda caught on.” I mean, there’s no way Jack White actually thought he was going to be playing with The Stones, you know what I mean? He was like a douchebag who could play guitar really well. He’s not a douchebag, I’m just kidding. Anyways, yeah, there you go…