I know Jim Dalton best from the Railbenders but I’m excited to see him hit the stage with Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers at the State Room in Salt Lake City on 5/25.  In fact, they’ve got a bunch of dates listed so click here to see them all.

Here’s what I remember, although it’s a bit of a haze…but around 2004 and 2005 the Supersuckers were on creative overdrive with their “Big Shows”, CD releases, 7 inches and their fan club stuff,  but they were still having what Eddie referred to as this “Spinal Tap moment with drummers”.  They had these shows booked in Utah that carried the band right into Colorado.  If you’re a band like the Supersuckers, you couldn’t hook up with a better band than the Railbenders for the Colorado market.  A market a band could spend an easy 10 days playing through.  The Supersuckers had these dates booked but they didn’t have a drummer for the first few shows until Mike Musburger could join up with them.  So Graham of the Railbenders filled in as the Supersuckers drummer those first few nights.  I remember one night in particular (I think in Colorado Springs) where the venue they played pretty much ran out of beer.  Oh man these shows in Colorado were legendary.  The Railbenders and Supersuckers we’re a great bill.  Once we did close to a 1000 people at the Gothic in Denver and auctioned off tickets to sit on the stage to raise money for the WM3 Defense Fund.  These were awesome times and it’s hard to believe it was almost 10 years ago…

The guys in the Railbenders are just a class act.  So if you ever get to Denver check them out.  In the meantime I’ll be at the  Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers show.

So here’s a short Q & A with Jim Dalton of the Railbenders, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, and the Hickman-Dalton Gang…

Q:  What’s it like working with Johnny Hickman of Cracker?  I’ve always been a fan of Hickman and I think that song Low has an incredible guitar part.

A:  I was always a huge Cracker fan.  I remember clearly the first time I heard “Teen Angst” on the radio.  It didn’t sound like anyone else at the time.  I bought every record they came out with.  So when I got a call out of the blue one day from Johnny (who had recently moved to Colorado), it was kind of surreal.  Working with him has been great.  He’s a phenomenal player and writer, and now a good friend.  Funny you mention the guitar part to “Low.”  I like to think I have a pretty decent ear when it comes to figuring out guitar parts, but “Low” kinda had me stumped back when I used to listen to “Kerosene Hat” (remember this was before the days of simply searching youtube and a watching a video of somebody playing it).  So, I was doing a show with him recently and we were backstage warming up when it occurred to me that I could actually learn how to play “Low” from the master himself.  Well, he showed me.  And the thing is, l still can’t make it sound like he does.  Only Johnny can play that riff.  He’s a a true original.

Q: Do you have any favorite Supersuckers stories?

A:  Oh man.  So many!  Having Rontrose and Jordan join us on stage for “LaGrange” at the end of our set; Eddie singing on our record; Churilla drumming all of Rush’s 2112 on the dashboard of my car on the way to Denny’s; joining Eddie for his Twist & Shout in-store here in Denver.  Being Eddie’s country band for some of solo shows.  It was a blast and an honor touring with, and getting to know those guys.

Q: You’ve got a great voice.  Growing up did you ever take singing lessons?  And who are some of your favorite vocalists?

A:  No, I never took vocal lessons.  Growing up, I never envisioned being a lead singer.  I always wanted to be a guitarist.  When I approached Tyson about starting the Railbenders, we started as a trio.  I played guitar and he played the upright bass, and we had Mike Minnick on drums.  I was writing the songs so I just decided to sing them and I guess it worked out alright.  Even though I had no lessons, I figured out early on to know my limitations as a vocalist.  I really have no range.  I can’t sing high, so I stay low.

Q: Any stories from some of the bands you’ve played with over the years; Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, Z.Z. Top?

A:  We opened for Dwight Yoakam on the night of what would be the last show for lead guitarist, Keith Gaddis.  He was leaving the band.  So Dwight’s band asked if we knew of a good bar where they could have a going away party for him.   Of course, we told them to go to Tyson’s bar at the time (Bender’s).  So Dwight’s entire band (along with new guitarist Eddie Perez) followed us to Bender’s where we threw a post-show party and they took to the stage and gave us and about 20 other people in the bar a private concert.  It was epic.

Q: Beatles or the Stones?  

A:  I was asked this recently.  I simply said, “Yes”.  So they asked me if I had to pick one, who would I pick.   I said, “I don’t, so I won’t.  I love both.”

Q: Jordan Shapiro or Jimi Hendrix?  

A:  Yes

Q: If you could sit in and play with any band past or present who would it be?

A;  Man that’s hard.  For country, I’d say it would be awesome to play guitar in Waylon’s band in 1972 during the Honky Tonk Heroes era.  For rock, it would be a dream to sit in with the Stones and trade riffs with Keith.  I could die happy after that.

One of the first tours I did with the Supersuckers was probably one of the most memorable because Zeke was also on the bill. This was around 2001.  I knew Zeke from my times in Los Angeles but I didn’t really know Zeke until one specific

show in Hoboken, NJ at a place called Maxwell’s.  I remember during sound check, Marky breaking out Eddie Van Halen’s Eruption as if it were as easy as frying an egg.  I was floored.  I just couldn’t believe that this band with its own sound and super charged power was making its way through a sound check at Maxwells with the attitude that it was playing Giant Stadium.  Imagine if every band had that bravado…but it does say in their bio “rock like this might be the last show ever”.  

The last time I saw Zeke was when they were on the bill during the Supersuckers 20th Anniversary Show in Seattle, WA. in 2008. And they played that night like it might be their last too.

Here’s a Q&A with Marky from Zeke.  I wanna thank Brian Kasnyik aka Kaz for helping me pull this off and for the photo’s included.  And I wanna thank the readers for reading…

Q: Zeke is going to celebrate their 20th anniversary here soon.  What can we expect?

A:  Wow, that long, huh? ridiculous, really!  We haven’t got anything planned per se.  But the last time we tried to do an anniversary show in Seattle it was pure bloody chaos.  We could barely play.  And half the band was stone cold sober! Someone tried to ram a mic down my throat and chipped my tooth…again!  Amps  falling over…  I don’t know if it was piss or beer or puke all over the floor but it was impossible to remain standing for the last part of the set.  Maybe that’s why we haven’t planned anything as of yet.

Q:  Marky you’re an awesome guitar player.  I heard you liked my Redd Volkaert interview and that you dig Roy Buchanan.  What other guitar players do you like and are there any stories you care to share?  

A:  Thanks. I’ve been playing since I was 9 yrs. old so I better be able to play halfway decent.  Volkaert  is a master of the instrument.  I didn’t know about Buchanan until Brian turned me onto him.  Now I know where Page got everything.  Mostly the old guys; Clapton, Beck, Hendrix.  I grew up in a small town in Arkansas and you have to be pretty quick if you want to hang with other musicians there.  I’ve picked up country and blues styles there.  I went through kind of an obsession with Michael Schenker and Ulrich Roth.  So you might hear a little of that. Obviously I’m a bit limited doing the kind of music Zeke writes. So I was happy with Death Alley.  There were a couple of places where you might get a taste of what I can do when I cut loose a little.  I honestly slacked off on Til The Livin End but I just wanted to lay back and give Jeff some room to be what he is… a badass.  I’m pretty sure there will be some of my best guitar work on the new Zeke stuff if we can just get it recorded. I guess Chris isn’t that bad either.

Q: Til The Livin End is my favorite Zeke album; Chinatown, 383, and Hold Tight are Rock-N-Roll masterpieces… What’s your favorite Zeke record and why?


A:  Thanks, brother.  It’s funny.  Those tunes were written just a couple days before we went in and recorded it.  A lot of  those songs were actually written for other projects and I’d play one of those riffs and Donny or Jeff would be like, ” Let’s play that!” And so when Relapse wanted a Zeke record…well, It may not have been what they were expecting.  They probably wanted another Death Alley which was written in about a month. I was obsessed with that whole concept, really.  It just came out right. But the truth is that the Zeke fans at Relapse said they thought Til The Living End was a rock and roll masterpiece. I guess if we’ve got their vote and your vote.. I guess I’m happiest with Flat Tracker. The tones are all there. It rocks like hell but is still in control. I like what we did on the European split with Peter Pan Speedrock.  We may try to make those recordings more available at a later date.  The last single we did for Relapse, that’s kind of the direction we’re heading in. Jack Endino and I work well together.  I’m very critical of him and he could really care less.  If I listened to some of his suggestions we’d make better records!

Q:  There’s gotta be a favorite tour story from the road…please share.

A: Well, I should really just write a bloody book!  There’s just a lot of frightening stuff that happened in and around us all through the experience of doing this band.  Much of it is probably pretty funny in a weird way.  But often people got

Zeke Aftermath

Zeke Aftermath

hurt, it wasn’t a good deal.  I remember we used to stop in the middle of 302 and just start hurling pounder glasses at audience members. You can imagine: the pounder glasses break when they hit folks’ skulls!  A-cars would show up.  Glad I don’t have to live that way anymore.

Q: If you could sit in and play with any band past or present who would it be?

A: Well I think I could probably have been the third guitarist for Derek and the Dominoes, you know…

Q: Can you suggest a few good books to read and songs to hear?

A:  I’m reading Larry Niven stuff right now. Some Heinlein. Of course I’m a huge Lovecraft fan. The Illuminatus trilogy is pretty hilarious. I guess I really love Electric Wizards’ Dunwich. 1st track on the Blind Faith LP  David Allan Coe’s Family Album and whatever the name of the LP he did when he hung out in Key West…Spectrum IV  I think. Anything by the Byrds, Marshall Tucker Band,Blue Oyster Cult, Edgar Broughton Band. etc. So many books, So much music….

In 2008 Willie Nelson released a 4 CD Box set entitled “One Hell Of A Ride”.  It’s a great historical perspective of Willie Nelson’s writing, choice of covers, recording career, etc…  Mickey Raphael can be heard on a lot of it and contributed to the liner notes.  He’s played with Willie Nelson for 39 years.  Personally I love his playing and I always look forward to hearing him whenever a Willie Nelson album comes out.

In this Rockonomics Interview, I’m thrilled to be able to feature a Q & A with Mickey…

Q:  Michael Bloomfield said something like “even if Paul Butterfield was a tuna fish sandwich he could still play the blues”…   In other words, it didn’t matter what color he was or what his background was, Butterfield was a blues player.  I’m a huge fan of those early Paul Butterfield albums…  Growing up, what player knocked your socks off and is there a story that goes with it?

A: I always loved Paul Butterfield. His tone and phrasing were like nobody I’ve ever heard. In the mid 80s I was spending a lot of time in LA and Leon Russell took me to see Paul play at the Roxy. Paul was doing a gig with Gary Busey and Rick Danko. 

He was amazing and I finally got to meet one of my idols.

A year or so after that I was in new York and Paul called me up and wanted me to come downtown and hang out. I ended up taking him to Miles Davis’s 60th birthday party and after we just cruised the streets of New York jamming on the harmonica with the notes just bouncing off the tall buildings till wee hours of the night.

Q:  You’re heard on Motley Crue’s “Smoking In The Boys Room” and you’ve played with artists like Neil Young, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joe Shaver, Emmylou Harris, just to name a few.  Is there anyone living or dead that you’d like to collaborate with?

A:  I’d love to do something with Paul Simon. I played a couple of songs with him at the Ryman in Nashville last June. It was an amazing experience and we have kept in touch since then.

Q:  What was the most challenging album you recorded with Willie Nelson?

A:  We recorded Teatro with Daniel Lanois and he said everyone pick an instrument that’s not your main one. I used the bass harmonica which I dont play all the time so it was a challenge.

Q:  What’s the secret to playing with Willie Nelson this long?

A:  Can’t hit a moving target

Q:  I know your schedule keeps you busy, but it’s been years since you released a solo album…  Do you plan to release another one sometime soon and who have you been recording with lately? 

A:  I’ve been writing a little with Joey Burns from Calexico. We have 5 tunes half finished. I carry the hard drive with me on the road and when I run into muso friends I have them play on it. Bill Evans who played soprano with miles just played on one tune.

Q:  You seem very involved with the Willie Nelson Catalog.  Your efforts on the box set and your involvement with the Naked Willie album, where you “unproduced” some of the early RCA recordings from the

late 60’s are two recent examples…  What other projects might fans hear?

A:  We are searching for live recordings of the Highwaymen  which might turn into a future project.

Q:  Do you have any Bob Dylan stories from the Willie Nelson / Bob Dylan Ballpark tour?  

I’m such a fan of Bob and his harp playing. While we were on tour he loaned me a bunch of DVDs of some of the old blues greats. Little Walter, sonny boy Williamson  , howling wolf and a copy of the tv game show ” to tell the truth” with Paul Butterfield as a guest.

Bob was also a great inspiration for me.

Rick Ballard of Acetate Records is one of the few folks still standing in the world of independent Rock-N-Roll.  Not only did the Supersuckers tour with a lot of the bands on his roster including Throw Rag, Rhino Bucket, and the Hangmen to name a few but former Supersucker Rontrose is now in the Hangmen with an album coming out in a few months…

But before I ask about the Hangmen, I’ve got a few other questions for Rick

Q: How did Acetate Records start? What has been the labels biggest achievement?

A: I remember seeing the labels on my favorite records as a kid and just diggin’ the idea of working with so many different bands, whether it was producing or releasing them.  Then I started playing guitar, eventually moved to Los Angeles from Virginia and got caught up in the hustle of trying to get signed.  At some point, I was playing in a band and we had finished recording an album’s worth of material and I said “fuck it,” let’s just put it out ourselves.  I had no idea just how much hard work that meant, but it’s been an awesome experience.  Now we’re headed towards our 50th release.

I feel really lucky that we get to work with artists that we love and continue to put out music that might not be the “taste of the week” or #trending or whatever.  I can’t say enough about the bands on the label, they are some of my favorite songwriters/artists out there.  Getting them exposure is very satisfying, whether it’s radio, TV shows or films.  I hear them played during NFL games, baseball and hockey games.  It’s so great.  The Hangmen even recently did a Dodge commercial.  How’s that for completely surreal?

Q:  I’ve mentioned before that music is an art and as we know anytime art and commerce meet there’s trouble.  Personally, I feel that major labels have done a terrible job explaining to the public the dangers of consumers not paying for music and the importance of supporting musicians.  I always felt that people were more inclined to buy a CD or download music if they felt the purchase benefited the artist.  As an owner of an independent label how do you feel about the topic?  

A:  Well, major record labels are such notorious bad guys that I’m not surprised everyone felt free to loot the store at some point. Watch a couple episodes of Behind The Music and it’s always the big record label or management screwing the band in some way or another.

But much like Mid-Fi Recordings (a fine establishment, if I do say so), Acetate Records is hard working, blue collar, independent record label slugging away every day to make it, so… quit stealing our shit!   We’re a small operation, we sell ‘em on our website, your order will be hand packed with love.  When music is illegally downloaded, the band’s don’t get paid and that means there may not be an ability to record another record. Now is a good time for a plug – http://www.acetate.com

Q: Besides running a label, you and your wife founded Shaker Films and produced a movie entitled “Bob & The Monster” a documentary about Bob Forrest of Thelonious Monster, which has made the rounds at film festivals recenty.  I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’ve read about it and I’ve seen the trailer.  I think it’s a great topic and Bob Forrest is a hero.  Is there an official release date?

A:  My wife is an amazing director and producer and what started as an idea written on a Post-It note stuck to her computer became a feature length documentary 7 years later.  When we started the film I don’t think we realized the entirety of the prescription drug problem in America and it has gotten completely out of hand in the last decade.

Bob Forrest is an inspirational guy.  If you haven’t heard of him yet, then Google him.  He’s an addiction specialist who makes appearances on CNN and other media outlets and is a brutally honest straight shooter.  Most people recognize him as ‘the guy with the hat and glasses’ on Celebrity Rehab, but they have no idea about his background, his band Thelonious Monster and their place in Los Angeles’ musical history.  Bob is mad for living and the film is a wild ride.

The film has been playing the world and elsewhere since it’s debut at SXSW in 2011.  We’re hoping to have it out commercially by the summer.  We’ll do a small theatrical run and then it will be available on DVD, streaming, etc.  Tell everyone to go check out the trailer on the website (http://www.bobandthemonster.com), “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (BobnTheMonster).

Q: I started this site to give music fans and bands an insight…  As someone that follows it do you have any suggested future topics or thoughts on this blog?

A: I don’t know if I have a suggestion as much as I’m just a fan of the blog and what you’ve done with it.  There’s great insight to how things really work behind the scenes, in the studio and in the shitty, caved-in seat in the van.

Q: Before you get involved with a band, how important is the bands own marketing efforts and willingness to work at a grass roots level?

A: The more the better.  When I last looked, about 1,000 records come out every week, including re-issues, etc., which is insane!  So that’s what the bands are up against, fighting for a precious inch of shelf space in what few record stores we have left.  I won’t work with artists who aren’t hustling their asses off at least as hard as we are.

It’s not just other bands your competing with anymore, it’s Playstation, Netflix, Facebook and a bunch of other stuff.  When I was younger music was king, it was the only thing to do besides skate or ride your bike.  That was it.  We hung out at Penguin Feather, our neighborhood record store/head shop, listened to new stuff, brought home what we could, snuck into shows.  That’s all we had. Ah the good ol’ days…

Q: I was anxious to do this Q & A because I’m a huge fan of Rontrose and I know there’s a lot of people waiting to hear him on the next Hangman release. When is that release going to hit the streets?  What did Ron bring to the table on the CD?

A:  I’m a huge fan of Ron’s, too. He’s such a great addition to The Hangmen.  Ron has that rare slow-hand feel that really suits Bryan Small’s songwriting and he’s been a Hangmen fan since before the Supersuckers were even a band.  The record is called “East of Western” and I think it’s the best collection of songs that Bryan has written.  It comes out May 8 in the U.S. and later that week in Europe. I’m really excited for everyone to hear it.

Check out and Pre-Order  Now    acetate.com or http://www.the-hangmen.net/

Q:  We both grew up around Washington DC.  With Football season coming to an end do you have any advice for the Redskins?

My condolences, it’s brutal being a fan, but I’m glad you asked, Chris. Like most people who watch football, I totally know how to fix everything that’s wrong.  So here’s my plan – move the team to L.A., change the name, then restart it fresh in DC in a couple of years under new ownership, like they did in Cleveland after the Browns moved to Baltimore.  As long as that douchebag Daniel Snyder owns the team, they will continue to drown in a pool of their own suck. Then again, that’s just my opinion… but I’m right.

The studio time for the “Paid” EP was $6000. A copy of the receipt is included in the CD packaging. Additional costs included manufacturing, mastering, art, advertising, radio, press, etc…

The EP was recorded at Robert Lang Studios, which was a departure from their frequent recording spot, Studio Litho. Also Tim Gabor did not do the cover art – something he usually did. Of the 6 Tracks, only three were new, and two were Supersuckers classics revisited. In keeping with the bands spirit, it was released on 06/06/06. Fan club members were even treated to an advance copy in the mail.

Eddie Spaghetti described the method of the EP release below, when asked in a German on-line interview below found at dewahrschauer.net  –

“Paid” is the first of two or three EP’s which will be part of an upcoming full-length album. what was so interesting for you to choose this way of releasing like they did in the Fifties A – I just think that with the way people get their music now, it’s a chance for us to re-think the way we deliver it. And the fact of the matter is that it’s a singles-driven world out there today and instead of being down about that, we’ve decided to embrace it to an extent. If were entirely up to me, we’d just put out singles from now on, but alas, we’re a band and we do things together, so the EP was a bit of a compromise to that regard. That said, It’s an awesome record!

I was recently asked about the idea of releasing this EP… And I’m sure the above sums it up well. Regardless, I thought the EP was a good call and maybe even a bit ahead of it’s time. I liked the idea of the band releasing songs when they had them finished and not sitting on them. And these were quality tunes. Furthermore, we really believed radio would embrace it because of its “crossover” appeal. Capturing new fans with songs like “Breaking Honey’s Heart” and “Paid” seemed inevitable. And of course I felt great when the TV show, “Deadliest Catch”, chose to use “Paid”. But overall, my expectations fell short. It wasn’t a huge seller and radio didn’t pay much attention. In fact, some of the hardcore fans felt it was just too soft and some wondered why the band decided to mix both “rock” and “country” songs on the same release. It was well received by the press and fans, however it didn’t catapult the band out of the bars and into the theaters as hoped. Proving once again, the bands legendary live shows, were going to have to be the catalyst for the leap into larger venues.

Looking back, “Paid” marked a huge turning point for the band. The days of the successful Big Show and banner year of 2005 were over. While we all looked forward to 2006, believing all our past efforts would make things better, the glory days seemed to be fading. Even with the addition of Scott Churilla, and a long anticipated full length album ( later to be titled, Get It Together) planned in the near future, there was change in the air.

One of my early Rockonomics posts was about my first impressions of the Supersuckers website and how I felt it needed a makeover.   I had also mentioned that people involved with the operations were fans.  I felt this was tantamount to the bands success. We had a few web Guru’s during my days, but something about “Hal the Web Guy” stands out.

With Hal’s help we were able to transform the band’s site from it’s humble beginnings into one that was easy to use and chockfull of useful and updated content (including press photo’s, music, video’s, and fan club information).  We added a personal touch from the band members, and a real community evolved on the message board.  Fans were even encouraged to submit photo’s to be included on the site, and share their own stories.

When I started the Rockonomics site, I turned to a few people for their opinion and obviously Hal was on the list.  I wanted to write about past experiences but most importantly, I wanted fans and other bands to find it entertaining and insightful.  A subscription service seemed a bit over the top,  so I decided to do donations along with giveaways.  I had no idea it would be this fun and successful, leading me to consulting work and even a speaking engagement in Washington DC.  Thanks everyone for your support!  And so it continues…

Below is my Q & A with my pal, Hal.

Q: With social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and website templates such as wordpress, I would suspect that the demand for custom sites has decreased.  What changes have you noticed in the past few years?

A: Yeah absolutely. And there are even more solutions out there now. But I think it’s great. It allows anyone who needs a web-presence to be able to easily “roll their own” without having to spend an arm and a leg or learn the nitty-gritty of html coding. And have their web-presence look really good. I can’t tell you how many smaller jobs I’ve talked my way out of just because I know the budget will be small and I can pass on some info for the client to do it themselves. But when it comes to my bigger clients, they still need a lot of custom content, hands-on support and a large team of web guys.

Q: You’ve done countless sites for a lot of Fortune 500 companies so how did you become the “Web Guy” for the Supersuckers?

A: I have a good friend who worked at MusicToday (the SSKs online merchandise company), and you must have put the word out that the band was looking for a new guy. She, knowing I was a huge fan, contacted me and said, “hey, get in touch with them.” So I remember calling you and I think you were in the van on tour (as always). You asked me who my favorite bands were. So I just rattled a few off and I think you said, “OK, you’re hired!”  [laughs]  Well not exactly, but you seemed generally interested. And we started working together pretty soon thereafter.

Anyhow, I’ve always said that the jobs that were most fun and creative, were the low-paying gigs. So as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to mix in a few fun gigs while also “Working for the Man!”

While I knew the SSKS gig wouldn’t make me a rich man, I just was so stoked to work with this band I had been listening to and seen live for many years. And you sporadically sweetened the deal when a package would mysteriously arrive with some really cool swag. Guys like Doug, Bartley, Brian and myself always appreciated that you seemed to really care about us minions.

As for the moniker, “Hal the Web Guy,” I just thought that doing the geek work wasn’t so cool, so I just stole a bit of your persona to make my title seem a bit more hip.  [laughs]

Q: What was your favorite Supersuckers web promotion?

A: I only came in on the tail end of the Paid EP, so I guess Get it Together. I thought it was an interesting idea to put all the gold-top members names in the CD jacket. While the album wasn’t really what the public seemed to want, it’s certainly a well produced piece and has a few gems. Also the 20th anniversary show, CD and DVD was great. Really the whole Fan Club (P.I.T.) was brilliant while it lasted.

Q: Was there ever a web promotion we talked about doing but couldn’t pull it off?

A: The main focus was how to keep people coming back to the site — keeping it fresh. The initial re-design was to keep it clean, simple and easy to navigate. When the web-store was run by MusicToday (MT), we had that “Merch Item of the Day” feature. It was a cool idea and a way to keep the home page fresh. Back when we first did it, there were so many different items in the store like shirts, caps, flasks, lighters, girl’s knickers, skateboards,  iPods, etc. –a huge variety. Not many bands at the SSKs level had such an inventory.

What I really wanted to do was link this feature directly to the MT database, have a “merch window” for every item in the store and serve them up in a more logical fashion. Even have a back-end interface so you could promote specific goods that you wanted to clear out or put on “special.” Also, if an item went out of stock, it would just not show anymore. This is something we do on all of my bigger sites. But I couldn’t get MT to figure out a way to make it work. And there wasn’t a decent budget that I could hire out to an engineer to build it. So we did it manually, and so many times you’d call me up (from the van most likely) and say “hey man, that T-Shirt showing on the site today has been out of stock for 2 weeks.” [laughs]  So I’d have to quickly swap it out. After a couple years, the stock was really dwindling, and we barely had any items to sell. We’d be rotating maybe 5-6 items for weeks. Eventually I just took the feature down.

Also, I remember when Eddie decided to answer the fans questions via a video blog, which I thought was a great way to interact with the fans from the band’s message-board. But he only did it once, which was a bit disappointing. If fans knew that every week or so they could log onto the site and maybe have their question answered via video, that it would have been a big hit.

Q: What did you take away from your experience with the bands site?

A: I really had a great time with it. It was great to connect with the fans. Early on with the fan club photo page, I’d be getting photos from people everyday to post.  Eddie was a great sport going out there after the shows and throwing the horns with one arm around all these people, posing for their cameras. They’d email them to me and were so jacked to see these up on the page. While I mostly interacted with you, it was nice to get to know the band as well.

It’s been over a year since I stepped down from my post. I was and still am a huge fan of the music. I’m really glad you and I have stayed in touch. One of these days I’ll get my ass out to the “holy land” and meet the rest of the Neal clan.

Q: What are listening to these days?

A: I’ve not picked up a ton of new music, but some of recent ones I did get and liked were recent CDs from Danko Jones,  Motorhead, the Backyard Babies, Nicke Royale’s new band Imperial State Electric, the new Michael Monroe (Hanoi Rocks/Demolition 23), and Alberta Cross. The newer Drive-by Truckers is decent, but not as good as when Jason Isbell was in the band. As you said, he’s the “secret weapon.”

Otherwise I tend to pick up a lot of older stuff I’ve either lost or never had.

Q: What are reading these days?

A: I read a bunch, albeit somewhat slow. Right now I’m in the middle of War by Sebastian Junger. It’s a real account of an embedded reporter in a remote US military post in Afghanistan. Really intense.

My brother-in-law gave me Bob Mould’s autobiography which I look forward to reading. I’ve been a huge fan of Bob and his bands for many years. I also enjoyed Keith Richard’s book Life. I know we discussed it many times.

Stig Larsson’s Millennium trilogy was great (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Girl Who Played with Fire, and Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest.). Each book got better the one before. Probably my favorite piece of fiction was Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It’s all of 950 pages so it takes a while, but one page in and you’ll have a hard time putting it down. While it’s fiction, it’s based off the author’s real life events. Lots of action. Pick it up!

How one guy can make a huge difference for your band.  And a common mistake some bands make;  I’ll call it “Not getting your fans involved….enough”

I’ve introduced Brian Baltazar before and he’s contributed to this site in the past.  I wanted to re-visit his contribution because the proof is in the pudding (and in the Denver market)…

After learning more about the band, certain things were obvious to me. For one, they really needed to connect the dots from the fans to the band.  We desperately needed help spreading the word and getting supporters involved with the cause.  One thing is certain about a Supersuckers aficionado; they’re not a passive group.

I found myself mailing posters, flyers, CD’s, stickers, or anything else to fans to promote a show, album, etc.  Sending signed 8 x 10’s to promoters and radio stations was just one way to say thanks, and hopefully get added to the wall space.  As time went on, we created the “Team Man” section of the site so fans had the tools to create their own flyers and email them along with song snippets and video clips to help build the excitement and promote the band.  Anyone remember the ecards the band used to have?

More on that later…  here’s Brian:

So I’ve been asked a few times lately, “what exactly did you do to help promote the Supersuckers?”  

I was a huge Supersuckers fan.  I looked at the band as both a product and a service.  They were the product, and the service was making loud relentless rock and old school ramblin-gamblin country, but the shows in Colorado, especially Denver (where I live) weren’t selling out.  Why?  I figured that it had to do with marketing and promotion.  Where are flyers/promo posters hanging?  Would people on the message board want to help spread the word?  I wanted this band to sell out shows and become huge.  From where I was standing, it was a crime these guys weren’t selling out Mile High Stadium.  

In 2002 I joined their fan club and promptly took advantage of the guest list privilege for an exclusive party in Aspen that year.   At the show I spoke to Chris and told him I had some ideas for strategies and tactics (more on the strategy and tactics in a moment).  What was his response – “Those are great ideas, Brian!!!  Can you take this email list and get people to sign up and help me sell some merchandise?  Anyone around here deliver Pizza?”  He pimped me out within the first few minutes of meeting him, like only he could.  I knew the band needed help and I was passionate about it.   Most importantly, I was glad that I had finally connected with someone in the camp who appreciated the help.

He promptly sent me posters and handbills for the next Denver show.  A month before the show I asked him for promoter contacts to get more posters and handbills.  Before I hit the streets, I had a game plan – put posters everywhere, find out where the Supersuckers CD’s and LP’s were in the record stores, take posters and flyers to pizza joints, restaurants, tattoo shops, skate shops, books stores, bars, etc.  But most importantly, be professional, courteous, and develop business relationships at each place so we could continue to promote there…  I’d offer guest list spots too.

It all started to have an affect.  In Denver the pre-sale ticket sales spiked 50% from their November 2001 Denver Bluebird show compared to their next 2002 show at the same venue. This translated to more merch sales, more fans, more people on the email list, etc.  Chris also wanted my help with selling merch at the shows and those sales increased too.  Most of the time, it was Chris and I selling the merch together around Colorado.  I always felt good about what I was selling and felt the prices were fair too.

As time went on, we’d talk more about how to expand the  market on a limited budget, reaching more people and gaining new fans.   It was a challenge but we always made it work.

This was accomplished in a few ways; Primarily reaching out to people on the message board and building a team… On the Supersuckers website, Hal the Web-Guy, put a Street Team sign-up on the site and Chris would send me the info for people in the Denver area. We would: Work with the venues to create contests for pre-sale ticket buyers, create eBay auctions and promote the contests and auctions in Eddie’s blast emails on the message board – outside the box ideas which were really encouraged.  Auctioning off tickets to sit on the stage during a show is something most bands just don’t think about doing. 

In Denver, pre-sale ticket sales grew quickly and would nearly sell out the Bluebird (cap. 550) and the walk-up sales would help sell out the venue on the day of the show. Then the Supersuckers went on to play the Gothic (cap. 1000) and we nearly sold out a few shows there too.  It was a lot of fun being so involved and making such a huge difference for one of my favorite bands.   I made some new friends, made a difference, and got a front row seat to the inner workings of the rock business.  I thought it really spoke volumes about Chris Neal getting so many people involved.  And if it was 2002, I’d do it all over again…


In summary, it’s interesting to me how lucky the Supersuckers were to have such dedicated fans.  And the story above proves what a difference one guy can make, and hopefully provides some useful insight.  Guys like Doug, Andrew, Monty, Hal, Kaz, Cory, Paul, Andy, Frank, and others made such a huge difference for myself and especially the band.  Knowing that I could reach out to fans to help spread the word on a show or release was something I never took for granted…