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Archive for June, 2011

Chris,

I’m really enjoying the stories!

I have a question for you. I am amazed at all of the stuff that the Supersuckers did besides kicking ass at their shows. Anything from in store appearances, singing the national anthem at a ball game to pouring beer at “The Great American Beer Fest” and doing a lot of it traveling in an Econoline van. Were there times when you had too much stuff scheduled , transportation or legal problems and didn’t make it or almost didn’t make it to an appearance?

Thanks,

Grababrewski (Tom)

I always tried to keep the schedule full and I would look for things to do to keep everyone busy.  Being on the road was the one time they were together.  We needed to take advantage of this time and accomplish as much as we could.  I would reach out to TV, Radio, Press, Record Stores, Tattoo Shops, Skate Shops, etc…  I would schedule bowling events, baseball games, in-stores, or whatever it took to get people excited and get the band exposure.

There’s an excitement about a full schedule and staying busy.  And the band did a great job going along with these crazy ideas too.  I can’t think of another band to this day that’ll sit down with a fan and teach them guitar licks but Rontrose was happy to do it.  We never had any problems with too much going on but we did have problems with that van.  It seemed as though it was always either in the shop or on the side of the road.  It wasn’t uncommon for Dan “Thunder” Bolton AKA Dan “Van” Bolton to invite the folks at the Ford Dealership to the show whenever it was in the shop.  I think it was El Paso where we had about 12 tickets set aside for the local dealer – Ford Dealer that is.

We posted our schedule on the bands site so fans could easily get involved and media folks could see how busy we were.  Also, promoters could see that we were doing our part to get the word out.  Promoters have a responsibility to get people to the show but I always felt we shared in that, we wanted shows to be successful for everyone.  We wanted fans to help spread the word, follow us on tour, join us at a game and meet us at the finish line.

BTW Singing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” at the Yankees vs Twins game was a huge highlight for me.  We were able to invite some fans (courtesy of the Twins) to that game in August of 2006.  It was a great memory.  What a lot of people don’t know is, after that game, the band hit the studio in Minneapolis and recorded a song that was never released.  It was the last time I really got to witness the magic of the Supersuckers and their creative force.  Although I didn’t know it then, it was also the beginning of the end of my time with the band – more on that later…

Here’s the email that Eddie sent to the fans on August 1st 2006…

 “…take me out to the crowd! You ever wonder how they decide on who gets to sing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” at the seventh inning stretch at Major League Baseball games? Well, me too! I still can’t figure it out even after being asked to do exactly that at an upcoming Minnesota Twins game this August 13th. That’s right, the good people in the Twins operation have deemed it appropriate that we, The Supersuckers, will get to partake in this time honored tradition when they take on the Darth Vader of baseball, the New York Yankees, in a day game this Wednesday, August 13th. The first pitch will be at 12:10 pm Central Time and we’ll be doing a little show before then somewhere in the stadium at 10:45. If you’d like to come to this glorious event we will be hooking a few people up with tickets but it’s first come first served so get your email requests intochris@supersuckers.com right away for your chance to see The Greatest invade the American Pastime in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Wednesday, August 13th, 2008. We will be rooting firmly for the Twins to kick the living crap outta those Damn Yankees so come on out and join us. It’ll be lots of fun for sure!Stay tuned for an update regarding our new release, “Get It Together”, coming real soon to a computer near you!

Keep in touch…
-Eddie Spaghetti ”

Tell me something about Scott Churilla that people might not know?  Dave

Fun Question….  Scott can tell you who plays what on just about every record from the 70’s.  He’s a musical encyclopedia.  He’s also got great taste in “songs”.  We’d room a lot and listen to Gordon Lightfoot and Bruce Springsteen.  He gave me a better appreciation and understanding of drummers, such as Bruce Gary and Jim Gordon.  

Did you know that Ernest “Boom” Carter played drums on “Born to Run”???  I never thought about it until Scott mentioned it.  If there was a 70’s Rock N Roll Quiz Show he’d do well…

Thanks for the Questions everyone…  Until Next TIme.  Chris Neal of Midway, UT 

christophercarterneal@gmail.com

 


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Hey Chris –

Long time listener, first time caller. Diggin’ the blog. My questions:

* What was the biggest musical crime you saw? Meaning, which band either failed to live up to their potential and disbanded or never got signed and gave up?

* Being around all this music all the time, how did you keep yourself from turning into a jaded, fun-hating hipster?

* What are some of the biggest mistakes bands (or the Supersuckers, in your opinion), made?

Thanks!

Kyle

Kyle – I’m a little jaded and I’ll never be that hip…    I witnessed some great writers and performers who never got a fair shake but one could argue that’s pretty common in the arts.  In fact, that’s just the way life is sometimes.  You might sell the best burger in the world but chances are McDonald’s sells more.  Nobody can tell me that McDonald’s makes the best burger…

The biggest crime is the value that has been placed on music and the arts in general.  A specific example would be expecting songs for free.  I think the value of a song and the craft of writing has diminished over the past 10 years.  Songs don’t carry much value these days.  Between downloading songs and getting paid peanuts when a song is used in film or TV what incentive does someone have to pursue this craft?

I also believe the music business lacks camaraderie.  It’s sink or swim and that’s a bit disenchanting.   A band should not have to pay to play.  It’s not uncommon for bands to pay to be on tours or receive a meager sum by a huge National Act for a support slot.  Oh I guess bands could always say “no” but that band is essentially gambling on the hopes that because they play in front of more people they’ll get more exposure, sell more records, and get paid a lot more next time around.   I want to make it clear that getting paid peanuts for a support slot or paying to get on a tour isn’t always the case, but the fact that it happens is wrong.   Most of the tours we did and bands we toured with took good care of us; Pearl Jam, The Underground Garage Tour, Reverend Horton Heat but we did turn down tours because the finances made no sense.  In fact some offers were a slap in the face.  And we probably did a few tours that we shouldn’t have done because that “gamble” didn’t pay off.

What the music business doesn’t seem to understand is that musicians are people with personalities.  They’re not making burgers but instead they are the burger.  Today we get what we pay for which is crap on the radio.

I think the music business really did a terrible job with consumer awareness and suing people for “stealing” music.  My campaign would’ve been to have had respected artists and writers doing public service announcements making their case.  Why getting paid to create is important much like being able to afford food is important.   But when labels release the same album 3 different times on CD adding a few bonus tracks each time it’s hard to feel sympathetic.  It’s such a slap in my face to pay $16.98 for a CD when I’ve already purchased it twice before (the non-re-mastered version and the re-mastered version) but this time it’s the Platinum Re-Mastered Edition w/ 2 bonus tracks.  Seriously…  What do labels expect from the public they continue to alienate…

In the case of the Supersuckers, we were able to make that connection with the fans.  The fans knew they were a mom and pop business providing a product that supported them, paid their bills, provided food, etc…  It wasn’t a faceless company.  I’ve never met Mr. Warner of Time Warner but the fans could all meet Rontrose of the Supersuckers and when fans purchased a CD, it was a means of supporting their favorite band.  Something that one could identify with and be proud to own.

We all made mistakes, but overall we got most of it right, and laid a great blueprint for bands to follow.  I’d have to say the biggest mistake the Supersuckers made was to not push themselves.  It’s tough going from the excitement and the challenges of the “Big Show” to the predictability of the  “Same Show”.  It’s unfortunate that a lot of fans never got to hear what I heard, which was the reason I invested so much in the band.  As I’ve said, this band was bar none flat out incredible and hearing them play Sweet Emotion, Hey Ya, Mississippi Queen, Sail On, Then I’m Gone, She’s My Bitch, My Sharona, For Those About to Rock, etc…  It was a magic that doesn’t often happen in an industry that wallows in crap.  The lesson here is don’t serve the same old burger everyday…

Have a Good Week…  Chris

And Remember Anyone who donates any amount has a chance to win an iPad 2 (that’s a 64 Gig White Ipad)…  Drawing is July 15th…What will I give away next?  

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When starting out, what is the cheapest and most efficient way to spread the word about your band when you live in a rural area and have very few venues to choose from?

A. Wheaton

Buddy Guy said something like, “Don’t ever be the best in town, just try and be the best until the best come around”.   

It’s a tough racket these days and I honestly don’t see it getting easier but the market lends itself well to being creative.   If you love what you do then playing live anywhere shouldn’t be a problem.  Play as much as possible and collect those email address.  The key is playing and exposing your craft to the masses.  Making sure you connect and knowing your customer.  Having house parties, garage parties, doing shows everywhere from the “few” venues to schools, grocery stores, coffee shops, record stores, etc…     Work a deal out with a record store or retailer to record you show, get CD’s made, and split the profits after costs…  I know record stores are few and far between these days.  Consider a contest where you play at a fans house…

CD’s prices have gone from $16.98 to .99 cents and in some cases free.  CD’s are still remains an easy way for your music to get heard, so be creative.  Sell ad space on your CD packaging.  Sell ad space on the CD between tracks…  This CD is sponsored by “ ACME Corp.”

See if there’s a local radio station that you can get involved with especially an independent or college station.  Do as many interviews as you can with all the local papers and online sites.   Take questions from fans too and post them on your site.

Merchandise also helps spread the word on the band from stickers to t-shirts.  Be creative.  Offer up new designs and have fans submit their own ideas.  And think of some out of the ordinary merchandise items too…  Lighters, Baseball’s, Skateboards, Flasks, Guitar Picks, etc…  You can probably find some sponsors who would want their logo on some of your merchandise items and offset your costs.  If some of this sounds like “selling out” well, what better sign to have outside the venue; “sold out”…

It’s really important to have a great website that’s updated, easy to navigate and has links to your Facebook, Twitter or YouTube page.  Current news, content, songs, video’s, bio, updated photo’s in 300 DPI, and contests will keep fans coming back.   Collecting those email addresses and emailing your fans directly every couple weeks will have a huge impact.  Don’t just rely on Facebook.  Take advantage of everything.  If it’s useful and informative fans will appreciate hearing from you.

Encourage your fans to turn people onto your band and don’t turn down the help…  Everyone wants to be part of something new and promising…

Hope this helps some…Chris

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I always wonder what music people would be doing if they couldn’t be in the music biz. My brother is a successful musician who also writes children’s books. They happen to come with a CD of songs to go along with the story, but he says “the book gig is easier at 44 than the rock gig”. So, my long winded question is: What do you see yourself doing if you couldn’t do this?”

Thanks,

Tracy

At 44 writing has got to be a lot easier than the “rock-gig” – trust me…  I can’t imagine touring anymore and dealing with long van rides, hotels, flights, hit or miss food, etc…   Not on the Supersuckers level anyway.  On the Bob Dylan level, sure sign me up…  As you get older it sure gets harder.  The last year with the Supersuckers was grueling.  My last year with them wasn’t a banner year and while I admired their spirit, the excitement was fading.

Luckily I’ve worked in many facets of the music business.  I truly enjoy what I do now;  consulting and writing my story.   

If I wasn’t doing this, I’d probably be buying and selling something. Maybe classic cars or motorcycles.  Or Pizza.  Seriously…I would sometimes order a pizza during a show and include a slice with the purchase of a CD.   Marketing, selling, and being creative.  I was lucky to work with a band that took chances and understood it needed to separate itself from the industry norm.  Anyone remember their old site when they had “Supersuckers Radio”?  Maybe I’ll write about that one day too.  thanks

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Hello Chris,

I don’t know about everybody else but I want to hear about the rock n roll lifestyle! To me nothing is better than hearing stories from the road. The drugs, the girls, the debauchery.  What was it like on the road with the Supersuckers, really. missed gigs, trashed hotel rooms, missing members, up for days, hungover as hell, all that stuff.

Thanks,

Devin

 

Overall the lifestyle was awesome and I’d do it all over again…

Keep in mind I got involved with the Supersuckers in 2001 and I was in my early 30’s coming off an incredible run in Los Angeles and trying to prove to my peers that I could sprinkle some magic dust on the Supersuckers and have another Gold Record…  Well I guess that’s what makes stories…  Well being married certainly isn’t going to lend itself well to stories about women and let’s be frank here….. there’s not a ton of ladies at a Supersuckers show but yeah I certainly partied. I had my nights.  And I knew that my job would never require a drug test.  Keep in mind it’s a fine line.  You’ve got to know your limits I had a few nights when I looked at Eddie and said “I think I might’ve had one too many”.  When the band did shows in New Orleans or San Francisco you can bet I had one too many.  It would be real hard to tour with the Supersuckers and not have those occasional nights.  And there’s no way I’m going to turn down a chance to visit with Willie Nelson on his bus…

But I tried to be smart.  It was a job.  There was money to count, fans to treat well, promoters you wanted happy and a band that you wanted to make sure was happy.  Anything Anytime.

As for gigs, I’m pretty sure the band never missed a gig.  I think that says a lot about their perseverance at the time.  Flat tires, speeding tickets, traffic jams, boarder check points, etc….  we always made it.  Shows and tours weren’t canceled.  We always took it seriously, as any band should.  Never let a customer down.  When someone shows up at the Burger stand make sure it’s the greatest burger in the world.  It’s a business.

No trashed hotel rooms.  But a lot of hotel rooms that looked like they had been trashed when we checked in.  I’m telling you, we stayed at some of the worst dumps ever…  I had nights when I would just sleep in my clothes, forget about getting under the blanket – yuck.

Here’s a story…  We had played in Glasgow Scottland and it was a packed show.  Sold thousands in merchandise and even got a show bonus. We’re all on cloud nine!   A fan invited me to a rave afterwards, so I went.  I’ve never been to one before and it was crazy.  Thousands of people getting their rave on.  Well I made it back to the hotel and showered up before that 9:00 AM van call with a few minutes before take off…  We were missing one guy with 1 minute to spare when across the street from where we parked a door to a bar opened up and in a haze of smoke that missing guy made van call.  He didn’t say word.  Just got in the van and crashed.  That one show in Glasgow was one of my all time favorites.  And I was hungover for days.  Try sleeping in one of those tiny Euro Vans with 6 other people in their 30’s…  UGH.  My back hurts thinking about it.   Glasgow was awesome – great people and real cool looking city.

Chris…

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Brett Shelton is the winner of the Leather Jacket courtesy of my friends at Hot Leathers…  

I received over 50 questions here at christophercarterneal@gmail.com   I’m going to post and share what I think everyone will be interested in reading.

Thanks Everyone…

Next contest, courtesy of Brian Baltazar who gave me the idea…..I’m giving away an iPad 2.

Anyone who donates before July 15th has a chance to win.  I’ll pick out one lucky person.  See the contest details in the contest section..

Hiya Chris,

After reading your latest update I’ve been thinking of a couple of questions I’ve been wanting to ask for some time, and of course dangling the chance at winning a leather jacket finally got me to write one up for you.

But FIRST, let me tell you one of my favorite non-stories of the Supersuckers. I’ve had the early original “All the Songs…” CD for a while, (I think I picked it up in Seattle in the mid 90s) and was curious to read the liner notes having listed Dan’s more common “Thunder” nickname as being: “The Steak”. Now, you can imagine my curiosity as to how this particular name came about and why it might have eventually changed. The mind reels. My friends and I had conjured up many possibilities, including escapades with the ladies, or perhaps a naked tour-bus incident. So around 5 years ago I went to a show in Boise at the Neurolux where Dan was relaxing at a table before the Supersuckers set. He was sitting, listening to the opening band. Here was my chance. I introduced myself, he invited me to sit down, and I sprang the question: Why did they used to call you: “The Steak?” He replied, “Well, I really liked eating a lot of steak back then.”

Bummer.

My question for you deals with a story than Ron told us at a little bar in Spokane called “Mother’s” where we saw the Suckers play a show around 1992. I had heard Coattail Rider on a Seattle radio compilation CD (107.7 “The End”) and knew I had to pull a few of my friends over from Moscow to hear these guys live. We were early, sitting near the stage drinking pitchers of Old Milwaukee, watching the band set up. One of their guys came over and asked if one of the big guys in our group could help guard the stage during the show, as there wasn’t any room between the pit and stage. A really approachable fellow, Rontrose finished unpacking and came and sat with us and told us about their recent tour. He had plenty of hilarious and and amazing stories–many of which aren’t repeatable–but one of his favorites was a story of how the band got in a bottle rocket fight on the European tour bus with the guys from Mudhoney. He proudly showed us the remnants of burn marks from the experience.

So, my question for you is, what is the most memorable tour experience that you had with the band, that no one really knows about?

Hope that’s a decent question.

My best to you, and thanks for Rockonomics!

-Brett

Brett E. Shelton

Associate Professor

Department of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences

The most memorable times were the early times.  The personalities were new to me and we were really starting to get to know each other.  Taking chances with a fan club, mailing lists, emails, new merchandise, etc… and the dialog was wide open. I was a lot younger then and very anxious with trying to help these guys out.  Personally, it felt like it was a Rock N Roll In-Justice that the Supersuckers weren’t a household name and I wanted to change that.  These guys just rocked and I took the gamble…  It was something that was incredible to witness back then.  You could put them up against anyone and they’d blow their doors off…  We’d go to a club and the venue would sell out of beer because the fans would clean the bar out.  Where else did this happen?   Fact is, you never knew what to expect.  The fans were rowdy, gracious, and loyal.  I was proud to be involved.

I remember the band playing in Flagstaff, AZ for 30 people when Eddie calls me up on the stage to play bass.  Dan Bolton actually told me that I played bass better than he thought I would – he must’ve expected the worst.  Memories.

I’ll never forget when Bolton was navigating between the French and German boarder and we got stopped on both sides and searched.  My wife had hundreds of film canisters which the customs agents felt obligated to inspect.  You can imagine a bunch of French and German boarder agents searching through film canisters only to find film.  And I swear, Eddie’s had this super nice camouflaged Burton Co. bag that was never searched.  The only piece of luggage that was never checked.  The ongoing joke was, maybe it was because it was camouflaged or perhaps they were to busy checking Stephanie’s cans of film.

And ordering food over there at those European truck stops can be a challenge; I would just look at the server and say “bread, lettuce and cheese”.  I never wanted to make things complicated but that became a bit of an inside joke where the guys would just look at me and say Bread, Lettuce, Cheese….

And I’ll never forget the bedbugs in the South of France.

I have kind of a schizophrenic musical mind. I love anything if its quality. The Supersuckers are one of my faves of course but my ipod plays plenty of Grateful Dead, Adam Ant, Men At Work, Michael Buble, and Elliott Smith. So basically i was wondering two things: 1. What was your impression of Elliott Smith, and 2. Did you ever make it to a Dead show and if so what did you think?

thanks for your time and keep being awesome!

Jeremy Thompson

Elliott Smith had great songs.  That was my impression right away.  Here was a guy that played with his heart and I felt every word.  He didn’t play huge rooms so you could really feel it too.  That song Alameda knocked my socks off it was a song you could see.  Another song I loved was “Waltz #2 (XO).  I know those are popular songs but man just imagine being able to write something so personal and bare

“I’m never gonna know you now but I’m gonna love you anyhow”…

As for the Grateful Dead…  I saw them everywhere from Washington DC with Tom Petty and Bob Dylan sharing the bill to Las Vegas, SLC, San Francisco, LA, etc…  I’m a huge fan.  They took chances, could care less about fans taping shows, and always seemed to have a great community of people working and watching them.  At one point I heard they had 50 employees.  I always admired their spirit and business model.  Most importantly, I never left a Grateful Dead show without having a great time.

When are the Supersuckers doing a bluegrass album?

Keep up the good work, Bruce from Pisgah.  Ashville, NC

That’s a good question and I don’t have a clue.  But if anyone could’ve done one it would’ve been them.  Hopefully it would’ve included a couple of my favorites like Fox on the Run and Old Train.

I bet Jordan Shapiro could play a mean mandolin too…

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