You want to get back on the road, but you're not sure if it's a good time.
The music industry is changing and there are more opportunities than ever before for musicians to make money from their art… But each slice of the pie seems to get smaller and smaller.
In this episode of the Bandhive Podcast, Adam Loellke of Pickwick Commons and Dynamic Talent International shares his thoughts on the return of shows and touring. Listen now to learn more!
What you’ll learn:
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– “Cigaro” (System of a Down cover)
#83: Booking and Playing 150+ Shows a Year (While Working a Day Job): Troy Millette and The Fire Below
Welcome to episode 85 of the Bandhive Podcast.
It is time for another episode of the Bandhive podcast. My name is James Cross and I'm not here with matt Hoos of Alive in Barcelona. They're still up in Washington, recording their next album.
So keep your eyes and ears out for that soon. In the meantime, I am super stoked to have Adam Loellke from Pickwick Commons back on the podcast, Adam and his band were in a video interview we did a few years ago, and also a bonus episode that we put out right at the start of the pandemic about how artists like Pickwick Commons were being affected by everything going on in the world. And we're going to get into that stuff and see how shows have changed in the last year, because Adam is also a booking agent with sleeper booking and dynamic Talent International.
But before we get into all that stuff and talk about the main topic, adam, do you want to share a little bit about your background of why you became a musician and the story of Pickwick Commons? Because this is something that in the past videos and episode we didn't really touch on because those were like bonus content. So this is your episode man, let's hear about who you are and what you do. Yeah, sure musician because I mean, you know everyone at some point in middle schools just like dang, that instrument is kind of cool.
I listened to a lot of emotional music, maybe I should do that. So I did that. And then through high school, I never had like a band that ever got anything together together. So when I went to college, I really wanted to focus on finding that group right of people that I could perform with and like, just see what that was really, really like. So I ran into a handful of guys line up iterations at this point, it's been so many years, it's like, you know, you've been through so many lineups, right, started doing one style, kind of merged as we found new members into, uh, something a little different.
And then just, you know, I was just enjoying doing something that wasn't just school and wasn't just work that I was passionate about. Like, obviously There's something really different about like working on a band and working on something you're passionate about then hanging out with your friends and at the same time very different from going to work at a 9-5 or uh, any job I could find at the time. So that's where I was getting a lot of my fulfillment at the time. And so it just started spitballing and rolling and uh, started putting together tours for the van and that's when I was doing sleeper booking and now that's kind of a promotional local thing with a couple other guys, basically used that resume of everything I've done with the band to get a job with dynamic Talent International, which was artery Global and then within a year of starting their everything shut down.
So the worst timing possible basically. Yeah, no, and it's one of those things like my life has always been band job something else. So it was banned job school now, it's banned job job at one point in college, I had six part time jobs to go with band in school and just having a good time at college. So the year off was actually really nice. I played a lot of video games. I didn't have time to play prior. I just kind of got to relax and focus and it really decide what I wanted to do when it ended, right?
Like you don't get that once you're an adult, right? You don't get that break button. And so for me working a normal 9 to 5 was like a break because you weren't doing all the extracurriculars. Yeah, it's like occasionally the band would meet, occasionally. I check in with the booking people, but it was just like, you know, sitting around a lot of time. Yeah. Well before we go on, I know other video game fans are probably gonna want to know what was your top game that you went back and played during that time?
Uh, so I went and got a four K. Tv in the hopes that a PS five would be readily available. And I hooked up my carrick, a rocket sixes to the T. V. And when I couldn't get a PS five, I went and got Horizon Zero Dawn re downloaded to my PS four and playing that with low end on like a 70 inch tv was phenomenal, a phenomenal experience that just made it better than the first time I played it right now. I'm running through mass effect legendary, primarily Playstation based.
I do have a Pc, but it doesn't have the specs to be cool. Well that's awesome. Thanks for sharing that little side note there because I know there's going to be listeners for like, oh my God, what do you play? Because I'm a game or two. So I know somebody's gonna be asking those questions. So talking a little bit about Pickwick Commons in the video interview series that we did think it was two years ago now. Pretty pandemic before. Covid was a thing in anyone's imagination. I want to say it was all 2019, I think it was even earlier than I wanted.
It was like April or May Fall, 2018, through Canada because it was with false accusations and they picked up either that day or the next day or was it the tour after that? Doesn't matter. They all blend together. It was sometime around two years ago. But yeah, you guys had just come from Canada. That was definitely accurate and you were talking about how it was still so cold here, but people were just wearing hoodies and you guys were like all bundled up. Yeah, I used to live in Minnesota and I've spent too long in indiana, I don't have the resilience anymore.
You know? It changes so fast. I was in so cal for two years and I came back like, well it's actually insanely called anyway. So when we talked with you guys two years ago, roughly, whatever that was, we talked with you and Brandon, your drummer, who you both co manage the band. It was basically all about how you guys run the business. And so the question here is how are the two of you preparing for the return of the band to the road? Because that was one of the big things we talked about was You're interesting and very useful technique of going two weeks in every direction and that way putting together essentially as big of a tour as you can, but only spending two weeks at a time out on the road.
Yeah, it was actually 9 to 10 days. So we get two weekends and we target to have one or no off dates. We got to do the entire everywhere, but the west, no colorado, no California, all those insanely long drives. Yeah. So the first thing we did was everyone's going to stop doing things. That's what we said, everyone is going to stop releasing. They're all going to delay their records because they were hoping to tour on it and they want to wait and see if they can tour on it, if things come back six months from now.
The very first thing we said is we should get some stuff out. Nothing's coming out right now, let's get some stuff out. And so we, you know, we had some singles for a while that we're able to put together some clips of like old live footage to make some really like cool little shots, promo videos, but not music videos. So it was, do we really need a music video? We just want them to stream it. Money's tight, the world's going crazy, let's not blow money on a music video, let's do this.
So we started recording singles and then we were like our writing process takes a really long time, so we should throw a list of covers together. We would be interested in doing. So we started putting out the singles and we went with a rebrand. It was time to just put a name on what we were doing because we've been calling it progressive, modern, hardcore progressive to insinuate, we play weird time signatures modern to insinuate. We're not old school hardcore. Obviously you have the production quality and hardcore because we felt that was a better overall fit than metal core.
The mentality of D. I. Y. Of caring about what you're doing, caring about the people around you. We thought that insinuated hardcore, so then that's just kind of a generic term, we threw three generic terms together and said that's as close as we can get, I don't know who said it, I think it Colin came up with it, or he had heard it somewhere, but we've been talking about like cavemen riffs, which is basically a weird time signature riff, and you're going kick snare, kick snare, and it's kind of off putting from the weird stuff going on.
So we decided to go with the name Caveman Math Corps, that was our new sub genre. And so we put in some money into some new slightly different art style focused on black and white. We did merch line change the fonts we used regularly and you know, we upped our production quality and songwriting as much as we could, you know, every time you try to record. So that was cool. And then after we had put out three singles, it was okay, we need more time for these other songs.
They're not coming along quickly. So we started working on those covers and we had a list of five covers and only one of those five ever came out and that was cigarillo by system down. And it was a really fun thing to do. It was close enough to the genre, we thought like people would could have fun with it. It's a silly sounding song lyrically, even though it's a serious topic and we've always tried to not take ourselves too seriously, we just want to have a good time, right?
You have to find when you've been in a band for like four years or whatever that balance between. Is this adding something to my life? And I am I having a good time? Do I enjoy doing this? If you enjoy making music, you're having a good time? And so one of the things we enjoy is just kind of doing a song that was out there. So that all came together then web by Cardi b came out and every time a song that is that big and becomes that much of a mean comes out, there's a time limit.
It's how long until someone does a death metal cover, how long until someone does blah blah blah. And we had a serious conversation because we never wanted to do a punk goes pop cover, but we're like, we have a home studio free this weekend, like this isn't really us, but should we do it? Because it would be funny just you know it be ludicrous, just someone yelling all of that and you know we're all dude, so yelling about her pussy's kind of seemed satirical and so it was like it could be fun, people will have fun with it, we can do it first ish and everyone's just stuck at home right now, like at least I hope they get a laugh.
And so we had to convince all of ourselves internally as well, so it's like okay we'll start recording and if it sounds good we'll keep going, but if it is not going anywhere we just need to stop, don't try too hard, don't force it. And unfortunately it went really well, I had to be like okay let's do it. And so then we shot like a music video and I was like well what can we do for a music video in indiana in the middle of a pandemic?
So we just went out to like Brandon's fiancee's parents, they have like some woods in some land and just did like rednecks stuff. We bought a bunch of liquid death water because we thought would be again funny to just like over sponsor something that wasn't sponsoring us. We did reach out and be like, hey, you want to like promote this with us. But you know, it's like one of those things like yeah, we're just going to do it because it's funny and if they if they say something then that's awesome.
So it's just one of those things, we just threw a bunch of ideas that have been and just kept going, we kept rolling when that was all done. And out obviously there was the internet reaction of this is the worst song ever and this is the best song ever. Polarizing opinions. Yeah, we knew what it would do. We knew exactly what I would do is get people to talk and say I hate this or I love this. Then we were at a point where we had just put a lot of time into that.
We only did it over the course of a week but it was a lot of times. So it was time to say, okay, what's the plan moving forward? Because we still have these other singles that aren't done. We have four other covers we were going to do and it became let's just prep to come back. We'll get some singles done well, right, but we won't focus on releasing. We put something out, right, ended up being five songs last year. So the focus now has been best return impact possible and no more bad shows.
It used to be a book start four months out. You try to follow a route, you try to make your drives not too bad. It's like, let's not do an eight hour drive, let's just find that four hours away show, make the tour a little longer. And we said, no, we're going to drive eight hours. If we have to drive eight hours, we're going to only play good shows. If there's going to be a day off, it's better be monday or Tuesday because we need to drive 12 hours to get a saturday show.
The problem right now is everyone's announcing tours and you need to be able to flip the switch and oh, that to announce the same date as us. Cool. Guess we're swapping to another eight, our driver, we have to backtrack four hours to get back to that city the next day, then that's fine. That's what we've got to do planning around that because we were very live focused band planning. That has been the main focus right now. Everyone also got scattered by the pandemic. So call and our guitarist is driving all over the country, installing like ethernet cables for taco bells and stuff.
Brand is in Nashville doing a studio apprenticeship because it's the middle of Covid. This like probably the last chance I have to do something like this. West is here in town, but he got engaged. So he's been enjoying that moving forward in his life and I've been in town and I didn't do much for most of the year. But now I have a ton to do all the time with booking. So it's flip flopped. Everything is catching up to you now, but it started sooner. It wouldn't be any better though.
It would still be the same nightmare. Well, I think one thing that every artist now is going to be struggling with is, like you said, tours announcing for the same night in the same city, and obviously you can look at the tour dates that bands are announcing, but do you have a way to quickly and easily cross check, like you have a system or is it just, you go through every single day at the band post and double check it against years. So, a lot of the promoters for hardcore bands and whatever else close to that scene that I work on, they all know what's in town already, that's already been announced.
And they'll just tell me when I hit him up, they'll be like, hey, that's in town. That happens a lot of times for most bands. Occasionally you find out the hard way after three weeks and you scramble, right? But luckily I'm not booking anything that's coming out for at least my roster in the next two months. My bands are doing one off shows, small weekend runs nothing substantial to october and what we're going to see is tours like pop Up overnight for august, early fall. Everyone was ready to gamble on november and october, right?
But some people seeing how well that's going on to say, well let's put together a run, book it in a week. These venues have openings and they want shows, they want shows and people want to go out again wherever that lands with Covid is still remains to be seen. Yeah, it's incredible to see how quick things are changing or how quickly things are changing. We're recording this on june 16th in the episode drops july 13th. So four weeks from now, by the time this episode drops, things could be totally different.
It could be totally outdated, what I say, the country could be totally open or we could be in the next lockdown. Like who knows? I mean knock on wood. That doesn't happen. But the world is changing so quickly. It seems like we're going to open and it seems like was it july are local all ages. Venue 200 cap Hoosier Dome? They're opening and its mask if you're not fully vaccinated, I don't know if they have the capability to check for vaccination cards at the door. I don't know if people will care at that point.
I'm ready to go to a show. I've been vaccinated fully vaccinated for over a month so I'm ready to go if things start turning sour, I will definitely play it more careful. But I really do think things are going to happen this year. I don't think we're going to shut back down at least not in the same way. Yeah, I mean here in Vermont we are fully open now because we crossed 80% statewide vaccinations were having baseball games again. Now granted those are outside. But our venues have started booking shows again and I think it's going to be really great year, especially the further we go into this and we see numbers decline even more.
I look forward to the rest of the country joining us in being able to open safely and effectively. Yeah. A handful of states have been doing tours since, you know, april limited cap maybe, but still doing tours. Yeah. And just on the episode that's dropping I think two weeks before this one, we had an artist who has played 50 shows and live streams, a mixture of both. In the last year, all the shows were socially distanced and safe. Episode 83 booking and playing 100 50 shows a year while working a day job.
Now 150 is obviously during non pandemic times and that was the Tremlett of Tremolo and the fire below. So if anyone wants to check that episode out, just go to band, I've got rocks slash 83. But yeah, it's just incredible how things are opening up and how artists who wanted to were able to play shows. And you know, Troy is in a much more relaxing genre. He does like folk rock, so he's able to go play a cafe or a restaurant, which for you guys would not be a thing that happens that would be off brand to say the least.
Yeah, it was like, I I saw like maybe a couple hardcore shows happen at different points during the last year. And the thing is they always say socially distanced and you show up and they'd be motion with no mass into each other. It's like you're, you're saying the right thing, you're not doing what you're saying though, actions speak louder than words and you know, if it's a 10 person show and they all just hang out together anyways, who cares? You're not really spreading your germs circle. You're still in your pod.
Yeah, I'm ready to go back out. I would be ready to play a show in july for sure. I have no problem with that in the current climate and what I'm seeing. Well, so you mentioned the challenge of all these other artists clamoring for shows announcing shows the same night. Are there other challenges you're facing when you're trying to book tours for later in the year? Yeah, managing expectations. So, understanding promoters may have quit venues have shut down, they might not have any money if they still are doing things, you don't know what's going to happen as far as how the shows are going to do again, if someone else announces a show in town, which also affects the money, which affects the promoters willingness to do more the venue.
And then you also don't know how long people are going to be excited for shows. So, right now, it seems like everyone's ready to go to a show as well as play a show. How many times do you have to see a bad, you know, not to shoot anyone down, but if you're not rehearsed, have bad tone and can't single alive? How many times is someone gonna be willing to come out early to see your set or check out the band after? If someone goes to big shows in town and then the first local show, they go to his garbage, they're not going to another local show.
So managing the expectation that we can just throw a show together and people come out because they're excited might not be true and we don't know when that will end and festival culture is also still a major issue because a lot of people were rescheduled festivals for the fall and that means a lot of people have money invested in the fall, which means they might not have so much money for tickets and merch. It's all over the place. Like what I've been saying is, there are no rules anymore.
Will give it all a shot. So the only rule is that don't expect everything will fall in place, which, I mean, it shouldn't be a rule in the first place because tours are tours and stuff happens, but especially now, Yeah, it's harder to estimate consistency. You kind of know how tour is going to do within a week of starting to book it, how quick people are getting back to you, you know, how well the tour is going to perform, and how many people are going to come up, usually, you know, again, within a week of the tour being announced, now you don't, So with all these changes, and it's always booking as a relationship game, like, if you have a relationship with a promoter, it's easier to book a show.
Do you think that for the D. I. Y, artists who don't already have a relationship, is that going to be even more difficult now, because the people who have relationships are going to have so many more shows essentially with the backlog of the last year and a half. Yeah, but it's always been the same way to make those connections, go to a show, go to a show, talk to people, make friends, open a show for an out of town band. It's always the same thing. Yeah. And a lot of these regular promoters within different sub genres, it's not across the board, but I've seen plenty of them say I'm only going to book a handful of shows this year, not ready to commit my money and time again to all that when I didn't do it for a living, you got to hedge your bets essentially is what they're saying.
Yeah, I've been focused on small runs and one offs for bands and I think if you're gonna do something longer than five days, you've got to be ready to lose, you got to be ready to lose either money because you're driving really far or shows because other shows announce, yeah, it sounds like a minefield, you're walking through a minefield just waiting for one of the dominoes to drop and knock them all down. Yeah, completely unpredictable. I wouldn't have thought of booking a week long tour a month ago now, I'm trying to get a few of my bands to do it And they're all interested in it and even though I'm trying to get them to do it, I'm also thinking like a week from now, I'm going to think this is a bad idea, but I I can't let that and you can't let that as a band, any band out there, you can't let that stop you from trying or looking into it because otherwise you're going to get to 2022 and you did nothing. Yeah.
And I think that's also one of the things is In 2020 we saw a lot of artists who just gave up, they didn't play shows, they didn't release music, they didn't do anything. And in my opinion, that was the wrong move because all the artists like Pickwick Commons who put music out even if it was a cover that still keeps you top of mind in that time. So you have the continued momentum from what you had before the pandemic where the artists who didn't really do anything, they don't have that momentum anymore.
So first of all, they have to get back into the habits of doing what they need to do. But also they have to re teach the algorithms on social media, whether it's facebook instagram Tiktok whatever. Like, hey, people like our content and restarting that I can only imagine that's a massive pain. Yeah. And honestly, I'm very interested to see what's going to happen with facebook because facebook used to be a very important hub for events and during this last year the advertising changes with it not being able to track your interests necessarily depending on your choices.
The changes to facebook pages and layouts and what info is presented to. People have both changed and now we're looking at facebook events and people are about to get spammed with event invites again. Are they going to react to that or are they going to turn off event invites? So it's, I'm very interested to see if this is good for facebook or bad. Obviously the advertising is bad. I mean, I totally get what facebook is trying to do. They're trying to basically make themselves not look as bad.
But all that's going to do is people will start seeing ads that are not relevant to them and they're going to be even more frustrated with facebook. Yeah. And it's ultimately not their fault, right? It's uh IOS updates from Apple and privacy laws, digital privacy laws that are kind of forcing them into this corner. Yeah. And I can also see like Apple has always had this pro privacy stance, even though there's tons of stuff that Apple has done wrong, like their technicians releasing photos of people while they're repairing stuff and that kind of thing, like really bad stuff that you would never want a technician at Apple to do, or a contractor of Apple, I believe in this case either way, and this is a sidetrack, but Apple's big case against letting people repair their own stuff or letting third party repair shops, repair stuff is privacy, your data is going to get breached.
And then when an Apple certified contractor posts nudes from a lady's phone that they're working on, it's like, so this is your argument against letting third parties repair this stuff, but you have the same problem and you can't control everyone ultimately right. But also Apple wants your data so they can also advertise to you and they don't want facebook to have your data and they just want your data for themselves. Data wars. Yeah, exactly. So that little sidetrack aside, one last big question for you here and that is what safety procedures.
Do you see venues and promoters adopting both on the artist and Cruz side as well as for attendees? Is that something that's being discussed during the booking process? Really, the only thing I've been hearing from big venues is capacity. Oh, this is pending capacity. And they're all just following state and city laws. There are a few venues who are more concerned that are just waiting longer to reopen like the Hoosier Dome coming way after we've been having events across the city. Maybe not concerts, but there have been events.
So like they're kind of last, not last, but they're coming later. And I think people are going to say mask if you're not vaccinated, but I don't think anyone's going to check out a lot of these places. I think a few of them might, but I honestly think we're at a point where people, enough of the general populace, regardless of where we land as people and musicians, the general populace that just goes out to shows or goes out to bars is just already done with it. They've been done with it and they're just going to show up. Yeah.
And I think as we see more and more of the country approach 80% vaccination, it's going to be easier and easier for people to not need to be as worried and not need to be as picky about the places they go here in Vermont, like I was saying, everything is open again. All restrictions state level are lifted, the federal restrictions still apply of course, because we can't do anything about that. But as that starts to happen all over the country, it's really going to let people return to life as normal and knock on wood.
It will work out and we will finally be through this thing. So that all said Adam man, thank you so much for chatting with us today and coming back on the show for essentially the third time now between the podcast in the past video interview, super appreciate you taking the time. This is your chance to toss whatever you want out there for Pickwick Commons or dynamic Talent International, whatever you want to talk about and you've got the floor. Well, I mean obviously check out all of those things that you haven't.
Dynamic talent is an amazing agency that has given me a lot of opportunities this year in prior Pickwick Commons. Obviously I want everyone to check it out and at least get a taste of whatever the hell caveman Math corps might be. So give it a shot. Yeah, I mean right now, I'm just still waiting. Maybe within a month, I'd have more news. Sounds good. Well, everything that you mentioned will be in the show notes at band. I've got rocks slash 85. We'll have links to Pickwick to dynamic talent, all that stuff.
And if you guys have some new stuff before july 13th, we'll add that to the show notes as well and people can go check it out. So for folks listening, go check the show notes band, I've got Rocks slash 85 because there might be a little something there that we didn't mention the episode. Yeah. Mhm mm. That does it for this episode of the Bandhive podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in and listening. And of course, thank you to Adam Loellke of the band Pickwick Commons and dynamic Talent International for joining us on the show to talk about everything that has changed over the past year and a half, So many changes.
And who knows, by the time this episode airs, things might have changed again. Hopefully for the better knock on wood, cross your fingers. Whatever superstition you have wherever you are do that. We don't want things to go back the other way, we want things to continue improving. Speaking of improving, if you are looking to improve your band, whether it's with Systems, your website, your social media content and you need somebody to talk with about that. Let us know. Head on over to Bandhive dot rocks slash coaching to fill out our application.
And I want to make one thing very clear. We don't look for artists who have an established following. Instead, what we are looking for with that application is artists who have the time, effort and energy And the sheer willpower to do what it takes for their band. So it doesn't matter if you have five fans or 5000 fans, what matters is if you have what it takes, if you are ready to commit, then we will be happy to help you make the best out of your career. So, again, head on over to Bandhive dot rocks slash coaching.
If you're interested in working with us to make things happen for your band. Aside from that, we'll be back next Tuesday at six a.m. With another new episode of the Bandhive podcast. Until then, I hope you have a great week, Stay safe. And of course, as always, keep rockin.
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