Done & Done Festival’s Bands Dish Advice: “Apply for Arts Grants,” “Wear Scarves”
The New York band Esque
This Saturday's Done & Done Festival doesn't stress collaboration so much as cross-pollination: Its 13 bands hail from New York and D.C., but some have roots in both cities. It's a fairly diverse lineup that's long on invention and longer on strong melodies. And at $12 a ticket (or $20 for music and unlimited booze) for about 10 hours of music, it's also a good value.
Like the GOG Blog, we see Done & Done as something of a cultural exchange. So we asked some of the acts: What can D.C. bands learn from New York ones? What can New Yorkers learn from Washingtonians? Read their answers, earnest and otherwise, after the jump:
Kenny Brown, of New York's Byrds of Paradise, says location, location, location—or maybe not:
Personally I think that it's not a matter of location... Think about all the bands that made it out of the Midwest like Hüsker Dü or Pere Ubu. It's a matter of how you use your surroundings to progress in your music. Also, the Internet makes location obsolete in a sense where everyone can hear your music no matter where you are.
Rob Miller, of D.C.'s Last Tide, says your city matters—when you're trying to get some press:
D.C. musicians need to learn how to use the music press' notion that the city a band is from is a band's most important qualifier by convincing them that DC is beyond hip and cool. N.Y. bands have been going strong on this for about a decade.
Brandon Moses, of D.C.'s Laughing Man, lays out a five-point plan of things New York bands should know:
1. How to write arts grants.
2. That D.C. is a worthwhile place to play shows.
3. How to survive without a 24 hour grocery store on every corner.
4. How to not talk about Fight Club.
5. How to start from scratch.
Seamonsters' members are split between New York and D.C., so Janelle Sterling provided two sets of advice:
Advice for D.C. bands:
1. Wear scarves, even in the summertime.
2. Don't imitate bands from New York, you're already six months too late.
3. Physical copies of music are a thing of the past; post your songs on the Internet for free.
4. Start an anonymous blog, slag off every band that's hot at the moment for a few weeks, and then post an amazing review of your band.
5. Make sure your band name is Googleable.
6. Hipsters are just geeks like you and me; they just make a concerted effort to dress "cool."
Advice for New York bands:
1. The scarf-pea coat combo is not cool.
2. Say where you're actually from.
3. Your bodegas overcharge you for beer.
4. Tight jeans will make you sterile.
5. We're jealous of your bagels.
6. Oy vey.
Darren O'Brien, of New York's Esque, says his town's band could learn from its hosts this weekend:
Something New York bands could probably learn from D.C. folk is to take advantage of the greater metropolitan area. We New Yorkers tend to think that if it's not happening in the Lower East Side or a few neighborhoods in the northwest tip of Brooklyn, it's not happening. But just like some of the best tour shows happen in the middle of nowhere, the outer boroughs and suburbs must have plenty of communities of young hip people hungry for quality entertainment and happy to have a band come to them for once. But I never, ever want to go to those places.
Another member of Esque, Chase Anderson, drops a knowledge bomb on D.C. Take every word to heart:
Things to know about playing in New York:
1. Adapt. Most venues and practice spaces have built-in constraints regarding space, equipment, volume, and time. New York bands are often subject to ridiculous schedules that can change at any moment. Most venues' backlines are iffy at best, and given the difficulty of hauling your own gear to every gig, bands must be able to get through a set with less-than-stellar gear (if the expected gear is even there at all). But drummers definitely have it the worst. On top of the horrible gear you're forced to play at most venues, you have to find creative ways to practice or risk letting your chops go to shit*. The important thing to remember is that the audience doesn't care. They paid money and they're drinking. They want to have a good time. And they don't care that it's not necessarily your fault if you suck.
*A new part of our practice routine is for the four of us to sit around a piano while one person plays. The rest of us sing harmonies or beat on whatever surface makes an interesting noise. I played brush strokes with my hands on the couch cushions yesterday. We've worked out a pretty melancholy version of Steely Dan's "Hey Ninteen," which we plan to record and use for, I don't know, something. It also helps develop skills that can be applied in the rehearsal room and on stage.
2. Network. The city is a stimulating environment, so soak it up. Who knows where your next great idea for a song will come from? Also, everyone in New York says they're important. A few of them actually are. Forward-thinking creative types are usually interested in hanging out with like-minded people. You never know who you'll meet. These pretentious arty-types like yourself love ranting about the newest, greatest thing they've found, especially if no one else knows about it**. We've recently found a sculptor who has given us permission to use his art for all of our upcoming releases. He's also played our upcoming record for some famous friends. I can't name names, but let's just say Schmichard Schmutler of the Schmychedelic Schmurs doesn't hate our new record. Oh man, I'm in trouble. Scmichard Schmutler hates it when you do that.
**Name drop a lot. (Example: Alice from Crystal Castles was a total cunt when we played with them. The dudes from HEALTH were pretty cool, though.)
3. Have a good bullshit detector. Many people who you think could help you are in fact looking for ways that you can help them. It’s OK to be friendly with people like this, as there is an outside chance all their big talk may pay off. Do not trust them wholeheartedly. You're only setting yourself up for heart/headache. Practice your poker face and play most things close to your vest. Success in the music biz is such a craps shoot anyway. There will be plenty of lesser bands who will gain worldwide media attention for no apparent reason (hello, Vivian Girls?) so it's best to just keep going at it however you can.
4. I was going to say something about keeping a positive attitude, but that shit don't fly up here.
DONE & DONE FESTIVAL TAKES PLACE 1:30 p.m. TO 11 P.M. AT ALL SOULS UNITARIAN CHURCH, 2835 16TH ST. NW. $12–$20.