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reWeb | Q&A | Seattle’s Go Periscope competes for a Rolling Stone cover | Seattle Times Newspaper

So excited for these guys!!! <3

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Q&A | Seattle’s Go Periscope competes for a Rolling Stone cover

Posted by Stephanie Clary

go periscope.jpg
Seattle’s Joshua Frazier and Florin Merano have earned a few bragging rights in their two years of playing music as Go Periscope. Their music was featured on MTV reality shows “The Hills” and “The Real World,” and they topped C89.5 FM’s charts.

And now the electronic-pop duo has the chance to land on the front of Rolling Stone magazine.

Go Periscope is one of 16 bands facing off tournament style to be the first unsigned band to appear on a Rolling Stone cover. The winner, which will be announced on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” also receives an Atlantic Records recording contract.

Round one of the contest began last week, and you can hear and rate each band on Rolling Stone's website.

The contest draws attention to the unsigned bands, but also brings eyeballs to both of Rolling Stone's print and online publications. The voting and exploration of the bands happens online, while the prize is print.

Frazier says he’s just happy the band’s name is on, surrounded by other artists and music news. But the thought of being on the physical cover “is probably the biggest, biggest dream come true,” and the possibility of winning gives him “the shakes.”

I spoke with Frazier over the phone about Go Periscope’s online strategy to promote this contest, how they were selected and why being from Seattle might give them an edge over the competition.

What would it mean to be on a Rolling Stone cover, even though you’ve received exposure just being on the site?
To be honest, even just being one of the top 16 unsigned bands is one of the most surreal things ever. But to actually make it onto the cover, I think, for any artists, is probably the biggest, biggest dream come true if it could happen. Because, think about it: There are less Rolling Stone covers than Grammys given every year. It’s literally, probably, the most prestigious thing you can get.

Just the thought that we might be one of those bands that graces the cover of Rolling Stone — I can’t even wrap my head around it. I just get the shakes.

Is there something more prestigious than being on that physical cover? You’re close to being on the front page on the website.
Either way it’s awesome. I don’t think anyone really thinks, especially when they’re unsigned, that it could even be a possibility. Just being on the website and being able to go there and see us with the other great bands and the other artists and stories that are on right now is just kind of crazy.

We were kept in the dark about how the whole thing was going to be announced and how it was going to work. And to see our photo on the front of Jimmy Fallon’s webpage, and having him say our band name on television — it’s these huge things that keep happening. [Fallon announced the contest on air.] I can’t even wrap my head around it. It’s just really cool.

Do you know how you were picked? How you become one of these 16 bands?
It’s kind of another situation where we’re in there dark about it. It wasn’t a thing where they opened it up for submissions or they contacted bands. …

It was one of those things where they contacted us and said, “Hey, you’ve been selected.” So our manager heard of it first — that we were being considered — and to be honest it was kind of like, [sarcastically] “Yeah, right. Sure. We could be on the cover of Rolling Stone.”

We’re a relatively new band and our first album didn’t even come out until the beginning of 2010. In band-terms, it’s just so quick, and we’re super thankful for that.

We don’t know how we were selected. We’re the only electronica band in it, so that’s really weird. And we’re the only band from Seattle or from the Northwest in general, which is surprising because Seattle and Portland have such insanely talented music scenes. So to be able to represent those areas — we’re just so blessed and so thankful for.

How are you guys promoting yourselves?
We definitely are trying to seize the opportunity. We’ve had so much success being just online and really capturing friends through Facebook and through Twitter and through Myspace. And people telling people online has done so much to advance our band.

That’s really something that we’ve embraced just in everything that we do. Now it’s an extension of that. When the announcement first came out, we video taped us seeing the announcement live, because we thought that would be something cool for people to see. Then we immediately made a video and posted it on YouTube.

And we have plans to continue to do that. And just show people. We’re going to be on KING 5 on Monday, and that’s going to be awesome. So we’re going to post a video of us from behind-the-scenes.

Anyway we can show people what it’s like behind-the-scenes or how we make music, or showing us in the studio, we try to put it online.

You’ve already had exposure through television shows, and you were on C89.5. Have you seen a significant change in the attention or fans you’ve been getting since this announcement?
Yeah. It’s definitely really, exponentially growing. Because we had a very organic fanbase of people that we almost developed a personal relationship with. As an unsigned band, you don’t have millions of people coming to your shows and millions of people liking you on Facebook.

So it happens like, one or two people at a time. So people say, “Hey, I really like your music,” or “That’s inspiring to me,” or “This helped me with a breakup.” And we read every single one of those things and we’ll respond to them. There’s a personal connection there even though it’s online.

But all of a sudden, people are coming by the hundreds, it seems like. … And now they’re telling their friends, and you can see people are getting really excited. If they knew about us before, excited that we’re getting this opportunity. And then if they hadn’t, then we’re getting a lot of people that are either fans of the Seattle music scene or the Northwest music scene or fans of electronic music, which has always had a niche but seems to be getting more and more popular. … It seems like people are more open-minded to it than, I would say, a few years ago.

Do you have any Seattle shows planned in the next month or so?
We actually don’t right now. We played around Seattle and down in Oregon a bunch. As it stands right now, we do have some things that we’re working on, but we can’t announce anything yet.

What gives your band an edge our of the other 15 bands that are featured?
When we saw the other band names, we immediately checked out their music. No joke, even though they selected genres from all over the place, we can tell every band is insanely good at what they do.

I think with us, the advantage is we are the only electronic, pop-based band, and we’re also the only self-produced band. We’ve never gone to a producer. … it’s literally all homegrown. We do everything ourselves. (There are) people who are into that or appreciate that and realize that it’s not a producer or a studio making us sound like this. It’s just two guys recording every single part of their music and mixing it and putting it out there. I think that’s an advantage.

I think also being an electronic, or dance or pop, or whatever people say about it, that’s a help too. …

Being from the northwest and being from Seattle — born and raised here [both members attended Tyee High School in SeaTac] — I think people can embrace us for representing that area and really get behind us. And that seems to be happening. … I think there’s a lot of little advantages built in to our situation.

Photo of Joshua Frazier and Florin Merano courtesy of the artists

Sugarcult | Review Rinse Repeat

This makes me depressed… seriously </3 I need them more than ever right now, and it seems like nothing is going to happen. I’m glad they’re happy… but it’s just not the same…

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Wed, 02/09/2011 - 02:47 by Shawn Flanagan  

Can I be your memory? Having made an everlasting mark on the pop-punk scene in 2001 with Start Static and and again in 2004 with Palm Trees And Power Lines, and in 2006 with Lights Out, the whole of Sugarcult have remained dormant since their hiatus in 2009, until recently. The band are currently set to play the 20th year anniversary of Groezrock along with a couple of dates in jolly old England. We were recently given the opportunity to briefly speak with guitarist Marko DeSantis regarding the upcoming shows, what’s been keeping the band busy these last few years, and a retrospective look at his time with the band.

Shawn@RRR: Sugarcult took a break of sorts in 2009 to pursue side-projects and the like. How has everyone kept themselves busy these last few years?

Marko DeSantis: 2009 marked 10 years since we officially started the band. It felt like all signs were pointing to us laying low for a time so we naturally kinda fell into a semi-hiatus.

I started a family over the last few years, did a record called The Playing Favorites with some friends, got more into DJ’ing, started doing shows with my other band Bad Astronaut (with Joey Cape/Lagwagon), and also host a weekly internet radio show called Endless Party! Radio on

Airin and Tim both got heavily into being producers. Each of their first projects have become runaway success stories: Airin produced the debut by 12-member indie-rock darlings Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Their song “Home” has become a national sensation and they are widely praised as an amazing live band. Tim produced the debut album from Neon Trees whose song “Animal” has become a #1 hit single in the US. In fact, we discovered them as a local band from Utah on our 2007 Lights Out tour and just kept in touch.

Our drummer Kenny, who also has children, recently started a charity that raises money and awareness for healthy living called To launch it, he rode a bicycle across America last summer all by himself! He also has a project called Good Man Down with a dude from Lit and some other friends.

You can’t be missed if you never go away.

Shawn@RRR: It was announced that the band will be playing a number of shows in Europe, including dates in the United Kingdom, as well as a slot on the Belgium music festival Groezrock. Are there any plans/anything in the works for a full US tour at the moment?

Marko DeSantis: We’re not actively planning any big tours these days, but if the phone rings and someone wants us to play and it sounds like a fun opportunity; our bags are always packed and our guitars are strung up and ready! Personally, I really hope we tour soon, I miss the action.

Shawn@RRR:As mentioned in the previous question, it seems as though the spark has been reignited within Sugarcult. What were some of the determining factors in this “return of Sugarcult?”

Marko DeSantis: Please don’t mistake these Euro shows as any kind of official “comeback” statement. We merely got invited to play the 20 year anniversary of a festival we have a lot of respect for, so it’s really an honor for us to be invited to play. The UK shows made sense, since we’re going all the way over there anyway; plus it’s just been WAY too long since we played for our fans there. I can’t fucking wait!

But, yeah, every time we get together and do a show, we experience a sort of magical chemistry between each other as musicians and people. It’s bigger than love. It’s so powerful to share this musical communion with each other and our fans. It’s inevitable that sparks will fly, so it’s only a matter of time until we catch fire again and are inspired create some new Sugarcult material. Our creative energies are mostly being channeled into our individual projects right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t show up every once in a while and rock your world with “Memory” and “Bouncing Off the Walls!”

Shawn@RRR: With the 10 year anniversary of the release of Start Static coming in August, looking back, what have been some of your greatest moments as a part of Sugarcult?

Marko DeSantis: It’s all been a wild ride. It still feels like a dream that a tiny dive bar band from Santa Barbara, CA that made up some songs in an un-permitted storage shed wound up selling a million records and sharing stages all over the world with Green Day, Blink 182, Metallica, etc.

Looking back, I’m just really proud that we built our success brick by brick with our own hands. Sugarcult has always stayed true to our own independent Rock ‘N Roll vision. We’re very hands on. We’ve never been on a major label. Our managers are the same two brothers we’ve had from the start. Our fans have always been our advocates and greatest champions.

Through all the pressure and temptations to jump on whatever trendy bandwagon was winning the race, we never sold our souls. As a result, I hope and trust that you can put on Start Static today and it’s going to sound relevant and timeless. I’d hate to go down in history like Flock of Seagulls or Poison or Limp Bizkit, etc frozen forever in the nostalgia of a particular time period, remembered only for hairstyle and novelty.

We may have only made 3 studio records, but they are built to last. To me, that’s what good music should do; gain complexity and increase in cultural importance over time, all the while still packing a punch on a primal “I just wanna fucking rock!” level. Kinda like sex… In that respect, we take it as a compliment that our fans want more!

Shawn@RRR: Speaking of the 10th anniversary of Start Static, are there any plans for the band to do something special in honor of the occasion? I’m sure fans wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of the band playing Start Static in it’s entirety on tour…

Marko DeSantis: I wish I could tell you. Why don’t you call up (original drummer) Ben Davis and see what he thinks…

Shawn@RRR: Thank you for taking the time to answer a few of our questions. Is there anything you would like to add?

Marko DeSantis: Thank you, and thank you to our loyal fans for being so patient and always leaving a light on for us…

For our readers across the pond, be sure to check out the band at Groezrock or at one of their two show in England this April. Dates/Tickets for the shows can be found here.)

Alt Press | Feature | No Money, Mo’ Problems: Why even successful bands struggle financially

I’m posting this in it’s entirety so maybe everyone will ACTUALLY read it. It’s important to know. Seriously. My soul hurt a little while reading. Don’t even look at the length, because it will only take about 20 minutes max of your time. So just read it. And remember it the next time you go judge a band for selling out.

(I’m not saying anyone I know actually thinks this, it’s just a general statement.)

Original post here:

by Emily Zemler

Recently, ACE ENDERS announced that due to financial constraints, he would likely not be able to continue touring, and the album he’s working on now may very well be his last. Since Enders revealed this, he’s received a massive outpouring of support. Fans have sold T-shirts and wristbands to benefit Enders, his wife and young child. Supporters have solicited donations to help the musician continue being, well, a musician. The response has not been entirely positive, however. Some people think that if you’re a famous musician (or at least relatively well-known) you shouldn’t need or accept financial support. The circling question seems to be: If musicians sell records and merch and get paid for playing shows, why don’t they have any money?

The idea that musicians—even well-known musicians who sell out large club shows—have money is a misconception for the most part. Financial concerns and viability obviously vary from artist to artist; no two musicians are exactly the same when it comes to money and how it’s made and spent. But what most fans fail to realize is how much it costs to be a musician and how much more it costs to be a musician on the road. 

THURSDAY vocalist GEOFF RICKLY is fully willing to admit that his personal income last year was less than $10,000. Rickly spent months of 2010 working a retail job in Brooklyn to make ends meet;  and thanks partly to living in New York City, he hasn’t owned a car in seven years. If that surprises you, you’re not alone. “I saw something online once that said, ‘Oh those Thursday guys don’t care, they’re driving their fancy cars and living in their big houses,’” Rickly says. “I thought that was so funny. In our biggest year, when we were all over the radio and on TV, I made less than anyone with a desk job makes. It’s a weird misconception. But I remember when I was a kid, I saw Snapcase; and they were the biggest hardcore band I’d ever seen at the time. They had a thousand kids piling on the stage, everyone was buying T-shirts and I thought, ‘These guys must be loaded!’ I think about [that now], and it’s really funny.”

While your assumption that someone like Lady Gaga is probably not hurting for funds is likely correct, the truth is that most of your favorite bands struggle, even at their peak. MIKE MURPHY, bassist for HASTE THE DAY—who recently announced they’re calling it quits after a two-month farewell tour this spring—describes his band’s early years as very difficult. “We toured our first year or so playing venues to five kids,” Murphy says. “We played one show to nobody, literally. We used to take band money and buy peanut butter and jelly. We survived for a long time on Ramen noodles. You buy a big thing of Ramen, go into a gas station, use hot water from their coffee maker and put it in a Styrofoam cup. Sometimes they charge you 89 cents for the cup. That was a big deal back then, so you tried not to get charged 89 cents or you bring your own cup. It’s hard to get paid when no one comes to your shows when you’re a band starting out. But we got lucky and got support later.”

Although Murphy says money is only a small factor in Haste The Day’s breakup, it’s hard to imagine wanting to spend more than a few months of your life living on that kind of diet. But it seems like every band has stories like Murphy’s, some more recent in their careers than others. THE SWELLERS’ guitarist/singer NICK DIENER describes a time when the band slept on a “concealed shelf in the middle of a 24-hour Walmart just to avoid getting a hotel.” His bandmate and drummer JONATHAN DIENER adds, “Our first few years of tours, I would eat at Taco Bell twice a day and only spend one dollar on a bean burrito, then try to eat protein bars to hold me over until the next day. We would go to places like Cici’s Pizza Buffet and eat 10 plates of food for $5 because we thought it was a good deal.”

Almost every touring band advocates the dollar menu at McDonald’s,  and JONATHAN DEVOTO, frontman of BIRD BY BIRD and formerly of THE MATCHES says, “I’ve definitely gotten food poisoning on multiple occasions from eating food that was a little past its expiration point. It’s incredibly difficult to justify throwing away perfectly good food—rotten, mind you—when you only have $2 left in your wallet.”

So why is everyone so broke and living off rotten food? Aren’t fans spending their hard-earned money to buy these artists’ CDs, T-shirts and concert tickets? Where does that money go? Let’s break down each piece of that puzzle, bearing in mind that there are exceptions to every rule and each artist does things slightly differently.

First: CDs. What happens if you hop over to Best Buy and pick up a new record by your favorite band? Say you pay $10 for the album. Depending on whether the band are signed, what sort of label they’re signed to and what kind of distribution deal that label has, the store will likely keep about $5. The remaining half goes to the record label. If the band are signed, the label uses that “profit” to pay back the money that was used to make the record—both creatively (including costs for producers, studio time and equipment) and constructively (album packaging, distribution costs, etc.). In the end, the band probably will not see any of that money you spent minus a small portion for mechanical royalties.

If you buy the CD from the band’s merch table at a show, they’ve probably already bought that box of their own album from the record label at a wholesale cost. If they’re lucky, they may earn a few bucks on each one. “It’s even hard to sell CDs at shows now because they cost so much for the band to even get them wholesale,” says THIS IS HELL guitarist RICK JIMINEZ. “For a while, it was a recurring thing to see $5 CDs at merch tables, but most labels charge their bands at least that much just to sell them.”

Second: T-shirts and other merch. This too can vary, but as Rickly says, “For some reason, that’s the piece of the industry that bands control the biggest piece of.” But merch still incurs costs. Rickly explains if there’s a Thursday shirt on sale for $15, the band end up with $4 or $5 profit. The venue takes about 20 percent, depending on its size and policies. It costs $3 to $4 to make a shirt, depending on which brand the band use; and a band’s merch company takes about 20 percent. Still, as Rickly puts it, “I can say without a doubt that if you want to put money in a band’s pocket, buy a T-shirt [at a show].”

Jonathan Diener agrees. “Ordering merch before a tour is one of the biggest hits you’ll take, depending on the size of the shows.” Devoto adds, “I suppose the two best ways to make money are creative merch items that people actually want, combined with endless badgering. Talk to every person in the crowd and trick them into buying your merch. No shame.”

But what about ticket sales? You might pay up to $40 to go to some shows, so why should you have to buy a shirt to make sure your favorite artist has enough gas to make it to the next city? Again, the income has to measure up to the costs. Enders describes the impetus for his recent decision as a struggle to survive on the road. “It’s become really hard to survive as a musician or any type of artist,  because the funding is not there,” he says. “I can’t afford to do it, is what it comes down to. It takes a toll on everybody—my family, friends, my connections to people over the years have diminished.” Because touring costs so much money, Enders, who is currently unsigned, says, “You come away from a tour mostly hoping to break even, for an artist like myself. If you break even, that’s a successful tour.”

To put it in perspective, just look at what an average mid-level band have to pay for on tour: booking agents, managers, lawyers, business managers or accountants, buying or renting a van or tour bus, buying or renting a trailer, fuel, vehicle repairs, driver (if on a bus), hotel rooms, hotel rooms during the day for the tour bus driver, vehicle insurance, tolls, food, guitar picks, drum sticks, drum heads, instrument repairs, touring crew members, per diems for the band and crew members, merchandise, lighting, onstage production, wardrobe, taxes and, in some cases, medical bills.

Most bands set their per diem (which is basically an allowance everyone on tour gets each day to make sure they can eat) at $10, although some newer bands get $5 per day and some larger bands get more. Bands also have to pay taxes in every state they perform. Rickly explains that about 50 percent of a total tour profit is withheld to pay taxes, which he supports because Thursday rely on the roads to get from city to city and the local fire and police departments to be available if an emergency arises at a show.

SHERRI DuPREE BEMIS, vocalist/guitarist of EISLEY, says, “At this stage for Eisley, headlining tours mean we will get paid a little something at the end of the day, and support tours mean we only cover our costs of touring. A few years ago, labels could usually afford some form of tour support for bands, which basically is a loan of sorts. But now that album sale revenue has kind of dried up, it makes it harder to do that.” Her solution—and that of her husband, Say Anything’s Max Bemis—is to find creative ways to make money as an artist, which is similar to what Devoto mentioned about making innovative band merch. (Remember when the Matches sold homemade soap during the 2008 AP Tour?)

“[We] are always coming up with ways to make extra income to pay bills and make house payments when we’re not on tour,” DuPree Bemis says. “[Max] created something called ‘Song Shop’ and has been writing and selling custom songs for fans about anything they want or are going through for the last couple of years, and the revenue that has generated has been really helpful. Plus it’s fulfilling as an artist to always be creating. Likewise, I’m an artist and I design custom artwork and tattoos for people, or make, sign and sell my own prints when I’m at home. We wouldn’t be able to keep doing these things if it weren’t for our fans, though. They are everything, and you can’t ever take them for granted in this career. Without someone to create for, you can’t create.”

Which brings us back to Enders. A month ago, he says, he was ready to quit, walk away and join the real world. But the outpouring of support from his fans, from whom he never asked for donations or help, has now caused Enders to reconsider his options. He and his wife Jenn, who has also been very vocal about their family’s situation on her blog, are using the donated funds to start an internship program of sorts. Enders hopes to create a community of music fans who can help spread the idea that music is about commonality not trends. They hope it will help produce art and music events in their towns or at their colleges. It’s slightly unclear exactly how the program will work, but Enders is passionate about reviving a love for music not based on commodity.

“I lost that feeling for so long because I got so consumed by the business of trying to survive,” he says. “I didn’t realize that people still look at my music like that. It opened my eyes. So a month ago I would have said, ‘I wash my hands of it; I had a good run.’ But seeing how everyone made shirts and wristbands for donations and sent the donation money to us, the plan now is to go back to that grassroots feel of music. Basically, what we’re going to try and do is this intern program where we interview people and make a group of people—not like a street team, but a community of people to help put the idea back in people’s head that music is more than a fad that’s ‘in’ right now. It’s taking away the barrier between artist and supporter.”

Enders also says his statement that his next album could be his last might not actually be true anymore. “I don’t want anyone to read too much into that,” he says. “If I make this record and it allows me to make another, then great. If not, I have to sit there and decide what I need to do to support my family.”

Why create music if it’s not a reliable means of supporting oneself or one’s family? Unfortunately, money makes the world go ’round and money and art have been forced into a tenuous, sometimes needy relationship. “Not to reduce the music industry down to money, but that’s how artists make their living and what makes it possible for them to be able to create,” Murphy says. “Money allows the artist to concentrate on their art so they don’t have to go home and get a job. So that money that you support them with really makes a huge difference in them being able to communicate their art with you more effectively.”

Bottom line: If you want to help a band, see them in concert and buy a T-shirt at their show. Consider buying a physical album instead of downloading it, and purchase it directly from the band instead of a mass retailer. And next time you call a band a “sellout,” it’s worth considering why they agreed to license a song to a commercial hocking beer or clothing. “If you can put your music in a car commercial, put it in the car commercial,” Rickly says. “I have so many friends that are in underground punk bands that never, ever do commercials. They’re viewed as these Holy Grail bands that never sell out—and their day job is writing jingles for commercials. It’s the same thing. People can call us sellouts all they want. I just wish we could sell out more. I’d have more free time to write music.” alt