2015 – THE YEAR OF THE MONKEY (IN SPACE)

May 19, 2015 Leave a comment

HOLY SHIT. This rag-tag op called Monkeys In Space just finished it’s first song in a few years! HOLY SHIT – it rocks. Man, it feels good to be back. A lot has happened, monkeys. A LOT. I could get into it, but none of it matters anymore. None of it. Cause we’re fuckin back. Back and radder than ever.

#words

Guys & Gals, this is the start of something awesome. Stick around & turn your stereos up uP UP! Cause your favorite monkeys are a’comin.

J\% helmet.jpg

Categories: Monkeys In Space

Monkeys and The Music Biz

July 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Hey-o. It’s been a crazy couple of months! I finally have some time to breathe, so I thought i’d update the blogosphere on what’s going on with me and the monkeys. For those of you who follow our band, you know that we’ve gone through some changes over the last year. This post offers a little more detail into some of the challenges we’ve faced and are facing as an independent rock band, and what they mean for the future of Monkeys In Space.

I moved to LA in May when I was presented with an opportunity to fill-in on Hollywood Records’ production staff. Over the last two months, I’ve been exposed to the inner workings of the record biz. It’s been an invaluable experience and let me tell you, the people behind artists like Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato & Miley Cyrus are some of the smartest, hardest-working people I’ve ever met. They’re also ALL really fuckin’ cool. Anyway, me moving up this way presented some obvious challenges for our band. First, we’re not able to practice nearly as much as we would like (I’ve been driving down to SD every weekend to rock), and being a self-produced band, recording has become more difficult.

As little as a year ago, MiS was livin’ the dream. We were all working and living in a spacious, four-bedroom house down by San Diego State. We had a huge garage that we got to practice and record in whenever we wanted, and were working really hard every day to progress. Progress we did, but as life tends to go, people get older, responsibilities pile up and things like playing in a rock band become less important. It’s never easy to face, but that’s just the way it is. Needless to say, Monkeys In Space has gone through some changes over the past 13 or so months, but we’re still very passionate about the music we’re making and have finally started getting on some bigger shows. Things are certainly progressing, slowly but surely, but we still need help, aka a “break.”

By “break,” I really mean money. The expression “you don’t need a record deal” is true, but only if you have the capital to do all the things a record deal would do for you. And trust me, as an independent band, you don’t have the time or resources to produce what a major label can. You can certainly try, and Monkeys In Space has spent three years building up a brand online – doing absolutely EVERYTHING we can to try and get our music heard. Unfortunately, the internet is no longer a place to discover new music that no one’s ever heard. It’s become just another controlled market place where only one thing really matters – making money.

Before I got the gig at HWR and even before the Monkeys hit the road on the greatest tour of all time, I worked for a digital publishing company that produced content for over 20 or so websites. In the world of the web, the way to make money is to drive traffic. The more people you have on your sites, the more interested advertisers are, the more you can charge for that advertising, etc. The only way to drive traffic to your site is to produce content that people want to read (or music people want to hear). The quickest way to do that is to post the same shit everyone else is posting, also known as what’s “trending,” and lace it with “SEO strategies” and hope your site pops up in the search results. Same goes for music. If everyone is searching for the Black Keys new song, you’d be a bad business person not to have that up on your site. Correction: the quickest way to drive traffic is to pay Google to gaurantee you show up in their search results, but who has that money? (the same companies you see on TV and hear on the radio)

How does that relate to what we’re trying to do?

In its early days, bands that had a jump on the internet were able to gain a lot of exposure very quick at what appeared to require minimal effort. Back then, while corporate America was scrambling to figure out how to control this new medium, consumers took advantage and were able to discover music on their own. Before the internet, the only real way to do that was to go to the shows, because outlets like the radio, MTV and VH1 were all controlled the way the web is today. Now that the big wigs have caught up, the “new music” you’re being fed through outlets like Spotify – which is fucking every musician they feature, popular or not- and others is pushed by those who can afford to push it. These services are available to independent artists, but it’s impossible to operate on the same level as those with big budgets. Just like everyone else, indie musicians have to pay for advertising online to be seen. If you’re lucky enough to have earned (or spammed) yourself a large network, you could be doing pretty well. But of course, that wasn’t going to last forever. One of the biggest and most recent hits to independent artists was Facebook’s new policy on your fan’s Newsfeeds. Now, even if you have a substaintial amount of “Likes,” each one has to individually subscribe to your posts. Without those subscriptions, only 10% of your Fans will see your updates. Maybe it’s 20%. Regardless, now users have to take an extra step to get your news and, let’s be real, who’s really going to? Of course, you can pay for sponsored posts, which will send your updates to your whole network.

Those in the business of offering services for independent artists online – for the most part – are just taking advantage of people’s desire to play music for a living.  A few examples: ReverbNation and Sonicbids. These two sites offer independent bands the opportunity to submit their music to the biggest music festivals in the world. Submission prices average anywhere between $5-75. Each of these websites has thousands of registered users, mostly independent musicians that are desperately trying to get their music heard. The promise that your music will be considered is often empty. You pay the submission fee and never hear anything. No email explaining your rejection. Nothing. Once you wise up to that, it’s just another door closed.

It’s no secret that live music is taking a hit now that music is so easily accessbile online. As home entertainment improves, there are less reasons to attend live events. Just ask Major League Baseball – not everyone can afford to blackout their broadcasts like the NFL. Greedy fucks. With less people attending the biggest concerts in the area, you can imagine the impact these advancements are having in the underground scene. To adapt, promoters require bands to sell a certain amount of “presale tickets” to cover their expenses, maybe even their salary, who knows. There are seldom clubs in Southern-California that don’t require some sort of guarantee that money will be exchanged between the bands performing and the promoters hosting. Rarely is it the other way around. Once again, musicians that are desperately trying to get their music heard will sign on – like we did on our recent show with Unwritten Law – run around peddling tickets for the promoters, hand over the cash before the set and likely play to no new faces. It’s a business model that’s killing local music scenes all over the country. And there’s really no way to reverse it.

So what can we do about it? Well, besides bitching on our blogs about how unfair everything is, not a whole lot. One thing we can promise is that we will continue to work hard to produce music that is honest and real; inspired only by the things that truely inspire us. While we may not be the biggest band in the world, we absolutely work as hard as any other. Despite all the challenges I mentioned above, we’re still pressing on. The harsh reality is that we’re running out of time to turn Monkeys In Space into a music career. There may come a day where we need to walk away, but not today. Until then, we’re continuing to record our music and ask the same thing we’ve been asking since we started this band: please give us a listen. If you like what you hear, share it with a friend.

Rock on.

Categories: Monkeys In Space

First Few Days..

May 24, 2012 Leave a comment

On Monday I was offered a job in the production department at Disney Music Group in Burbank, CA. Pretty awesome! I had been trying to get up this way ever since we got off the tour and decided to take MiS to Hollywood, and it worked out that a position opened up right when I really started getting serious. Tuesday was my first day at Hollywood Records and it’s pretty surreal. I’ve been trying to crack into the music biz for three years and here I am walking past the A&R reps for some of the most successful artists on the planet. As a musician, it’s refreshing to see these people with my own eyes – they actually exist! The first few days have been great. The label is on the Disney lot, so each day I get to walk past all the sound stages, sets and giant Disney water tower. The people are amazing – everyone is really cool and they seem excited to have me on board. I feel very lucky.

I’ve been coming up to LA ever since I was a little guy. Most of my family lives up this way. I’m excited to be here. Excited to get the band up here and hit the scene hard. I definitely feel like I’m in the right place, like we’re headed in the right direction. It’s going to take some adjusting, for sure. This city is a lot different than San Diego. I’m into it, though.

Categories: Adventures

Here we come!

May 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Mannn a lot has happened since that last post! That tour seems so far off.. such a bummer. So to make a crazy, long story short – the four of us played our last show together May 18th at Typhoon Saloon in PB. As disappointing as that may be, Monkeys In Space lives on, heart bangin’ as strong as ever!

When we got home, we decided we were going to move the band to Los Angeles. Johnny and I are San Diego kids at our cores. Both of us have lived in SD for the better part of our lives. But, over the years we’ve discovered that the music scene in San Diego in no way compares to that of LA – as much as we hate to admit it. We had always hoped we’d be able to keep our band local to SD, but at this point in our lives – at 25 – it appears that, if we are going to be serious about a career in music, there really is only one place for a southern-California band to be. So with that, we’ve taken our first steps at setting up base camp in Los Angeles.

The past few months have been really tough for us. The tail end of the tour was a real let down. We played some cool shows, but the band was not vibing at all. John and I were pouring every last penny we had (or could borrow) into the gas tank to keep us moving. I wish I could say we had the same level of commitment from the others. At first we did, but once we ran outta cash, the responsibility fell back where it always does. John and I have always been willing to give up everything we had for the sake of our band. If it meant floating the rest so we could play music every night, we were willing to do it. It was certainly frustrating and we’re pretty disappointed, but those guys have their reasons. Valid ones, I’m sure. Beyond all that comes with that decision, however, it’s the best move for Monkeys In Space. I think each of us knows that. It is what it is.

Anyway, giving up on rockin’ is simply not an option. Despite the struggle, we’re pushing on. We have some really great shows lined up. On the 10th we will be rocking a benefit alongside the Filthy Violets in support of the Invisible Children Foundation. Knowledge is Power.

“In the spring of 2003, three young Americans traveled to Africa in search of such as story. What they found was a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them. A story where children are weapons and children are the victims. The “Invisible Children: rough cut” film exposes the effects of a 20 year-long war on the children of Northern Uganda. These children live in fear of abduction by rebel soldiers, and are being forced to fight as a part of violent army. This wonderfully reckless documentary is fast paced, with an MTV beat, and is something truly unique. To see Africa through young eyes is humorous and heart breaking, quick and informative – all in the very same breath. See this film, you will be forever changed.”

Invisible Children Benefit Event Details:

Students at HTHNC in San Marcos work with the organization, Invisible Children, a non- profit committed to providing the citizens of Northern Africa with sustainable resources and skills to live and thrive in peace.This is non- profit and to raise money to aid in providing schools, education, development and resources to the people of Northern Africa.

This concert will take place at the Ché Café on UCSD’s campus in La Jolla on Sunday, June 10th.

Live Entertainment provided by: Monkeys In Space, the filthy violets, the fixtures and one I red.

After that, we are get to share the stage with our heroes, Unwritten Law! That show goes off on June 23rd. Also on the bill is a band called Versus the World, which includes members of Lagwagon and The Ataris. OMFG!!! Pretty stoked, to say the least.
As far as the move to LA goes, we’ve realized that without financial backing, we need to go back to work to support the music. Touring was great – more like a dream, actually –  but we really need to put our money back into advertising at this point, not gas. Once the demand is there, we’ll get back on the road. We have the brains, we have the music, now we just need the cash. So with that, we’re starting to make some real moves toward a new record & a new home. Watch out, here we come.

Adventures in the Desert (AZ/NV)

March 6, 2012 Leave a comment

We’re on our way to Las Vegas, in the middle of the desert, and it’s seriously windy. On the way to Arizona, we met an old-timer at a gas station – he was wearing a cowboy hat, leather jacket (like fresh off the hide, leather), and rode up on a 4 wheeler he assure me was “street legal” – who offered us his opinion on our bus:

“That thing’ll flip over.”

Since then, it’s been a little uneasy crossing the desert. The winds out here a fierce and the bus is old, and it sways like a boat. It’s even more uncomfortable sitting up on my bunk. I’ve already had nightmares of us tipping. When the wind gets underneath the bus, it shifts the whole rig. It’s sketchy. Ryan’s doing a pretty good job driving it; he’s literally got our lives in his hands.

Arizona was a blast. We had two great shows. One at this club called 910 Live, which was really awesome. We met this band from LA called “Fly Radio” and they fuckin’ rocked. Turned out to be super cool too. We’re looking forward to doing some shows with them in the future. Make sure and check them out, you’ll enjoy it.

Three days later…

So it’s our last night in Vegas. It’s been nuts. We got in on Saturday around 5, checked into our hotel at the Excalibur, and got right down to business..

I was pretty concerned about my voice going into the show at Motor City Café – a pretty rad dive located just off the strip. Before the band played at Macayos on Friday, I played about two hours of acoustic covers. When I was in college, I used to play at Macayos a few nights a week. It ended up being a really solid gig, people really responded well to it. I loved it. Anytime I get an opportunity to go back and play, I’ll take it. Plus, it puts a little extra cash in the tour fund, so I’m happy to do it.

My voice was pretty tired after Friday night though. I didn’t get much sleep either that night (just one of those nights), so come Saturday morning my voice was pretty beat up. When we hit the stage though, none of that seemed to matter. We killed the Motor City Café. We had a really great crowd too. Everyone loved us. We came up a little short on merch sales, but we did really well in Arizona, so we could afford a night off. The club paid us a little too. We probably deserved a bigger cut, but what can ya do. We recently decided Josh would be the enforcer on getting us our money. He seems pretty excited about the responsibility ha, so we’ll see how that goes.

Vegas is fucking awesome. We’ve had such a great time. We did pretty much everything you’d expect us to while we’ve been here. Yesterday we got a little carried away – spent $200 on a buffet (that ended up being totally not worth it), rode the rollercoaster for $85 (they tried to kick me off cause I whipped out my cell phone to take a picture of the first drop. I lied and told him it was my wallet. People were screaming at me on the back of the ride. Haha. Whatever) and took a few limo rides to some adventurous places. It was an expensive day, but we still have some money in the bank. So it’s all good!

Tonight is Ryan’s birthday. We’re about to go grab some dinner and see where that takes us. We’re driving to Salt Lake City in the morning and are playing a show around 9pm, so it will most likely be a mellow evening. But, with Monkeys In Space, ya never know! Make sure and keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter to follow our adventures. We’re just getting started!

FUTI Tour: Day 1

March 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Today we set out on the Flying Under the Influence tour and DAMN does it feel good! Three months ago we decided it was time for our band to take a shot at a making a real tour happen. Over the last two and a half years, Monkeys In Space has made two attempts at something like this – once with a sheisty booking agent that demanded we pay $1,000 to book a month long tour and, $500 in, hadn’t produced a single date, and the other through a few kids our age who sold us on their faith in our music, only to end up doing things like borrowing money for promo materials that never went out, and set us up with another band that really didn’t take too kindly to our way of doing things, which ultimately led to the whole thing unraveling before it even started. All water under the bridge at this point; learning experiences for the group and, as it turn out, was for the best.

But by the time November came, we were at a real low. We had moved out of our house by SDSU into a tiny, dirty-ass apartment in Pacific Beach with no garage and no place to rehearse. We weren’t playing music nearly as much as we needed (at the house, we were playing close to everyday), and when we did get to play, it was usually up in Poway – 30 min from our home. Practice started feeling like a chore, we weren’t focused and unfortunately, our music suffered. The holidays came and things only got worse – I personally hit the lowest I’d been since joining Monkeys In Space – we almost burned out. Almost.

I should mention that booking a tour is fucking work. Like, 9-5 type work. With no interest coming in from any legitimate booking agents, we were forced to do it ourselves. I don’t think Johnny’s slept more than 4 hours a night since we decided to do this – seriously.  Huge props to him though. We have more than 40 dates booked over the next few months, and we’re adding more each day. On top of booking shows for our band, some of the venues have asked that we help find supporting acts. So now, we’re contacting local bands in the cities we’re playing to try and book supporting acts. It’s madness.

Our plan:

If you haven’t seen the route, our first show tomorrow in Tempe, AZ. We hang in Tempe for a few days and then go to Vegas on Saturday. From Vegas, we hit Salt Lake City, then Boise on the way to Seattle. From Seattle, we cross the border into Canada for a show at The Roxy in Vancouver, then head south to Portland, Reno, Sacramento and all the way down the west coast. We spend about five days in San Francisco, which is one of the highlights of the tour. We end the first leg with a show in San Diego at the Sandbar at the end of March. The following Monday, we’re back in Arizona.

The plan is to continue that loop, grow our fan base on the west coast and extend a bit further east each time we come around.

The overall goal is to get picked up by a serious agent that can put us on a bigger tour, or to make friends with some bands that want to stay out with us. We’re really not sure what’s going to happen but for once, we get a chance to focus on our band and our band alone.  It’s an adventure, to say the least.

Well, that’s day one for ya. We’re pulling into Tempe as I’m writing this. It’s 1:00am, we’ve been on the road for 8 hours. Time for sleep. Stay tuned, it’s going to be fun.

Coachella: Sunday

January 16, 2012 Leave a comment

So since my last post on the Coachella lineup i’ve listened to every artist listed on Sunday (started from the bottom, working my way up). Some i’d heard of before, but most were new to me. So far, the artists that I have some interest in seeing are:

  • Dre/Snoop
  • At the Drive In
  • Florence & the Machine
  • Avicii
  • the Hives
  • Dada Life
  • La Roux
  • Porter Robinson
  • Nero
  • Real Estate
  • Lissie
  • Sleeper Agent

That’s it for Sunday. I did find a few songs here and there that I liked from artists like Beirut, Fitz and the Tantrums, and Beats Antique. Other than that, a whole lot of obscure stuff i’ll never listen to again.

Thoughts? Who are you interested in seeing on Sunday? Let me know on Twitter.

Categories: Music
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