A Lot Of Questions With The Band MiniBoone

MiniBoone is a Brooklyn based indie band that is making quite a name for themselves around the borough these days. Boasting a live show that puts rock bands to shame, these guys pump out energetic songs that call to mind Talking Heads, Animal Collective and Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah. They just put out a EP called Big Changes on Tuesday that the blogs are getting crazy over. They took the time to give lots of great advice and wit and you should give back to them and do yourself a favor and give them a listen.


What is the biggest misconception in the music industry today?

Doug: Probably that music wants to be free.  We’re just in a
transition phase, I think, where nobody has yet figured out how to
properly make money with music in the weird technological climate we’re
in.  People will find a way to make money from music, and people will
look back on the Pirate Bay as a weird delusional period in music
history.


How has the importance of playing live/touring changed in the industry and what do you see people doing that is smart?

Doug: The internet is great, and it may have become the main way
many people listen to music, but it hasn’t changed live music all that
much I don’t think.  The people who plan, and put on a show like it
means something, rather than just standing on the stage and giving
people the same experience they could have had with a great sound
system in their living room, seem to be doing the right thing.


What’s the best way for bands to get  the attention of labels they think might be interested in them?

Doug: I wish I knew.  Sub Pop seems to be consistently signing
bands I’ve never heard of, and Matador keeps signing awesome bands that
were already awesome.  This is a stumper.


What do you feel that record labels can still you do better for bands than they can for themselves?

Doug: Deal with distributors, royalties, accounting.  A lot of
musicians are not that good with the intricacies of managing legal and
monetary issues.


What should bands be concentrating on that they may not be thinking of?

Doug: Entertaining people.  Bands should be making people dance and
cry.  Most new bands I hear don’t seem to be aiming at that.  I can
only assume that they aren’t thinking about it.


What advice can you give for a group looking to improve their live show?

James: More balloons and stringy lights.

Sam: Gimmicks aside, we just try and keep the energy up. Even if the
sound is crappy or the crowd is small, if you’re having a good time, it
should be a good show for the audience, too. 

Doug: Your mind should be totally shut down on stage.  If you’re not in
a zone, in some sort of meditative mindset when you’re performing,
you’re probably not performing as well as you could be.



What advice can you give for a group to build up a buzz?

James: Release the bees!

Doug: Anything I say would just be ripping of Malcolm Gladwell, and I’d rather not do that.


Taylor: Ignore those music blogs that try to tell people what good music is, and make music that feels right.


What is the coolest piece of gear you have come across recently?

James: The Morley ABY Box Selector pedal. It switches between guitars, so you can have 2 guitars hooked up to one amp at once.

Doug: This. The TC Helicon VoiceLive 2. I want this.

Sam: I bought this used Boss Hyper Metal stompbox like 5 years ago for
$20. It made my guitar sound really silly and awful, and since I don’t
play in a thrash metal band, it sat on the shelf collecting dust until
last week when I was looking for a way to fuzz out some of the bass
lines without losing so much low end. The Hyper Metal provided that and
more. Basically, it makes the bass sound like a wood chipper.
Typically, I don’t run my bass through any effects, but the Hyper Metal
just fuzzes and overdrives it such a ridiculous extent I can’t help
myself.


What is something you should bring on tour that most people may not think of?

Craig:
A blow-up mattress. Why sleep on the floor while on tour when you can
sleep on a mattress? Also, bushels of bananas. They are supposed to
have relaxing properties.

Doug: A police scanner. We don’t have one, but, hey.

Taylor: A BB gun.


Tell us something you learned from your last recording experience?

Craig:
The heart of rock and roll lies in the holy rhythmic interplay between
the guitar, bass and drums. The best way to record rock and roll is to
do the rhythm tracks live, so as to capture the energy and thrill of a
live band interacting with itself. Meticulous track-by-track recording
a la Brian Wilson or, to give a more contemporary example, Grizzly
Bear, is great for exploring new textures and aural concepts. But in
that situation you’re acting more as a composer or an arranger, not a
performer. Your work is more analytical and structural rather than
physical. I love Grizzly Bear’s newest record but I’ve heard so many
disappointing things about their live show that I just can’t get up the
heart to go. I wish they could go the Beatles route and stop touring
and just put out two records a year instead. For our recent record and
our live shows, we like the music and the performance to be
pure, instinctive, primal.


What is the dumbest thing you see other groups do?

Craig:
Move too fast. You do not need a manager or PR person or whatever until
you’ve been playing out and handling your own shit for at least a year
or more. It takes time for a band to gel and anything you try to do to
move the band forward  won’t work unless if you’ve spent enough time
together first.

Also,
you have to make sure everybody in the band is basically on the same
page in terms of taste and musical philosophy. We tried out like six or
so drummers of varying talents whom we met on Craigslist over a span of
four months before we met Taylor and found our soulmate. You’re going
to tread water if you’re not playing with people who understand each
other.


What is the biggest mistake you see a band do in promoting themselves?

Craig:
Can I answer a question which you didn’t ask us? The question is, how
do I know when I have to put all my chips on the table, quit my job,
and make music my life?

MiniBoone
saw Andrew W.K. speak at CMJ last year and someone in the crowd asked
him, how did you know when it was the right time to quit your regular
job and become a full-time musician? And he said he didn’t know when it
was the right time. When he quit his job, he never stopped worrying if
he had made the right decision. I think every artist, musician or
otherwise, fears this moment. I wish established musicians would talk
about this moment more often because I’m very curious about it. This is
one of the most important junctures in a musician’s life, and yet
people stop talking about it once a musician has made a career for
themselves.

James
and I both recently quit our full-time jobs and I have no idea what is
going to happen next. Right now I’m coasting on my savings and most
likely I’ll have to find a part-time job soon. Or maybe I’ll go back to
full-time somewhere else and keep a career going. Something in music PR
perhaps? Not quite sure. It’s hard to judge the moment when you should
go all the way.


What is the biggest mistake you see a band do in recording?

Doug: Too many ad libs.  Jeezy was cool in 2005, but I’ve heard enough “yeeeeaaaahhhs” to last me for a while.



What is the smartest thing you see a band do in recording?

Craig: Obsessively rehearse their songs before they go in to the studio.

How did you go about choosing the producer/recording studio for your latest release?

James:
One thing that made the decision easy was how comfortable we felt
around the people who were recording us.  We just got a lot of positive
vibes from Dean and Jesse at DFR.  They were and are incredibly easy to
get along with and have similar musical tastes.  It really showed to us
that this was going to be a good experience.  Bro-mance!


What is the biggest mistake you see a band make in songwriting?


Craig: One guy tells everybody what to do, or, nobody tells anybody what to do.



What is the biggest mistake you see a band make in playing live?

Craig:
I just personally prefer charismatic performers, and performers who
aren’t afraid to embarrass themselves onstage. Once again, Andrew W.K.
comes to my mind as someone who’s unafraid to embarrass himself
anywhere at any time. Performers should inspire people to trust them
like they would trust their own friends. It’s a very hard thing to do,
but I think many bands are just too afraid to go out on a limb in that
way.


How do you handle the splitting up of royalties?

Sam:
Money is always an awkward thing to talk about. There’s sort of this
wariness that talking about something that might stir up a whole mess
of music-impeding issues, but deciding that all five of us have an
equal financial stake in MiniBoone was probably one of the healthier
moves we’ve made as a band. Choosing to split royalties (and expenses,
cuz let’s be honest, like most bands our size, with practice spaces to
rent and gas to pay for, we pretty much expect to be operating at a
loss for awhile) made it clear that we’re weren’t divided up into
songwriters and supporting players. It had benefits creatively and
personally within the group. In hindsight, the lesson probably is that
it isn’t money that messes with the artistic process, it’s greed.

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.