Some things I've learned from Places We Slept (Omaha) and Solid Attitude (Iowa City) that I'll take with me on my trip:
On being a musician:
-Members from both bands talked about prioritizing being a musician above their other jobs. They take time off work to tour and their bosses just deal with it. Often they see music as the obvious life choice for them at the time.
--"I consider myself a musician. I don't do it for a living, but I'd like to." Nathan-PWS
--"This isn't our profession, but it'd be nice." Walker-SA
--"There's nothing else that I'd want to be doing right now. I could either put myself in a little bit of debt and have some really incredible times with my friends doing stuff that is the only thing I feel is worthwhile right now." Brendan-SA
-Touring is the best/cheapest way to get out of town and see places you wouldn't otherwise see.
--"Early on, it was always like a vacation; getting out of town sometimes is our intent." Walker-SA
-Both bands told tour horror stories and talked about losing money on tour. The troubles of tour manifested in treating touring bands in their hometowns like heroes. They treat bands how they want to be treated on tour; with gas money, a good show, and a place to stay.
On booking shows:
-Credibility and being an established individual go a long way in booking shows. It is harder to get a show if you are an "outsider" to the scene. It seems to be a lot easier if you have "ex-members" of a previously established band.
--"A lot of people only listen to bands that have ex-members of other bands or have some kind of pseudo-credibility from a blog or something. There's a lot of great bands that no one even checks out because they don't have members of old bands or a good reputation on the internet." JD-PWS
-Both PWS and SA talked about crowds showing up to shows with intentions other than to hear music.
--"You want a local band to open so people get there to see their friend's band and you want a local band to close so people stay." Brendan-SA
--"There’s a split between people going there to see bands and are excited and some people there who are just there because it’s the thing to do." Walker-SA
--"[People who come to Middle House just to party are] a bummer. It's fucked up. They're not supporting anyone. We aren't doing the show so kids can party, we are trying to support the touring band." JD and Nathan-PWS
On working hard:
-SA and PWS both talked about how they work hard to separate themselves from the pack. Working hard is often defined in terms of touring and releasing albums.
--"Touring is fun but it is working every night. We work as hard as we can and we do it ourselves in order to stand out." Nathan-PWS
--"I think theres a lot of stock in recordings and such because right now you can be playing great live shows and people are seeing you and enjoying themselves but down the line you don’t have anything to show for it if you don’t have recordings." Brendan-SA
On being from the Midwest:
-People generally don't expect IC and Omaha to have punk scenes and are surprised when they find out.
--"A lot of people don't think there are punks here or they will even have a place to stay. Sometimes we will pay a touring band a lot of money and they are shocked. People just skip Omaha." Nathan-PWS
--"We get it a lot, people are surprised we are from Iowa City, or say 'not bad for an Iowa band.' " Brendan-SA
On the Internet:
-Solely existing on the internet isn't enough. In order to be authentic, a band must also have a tangible product: recordings and a live show.
--"Anyone can be a band even if they don't have an LP out. Tons of bands are touring and so it is harder to get a show. It's frustrating." Nathan-PWS
--"There's a lot more you have to do to back it up in order to exist beyond the internet." Brendan SA
-But internet presence is important in order to connect with other bands for touring or get onto a label. PWS saw increased popularity and record sales in the UK after a favorable internet review from Collective Zine. Solid Attitude has a new 7" on a label from Vancouver thanks to their online recordings. PWS even started on the internet, when JD Myspaced Nathan and Mark's band.
I anticipate that hard work as the way to get ahead will remain constant beyond the Midwest. I think that both Solid Attitude and Places We Slept have demonstrated the positive results of hard work in that they are well-respected bands in the Midwest with great records. Thanks to both of them for their help in my project.
I'm curious to find out what things change on the coasts. Stay tuned.