ACES & EIGHTS
BIG TIME : Can you please tell our readers, how technology has helped the band book gigs deep into 1998 ?
: The technology is helping us expand on our fan base. I
don't think clubs are into technology, as we try to be. The Dark
Floor Saloon, was the only club I know of, that had a Web
Site. The technology provides our fans with our schedules and
information about the members. Our phone number is:
1-207-XXX-XXXX. Our E-mail is:
acesn8sXXXXXX. Our mailing address is: P.O. Box XXX,
Gardiner Me, 04345. Once 3 months we do a newsletter.
: Chris takes care of the "snail mail," and I do the
E-mail. I've got over 600 E-mail addresses, and get about 10
additional addresses a day. Our "Guest Book," on the
Homepage, is beginning to become a pretty big file.
: For little over a year, we have been doing a "snail mail," list
and received 400 addresses from people in Maine. We have a lot of
people sign onto our list at shows, and we try to do a lot of different
things. When people come to listen to listen to us, we play Top
40 country and some Older songs, so that helps add names to our
list. When your talking Country, that's Top 40; it's so close to
Rock and Roll. I guess you can call it Country Rock, but it's Top
40 country; and it's not traditional country. We do Alan Jackson,
Darryl Singletery, Tracy Urn, and there's a lot more.
LEE : All the current ones.
: We play 4 - 5 old stand-by-tunes, that have been around for
years and years. There is certainly a lot of music out there to
learn, and every day there's a new song.
BIG TIME : What's the time frame, that it takes the band to learn a new song?
: We all take the new tune on tape, home with us. At
rehearsal we listen to the song 3 times and study it. We get the
words down, the form of the tune down, the instruments, the changes,
and then put it together. We can do that in a couple of
hours. Within two rehearsals, we have it ready to perform, and to
work on it for perfection, note for note.
: Richard is the only member with a formal music education and we
rely on him, when it comes to the real technical aspects. He
defined what 8th and 16th notes were for us. He's always talking
about not playing ahead of the beat, or behind the beat, while we study
a new song. It was 3-4 years before I understood his concepts,
and you can hear the improvement; if you haven't seen us
recently. With in the last 3 gigs we have moved onto to the next
step in music.
LEE : It flows better, because we have gotten a lot tighter during our last few gigs.
CHRIS : I now understand, how to feel the groove of a song.
: There are bands you can go out to listen to, and almost predict
what they're going to play next. We don't want to "hack" the
tunes out and that's why we record everything.
: We make great strides listening to our rehearsals and conduct
an analysis of it. We say: "That doesn't sound good there."
or, "This tune is way too fast." It helps, because we definitely know how to listen to each other.
TIME : Lee does all the bands sounds, from the stage.
Is there anyone else that helps Lee out with the sound?
: Over the past 6 months now, a friend of mine named Mark Chapman
and another guy we picked up has. The sound man on the other side
of the room, does a real good job. I can go along with Richard,
when he was telling us, that we have to listen to each other, that gave
us a new definition as to running mix.
We don't use a
stage monitors when we play out. We all have headphones to run
our mix through. Lee, Chuck, and Myself listen to what is going
straight out front. Richard is the only member who has a
different Mix. There's quite a bit of cymbal crashing, so he's
the only one that has to really listen to the Bass line. The
funny thing is, we have spent a long time "tweaking," the gear :
Studio gear, Public Announcement gear, and the sound board, for process
of the signal. We've spent a long time investing a lot of money
and time researching. It's to the point, that we have the one of
the few newest cleanest sounds around. We have other bands always
coming to shows and looking over our gear. They ask us how we get
our sound clean. They want to know about our headphone system and
duplicate that sound. We take that as a compliment.
LEE : We show
them all around and how it works. The whole idea is that country music
is clean. You can hear every little note and that's why we are so
critical of ourselves; to have it sound, the way it's suppose to. To
make it clean, you have to play it right. We hear every little mistake
and some people wouldn't even hear it at all.
CHRIS : We always
listen to what people have to say, whether it's good or bad, or
indifferent. We listen to other people and make changes accordingly.
We got to the point where there were people who complained that, "the
drums are just too loud." We just spent $700 for LEXAN, to cut back on
the drum's sound. Lexan is a Plexi-glass, that looks like a window,
but, it's a super rugged plastic. We have sheets that go 4' high and
they're framed with aluminum.
BIG TIME : What are your plans for pressing a C.D. in the future ?
CHRIS : We are
progressing toward a C.D. with a target of the end of the Summer, for a
finished product. I've been in touch with a couple of Professional
Record promotion companies, located across the Country. Today, I
received E-mail from R.M.I., based in California. This company really
knows how to take your original C.D. , to the different radio stations;
clear across the country. They do all the " charting," that is, check
it on the chart to see how well the C.D. is doing. The deal is a
contract to R.M.I. receiving 3% of the royalties. We have tossed around
the idea of a video. Every year, we look ahead for publicity. WABI TV
wants us to do a live thing, with a couple of our tunes.
LEE : Yeah, go
out and do the club thing. People aren't going to buy your C.D., if
they don't know you. We've known people who have paid big dollars,,
putting a couple of tunes on tape; and come back with a whole trunk full
that they can't sell. The reason is they put the cart before the
horse, because nobody's heard of them.
: When you play a cover song on the drums, do you play it note-
for- note, or do you throw an original flare in there?
RICHARD : I sweat
it to the point where the tempo of the song has to be even, and as
close to the original version, as we are going to get it to be.
Obviously, any experience that a working musician gets, is going to tell
you a lot. Your going to be nice, and play slower or faster, depending
on the feedback from the people. One thing I "Harp on," with this
band is, to do a Cover song and to do it right. When you play a big hit
cover song that everybody is familiar with, subconsciously, they expect
the song to be, the way it is on the radio. That's one thing I've
done, but again it depends on energy of your audience. I've had people,
Knock us, before of that. they said: "If I wanted to hear records, I
would have hired a DJ." I took that as a compliment, because I always
thought that was important. On stage, I'm focused on the music and
setting the groove of the tune. It takes a lot of energy to stay
focused on what your doing.
BIG TIME : What makes your band different from others?
CHRIS : Our
detail to music is one thing. It's also the fact that we don't play the
same old tunes that other bands play. Another thing is we don't
drink-period. When we are out playing, we never drink. We've seen too
many other bands that ruin themselves from drinking.
LEE : It's like any other job; you don't drink while your working.
CHRIS : They
start doing great, and after a few drinks, their playing gets sloppy.
That doesn't work, and if your going to put a professional image across
to people, you can't be drinking. The other thing we do, a club owner
told us, is that we don't hide in a corner or on the bus during our
breaks. I'll walk up to people, to shake their hand, Lee will go in
another direction, and people will just walk up to Richard. We talk to
club owners, they're just not our boss for that time. We consider
everybody a friend. We're not going to be stuck up, and consider not
doing this. We have seen a lot of bands that think they're too good for
themselves and won't talk to people.
BIG TIME : On the
local music circuit, bands try to help each other out. For some
reason, that's not the way it is for the local country bands?
CHRIS : It's
competitive, because there's a lot of country bands out there. Country
bands will get together for a fund raiser, but when it comes to the
business of getting bookings, the help is scarce.
LEE : There is only a certain number of "choice jobs," and there's eight times that number of country bands.