“I was a successful stockbroker with over a million dollars in the bank,” says After the Crash singer Jake, “but I lost it all on April 4, 2000, as the market was having its biggest point down day ever.” The one-time head of Boxwood Capital Management and Boxwood Trading -- equities and hedge fund trading firms based on Morena Boulevard -- says he used his suddenly freed-up time to write songs, tour as a solo act, and eventually hook up with a band via ads placed on craigslist.
The group lives and travels in a 2002 Ram 1500 Conversion Van and trailer, purchased a couple of years ago for $13,000. “All we own is our wheels, a computer, and our cell phones,” says Jake. “We’re on the road full-time, booking, promoting, and merchandising ourselves as we go along by using free wireless Internet in towns as we go.” He says MySpace has taken band self-sufficiency to the next level. “We have eight or nine pages and send out over 6000 email notices per town we are playing. It’s really increased our turnout.”
The challenge, he says, is getting Internet service without paying. “Places like Starbucks charge, but Panera bakeries, Atlanta Bread Company, and Buffalo Wild Wings, they usually have free WiFi. We also drive by hotels to see which ones have free networks we can use. Sometimes, all you have to do is park near the right apartment complex; they have WiFi a lot, too.”
Jake says the entire band eats on $12 per day. “Kiko the guitarist eats a one-dollar side salad from Wendy’s for lunch and a dollar bean burrito for dinner (he’s vegetarian). Me and the other guys buy sandwich meat and cheese from Wal-Mart for a couple of dollars and put it on bread for lunch, and dinner comes from a dollar menu…the Jumbo Jack is the most food for the smallest price.”
Jake spent three years touring the country as a solo artist, honing his craft until he was ready to put a full-time touring band together. He first found Dave, a native of Boston who, after opening for many national acts, was ready to move up to the big time. Next was Kiko, a Spaniard who had moved to Boston to study guitar at the prestigious Berklee College of Music and had made the city his new home.
Last was Ernesto, a native son of New Jersey who had stumbled upon a drummer-for-hire ad online.
Even though each was successful in his own way, they had all grown bored of their safe lives and shared the same desire for the road. So they gave up the safe and steady path and decided to follow their dreams. In 2005, after only two weeks of rehearsing and knowing each other, they gave up their homes, got in the van, and began touring the country playing music. Ernesto has since been replaced on drums by Mark, and then Tim.