Chris Wilson and Joe Cardillo are both veterans of the local outfit Endoxi, which split in late 2012. The band was nominated for San Diego Music Awards in 2009 for Best Alternative Album and 2010 for Best Alternative Band. They were also Voted People’s Choice at the San Diego edition of Musicpalooza in 2009, as well as winning Best Rock Band and Artist of the Year at the Lifeswork Entertainment Music Awards.
Now performing under the moniker Chris Wilson and Planet Earth, the duo realized that they were going to need some financial assistance even if they were going to tour. They raised $6029 via the online fundraising site Kickstarter to finance a road trip that sent them around the United States twice in six months.
“A lot of bands have been looking at ways to self-sustain...without signing to a major label and losing a lot of control over their songs and career path,” says Cardillo. “Kickstarter enables the fans and the band to have a closer connection without a label being the middle man. Being our first national tour, and in cities we never played before, it was really tough to predict our income on the road. Kickstarter was a way to help us stay on the road, to be connected with our fans, and to make it easy for someone to show their support for us. It was really an amazing feeling to have so much support from fans all around the country.”
Cardillo also explained how in true Kickstarter fashion, the duo presented a variety of creative rewards in order to rake in the funds.
“We offered hard copy and digital download packages, T-shirts, hoodies, thank-you photos from pics we took around the country with the donator’s name on it. We had buttons, signed hand-written set lists, a disc of tour photos and videos, Skype shows, sweaty bandanas, used reeds, a house show, and us cooking dinner in your home!”
When the two decided to tour the U.S., the first thing they did was sell their van, replacing it with a 2008 Scion XD. The pair halved their fuel costs. Still, most of the money raised went toward gas and food.
“We stayed away from fast food, practically never ate out, and mostly bought food and cooked it on the go or in a couch surfer’s home [they joined couchsurfing.org]. We even had a small cooler in the car so we could eat in the car on long trips.”
Wilson and Cardillo seem to have created a new blueprint for touring the U.S. on the cheap, or “jamming econo,” as Mike Watt would say. Their method does come at a cost, though, and that is leaving the band behind.