Dmonstrations have confirmed upcoming tour dates in Japan, thanks to their new overseas booking company. They would have toured Europe last year, were it not for a falling out with Germany-based Dial Booking, which had confirmed only around half the dates as the band prepared to depart.
“We couldn’t afford the gear and van rental for the whole month without shows booked every day,” blogs the band. They say they tried to reach their contact at the booking agency, “but it is obvious that he has more important or pressing issues in his life right now. We were waiting over two months to get a final response from him.”
“This is frustrating due to the fact that we had over eight months to plan this,” said the band when canceling the tour. “However, we aren’t willing to risk the potential to incur a substantial debt due to others’ lack of planning and professionalism.
“Our decision was also greatly influenced by the recent events with our friends Mika Miko, who happened to go through Dial Booking and ended up getting the runaround in Italy and losing $1500 of their own money on their recent trip. Our friends Die! Die! Die! have also been waiting to hear of dates, and as a result of this, they have canceled their [overseas] tour too.”
The Dmonstrations’ 2008 tour of Japan was arranged through a different booking agency. Dial Booking did not respond to email requests for comment.
— Jay Allen Sanford
Dead Scene? “I heard after last year’s [Street Scene] that they were going to pull the plug,” says one promoter about San Diego’s largest outdoor music event.
Rob Hagey founded Street Scene in 1984 and sold it last year to Los Angeles–based Live Nation, the country’s largest concert company. Last year’s event, originally planned to take place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, was moved to Coors Amphitheatre in Chula Vista due to slow ticket sales.
“I think Live Nation blew it by trying to run it from L.A.,” says a Los Angeles–based promoter who is familiar with the local concert market. “You need someone local who knows San Diego.”
Live Nation spokesman Greg Terlizzi says he had no information about when or if Street Scene would be back.
Street Scene was held in the streets of downtown through 2004. When it moved to the parking facilities in Petco Park (2004) and then Qualcomm Stadium (2005, 2006), those disheartened with the venue changes dubbed the event “Parking Lot Scene.”
The 2004 Street Scene drew an estimated 105,000. Insiders say last year’s event brought in about 10,000 paid customers.
— Ken Leighton
Meanwhile… The first concert at a new 13,000-capacity venue in Mission Valley will be held in April, according to Mike McSweeney, marketing manager for Qualcomm Stadium. The site of the former Chargers practice facility near Qualcomm Stadium — to be called AEG Live Concerts on the Green — will have temporary, portable structures. AEG has entered into a three-year deal with the stadium, which is owned and operated by the City of San Diego.
Headliners have not been announced, but insiders suggest that many of the acts that previously played the “Bayside” Embarcadero Marina Park South facility (Radiohead, Angels & Airwaves, Black Eyed Peas) are being sought to appear at the venue. Bayside’s viability as a concert venue was hurt due to noise complaints.
AEG, the country’s second-largest concert company, opened an office in San Diego last year and is attempting to draw business away from Live Nation. Live Nation controls Cox Arena, Open Air Theatre, and Coors Amphitheatre. An insider says that the Warped Tour, held at Coors last year, may take place at the AEG facility.
— Ken Leighton
Goodbye to Romance On January 28, bass-less indie-rock trio Buzzkill Romantics will split up after a CD-release show at the Casbah for their Aftermath of Love album. For at least the first half of 2008, guitarist Davida Milkes will be a guitar tech and backing musician on tours with Gene Loves Jezebel and ex–Catherine Wheel front man Rob Dickinson. (She’ll join Dickinson onstage for several songs.)
Later this spring, Milkes will tour North America in the Electric Mood Maidens, her new group that includes Marty Willson-Piper of ’80s hit-makers the Church.
“I’ve been friends with them for years, particularly Marty,” explains Milkes of her connection to the Australian rockers. It was through them that she became a roadie.
“The subject came up and — what do you know — I’m the guitar tech for the Church,” she laughs. “Of course, I had never [done that] before, so I had to learn quick.” She’s been with the band at every American show for almost two years, occasionally joining them onstage for the song “Providence.”
At an August 2006 show in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Milkes played part of a Church set after Willson-Piper came down with a migraine. Rather than cancel the performance, Church front man Steve Kilbey approached Milkes and asked her how many songs she knew.
Though the roadie biz is a male-dominated field, Milkes hasn’t had any problems, at least not with her employers.
“To be honest, I think bands welcome a woman on the crew; it changes the dynamics and gives traveling a different feel.… On the road, when we show up to gigs, I have had some men that work for the clubs make some comments, but they usually shut up pretty quickly when they see I actually know what I’m doing.”
— Bart Mendoza
Ferret Love Last week, EMI/Capitol Records announced it would fire 1500 employees — 25 percent of its workforce — and that it would become the first major label to eliminate large advances. (The company reportedly gave British singer Robbie Williams $150 million when he signed with the label in 2002.)
“There’s a lot less glamour in signing with a major if they’re cutting your funding,” says Valentino Arteaga, guitarist with Chula Vista–based Lower Definition. The big-label troubles make him feel even better about his band’s new deal with independent New Jersey label Ferret Music.
“Major labels are flopping because they sometimes have to sell a million copies [of each release] to break even.” Arteaga says bands Every Time I Die and In Flames — also on the Ferret label — have sold over 100,000 discs, a profitable benchmark for an indie band.
Arteaga points to the air time of Chiotos and As I Lay Dying on MTV2 and Fuel TV as proof that bands can get on the radar without the backing of a big label. Though Arteaga’s “melodic hardcore” band received no up-front money, Ferret will pay for tour support and for Lower Definition’s recording session at a Portland, Oregon, studio next month. In addition, the band was allowed to select producer Kris Crummett (Dance Gavin Dance, Drop Dead Gorgeous), whose fee will be covered by Ferret.
Lower Definition is known locally for playing to under-age audiences exclusively. Arteaga says his band has “seriously toured” for the last three and a half years, which helped stimulate label interest.
“You just have to get out there and tour and get as far away from San Diego as you possibly can. We toured the western U.S. at least seven times. It’s gotten a lot easier to tour with the Internet.”
— Ken Leighton
Smokin’ The Lost Boys of Penzance have covered a TV commercial jingle, “The Disadvantages of You,” from a 1967 Benson & Hedges 100s cigarette ad.
“I recalled hearing the tune on TV, growing up in the 1960s,” says bandleader Jonathan Villegas. The commercial is still remembered for its images of extra-long cigarettes getting caught in elevator doors and lighting the beards of people standing too close.
“The ad didn’t turn me into a smoker,” says the 50-year-old guitarist, “but the lilting melody of the song stuck in my head. I later discovered that my dad had the sheet music in a songbook that’d been distributed to members of the armed forces.”
To obtain song rights, Villegas says, “I got a compulsory mechanical license, granting use of the song once I paid the statutory royalty rate, which is currently 9.1 cents per minute for songs five minutes or less. The minimum quantity is 500 units. So, for a cover of a two-minute song, it cost me…$91.”
Rockers who claim to smoke Benson & Hedges include the Gallagher brothers of Oasis and AC/DC guitarist Angus Young. “We don’t endorse smoking ourselves,” says Villegas, “other than smokin’ hot tunes.”
The Lost Boys of Penzance are based near surfing hotspot Swami’s in Encinitas. Their version of “The Disadvantages of You” is included on the surf-rock compilation Beyond the Sea.
— Jay Allen Sanford
In His Face… Some excerpts from Martin Storrow’s tour diary:
Ohio, 1/8/08: When most of what you play are love songs, or relationship related, or very poetic, it’s always a surprise to walk into a show and find out that you’ll be playing for an entirely male audience, especially in the middle of Ohio, where men are especially manly…about fifty guys had shown up. Oh, and one very lucky girl. I started the show by gesturing to the girl and saying, “I just want you all to know that there’s a slight imbalance here tonight, and whenever I play a love song, it will be dedicated to her.”
“Be careful,” a guy from the crowd said. “Her boyfriend is here, too.” Crap.
“All right,” I said. “I’ll dedicate a few to him, too.” The crowd busted up. The ice had been broken.
Waltham MA, 1/12/08: They didn’t have a room for me to warm up in, so I went into the parking lot and began to do my vocal exercises and stretch. Some of my vocal warm-ups sound roughly like a mix between whale squeaks and outboard motors.…
About a minute later, two police cars came down into the parking lot, a cruiser and an SUV. I wondered what was going on. They approached me and the SUV in back pointed a spotlight in my face. A female officer rolled down her window.
“Are you okay, sir?” I smiled… “Yes, I’m fine. I’m playing a show here tonight and was just warming up my voice.”
The officer looked relieved. I was, too. “So you haven’t been drinking or anything?”
I laughed. “No. I must look a little nuts warming up out here.”
“Somebody thought so. Have a great night, sir.”
— Jay Allen Sanford