Promoting yourself as a music artist has never been an easy thing. Up until the recent digital revolution, record companies had a tight grasp on promoting the artists that they wanted you to like. They controlled everything from finding, producing, and distributing music. But all that has changed, and save for a handful of artists from the old guard producing new music and select newer artists who rely on visual gimmicks to sell their music, all the necessary tools for musicians are now good enough and cheap enough to shatter the old regime… provided you know how to use them properly. Aspiring musicians can now turn their bedroom into a professional recording studio, and promote their music through social media, hoping to “go viral.” One such artist that is making the most of new technology and seemingly on the verge of making it big is The Pauses.
Last week, the Orlando, Florida based trio made their Rock Band Network debut with “Go North,” from their first album A Cautionary Tale. The album was possible thanks to a clever and adorable Kickstarter video (seen directly below). Using the proceeds from Kickstarter, the band not only created their first album, but also created their first Rock Band Network song. Late last week, the band unveiled a similarly unique “unboxing” video for the song, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
I recently had a chance to chat over email with Tierney and Jason from The Pauses. Check it out!
RockBandAide: For those in the Rock Band community who may not be familiar with you, why don’t you tell us a little bit about the band?
Tierney: Well, we’re a newish band (2-3 years young) from Orlando who loves coffee, movie-watching and reviewing, traveling in small quarters, and constantly finding the means to bring our crazy ideas to fruition. We just recently self-financed our first album where we saved every penny we had and then filled in the rest of the money gap through Kickstarter. With that, we were able to hire on a great producer, mastering engineer, manufacturer, artist, and even had help from a small label to garner some national attention. It was everything we planned for. We couldn’t have had a better experience making the record.
RBA: How would you describe your music style to people who have never heard it?
Tierney: We’re often compared to some late 90’s indie pop rock bands like Rilo Kiley, Metric, Pinback, which luckily for us, is a style that seems to be coming back (or maybe never went away) and is akin to our musical likings.
RBA: Who were some of your early musical influences?
Jason: Really it was anything that my dad owned on vinyl. From about six or seven I was sneaking into his den to clumsily fiddle with the turntable and just play whatever was there. Luckily it was always The Beatles, Elton John, Billy Joel, or Queen. My first personal vinyl purchase was Thriller even though it scared the shit out of me.
Tierney: I, like Jason, also explored my parent’s record collection often and was pleasantly forced to listen to 60’s pop and Motown in car rides when I was younger.
RBA: What album(s) do you remember listening to growing up that had the biggest impact on you?
Jason: There were a number of life shattering first album listens that I can distinctly remember irreversibly shifting how I’d perceived music up to that point. Helmet – Meantime, Extreme – Three Sides, Nirvana – Nevermind, Shiner – The Egg, and Burning Airlines – Mission Control. It’s a fairly easy assumption to make that if it weren’t for Nuno Bettencourt or Kurt Cobain I’d have been a lot less interested in wasting my time trying to learn guitar.
Tierney: I remember the first time I heard Bjork’s “Vespertine”. I was on tour and someone put it on in the car. I was just completely enraptured by the sounds coming out of the speakers. At that moment I knew that my album- listening experience had peaked, and that nothing else could top it.
RBA: What is the most recent artist that you’ve added to your iPod?
Jason: As I’m answering, I’m actually listening to Mini Mansions (added today). It’s conveniently also the best thing I’ve added to my iPod in a long time and would make it seem as though my iPod is littered with all things just as good. It’s not.
Tierney: I’m more of an iPhone listener. Recently, I’ve uploaded Lower Dens “Twin-Hand Movement”. It’s a great, mellow, slow-rock kind of record with some really pretty vocal melodies.
RBA: Where do you find inspiration for your songs? What has been the oddest source of inspiration?
Jason: I work for a production company writing songs for commercials and films. It can be a disillusioning experience stripping and beating a song up until it meets a client’s taste and bears little resemblance to anything of creative value. Writing for the band usually comes out of pure excitement of being able to write with complete creative control along with two people that I trust to be a little less concerned about how the song will contribute directly to our profit margin. The Leap Year was instrumentally inspired by a local performance artist named Brian Feldman who, for 24 consecutive hours, leapt off of a 12 foot ladder in the middle of downtown Orlando. The song was written for the event and looped a total of 366 times. Everyone was totally into it until that last loop or two.
Tierney: For me, it’s just pulling from daily interactions. I’m very influenced by people. I didn’t realize it at first, but almost every song on our album relates to a different person in my life. When I sit down at the piano, that’s my opportunity to resolve those minor humps throughout the day. It’s just me talking and “Rhoda” (my Fender Rhodes) listening. It’s very therapeutic. I’m not sure how other people do it.
RBA: I saw that your recent debut album was produced based on a Kickstarter campaign using a very creative video (see above). How did this idea come to you?
Jason: The main reason you’d have to utilize Kickstarter in the first place is because you’re lacking the money required to pull off whatever your specific creative project is. So, if you’re going to be outright panhandling, then you may as well be honest about it. Really the video was our way of making fun of ourselves and the dependence we had on support from our fans, friends, and family.
RBA: In retrospect, how did this work out, and would you have changed anything about this process?
Jason: Not at all. It’s really an incredible system to use for getting everyone involved in the process and for them to be able to own a piece of it. We owe our being able to record the album to everyone that contributed to that campaign. The album would have sounded a lot less sonically impressive if it were recorded on our computer microphone.
RBA: With the ever changing landscape of the music business, are there any tips you would give to other emerging artists about self-promotion?
Jason: I think a lot of bands are so eager to start promoting that they can end up rushing the content that they will be using to actually sell themselves. Things that seem secondary to the music are usually a lot of people’s first impressions of a band (Kickstarter video, Show Poster, Album artwork, Music Video, etc.). Put just as much thought and creativity into these details as you do writing an album. With so many options and shorter attention spans, someone would need a pretty decent excuse to listen to a :30 clip of your song in the first place.
RBA: How often do you perform live?
Tierney: We’ve actually been playing out a fair amount since the record was released, about 3-6 shows a month all over Florida. The plan now is to take a few months off to get ready for our upcoming east coast tour and to work on new songs so we don’t go crazy.
RBA: What is your favorite song to perform live (originals or covers)?
Jason: Right now my favorite to play is a song that we’re recording for an upcoming Jason Noble benefit CD. It’s the first song we wrote since we recorded the album and is easily our most aggressive. I also love playing our cover of “Tonight, You Belong to Me.” We recently played it at House of Blues and gave out a few hundred kazoos so that the audience could trumpet along. To our surprise it actually worked.
Tierney: “The Leap Year” is somewhat challenging and fun to sing with all of it’s vocal ups and downs. I also really love singing “Tonight, You Belong To Me” when someone else is there to sing it with. The harmonies are so pretty.
RBA: How did the opportunity present itself for putting your music in the Rock Band Network?
Jason: It didn’t. I unrelentingly forced it to happen. The first discussion I’d had with our producer J. Robbins was about how we’d need the stems for Rock Band once we were done recording the album. I was pretty nauseatingly obsessed with it. I’m a full on Rock Band nerd (ion drumset, Squier, Mustang, over 1,000 songs…) so being able to include our song in the catalog is beyond surreal.
RBA: How did you decide on what song you wanted to make available for Rock Band? Was it a long process, or a simple decision?
Jason: It actually was pretty simple in that “Go North” was our planned first single. We lucked out in the middle of the authoring process with the RBN 2.0 conversion. In the middle of authoring with Music Game Studio we were told they’d be able to include keyboard and harmonies, so the trumpet and bell parts were integrated for keyboard and the harmonies were dropped in as well. The process was so smooth that we’re already debating what would make a good follow-up track.
RBA: What about games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero having an impact on a player’s interest in playing a real instrument at some point… do you think fans of the game would be more or less inclined to give the real thing a shot after playing these games?
Jason: I don’t know that it has to be the end result. I think a lot of people are content just being able to finally have a way to really play along with songs they love without having to spend years training to do so. It’s literally the only video game I’ve ever played with my parents. But I also think that it’s definitely a gateway game for anyone that’s even remotely inclined to move onto playing music without a TV.
RBA: With Rock Band 3 now available, gamers finally have a chance to play REAL guitar in the game, not just a plastic version. What advice do you have for those who wish to make the ultimate transition and learn to play the real thing?
Jason: Download every Pro Guitar upgrade and work your way through training on them. I would have killed for something like this growing up. The closest I had were Metallica tabs in Guitar World magazine. Just unplug your Squier from the console every once and a while and write something yourself that could eventually end up in the game.
RBA: Have you played your own song in Rock Band?
Jason: Unfortunately, we don’t have creator accounts, but I’ve worn out the Vimeo demo faking it on all the instruments.
RBA: What’s next for you?
Tierney: Working on the next batch of songs, touring, collaborating, hopefully playing a show where the sexy sax man shows up.
Jason: Another Rock Band song hopefully and we’ll be heading out on our first tour for A Cautionary Tale in late July or early August.
RBA: Is there anything that you would like the Rock Band community to know about you that we haven’t touched on yet?
Tierney: We’d love to see videos of people playing “Go North!” Send them to us and we’ll post the best one!
Jason: Also, if anyone can prove that they’re #1 on the leaderboard for any instrument on the song, we’ll send them Pauses Goodies. And when I’m not playing our song, I’ll be on Xbox Live all week destroying the leaderboard for the new Pantera songs. Challenges welcome.
RBA: Thanks, guys! For more info on The Pauses, you can find them on their site ThePauses.com, or on Facebook or Twitter (@ThePauses). Be sure to check out their debut song on the Rock Band Network, “Go North!” Below is a preview of the song, courtesy of thenewnoelisoncruz!