Jayce Alexander Basques:
“Ok… lemme answer.
This is my take on these; the rest of DownDownDown may or may not agree but I think I can give you my input…”
Does your band get together and plan? (Plan)
We are copious planners and immensely democratic… We email each other excessively; talk at length and plan well in advance. That works for us. Having five members makes this especially convenient since we are often split down the middle on decisions
Is there anybody in your band that is specifically in charge of keeping track or documenting your plan?
We each have a job/area of focus. For example… I often deal with design ideas and logistics, Jeff deals with booking and settling with venues, Adam is the analytical and accounting guy and Aaron is the go between, handling a little of each.
We meet, text and email often, keeping lines of communication and implementation clear. We believe in “divide and conquer,” or as we say, “divide and conk her.”
What advice do you have for bands about creating a personification? Is it important? (Personify)
But being different isn’t enough on its own. You don’t want to sound like someone else, either. For us, we have a few cardinal rules though:
Does DownDownDown have a stage/visual persona? You gave a great paragraph on your sound… but what is special about your look?
The sound itself is intrinsically who we are and vice versa… so a lot of our personality is apparent in each members playing style. There is a lot of humor as well as precision involved, which then demands the very same from us during a performance.
The music is its own persona, which we are just conduits of and the lighting is written to the music. Then fashion-wise we all enjoy classic styles. That’s just a personal preference, though. We like clothes.
What is the hardest thing about promoting? (Promote)
This is a very complex question. Shows are different these days. People go to a show to see a band, not “bands.”
When my parents were in college, they’d go to a show start to finish and go just to dance. The blessing and curse of the $100 guitar is that bands are a dime a dozen these days.
So promoting is a different beast now. I feel the name of the game is adding value to your band. You do that by appealing to a certain type of listener, who will vehemently spread your music to like-minded listeners. I really think that is the only viable way.
A lot of shitty bands are rabid promoters, but all that accomplishes is spreading your shitty music to more people; in that respect it’d be much more fruitful to spend more time developing a sound and rehearsing.
What tools do you give that 1 listener in order to get them to come again… or bring a friend!?
That’s tough, because nothing is a sure thing. We try to make our group, music and inner-circle is the most all-inclusive exclusive club around.
If one person is touched by your music at the end of your show, you had better damn well give them your undivided attention. They are:
The tools that you can provide them will be uncovered by listening to them. Make friends, not fans. You have the opportunity to grow with your friends. In that sense, friends don’t have expiration dates.
How do you connect with bands, fans and industry professionals? (Plug-in)
Like my earlier point, people are interested in what is in it for them. Hence adding value to your project is of utmost importance.
Think about all the bands that give their demos to major label artists? They’re the ones on tour, what would be in it for them? Same with seeking out people in the industry.
A better route to me: have faith in writing, performance and time.
You’ll attract the right bands, friends and fans if you are set in your own identity. And if you ignore the trends of what’s hot ‘right now’ you’ll have a good chance at longevity when you do garner attention.
Your listeners are already out there waiting to rock with your sound, and they are allergic to bullshit: if your image is a facade, you and your listeners will get sick of it eventually.
What local bands do you think are doing a great job of avoiding trends and gaining popularity?
We appreciate anyone who bucks trends and moves perpendicular to what is popular. That is a complicated question though. The talented ones aren’t popular, the popular ones are trite and blatantly derivative; however, this makes sense considering masses are attracted to the familiar. Whereas the trendsetters adopt the unique and artistically valuable which then is adopted by the masses.
It sounds very logical and calculated but don’t be fooled, the outcomes are all random. Especially when it comes to the “next big thing.”
The only antidote to this randomness is time: the longer you are in the game, they greater your odds of a favorable outcome.
What local bands should SF music fans keep an eye out for?
Some of our favorite bands to play with and hang out with are The Bruises, Stop Motion Poetry, Jason Diaz and Finish Ticket. We just played with a very talented guy named Scott Bartenhagen. Plus, our buddy Damato is the artist to watch this year; we’ll be touring with him as his live band this spring. Finally, lets not forget what wonderful people make up Please Do Not Fight. I’m sorry if I missed anyone.
What is the hardest thing about touring? How have you overcome that? (Play)
Unfortunately, the hardest part is booking it. I despise booking shows, just because it gets so sketchy and sickening when some dude on the phone in Baltimore is trying to bone you out of the $80 you need for gas to get to Pittsburgh or whatever.
The “hard” parts are:
However… they are the most fun and memorable.
Some bands tour constantly and that is hit or miss. It can be immensely beneficial to tour nonstop and create a huge following.
For example; bands like Green Day, pre-Dookie days would spend a month playing in Texas alone! Most bands barely spend that nationwide.
What is the solution then? Well, I say pick your battles and hone your sound. Play where you can but learn when you can start declining rec centers and such. Most importantly, make sure the music is there. Touring nonstop isn’t worth it if your music is derived, trite or poorly executed.
If you are lucky enough to love playing just for the sake of playing then ignore that. You can play anything, anywhere and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
That’s probably the best route. But if playing is reward enough for you, you likely don’t need to be reading a band survival guide.
When on tour what is some advice you can give on how to avoid sleeping in a van, eating lousy food, being tired, dirty and sweaty?
But those aren’t bad things! The lack of sleep, lousy food, and dirtiness are the best parts; however, we do have a few tricks to ease the discomfort:
Hope this helps.
You may want to add a disclaimer that these are my thoughts and don’t necessarily reflect those of my band.
Members: Jeff Harber, Aaron Prim, Adam Humphrey, Jayce Basques, Arielle Rothman
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Record Label: N/A
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