This is a story about one time I was almost super rich, and it all blew up in my face.
I was young, skill-less, and walking away from a huge A&R job right out of college. I think I was maybe 20. The first band I was going to sign to the label was this sassy hardcore band called Fear Before the March of Flames out of Colorado. When I decided not to work for the label I became a ‘manager’ and sort of just bull shitted my way around for a while. I was very good intentioned, but I had no real experience in the music business, no connections, and no money. As a ‘manager’, the only thing I knew how to do was to write AbsolutePunk.net and ask for some contesting opportunities. I worked my ass off, but in hind sight I wasn’t really making a huge dent for the band even though I believed in them and gave them 100%. I kept trying to find them a Big Break.
I forget how it happened, but somehow Fear Before ended up on tour with one of my other favorite bands at the time, a sassy math rock band called Gatsbys American Dream (who I later started managing after Bobby and I sang a Further Seems Forever album together on the way home from a show). They were each travelling the country in their vans making like $100 a night. I was living in this little one bedroom condo and later ended up hosting their entire tour on my floor, lined up shoulder to shoulder like sardines. They were all super great people and I think this was one of the highest moments in my life.
So here was everyone, some of the most talented musicians I had ever met, travellng around losing money every night, and me over seeing the whole thing and responsible for their lives (and their careers). Management is incredibly stressful – and incredibly rewarding – but you always have that nagging in the back of your head that if something goes wrong, it’s your fault. And I kept thinking ‘This should be easy, these people are so talented and work so hard, if I cant help make this happen for them, then Im a real fuck up.’
I kept looking for that Big Break. And with one call, we got it. Goldfinger rang up Gatsbys and asked them to open at the House of Blues. Since Gatsbys were on tour with Fear Before, Gatsbys told them they could only do it if they didn’t have to cancel on their buds, so Goldfinger let both bands get added to the show. All really incredible, stand up people! And now this was it – from playing the Cobalt Café for 35 people to a sold out show at House of Blues the next day. I ordered tons of merch. I sent a press release to everyone I could think of. We were ready to go! Fame was coming!
The show was a disaster. No one knew who these bands were, and since the show was already sold out without support announced, everyone only wanted to see Goldfinger. Pretty sure the Gatsby’s guitarist got called a ‘sleeveless homo’ more times than I can count. We sold one shirt.
Things ended up working out for everyone in the long run, but I learned that day there’s no such thing as a Big Break, or overnight success, or anything other than a LOT of hard work. It took at least a year or two of touring the country and talking to every kid who came out to achieve any level of distinction. There is no one single ‘thing’ you can be doing to break an artist, and chasing that one thing will only lead you in circles.