Friday, August 20, 2010


"Branding is a t-shirt." Several times this past week I've visited the home of the branding expert I mentioned in an earlier blog post. I assisted in crafting a licensing strategy for a children's brand my company had entered into business with. The branding guy repeated "branding is a t-shirt" several times during our meetings. I laughed a little each time.

Shirts are bullshit. They are the sad efforts of a baby to stand out from other babies. And, for that reason, they are perfect branding tools. T-shirts proudly display what you lack in life. They announce your personal brand to the world by co-opting the logo of a like brand. If you're wearing a Behemoth shirt, we can safely assume that you resent attractive people. If you're wearing a Marilyn Manson/Slipknot/ICP shirt, it's clear you don't have a father, or you don't have a father that doesn't molest you when drunk. If you're wearing a Lady Gaga shirt we understand you lack the filter that distills good taste from mass appeal. T-shirts are how you cut to the chase. Why have a conversation with someone who doesn't share your interests when you can fly a flag to attract only those in your tribe?

As a band, we've resisted t-shirts as a marketing tool. We don't put much effort into our "look" as people and it seemed corny to put effort into what would ultimately be other people's looks. We make them to put gas in the tank for tours, but anyone who owns one can tell you- they are functional and nothing more. They typically feature a photo of the band. Always seemed reasonable to me because that's what bands do- be bands. Putting an image of other shit on a band shirt enforces the persona the band is trying to generate. I had always sort of hoped we didn't need a persona. A branding expert would say that's foolish as hell, and I would have to concede that point to him now that I know better. But I still can't see fit to craft an image using a product I only use to wipe cum off my belly. So our shirts have gone up in quality, but they will likely always retain the following message "you are buying this because you like the band. No one will think you are cooler or more interesting for purchasing this item. You could wear a blank shirt and just give us $12 if you want to cut to the core of this whole thing."

Mike at Hellfish asked us if we'd be interested in doing a webstore. I tried to convince him that we don't sell many shirts and it may not be worth his time. But he likes what we do and we appreciate that. So here we go. I like this shit. I may like it more without our name on it, but this is how it works. "Branding is a t-shirt."

Friday, August 13, 2010

You're Doing It Wrong.

First, for those of you complaining that the Caroline Corrigan download didn't work, check these.
Read the previous post for some background on those.

Ok, now onto something else. Here's some advice from the heart. We're trying to make the world a better place. I understand sometimes we can be a little snarky or seem mean-spirited, but try taking a broad view and realize we're looking out for everyone here. Shitty bands with poor etiquette don't just make my touring life harder, they make all our lives suck balls. This year Attack Attack will have better attendance at their shows than almost any legit band you can name. This is your fault. Bands and audience have failed utterly. The genres you hold so dear are dying because you did it wrong. You who thought it was appropriate to put 6 bands on a bill. You who don't care about your bass tone because "this is punk." You who are more interested in being ON a stage instead of what you're DOING there. You failed and you suck.

But there's still time to change, if not for the sake of dead genres, than at least for your own sense of responsibility. To that end, here's some advice.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Value of Teamwork.

Something we talk about a lot within this band is how the expectations of people outside bands somehow transmute the inner-workings of a band. It's funny that it works that way, because if you extrapolate the concept from the specifics and apply it elsewhere you can see how detrimental it is. A 5 year-old has an expectation of a rocket. Now imagine the rocket scientist father of that 5 year-old started to bend his designs to fit the expectations of his son. That's how bands operate. They bend their design to fit the listenership. It doesn't always have to be a sound either. Sometimes they keep the same haircut their entire careers because their persona is tied to it and that persona is now expected of them. Sometimes they pursue a musical direction for several albums before they realize that they were only doing it because the music press seemed to want them to.

That shit is beneath us. We're musicians, of a sort, and music isn't for fraud-ass cowards afraid to break the expectations of others. It's for big-dick swinging assholes who are confident they know what's best and only pursue ideas that excite them. To that end, we're throwing away the idea of a band as a concrete form. Please don't look for a classic line-up from us. We don't care about that shit. Take that Gainesville "friends forever" nonsense and pound it up your ass. I couldn't get in a van with some scumbag I didn't like; it's a given I'm friends with my bandmates. But if the ONLY purpose of the band is to be tight bros til death- please start a bowling team instead. Tight bros will be there when you get home. You can smoke weed by the powerlines or whatever the shit you do together when you get off tour. Being in a band is about making music. So to that end, we're expanding our definition of ourselves. End of a Year Self Defense Family is a group of collaborators who use the EOAY banner to express ideas they think are appropriate for it. Some of us work entirely independently from the others with no simultaneous collaboration. For example, we have a well-regarded house musician remixing some of our tracks now. He's a member. Some of us aren't even musicians in the traditional sense of the word. Gee Vaucher was an artist for Crass. She is a member of Crass. Likewise, not everyone in EOAY needs to be playing the triangle on stage to be important.

If you need to look at it any sort of way, think of it like The Avengers. There are close to 100 members of that organization, active, inactive, and MIA. It gets a little confusing until someone yells "Avengers Assemble!" at which point it becomes very clear.

Caroline Corrigan is a member. She has her own band and her own projects that need her attention full-time, but she's an EOAY reservist. We recorded some of our songs with her vocals in place of mine as a fun exercise and a trial run for our upcoming duets record. The results have gotten mixed reviews. Most people love it and suggest it clarifies the intent of the original recordings by showing where melody SHOULD have gone. Other people think it properly shits on my voice and undermines my value as a "vocalist." Here's how I feel: We're not a well-established band, even in the scene we play in. I know that. But EOAY has been playing music for longer than most people realize and my contributions to that, past, present, and future are not something I question. If someone who hates my voice hears Caroline's or Tom Sheehan's (look for that soon) in place of it and loves it- it doesn't wound me. I've always wanted this band to sound good above all else and if there was a means for me to project my passion for the project into a person with talent, I would do that.

The above probably read like someone describing a dream. That is to say, boring and lacking application to your life. Enough already. Let's cut to some new music. Caroline singing my words and doing a very lovely job:
Pass it around.

Look forward to future collaborations, both with Caroline and with the dozen other members of EOAY SDF who each offer some weird shit to our increasingly weird idea of a band.