NICOROLA

Seitenwechsel #26 – Death Rattle

Meine absoluten Lieblingsbeiträge hier im Blog stammten nicht von mir. Sondern von Musikern, die fragte, ob sie nicht Lust hätten, ein wenig über Ihren Alltag zu schreiben. Das Ganze nannte ich damals Seitenwechsel; eine nähere Erklärung dazu findet ihr am Ende des Artikels. Mit der PDF-Ausgabe erklärte ich diese Serie quasi für beendet, aber da ich nicorola jetzt weiterführe, gibt es eigentlich keinen Grund, nicht auch diese Reihe weiter zu führen.

Den Neuanfang macht das Duo Death Rattle aus London, deren Wahnsinnstrack „Do As You Please“ ich hier abfeierte. Nach einer kurzen Reaktion auf Twitter dachte ich mir: frag doch mal nach, ob sie Lust haben. Hatten sie.

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The Start

Death Rattle started from a week of writing songs together in August 2011. A few months later, we managed to organise going away for a month to write and record a full album ourselves with a portable recording set up. It started off as a bit of an experiment to see if we had any ideas left in us after the break up of a former band we were both in. It was liberating – we felt totally free to try all sorts of new ideas and musical styles and didn’t confine ourselves to sounding a certain way – the songs just came out like they did.

Songwriting

Our process of writing songs is quite intense as we give ourselves a finite amount of time to complete something. We don’t have the luxury (financial means) to write and record indefinitely, though we would love for this to be the case in the future. We could only afford four weeks to write and record the album from scratch, giving us a time limit of roughly two days per song. We travelled to a remote, empty house in France which was completely isolated with no phone / internet / TV. We set it up to write and record comfortably and all we had to occupy us was making music, making food and keeping the house warm with log fires. Some songs came easy, maybe only taking a day to complete where as others had to be bludgeoned out by a process of building up arrangements and melodies before stripping them back again if the song started to sound over complicated. We find most often, simplicity works best. We’re careful not to rely on the same ideas for every song and make sure we find the time to look for new inspiration.

The Money

We do what we can to make ends meet. Outside music, we try to make a living as creatively as possible, whether it’s recording music for other artists (Chris) or doing make-up for photo shoots (Helen), but if things get bad there’s always cleaning toilets. We can’t commit to 9 – 5 jobs so it’s a case of doing a lot of different jobs that bring in enough money in to survive and allow the time off to make music. Nearly all our free time is spent making or playing music. Any money from gigs or merchandise sales goes straight back into the band to invest in the next project – whether it’s renting a space to record, going on tour or printing up t-shirts / posters / CDS.

The Goal

We’re mixing our first album in Amsterdam this week along with playing our first ever shows which we booked at venues in Germany and the Netherlands. After that we plan to work on our live show as some songs still need practice and we need to work on the visuals and lighting. Releasing the record is the next big task for us. We’re looking in to some different options at the moment – whether to release it ourselves via itunes / bandcamp and try to build our profile independently or find an independent label to release it in the UK and Europe.

We want people to hear the album as soon as possible and hope that it will spread naturally if people like it but we know it’s likely to spread more quickly with a good label involved. We don’t want to wait too long before releasing an album so there is a slight pressure to get things moving quickly before the songs become old to us and we want to start writing again. We also want to shoot some more music videos for other tracks off the album, which can a lot of time and energy when you’re responsible for creating the concept and producing it.

The Job

Being a musician and writing music is much the same as it’s always been but now you can be much more independent and put music out globally very easily yourself via bandcamp or itunes. Unfortunately label investment is much rarer and harder to obtain, especially in the last five years as labels aren’t taking risks like they used to – mostly due to the lack of revenue coming in as a result of streaming and illegal downloading. Besides any investment that a label might put into a band, they can offer invaluable contacts and opportunities that are not as readily available to an independent band trying to go it alone. As a DIY artist, you have to manage things that are very similar to managing any other business and it’s really important not to let that interfere with the time spent creating, which is your strength as a musician. The reason you do it is to make something that you feel proud of and want to share with others. When this gets taken over by booking shows, printing t-shirts / posters, setting up and promoting digital releases, creating and shooting videos, organising press (reviews, radio, interviews) you start to lose sight of the reason you started making music so in an ideal world, we would have people helping us in these areas. For now, it’s just two of us and a lot of work.

The Music Business

It’s a case of finding what works best for you and what is the best way of sustaining yourself whilst being able to achieve the things you set out to achieve. It’s a different machine to what it was ten years ago – mostly dominated now by the internet with music videos and music streaming. You have to either embrace it and work with it as best you can if you want to be part of it and keep up with it. With our old band, we ignored the internet and just gigged relentlessly which was a lot of fun but didn’t really move us forward. With Death Rattle we’re definitely pushing ourselves online as well as gigging as there’s a huge potential audience around the world who can access your music online which is exciting but it doesn’t compare to the enjoyment of performing live.

Spotify

As a music fan it is an incredible thing – mostly because you don’t need to spend money on music, just borrow it indefinitely. Having access to all that music is beneficial to both artist and listener. We have a premium Spotify account ourselves and love finding and hearing new music through it. But sometimes it’s half the fun to take the risk on a record that you know nothing about though it’s certainly not affordable to do that all the time. In an ideal world, if people really love what they hear on spotify, they should buy the album and support the artist. I (Chris) have a big record collection as I still love to have a physical product in my hand and enjoy the process of sitting down to listen to a record, giving it your full attention. From an artist point of view, it would be helpful to get a better payment from Spotify. You get a higher payment when your music is played on the radio and Spotify is like a personlised radio service but the payment for artists is very low. It seems to be the way people are choosing to access music at the moment and we want to share our music as much as possible. I think realistically, your income as a band can only now come from playing live shows and from selling merchandise. So you hope that streaming will help the music spread and in turn the demand for live shows and merchandise will grow to the stage where you can earn a living from it – even if it’s just enough to get by. We’ve no expectations of making a lot of money, but just hope that we can build upon what we’re doing to make it a full time occupation as writing music is where we feel most at home over anything else we do.

Thanks!

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Was soll das hier? Wir sitzen auf der einen Seite. Wir hören Musik umsonst, bei Streaming-Anbietern wie last.fm, Spotify, Simfy. Wir kaufen die ein oder andere Platte oder bezahlen für einen Download. Wir gehen auf Konzerte, kaufen Merchandise-Artikel und bezeichnen uns als Fans. Wir lesen Blogs, wir kennen die Hype Maschine und diverse Onlinemagazine. Und, wenn wir ehrlich sind, dann laden wir auch das eine oder ander Musikstück illegal herunter. Das ist unsere Seite. Und auf der anderen Seite sitzen die Musiker. Denn die Musikindustrie ist genau genommen nur der Vermittler. Sicherlich ein wichtiger Vermittler, der eine Menge falscher Entscheidungen getroffen hat und trifft, und den man mitunter auch verachten kann. Aber auf der anderen Seite sitzt meines Erachtens der Künstler. Und dessen Meinung zur aktuellen Lage der Industrie geht in meinen Augen sehr oft einfach unter. Dabei wäre es doch gerade interessant zu erfahren, wie Musiker heutzutage leben, womit sie ihr Geld verdienen, wieviel Herzblut mit jedem nicht verkauften Album verloren geht, wie anstrengend das dauernde Touren ist, woher das Durchhaltevermögen kommt, warum man sich das überhaupt antut.

Und aus diesem Grund möchte ich die Musiker fragen. Ich bitte ausgesuchte Künstler, auf meinem Blog ihre Meinung kundzutun. Ihre Meinung zu Fans, zu illegalen Downloads, zu ihrem Arbeitsumfeld, ihrer Lebenssituation, der Musikindustrie, dem Musikerdasein. Dabei sind sie in Form und Inhalt völlig frei. Ob das nun ein kurzes Statement ist oder ein Kurzroman, ich mache keine Vorgaben.