So, You Wanna Be A Rock N Roll Star (Pt.1)

In this post, I wanted to, as accurately as i could describe, the feeling of ‘so you want to be a rock n roll star?’ reality check to those not in the music profession. It’s a reality check on your life, your ego and anything you want to do in any profession.

– You need to play. You’ll have to go to an open mic. You put your name on a list, waiting in line to play. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to play. Depending on the popularity of the open mic, you may not get a chance to play. I’ve been to some open mics where you have to arrive HOURS (i’m not kidding) to put your name on a list to perform.

– when you perform, know this : most folks at the venue are not going to listen to you. You’re background noise, at best. They don’t care if you’re song is about the girl/man who broke up, your dog, your political views, anything. You’re the equivalent of the TV in the corner showing the sports game, etc. In a sense, that’s YOUR competition for attention.

– try and win the heart of the crowd? good luck. Try to 1) play for yourself 2) win the attention of someone watching you perform. It’s like someone with ADD x 1000. It’s an uphill battle, depending on the venue. Some venues, folks are there to hear you.

– it’s times like this where you earn your stripes. you build up a little ‘tough skin’ or ‘grit’. You’ll need it. I always say the worse thing to happen is to be ignored. It can be worse. Much worse.

– every band starts in the same spot. the bands/acts you know and love all have stories of open mics/shows where NO ONE is listening or paying attention. it’s not for the faint of heart or ego. Buckle up.

– no one is there to see you. your girlfriend/boyfriend/friends don’t want to hang out late at night to hear songs they don’t know/don’t want to hear again. Ok, they’ll hear you once, but you can’t ask every time for them to attend. If you’re lucky, someone is at the bar/coffee shop to hang out.

– sing your heart out. sing for yourself. you might win someone over in the crowd. maybe.

– do it again. and again. and again.

 

 

That’s the basic structure to start out from nothing. I’ll see you in 5 years when you start to break even, in monetary terms. Good luck. That’s the mendoza line. That’s where everyone starts. I won’t lie, its not easy. It takes a lot to just get THIS far. This is one night. Multiple this by 5 years. It’s not for the faint of heart.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday – Bob Mould Edition

For those that follow me on social media, i tend to celebrate two birthdays : March 16 (my birthday) and October 16. October 16 is Bob Mould’s birthday. I’m sure most of you are aware of my fondness for all things Bob Mould. He has been a pretty big influence on my music taste (hence the name Heartbreak A Stranger). Now would seem a good time to introduce you to his music. Below, you can hear his first solo album ‘Workbook’ and see if this is something you would enjoy as much as i enjoy his music.

 

 

 

Music For Seasons

I don’t know if it’s just me, the inner music nerd, but i will change my music listening to fit the season (this is beyond listening to Christmas music or any holiday music). For myself, when the weather changes i will adjust my music. There’s certain artists that I tend not to play. There’s an inner music clock which says ‘ok, time to put ______________ on the shelf ’til a later date’. I have certain artists that are more ‘summer weather’ music and others are more ‘fall season’. Warmer weather = happier, sunnier music. Colder weather = more introspective music. I don’t think the artist has written their music to reflect the season. I certainly don’t write for seasons.┬áI think most people will change music depending on their mood. I wonder what I would do if I live in an area where the climate never changed? Would it change my writing style? Would my music habits change? I wonder….

What Is The Word – September 4, 2013 Edition

Gibson SG - named 'Angus'

Lately, I’ve been playing more electric guitar (Yes, my electric guitar has a name : Angus). I’ve always had an electric guitar. Such is life living in apartments, electric guitar and amplifiers are not conducive to the surroundings. There’s new technology which makes it easier to play at the apartment and lately I’ve been itching to play more electric guitar. Feels good to get your rock n roll ya ya’s out. I’ve been playing some older songs and giving them a rock feel (more along the lines of this sound). I’ve gone into the vault and picked out some tunes. This will be the direction of the next recording project. I’m excited. Stay tuned.

 

What Is The Word – August 22, 2013 Edition

Well, let’s try and get some up-to-the-date information on what has been happening at Heartbreak HQ :

– one of my goals was to have the EP finished so i could apply to various music festivals. Succeeded with the EP, succeeded with applying to music festivals, failed to get into music festivals. I see a lot of reasons why I failed but, it was expected. Gonna hear ‘no’ before i hear ‘yes’. A lot.

– I’ve been looking at my entire music process of releasing music (for lack of a better term, i’ve been calling it a ‘cycle’). Everything from the music, marketing, social media, crowdfunding funding, live show etc.. Basically everything between ‘yes, i’m going to record’ to now. I’ve learned a lot. Did some good things. Other things, not so good. Take away the positive, work on the negative. Learned a lot. More learning to be done.

– Currently making plans for the fall. Festivals to attend, grant applications and a lot more. Working on a few ideas. Don’t want to give too much away. The next few months will be busy. I have some exciting plans, but the plans will take time and planning.

 

Anyway, there’s a quick update for you.

 

 

 

 

Little Things

It’s the little things that make the difference. Trying to succeed is not a destination. It’s a journey. I’m gonna share two stories that show what happened to me over the past week :

 

Thank_You_2013

The first story is this card. I received it in the mail. A friend picked up one of my CD’s and sent a card. Gotta admit, I don’t receive many cards concerning my music. There’s a few words of encouragement on the inside of the card (no, you don’t get to read it). It’s very touching. It’s probably the closest thing I’ve received to fan mail. Someone took the time out of their day to send me a card with some words of encouragement.

 

Lola Augustine House Show051813

The second was a house concert this past weekend. It was a little ways outside of the city. A friend invited me to their house and hosted a concert. The internet is where you can find me but actually performing in person, well, it’s still a tough slog, and outside the city where I live with no radio play makes it a little smaller audience. I’m used to this. I’ve played to the back wall of a venue staring back at me. Every artist has had these shows. Anyway, it was a nice turnout and I went in to the show with no expectations. I introduced myself and started. Played a few original standards in my set list. Then I rolled out tunes from the Trenton EP. In particular, I played ‘This Town’. I heard one of the attendees ‘oh, I know this song’. Then she sang the song as I sang it. This doesn’t happen very often, if ever, at one of my shows. Not for one of my songs, and I’ve played a ton of my own songs at shows for years.For someone take the time to learn the song, it was very flattering.

 

It’s the little things that push you ahead, to show you that you are moving forward.

 

 

What Is The Word – April 14, 2013 Edition

Well, looks like we’ve made some headway here at Heartbreak a Stranger HQ. Let’s get you up to date :

 

I’ve added some songs, photos and video to my CBC Music page. You can now listen to all of the Trenton EP as individual songs (Psst, I’ve included some extra tunes. You might want to check it out).

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I have added some merchandise to the merch page. You can buy merchandise at live shows.

In honor of the Chirpify merchandise page, I’m having a contest !!! I’m gonna give away two postcards. Actually, I will mail the postcards to the winners. Pretty simple contest:

  • On my FB feed, there’s a post about the postcard. Share the post on your FB feed and/or put your name in the comment section of the post.
  • If you are using twitter, send me a tweet and use #heartbreakapostcard

That’s it. I’ll make a draw Friday, April 19.

 

In May, I also have a house concert on the Victoria Day long weekend (if you live between Halifax and Truro and want to attend, send me an email and I’ll give you directions) and a Saturday matinee show in Halifax. I’ll post more details as we get closer to the date of the shows.

SXSW (and more)

South by South West. If you’re wondering, it’s this. It’s a huge festival. There are a lot of positive and negative things about the festival (read this to see both sides or type ‘South by South West’ into your internet search machine to find out more). There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to this festival. I’m gonna put money, logistics, if I would apply and more aside. I don’t ask whether i can get in to SXSW, is it my demographic? There’s probably a hundred questions I should seriously ask myself.

I ask myself this: Are my songs good enough to stand up with the rest of the acts at SXSW? Do I have enough talent to play SXSW? Am i working hard enough to play SXSW? It takes a long look in the mirror. You can read a thousand stories (and more) on bands that have sacrificed a lot more than I have, or maybe I ever will. I dunno. (Note: if you want to read about sacrifices, here (was a letter. posting now deleted) from Dan Mangan on a different topic explaining the cold, hard cash sacrifices he made).

Gives me a lot to think about.

 

 

 

Trenton Project Update – Jan.29, 2013 Edition

This past week, I’ve been sending out some of the rewards from the Trenton Project crowdfunding rewards. Some of the rewards from beyond the borders of Nova Scotia were sent earlier to ensure they arrived in a reasonable time. Below is an email I received from a campaign supporter from Brazil. No affiliation to Trenton, but the story of Trenton is universal….

(PS The email was printed with permission)

 

Hi Aaron!

I received your CD last week, and already heard it. It’s very good, I definitely connected with your feelings regarding your hometown, even though the comparison between Trenton and Florian├│polis are not that obvious. While your city was kind of abandoned with the closing of the plant, mine is overcrowded with people looking for sand and sea, and is suffering from overpopulation, construction of houses/buildings where there shouldn’t be any and rising violence. So I’m really sad to realize the way things are going.

Lament is a very beautiful song, the guitar part at the end is marvelous. I also enjoyed the first track, the way it sets the tone, especially for guys like me who are not familiar with the city’s history.

So congratulations for your EP!

 

People will believe in you and your music. Receiving an email like this is very touching and flattering.