Faring Thee Well Now, Colonel

*AUDRA* says:

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our 6th member and former manager, Colonel Doug Grabowski. He was not only a great leader and guiding force for this band, he was a friend. Life will never be the same without him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. Colonel, this band wouldn't be what it is today if it weren't for you and your vision. You always believed in us and we will take your memory on every journey.

On a personal note, Doug was more than just a manger to me. He was someone I called my best friend for a very long time. I spoke to him everyday, all day. He molded me into the businesswoman I am today. Without his guidance I wouldn't be half the friend or musician I am now. Losing him is something I will feel for the rest of my life and will think about everyday. DGrab, I love you.

May the four winds blow you safely home. Rest easy, my friend. We love you.

It's Alive! Leveraging Technology In Our Live Sound

Pat says:

Some rock artists shun technology.  For instance, the iconic Jack White has said “Technology is a big destroyer of emotion and truth” and he clearly has made decisions in his career that reflect that opinion.

I must confess that I disagree. Certainly it’s true that If technology is used as a crutch to prop up untalented artists then it can have a detrimental effect on art and culture. But that need not be the case. If technology is used to enhance already good music then it can be an asset. Currently our band is trying to add two technological elements to our live sound:

1)     We have been incorporating prerecorded tracks – synths, strings and backup vocals – into our live sound. These are things we have already written and played (or our collaborator Phil Mann has written and played) and are simply added to the mix as we play through the songs during a show. We just don’t have the resources to have additional personnel on stage and this is an inexpensive way to help fill out our sound. I use my laptop and a Presonus interface to send the tracks into the house speakers.

2)     We are going to start using a Roland TM-2 drum module machine to transform our drum kit from purely an acoustic drum kit into a “hybrid kit”. By hybrid I mean that the audience hears both the original playing of our drummer Kyle as well as electronic drum hits on top of his playing. Electronic triggers are placed on the snare and kick drum and when the drum is struck it triggers the module to send an additional electronic hit to the speakers. This helps boost the punch and volume of the drums. It can also help the drums complement each particular song more – a more electronic song can have an 808 kind of vibe or a very dark song can have distorted, aggressive sounds.

Why are we going to the trouble of doing this? Firstly, it creates a more exciting, more dynamic experience for the audience. It provides a fuller sound inexpensively and we aren’t required to add more personnel to do it. Secondly, I think competitive pressure pushes us into making these decisions. If audiences are going to see bigger rock bands (or pop or EDM artists for that matter) then they set the level of quality they experience as an expectation for future concerts that they go to. As a smaller band we can't allow the gap between us and larger bands to be extremely wide in terms of sound quality and sonic detail.

In the end what really matters is how good our music is and how well we perform it – the technology is just used to enhance the music. If  this gear all crashes on us in the middle of a set then we would keep playing the tunes as normal (and some, less perceptive people may not even notice :) ). I am always looking for new ways to incorporate technology so keep on the lookout for more!

Pictures of Gear:

1) Drum Trigger Module

2) Gear For Backup Tracks

What's Love Got To Do, Got To Do With It

*AUDRA* says:

As a relatively young band we've encountered and created a substantial amount of success in the few years we've been together. Of course, we've made our share (and then some) of mistakes, but here are some items I would like to share about things we have done that have worked really well that I think you will appreciate. 

1.        We trust, love, and respect each other. I've been very lucky that I've been playing and creating music with my best friend and guitarist Pat since we have been 10. My bassist, since 18. My drummer and keyboardist have been with us for 2 years, and we're family. Trust, love, and respect are the foundations upon our success. It's special, and something we don't take for granted. Without these three items, we'd be unable to accomplish anything. It may sound trite, but we encounter so many bands that are seemingly thrown together, or share the goal of money. It never works. Unless you live 24x7 for your music, your band, your career, and have people alongside doing the same thing, it never works. 

2.        We've invested heavily in ourselves. We have invested substantial sums of our time and our own money into Chaser Eight. We practice every Tuesday and Friday for several hours. New songs, live set, recording (check out Pat's CD Baby blog on the topic at http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2013/08/5-tips-to-improve-your-home-recordings-right-away/). We're always doing something. On weeks we have a show, we practice on Thursday and do several run-throughs of the set we are going to play. We have self-recorded three EPs, and our fourth was a HUGE studio  production. We're always working on improvement. We just don't show up and play. It's a well-rehearsed performance.  

3.        We have people that believe in us. The first time I met someone outside of my immediate circle of family and friends that said he believed in me, my world changed. Here was someone who believed in me! And he invested in us. Many people have invested in us, and we're incredibly humbled by their support. Their belief in us helps propel us forward.

4.        We network. We're our own #1 fans. We have invested heavily in social media. I think that the days of someone buying a concept album like Dark Side of the Moon and getting a group of friends together and listening to, and more importantly, discuss, the album are gone. Today, we are competing with single tracks for $.99 and thousands of other things to do on a night than go see a live show. To embrace this reality, we have marketed to our fans directly: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, internet radio, blogs, and word of mouth. We've promoted posts and tweets with our own money. We've invested in a PR agency, which has produced tremendous dividends for us. We have engaged a manager to control everything but our music, so we can focus where we need to. Everyone we meet knows who we are, gets a band business card, and is incentivized to connect with us online (special free tracks, content, etc.). We have built our site out extensively, and have many new items in the works, too. 

5.        We say NO. Perhaps the most overlooked thought is to say NO. We adhere to a very specific gig schedule to accommodate many event locations and promoters with whom we speak. We want to leave our audience wanting more. We don't want to play three nights a week, not because we don't want to play, but because we can't draw and engage our audience. This way, we aren't over-exposed, and we are able to give our existing fans, our new fans, and people interested in us a great product.

These five items are just a few of what's worked well for us. I could tell you them all, but I want to leave you wanting more…

Tis The Season To Be Golfing...Fa La La La La

Pete says:

Ok boys and girls. Tis the season! No, not that one, golf season! You got it: I’m a golfer too. Once it’s warm enough I’m out there hitting the links.

I remember when I was young sneaking out on the golf course that was behind my parents’ house with my friends. We would walk through a patch of woods with a couple of old clubs my friend had and start hacking up the place. Of course, within moments upon stepping foot on there, we were thrown off, but that was all part of the adventure.

I’ve always enjoyed playing and over the years I started to take it more and more seriously. Then about eight to ten years ago, I decided that I wanted to make some real improvements in my game, so I bought a package deal of lessons at a local course. Whoa! What a difference! The changes to my original techniques were so huge and it was almost like starting all over again, but it ended up being the best thing I ever did for my game.

Now, every year I so look forward to my weekends off without gigs. I mean, I look forward to my weekends with Chaser Eight gigs even more, but I love my golf weekends too. Just as much as I love sitting down to the kit with my bandmates, I love getting out to the course with some friends and enjoying the beautiful scenery the course and nature has to offer. There is nothing more relaxing than the warm breeze, fresh air, and serene peace and quiet. Oh, except when you’re playing so bad you’re ready to throw your clubs in the pond!

Every once in a while I’ll even enter into a tournament. A little friendly competition is always fun, but I’m mostly in competition with myself to push to improve my game. So I guess I bring much of the same attitude, drive, and determination to the course as I do behind the kit. Although, occasionally, I go a little too crazy on the course, but like the bumper sticker says: My worse day at the golf course is better than my best day a work!

FORE!

The Band Also Known As a Rocket Ship

Aaron says:

It’s been almost a year since I joined this rocket ship known as Chaser Eight. I refer to it as such not just because of the speed in which it’s gaining momentum, but also in the context of the extreme heat and passion that burns deep within all the components involved. I have been a guitarist since the age of 12 and throughout the years I played around on the keys a bit too. Even though I've played the keys here and there, it was never with any of the intensity required to be up to par with the likes of the members of Chaser Eight. It has been a sobering and challenging endeavor to make those black and white keys match up to the rocking style Pat and *AUDRA* bring to the stand.

As a musician, with my main instrument of choice being guitar, playing the keys is a whole different animal. Yes, they both have the same notes possible, and yes, the format of the piano is more uniform. All that aside, one must take in consideration the methods and the patters to each animal. For those of you who are not musically inclined I’ll give a simple example: Scales on a guitar basically have the same pattern in a given key signature i.e. A minor. If you want to play in B minor, just move up two frets and play the same pattern, boom. You want to play C minor? Move up one fret from B minor. D minor? Two from there and so on and so forth. But for piano it's not that easy. For every different key signature you play in there is a different combination of black and white keys needed to make it fit. It’s not just black and white, but alas, I will prevail!

I do like the opportunity and the challenge entrusted to me by my band mates and I look forward to expanding my skills to compliment the rock tones created by the five of us. I am, at the core, a guitarist and get many chances to play on stage. However, as time rolls on, my core will assimilate keys into the whole of being a rock musician with the awesomeness known as Chaser Eight. If you have heard us, that's great; you have an idea what we’re about. If you have seen us, you know what we’re about and how we rock. And if you haven’t done either of the two, well shame on you! This rocket ship is not slowing down for anyone. So climb aboard and take a ride up to the stars with us. Full speed ahead! Hope to see you there.