They’ve sold countless records, toured the world and appeared on the cover of just about every rock magazine you can think of. Meet Rock Sound’s top secret band insider…
When you’re growing up as a music fanatic - like a lot of stuff that happens to you when you’re in a band - you think only superstars get to go on magazine covers.
Hell, a lot of people think if you’re on a magazine cover you’re being paid astronomically for being on it or you’re even paying the magazine to be on there.
And... that’s not the case. I wish it was like that, but it’s not!
The best bands I’ve met still do it for the love of it, and the same applies to the best magazines, blogs, podcasts and journalists I’ve met, too. You can really tell who loves music for music, not because some of them get to fly all around the world on the band’s dime.
We’ve flown journalists (not from Rock Sound) to different continents and paid for it from our band account, only to have the journalist kind of disrespect our band. That can be a kick in the teeth, especially when you next see them and you now know they don’t like your band. You have that awkward moment where you have to be nice because if you’re a dick to a journalist, it’ll come across in the magazine and their readers will think you are a dick. Just more proof that it’s nice to be nice! I just wish more people would act the same way.
A lot of journalists are fans of music which is cool, but if you’re trying to make a living from it, it can be a struggle. Only people who have been in bands tend to understand what the struggle of being in a band is like.
Sometimes you’re talking to a fucking dickhead, but most of the time you’re talking to people who get it, and empathise with you and want to help your band get bigger and tell your side of the story. Even in 2018, there are only so many things you can learn from somebody’s Twitter or Instagram accounts. Reading actual thoughtful, considered interviews is still the best way to find out who the real people behind the music are, and that’s cool. Although I do know some bands who have to completely change their behavior when they’re around journalists. I’m not going to name any names, but they certainly know who they are!
Sometimes bands get caught up on hype and media hype - why certain bands get lots of attention when they don’t deserve it (spoiler: every band ever tends to think they’re the best thing on the planet and deserve magazine covers and to be selling out venues), but it’s better for everybody’s sanity to think about things logically and just do what you do.
Maybe more than anything, I think being in magazines and on covers kind of legitimises your band to the outside world - the people who aren’t like you and me, the people who don’t understand any of this. Ever had a hobby or passion your parents, coworkers or friends don’t understand, no matter how hard you try to explain it? Now imagine being able to turn around to those people and say your passion put you on the cover of a magazine! That can be the thing that legitimises your band in the eyes of people who doubt you - the thing you can take to your shitty old job or to a bar with your childhood friends and say, ‘Look, it’s me! I’m not wasting my time after all!’
Speaking from experience, it’s weird to see yourself on the cover. You see friends on the cover and it’s cool and you’re stoked for them, but it’s weird to see your face - I guess because you look at your bandmates more than you do your own face! I know that’s me, but I don’t see it as me. Then the other person? I’m like, ‘Who the hell is that with my friends? Oh yeah, it’s me!’
Some bands need to be controlled by their publicist. They say bullshit constantly and turn up drunk or under the influence of other substances, so they need to be controlled by their publicists. Thankfully, my band are smart and not boring (I hope our publicist thinks so, anyway!). The most we ever act out is making up answers for the boring questions. I’m pretty sure there are around 50 stories of how our band got its name out there by now - everything is an exclusive!
Either that, or the exact opposite. I’ve found so many of my favourite bands to be terrifically dull in interviews. I’m so bored of bands saying ‘This record nearly killed me’. Well it didn’t, did it? You know what I do when I’m doing something and it starts to kill me? I stop doing that thing. Everything is more heavy or more melodic or more groundbreaking than before - it’d be great it bands were just honest.
You hear about bands having to plead journalists to not mention drugs or the fact they cheated on their partners on tour, or artists who don’t get covered any more and you find out they were just terrible to journalists who were just trying to promote their band. It’s weird, but you can also see on the other side how negative press affects bands. I have a friend who said something stupid one time, and the press - the mainstream press - cornered around him, turned on him and it almost ruined his career. It’s sad to see, but I guess that’s one of the downsides of having actual, proper, real fame. These days, everybody is a keyboard warrior so it feels like the press sometimes have to protect fans and be the reasonable voice rather than digging up dirt on bands - they have to be the reasonable ones!
But above everything else, the press is an awesome tool to show people who you and your band actually are and shine a whole new light on who you are as people. You don’t get the full picture through social media or meet and greets, but you do get the whole picture (or close to it) from journalists and magazines who have actual relationships with bands and musicians. It’s such a cool thing to be able to look back and chart your career and life through the press.
Either that, or at the very least it’s an opportunity to look back after a few years and say, ‘What on earth was I doing with my hair?’