Photographing Brian David Collins and Rae McAlister

On Saturday, July 6, my band Amy and the Peace Pipes had the opportunity to play with Rae McAlister and Brian David Collins at Avogadro’s Number in Fort Collins. I took the opportunity to capture some photos during their sets, on Avo’s beautiful backyard patio. It made for some great natural lighting, mixed in with some of the colored lighting they were using for the show.

Rae McAlister

Brian David Collins

It’s always a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to taking pictures bands I’m playing with. On one hand, it’s a great opportunity to refine my photography and hopefully capture some images that the artist can use. On the other hand, I’m also focused on getting ready to perform and ultimately need to take some time (especially in the band right before ours) to get everything in order to take the stage. I do wish I had more time to get some different angles and use my wide lens.

Photographing FoCoMX – Night 1

Here in Fort Collins, we just wrapped up FoCoMX, which is basically Christmas for the local music scene. Over the course of two nights, there were nearly 400 bands that played across 2 dozen venues in Fort Collins. Amy and the Peace Pipes were lucky enough to be selected, but in addition to playing I also had the chance to go out and do some shooting for the FoCoMA.

I ended up covering a lot of ground over the course of the night but still didn’t get to see many of the bands as I hoped. Rather than park myself at a single venue, I roamed throughout downtown and captured bands in venues of all sizes and lighting. Some made for some interesting challenges, but I’m overall pretty happy with how the images turned out.

Below are but some of the images of Night 1, which included great bands such as The Trujillo Company, Mojomama, CITRA, Def Knock, Johnny & the Mongrels, The Sickly Hecks, I Am The Owl and The Kity Project.

I have some more pictures available on my FlickR album, which can be downloaded from there (especially if you’re in one of those talented bands).

New GigPoster: Amy’s Birthday Bash

Last week Amy and the Peace Pipes played at Surfside 7 (which has become one of our favorite venues) for Amy’s Birthday Bash. We had a great lineup with Wolfer and The Happy Dapples.  Since this show was being pitched as a birthday bash, I wanted the gig poster to feature Amy a little more than usual, ending up with this result:

How to suck at back line sharing

Last week I played a gig with a three-band bill on a small stage, so the conditions were ripe for the “backline sharing” suggestion. You may know my stance on backline sharing, but just to refresh: I absolutely hate it and avoid it at all costs. At the same time drummer get put into situations where you’ll look like a pretty big jerk if you don’t backline share. This typically comes when you don’t have a good staging area for gear, a tight stage, and finally a tight schedule that doesn’t allot much time for transition.  Even with this all being the case, I wasn’t planning on backline sharing when a last-minute mix-up forced the issue.

What makes backline sharing awful are all of the unknowns associated with it.  You don’t know what kind of setup each drummer has, what gear they’re planning on supplying on their own, the differences in quality and tone between kits, as well as how they set up and position all of the equipment. After setting up and tearing down my kit countless times, I’ve come to master the position of every element in my drum set. This is in large part enabled by having memory locks and various heights/lengths pre-set from your usage.  All of that goes out the window when you backline share. Rather than focus on moving your kit on and off the stage, you’re stuck having to re-adjust everything that was there before, which is not often corrected until a few songs into your performance.

This leads me into how to suck at backline sharing:

Don’t over-adjust someone else’s kit just because you have some crazy posture.  Look, I know we’re all not the same height and build. I know we all approach things differently, but do you seriously need to raise my throne 8 inches (as well as all of the subsequent drums and cymbals) to enable your technique?  You’re not eight inches taller than me.  If you know your approach is that different and will need to adjust every piece of equipment: don’t backline share.

I liken playing someone else’s drum set to driving someone else’s car: while you’re not familiar with all of the intricacies of the car, every car roughly drives the same and thus you should be able to get from point A to B without much resistance.  You’re not going to win any races driving someone else’s car for the first time, but at that point, you need to adjust your expectations.  This is the same with drum sets: you might not be able to do any crazy-ass solo on someone else’s kit, but for the most part you should be able to hold the pocket and drive a short set on without heavy drum adjustment.

Don’t treat the drumset owner like your drum tech. Granted, there are parts in drum setup and teardown where you want to be personally responsible (basically any point that something could break, or you’ve got a mental checklist that ensures you’re not forgetting anything), but if the drummer has cases then the least you should do is help load in and load out.  I didn’t let you play my drum set just so that you can have a night off from schlepping gear.

But most importantly…

Treat their gear with respect!

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I mean come on.

Look, I know drum heads are meant to wear out and be changed. I know that they’re relatively not expensive (although $12-15 per head still isn’t chump change).  I know there are drummers go through heads in 1-2 weeks – but that’s not me, AND IT’S MY DRUM SET.  Others may disagree with me, but over 25 years of drumming has taught me that you can get a great, loud sound out of your drums without pounding the shit out of it. If you are that drummer, then how the hell do you not notice this after playing on someone else’s kit??  If there was an apology and an offer to help replace the head, I probably would have even let this slide, but now you’ve left me in an uncomfortable position of being a collection agent.

Moral of the story: don’t backline share, but if you do, don’t be a jerk about it.

My Band’s New Single!

It’s been a crazy-busy January. I’ve been cooking a few different blog topics in my head, but time has gotten the better of me this month. However, I’m really excited to announce that my band, Amy and the Peace Pipes, has released a new single, “Burning Bridges”. Go check it out!

I know many of us are now using streaming services (and why not), but if you’d like to download your own copy, we’re giving it away for free to our Peace Pipers mailing list subscribers, just join up and you’ll get the download link!  Even if you don’t download music, you should join up anyway.  In the age of prevalent social media, it’s become increasingly difficult for bands to reach their audience across all of the noise (especially when Facebook wants to force people into buying ads to reach all of the people who liked their page).  The mailing list is really the one true place where everyone who is interested in us has an opportunity to receive our updates – whether they open the emails or get too many emails to open them is another story, but at least I know that our updates were at least delivered.

Thanks so much to everyone for supporting me and my band. When I stop and think about it, it’s really incredible to think that we can put stuff onto iTunes and Spotify and make it available for the world to hear.