If The Good Groupie is your girl-next-door best friend and music super fan telling you all the great bands you should be listening to, then Austin’s Major Grizz is her cool older brother telling you like it is behind the scenes of a local band.
I was totally sucked in when I discovered Major Grizz’s front man Aaron Blackerby (formerly of Fire in the Kitchen) had started a blog. But it wasn’t just any blog – he was writing about being in a band from his perspective. And not just, “Hey, we have this show coming up” or “Here’s the watered-down story behind this song.”
Nope. Aaron is telling it like it is – even sharing exactly how much the band made at a recent show – and I am loving it.
One of the things I think is so hard to gain perspective on when you’re a music fan is the reality of being in a band. There’s a reason we all dream of being a rock star at one point or another – it’s fun and glamorous on the surface. But how often do you get the unfiltered version?
As music fans, I think it’s important we learn about that side of things because it makes you appreciate the music that much more. It also makes you realize how important your role in buying a pre-sale ticket, picking up some merch or just sharing a band’s music with your friends can be for your favorite band trying to make it.
So if you want an honest behind the scenes look at what it means to be in a band in 2016, read on for my interview with Aaron – then bookmark his blog and check back regularly for updates.
Good Groupie: So tell me a little about the decision to blog your life and experiences as a local band. What first sparked the idea? What moment made you decide you wanted to do it?
Aaron Blackerby: I think once we made a collective decision as a band to change the name, and I was feeling like it was time too. I think people enjoyed Fire in the Kitchen and enjoyed us but we weren’t happy with it internally. Once PJ, Jason and Dan started taking more ownership over the songwriting and creative process more, it was definitely becoming more of a band setting rather than what felt like a faux band setting meaning me as the front man with a rotating cast of dudes.
So as we changed the band I started thinking about how we were going to “brand” ourselves and how we were going to get our content out there. Both of those words I dislike very much for the sake of branding and driving content. And I kept hearing folks tell me “You gotta get that content out there…” and it felt like no one knew what they were talking about. Having content for content’s sake just adds to the noise of the Internet, and we’re all yelling into the void already.
I wanted to make our brand and our content based on us, and I wanted to and still do very much trust the three other guys that are in the band with me. With various markets being so divided, I feel like there’s plenty of room for anyone and whatever branding they wanted to do. I don’t see any other bands out there doing what we’re doing, so while we are still adding content to the Internet at least we’re doing it in ways that we can stand behind rather than doing various marketing tactics that cater to the lowest common denominator.
GG: Putting your writing out there is always scary – something you touched on at various points in posts you’ve shared so far. What has been the scariest part of writing such an honest blog so far?
AB: I guess I’m not really scared about being honest. I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from obsessively listening to Marc Maron’s podcast over the years, and I believe that if someone in any relationship is open and honest and taking that first metaphorical leap in any relationship, it leads to a deeper understanding of one another.
I’d like whatever our fan base turns out to be, to be folks that we want to hang out with, that can appreciate honesty and enjoy the journey along with us. I’d rather collectively share in some semblance of success with friends rather than by myself…if anything it gives me another excuse to throw a party at the end of it.
As far as opening up our financials, some of my friends from out of town think that I do the music thing full time because they are comparing me to people that really are and there’s some weird misconception that I’m doing well. I’ve been broke for the better part of my years since I’ve graduated, honestly. And I’d probably be okay if I didn’t invest back into my band, but it’s my passion and I love getting to create.
GG: What has the reaction been to what you’ve shared so far? How does the rest of the band feel about it?
AB: The rest of the band has been pretty cool with it. My last post did not go over so well, and we had to have an emergency text meeting about putting up a really shitty demo from our practice earlier this week. And it was bad and it was my fault for not thinking it all the way through as it was technically the only public music we had out there for all to hear. I’ve become so used to sitting on these tunes and sharing these first mixes with a lot of folks that I forgot. Basic brain fart. Plus it might not shape the creative process right to only have a before pic without an after picture as well with the tune. Hopefully that’ll be something we can do in the future. We’re writing a bunch of songs constantly.
Other than that though they’ve been cool with it, and I think in the future they will take over some of the postings for us. I usually run it by them about what I’m going to say and it’s also easier for no one to have a problem when we don’t have any problems internally as a band. Like if we do have a fight at some point, I would wait on posting it until it is reconciled because as much as I’d like to be honest with the blog and whoever reads it my first responsibility is towards my band mates and making sure we’re good.
GG: What do you hope music fans, like me, get out of reading the behind the scenes of being in a local band?
AB: I hope that music fans like yourself will help us in taking ownership with us in whatever success we achieve. Too many times I have seen and done the whole “fake it til you make it strategy”, and it feels hollow to me. Think of Bill Murray at the beginning of “Lost in Translation”: there’s outward success but internally there’s nothing.
I want fans of ours to feel like they are a part of something and really allow them to be that vicarious piece with us. Plus I’m not famous, I’m probably not going to be famous, so I don’t see the harm in sharing what’s going on with our band with friends.
GG: You’ve given me a little sneak peek of your EP, which I am digging. What can listeners expect from Major Grizz this year?
AB: This last question is great because it’s something I’ve been meaning to write out about our yearly timeline and send it over to my band. I’d expect over the next year for our tunes to be out at the beginning of the summer with some single releases and music videos along the way that we are in talks about doing at the moment. Once we get out this EP we probably won’t release a collection of songs for a long while. We’ve been talking about releasing singles from here on out until someone might want to give us money to make music.
And I guess this goes back to my answer in the first question, but we want to make content that is relevant to our band and authentic to us. So instead of making random comments about random things, we want to put out things that our fans would dig on. Which in the end should be more music…we are a band after all.
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