After almost a year of playing cover shows with the band, pretending to be Beck (http://youtu.be/hD832fHJ828), working a day job, trying (sometimes successfully) to quit smoking, and trying to grow up in a number of different ways, I’m gearing up with my label to get the band back together and back in the studio for a project I’ve been getting more and more excited about. But if you asked me six months ago if I was trying to get back into recording and performing original music, I would have given you a bitter look and changed the subject.
I’d played to many empty, beer-soaked clubs whose glory days had passed way before the music machine crumbled and left every band out there alone with nothing but their minivans, a cooler for food, and a vague dream of success. And success for me as a musician didn’t even mean millions of records sold, and arena (or even big theater) shows. It just meant a small income; enough for me to pay rent and to keep making records and performing. Right around the end of 2012 we hit that sweet spot where the guys I took on the road and I were able to do that, and we hit a nice ground swell with the record “DJ Booth.” We started seeing repeat fans at clubs, more money from the door, and some online press to support our touring endeavors. But in a climate where everyone interested in making a living in that space is fighting for so little money to go around, there are vultures and bottom feeders around every corner. I was green enough, gullible, and so excited to break into more success that I fell right into the trap of some crooked radio promoters who conned us out of a major chunk of our financial resources, and hired-gun musician who tied the band up for over a year in a frivolous lawsuit (which was eventually dismissed).
But as this was going on- we kept playing shows. For another 8 months, pooling every dollar from merch sales, door fees, spotify, Pandora, and almost any source, and putting in the van’s gas tank to get to the next club. I commend everyone in the band for sticking with it on the road for so long, but we finally decided to hang it up, go to work for a while and push the reset button.
I parlayed my touring experience into a decent job in sales at the end of 2013, and for almost a year I didn’t want to have anything to do with music unless I was at a bar getting paid at least 200 bucks to play someone else’s songs. As the months wore on, a number of my friends in DC, where I grew up and still live and work, started putting together some amazing bands and releasing great records. Watching bands like the Cowards Choir, the Deadmen, The Beanstalk Library, and Derek Evry rock out helped me keep a little spark of inspiration and creativity that has in the last month or so transformed into an overwhelming desire to write and perform again.
I let my narcissism about being the guy who could “make it” get in the way of actually writing and recording great songs, and that’s not what playing should be about. As I get ready to re-enter “Alex Vans & the Hide Away,” I think about everyone who has helped inspire and keep that creative spark in me. I can’t wait to get this new music out to everyone. When the songs come out, I don’t care if you listen to them on vinyl, itunes, spotify, Pandora, or by tying a string to a cup and having your grandma play it off her old cassette player. I don’t care if I make a an eighth of a cent from it or 10 bucks- I’m just looking forward to you hearing it and getting your own value from it. It’s my job to figure out how to make it happen and your job to rock out.
The new EP is coming out in March.