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The Editorialist: Band Names – What Came First, The Ocean Or The Ghost?

Anyone who has ever started a band knows how difficult it can be to come up with an original name. And the more bands that pop up every day, the harder it gets. You would hope that this would encourage artists to push themselves to really think outside the box and come up with something truly unique, but we all know that’s not the case. The result is an over-saturation of bands whose names all incorporate the same words, themes, ideas, and imagery to the point where they almost become indistinguishable from one another. Some words and terms, in particular, are used in excess just because they sound cool or familiar. I’ve found—and I’m sure many of you may have noticed this same trend—that two of the most commonly overused concepts in the indie/rock and punk/hardcore scenes are the words “ocean” (or water-related imagery) and “ghost.” Don’t know what I mean? Allow me to provide you with a list or examples. From small local bands you’ve never heard of to huge international acts with devoted fans, the following are just a few of the many bands who either didn’t know or didn’t care how many other bands used similar monikers incorporating these terms: Continue reading ‘The Editorialist: Band Names – What Came First, The Ocean Or The Ghost?’

OurStage Artists At SXSW

Here at OurStage, we’re counting down the seconds until SXSW. Not only do we have the OurStage Panel Finale Extravaganza to look forward to, but we’ll be seeing awesome live performances from some of the best musicians in the world!

If you’re going to be at SXSW too, we hope you’ll take the time to catch showcases from OurStage artists like Andrew Belle, The Niceguys, Stepdad and Jukebox The Ghost. Check out our OurStage artist showcase schedule with venue, date and time information and listen to all fifteen artists in the player below. Don’t miss out, it’s gonna be wild!

88 MPH: Jukebox The Ghost Resurrect The ‘Alberti Bass’

Anyone who has seen OurStage artist Jukebox The Ghost perform can attest that the band puts on one hell of a show. Pianist Ben Thornewill rocks back and forth so wildly that he almost falls off his stool. Guitarist Tommy Siegel careens across the stage and drummer Jesse Kristin pounds away on the skins with a huge grin spread across his face. Their sonic output is so full it’s easy to forget they lack a bassist, the traditional fourth member of any rock band. That makes sense because Jukebox The Ghost is no ordinary rock band.

Combining dance beats, instrumental complexity and pop songwriting, the group stands out as a unique act in the crowded indie rock scene.  Their supporting tours with Ben Folds and Barenaked Ladies haven’t hurt their cred either. For the past year, they’ve been riding a wave of positive reviews of their sophomore album Everything Under The Sun and will tour Europe this fall. While it isn’t exactly a homecoming for the Philly-based band, the group’s sound is deeply indebted to the European classical tradition. Specifically, the legacy of one Domenico Alberti.

When people list the most famous classical composers of all time, Alberti generally isn’t up there with Mozart and Beethoven. In fact, the majority of the piano sonatas and operas that he wrote are barely remembered and rarely performed. His one lasting contribution to classical music was the Alberti bass, a left-hand piano pattern that outlines the three notes of a triadic chord. For any three-note chord, the Alberti bass pattern arranges the notes in the order of lowest pitch, highest pitch, middle pitch, highest pitch, as shown in the video above.

Continue reading ’88 MPH: Jukebox The Ghost Resurrect The ‘Alberti Bass’’

Tour De Force: Top Ten Tips for Touring

Alright everybody, this is it! The second to last Tour De Force post. In honor of the near-ending of an era, I thought I’d do a compilation of the best tour tips from artists and industry professionals. I’ve gone back through Tour De Force posts of the past six months and hand-selected the most useful tips to make your tour the best that it can be!

1. Don’t Get Discouraged

The Winter Sounds

When we spoke with touring fiends The Winter Sounds, their one major piece of advice was this, “definitely don’t get discouraged, you know? Booking shows is really, really, really hard. It always feels like you’re up against local bands that do really well, and bands that have all the support in the world, like booking agents and things like that. If you’re booking your own shows don’t get discouraged. . . .go towards the house show route. Sometimes you’ll end up making more money at house shows because people buy merchandise.”

2. Don’t Get In Over Your Head

Parachute Musical

Touring buddies with The Winter Sounds and OurStage band galore, Parachute Musical’s advice is, “Do 4-hour drives, don’t go out for 2 months at a time, you’re just going to wear yourself thin. If you’re just starting out you’re going to have a lot of bad shows. It’s good to go out for 10 days and build up a good 10-day market, and tour regionally. Try and build up that home base. It’s really attractive to other bands that might want to play with you and it’s really attractive to booking agents because they see dollar signs. So tour regionally and tour often, but don’t do it in big blocks.”

3. Set Goals

Amber Rubarth

Amber Rubarth is truly a touring veteran. Since her first release in 2005, she has toured Europe 5 times, played countless shows in the US, played 4 shows at SXSW in March and recently returned from Japan. In an interview with OurStage she mentioned that, “The biggest thing I’ve figured out so far is thinking about what you like to do, how you like to spend your time, what you want to say, and focus on that.  When I first started, it was about seeing the country and playing a lot of shows so I could learn the strings, practice guitar, have a lot of new experiences to write about.  Now my focus has shifted to less shows in general but making each one bigger, putting a band together, focusing on a few markets that I can do well in and then expanding to new places I want to see.”

4. Make Friends

Boston music-scene veteran, Shred of Team Shred Productions, has been bookings bands at venues across Boston for years. According to him the most important aspect of setting up a tour is making friends. “Making friends with other bands and playing shows with those bands is always a good place to start. It also helps if you have some fans/friends that enjoy what you do in relatively decent-sized numbers, but for the band with only a limited friends’ base, it’s just important to get your music out there and meet as many music loving folks as you can by going out, through friends or social-networking sites.”

5. Promote

Just because you’ve booked the show doesn’t mean the work is over. You need to make sure you get people to come out and see your show. Have Twitter contests to give away guest list tickets, make a funny YouTube video announcing the show, set up a street team and have friends and fans put up posters, put that  mailing list to work!

6. Document Your Tour

I recently did a post about the importance of documenting your tour and some of the best ways of going about it. But there’s nothing like reiteration! Documenting your tour helps you stay connected with your fans and helps spread the word —not to mention gives you some pretty awesome videos, pictures and stories for posterity. Another important aspect of documentation that was not addressed in that post is business-related. Many touring musicians are out on the road working hard because this is, or will hopefully someday be, their living. It it important to keep track of your receipts, expenses, merch sales and income in order to accurately predict what merch you need to order, what you need to pay your bandmates and, of course, do taxes!

7. Play Cover Songs

Jukebox The Ghost

In an interview with Jukebox the Ghost, the band mentioned one of their favorites songs to cover is “Temptation” by New Order. They said, “We’ve used it a lot of times as our “hail Mary pass” if we’re not sure people are having a good time — dance songs never fail.” Looking back through Tour De Force history, you’ll see many artists share a similar train of thought. For unknown bands who aren’t quite at the point where they have audience sing-a-longs, a cover can be a great way to make a connection with the audience. Even for bands that play to an audience full of fans, it can be a great way to re-engage the crowd—keep them on their toes and make sure they’re having fun.

8. Be Green

Andy Reitz - Greenvans

Traveling in a tour van powered by veggie oil is not only a huge environmental perk, but is also a super cheap option for anyone looking for an alternative to fossil fuel-guzzling vans. Andy Reitz, one of the founders of the company Greenvans, elaborated on some of the benefits: “For people who are green-minded, it’s a really good feeling to travel around on non-petroleum-based fuel. The idea of traveling around on a veggie van is  huge for a lot of bands. It really give people something to talk about and catches their attention. It’s a great way to market your band and sort of reach out to fans. When I was touring with our first rig, so many more people cared about the fact that we drove around in a van that smelled like french fries than our band because it was different and new. It’s really hard to be in a small touring band right now and anything that gives people a reason to be curious about your band is a great asset.”

9. Stay Healthy

Staying healthy by both eating well and exercising on the road is one of the most important tips to keep in mind. Eating fast food and sleeping all day may be easy, but putting on a show that night won’t be. It’s almost too easy to party all night, wake up at 2pm and eat a cheeseburger, but this will ultimately wear you down and result in illness. Check out this Tour De Force blog post with tons of easy ways to stay healthy on the road.

10. Have Fun!

This may sound cliché, but it’s true! You get to travel around the region/country/WORLD, play music and  have  good time. Go out, sight-see, bond with your band members, visit with your fans, meet other bands, have sing-a-longs in your van, call your mom once a week… But really though, have the time of your life! You get to do what you love and (hopefully) get paid, what’s better than that?!

Tour De Force: The Winter Sounds

One look at The Winter Sounds’ MySpace page and there’s no question of why they would be chosen as this week’s “Tour De Force.” Their “Upcoming Shows” section is completely filled with dates all over the US from February through May. According to their bio, The Winter Sounds played 217 shows in 2007 and, “seem to have an insatiable enthusiasm for touring, sleeping on floors, eating ramen noodles, and getting their music heard.” For members of the band, the road is their home. They are the perfect example of the DIY work ethic,” taking an inventory of life and then deciding to believe in yourself enough to mortgage your future for your dream.”

Their voracious touring schedule has resulted in a revolving cast of characters, but founder and frontman Patrick Keenan is constantly at work,  surrounding himself with some of the best musicians the Athens, GA area has to offer. Whether it be booking shows, raising funds for recording and touring, writing songs, finding places for the band to sleep, or spending nights in rest areas, there’s no doubt that his work ethic and focus is paying off.
Continue reading ‘Tour De Force: The Winter Sounds’

Tour De Force: Behind The Scenes With Andrew Maury

OSBlog02_TourDeForce_01Andrew Maury has a pretty impressive resume for someone who is less than two years out of college. Right after his graduation from Syracuse University in 2008, Ra Ra Riot asked Maury to accompany them as their live sound engineer on both their headlining tour and as tour support for Death Cab For Cutie. That summer he produced, engineered, and mixed The Rhumb Line Live DVD which was promoted by Ra Ra Riot’s label Barsuk Records. In the summer of 2009 he worked at Sound City Studios in LA as an assistant engineer under producers Chris Walla (of Death Cab For Cutie) and Howard Redekopp on Tegan and Sara’s latest album Sainthood. On top of that, he also does some pretty sick remixes as part of The Remix Artist Collective. (Check out his remixes of songs from artists like Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Jukebox The Ghost, and Phoenix on his Web site). It’s obvious that this guy is a little luckier than most when it comes to finding a job you’re passionate about right after college. But what’s life really like on the road and behind the scenes? Is it really as fun as it seems?
Click here to find out!

Tour De Force: Jukebox the Ghost

When did you guys start touring?
We booked our first tour on our own in 2005 — It was unbelievably bad.  Our manager, Seth, got us touring seriously in the summer of 2007, right after we all graduated college.  That was a lot better.
How often do you tour?
There hasn’t really been a pattern so far, but we’ve played over 250 shows since 2007, and no signs of stopping.
What’s your general mode of transportation?
Our E-150 Econoline van.
Who are some of the artists you’ve toured with?
Ben Folds, Via Audio, the XYZ Affair, The Winter Sounds, Pretty and Nice, Say Hi, Jenny Owens Young…..There’s more, but those are the ones we toured with the longest.
Are there any songs you only play live that you haven’t recorded?
Quite a few.  There were about ten new songs that didn’t make the record we just finished, some of which we played every night for awhile…Hopefully we’ll get the chance to record everything we’ve written at some point.
What are your favorite songs/bands to cover?
This year we’ve had a lot of fun covering “Temptation” by New Order.  We’ve used it a lot of times as our ‘hail mary pass’ if we’re not sure people are having a good time — Dance songs never fail.  At special shows in the last year or so we’ve also done a cover of the ending sequence from Abbey Road, which is always a blast.  We’ve covered a lot of artists in the past — The Cure, The Clash, Queen, Rage Against the Machine, Danny Elfman, They Might Be Giants, and the Smiths, just to name some off the top of my head.
What is your favorite region/city to play in?
The west coast is always exciting — The scenery is always exciting after being on the east coast for so long.  But as far as shows and fans are concerned, it’s hard to beat NYC and DC.  Our fans on the east coast are amazing.
Sketchiest hotel you’ve ever stayed in?
Sort of difficult to say, since we’ve stayed in dozens and dozens of gross motels all over the country.  We’ve had our share of strange-smelling rooms.
Which city has the most enthusiastic crowd?
DC, hands down.
Any crazy/funny tour stories you’d like to share?
Hm, so many to choose from…..The first one that comes to mind is tne time we went rock-climbing off the highway in some desert mountains in southern California only to be apprehended by the US border patrol — Apparently we were hiking around in a major drug trafficking spot on the Mexican border.  Whoops.

OSBlog02_TourDeForce_01Jukebox the Ghost has been compared to everyone from the Ben Folds Five to a “muted incarnation of Queen.” While these comparisons are both flattering and overall pretty accurate, the description NPR offers is spot on; “If School House Rock morphed into an actual band, it’d be Jukebox the Ghost.” Like School House Rock, their lyrics are witty and thought-provoking and the piano hooks and memorable melody lines prove that catchy and superficial don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. I mean who hasn’t had “Conjunction Junction” stuck in their head at least once in their lives.

Continue reading ‘Tour De Force: Jukebox the Ghost’




Today we journey to The Emerald Isle to throw back a Guinness and take a look at the Irish music scene. Have you ever heard of some guy called Bono or a lady called Enya? How about the pope-picture-tearin’ Sinéad O’Connor? Apparently the entire world has. These international superstar artists helped throw Irish music into the consciousness of the American mainstream. Many Irish bands like The Chieftains and The Corrs stay true to their Irish folk roots. Other Irish acts, such as Bell X1 and My Bloody Valentine, are hard to tell apart from their American or British contemporaries. Then, of course, there are artists like Morrissey with Irish blood and English heart. Nevertheless, Ireland has a strong track record of producing quality music. Give a listen to these up-and-coming OurStage Irish acts before you’re spending $300 on their special edition iPods and taking a third mortgage out on your house to see them live from the nosebleed seats:

Irish folk rock band The Rye keeps things festive with their spirited tune “The Banana Song”. One listen and you’ll soon picture yourself in an Irish pub surrounded by an entire village of friends singing along. Just try not to your footprints all over the bar.

With Bloc Party rhythms and dreamy harmonies, Angel Pier has a sure fire recipe for power pop stardom. At least that’s what NME thinks. Judge for yourself by listening to their rock ballad “Emily”.

Sisters Fiona, Nayome and Evangeline O’Neill form the dangerously addictive pop trip The Girls DEFY. Formally known under the name Sirocco, The Girls DEFY moved to the states to try their hand at the American music scene. Lady Gaga better watch out for these girls. With hooks reminiscent of The Writing’s on the Wall album by Destiny’s Child, The Girls DEFY are poised to dominate Top 40 radio for the next decade.



BATS are a noisy Dublin rock band that recently recorded their debut full length, Red In Tooth & Claw with Kurt Ballou from Converge in Salem, Massachusetts. The band has been making a name for themselves after a few choice opening spots for bands like The Locust, Liars and These Arms Are Snakes. Their song “Credulous! Credulous!” is full of raw post-rock energy with a dash of dance-punk and a touch of cowbell.

Stand is an Irish band with an old school country fried approach to storytelling through music. Fans of The Hold Steady and Magnolia Electric Co. are sure to warm up to this band. Stand is set to co-headline with Jukebox the Ghost on CMJ Opening Night at the Delancey October 20th.

If you’re tired of waiting for Garbage to put out new material you can look no further than Alphastates to fill the void for electro pop with female vocal attitude. Their track “Angel Kiss” shows us a band that was reared on a healthy diet of Portishead and Joy Division. Alphastates have had the honor of opening for the likes of Cat Power, Mercury Rev and Zero 7.


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