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"The sad fact is, the average band lasts about one year before it breaks up and go home. It’s really hard because all the clubs charge you to play. And everyone’s jaded. You might be a good band in Omaha, but here, you’re just another band."

'1 in 10 if You're Any Good'

It’s going to take more than a go-get-’em attitude for Grasshopper Takeover to make it on the Coast. Lots more. It’s a crowded scene already, with little room for another band.

"They come out here by the gross. They have a gate with a sign on it that says, ‘Bands this way,’" says Ruben Mac Blue, editor of Rock City News, a major Los Angeles music weekly that covers the local rock scene. I backgrounded Mac Blue on Grasshopper Takeover’s Los Angeles journey and asked him why so many bands go to L.A.

"They come here because of cheap housing, it’s warm and it’s where the industry is," he said from his Hollywood office. "The sad fact is, the average band lasts about one year before it breaks up and go home. It’s really hard because all the clubs charge you to play. And everyone’s jaded. You might be a good band in Omaha, but here, you’re just another band."

His advice is simple:

"First, they’ve got to move together into one rental place, so that they’re together as a team. And they have to go out to the clubs and make friends. That’s the grassroots’ approach, that’s how they’re going to build their first draw. Meet people, socialize, shmooze, anything to get people to come to their shows. Start off small and grow from there."

Next, he says, they have to get jobs to pay for the shows. "If you want to play the Whiskey or the Roxy, they make you buy 50 tickets up front at about $10 each," he says. They can give them away or sell them themselves. With four or five bands playing at the clubs nightly, the pre-sell is a must to get a decent time slot on stage.

He said it might be too early to even consider The Whiskey or Roxy, both considered launching pads for national exposure. "There’s other small clubs they can play, like the Blues Saloon in North Hollywood. They won’t get paid, but at least they won’t have to pay."

Mac Blue says it takes at least a year for a band to develop any kind of following in Los Angeles. "The fact that they’re coming from a different place and living together is good. Bands that form out here are only around six months. I’d say their chances are probably 1-in-10 of making it, that is if they’re any good."

(back to Grasshopper Takeover)

Originallly Printed in The Reader July 9, 1998.

Copyright 1998 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.