What does an 8-man band like NY’s Stealing Jane have that others don’t? My initial reaction was that there’s an obvious benefit for an indie band sans label with so many members – they can all help foot the bill, whether that be for studio time, touring costs, or promotion.
Then I thought, hey, I’ve seen bands half that size split up because there were just “too many cooks in the kitchen” – they just couldn’t get along when it came to dealing with constant creative and business decisions.
So how does Stealing Jane do it? What’s it really like for these 8 guys, and does being a part of a bigger band really make it any easier on the indie front? Pat Iannelli, the band’s manager and saxaphonist, took some time to answer a few of my questions about what it’s like to be a part of a band like Stealing Jane, and what it was like to shoot their first music video (which you can watch below) for Outside.
AX: An 8-man band – you don’t see a lot of those. I imagine there are a few benefits to that (like being able to split up promotional and other band costs, having more diverse musical influences to pull together something unique, etc.). What would you say is the best part of working with such a large group?
AX: At the same time, this is still an 8-man band! Do you ever find that there’s a bit of a testosterone overload leading to tension or arguments? How do you deal with that?
SJ: To be clear YES! We are the 8 most highly-opinionated and diverse group you will probably ever encounter. We rarely ever agree on the first draft of anything, whether it is promotion ideas, song writing ideas or even what we are going to eat for dinner, which is really good in a lot of ways, but very frustrating in others. Having 8 people is like a giant fish net, it allows us to catch a lot more knowledge that is out there, and at the same time wee see things from 8 different perspectives. We never take anything we hear and do it verbatim; we try to be as analytical and critical as possible. The process may take a lot longer, but we are able to come up with ideas that are much better suited to our situation.
A lot of the times though I don’t think it’s pride that gets things heated; it’s dedication to one’s ideas. I can’t tell you how many times I myself have been “shot down” and walked away pissed off because I was so married to an idea and it wasn’t used (Editor’s Note: awwwww). Most of the time though when I look back on the rejected ideas I realize that they were not right for our situation at the time and am happy I had the guys to bounce ideas off of and they have often said the same thing.
AX: You recently released your first music video. It looks like you guys had fun shooting it. What were some of the challenges of creating your first video, and what went over even better than expected?
SJ: The outside video was a BLAST to shoot! We all had a great time doing it. As far as challenges go, because Matt (The Director) was so on top of things, easy to work with, open to suggestion, and overall a great person to be around, the only big challenge was driving all the way to Connecticut at 3am after finishing at a gig at 1am and shooting on zero hours of sleep.
The whole video came out better then we could have ever imagined and it’s to not because we didn’t have confidence in Matt but because we didn’t think we could look so . . . not us. And by that I mean we have often feet like ever time we see our photo shoot pictures or watch videos of us we look like 8 individuals, our personalities and taste often stand alone (Non musically speaking) I feel. In this video I felt like we were one band. “We were just 1 band; our numbers account for nothing” (sorry I just watched the 300 again). (Editor’s Note: Awesome movie – now I love these guys even more.)
AX: Given the popularity of sites like YouTube these days, do you think it’s important for indie bands to use videos for promotion? Or maybe a better question is “do you think it’s necessary?”
SJ: I am a firm believer that quality content on multiple platforms is essential. The technology is so cheap and tangible that to not take advantage of sites like YouTube is careless and detrimental to the growth of one’s career. You don’t know how long these sites are going to be the hot thing but, you do have enough time to strike while they are.
AX: Your publicist tells me that Stealing Jane has opted to “forego the label route and do everything completely on your own.” What exactly does that mean for you guys? What are some of the bigger business and marketing aspects of your music that the band is handling independently? What are some of the best aspects (as in what are you glad to have some added control over), and what are some of the biggest challenges of the DIY route?
SJ: By being independent we have to build our own team, which has its pros and cons, because a lot is trial and error, but we are building a team with the same vision as Stealing Jane. On a major label there can be so much turnover that one day the people in your corner could be gone and now new reps come in and may not feel the same way as there predecessors, leaving you in label limbo. A perfect example is what happened with Hanson on Island Def Jam and now that they’re independent they are making the music that they want to make. Now, only having to answer and explain things to themselves. This is probably the most important thing to us, which is keeping our own creative control.
The challenges of the DIY route are without a doubt lack of financial advance for tours and recording. With the route we are taking we must create a budget and find investors who are willing to back our endeavors.
When it comes to DIY we have had some amazing role models from Dispatch to O.A.R. in conjunction with Everfine Records. These were some of the earlier bands who took the road less traveled and proved that business is secondary in the phrase “music business”. We can only dream to reach their level of success, but no matter where we end up we will know that we got there because of the support of family, friends and fans of our music.