Behind the mind of the Genre-Defying band of Gus McArthur

To get you ready for tonight’s DSCVR Thursdays show at the Foundation Room in Anaheim’s House of Blues, we talked with the genre-defying group Gus McArthur. Frontman Gordon Allen, a.k.a. “The Hater,” gives us insight on thier latest work and plans for 2018 

How do you like to describe Gus McArthur’s sound/themes/ideas for the uninitiated?

Allen: Our sound is something we consistently change, depending on the song or content of the EP.  We try to stay heavy, but nothing is off limits. Our new EP Chapter 2: Fanatics features 3 new songs, each radically different from the next. Ranging from a song that starts like “Bohemian Rhapsody” to thrash that sounds like it came straight out of the 80’s. We really like it this way. It forces us to stay creative and challenge each other.

What new track comes to mind as really breaking some new ground?

Allen: “Darker Than Black” off our new EP definitely touches a lot of different genres and pulls influences from my brother & I’s favorite artists. The song was designed more like a play, with different acts & scenes being portrayed by the narrator, or in this case narrators. We wanted to create a dark fairytale, essentially the polar opposite of the typical prince & princess happy ending, but all the characters are present.

As a song it was beastly! Almost 8 minutes long, with layers of different live instruments, we used more than the SSL board could handle & had to start making mastered groupings. It was probably the most fun to mix & master, at least for me. I know our engineer Daniel Bourget loved it!

You also rap at a few points over the course of the EP, over genres one wouldn’t normally expect that delivery to work with. What do you find that element adds to the stories you’re telling?

Allen: The hip-hop & spoken word elements create half of the brain of Gus McArthur. Each song holds different perspectives as well as characters. Being able to infuse styles & genres allows us to continually expand our ideas and creations for each song. It lets us dance around the metaphorical box.

As both an artist & part of the OCML team, you’ve worked on both sides of the live music coin. What’s something you’ve learned about operating in this scene thanks to that perspective?

Allen: This is not just music, it’s the music business. And the sooner you treat it like that, the more successful you will be. Know how long your sets are, actively promote, schedule, time yourself loading gear, email promoters back. Essential things that seem simple are often overlooked. Treat your music with respect & realize you’re creating a brand, not just a song.

What do we have to look forward to from Gus McArthur in 2018?

Allen: You can definitely expect some new music, possibly even some really old stuff redone. We are very proud to announce we have been selected to battle for Wacken in the first ever west coast edition. It’s one of the largest metal festivals on the planet, so make sure to come check out the battle March 30th at Brick by Brick in San Diego, tickets will sell out fast!

Follow Gus McArthur on social media:
Facebook  |  Twitter  Instagram 

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We chatted with the guys from Broken Field Runner about their latest EP and its backstory.

Where did the name of the EP come from?

From the title track.

How long did this CD take to make from start to finish, recording-wise?

A weekend in August of 2016.

What kind of ‘sound’, production wise, did you have in the back of your mind, prior to entering the studio?

We wanted it to sound as heavy as the songs make you feel. Jo-Jo [Rose, bass] and I also talked often and at length about our favorite interludes or skits in many hip hop records. Kendrick Lamar’s discography comes to mind immediately. We wanted to do something like that, which lent itself to Jo layering guitar, bass, synth lines, and samples in order to make this EP feel more like a complete thought.

What is one of your favorite tracks on the new EP? and why? 

“Wish You Were Here Instead of Me” is fucking dope. You’ll understand when you hear it. 

What encouraged the band to choose the current single for this new EP?

“Expecting” is the most accessible track on the record and succeeds in masking a message that’s difficult to swallow with a poppy, “two spoons of sugar” sonic feeling. Some of my favorite songs do that masterfully; Saves The Day’s “Ups & Downs” immediately comes to mind.

Any overall theme of mood that you’re trying to capture while writing songs?

I’m a big lyrics person. I connect to the words of a song first and only then get wrapped up in the rest of the music, which is a problem, because I’ve immediately written off some incredible music because I thought the lyrics were shit. For this reason, I take far too long to write simple songs. I try to find a story worth telling and tell it well. Often, that means that the mood is either heady or downright somber. I think this batch of songs leans heavily on the latter. 

How would you describe the sound of your new CD to any potential new fan?

Heavy indie rock with slowcore tendencies. Guitar-based music as a vehicle for lyrically dense story telling. That hardtimes headline that goes something like, “Musical Inability Confused as Creative Genius.”

Check out the band on the social media world Facebook  Bandcamp   Instagram Twitter
Order their EP Heavy Hanging Fruit  here, Purchase New EP Here or stream it by clicking Here

How to leave your impression on the whole city, not just the venue when on tour there are many ways, while on tour, to leave your band’s impression and brand behind.

How to leave your impression on the whole city, not just the venue when on tour there are many ways, while on tour, to leave your band’s impression and brand behind. A lot of them actually come from the things you do leading up to your shows, and not just the shows themselves! This is a quick list of things you can do in a city to boost your fan base, and potentially even your show’s attendance.

Before I get into the list, there are a few things you’ll have needed to accomplish before you hit the road. I’ll get this out of the way quick. – Try to keep your shows within 3-6 hours of each other. Small town are fun to play, by the way. (Shout out to Fresno) – Print as many stickers as possible, and don’t be too cheap. (Buy a box of gloves too. I’ll explain later.) – Ask the venues/promoters for free tickets to give away during your day in the city. (This is opposed to you trying to sell randoms vs. brand to them)

Search for and contact Record Stores, Coffee Shops, Local Radio or other small day venues you can do an acoustic set at before your show. (Bring the acoustics, too)

Alright, let’s get into how you can use your time to leave a bigger impression in the city before you even get to the show.

1. Arrive for breakfast / lunch and go out to eat. Talk to your server and everyone you interact with about being a band on tour. The key is, to come off laid back and not trying to sell yourself. You can give them a free sticker, and if they seem interested and you got some tickets to give away, you can invite them for free. Odds are, they’ll actually show up since you’re from out of town and gave stuff away vs. trying to sell them. Do ask for their email if they decline though. Worst they say is no.

2. Take a walk around town, hit the music stores, art stores and anywhere you can meet cool people. Do the same with them as in #1. When people are interested but can’t attend, always ask for an email.

3. Really this should have been number one, but this is why you brought the gloves with you. Put your band’s sticker inside the pisser in every men’s bathroom. Sure, they might be peeing you you, but they are also reading your band name while doing so. If you are in every pisser in the city, people are going to want to know who you are. Take that how you’d like lol

4. If you were able to set up an in store, radio gig or anything like that, use those tickets that you hopefully got to invite the people who put the show on for you for free. They will at the very least appreciate the gesture, and they will more than likely oblige as they already care about music enough to have hosted you.

5. While you are doing 1-4, make sure to document it on your band’s and personal social media accounts with the proper local hashtags. This puts you online in the area which, depending on how small the city is, can actually bring more people out to a show. This is also going to keep your current fan base engaged with you while you are on the road!

6. Get to the venue before the show starts, introduce yourselves to everyone in the room and load in. Put a video up on your social accounts of the opening local bands and don’t forget to tag them. This increases the chance of them sharing your video, again leaving an online impression in this place you have only been in for the day. If they notice you doing this, they are more likely to put a video of you up, or at least mention you to their following online. Get everyone at the show’s email.

7. Stay and hang out late with the local bands after the show is over. Meet the fans, hang out and you’ll be more likely to sell merch and maybe get a place to crash for the night from a new friend. Obviously sometimes, your shows are too far apart from each other, but this is why you want to be within 4-6 hours. Wake up early and make it by noon is really the goal. That way you have the time to hang, sleep, see the town and play a show. There are a lot more things that you can do, this is just a beginning list.

You can find more at The OCML Podcast Epidode 23 : Touring Tips, How to Hit the Whole City, Not Just the Venue

Thanks for reading and as always #EnjoyLocalMusic

John Safari

OCML Axiom – Where I Stay with Clemmie Williams

John Safari and the Axiom crew go behind the scenes with one of California’s best, Clemmie Williams. The lyricist, producer and singer/ song writer takes us behind the scenes of his everyday life as well some of the struggles himself and other Americans are currently dealing with.

This is a follow up to the coverage from the March in L.A. in favor voting on Measure H. This “yes” vote approved a tax to go directly to aiding L.A.’s ever growing homeless crisis.
Measure H Passed on March 7th

We sat down with Justin and Jacob from Centerpath. We talked in depth about their influences and story behind their new single “The Day After Tomorrow”.

This single was inspired by the terrifying truth about the relationship that mankind has with our planet. There’s nothing political about this song, it’s not our opinion on the matter – It’s a wake up call to our generation. The writing is on the wall, our species is destroying our planet, in thousands of different, irreparable ways. And we are the only ones who can stop it. It’s a truth that weighs heavily on us every day. And this band has always been about having a REAL message behind our songs and our lyrics, so, it just made sense to take a subject we were so passionate about and create something from it.
“The Day After Tomorrow” obviously has it’s own literal meaning, and in the context of the song it makes total sense, being that the song is about the impending doom of climate change and environmental pollution. So that’s what the name actually means. But the inspiration for it totally did come from that awesomely cheesy movie from 2004, not gonna lie. It just felt like it fit the message so well, we had to use it.
As far as the production for the single goes, right around mid-January we had the raw vocals recorded by Augustus Cryns at Soundcheck Studios in Hollywood. Everything else was done in our home studio, by our guitar player Justin. It took him about two months to get it done, but he hasn’t ever had any formal mixing education, so we were pretty pleased with how the final result turned out.
We didn’t really have a specific sound that we were going for in the studio as far as production goes. We were more concerned with trying to forge our own sound. But obviously our musical influences came into play a little bit, so if I had to name a few bands they’d probably be Periphery, Meshuggah, Slipknot, Korn, and Lamb of God. There are elements of all of those production styles that we wanted to incorporate into our own, but overall the goal was to make a product that could sit in a playlist with those bands – without sounding like complete garbage compared to them. I don’t know if we’re there quite yet, but this is by far the closest we have come yet!
“We felt like we needed to release this song off of the EP first, because the message for it is so dire.”
It’s something we felt needed to be heard, as soon as possible. This song was the message that we had always wanted to tell people, but never had the courage to. It’s dark, and it’s brutally honest, and the lyrics are almost uncomfortable to listen to. It was meant to be a call to action for some, and a calling out for others. But the message was something that we knew a lot of people would stand behind.
It’s impossible for me to pinpoint what we go for when we write the music. I don’t think we really go for anything. This band is one of those weird situations where everybody seems to almost always be on the same page when it comes to writing our music. Our goal has always been to write what we’ve always wanted to hear, and to be that band we wished we could have grown up listening to. Our instrumentalists have been working together on this band for over 3 years, so they’ve really developed a sense of the ideal sound for “Centerpath”. Its not something that gets discussed often, or really at all. We all kind of just get together to jam and write, taking pieces of everything that we do and eventually constructing songs out of the parts that fit the vibe of the band. After writing several albums together over the years under different band names and working with tons of different musicians in the process, the guys have developed a really solid connection as players and writers. And with our new singer Jacob in the mix, things seem to finally be falling into place.

We’re beginning the process of recording our 8-track debut EP, which we expect to be out by Summer 2017.

Here is a sneak peak on the latest single “The Day After Tomorrow” by Centerpath 

Follow Centerpath on Facebook, Youtube by clicking either of the social media names.

Ending Pay to Play. Is it hurting musicians and the local music scene?

What is Pay to Play? 

Pay-to-play is primarily described as any event that a band has to pay to perform. This is most often seen when a band is asked to sell x amount of tickets and must remit ticket monies before playing an event, or else they forfeit their time slot. Musicians themselves are held responsible for promoting these types of events with little help from promoters and are often mailed tickets to sell to people in-person.

What is the difference between Pay to Play and Presale/tickets for an event?

Some musicians prefer to perform at events where there are ticket sales as it provides the benefit of show-goers buying tickets in advance, often online, giving the event coordinators & bands an idea of how many people are actually attending. Most often, for these types of performances, the band is given either a guarantee for performing and/or a door split based on sales. The event coordinators are responsible for promotion of the event; so, of course, more work goes into booking quality talent.

Why is pay to play hurting musicians and the music scene?

The pay-to-play structure of promoting puts money first and talent second. Bands are left to promote themselves AND the show, with little more than a flyer from the promoter. Come show night, they hardly make money off merch (if at all since their fans just had to pay $ to get into the venue) as the majority of pay-to-play deals leave the venue/promoter keeping all funds from the door. There are many promoters sending contracts to bands to send all the ticket monies prior to the show, to guarantee their time slot ($$$’s or more), sometimes taking a percent of their merch sales as well. With money being of the highest priority, it puts young, inexperienced musicians on stages they aren’t ready for because they have financial backing (often from their parents). It has made the promoters lazy since there are always new, fresh faces gracing the scene (at least here in California). It’s very obvious to any band that’s been around more than a year that these promoters send mass messages to new bands with minimal social networking presence or bands that have already expressed disinterest; throwing a wide net trying to catch any band they can. This makes show lineups poorly thought out, with bands of various genres and ages being on the same stage in the same night. It has fans come in for just the one band they bought a ticket directly from and they leave right after. Music fans have no idea where to go to find new music and they believe all new music is of the same lack of caliber

What can I do (as a band) to help the scene in this struggle?

Don’t succumb to performing pay-to-play shows, they are not your only option! If your band is new or not ready to perform on a stage for pay, play a free show! There are bars, venues or even people with large backyards that are willing to host music for honest musicians for free or for a split of the bar or door. If booking isn’t your forte, hook up with some of the few promoters in the area that are against pay to play. Go out to shows in your local scene that your band is not playing.

What can I do ( as a music fan) to help the scene in the struggle?

Quit complaining about a $5 cover and support people pursuing their passion to share that they have created with you. Check in at the event online and put your phone away! Artists want interaction and you’ll meet like minded people easier and a lot less creepier than on Tinder, I promise.

What if I want to play a venue that only does pay to play?

Patience. Build your brand and eventually they will come knocking. Build a solid team and a great local pull, document it correctly on all social platforms, and then these places will call for you. Crazy to think about not looking for a shortcut, isn’t it? In closing, there are a lot of better ways that you can spend your money to progress your band than a 30 minute set time for one night. Once we all say no, bands will stop being taken advantage of. The music scene is a team effort and the more we act like it, the better off everyone is including the fans who make this all possible.

Thanks for reading.

John Safari President/Co-Founder OCML