Every now and then we are lucky enough to get words from artists right in the middle of their philosophical prime. Grenadiers singer Jesse Coulter knows his music.. also his metaphors and clichés, mostly. Any simile which includes career success and classic pub feeds is 100 percent to be trusted. Grenadiers are proof that Australian Rock is still awesome! Hailing from Adelaide, the trio’s hard yakka, cheeky and utterly irresistible brand of riffy Australian rock is why the team at Music Industry Inside Out thank Jesse for his time and effort for these tips to get a schnitty with your career.
Read, learn, rock… Five Tips with Jesse Coulter to guarantee your schnitty!
In the first of many clichés you will see written here (hey, they’re clichés because they’re true), you reap what you sew. Gotta spend money to make money. It’s going to take a certain level of investment in your band before you see any return. This means money, time, and passion. Money is important to how you get your band off the ground. Eventually you might get to stage where the band can fund your flights, accommodation, recording sessions etc, but that’s not going to be the case at the start. It’s connected to the passion thing because everyone’s going to have to throw into kick-start the thing. And don’t expect to make it back.
For example, when Grenadiers started, I funded the recording of a demo out of my own pocket, and personally burned, printed and assembled 200 CD’s which I then gave away for free at the first show (yes, I am old. People listened to CD’s in 2008). This really helped get people on board from the word go and the investment came back in interest and gigs, but if I’d tried to sell these CD’s I’m sure it would have gone over like a fart in an elevator. Allocate periods of time to the administrative side of your band, time to book shows, strategize, contact people, book flights and vans, upload your music to different platforms, blah blah blah. There’s a lot to do and someone’s got to do it, so break it down into manageable jobs and tackle them one at a time in hours of your life you’ve allocated to just that. You’re going to need an endless reservoir of passion and belief in what you’re doing, because at times that belief and passion are going to be seriously tested. Make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons (ie. giving a shit about your music) and invest that passion into your music and business, it’ll come back to you eventually.
2. Rely on yourself
Obviously I’m not saying don’t trust your manager/agent/publisher etc etc. Trust is super important, and when you get to a certain point you are going to need the vital assistance of these team members to keep the ship sailing. However, I’ve seen bands worrying about management before they’ve released an EP. That shit is backwards. When you meet Terry at the pub and he says he’s going to manage your band and that his mate runs a record label or he’s mates with Kevin Parker or something, take it with a grain (read: enormous bucket) of salt. If Terry proves himself and turns out to be a gun, then he becomes a kind of member of the band and you can leave things up to him. Until then, keep working like the things he gets for you are a delicious side dish, not the main meal. Otherwise you’re gonna be eating the salad without the schnitty ;(.
3. Only when you have proven you don’t need help, will you get it…
A lot of new bands seem to still be operating on this insanely outdated and naive notion that it will go something like this: start band, write songs, make demo, get signed, release album, play shows, get huge. That may have been the case when Stevie Nicks still had a septum but now it makes as much sense as Richmond winning the Grand Final (forget 2017). People like labels, agents, managers and all that jazz will come knocking once you’ve proven that you have a head on your shoulders and can operate on your own and have some level of success. They’re looking for a small business with potential, not a basket case they can liquidate and start again.
Just do your thing the best way you see fit and don’t worry about chasing “industry”. Worry about you, your songs, your performance and your audience. The rest will develop naturally.
4. Be adaptable
A wise man once said you should be like the water, not the rock, if you’re rigid and unyielding, you’ll just get eroded away, water can be a tiny drip or a tidal wave. That’s probably all a bit deep for a dork in a rock band but the point is, don’t stick to a plan if it’s a shitty plan. Think on the fly. Make things up as you go. It’s good to plan ahead but plan too far ahead and you’ll lose sight of what’s important in the moment.
5. Worry about your music before anything else
Ultimately, you’re in a band because you love music and you want to share yours with the world. Write good songs. Have fun putting them together with your mates. Have fun playing them. Have fun touring them. You can learn all the admin/backend stuff as you go along. No one knows exactly what they’re doing to start with, and that’s fine.
Don’t put the cart before the horse, you have to walk before you can (run?) look a gift horse in the mouth, I dunno, something about a horse. I said there would be a lot of clichés.
See their tune Long Way Down below.