Check out the new song from Better Days – We Stayed In
Tell us about where you are from and how you got to this position today.
Well, we’re all from Stockton, California: Home of Foreclosed Homes, Oakland Wannabes, and Chris Isaak.
Ryan made music on his own growing up as teen after friend Merkz gave him a bootleg copy of Reason. He produced three unreleased full length, 33-track electronic/trip-hop albums before age 20. Ryan eventually progressed to rapping after inspirational sessions with Okwerdz and Lucid of Stockton.
While working at Michael’s Pizza, we met Jared Tharp who would later begin producing his own unique style of ‘Nintendo-Indie-Hop.” We all shared ideas and gave feed back about each others music and art. (Steffan and Jared have degrees in graphic design and art, respectively.)
Ryan wanted to start performing live, but didn’t want to rap over a CD player like most acts. He ended up buying three guitars for his twin Steffan and friend Carlos Simental and an MPC-1000. Our first show at the Blackwater Cafe was a hilarious hot mess, but by actually practicing and adding the musical talents of Jared and Brassai’s Leo Martinez, we quickly got our act right and started picking up a lot more shows. And like, impressing people.
After about a year, Jared moved to Boston to support his gal’s studies and Leo boogied down to Monterey to finish his schooling. So the twins, sans the other singer/raper and guitarist, had to get the sets even tighter. We began utilizing the MPC and SP-555 more, built a powered tabletop for the machines, started practicing guitar and keyboard chords, consolidated our cords, and tried to tighten our vocals chords. Although, we don’t care too much if our voices crack; we’d rather sound like the Dead Kennedys over the Beatles any day, anyway.
What are you currently working on and what can we expect to see?
As of this year, our first album with 15 tracks is available online at Reverb Nation and Band Camp under the working title, Smartmouth. We’ll be releasing the CD with art and all on CDBaby by the end of the summer after we do some mastering.
We recently updated the roster with lifelong best friend Josh Black as drummer to unleash his fury and add a more organic feel to the shows. We really like the versatility and convenience of being able to rock a show with just Ryan and Steffan playing guitar, bass, synth and drum machine, but having all five of us together is a dope experience. Its like doing crack cocaine without the hangover or missing teeth.
We’ve already began working on our next album which we hope to release spring of 2012.
Tell us about one of the hardest challenges you had to face in the industry?
The hardest thing we’ve faced is like having to release that the industry is just a bureaucratic robot that only wants whores that can be molded to sound like everyone else. We’re having to promote music no one can really define. Lots of bands/artists fit directly in just one specific genre so its easier for them to get on a bill. We do hip-hop, rock, indie, electronica, house, breaks, glitch, and sometimes straight up tap dance. But, I guess being genuine is better than getting on Empty V.
What was one of the biggest set backs in your career and how did you bounce back?
When Jared left to Boston, it was just the twins and Leo, which worked swell, but then Leo started school at UC Monterey in mid 2010. Also, Ryan had his daughter Flora in February of the same year, so there was a little timeout. When his kid cuts in the middle of band practice, we become Better Days’ Better Day Care.
The bounce back was just the twins getting more organized and learning to steer the ship with less hands until the reunion occurs. Autonomy is Holiness.
What are some things artists need to be careful of?
Promoters trying to make money off you without actually promoting the show itself. Basically any one asking you for money to play at their venue or party. We fucking hate buying x amount of tickets to sell to to the thirty fans you barely have! Those kinda shows are usually flops. Free shows are usually better because more people show up, more people get drunk, and more people actually get into the music.
What suggestions do you have for other artists like yourself?
Stop being like us, get your own style! Nah, just kidding. Just be yourself, never sell out, don’t wear faded metal-core t-shirts on stage, keep on doing it, try not to get too drunk before a show, plan on losing money, don’t let your girlfriend/wife/baby momma destroy your ambition, listen to more music and don’t let people take your equipment or money.
What are the best ways to sell your products as an artist?
We’re not fond of putting pressure on people to buy from us. Makes us feel like pushy Jehova’s Witnesses or like that dude at the gas station trying to sell this product that cleans your tires like no other. But if YOU want to sell your stuff, just follow the merch table repertoire and whore, whore, whore! Siriusly, CDBaby and Reverb Nation seem to have some cool distribution options and there are bunch more online that can help.
We usually just give out free CDs with hand-made art drawn on them. People sometimes give us donations or free beer so it works out. You’ll never see us in front of Metro PCS selling CDs. Maybe.
What is one of your favorite ways to promote yourself and your music?
Ain’t nothing like doing a show and seeing audience members flock to the stage to grab our free CDs just after playing two songs. We also like people posting our stickers or doing wheat pastes. Sometimes we’ll bike around town and post fliers. Not always the most effective, but its fun.
Facebook, or CIAbook, whatever, is a lovely way to spread the good Better Days word. Click and shamelessly promote.