We Built This City on Rock and Roll

...and other equally valuable varieties of popular music

Ian: Get that Big Wheel paid off.

Wes: For us it's a lot easier 'cause all three of us live at home. So the money we get is just spending money; we put it toward new synthesizers. It's not like I need to pay rent this month, which is really fortunate for us. Basically we just divide it four ways: Each of us gets money for our pockets, and the fourth portion just goes into a band fund. But making money has never really been what we're trying to do this for, since, like I said, we're not doing this to support ourselves. We're just doing it for the creative aspect--[assumes swinger-style voice] and for chicks, um-huh.

Brian: Hope that works out better for you.

P.O.S.: [We're] definitely losing money, definitely trying to run a small business, definitely succeeding marginally, and definitely broke.

Dylan: Does making music as a career seem like a reasonable objective for all of you?

Brian: Probably not to make a living. After a while, you sort of find a balance--where you're like, I can commit this much to music, and this much to paying my rent. If you can strike that balance, it's awesome. But it doesn't usually work out that well. We just went on tour for a little while, and even though the band broke even, it kind of cut into my personal finances. But you make that sacrifice.

P.O.S.: I'm just now entering the stage of my career...where I can't say career, I guess. I'm just entering the part where I can't keep a real job because I'm trying to tour so much. I'm not making any money on those tours, I'm still wondering about how I'm making money on records, but I'm not working.

Wes: I think music will always be part of my life, as Kodak as that sounds, but what it really comes down to is: I'm most likely going to be leaving town for school next year. So will Melodious Owl still be playing together at the end of the year? It just depends. At the beginning of June, we had been booed off stage so many times at Hopkins [High School], we were thinking we can call it quits. Then we got a gig with [New York buzz band] the Fever, and we started moving forward. So in the next three months we could be someplace really great or we could be someplace terrible.

Ian: Physically? Are you talking about relocating--the whole lot of you?

Wes: No, I mean accomplishing something. I always say--jokingly, but who knows?--three months from now we could be on the cover of Spin. It might not be likely, but it is possible. I'm a senior this year, and the other two guys are juniors. So next year, when I graduate from high school, it's kind of like, if we have a major deal or we're actually touring and making money doing this, then maybe I could take a year off from school, because I don't really need to go off to college. But if we're still playing shows in your basement on the weekends for fun, then I could give that up and go on and maybe start a band someplace else. Not that I want to see the band end, because I'm having so much fun right now.

P.O.S.: This is definitely all I've ever wanted to do with my life, aside from teach history, and you can teach history whenever.

Brian: But if you wait longer, there's more shit to know, dude.

Nick: You talked about moving. It's not like you have to move somewhere to make it, but you have to go to other cities. Just because you're somebody here doesn't mean anything.

P.O.S.: At the same time, there will always be someone like G.B. Leighton, somebody who makes his living playing in Minneapolis. That doesn't typically happen with anything that we do.

Dylan: What about record labels? My experience with indie labels was generally that they were just as exploitative as the major labels--they just had a lot less money.

Brian: You just get to meet them more often face to face. They know your name when they screw you.

P.O.S.: My experience with indie labels is very tiny. I've never sent out a demo, I've never tried to run that route. Everything that's happened I've just kind of stumbled upon. Coming up the way I did with music, you do it yourself, there's no reason to do it any other way. Then after a minute, if they see that you're willing to work, they hop on. So as far as where I am now, it's still pretty new, but I haven't had any bad experiences.

Brian: Well, here's to hoping you don't. And you may not.

 

LOOK, MA, I'M IN THE PAPER--
NO, NOT IN THE ESCORT SECTION!

 

Dylan: Let me just ask you a bit about local music and the press. When I was playing music, I found that there was a general practice of grading on a curve with respect to local music. National acts were held to a certain aesthetic standard because, hey, these are legitimate musicians, they may even be career musicians who actually make a living doing this, so whatever you want to say about them, say it. With local bands, the attitude was more like, most of these people are amateurs, they live right next door and I don't want to piss them off, plus we're trying to help them out to a certain extent. So the groups the critics don't like are ignored rather than panned, and the ones who do get coverage are perhaps treated a bit too gently. I benefited from that, and I understand that there's a place for some hometown boosterism, but at the same time it's patronizing. Obviously, you want your music to be evaluated in the same way that a bigger band would be evaluated.

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