The members of Gunn and the Damage Done were closing their set during their appearance on a new television show called Band in Seattle when drummer Cody Black chose to leap off the drum kit. The show is an effort to introduce people to more than just the music from Seattle bands. Using personal interviews and live performance the show takes an innovative approach to bringing new music to the public.
SLIDESHOW: Band in Seattle hopes to bring you the next national music stars
The path to musical stardom has never been easy. Today with competition for your attention coming from seemingly everywhere it's more difficult than ever. In the U.S. the music development culture that found record company executives (A & R people) combing nightclubs for potential stars is largely gone. Replaced in some ways by social media like YouTube, Facebook and others, the means by which artists get a larger audience are multiple but not necessarily easier or better.
Band In Seattle, a new television series produced by Conrad Denke of Victory Studios, aims to help bands leapfrog over the clutter of so many sources by introducing Seattle bands and their music in a unique way. The show, debuting locally on KSTW CW 11 on Dec. 7 at 11pm shows two bands in each of 13 episodes. Not just in a live performance in a "club" set built in the studio for the purpose, but in the band members real lives too. The show will air for 26 weeks.
Denke created this idea because he saw that the rich music scene in Seattle, the same community that produced Jimi Hendrix, Heart and later Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, has major talent but little exposure. "You can travel anywhere in the world and people know the music from here," said Denke, "They don't say Boeing or Weyerhauser, or Microsoft. Seattle has a much bigger reputation than people know. KEXP and others have done a great job promoting it, but there's no visual. So what happens is you get great sound but you don't get the imagery with it. We are going for both high quality imagery and sound."
On Sept. 25, West Seattle was well represented with Gunn and the Damage Done and The Bend performing. Gunn, led by Tommy "Gunn" McMillan and The Bend led by singer Jay Cates and guitarist Ben Jenkins who owns the Shadowland bar and restaurant, both delivered musical sets designed to show their best, in brief but powerful bursts of rock energy. Well known film maker and producer Jamie Chamberlin scouted and secured both bands for the show. "I'm an Associate Producer for the show," Chamberlin said, " I recruit some of the bands.”
Previously Denke had visited the band members where they work and live, talked to others in their lives in an effort to give viewers a different kind of 'Behind the Music' storyline. By exploring who the musicians are, understanding what they have sacrificed for their music, and what goes into their songs, the audience is given a much deeper insight and appreciation than a music video or just a live performance would provide. "What makes this work is getting to know the band members," said Denke," they sacrifice so much and have real jobs. Today I interviewed two guys who are software engineers at Adobe, and two other guys who are wait staff at a pizza place. Tommy Gunn works for National Barricade."
What people find in Seattle is a "magic combination of collaboration, cooperation and the ability for many of them to be in multiple bands," Denke explained.
"This is a creative community and there's nothing like it. Many of the people I've talked to said if they were to rate music communities across the nation, Seattle would be number 1. In other places like L.A. it's so spread out they don't really work together like they do here, plus the number of clubs here where live music is offered is just phenomenal. Per capita population we have more clubs, and that means more opportunity. Out of that atmosphere pops a Macklemore or a Soundgarden."
The show also records the performances for high end audio mixing, bringing the band back in to supervise the mix, and will release the music both on video and audio later as individual songs or as a collection.
For a local television station, KSTW stepped up said Denke. "TV stations have got to do local, real local, to survive," he said," and when I showed the pilot episode to them, they got the vision immediately. This is really national in scope and quality but done here locally."
Denke and Victory Studios are seeking a major sponsor for the show such as Starbucks or Microsoft because up to now it's been completely self financed. Sponsors would get the name rights, on stage logos and promotional inclusion.
For now it's going to be shown locally but the hope is to bring these performances and stories to a national audience. It is being actively shopped to cable and broadcast vendors.
Will Band in Seattle breakout the next Seattle act to take the national stage? Given the high level heritage of Victory Studios, Seattle's musical reputation and collaborative culture it would seem there's an excellent chance.
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