Thursday, August 13

SF Musicians in the Coronavirus Era 2

0

Everyone in the music world is hurting now. Musicians not touring, not getting together in the studio to work on new material, not working out new songs in crowded rehearsal rooms. And venues are closing at record rates. SF Sonic has been talking with lots of musicians about how they are dealing with the disaster that the pandemic has caused, and now we are telling the stories of musicians from San Francisco about what it’s like. This is the second installment in this series, so read about what they’re doing, listen to some music, buy some merch.

Fast Times

Fast Times (Photo: EL Haines)

What plans did you have in place when the lockdown first hit? Were you planning to tour?

Duncan: Things were cookin’! We had just finished our third studio visit to wrap a nice batch of songs, and had just played Noise Pop Fest at the Indy. We had plans to start releasing for the first time ahead of a Pacific Northwest tour to Treefort Fest in Boise, Seattle, Portland, with a couple single releases planned at Rickshaw Stop.

How are you keeping your creative juices going during these difficult times?

Cody: With this band being a fully collaborative project, the pandemic hasn’t been conducive to our method of co-writing songs in a room together. We have recently resumed writing and rehearsing though in anticipation of our livestream series / single release / video release.

Duncan: Now that this is essentially the way things are going to be for awhile I think we’ve just been starting to think again about how to make music and art and music videos in a pandemic.

Andrew: For the first stretch, it was hard to not be gutted by the plans being ruined. Once the dust settled, I found some clarity in tandem with processing all of this as it’s come at us. There’s plenty to write about in the world right now, it just took awhile for me personally to get to a place of being able to actually do that.

What are you doing to engage your fans during this downtime?

Duncan: We participated in Noise Pop’s No Place Like Home series alongside Geographer and Rituals of Mine on May 12, which is an ongoing livestream with a bunch of artists that benefits local SF music venues – ours was benefiting Rickshaw Stop. Built to Spill, Rogue Wave, etc played their other events.

Andrew: We’ve now partnered with Rickshaw Stop to roll out a three-part livestream series that coincides with the release of our first three singles as a band – starting with our song “Tuesday Night,” which is out today! The first livestream is Wednesday, July 15 on their instagram and benefits both Rickshaw and a great organization outta Oakland called Hip Hop For Change.

Do you have any predictions about what the Bay Area club scene will look like when it comes back?

Cody: I think it’s going to be a long time before we have club shows packed with hundreds of people like before. Live music happenings will continue to be online, and then hopefully gradually move to alternative outdoor performance spaces where people can enjoy the music at a safe distance from other concertgoers.

Duncan: I think everyone is chomping at the bit. They’re eager to figure out how to get in front of an audience in-person in a way that’s safe. (Looking at you Chase Rice, and all your idiot fans, and shit like Herd Immunity Fest that has zero regard for human lives.) Would love to figure out a way to play outside – outside shows are rad.

Andrew: There’s a role for all of us to play in holding up our local venues in the meantime. This is a long road. We all need to be writing to our representatives to lobby for the arts and supporting the efforts of organizations like NIVA (National Independent Venue Association).

Check out Fast Times on Facebook.

Listen to “Tuesday Night” by Fast Times on Soundcloud.

The Angry Abbys (Christopher Campbell)

The Angry Abbys

What plans did you have in place when the lockdown first hit? Were you planning to tour?

The Abbys were about to go into the studio to record new tracks for an EP we were hoping to release in the fall of 2020. We were also hoping to book three shows to support the release and premier our new videos (two). ALL of those plans had to be put on hold.

How are you keeping your creative juices going during these difficult times?

We continue to write music but we had to abandon our studio in the Tenderloin and find a new studio. Because two large studios sold their buildings (including the SF institution Lennon Studios), it was nothing short of a miracle that we actually found an open studio. Fortunately we are back to being able to at least practice. We are content to record, mix and promote on our own.

What are you doing to engage your fans during this downtime?

We will continue to release content on YouTube and Bandcamp. Social media posts only go so far so we are considering doing some live broadcasts as well.

Do you have any predictions about what the Bay Area club scene will look like when it comes back?

It doesn’t look good right now. With so many independent booking venues being bought out by Another Planet and Goldenvoice, it was already going to be difficult. These new owners have also decided to fire all the previously existing talent scouts so all those curated relationships are now kaput. Now with many bars facing extended closures or possibly going out of business, there will only be a handful of live venues left when things actually “return to normal”.

Find the Angry Abbys on Facebook.

Watch “You Won’t ~See Me” by The Angry Abbys on YouTube.

Digital Us (Christy “Chemical” Schneider)

Digital Us

What plans did you have in place when the lockdown first hit? Were you planning to tour?

Before the shelter-in-place order, Digital Us was just taking off as a local Bay Area band! We were playing regular shows and planned to continue gigging over the Spring and Summer months. Unfortunately, all of those plans got cancelled due to Covid-19. 

How are you keeping your creative juices going during these difficult times?

We’re currently recording our debut album! We got together for an outdoor physical distanced band rehearsal the other week. It was the first time we’ve all played together since early March. We rocked our little neighborhood and nobody called the cops, so that was a success!

What are you doing to engage your fans during this downtime?

We’re still posting on our social media pages and gaining more followers. Our guitarist, Gabe Gunns and I recorded a live acoustic performance of a new song we wrote called “Contagious” and put it up on Youtube. Now since we’re recording an album we’ll have some fresh and exciting new content to share!

Do you have any predictions about what the Bay Area club scene will look like when it comes back?

With more and more venues sadly having to close down, we feel like DIY shows are going to be the new norm. Backyard BBQ-style events…. maybe live stream shows. When the time comes we plan to host our own shows and invite other local bands to play! 

Digital Us is on Facebook.

Watch “Contagious” by Digital Us on YouTube.

Hell Fire (Tony Campos)

Hell Fire (Photo: Raymond Ahner)

What plans did you have in place when the lockdown first hit? Were you planning to tour?

Yeah we actually had a lot lined up, we were suppose do another four-week North American run In April followed directly by a three-week tour in Europe in May which all got canceled of course. We had a couple shows and fests booked out into the summer as well. Luckily most of the tours are just getting rescheduled for next year. We’re currently booking for spring and summer of next year, everything is going to fill up fast for 2021 so we’re just trying to plan ahead. 

How are you keeping your creative juices going during these difficult times?

Yes we’ve been writing a lot during this time. The one positive from all of this is it has forced us to focus on writing and recording. We’re just having fun writing tons of new material and demoing new songs and ideas. We took sometime off from full band practices when the pandemic hit hard but have just gotten back into the flow of things again.

What are you doing to engage your fans during this downtime?

We released a new single, “Conquerors,” last month, and made a music video for it from footage we had of our tours last year. We’ve been trying to release a lot of new merch, do give aways, Instagram live videos etc., anything we can. It has been really positive and the support has been great. You can real feel people are needing the fix to go see bands again. I feel we’ll have a closer relationship with our fans once this is all over because the heavy metal community has come together and supported each other so much during these times.

Check out Hell Fire on their website.

Listen to “Conquerors” by Hell Fire on Bandcamp.

Share.

About Author

Jeff Spirer is the editor of SF Sonic. He has retired from concert photography but still writes about music and travel.

Leave A Reply