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A Concept EP 21 Years in the Making

Brian Foy | Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Last May, I decided to embark upon a strange and wondrous journey guided only by the sound of music. Once finals commenced last semester, I set out to record what I believe to be the first concept EP. With the help of my partner in crime Tim Bonadies, we spent several days recording and mixing tracks in the studio he had created in the basement of his house. Having accumulated a wealth of recording equipment, the resulting music was of near-professional quality.

In June, I began going to many concerts, and I started taking a copy of Mourning Sun with me. Before the first concert, I made several copies of the EP and made sure to include contact information along with our names and the titles of the songs. My logic was that I would give the copy to one of the bands playing and by the end of the summer we might hear back from one of them.

In early June, I went to the Ben Harper and Jack Johnson show at Chicago’s UIC Pavilion. After the show, I made my way to the stage, hoping to see anyone associated with either Ben or Jack. As I was approaching the stage, I noticed that Jack Johnson was signing autographs and talking to fans. I waited in line and then told him how one of his new songs had helped me with a problem I was having with the tempo on one of our own songs. I segued that into giving him the disc along with a brief explanation of the EP before I left. I could not believe how easy it was to give Jack Johnson our EP.

A few weeks later, I went to Noblesville’s Verizon Wireless Music Center to see the Dave Matthews Band. I knew even before I went that there was absolutely no way I would come anywhere near any member of the band. My best bet to get my disc to Dave and the boys was to go through their management. I decided to create a fictitious person from the band’s label that had contacted me and said that I was to give my disc to Dave’s road manager. After waiting around for 30 minutes after the show, his manager actually did emerge and took my copy of Mourning Sun with him. I learned a very valuable lesson that day: When dealing with people in the music business, be resourceful and, if necessary, lie.

The Fourth of July brought me back to Chicago for the Taste of Chicago. While I was there, I was going to see the boys of Guster play a free show in Grant Park. I went to the organizers of the free concert and tried my previously successful scheme that someone from Guster’s label had contacted me about my disc. However, this time I was informed that they knew nothing about it and that my best bet was to wait until I saw their management. I decided to wait between the buses and the backstage area before sound check. I waited until I saw Guster’s guest bassist and then finally Ryan Miller, singer and guitarist for the band. He came over with a marker for autographs, but I assured him that I just wanted to give him my disc. After discussing their tour and what they might play at the ensuing show, I left him to find the rest of my friends.

Finally, I went to the Lollapalooza Festival at Tinley Park’s Tweeter Center. In between sets, I made my way to the autograph tent to see if I could meet the band Rooney. My logic was that this up-and-coming band would sympathize with me and take my disc. After giving Mourning Sun to one of the band members, I told them that if they ever need an opening act we were ready.

I learned many valuable lessons from my experiences this summer. The first is to never give your demo to members of a touring band. They have too much to concern themselves with and they do not need your attempt at stardom to further complicate their lives. In hindsight, I should have sent my demo to the managers of the bands I spoke with or to their record labels. Equally important, I learned that a demo with an acoustic guitar and vocals probably will not get you very far. As complete as it may sound, it can never match the fullness of a band.

After my experiences this summer, I decided that Tim and I could benefit from a full band so we recruited Drew Pittman and Tim’s younger brother Jeffery for “Tuffy Rhodes.” The band plays all of the songs off Mourning Sun with a presence that was noticeably absent on the disc. I hope to record a new EP tentatively entitled The Answer in November and ship it to different labels in early December.

Brian Foy is a senior history major whose band “Tuffy Rhodes” plays tonight at Cheers in South Bend. Contact Brian Foy at bfoy@nd.edu.