Imagine you were in a young indie band. Imagine you won $250,000 to go towards the band. That’s the story of Hollerado. Impressively, their winning the Big Money Prize has not changed their ethos as a band, which is all about DIY and supporting independent music. It does mean they get to do badass stuff like visit China and play up high on the CN Tower, and we asked them about some of that cool stuff below.
1. 2009 was a banner year for Hollerado. What was the biggest surprise of all during last year?
Jake: My parents got a second cat. I Really had my fingers crossed for a dog. It turns out that the second cat (Stanley) is a lot cooler than the other one.
2. You won the Big Money Shot prize last year, which provided the band with a quarter of a million dollars for development. What has that money allowed you to do that otherwise would have been impossible?
Menno: Generally “battle of the bands” are the lamest thing in the world. As a kid, things like Emergenza and Rock Star Supernova were all over the place. They are nothing more than a scam that exploits young bands. They are the opposite
of the DIY ethic of which Hollerado defines its existence. That’s why it was a bit of a struggle for us to want to enter a battle of the bands.
After talking to lots of people and doing our own research we decided that the Big Money Shot was totally was a totally positive thing and decided to enter. The whole experience has been fantastic for us. The radio station demands nothing in return except that we play a few shows in Ottawa, something that we love doing anyway. You don’t have to sell tickets to your friends and the contest is judged by expierienced people from across the industry, including the independent rock world.
We were gonna keep doing what we do regardless of the contest outcome, but obviously it has been alot easier to do things ourselves with that money. Now we don’t have to answer to anyone, not even a label. We record what we want when we want and package it how we want. We were able to start our own label and release our own album. Fortunately we got the help of Arts and Crafts for this or we probly would have made a ton more rookie mistakes.
I also like how the contest strives to empower bands. They encourage the bands the tour on their own and not wait around for anyone to help them. They
offer free courses that are teaching bands how to take matters into their own hands and get out there. Also they don’t actually hand you a quarter million bucks cash. You have to ask them to pay for stuff that is band-related and then they pay for things for us. I think that is a very good idea, otherwise we very well may have ended up moving to china to invent ridiculous toys for pets or something like that.
So to answer your question…it has enabled us to tour constantly and record and release things on our terms.
Jake: In several questions Menno is going to tell all about Spageddy Lee. Stay tuned!
3. Any exciting plans for further fund spending coming up?
Menno: This fall we are launching Hollerado’s brand of hot sauce! Each bottle comes with a free limited edition 7-inch record.
4. You’re giving away your old van, I assume due in part to your recent good fortune. What makes an ideal van winner, and how did you decide on a name for the new van?
M: The name from the new van is Spageddy Lee. It’s named after spaghetti cause a bunch of people wrote on it with sharpies and then the sharpies got dirty and faded a bit and it looks like a white plate that has been left in the sink with dried up spaghetti on it. It’s also named after our friend Lee who helped us buy it. Also we glued a plastic turtle to the hood and the turtle’s face looks like Geddy Lee’s face. So that’s why.
J – The ideal van winner was a band called Mille Monarques. We gave them our van cause they had the best random act of awesomeness. We asked bands who wanted it to post a video on YouTube of them doing something random
and awesome for someone. They helped out some animals in need and spent a lot of time doing so, so they won the van.
5. Tell us a bit about your experience travelling to China as cultural ambassadors.
M: We did two tours of China last year. We learned to much to describe in one answer. The best thing I can say is that you gotta go and check it out for yourself. Just make sure you are willing try everything at least once and get ready to be confused a lot and the toilets are a little tricky after a couple beers, but don’t worry, you will get used to it. Also watch out for this stuff: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baijiu
6. What led to the “record in a bag” concept?
J: Demo in a Bag 1, Demo in a Bag 2, Demo in a Bag 3, Demo in a Bag 4, and Demo in a Bag 5.
M: When we made our first demos we would buy CD burners from Best Buy, burn 300 demos, and then return the burners. We bought CDs on those bulk spindles of 50. Soon we had a stack of demos and nothing to put them in so we started looking around the house for things to put them in. The cheapest thing we could find was ziplock bags.
We didn’t name it anything but we just called it the demo in a bag. Then when we went on tour after that, we could stay out on the road for a few months at a time. Whenever we ran out of CDs we would just go to Best Buy and get a
burner (that we would soon return) and go to another store and get bags and then we were stocked up again.
Sometimes we would record more songs and change the demo so we started numbering them. Then we made a real album and put that in a bag too.
7. You started your own label, Royal Mountain, in order to put our your music in the format you wanted to use. Do you plan to release other artists on the label?
M: Yes. Hopefullly we will be announcing a couple releases in the next few months.
8. Your band has a Wikipedia entry; are you now very impressed with yourselves?
9. What’s in store for Hollerado in the second half of 2010?
M: Maybe the only thing I’ve learned for sure about this job is to never try and predict what is in store cause it changes pretty much everyday.
10. Which bands are you hoping to catch while you’re in Toronto for NXNE?
Jake – Iggy Pop
menno – Molly Rankin, Strange Boys, Soft Pack
Hollerado start their NXNE off with the Audio Blood showcase in the CN Tower (!) and a set at the Piston tonight, then play their rooftop Nacho House party tomorrow evening.
Photo courtesy of Hollerado