How Hollerado Stayed Full-Time Musicians, Avoided Real Jobs, & Sold Records In Zip-Lock Bags
Recently, I spoke with Dean Baxter, who is the bassist for the Canadian indie rock group Hollerado. In this interview Baxter talks about the various guerilla marketing tactics that his group used to sell their music; their twenty-eight day residency tour; and how they've created a sustainable career out of making records in a bag, connecting with fans, and giving them reasons to support the music they make.
Instead of waiting to get booked, what are some of the ways that you found shows?
Hollerado : We started out by just driving around the country and showing up at bars. We would tell them we had a show booked down the street but for one reason or another, they ruthlessly threw us out into the street. This method of “booking” worked 95% of the time, and usually got us a pitcher of beer at the end of the night. Who needs an agent?
How did Best Buy help you cheaply duplicate your EP and sell your record in a bag?
Hollerado : We had all the songs to our demos (1-5) on a computer and all we would do is buy a massive spindle of cd’s burn the songs on there, and throw them in some Ziploc bags. Synch. Remember that word? Synch? That meant easy, or piece of cake, right? I think it’s about time Synch came back. That’s what I’ll do today.
What guerilla marketing tactics did you use to raise awareness and sell that record?
Hollerado : Once burned and bagged we would show up at malls with the cd’s in Discmans and headphones. We’d split up in two groups, approach people, take a guess at what song would be the best fit for that person, throw a pair of headphones on them and start selling.
Were there any other interesting activities that you engaged in to avoid getting jobs?
Hollerado : We started a moving company called Haulerado. We figured we should get the most out of the van we had, and we already started a band so there wasn’t much else to do with it. It didn’t pay any bills but it was enough to keep us from starving to death. We’ve been janitors, flower warehouse workers, telemarketers, construction workers, excavators, sign holders, and garbage bin stealers for hire. Hopefully we will have jobs in space one day. You know, the final frontier. SPACE (echo)
How did you end up playing 28 shows in a row and driving over 12,000 miles to play?
Hollerado : We’re huge fans of the impossible. The idea was, play a residency in seven cities, in the same month. February worked out perfectly because the first was a Sunday and the 28th was a Saturday. We played every Sunday in Boston, Monday in New York, Tuesday Lacolle Qc, Wednesday in Hamilton, Thursday in Toronto, Friday in Ottawa and Saturday in Montreal. It was a lot of fun, but we might think twice about doing it again.
What enabled you to tour deep into China for three weeks and record a foreign song?
Hollerado : We were lucky enough to find a program that was bringing over Canadian bands to China. We jumped on the opportunity to go, and thought it would fun to try and write a song in mandarin. We wouldn’t be able to sing it if asked to, and a Chinese person probably wouldn’t be able to understand it, but damn. What a sexy language.
Why do you play nonstop and for the audience as music as you play for each other?
Hollerado : Playing music is our job, and it’s a really, really fun job. We try and be the best we can at it, because, that’s just what you do. And we really want everyone else to have as much fun as we’re having, you know, to be fair.
Have you been able to establish a career that you consider healthy and sustainable?
Hollerado : If we can keep what we have now, that would be awesome. We’re always on the road so no need to pay rent, and if we can sell enough cd’s in the parking lot after the show, we don’t go hungry. Mmmm burgers.