Oh shit! I think I just became friends with a band. I broke rule #1 and now I'm totally fucked. That's right, fucked! If you want to play it safe and sound in this game, rolling along, ho-hum, getting though the day without drama, tension or emotional epiphanies, you must never, under any circumstances befriend the band! When I first got into this business I learned really fast that there are seven things that can and will go wrong when an event producer gets too friendly with the band.
1.) Other bands will get pissed off at you when you book your friends and they will get pissed when your friends get a better slot than they do.
2.) You will loose much needed beauty sleep.
3.) No matter how right they are for a show, your company, your friends, and your clients will always question that you are just getting your friends a gig when you suggest them.
4.) The band that you are friends with will have other bands that you "Just gotta see!"
5.) Even though you know better, you will sometimes wonder if they are nice to you because you are the booking agent in the first place.
6.) Because you actually listened to their music, you will learn something about yourself or your life that you are not quite sure you really wanted to learn.
7.) They will inevitably go away.
(Not necessarily in that order)
Musicians have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up surrounded by music; I was an infant the first time a musician held me. I have a picture where I am maybe 5 or 6 years old, with my dad teaching me to strum my first guitar. Through my teenage years, I went to concerts in a small town which always allowed me access to the acts that came through. In my twenties I was a relatively well known rock photographer on the South by Southwest concert circuit. Now in my thirties, one of the biggest parts of my job is booking the entertainment.
Knowing that, you can see how keeping the rule of not ever being friends with a band could be a challenge for me, but actually, it got pretty easy for a few years. I certainly learned the hard way, but eventually, I got jaded and bored with it all, just like a good producer should.
I got burned over and over again, I got my feelings hurt, I got tired of listening to the bitching and whining, I hated being questioned, the weekday hangovers were a bitch and I really hated feeling guilty and questioning myself. So, I don't go to shows and I don't listen to the CD's. Instead, I go on-line to see who is playing around and getting good bills and I consult other agents on who is selling tickets. I contact a band, pitch them a gig, sign the contract, consult via e-mail and give the stage manager a check for them before they play. Done - nice and clean, no ties, no emotional attachments and no grief from anyone.
That is until recently. Somehow, this time, the lines got blurred. So many factors have come into play. There were the conditions that led me to them; the circumstances that had me scrambling for a band just like them, more than one safe and simple signature required, multiple media spots and the stupid intensity of this particular show which has forced me into communications far beyond normal. And now, it is too late, drink has been drunk, secrets have been spilled, and a friendship has been forged.
Oh, and the calls have already begun. Another band playing this same show wants to know why they have the slot they do. I tried to tell them it's just business, but it doesn't help me plead my case when I have been cold busted by this person out laughing, stumbling and drinking my way through downtown with the quad in question.
I've gotten calls from friends about how if I love this group so much, then I'm just going to love this other band that they know too. I've heard some snide comments regarding why they are getting certain media spots (which just for the record, they are getting, because they are willing to get up and do them - unlike some others who shall remain nameless). It's a downward spiral from here kids.
I can't help it, I adore them. I had a friend last night who said to me that he always knew it would take four men to satisfy me and those are the perfect four. There is the adorable, sweet one, the intellectual, funny one, the messy, deranged one and the dark, dirty dangerous one and all of them are in some way unavailable. So for me, the four together, somehow make the perfect man. And to top it off, they are more fun than a barrel full of surfboarding monkeys. How could I not love them?
To complicate matters, they've gotten me all excited about tons of new music. Fun new stuff that I want to go out and see live, yummy new CD's for the truck and other bands that I wish I had shows for. Between the four of them, they each have their own other band or side project. The music ranges from quiet acoustic sounds to flat out rock, from blaring melodies to searing lyrical genius. The last few weeks have sent me into audio sensory overload. I'm seriously so fucked!
When you befriend the band, it's so much more than just having new people your life. They live a different existence than the rest of us. They think different, they act different, and they keep different hours. On top of that, you are not just meeting one new person, they come in multiples and those multiples have multiples and so on. You don't so much get a new friend, as a whole new social circle. All of a sudden, you find yourself out on a Monday night, drunk on tequila, laughing your ass off while you disco dance - in public!!!
Then, of course, there's the musician factor. They make music. I love music. I really, really do. I love all types of music. I honestly cannot think of a musical style that offends me. It all has its relevance and it all moves someone, somewhere to expand their minds or at the very least, shake their ass for a few minutes. Music and photography are the two constants in my life. I express myself through my camera and music has always helped me find what it is in my life that I need to express. Somehow knowing that someone else has felt the same way that I have or that they stumbled upon some self realization that I have been looking for, has always calmed me down and made me think for a second that maybe I am not as nuts as I sometimes think I am.
Yes, you are treading on dangerous ground when you befriend the band, between all of the new people, the exciting circumstances you find yourself in, the fun of new interactions and the fact that your routine is now completely out of whack, you get a little crazy and you start to question your life. How did I get here, where am I going, is this what I really want? Being the overdramatic Leo that I am, I want to cut ties, change habits, draw boundaries, restructure relationships and explore new territory. My safe and quiet days of pattern, where I sit oblivious are gone. The blinders are off and the gloves are on. It's like I've been asleep and dreaming, then out of nowhere, someone shakes the shit out of me and says wake up girl and get the hell out of bed! Can't you see that there is all this great stuff happening all around you for real!
All I know is that the change feels good. Getting back into it feels good. Hearing new melodies, feeling new rhythms, learning new lyrics and finding new facets of my own taste, style and personality feels so damn good, that when the end comes, I'll still be glad I met Layne out that night, thankful that they made a joke about steak and I took them up on it and happy that I've been drinking tequila on a school night.
The end will come too; I know this because I have broken every rule I have about befriending the band. I have extended favors, treated for dinners, bought drinks, provided special accommodations, and even given up my hotel room for them. These precious pricks have me completely wrapped around their string plucking and stick banging little fingers.
Maybe my predictions are wrong, and maybe this odd group of four and I will stay friends, but cold, hard experience has proven over and over again that more than likely, this show will pass, so the communication will slow, opportunities to see them will be missed and eventually they will fade away and I will sulk back into my life, hungover from the adrenaline rush, trying to figure out how to not let the newness of all the recent change grow into a stagnant wasteland.
Oddly though, this particular quartet has me thinking that maybe I've been wrong all these years; maybe you do befriend the band. Maybe it's not the inevitable end that is important, maybe what is important is that there is change. Maybe because of them, some other bands will get a chance at some exposure, or maybe the exposure from this show will be exactly what this band needs to get to the next level. Maybe they or someone else entirely will learn something new or get shaken awake from their own groggy dreamland. And maybe the rash decisions I make while under the intoxicating influence of their sunny yellow and deep brown hues, will make my life better in the long run and I'll be goddamned if the ride hasn't been fun!
Jones is currently working in San Diego as a photographer & promotions director.
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