Working The System Backward
How To Build A Metal Band With Careers And Families In Tow ● by Sophie Harris
Most young musicians put music at the forefront of their lives, and travelling the country on tour is the ultimate goal. But how can a band achieve success when family and full-time jobs are keeping them in one place? DIESEL Rocks is currently exploring this challenge.
DIESEL Rocks is a rock-metal band that originated in Bloomington about 4 years ago. The band is comprised of members from a variety of other bands, but there’s something setting them apart from other up-and-coming bands in the area: they aren’t in their early twenties.
“You know, we’re not 18, 19, 20…I’ve been playing live music since I was 23 years old,” says Drew Hall, who plays bass and contributes to the vocals. “I’m in my thirties, and our guitar player has been in bands for over 23 years now.”
[Image at the top: DIESEL Rocks — (from left) Brandon Brown, Brandon Wiggington, Drew Hall, and Bill Greely.]
Hall knows that the music scene has changed over the last few decades. “There are so many young bands in the scene now, and they’re willing to play for the experience for next to nothing,” says Hall, “And that really changes the money-making aspect of it. But still, every opportunity is a good one.”
The band members have children and full-time jobs, two aspects that tie them to Bloomington more so than younger musicians who might be unattached. Aside from a difference in lifestyle, Hall feels that being older sets his band apart for another reason. Hall mentions that being older means he’s been around longer, and he grew up on different music. “After years and years of playing, you develop your own style and tastes,” says Hall. “Music becomes more complex with experience.”
DIESEL Rocks has four members and a variety of original songs, but they also play covers. You won’t ever hear them playing the usual cover songs you might expect at a bar. Hall says that they choose bands to cover that they really like, such as Three Days Grace and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and hope audience members appreciate the rendition. The band is currently in contact with producer Rob Hill who is helping them remaster and edit some of their material. Hill has worked with bands like Korn and recorded with Eminem.
Because the band can’t tour to promote themselves in person due to obligations in Bloomington, they work a lot with radio and online marketing to create buzz on the Internet. They’re endorsed by Dirtbag Clothing, and their songs are played on radio stations around the country. Many online rock and metal stations are fans of the band’s sound, so their music currently has a very wide reach. Locally, they like playing at The Bluebird and formerly Jake’s, and they’re on B-97. One of their songs, “To The Sun,” is currently on a compilation CD that’s being distributed at rock festivals like Mayhem.
Hall is optimistic that the band will eventually leave Bloomington and tour, but he knows that family and work provide challenges for the band to work around. “It’s definitely multi-dimensional,” says Hall, “It feels like we’re working the system backwards.”