The dynamics of being a band

header 161115Anyone who has ever been part of a creative team (and who hasn’t?) knows that within a group of people, various individuals get assigned different functions within the unit, and these roles in combination are fueling the creative process. You have leaders, you have thinkers, you have doers, you have morale boosters, you have analysts and critics, all various catalysts for moving the project ahead. The weird thing is that the same individual can perform a specific role within one group of people, yet have a significantly different function in another team. The dynamics shift, depending on the energies produced within each unique combination of people. It really is true that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And Billy Momo is no exception to this rule.

Orren is sort of the gatekeeper of the Billy Momo environment. He is often the first one to say that ”This doesn’t really feel like a Billy Momo thing to do”, and he often comes up with the initial idea for new concepts, videos, etc.

My brother Barba and I are quite alike in many ways, and yet in others, we are vastly different. Barba seems to have a constant creative drive, a slow burning kind, where he is in perpetual forward motion, which is a very good, disciplined way of getting shit done, even if it sometimes happens below the radar. My creativity seems to lie dormant periodically, and then show itself in bursts of energy, which is good for times when things need to get kicked in the ass a little bit, but isn’t very effective for actually finishing a project, being a ’closer’ takes a persistence and determination I sorely lack. Barba is, together with our manager Birgitta, the taskmaster of the group, the one who makes sure we actually follow through on what we have planned.

The Head seems to thrive within his own framework, headspace and timezone, and although he is very active when we have conceptual discussions about what we are trying to achieve, he tends to do most of his work on his own. He is very much a morale booster as well, ever optimistic and enthusiastic.

Preacher Man often refers to himself as a ”spare prick”, which is funny, but not entirely the case. It is true that he gets assigned various roles depending on the requirements of specific songs, be it percussion, vocals, guitar, dobro, but not in an arbitrary fashion, and his versatility is a very strong point within our setup, and one we always look to finding new ways to expand. Also, his unique character provides endless source material for Billy Momo folklore.

Hot Lips often comes up with quirky, creative ideas, and has a great instinct for visual presentation. He’s a gifted sketch artist, and seems to have an infinite treasure trove of old pictures and vintage equipment (not always of a musical nature) we can draw inspiration from. Combined with The Coffa’s photography and graphic design skills, as well as Orren’s visionary quality control, we have a great visual design team within the group.

I realize, as I’m reading everything I’ve just written, that most of these processes within the band are not directly concerning the music, but other aspects of being a creative team. But, being a very DIY type of organization, a lot of the work we have to perform in order to keep this beast we know as Billy Momo alive and kicking, takes place with our instruments unplugged. Sometimes the balance gets a little fucked, which can be a bit frustrating. I have had recent discussions with Barba where we both expressed an itch to get back to the actual music for a bit. It will happen, as we have a number of shows scheduled during the spring, but for now, we are currently doing a lot of other stuff. This very blog, for instance!

Peace, love and music to all you crazy kids in love out there! (Tony Lind, aka /Gramps)

A Talk with Billy Momo’s Oscar Harryson

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The Head. Photo by The Coffa. 

Our eminent guitarist and producer, mixer, master wizard: Oscar Harryson, aka The Head had a little chat with Scott Buzby the other day. We’ll send you straight to the source:

A Talk with Billy Momo’s Oscar Harryson

Being open to inspiration

Photo: Christopher Anderzon
Tomas Juto, aka Barba.

I read an interview with Tom Waits the other day about writing music. He said something about making your life a place where songs would like to come and visit. If one song comes, others will follow.

I totally agree with that. So I started thinking about when I get inspired to write. And more importantly, when I don’t get inspired to write. So that I can eliminate those things while I’m writing.

The first thing is turn the TV of. Not if a movie with Tom Hardy is on. Then turn the TV back on. Not because of inspiration. Just because he’s fucking brilliant. And smoking hot.

Red wine always seems to work for me. But being a responsible dad I can’t go around half drunk all the time. So that’s a weekend thing.

Driving is perfect! I write most of my stuff in the car. Recording on my phone and using my voice memo for lyric ideas n stuff.
I even had a keyboard in my car for a while when we where recording the Drunktalk album. I was stuck in crosstown traffic everyday back then, and Stockholm traffic can be a bitch, so I started having my own jam sessions while waiting for the car in front of me to move a few meters.
Anyways, I’m all about getting in to that writing mood right now. I’ll let you know how it goes. (Tomas Juto, aka Barba).

Working on a dream

dream

It’s a beauty don’t you think?

I’ve got myself a moped with a flatbed. I actually could already have owned one.
When I grew up, an elder relative of mine parked a moped like this one in the woods behind our house. It wasn’t functioning, and I was to young to repair it, so all I could do as a kid was dream about driving it.

Suddenly one day, together with my uncles and some welding, the moped got a changed appearance. It was turned into a gocart. We used a 5 hp motor from an old cultivator, and as for breaks we used nothing.

I still remember the high speed driving. It sure was fast! And the rock in the ditch I crashed it into, sure did it’s job to. I got out just fine, the gocart didn’t. Enough whining about that.

I bought this moped a while ago. It had been left halfway out in a lake or something like that, and as with the case with my bass harmonica, some earlier owner has made some not so great improvements on it, but I seem to prefer to buy stuff like that, and make some crappy stuff work again.

Besides me looking really cool on the road with it, I think the moped can be of use for the band, shooting music videos. Me driving, The Coffa with the steady cam on the flatbed, the rest of the guys in front of us running for their lives… I mean acting.. acting… not running, screaming and crying… noooo, just some good old acting.. perfect. (Mårten ‘Hotlips’ Forssman, harmonica)

The Friday night of a rock’n’roller

mobettermugI have a confession to make.

Don’t judge me. I know I’m a musician and all, and therefore have responsibilities. I’m supposed to be out clubbing or hanging out at some decadent burlesque party drinking and smoking way too much.
I do that too on Fridays, sometimes, I promise!
But most Friday nights I’m actually at home. These days it’s quite hard to make a living out of being a rock’n’roller. Especially if you’re not that into the whole mainstream thing. Which means – day jobs!
Day jobs means writing, recording and doing gigs is a weekend thing most of the time.
This Friday for example I’ve been drinking coffee, writing lyrics and planting a plum tree given to me by Mr Preacherman himself. Not very rock’n’roll but way more productive than lying passed out at some after party. That’s a Saturday night thing. (Tomas Juto, aka Barba). 

The post gig blues

Tony Lind, aka Gramps
It’s a phenomenon I’ve been well acquainted with for my entire adult life, but never had an actual explanation for. I guess it’s a chemical reaction in the body. I call it the post-gig blues. I know many other musicians who deal with the same thing, although they probably have other names for it. It’s a strong sense of melancholy that sets in an hour or two after I’ve played a concert. And typically, the better the show was, the stronger the backlash is. And when it sets in, there is just no way to go to sleep until it wears off, no matter how physically exhausted I might be. I just have to ride it out. That is usually done by listening to music, having a couple of Jack Donald’s, or watching documentaries. After a few hours of this, I’ll eventually feel my mellow return, and I’m able to go to sleep. The only thing that really works as a quick fix for the post-gig blues is sex, and I suppose this might be one reason why musicians through the ages have sought company after performances, be it groupies, girl/boyfriends, livestock, or whatever.

I’m so used to this by now, that I’ll actually factor in this process when I make plans for the following day. I know that if I return home at 3:00 a.m., it’s highly unlikely that the post-gig blues will have worn off before 5:00 a.m. at the earliest, and so I’ll need to sleep in a bit to recover.

So, here’s my question: Is there anyone out there who can explain exactly what is going on during the post-gig blues in scientific terms? Not guessing or speculating, but someone who actually knows? Would you please share this knowledge with me? Inquistitive autodidact wants to know. (Tony Lind, aka Gramps)

Blowing in the wind or just sucking in general?

wingedwordsYes, Billy Momo does write songs on political and social subjects. But it seems to me it’s kind of hard to do it right.

I love it when a song has a deeper meaning and it’s incredibly cool when music can put out a message that changes the world.
It’s just that to me, the subject doesn’t make it a song. It’s still the way you tell it that counts.

When you express an opinion, you have a responsibility. Especially these days, when your opinions are posted on social media and there are many people reading. With the terrible amount of hate and fear we now have floating around, desperately looking for somewhere to point its finger, there are risks involved with claiming the truth. You need to check your facts and also think about what people may read into your statements.
Here’s the difference between that and writing a song.
Music has to be about expressing your emotions. It cannot be about coming across as politically correct, teaching the youth or taking part in a cause. Those things are welcome as a bonus, but if you’re not expressing an honest feeling, without censoring, you’re violating the artform.
I grew up with a political/musical movement not too different from the flower power movement. People believed that an artist is responsible for the messages they put out and how it’s recieved. I believe putting that on an artist is a big mistake.

Think about it. If only music that seemed responsible, music that expresses views we can stand by, only music that parents would be happy to play to their kids, only music that was never banned from radio, was successful, would any of the music you listen to exist?
A lot of my favorite artists were or are assholes. And I don’t care! They sang it and they meant it. They probably meant it in a fairly twisted way, but they were still sharing a piece of their souls with other people. If anything, it’s beautiful that we can share something really deep and profound with someone we could never get along with outside the music. That should contribute to a lot of love and understanding, right? And to me, it’s deep and profound because you mean it, wether it’s about healing the world or making love.
So, what this all comes down to, in my view, is that artists don’t have to be good guys. They only have to be honest.

If our music is to contribute to world peace, it needs to be free of judgement, so that it can touch people emotionally, because that’s what music is good for.

GUEST BLOG POST #1: Being female in the music industry

birgittaI’ve been working with music since the late 80’s. I started my career at CBS Records (now Sony Music), made some turns: a record distributor, commercial radio and web business and ending up at V2 Records, Richard Branson’s offshoot when he left Virgin Records.

Promotion and PR has been my profession  since I started my own company in 2006. I’ve worked with books, films and conferences but music has always been my passion.

Billy Momo made me take the step into management. Bands and artists has popped the question on several occasions, but I never felt the urge to really take on an act full time. In January 2015 that changed. Hearing the Momo music and – especially – seeing this unique band live made me turn the company in a new direction. Management.

Every week I receive newsletters from music industry all around the world. Industry news about appointments, meetings, conferences and the latest buzz in music. And every time I read these news I react on how few the women are. Sweden is fairly equal, but we’re still struggling with low numbers of women in higher positions. We’re getting there, but it’s a slow process. 2012 the percentage share of men and women at decision making positions within music industry (Managing Directors, General Managers and decision makers around artists, as A&R’s, agents and managers) were 80/20. Three years later, 2015, the figures were 78/22. As I said: baby steps…

The US seem not to have come as far. Every newsletter with pictures from both national and international conferences shows guys of various ages, arms around the shoulders and tapping each others backs. A lot of guys. Almost exclusively guys. And when glancing at the 100 most influential music people in the US music biz it sadly shows very, very few women.

The promotion/PR branch of music business is filled with women. The management side of the industry not so much. This part of the business is still very much dominated by men. Which makes people react when they meet a band consisting of seven men, with a female manager. I’ve received comments like ”So, you’re the manager? Which band members is your boyfriend?”. Or: ”Are you the mother to one of them?”. When trying to inform the same person that this is what I do for a living, it continues. ”Ah, so you are a REAL manager?”. Show me any man in the same position who would get comments like that.
I am a woman. I work hard. I’m good at what I do. Enough said.

Best 10 seconds of my life

Photo: Christopher Anderzon.
Tony Lind, aka Gramps.

The best ten seconds of my life (while still having my pants on) are the ten seconds right before my foot steps onto the stage. It’s been like that as long as I can remember.

Many performers are terrified of getting onstage, even though the audience would never be able to tell. I know a lot of famous, brilliant and seasoned artists who cry backstage before a show, some even throw up. Full blown panic attacks, baby. I never understood why someone would subject themselves to that, over and over again, and pursue it as their path in life. Even if the feeling lifts once you get into the performance, I would still not think it was worth it. No fuckin’ way.
I never had this problem. To me, the stage is my home, it is my element, it is the place where I am most comfortable.

Is that because I am an Extrovert? A narcissistic exhibitionist? No. In fact, if you know me somewhat well, you know that I am a pretty classic Introvert, uncomfortable in social settings like parties where my only function is to mingle and make small talk. I hate that. I try to be as invisible as possible, merge with the wallpaper, quickly drink myself into what the mighty Pink Floyd would call ’comfortable numbness’, and get the hell out of Dodge as soon as I can. But point me to an imaginary square on the floor, and tell me that’s the stage, and I will get on there and own that room like it’s my bitch.

I’m pretty good at hanging out with my true friends, at least in smaller settings, but even then I usually need a lot of recovery time afterwards (and not just for the hangover). Human interaction is draining, even when it is good. But the stage is different.
There is definitely an interaction going on between performer and audience, but when I am on that stage, I control the environment. I never fake onstage, what you see is totally me, but it is the part of me that I feel good about showing you. I truly feel that I can do no wrong up there, even if I make a mistake, miss a cue, hit a flat note, or whatever. I just embrace it, move on. Most of the time those things only help the performance anyway. The audience get to experience a very real, human moment, and that’s usually an endearing event, that will make them feel closer to you. So it’s a win-win deal; if I play everything perfect, it’s cool, if I don’t, that’s cool too.

During a performance, my communication skills transform completely from how I am in private. I enjoy connecting with members in the audience, making eye contact (which I am very uncomfortable with otherwise), enjoying the emotional exchange of those little moments. I am confident, assertive and playful. I often laugh out loud onstage. It’s just an expression of the joy I am feeling, and also, there is usually something funny going on anyway, even if it isn’t always obvious to the audience.

But then, the show ends. The music is over. And I switch off my ’stage mode’. I’m sure some people have been a little confused when they approach me after a show, thinking they’ll be talking to this barely contained bolt of lightning, an affable socialite. No can do. I always try to be friendly and I don’t want to be rude, but that guy you saw onstage 30 minutes ago is dead tired now, and now all that is left is the other part of him, one you didn’t see before. Sorry to disappoint.

That hour on stage is an hour of being in tune with your purpose. Which is why the ten seconds right before showtime are the best of my life (while still having my pants on). (Tony Lind, aka ‘Gramps’, drums)