Things have been fairly quiet in TATEland of late, but there are some holiday treats on the horizon in the form of a trio of southern California dates in early December. In the meantime, we’ve got The Airborne Toxic Event fan survey to occupy us, and a number of news items that have fallen through the Toxicity cracks over the past few weeks to catch up on.
Anna Bulbrook took to Facebook recently with a personal reflection on the perception of women in the rock music industry. She was responding to a Huffington Post piece by Steph Guthrie, “Infuriating Things People Say to Women Musicians.” The original post features a laundry list of patronizing things that female musicians apparently hear quite regularly, many of them based on the odd notion that a woman can’t possibly have any proficiency with instruments or technical equipment.
In her response, Anna admits that she’s heard similar things, noting, “within the industry, I have been asked what I ‘do for the band.’ outside the industry, people assume I’m the singer.” She goes on to contrast this attitude with the more egalitarian world of classical music, “where those oversights don’t exist on the same level. boys and girls work together closely and learn professionalism from a young age in chamber groups and orchestras. we are taught to respect skill and taste above all else.”
My first response to all this was righteous indignation that these kind of assumptions are still made in this day and age. After all, I’m an enlightened 21st century man, and my wife proudly tells others that I’m the biggest feminist in the family. But then I looked in the mirror, and as is prone to happen, I didn’t particularly like what I saw.
Time for a shameful confession: I listened to The Airborne Toxic Event for a good six months before I clued into the fact that there was a woman in the band. I was a pretty casual listener in those early days; Anna’s vocal presence on the first album is not obvious, and I wasn’t yet a big enough fan to be looking at photos, watching YouTube videos and reading CD liner notes. Most of my favorite acts at the time were all-male, and with no explicit evidence to the contrary, my default assumption was that TATE was no different.
I hate, hate, HATE that Anna’s presence in the band came as a surprise to me when I finally discovered it, particularly since it was her marvelous viola that initially sparked my interest in their music. But there it is: apparently I’m not as enlightened as I thought I was. So among the many things I’m grateful to Anna for, I’m thankful for the slap upside the head she’s dealt me, both with her skill as a musician and her example of what it means to be a woman in rock. In summation, borrowing her words, “yeah. girls do rock. boys rock, too. I hope we all continue to get ever more rockin’ as a society.”
TATE fans are forever asking the question, “Why aren’t they bigger?” It’s confounding, frankly, and I tend to chalk it up to a profound lack of taste on the part of the average music listener.
Recently, a collection of music executives and promoters gathered together to answer the question: “What does it take for a band to evolve from a bar band to an arena sellout?” The conversation occurred as part of the 2013 Billboard Touring and Awards Conference. Though Airborne is not mentioned in the article, it’s an instructive piece that reveals that the band and its management are taking the right approach.
Jim Glancy of Bowery argues that the definition of success is broader than what is traditionally assumed, saying, “Our goal isn’t to get every artist to headline an arena, but to work with them as far as they go. If they can get to the Bowery Ballroom from the Mercury Lounge, that’s a success.”
Of particular interest are comments by two of the participants emphasizing the importance of touring – good news for The Airborne Toxic Event, given the fact that they’ve averaged about 200 dates per year in their short history as a band:
(Live Nation’s Omar) Al-Joulani, who books Imagine Dragons, said the traditional practice of a band touring for a few months timed to an album release had changed. Now touring schedules have to be more flexible based on factors like single performance.
“The start of the cycle is the same, but it can go longer if you have songs that are reacting,” he said. “In some cases there are bands who can tour for three years off one album.”
CAA Agent Bobby Cory agreed, explaining, “I try to base bookings on momentum. If you have an act that is selling out the majority of their shows, you should start planning another tour. If you pull back and start to do another album right away, you’re leaving ticket sales on the table.”
Something to keep in mind as TATE gears up for another pass at the Such Hot Blood tour in the new year.
Though the end of the 2013 tour is now over a month in the rear view mirror, the occasional show review and/or photo gallery continues to pop up. Scottish blogger Drew recently provided his take on the Glasgow gig, at Across the Kitchen Table. He went in with low expectations, as he’d been uncharacteristically underwhelmed by a previous live TATE experience, and Such Hot Blood failed to strike a chord with him. But his faith was restored by their latest appearance, which found the band back “in top form.”
And now, because a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll just shut up and let you bask in the memories of a fall’s worth of shows with some photographic goodness:
Boston Calling (Kristen Schueler) – Noah Harmon fans will be particularly appreciative
Summer Block Party, Philadelphia (Pete Troshak)
Leuven, Belgium (RDR Photography)
Leuven, Belgium (Anne Janssens)
We close with a vintage Airborne video blog that predates the first album. Aside from being quite hilarious, what really makes this special is the inclusion of an unknown, unreleased but brilliant-sounding TATE song. It kicks in at the 0:57 mark, and functions as background music for the most part, which makes it tough to hear over the talking. Thankfully, the last 30 seconds of the video allows for a clearer listen of the end of the song and its “My mind… my mind betrays” refrain. A generous reward for the person who brings me this tune…
Glen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.