Van Warped Tour Acoustic Basement kicks off tomorrow night at The Space in Hamden. Prior to hitting the road, Geoff Rickly took a few moments to talk about the tour, his music and the industry.
Rickly is looking forward to this tour because he's learned a lot about doing solo acoustic sets recently. He promises anyone who saw his set in The Acoustic Basement on last year's Warped Tour that they will hear many positive changes. He admits that it took him a little while to understand that there are some Thursday songs that, "if I don't have a band behind me, I'm not screaming my head off or jumping off the drum kit, they just suck and aren't cool any more. I now have a better handle on what sounds good acoustic. There's something about the solo songs that are even more intense but it's a quiet intensity that sometimes freaks people out. It's like when you go to tell someone a secret so then lean in close and then you yell in your ear. It kind of has that quality to it."
Talking about The Space and the fact that it is truly an all ages venue, Rickly says he loves all ages shows. He's been active in the The All Ages Movement Project which helps kids looking to perform at these places. The organization researches all the legalities including zoning laws and then make that information available to musicians. Geoff has been in talks with the group for about two years and said that, "more recently we've been figuring out how we can support each other more. We talking about coming up with an app for Facebook that bands can use to find venues that they can book shows at". They also want to take this to Washington DC to find political support.
Rickly has a great love for helping young people who are discovering their talent. "I work with many young bands. I love being a a mentor. When you show attention to their gift it comes out, especially first time recognition by someone other than their parents or their friends. When someone from the music world says 'this is great. You should focus on this.' and then you see the realization on their face, it is very gratifying". We agreed there are things in major media that put themselves out there as mentoring platforms but in reality its very disposable. Geoff's made a great point, "No art is meant to be fast food".
From there we moved to the discussion of fixing the biz. Geoff said, "I couldn't guess what it will take to fix it. I feel like this is going through a lost generation of music models. It has happened before when music has gone from one format or another. 'Are you selling the record player or are you selling the records?' So many things that have happened to make it impossible for a generation to make money making music". The Jersey rocker is now well known for giving his recorded music away. "With everyone stealing it, devaluing it, collecting vinyl, I don't want to address the commercial side of it any more. So I offer my music for free and then go on tour and make a living playing live shows". He does admit that he has the luxury of now being a solo act, therefore not having to divvy up the profits with a band. Full bands trying to live off shows are hard pressed to be able to do that.
At the end of the day, Geoff Rickly is a typically skeptical New Jerseyite. Many people in the music business have come to him and said they have the model that is going to change it all for the better. "I've seen them all tried and fail. I'll believe that it when I see it as far as the perfect solutions goes." And Geoff has the street cred to feel that way. "Thursday was on seven different labels. United Nations has been on a couple different labels. I've filled in with a band that reunited for some fundraising gigs and there was no label involved. Now with the solo stuff, I'm not trying to be punk. I'm not trying to be the next model. I'm not offering an solutions. I just feel that with the experience I have it has earned me the place to not get involved in the commercial part. I'm just playing music."
Discussing another local indie artist who is an old friend of Geoff's and unconventional successes in these crazy times, we discussed Kevin Devine's Kickstarter project (which is still going on) to fund his next album. Devine felt he'd set a pretty lofty goal of $50K but within 24 hours he had met and exceeded the goal. Right now it is at close to $88K. Geoff was pleasantly shocked. He also learned that Kevin had sold out Webster Hall in Manhattan with a solo show. Rickley said that he had been worried about Kevin and wondering what he had been up to. Now he's so happy that people have caught on to how talented Devine is.
Taking a moment to put the conversation in context we talked about one of Geoff's more epic injuries, breaking his nose on stage at the beginning of Thursday's set at Warped Tour '06, the first time I saw the band. Rickly laughed at the memory and then went on to share that just last week he was doing a show with United Nations at The Barbary in Philadelphia. He climbed on the ceiling and it let go and he broke his nose again. He says he's really surprised that for the number of times that he's broken it he's surprised that he can still breathe through it much less the fact that it's still straight.
As far as this tour, Geoff is looking forward to it. He and Vinnie Caruana have known each other for many years and they've toured together so many times that they joke that they're brothers. It has been a number of years since they've done anything together though so this is a reunion and Rickly is very excited for it.
Tickets are still available here for $13.00. Doors are at 6:30.