January 25, 2014

A Different Drum Update - January 25th, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 12:19 pm

Hello friends of A Different Drum!  It has been a while since I’ve written an update.  It’s been even longer since I sent another installment of A Different Drum’s history, which some of you seem to be enjoying.  I’m sorry about the long silence.  Life sometimes gets very busy…especially around the holidays.  I’m sometimes surprised at how much time has flown by when I finally get a couple hours to sit down and try to catch up.

First of all, here is a new release that has come into A Different Drum’s independent synthpop store:

Kaos! “Scream in Silence” $10 — This is the first full-length album from a Swedish synthpop duo that has been around for a few years.  They play a light, retro sound with female lead vocals. You can watch a couple of live clips on Youtube, and I’ve embedded one of those onto the listing.  You can watch a video and order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/SHORTCD009/Kaos-Scream-in-Silence

Also, as an update for the VIP subscribers, I got about half-way through mailing the last two releases before I ran out of shipping envelopes (oops!).  So, if you haven’t received your package with the new Inter-Connect and Saudade CD’s, don’t worry!  I’ll get them out as quickly as possible, once my new shippers arrive.  Then, shortly after those are shipped, I’ll begin shipping the new package with the new albums from Wave In Head and Sad January.

TRIBUTE to Randy Webb…

I’ve mentioned before that one of the joys of my experience with A Different Drum is that I’ve been able to get to know a lot of great people through the years.  Not only has it been fun to meet a lot of the artists who contribute to our small scene, but I’ve also been able to meet the people who really make it all come together– the fans!

One of those fans who I have known for a lot of years is Randy Webb.  I don’t even remember exactly when I first talked to Randy, but it has been many years now that I’ve known him and helped to provide the music he dearly loved.  He wasn’t very good with computers and basically knew how to do one thing with them– type in searches on Google for synthpop and spacesynth music.  He would search the internet for new bands and call me whenever he found anything new, even if it wasn’t yet released on CD.  He didn’t know how to download (legally, of course, since he would never dream of taking somebody’s music without paying), so if it was a download he’d found, he’d call me and ask if I could buy it for him, burn it onto disc, and send it to him.  He’d pay me back quickly and was always very grateful that there was somebody to help him add the music that he loved to his collection.

I met Randy in person at each of the A Different Drum festivals in Salt Lake City.  He always participated enthusiastically, like it was one of the biggest events of his life to actually meet some of band members and to look through the piles of CD’s I’d bring to sell.  He brought his son along, and I remember that it was a big deal for Randy to take a photo of his boy with the members of Intuition.

Even after I disconnected A Different Drum’s official business phone number because of my change in full-time employment, Randy still had my cell phone number. I knew that cutting off that link with him would mean that his source for music was gone.  He didn’t know how to get music any other way, other than to have me get it for him.  He often called me and complained about the fact that these bands were so wonderful, but couldn’t be found in any music store.  He couldn’t understand why they weren’t famous, and why everybody didn’t know about synthpop and spacesynth music.  Why did so many of the CD’s that he loved have to come from places like Sweden, Poland, and Russia?  Why couldn’t he go into Walmart and buy his CD’s?  Yes…it was a genuine mystery to him, and no matter how much I tried to explain the music industry in simple terms, he just couldn’t accept that his music was so unknown to the world.  He’d say things to me again and again, like, “Todd, I know I’m not a very smart man, but this music makes me happy.  So why doesn’t the rest of the world love it too?”

Randy Webb passed away a couple of days after Christmas, much to my surprise and the surprise of his wife and son. Nobody knows why he died…and if the family has since found out, I haven’t heard.  It was a shocker.  A couple of days before Christmas, he’d left a message on my cell phone, asking if I could download the newest Spacesynth Christmas mix for him because it would make his holiday’s brighter.  I didn’t get back to him, because I was in the middle of the crazy retail season where I work, and when I finally got time off on Christmas day, I spent it with my family.  I figured I could get to the download after the holidays, and he’d still love it.  Then, I got another message on my cell phone from his wife, saying that Randy had passed away, and she wanted me to know, since she was aware that he’d been waiting for something from me.  I felt horrible and didn’t believe it at first.  I called back, but nobody answered, so I left a message, asking if I’d heard her words correctly.  Guilt set in because I hadn’t returned Randy’s call, and I hadn’t downloaded his music request.  I couldn’t help but think that somehow, one of the last things on his mind was, “What is taking Todd so long? I want to hear that new music!”  How many times in the past had he called me to check-up and see if I was able to get a CD from some foreign land, or if I’d had a chance to download a request for him?  He had always been too excited to wait very long.  Now, his final music request from me would never be fulfilled, and I felt badly about it.

I’ll miss Randy, and I feel for his wife and son who have to make some adjustments in the coming weeks, months, and years.  I don’t know what any of you believe, but as for myself, I am a religious person with a great faith that this life is not a random, meaningless even.  This life is a part of a journey.  Despite any of our joys, sorrows, successes, or hardships, what ultimately matters is what we choose to do with what we’re given.  That’s the test.  Randy was a good man, and I believe that even though I didn’t get that last order shipped to him, he’s continuing his journey, and wherever he is now, I’m betting he’s finding some great music.  Heck…maybe he’s relieved not to have to use the dang, computer contraption to search, and he doesn’t need to call some guy’s cell phone to get it for him.  Maybe it’s all right there for him, and for every other music lover to enjoy at any moment? It gives me relief to think of Randy in a wonderful place with wonderful music, because he deserves it. Anyway, I wanted to share a little bit about Randy Webb, a true synthpop fan who is no longer with us.  Thanks Randy!

Have a great weekend everybody, and please know that I appreciate you.
-Todd

December 27, 2013

A Different Drum Update - December 27th, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 6:29 pm

Hello friends of A Different Drum!  I hope that you all enjoyed a great Christmas, and that you are looking forward to a fun, fulfilling new year for 2014!  It seems that 2013 passed in a flash.  A Different Drum continued to see some changes as the label’s focus turned entirely to limited edition VIP releases and the store continued to “downsize” to feature primarily boutique, independent synthpop releases that deserve a moment in the spotlight.  In my own life, my work focus has necessarily turned to my full-time job as a music and lifestyles department manager in an entertainment retailer, which has been a lot of fun.  I only have one day per week to focus on A Different Drum, which is why it continues to operate on a much smaller scale than it did in the past.  All the same, I very much appreciated the support of the few, dedicated fans and friends, like you, who continue to purchase music from time and time, or who subscribe to the VIP program for every limited edition release.  Thanks!

This update is brief, with one new release having arrived in the store during Christmas week:

ALAN LAURIS “Q3″ $12 — This new release from the Dutch synthpop act is full of bouncy, bubbly, catchy tunes and quirky personality.  Check out the preview video and order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/AlanLQ3/Alan-Lauris-Q3

NOTE:  The pre-orders for the CD single by Isaac Junkie featuring Andy Bell still have not shipped, since I have not received the package from the label in Mexico yet.  I’m guessing the slow-down is because of the usual holiday delays.  I hope that they arrive soon so I can ship your pre-orders ASAP.

NEW EBAY AUCTIONS:

My daughter has just uploaded some new EBay auctions for you.  There are several package deals with t-shirts and CD’s.  Check them out here:

http://www.ebay.com/usr/adiffe

Click on “items for sale” to see of of the items that are offered, including another autographed Alphaville DVD.

Have a wonderful weekend, and an incredible new year!
-Todd

December 5, 2013

A Different Drum Update - December 5th, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 6:40 pm

This is Todd at A Different Drum.  I’d first like to announce that the 25% OFF sale continues through this weekend, but by Monday, the discount will be finished.  That’s just a few more days to select some CD’s you’d like to pick up for yourself or as gifts.   The discount is applied during “checkout”.

Speaking of “checking out”, I just want to remind users once again that you may get a “expired certificate” warning by your browser when you desire to order CD’s from A Different Drum’s website.  I let the certificate expire because I do not actually process any payment information through the website anyway.  Once you reach the point of paying for your order, you are forwarded to PAYPAL which is VERY secure to complete your checkout process.  Nothing is stored and transmitted on A Different Drum’s sight exact your name, address, and what you ordered so I can ship your order.  All payment information is securely processed by Paypal.

If you still have any concern, simply email me directly at todd@adifferentdrum.com with the list of items you would like to purchase, and I’ll email back a Paypal invoice that you can click to pay.

Now, for the new arrivals this week:

Electro Spectre “Pop Ghost - Limited Edition” $16 — This is a limited edition re-release of Electro Spectre’s first, 2007 album, including bonus tracks!  For fun, catchy synthpop, you can’t go wrong with Electro Spectre, and this edition features 8 bonus tracks!  Order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/RAZ007/Electro-Spectre-Pop-Ghost-Limited-Deluxe-Edition

Haberdashery “Pet Shop Boys” (CDEP) $7 — This is the new release by the romantic, smooth synthpop artist, Haberdashery.  It features four cover versions of songs by Pet Shop Boys.  Order this collectible release here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/HAB2013/Haberdashery-Pet-Shop-Boys

EBAY - HOLIDAY SPECIALS!

Here are a few Holiday Special Deals that I just listed on EBay, ending in 5 days, so they can ship out to you next week if you win the auction.  There are some inexpensive 3-pack deals, a couple deals with t-shirts included, and a couple rare items.  You can see the auctions here:
http://www.ebay.com/usr/adiffe

Click on the “see all items” list to make sure you see everything I’ve listed.  I may add some more tomorrow and Saturday, depending on how much time I have.

Thanks for your support!
-Todd

November 27, 2013

A Different Drum Sale - 25% OFF

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 3:52 pm

Hello, this is Todd at A Different Drum.  The holidays approach, and it’s time for a synthpop sale!  Order now and you’ll have a 25% discount taken off the total price when you checkout. This excludes the newest releases.   You can see the details (though I’ve just stated them) right here:

http://www.adifferentdrum.com/sale.php

This sale will last for the next week, so pick up the CD’s you’ve been wanting from the catalog at a great, discounted price, while you can.

Thanks for your support!
-Todd

November 15, 2013

A Different Drum Update - Nov. 15th, 2013 - History Part 9

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 3:32 pm

Hello friends of A Different Drum!  It is time for another update, and I’ll kick it off with a new arrival in the store, and a pre-order announcement.

PRE-ORDER NOW:

Isaac Junkie featuring Andy Bell “Breathing Love” (CDEP) $13 — You can now pre-order the upcoming CD release with Isaac Junkie featuring vocals by Erasure’s Andy Bell.  There are several remixes included, plus an Isaac Junkie rework of “A Little Respect”.  So, if the new Erasure “Snow Globe” album isn’t enough for you, then pre-order the upcoming, December release of “Breathing Love”.  You can pre-order here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/IJ2014-2/Isaac-Junkie-featuring-Andy-Bell-Breathing-Love

NEW ARRIVAL:

One Vista “Changing Places” $15 — This new import CD from Russia features a classic synthpop sound with female vocal leads.  Packed with 14 fun tracks, it is a nice introduction to this new synthpop duo.  Check out the sampler video and order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/SA023/One-Vista-Changing-Places

Remember, we also have in stock these recent arrivals worth checking out:

Brand New Day “Mind Games” $12 — Watch a video and order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/88450199066-0/Brand-New-Day-Mind-Games

Matt Springfield “Erase All Data” $15 — Watch a video and order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/AKA2012005/Matt-Springfield-Erase-All-Data

And now, it’s time for another installment of A Different Drum’s history, as promised…

A DIFFERENT DRUM HISTORY - PART 9 - CONVENTION INTENTIONS

I’ve mentioned some of the fun festivals in which I participated while building A Different Drum as a source for synthpop in the USA, but even with those fun, festival atmosphere’s, I felt like there could be something more interractive and rewarding for both the bands and the fans at such events. I started to look at the possibility of having some kind of synthpop convention put together, rather than a mere festival.  What is the difference?   Well…at a festival, you typically have a line-up of bands that are scheduled to perform, and though there are usually vending tables for band merchandise, there is really nothing more than the concert atmosphere.  That’s not to say that the concert atmosphere is lacking, but at a convention, there is more.

Look, for example, at the anime convention scene, which is something A Different Drum even dabbled in as an attempt to branch out and spread synthpop music to a new audience.  At the anime conventions (I attended several), you have a group of people who all love a similar genre, and they gather together for a weekend to share their love of anime.  They don’t just pile into a room and watch movies for hours and hours (though there are screenings available).   But they also have interactive panel discussions on topics relating to anime, and they have cosplay events featuring fans.  They have special, celebrity guests, they have a vending room loaded with vending tables for related products, and they have tons of parties, dances, and more.  It’s not just a show, but an interactive dreamland for fans.  Not only do the artists take the stage, but the fans as well, dressing up in costume and often receiving as much attention as any star would.  Whether you like the genre or not, it’s a party!

So, I thought that a synthpop convention could offer something similar — non-concert interaction between band members and fans, as well as panel discussions, a proper vendor room, and general social gatherings.  That kind of approach would seem more enticing for out-of-state, or even out-of-country visitors.  One small group of synthpop fans in Los Angeles, California felt the same way and we willing to take it upon themselves to start a convention.  They put their own money and efforts into the event, and I showed support by signing up as a vendor and helping to get some of my label bands involved.  I promoted it to A Different Drum’s fan base, and we saw the birth of SynthCon.  As the organizers found out, putting together a convention is more work than the average show.  There are many levels of planning, including putting together a deal with a hotel that will offer room discounts to attendees (which comes with some risky guarantees), and with a ballroom large enough to host the event, etc.  Scheduling is a lot of work, and taking care of all of the attending bands and special guests takes some manpower as well.  But it came together in a hotel in historic Hollywood, and when the weekend arrived, the small but well-organized convention took flight.

SynthCon featured bands from around the world, and there were even a couple of bands from A Different Drum’s label roster that I had never met in person until that event.  There was not a huge crowd in attendance, but it was an enthusiastic crowd, and I was very pleased with the support shown to the bands, as well as to the vendors like myself.  I still laugh when thinking back to a particular German synthpop duo who had shown up to play a show.  They did not bring any t-shirts or band merchandise to sell, but one of them was wearing a t-shirt that he had custom made with the band name on the front.  A fan walked up and offered to buy the shirt off of his back, just so they could have a t-shirt from every band there.  The band member agreed and took his shirt off, selling it for something like $20 to the enthusiastic fan.  I remember that there were representatives from several small electronic pop labels there, and we participated together in a panel discussion, or round-table, about how to promote and build the synthpop scene.  OK, I admit, I don’t remember too much from that meeting, except that one person mentioned a small company called CDBaby that was selling independent music with a completely new financial approach.  I remember thinking, “Well, I’m doing that, but with a focus on synthpop instead of every genre in the world.  They’re trying to do too much.”   That wasn’t the first time I’ve been wrong.  CDBaby quickly became the biggest name in independent music online distribution and eventually the owner sold the company for more than a million dollars and retired.  Sheesh…maybe I should have thought bigger!

I have many fond memories from that first SynthCon, including many of the friends I met for the first time.  I remember some awkward encounters between both bands and fans, simply because of the wide array of personalities present– like Midihead from the band Monolithic yelling in his strong voice, which echoed through the hotel lobby, “You don’t have permission to touch me!” I also remember the elaborate setup which Mark of Faith Assembly put together for his show so that it could be filmed for his “Windmills” DVD release and how stressed he was about getting everything to work out as he envisioned. I remember an award presentation during the convention where I got to go up on stage to receive a plaque for best synthpop compilation, or something like that.  It was fun, and I remember pumping my first and screaming or something, providing a silly photo-op which would haunt me online for a while.   I remember a long, and somewhat strange, speech by Kurt of Information Society, where he basically talked about not trusting anybody in the music business, including your band members, when it comes to business (which was particularly awkward considering there were several bands there and small labels, all feeling a great deal of unity and affection for one another).   Oh, there are plenty of memories with that convention, and they are overwhelmingly positive and worthy of big smiles.

I also remember not getting much sleep at all.  As usual, my buddy, Gary, had traveled with me, since he hated missing any opportunity to go to such events, and even after the long days and evenings of shows were over, we’d sit up talking and laughing.  I was so exhausted after three days of SynthCon that as I was sitting in the airport having a chat with Gary, I remember bursting into tears while telling about some story from my childhood.  You know how it is when you haven’t slept properly for days, that everything suddenly seems extremely emotional.

In the end, the organizers lost money, as usual.  I don’t know how much, but it was enough that the key people involved didn’t stick around to do it again the next year.  Somebody else took up the reigns for the next SynthCon, and that one didn’t turn out quite as well.  It started OK, in a different hotel, near the Los Angeles airport, with the vending tables and shows in small rooms in the basement.  But the next morning we found out that the hotel had not actually been paid for the facilities, so the remaining shows were booted out and thrown together for one more night at a small, local club where the attendees could barely squeeze in.  I remember that Freezepop, who was quite popular with the youth at the time, was attending as a band, and when they had to play in the club, some of their fans were suddenly too young to get into the club.  I felt bad for them, so Joey of The Echoing Green and I decided to call them groupies and have them help carry the band’s equipment into the club to set up for sound check.  Then they just stayed there so when the club actually opened and ID’s were being checked, those young fans were already sitting inside.  Pretty sneaky…but you don’t ask these teens to travel the country and then more to a venue where they can’t get in, right?

I remember spending some time talking with Claude from Anything Box at a small table in the club, looking back at some of the business that had gone down with his music over the last few years.  Again, I was able to meet and talk to several new people, and loved hanging out with some of the repeat attendees who I would see all over the country from that point forward. But the SynthCon convention itself looked to be doomed as it financially crumbled to the dust.  But hey, at least they tried!

I did attend some anime conventions, including a huge one in Santa Clara, California, and then a smaller one for a few years in Boise, Idaho.  And at those conventions, the organizers thought it was a great idea to have an electronic pop band show up and play a show.  In Boise, they even made it a tradition for a little while to have a dance, where A Different Drum would provide a live band.  B! Machine played a show at one of those conventions where the audience did not want to stop dancing, and Nate only existed the stage because he simply had to go to the restroom…otherwise it might have gone on all night.  Voice Industrie played a great show at one of those conventions as well.  A Different Drum’s vending booth always good enough support to make the trip worthwhile, as a completely new audience would hear the music and begin their synthpop CD collections.

Eventually, I hired a young woman name Rachael Haring, who lived on the east coast and had the perfect combination of enthusiastic support for synthpop as well as a love of anime conventions.  I hired her as a sales representative for A Different Drum and booked a booth at as many as a dozen anime conventions through the course of a couple of years.  She had a special knack for promoting the music and sold a good number of CD’s.  Because of her efforts, I even put together a couple of label compilations with anime-style artwork just to cater to the new audience.  Plus we put together the “Listen to the Future” CD+Book combination which was the most expensive release on A Different Drum’s label, just to bring some different art forms together and promote at the conventions.  Cosmicity got to play a show at a convention on the east coast, thanks to the efforts of Rachael and the support of the anime audience.  Rachael eventually met her would-be husband and stepped down, leaving A Different Drum’s anime period behind.  There was nobody else that I could find who could do as much as she did.  It was one of the high points of A Different Drum’s history, in my opinion.  Maybe it didn’t make a lot of money, but Rachael got to attend her conventions for free, plus she made enough money on CD commissions to have a great weekend, plus I’d get a check in the mail a few days later with the remaining sales, allowing the label to put out more music.

When I put together the final festivals for A Different Drum’s labels in Salt Lake City, I originally hoped to bring back a convention feel, booking the events in a hotel with room blocks available for attendees, and informal gatherings to discuss the music business, etc.  But, the support didn’t come in the numbers necessary, and eventually it became clear that each time would attract basically the same, small group of people, so I gave it up and haven’t gone back.  Maybe some day there will be a convention for synthpop again.  At least we can dream.

In the years between SynthCon and the later A Different Drum festivals, there were other fun events, including one of the largest and most impressive multi-band events I’ve attended in my days working with synthpop– Synthpop Goes the World!   I’ll discuss some more memories of my trips to different events in the next historical piece.

Thanks for reading!
-Todd

October 28, 2013

A Different Drum Update - October 28th, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 11:28 am

Hello friend!  This is a quick update from Todd at A Different Drum.  Happy Halloween this week!  I have a couple of new releases I wanted to mention this week.

NEW ARRIVALS:

Brand New Day “Mind Games” $12 — This new album from the US synthpop act is now available, featuring 13 new songs and a couple of bonus mixes as well.  You can check out a music video for one of the songs and order the new CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/88450199066-0/Brand-New-Day-Mind-Games

Matt Springfield “Erase All Data” $15 — This is a strong debut synthpop release from Matt Springfield, with very catchy tunes and a classic, melodic sound.  You can watch one of the videos and order the European import CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/AKA2012005/Matt-Springfield-Erase-All-Data

I don’t have time right now to write another historical piece, but I hope to soon.  If ever you’d like to order from A Different Drum, but don’t want to use the website, just email me your list of CD’s and I can invoice you through email.  I’ve tried to keep things small and simple the last couple of years, but I’m still happy to worth through direct email if you prefer that way.  The invoices I send are through Paypal and include a simple link to pay with your credit card or Paypal account.

Thanks for your support!
-Todd

October 9, 2013

A Different Drum Update - October 9th, 2013 - History Part 8

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 5:52 pm

Hello, this is Todd at A Different Drum, sending out an update with a few new items in the store this week!  First and foremost, the website is fixed!  Yippee!  You can once again order with ease at www.adifferentdrum.com

As usual, you’ll be forwarded to Paypal for secure checkout and all things should work smoothly for you.

Here are three new CD titles that you can now order:

Interface “The Perfect World” $15 — This is an electronic band that has sold consistently through A Different Drum’s store through the years, playing a nice blend of dark synthpop and electronic dance music with an edge.  This is their new album, just released and available for order here:

http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/NR065/Interface-The-Perfect-World

Daniel Hall “Deep Down” $16 — An import from Australia, this one-man synthpop act has essentially put together a double-album of 19 tracks which will introduce you to his music in a thorough and fun way.  He has a knack for catchy songs and classic synthpop sounds and is a great addition to A Different Drum’s store, bringing some fun synthpop discoveries from around the world.  You can order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/DH2013/Daniel-Hall-Deep-Down

Sir Joe “Universal Laws” $15 — Speaking of fun synthpop imports from around the world, here is a new offering from Russia’s ScentAir Records.  Sir Joe creates a solid synthpop sound with clever lyrics on this debut album.  Check out the sample and order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/SA021/Sir-Joe-Universal-Laws

Just as a reminder, if you’re ever trying to remember the latest arrivals in A Different Drum’s store, you can always go to the new arrivals page, which can be found here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/catalog/new/

Now, for the next little installment in A Different Drum’s history…

A DIFFERENT DRUM HISTORY - PART 8 - HITTING THE ROAD

I’ve written previously about a few small shows and a festival that were organized within an hour’s drive from where I lived in Provo, Utah during A Different Drum’s earlier years.  After those shows, I had to back away a bit from directly sponsoring and funding events, but I couldn’t stay away for long.  I often used online forums to discuss hopes and dreams for synthpop events with other fans, some of whom later began sponsoring shows of their own.  One of the next big events that I directly organized, at my own financial risk, was a traveling, 2-day festival.  I thought that it would be a new and exciting approach to take the festival mentality, with multiple bands, but send it on the road to the fans instead of asking fans to travel to a single event.

Touring has always been a challenge in the USA for small bands like are found in the synthpop scene. Bands in Europe seemed to have an advantage because they could travel around in relatively short distances to hit their receptive audiences in established clubs.  But in the USA, the geographical distances between major cities with receptive clubs are much larger.  For example, if you were to tour in Germany, you could hit a dozen major cities and play those shows in a geographical area about as large as the state of New Mexico.  But in the USA, you would be lucky to find one show in the state of New Mexico, and the next closest would probably be in Texas, many hundreds of miles away (just an example for geographical perspective).  So, to hit a dozen shows in the USA, you are probably looking at thousands of miles of travel to get from places like Miami, to Dallas, to Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, etc.  See the challenge?  Once you’re talking about those distances, then you’re looking at either a lot of time spent driving around vast stretches of ground, or you’re looking at the much higher expense of flying from show to show.  That doesn’t mean it is impossible, but it means that if you are a band that might make a couple hundred dollars selling CD’s and t-shirts, then you’re going to spend a lot more than you’re going to earn, merely in travel expenses.  That is why many smaller synthpop bands never (or rarely) toured the USA.

I mention this because it factored into my planning for A Different Drum’s “Summer Synthpop Festival 2000″ tour. I contacted the label bands, many of whom had never been to the USA for a show before, and told them, “if you can get yourselves here, then let’s work together to make sure you get a few shows packed into a couple of weeks.”  I chose to stage those shows on the eastern side of the USA because the cities are closer together, but figured that we could pool together those bands and save on expenses as well.  Perhaps the larger number of bands would draw larger audiences and result in better ticket sales so that the bands could take such a trip without losing too much money.  Several bands from the USA were interested, including B! Machine, Faith Assembly, The Echoing Green, Count to Infinity, and Cosmicity.  Plus a couple overseas bands joined the effort, including Neuropa and Neuroactive.  The band Iris also opted to play only the first two shows.  Everybody was excited about the prospects and I began contacting promoters in a few major cities to see what I could pull together.

I tried to use a flexible business approach when booking the shows, keeping it affordable, but also trying to make sure we weren’t going to make all the effort for nothing. Working with promoters is known to be a bit shady.  Sure, there are some very dedicated promoters working in great clubs that always come through with their side of the bargain, but bad deals have been known to go down in this business.  I asked for a simple fee– half paid in advance, and half paid at the event.  I asked for two nights so that they could have 4 acts play one night, and then 3 or 4 the next night, giving each location the feeling of a multi-band, multi-day festival.  In the end, I was able to book only five stops, keeping the bands on the road for about two weeks with the performance days and the driving days. However, two of the three promoters had waffled on the advance payment, still promising that they’d come through…they just needed the ticket sales first so that they could hand over the cash.  You want to know how much?  Of course you do!  We were asking for $2,000 for seven bands.  We thought that was a great deal, considering two of them were from overseas and the promoters didn’t have to worry about anything else, like hotels, airfares, van rentals, etc.  They just pay the fee and we would take care of the rest.  Five shows would ideally bring in $10,000 which would cover all the travel and expenses for the road trip, all the hotel rooms for two weeks, plus possibly pitch in some for the airline tickets if anything was left.  It seemed a solid plan.

The bands started in New York City, and it was a very strong start to the tour, leaving all the bands in great spirits and excited to move onward.  I remember showing up early at the venue for sound checks to find that there was already a line outside the doors with hours before opening. I talked to some of the fans who were waiting in line, and they seemed genuinely excited to be there.  I had a great time hanging out with my friends from the bands, meeting some for the first time.  I also met David Lin of Synthphony Records who invited me to lunch while I was in town, among other people I’d only known online until that event.  I went with the band members to pick up two full-sized rental vans which would be used to haul the bodies, the equipment, and the merchandise during the entire trip, though I wasn’t planning to make the road trip myself.  I was only there to help kick things off in New York City.

Speaking of merchandise, I made sure the bands had plenty.  I brought boxes of their individual CD’s, letting them know that any CD’s they sold on the road would contribute to their own expenses.  Plus, I had made a special, limited edition compilation with a track from each band (catalog number ADDCD1058).  We had t-shirts made as well, hoping that the merchandise could bring in whatever funds were lacking.

The two-night show in New York City was great– fun music and fun fans!  I remember working at the merchandise table in the back of the club and having somebody come to me and ask for an autograph for the first time (and I think the only time).  It took me by surprise that somebody actually wanted a boring, business guy to autograph the festival compilation CD.

“You don’t really want me to write on your CD cover, right?”

“Yes, I’m serious.  Please autograph it.”

“Well…OK.”  I scribbled my autograph and proudly told my band buddies that I’d just been asked for an autograph.  They congratulated me with smiles.  Of course, the band members were autographing CD’s the entire night.  The promoter paid the fees and I’m pretty sure made a little profit on the show, and everybody was ready for the next one.

Next up on the tour was Washington DC.  I said goodbye to the guys, leaving Joey Belville of The Echoing Green in charge as the road manager.  Joey is one of the super-stars of America’s synthpop scene.  I can’t say enough about the guy.  He had spent many, many weeks on the road with his band in the past and by far had the most experience gigging.  I felt I could trust him 100% and I always have.  He’s one of the friendliest, most courteous, and most professional guys I’ve worked with, and he is always quick to show gratitude and help other people along.  Not to get too side-tracked here, but when you’re working in a tight scene, like I have, you find that many of the bands are friendly with one another and work together, but at the same time those individuals may harbor a competitive spirit, unable to completely avoid comparing their own successes (or lack or success) to others.  It’s hard to avoid that when you have people pursuing the same dreams and wondering if they’ll ever be “as popular as so-and-so” or if they’re selling as much as “the other guy”.  This wasn’t something that came out in the open very often, but you can sense it sometimes when you get down to the business side of things and certain band members start wondering why things don’t seem as good as what they’ve perceived elsewhere.  One thing I can say about Joey is that I never, ever got that feeling with him.  He was always quick to thank me for any effort that I made, always first to volunteer for any venture, and always lifted the spirits and hopes of those around him.  He’s a quality guy.  Anyway, I sent Joey and the other bands on the road with my fingers crossed, then flew back home where I could man the phone and try to work out the kinks with a couple of the other shows and promoters.

I was happy to get word that the DC show went off without a hitch.  The club set up the two nights perfectly and the band members all seemed to have the time of their lives, saying that it was even more energetic and successful than New York City had been.  They reported that the fans in DC were even more enthusiastic and the merchandise sales had done very well.  They left the 2nd city on the tour, once again in very high spirits and with very high hopes, heading next to Philadelphia.

If I remember right, it was only a couple days before the scheduled event in Philadelphia that I got word from the promoter that the gig had been cut down to one night. For some reason, they were not able or willing to get the club venue for two full nights. Iris had finished playing their first two nights, so it was down to seven bands at this point, but those seven bands were not happy to discover that they had to figure out who to cut from the show, because all seven could not possibly play in one night.  The promoter had some of the say in who would take the stage, and who would not.  I don’t remember much about the financial side of that particular stop, but remember that not everybody was happy with the unexpected change.  Needless to say, there were still fans there, and the bands who played put on a good show, and though they lost a night which they had to spend in a hotel without having anything to do, they moved onward, again with high hopes.

The next scheduled stop turned out to be a total bust.  This was a promoter that had said the advance wasn’t going to make it in time because tickets could only be sold at the door…or something like that.  The two vans made a long drive to Rochester, in upstate New York, and the guys piled out at the club address, ready to set up.  What they found was a promoter who looked embarrassed, apologizing because apparently he hadn’t worked out the gig with the club…at all.  So, here were a dozen guys, tired from the trip, ready to play, only to find out that there was no show.  The promoter took a couple hundred bucks from his pocket, handed it to Joey and basically said, “Sorry guys, it didn’t work out, but hopefully this can buy you dinner.”  It was thoughtful to give up his own money to help, but was definitely a huge disappointment and financial crunch to our tour. After all, this group still had to eat, still had to pay for the hotel rooms, even without the gig.  The gang went to the hotel and checked in, then took the night off, getting some much needed rest.  I think it was somewhere here that Mark of Faith Assembly managed to get his hair colored and the band members were able to become closer friends, just killing a little a time, watching movies in the hotel, etc.  They left a day early to go to the final city on the tour, Chicago.

Luckily, when the bands arrived in Chicago, things were set up as they were supposed to be, with a good venue, good fans, and the payment as promised.  The bands were happily able to sell some merchandise (which obviously hadn’t happened at the previous stop).  After two nights in Chicago, everybody piled back in the vans and made the drive back to New York.  Nate Nicolle of B! Machine and Joey stayed behind the wheels for most of the travel hours, which were many, leaving them completely exhausted by the time everybody was back in New York and catching their planes back home.

To this day, some of those guys who went on the Summer Synthpop Festival 2000 tour still say that it was the most fun they’ve had as bands, despite the kinks.  Financially, it worked out about like everything else I’d done to that point– losing money on the expenses, but building great memories and a foundation for the future.  It gave some guys a chance to meet the fans and the fans a chance to meet the bands.  I remember asking bands to assemble for future events, and I’d almost always hear something like this:  “If this is going to be another crazy road show, then yes, count us in!”

However, the traveling festival days were over and I never tried to set up such a thing again.  Sure, I set up festivals in other cities, but they were single stops, rather than multiple-city tours.  Don’t get me wrong– if I had the money and the time, I’d send out the call again, asking bands from around the world to come together for a tour across the entire USA.  That would be a dream come true, and this time, I’d stay with them for the entire trip.  But even the short, two weeks, with hundreds of miles behind the wheel, proved that the obstacles to such endeavors were very real.  It was expensive, time-consuming, and logistically hard to put together such a thing in our small scene.  No regrets though.  I still have my festival CD sampler on my shelf, and I know that everybody who went could tell many stories about the trip– many of which I know I haven’t heard.  Those were good times.

There was another trip I took a few years later that was multi-city, hitting a few east coast cities like Washington DC, Baltimore, Richmond VA, etc. But I was traveling with only one band (Cosmicity) and my old buddy, Gary (the one who had co-sponsored my first two shows).  So, it was not large scale, and there was no big expense for the clubs.  We simply volunteered to bring one live band for a quick show, and set up a merchandise table from A Different Drum in the club, and basically meet people.  In a way, we were bringing A Different Drum off the web and out to the streets.  Gary and I had some good times driving to those small gigs and it was fun to visit the different clubs that were playing synthpop music at the time. It gave a personal face to the scene.

Gary and I also made a very memorable trip to New York City where we set up a merchandise table at The Bat Cave, one of the most well-known clubs in the city for synthpop, industrial, gothic, etc.  There were no bands involved, but we wanted to get out and sell some stuff and meet some people once again.  The night was fun, and the club was something to be experienced, for sure. I’ll never forget Gary’s visit to the small restroom on the upper floor of the club, not knowing that it was unisex, and feeling trapped in the stall in horror, thinking he must have accidently gone into the ladies’ room.

This was a trip that happened only a month after the infamous 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. Though weeks had gone by, a plume of smoke was still slithering into the air from the scar on Manhattan’s business district, and travel was down to a bare minimum.  When we were in JFK airport for our flight home, it was like a ghost town.  Most of the restaurants and vendors in the airport were closed, and what had been an extremely busy international travel hub had only a few people silently wandering the vast terminals.  We were lucky to make that trip.  I felt like, despite the horrible events that had hit New York City, it was important to move forward, to meet people, and to show that we could still enjoy music and dancing. Plus, I simply wanted to be there– I wanted to go support a city that was hurting, even if my support was miniscule and only meaningful to myself.  It was wonderful to return on future trips to find the city full of crowds and tourists once again.

Thanks to all of you who have visited me on these trips, and who have supported the bands by going to the shows, even if those appearances were rare.  It has meant a lot to me, and I know it has meant a lot to those bands.

NEXT….PART 9 - CONVENTION INTENTIONS

-Todd

September 30, 2013

A Different Drum - Website Ordering Options

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 10:56 pm

Hello, this is Todd at A Different Drum.

For the last week I’ve been trying to get a problem fixed that has made it impossible to place orders on A Different Drum’s website.  There has been a “bot” program or something trying to mess with the forms.  Fortunately, there is no sensitive information stored on the site, so there isn’t any danger to any customers, but it makes it so that the server had to block the attacks, resulting in customers not being able to complete checkout.  It’s one of the complicated and irritating technology things… Argh!

Anyway, for those of you who want to order some CD’’s, which I’d appreciate since I don’t have any order for the last week, here are some alternatives.

First, you can check out the current catalog and order through GEMM, where I’ve uploaded my inventory list.  Shop here:

http://www.add.gemm.com/

Also, I’m listing specific new releases on EBay for you to click to buy.  They are not auctions, but simply “buy it now” offers so that you can pick up the hottest new CD’s quickly and easily.  I like this option, since checkout through EBay is very easy:

Here is a link to buy BLUME “Autumn Ruins” CD.  Click here:
www.ebay.com/itm/181229676107

Here is a link to buy GLASNOST “Mirror” CD. Click here:
www.ebay.com/itm/181229677545

Here is a link to buy “What We’ve Done Lately” compilation CD.  Click here:
www.ebay.com/itm/181229678178

Here is a link to buy NEUTRAL LIES “Cryptex” CD.  Click here:
www.ebay.com/itm/181229678926

That’s all I’ve got time to list on EBay tonight (have to get to bed so I can work in the morning).  I’ll try to put some more up there this, so you can keep checking back.  There are a couple other sales I’ve got going on EBay right now.

Hopefully this website issue can be worked out soon.  It’s been running for many years, so it is a shame to suddenly have it ruined by what is probably some hacker kids running bot programs for kicks.  Such is the world we live in.

Have a wonderful week!  ALSO, if you have ANYTHING you’d like to buy from the online catalog, you can still browse all the CD’s here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/catalog/all/

And then email me at todd@adifferentdrum.com and I can simply send you a Paypal invoice for your entire order…if that’s what you prefer.  I’ll do whatever I can to make it easy for you.

Thanks,
Todd

September 27, 2013

A Different Drum Update - Sept. 26th, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 9:48 am

Hello friends of A Different Drum!  I have a little update for you.  Sorry…no history installment this week, since I haven’t had a chance to write the next one yet.  I’ll get to it soon, for those of you who have enjoyed reading them.

Instead, I have a new release, and some bulk-lot deals that might interest you.

If you are interested in trying out a bunch of CD’s at a low price, I put together a box of 35 CD’s for you, all in new condition, with an average price of less than $3 each, including some imports and limited editions!  Maybe you have some of them, but not others…it might still be worth picking them up just for the ones you don’t have.  Or maybe you want to buy them and give them away as gifts for the upcoming holiday…or maybe use them as decorations.  Whatever your intent, you can pick up one of them here.  That is…if you act fast and get one of the three boxes available.  Yes, I only have three of them available, because of limited quantities of certain included items.

Here is the link:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/181226896275

That is not an auction, but a “buy it now” link on EBay with three boxes of the same CD’s offered.

If you’re more into the auction spirit, then here is a mixed box lot you can bid on:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/181226801354

And here is a new arrival in A Different Drum’s store:

Glasnost “Mirror” $16 — This is a fun, collaborative project with one band member from Argentina, and the other from Greece, working across the globe to make their music.  You can check out a youtube video and order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/TW1-110/Glasnost-Mirror

Well, that’s all for today.  Thanks for your support!
-Todd

September 14, 2013

A Different Drum Update - September 14th, 2013 - History Part 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 11:41 am

Hello friends of A Different Drum!  It’s time for another little update and the next installment in my series of Historical pieces.  I hope these bits of A Different Drum’s history are interesting to you.  If they are, remember that you can read them all by going to adifferentdrum.com and clicking on the blog link.

http://www.adifferentdrum.com/blog/

I haven’t received anything new in the store for a couple of weeks.  There are a couple of new things coming soon, one of which you are welcome to pre-order immediately.  I will be receiving the CD’s soon and will ship to the pre-orders as soon as they arrive:

BLUME “Autumn Ruins” $15 — The impressive, 2nd album from Blume is now available for pre-order!   Their first album made quite a splash in the scene with their powerful sound.  Pre-order their new album here and it will be shipped very soon:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/WTII_Blume/Blume-Autumn-Ruins

Also, as most of you know, A Different Drum’s label focuses entirely on limited edition releases of 300 CD’s each, released one per month through the VIP Subscriber program.  Those CD’s do not become available in A Different Drum’s online store because they are essentially sold-out upon release, with only a handful of copies making it out to other, online outlets.  The easiest way to get them is of course to subscribe.

I happen to have a few extra copies of two recent compilation releases, so I’m going to make a limited time offer to those of you who would like to order them on A Different Drum’s website.  These are available only in limited quantities, so order quickly if you want one…or two…or whatever.

Various Artists “What We’ve Done Lately” $12 — This compilation features new songs and remixes from bands who have been a part of A Different Drum’s label through the years, including Faith Assembly, Provision, Neuroactive, Wave In Head, B! Machine, and more!  Definitely worth collecting!   Order it here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/ADDCD1307/Various-Artists-What-We-ve-Done-Lately

Various Artists “A Different Mix Volume 8″ $12 — This is a collection of remixes produced by Syrian for other bands.  There are Syrian remixes for tracks by Real Life, TOY, Intuition, Cosmicity, and more!  Order this limited edition CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/ADDCD1327/Various-Artists-A-Different-Mix-Volume-8

Now, for the next installment in A Different Drum’s history…

A DIFFERENT DRUM HISTORY - PART 7 – LET’S HAVE A PARTY

I still have not scanned the old photos that my wife found, so those will still come at a future time. For now, I thought I’d focus for a moment a couple attempts I made with A Different Drum to create more of a festival or convention atmosphere for our little scene.

My first venture into an event of a larger scale was with a show I called Synthstock. As I’ve already mentioned in a previous installment, I’d worked with my friend, Gary, to put on a couple of small, club shows. Those had gone relatively well, and though not profitable, had proven to be a great way to create good relationships within the scene and to win the attention of new fans and customers. The more active A Different Drum was in building an audience, the better. The concept behind Synthstock was to create a bigger, multi-band event (playfully named after Woodstock, but for synth bands), with the intention of appealing not only to local fans, but also tempting people from outside of the area to travel to the event. Looking back, there are things I would have done differently, and which could have helped with the success of the event, but at the time, I had only done a couple of small shows and thus had very limited experience. So, I approached the idea from a concert standpoint. Basically, I’d book a couple of cool, headliner bands (I went with Anything Box and Seven Red Seven, since I’d worked with them before), then I’d invite a bunch of newer acts to join in. I’d pay for most of the expenses so that the bands didn’t feel like it was too costly to participate. The headliners had all expenses covered, while the lesser known bands would have meals and hotel rooms, etc. covered, but would have to get to Salt Lake City on their own.

In putting together the concept for the show, I was approached by a couple of members of a new band that was based in Utah, and they decided to help to organize and finance the event. We’d put up the money for the venue (a building on the Utah State Fairgrounds which was large, yet affordable), plus we’d pay for a bunch of hotel rooms for bands, plus a larger, commons room where we could all meet up for meals and hang out, etc. Plus we had to pay for a sound system and other related expenses. The costs added up quickly. Excitement started to mount, and I heard from several fans who planned to drive or fly to Salt Lake City for the event, including Jeri Beck of the Control-Alt-Delete network. Jeri was considered a sort of mother figure of synthpop at the time, so her presence would only add to the atmosphere. My hopes were high, but once we reached the big day, it was apparent that we were not going to get much more than about three-hundred attendees. Yes, we were going to lose a lot of money. This wasn’t going to be one of those $750 losses like before, but would instead reach into the thousands. I kept a smile on my face and enjoyed the moment, feeling excited to once again hang out with people who shared my interests and interact with bands that had come from around the country. I had to think of it as a large, promotional cost that would help to build the credibility of A Different Drum for the long term. The bands put on great performances and sold quite a few CD’s and t-shirts to the people who were supportive enough to come, and I didn’t get the feeling that anybody considered it a waste of time.

I remember hanging out in the commons room at the Little America hotel where we’d booked rooms for everybody. There were a lot of people moving in and out of the room before and after the festival–many laughing, many sharing thoughts on the music scene, and everybody generally having a wonderful time. There was a representative from another start-up label hanging out, talking business and getting a foot in the door with a couple of the bands that were there, which was fine, though I didn’t really know why this guy was suddenly everywhere, talking about huge contracts and sending out strange vibes. Maybe I was supposed to be a little bit threatened by the presence of somebody else on the scene—somebody who apparently had plenty of money to lose? Oh well…I just reminded myself that these kinds of things didn’t happen often, so might as well make the most of it and not let the odd hubbub in the background deter too much from the overall picture.

There was a guy who came up to me after the end of the show, while still at the venue on the fairgrounds, speaking in Spanish and explaining that he had come all the way from Peru for the festival. I was impressed! He cradled an armful of treasures—band t-shirts and autographed CD’s. Anything Box was his favorite band in the world, so he’d crossed international borders to see them at Synthstock. He’d spend all of his money on the airline tickets and on the merchandise he now possessed, but hadn’t considered where he was going to stay for the next night and day, or how he was going to get to the airport to catch his flight home. He was apparently stranded in a foreign country, unable to speak much English, and out of money. I told him that he could hang out after the show in the commons room for a little while, which I think he loved because he was basically “backstage” watching a bunch of bands talking and laughing, though I’m sure he didn’t understand what anybody was saying. He sat there with a smile plastered on his face, and whenever somebody asked who he was, I simply told them that he’d come from Peru for the show and was going to hang out for a while. Eventually, as the wee hours of the night faded into the morning, people had filed back to their own rooms to rest before catching flights home, and only our Peruvian friend was left. I had to drive back to Provo, and the rooms had to be vacated before 11AM, so I told him I could drop him off somewhere—maybe at the airport—and he’d have to kill time until his flight several hours later. I hadn’t slept for a long time, so I was very tired, and I felt sorry for leaving the guy, but I couldn’t exactly take him home for the day, only to drive him back to the airport later. I dropped him off in the city and waved goodbye. That man showed a kind of dedication that I later discovered was every bit as strong in many synthpop fans from around the world. It was hard for me to believe that my little, financially disastrous attempt at a festival would give a guy from thousands of miles away a chance to meet his favorite band in person. Later, as I participated in other events, I found other people like him—not always from as far away, but just as driven in their passion for the music.

Through these attempts to build the scene, I met friends who became regular attendees at festivals and shows all over the country, coming from all over to participate. There was a wonderful woman named Barbara Bowen who came to an event in Los Angeles called Synthcon, and there met Jan-Erik from Sweden. This wonderful couple entered into a long relationship that stretched across the ocean, bringing them together whenever there was a big synthpop or electronic music event. They showed up everywhere, and we had wonderful times together as friends. We ate a dinner of Chinese take-out at three in the morning, in a park in Toronto after the Synthpop Goes the World Festival. We argued politics at a Dunkin Donuts in Connecticut at another festival. We met up several times in Salt Lake City during A Different Drum’s final festivals, spending time at the Red Lion Hotel talking about music until very late every night. There is a man named Steve Ramage who showed up regularly at shows, and one year in Salt Lake City went with me to help load up some cheap rental lights into my van. While at the lighting company, he felt like he wanted to pitch in some cash for a couple extra effects, so he spent his own money to add a strobe and a spinning light fixture for the small stage. This same wonderful man sent my fourth child an incredible baby gift including some money that she still has in a savings account nine years later, just because he felt like he was supporting his own little family. There is Ken DeWit from Canada who drove down with his wife, Sanda, to attend an event in Salt Lake City where Alphaville played their first show in the USA. We’d known each other for a long time through the phone and the internet, but here he was, in person at a show, hanging out with Myra and I and staying in the same, cheap Econolodge. He even brought us an entire bucket of real honey from his father’s honey bee farm! There’s Sal Amato (I’ve mentioned him before) who let me stay at his house a couple of times when I went to New York for different events. He’d drive me into the city to show me around, including taking me to a cool Japanese music store where he had discovered some great, import CD’s. There was this Russian gentleman named Vladimir who lives in Canada, and he seemed to show up pretty much anywhere A Different Drum travelled, always spending more money on CD’s than anybody else. I remember one late night in Stamford, Connecticut when Vladimir asked me to put his name on a few CD’s that he would pick up the next night of the festival. It was late, and I had spent many hours interacting with a lot of people, so I tried to remember his name, and for a few seconds, I couldn’t.

I embarrassingly mumbled, “OK, what’s your name?”

“You know my name,” he said, shaking his head in wonder.

“Um, I do…but I don’t…right now.”

He didn’t say his name, but simply chuckled and faded into the crowded club. “Vladimir!” I remembered, wrote it on a piece of paper, and stuck it in his box of CD’s. I swear, that guy’s purchases probably paid for my hotel room every time I travelled to a festival. Thanks Vladimir!

I’ll share more stories and details about these individual events later, but I just wanted to say that each of these parties, festivals, conventions, etc. became an opportunity to meet more people and feel like I was part of a much larger mesh of real-life individuals with their own personalities and stories to weave into the fabric of the scene. It was no longer just about meeting bands and watching them play concerts on small stages, but was much more about who else I would see while I was there. I remember during one of those final festivals that A Different Drum sponsored in Salt Lake City, I was talking with Barbara, Jan-Erik, Marcus of Rename, Gary, and others who have all become close friends through the years. We were wondering when we’d see each other again and came to realize that it probably would not be at another synthpop festival, because they were becoming increasingly difficult to organize. I was no longer in a position to write off any losses as I had my family’s best interests in mind. All of us agreed that it didn’t matter if there was even a show. If we were to just pick a location where we could all come together for a few days, we would be content just to talk, listen to music, and laugh about the good old days. The festival would be one of friendship more than one of music, and that would be just fine. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened, and it has been years since I’ve seen many of these people. Maybe one day we’ll have our little friendship festival in some hotel, kicking back in the hot tub with And One pounding on stereo system, and a pizza box sitting on a nearby table. Then I’ll remember what was really wonderful about my job, and why A Different Drum has always been so hard to give up.

Synthstock was the first larger event I tried, and after that I had to forego promoting such events for a while, though my heart would pull me back into such attempts a few years later. There was a second Synthstock event in Salt Lake City a year or two after the first, but I wasn’t really involved. It was promoted by one of the co-sponsors of the first show, apparently eager to give it another try, out of his own love for the music. I sold tickets through my website at first, but stopped selling those tickets once the original band lineup, event date, and venue was changed, causing quite a bit of confusion and complaints from those who had purchased tickets through my website and who had made travel plans. Though I supported the idea of the show, I didn’t want to get caught in the middle of the ensuing confusion about the event and the requests for ticket refunds, since all ticket money had been delivered to the promoter. So, I backed away. My attempt to disconnect my business from the event resulted in some bad feelings on the part of the promoter, which was regrettable and ended up being one of the very few times that I felt like there was negativity coming into our very small scene. I never meant to hurt anybody by withdrawing my online support, only acting in the interest of my customers. I hoped that the promoter would succeed in putting together the new lineup, but I continued to receive anonymous hate mails for a while claiming that I was trying to destroy synthpop…or something like that. Yikes! As it turned out, I didn’t attend that second Synthstock. Another band I was working with came to Salt Lake City (I think it was Faith Assembly) and played a show in a small club, so I was there instead. In the end, everything was fine, though the tension involved meant that Synthstock was over. Other events would follow—some organized by A Different Drum, and some organized by other dedicated people. There was the traveling Summer Synthpop Festival 2000, there was Synthcon (numbers one and two), there was the amazing Synthpop Goes the World, and other shows in places like Detroit, San Antonio, Minneapolis, New York, etc. finally ending with A Different Drum’s label festivals back in Salt Lake City. Basically, these parties went full-circle for me, starting at home in Utah, then taking me on the road to places I’d never been before, and eventually leading right back home again before giving them up entirely. The next few (not sure how many) historical pieces will focus on the road trips, as A Different Drum spread its wings.

Next up…

PART 8 – HITTING THE ROAD

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