[Untitled. Ink on cardboard, business-card size etc.]
I’m always on the lookout for new things that inspire me; it’s part of my job. Here’s one to add to the list:
It was last March or so, just after I had gotten back home from SXSW Interactive ’09 in Austin.
I was drinking a beer at The Railroad Blues, like I often do. Instead of the usual Blues, Country and “American Roots” bands they were used to having, the band playing that night was a young Indie/Powerpop/Alternative group from Limerick, Ireland, called “We Should Be Dead”. Female lead singer, female lead guitar, male drummer and bass. Average age, I’d say, was around 24.
Now, Celtic Indie/Powerpop/Alternative is not exactly the kind of music I’m into (Imagine “The Cranberries meet The Go-Go’s” etc). But man, I was so impressed with these kids. They sang and played their hearts out. Not to mention, there were a lot of cowboys and shitkickers in the crowd that evening- not a crowd you want to piss off. Everyone- including the cowboys and shitkickers- were impressed by how gutsy and fearless these kids were.
The lead singer, a tiny, skinny girl around five-foot-two, would get off the stage in the middle of a number and walk around the crowd, singing into her mike, with these broad-shouldered cowboys, wearing handlebar mustaches, ten gallon hats and boots, TOWERING above her. Like I said, fearless. So even if the music was a bit alien to what people were normally used to, they still got a lot of people whoopin’ and a’hollerin’ that night. It was a great show. Months later and people are still talking about it.
I got talking to their manager- a stocky, Irish dude in his forties. It turns out, though they were now on tour, they hadn’t planned it that way. They had only come over for SXSW originally, and were planning to return to Ireland right after.
Then somehow while in Austin, the manager made some connections, and the next thing you know, the band were headed West to California, ready and willing to play in every dive bar and dance hall along the way that would let them. Hiring a van, throwing their instruments and amplifiers in the back, living on a few bucks a day plus gas money, sleeping rough if they had to.
And they were going to keep on doing it, till they had spent their last nickel, till they had burned their last drop of gas. Only then, and not before, would they fly back home.
Sure, they could have gone back to Ireland instead, and continue being a fixture around the local pub n’ club circuit. No, they wanted to bust out of that routine- and here was their chance. Not a huge chance, but a chance nonetheless. And they were going for it, no questions asked. Like the equally tiny-skinny lead guitarist told me in her cute little Limerick accent, “We don’t want to go home. We want to keep doing this forever.”
Would you be willing to put in that kind of effort and commitment, to make your business a success? How willing to “sleep rough” are you? Are you that brave? Am I?
God Bless ’em…
[UPDATE: You can follow the kids over on Twitter at @weshouldbedead. Looks like they’re now based in L.A. Looks like their EVIL PLAN worked! Rock on…]
[BONUS LINK: Video Diary- We Should Be Dead in L.A.]
[Backstory: About Hugh. E-mail Hugh. Work with Hugh. Twitter. Cartoon Archive. Newsletter. Book. Interview One. Interview Two. EVIL PLANS. Limited Edition Prints. Essential Reading: “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About ‘Cube Grenades’ But Were Afraid To Ask.”]