With mounting pressure on bands to stay up to date with social media and develop their digital image, the members of British hardcore band Geist believe that it’s important to remember why you’re making music in the first place and, ultimately, to enjoy yourself while doing it. “Just go out and do it!” says guitar player Matt. “Get in a van and play as much as possible. There’s too much emphasis on social media these days. It seems like appearing as a big band makes you a big band. At the end of the day, when you don’t have time for it any more, at the very least you’ll have great memories.”
To some independent musicians, the idea of touring without adequate funding or the support of a manager might appear daunting. Add to that the inconvenience of trying to hold down a regular job at the same time, and many would probably be put off for good, but Geist say it’s all possible with a bit of planning and organisation. Matt, David, Jacque, Ian and Luke claimed that they were pleasantly surprised by the reactions of their bosses at work when they told them they needed time off to go and play shows.
David told me, “The company I work for are really good with holidays and encourage the fact that I’m in a band. They actually like to hear about it, weirdly enough!” Ian also commented that his colleagues had been surprisingly supportive of his music-making and that this had made things much easier for him. It just goes to show that it’s worth testing the waters with your boss – if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Photo by Kristi O’Connell
I wanted to know what an up and coming independent band like Geist thought about the state of the music industry, and the way the internet has changed it for musicians. Matt explained to me, “Trying to reach people via social media is getting particularly difficult. It’s an absolute disgrace that they make you pay money to allow people – who have gone out of their way to like your page – to see what you post. I can’t stand having to pay to boost a post on Facebook but sometimes it has to be done. Especially when you’re trying to get new music heard. It’s an absolute joke.”
Matt certainly has a point. Nowadays, music industry websites will bombard you with a huge array of article suggestions, with titles like “Musicians: Here’s Why You Need To Keep Updating Your Social Media Apps”, “7 Apps That Will Make A Musician’s Life A Million Times Easier” and “Twitter VS. Facebook: Which Is Better For Musicians?”, suggesting that to be a successful modern day band you need to be constantly vigilant about changing digital trends and even have a good helping of business knowledge to be on the safe side.
Nonetheless, Geist argue that the most important thing for a band should be to actually go out and perform, focusing more on having great experiences rather than making money. “I think making their music readily available is the best thing a band can do. Again, this ties into people trying to ‘make money’ from being in a band and honestly, I think it’s just the wrong mindset to have. I would rather put all of our music out for free and have it shared everywhere, and if someone thinks it’s good enough to donate some money to help put out physical releases or help tours, then that’s good enough for me,” Jacque admitted. “The type of music we play and the scene that surrounds it is very heavily based in the D.I.Y ethic of working.”
I asked the guys what kind of advice they would give to other bands who are just starting out. Ian said, “My only advice to up and coming bands would be to make music that they want. Don’t hop on a particular trend because it’s big. For me, being artistic is about being selfish in some respects. We literally play what I’d like to see if we were going to a show. Write and release music regularly so you don’t fall off the wagon. And tour as much as possible to promote these releases. Probably common sense suggestions, but Geist is forever moving forward in my opinion. But through nothing but hard work.”
With their refreshing attitude and work ethic, Geist are definitely a band to keep your eye on right now in the independent music scene. Their next tour will take place in 2017, and they are currently working to record new material.
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Cover photo by Dave Durham