As any band will tell you, being noticed is crucial.
Even within the confines of a local music scene there can be hundreds of bands playing the circuit. This is especially true of Brighton & Hove with its larger than average diverse artistic crowd, music colleges and universities. So how does a band stand out?
Well the obvious way is to make some pretty damn mind blowing music and play some stunningly memorable gigs. But even then how many times have you been to a gig and got so drunk you can’t remember what that band was called who played that amazing song somewhere between your third pint and fourth gin and tonic?
Having thought about this (and also having read something in a book) we decided to make a stage banner with our name on it. That way everyone knows who we are! It also provides a good ‘plan-B’ if the front man forgets to tell the audience your band’s name during performances. (stranger things have, and do, happen).
Here’s Lenny and Tim trying to fix our stage banner to the curtain backdrop. Ash is tearing gaffer tape.
So without further delay, Ash, being the front-man and consequently being the person who is most likely to forget to announce the Dogs to the audience, decided we needed a banner to hang behind us on stage. Of course Ash wanted a 14 ft banner (that’s 4.2 metres in new money). That’s pretty large – long enough to almost fit three Ashs laid head to toe.
These days with vistaprint and various online printing companies you can get decent quotes and good quality printing of custom banner designs. We finally found an online boutique and realised we could save around £40 if we reduced the size to 3.6m x 1m (that’s 12 ft x 3.5 ft in old money) – which is still pretty big. We had a gig lined up at a local venue so we wanted to get the banner sorted for that. For a custom design, the printing company wanted an image of the exact dimensions. All we had to do was make an image and upload it to them, and they would do the dirty work (for a reasonable cost).
Have you ever tried to create a 12 ft by 3.5 ft hi-resolution print quality image in Photoshop? No, well don’t bother, it sent Lenny’s quad core computer into melt down. Eventually we got it uploaded and ordered. It was printed and ready to go for our gig.
On the night of the gig we had two options for getting the banner up. Band etiquette must be considered. We were headlining, playing after the other bands on the night’s line up. So what do you do? Do you hang your banner at the start of the night, during sound-check where there’s enough time to prat about and get it fixed to the back of the stage? If you do that then your banner is on display throughout and is likely to piss off all the other bands you’re playing with – or do you run around like headless chickens and try and get it hung in the 10 minute slot just before your set starts?
We opted for the latter, because we’re a nice band! (the argument that Tim and Ash got into with the saxophonist from the band before us will be omitted to validate that previous claim.) It was a bit of a learning curve though, because what we forgot to factor in was that a banner of this magnitude printed on heavy duty PVC weighed in at over 6kg. That’s heavier than your average guitar (though its not heavier than your average Sea Otter, since an average adult sea otter typically weighs between 14 and 45kg, making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, we kid you not). To make matters worse the back of the stage was effectively a large curtain.
Rory is saved by the monitor speakers – the tape didn’t work – but we rocked on regardless!
Trying to hang 6kg on a curtain is a recipe for disaster. Imagine trying to hang a guitar on a curtain, or for that matter trying to hang half a small Sea Otter on a curtain. Basically you’re going to run into problems… When all else fails use Gaffer tape. We managed to get the banner affixed to the cloth curtain using tape, the audience found this hilarious. We did feel a little self conscious and pompous sticking it up under the gaze of the crowd, but it’s a promo tool, and you gotta do what you gotta do, even if it means using tape.
We played a great set and with loud noise vibrating the curtain, the inevitable happened. Funnily enough, the banner fell down. Luckily Rory’s head was saved by the drum monitor stack, much to our amusement.
To avoid this from happening again, Ash has set up a dedicated banner team (Tim and Lenny) to make sure the banner is fixed firmly to any surface that may be lurking behind the stage.
So if you see a banner with our name on it, and four blokes blasting out intoxicating rock, then that’s us, that is!