It’s a Long Way to the Top – Diary of a 21st Century Rock n Roll Band: What’s Next?

Kurt Dahl leads a double life. First and foremost, he is the drummer of Saskatoon rock band One Bad Son ( Second, he is writing his Master’s of Law thesis on the future of the music industry, and how artists will continue to make money in a digital world.

The Rock and Roll Report contacted him to write a diary for his latest venture: driving to Vancouver to record new songs with Default drummer Danny Craig as producer. Below are his entries…

Monday Feb. 9th – Songs Coming Together

Guitars, drums and bass are all done on the 3 songs, and Shane is now laying vocals overtop. Danny Craig and Scott Ternen have done an AMAZING job with these songs, and they already sound wicked without a mix done…which is the true test of a good recording. For the first time in our career, our true colors are coming through on record. That is an accomplishment in itself, and we all sense it.

Shane is really stepping up vocally. A big concern for him is always managing his vocals the right way. He has a high register, which if produced the wrong way can be more like Sebastian Bach rather than Chris Cornell, and he prefers the latter. Danny understands this, and it comes through in the final product, which is sheer raw power.

Tuesday Feb. 10th – Wrapping Up…and What’s Next?

Today is a day for finishing touches: tweaking guitar solos, adding percussion, and adding some effects here and there that complete the songs. Now Danny will spend the next few weeks mixing and mastering the songs, and at that point the real job begins.

We will be shopping these three songs to any and all interested parties, including record labels, managers, A&R guys, publishers, booking agents, radio trackers, TV shows, etc. The A&R guy that signed Danny and Default back in 2002 is really interested in us, and has verbally agreed to pitch these songs to his connections.

The next several months will be the most important in our career. Too many bands invest massive amounts of time and money into a recording, only to sit around with 500 copies of it in their basement, hoping that they will somehow be ‘discovered’ by the occasional tour or email. Now more than ever, artists have to go out and make waves on their own, because nobody will do it for them. Every album should be augmented by a comprehensive business plan, with realistic short-term and long-term goals. I think many musicians know this kind of stuff, but don’t have the drive or the ambition to make it happen, clinging instead to some fantasy of being approached onstage by label reps with record contracts in hand.

It’s like the opening lines by Jack Nicholson in The Departed: “I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me. No one gives it to you. You have to take it.” Such is the 21st century music industry – and serious musicians have to acknowledge this, and then do something about it.

Kurt Dahl