Touring Advantages/Disadvantages From Less Than Jake
Chris DeMakes @lessthanchris is a singer, guitarist, and songwriter in the legendary ska/punk band Less Than Jake @LessThanJake. For the last 22 years he and his bandmates have toured the world many times over. Having toured almost nonstop for most of his career, as well as playing more Vans Warped Tour dates than any other act, Chris brings a special perspective most musicians can only dream of.
Recently Chris sat down with Music Clout @musicclout to share some of his thoughts on the advantages/disadvantages of being a touring musician.
Music Clout: What would you say are some of the biggest advantages of touring all the time?
Chris DeMakes: Well, as you are aware, the music industry has changed significantly over the last 20 years. Gone are the days where I could just sit around and go out to the mailbox every three months and pull out a fat royalty check. The internet changed the game. File sharing changed the game. Nobody pays for music anymore. Musicians these days have to make their money on their live shows and by selling their merchandise. Those royalty have dried up or gotten significantly smaller, but rent still needs to be paid, car payments still have to be paid, so it’s important for bands wanting to make a living to get out on the road…..Even bands you wouldn’t think would still be touring. Go on Pollstar @Pollstar sometime, type in a washed up band you wouldn’t even think would still be touring, i.e. Loverboy @loverboyband and you will probably see they’re playing some obscure bar or casino somewhere. Why? Because nobody is buying music and like the rest of us, they have bills to pay.
Music Clout: Conversely, what are some of the biggest disadvantages?
Chris DeMakes: Syphilis, divorce, anger, resentment...Need any more? Kidding (laughs), seriously though, touring can be tough. It can be expensive, as you know in the last 10 years gas prices have gone through the fucking roof. When gas prices were $1.20/ gallon it was a lot easier to take you van or bus around the country and play shows. Now gas is like $4.00/ gallon, touring is harder, cause we just can’t start charging 40 to 50 dollars for our T-shirts, because no one will by them. The prices for hotels has gone up, but our ticket prices have stayed relatively the same, cause our fans just can’t afford it. If we start charging $40 to $50 for our shows, people aren’t going to come see Less Than Jake…...I missed weddings and funerals, I’ve witnessed divorce, not only in mind band, but other bands as well. Listen, I’m not complaining, this is what I chose to do. This is what I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it (laughs).
Music Clout: How has being on the road so often, allowed you to become a better musician?
Chris Demakes: It has allowed my band and I hone our craft. Less Than Jake is known for having a live show. We didn’t just show up one day and we were great live. We had to work on it. The more shows you do, the more comfortable you become up on stage…. After 20 plus years, it’s still fun. We just got back from playing in front of 5,000 people in Quebec City and it was a blast. You get us up in front of a big crowd and we bring the party. We’ll bring a good time and that’s why we still work.
Music Clout: Chris, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. We’ll be looking out for you on the road.
Chris DeMakes: Anytime bro.
Look for Less Than Jake this October on their Canadian tour, as well as Chris Demakes’ solo project, Ska Goes Solo, on tour in early 2015.
Check out Music Clout’s list of Gigs and Music Festivals currently looking for artists to book.