No doubt Kole Hansen would not have wanted this linkage. But since we lost Amy Winehouse this weekend, I couldn't help but think it might well have been the same fate for Kole a few years ago. Fortunately, she got another chance and embraced it, resulting in a just released EP and a book of her story. Indie Sounds caught up as she began a long tour.
Indie sounds: So you just began a long tour ... where are you this week, next month, the next month?
Kole Hansen: Right now, I am tour with Brett Randell in Chicago until the 29th and then we tour back down to Austin. I am home for a day then I head out again with the band. We - Ben Balmer, myself and Josh Flowers - will tour across the US and Canada until Nov 11th, when I come back to play the Riff concert Series in San Antonio and to enjoy Thanksgiving in Austin.
IS: I presume you'll be selling your new EP along the way. It's called Let's Fly. What's in the title?
Kole: I wish I had some fancy story about how I cam up with the title for the new EP, but it really named itself. The artist that does my design work for tour posters and the EP is Frank Germano of MofDesign in Boston, MA. We met during SXSW at the Smoke and Sand showcase and I begged him to work with me after seeing his art. He had found an older picture online (the cover art) and drew on the angel wings. On the back of the EP, Frank added wings to the boys - only Ben has Dragon wings and Josh has airplane propellers. I love it. So, the name of the EP was born, it just named itself.
Download Let's Fly a iTunes.
IS: Tell us about making the EP - when and where was it done, and who was involved?
Kole: The EP was recorded at the Congress House Studio in Austin and was produced by the amazing Mark Hallman. I had heard another record he had produced for Trent Gentry and I knew who I wanted to produce the record. Ben and Josh play on the record with me, Ben on vocals, guitar and harmonica, Josh on upright bass and then Douglas Jay Boyd on cajon. I wanted a very organic, not over produced acoustic record, and I got exactly what I wanted.
IS: And you also have a book coming out ... tell us about that, and how it came about?
Kole: The book has been an eight year work in progress, the title is Someone Save Me, my story, my struggle. Being from a middle class, suburban town just south of Salt Lake City, UT I had the perfect life. I had two parents that loved me very much, and still do, and you wouldn't expect to hear about addiction. My addiction nearly ended my life in 2000 after overdosing in to a coma.
I talk about the deep rooted issues that got me to that point and that continued on long after the addiction ended. Sexual abuse, rape, school bullies and destructive patterns made me a sad little girl long in to my 20s. There were times I was so overwhelmed with depression and hopelessness that I wanted it to all end.
The book takes you through my path of self discovery, how I found true, limitless happiness and broke the patterns of self loathing and destruction. My hope is that it helps someone in their own struggles or maybe with a loved one. My story isn't that crazy compared to some, and more common than I ever realized. The book will be released Aug 10th, and I have been really blessed at the response so far. You can read the first two chapters at www.someonesaveme.org.
IS: So how did you get started in music and what's your story there? And when did you move to Austin?
Kole: Music has been a part of my life for my entire life. My parents had a band and played together as a country duo and my mother was also a ventriloquist. Half way through their set she would bust out a dummy or two and have the crowd rolling. They had regular days jobs but music was what they loved. I began singing with them when I was about 12 but traveled with them all the time to fairs, company parties and where ever else they played.
When I was 19 I got signed and moved to NYC where I lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn for four years, even after being dropped when the pop movement crashed. I gave up music entirely for a few years and started selling phones for T-Mobile until being held at gunpoint!
The universe was pushing me back in to music whether I was ready or not. From there, I took a job selling motors and generators for a couple months before realizing music was the only thing I loved. I sold all my stuff, my fancy car and quit my job never to return again. After a year back in music playing every where and anywhere I could find in Utah I began touring and ended up playing at SXSW 2010.
From the second I stepped off the plane in Austin I knew I was home. I had never felt that in any city before and I moved a few months later. It was the best decision I have ever made. I love this city and everyone in it, I am inspired by everyone around me.
IS: Back to the tour ... how did you plan and prepare for it, and manage all the booking, and the logistics
Kole: People ask me all the time how I planned such a long tour and honestly, if you have ever booked a show then you can book a tour. You start by planning a route, and I personally used Reverbnation's gig finder, www.indieonthemove.com, or messaged artists around the country in places I didn't know anyone. For places to stay, look at www.couchsurfing.org or try staying with friends the whole tour with a tent in the trunk, just in case.
After the route you need to come up with a bottom line financial plan - what you need to make on tour. There are three of us going and I had to make sure we are all taken care of and that we make $X amount each per month. From there you make it a must, save any way you can, even two dollars a day saved is almost two days of gas or more. I set daily budgets, merch sale requirements and keep all receipts.
You have to keep costs down to a bare minimum to tour, that has to be your top priority. By knowing how much we "must" make we push harder and so far we are hitting all of our goals and then some. If you break it all down to how much you have to make in a month, a week, a day, it becomes real. I thank this process to Anthony Robbins ... yes, that Anthony Robbins. There is a secret society of Anthony Robbins loving musicians in Austin, but I will keep them anonymous :)
IS: And what's the plan - or at least ideas - for when the tour is behind you? What's next?
Kole: After the tour, I am spending a few weeks in New York City and then heading to Costa Rica to reset and re-center. Never been before and since I no longer have an apartment there is no sense in rushing back. I am huge into balancing out the business and the art of being a musician. After moving non stop for four months, I want to sit and reflect on the journey and spend time with myself away from technology.
This whole tour I am blogging, writing and shooting video, so after it's all over I want to relax in to the new year. In January 2012 it starts all over again with the Sundance Film Festival, Folk Alliance and again with SXSW preparation.
Working hard is a must and I can't do anything else but music, I tried giving up and I was miserable. Music is hard but I keep touring and doing music by staying out of debt, signing short leases, planning tours when leases are up and thinking ahead before committing to anything long term. The first step is to start with the realization this is what I love to do ... so it can't be a question of "if" only a matter of "how".