In this final installment of the Breaking Laces trilogy, we get some insight into touring, and future plans, from Rob. Plus an account of his, errr brush with Liv Tyler. Before you read on, check out what Billy and Seth had to say ...
Rob in the middle. Photo by Jen Maler/Retna.
Indie Sounds: So, you did a CD release show and then a long tour. How has the reception been for When You Find Out ... from your fans, the press?
Rob Chojnacki: You forgot to ask how the reception was for us, and here it is: ‘Best album ever made. Except for Sgt. Pepper, which the Beatles stole from us.’ End of band’s review.
Actually, the press seems to be loving it. I’m always game for mediocre reviews, because you learn best from them. But those seem to be very hard to come by as of late. As for the fans, they have been aware of this album for some time, but I think the best part for them was the last-minute additions of Angeline and God In Training. GIT, as we lovingly call it, was on Sohcahtoa, and has always been a big fan favorite. So the re-visioning of the song has really been well received by those who know the song, and of course, all the new fans we’re picking up along the way. Angeline has been a crowning jewel of our live show, and at the merch station, people have always asked what disc it was on. I can finally say When You Find Out. And we nailed it in the studio, we really did.
Download When You Find Out from iTunes.
IS: How did the tour go ... any personal highlights or moments, either on or off stage? Does Seth still have all his body parts?
Rob: I can say without a hint of a doubt that the June tour was our best to date. We played astoundingly well, we had a lot of people coming out to see us, and we dropped a lot of merch along the way. The suits (aka management) ordered us to not sell a single copy of When You Find Out, but rather to give it away to anyone who came to see us play live. And every time Billy said this in the mic, the crowd got up and headed over to the merch station and got their copy. So we know there are a lot of copies out there getting spun.
I also need to mention that Seth was magic this tour. You talk about a guy, a drummer guy, who only a couple of months before the start of the tour broke both of his wrists ... Honestly, and I mean for reals, you would never have known. He was literally at his best. And I’ve been playing in bands with Seth for longer than I want to admit.
As for a highlight? Monday, June 13th, we played a late night show in Atlanta, GA. We then packed the van and drove 4 hours to Nashville, TN. We slept for about 2 hours in the van in a gas station parking lot, then drove to Fox TV’s studios to load in at 6am to play the Good Morning Nashville TV show. At this point, we were absolutely exhausted and didn’t even have the energy to be nervous. We absolutely killed it. I could go on an on with highlights, because there were so many, but that was a really fun experience for all of us.
IS: You guys tour a lot ... what practical advice do you have for others on making it work - both financially and keeping your sanity? And keeping the shows fresh? Any dos and donts?
Rob: Well, each band is unique and has to go through the highs and lows themselves to really understand how grueling and awesome touring can be. Financially, as for the band, you have to take advantage of friends, family, and fans on the road, to find a safe haven on a couch, futon, floor, or even a backyard to make your bed. And trust me, all of those have come into play. Hotels every night will financially put a real dent in your tour funds. Try not to sleep in the van tho. The morning sun will kill your day, and you’ll be greasier than a slab of bacon.
Personally? Bring a cooler on the road and hit your local Targets and Walmarts, get your case of waters and granola bars, take advantage of sales. This is far better than buying snacks and drinks at every gas station you run into. And if you drink, drink the cheap stuff. After a month or so of shows, those bar tabs really can add up. PBR can suck, but when they’re a buck, they’re mine.
I think the best way to keep a show fresh is to seriously be a fan of your band. It sounds stupid, but you can tell when a band is playing a filler song, or just going through the motions. If you go into your show mentally prepared and as excited to play (and hear) the songs as your fans are, you are going to have a blast, the music will have a soul, and your fans will feel that from you, and be twice as excited.
And I always end this response with Breaking Laces’ band rule #1: ‘It’s not gay if you don’t kiss.’ We are three guys, and standard hotel rooms have two beds. And the van is really just a small room. You have to be very comfortable being in very close quarters with the same people almost all the time. You really have to consider it an alternate reality and get comfortable with it, because it’s home for longer than you might think.
IS: Your next NYC show is at Arlene's Grocery on August 4th. Isn't that a bit of a departure for you? Is it a new venue for you or a return to one from yesteryear?
Rob: Well for me it is a return to a venue from yesteryear. I have played on the stage only once with a former band. But Arlene’s holds a special magical moment for me. Back in the early 2000s I saw Spacehog there several times. Well this one night, I was right up in front against the stage, which is kind of a dick move for a guy as tall as me. But I don’t care, I loved the band, and they put on a hell of a show.
Anyway, as the night progressed, I realized that my right arm kept bumping into the tits of the girl standing next to me and it was kind of obvious. So I turned to her and said “I’m sorry” and realized right away that I was apologizing to the lead singer’s girlfriend, who also happened to be Liv Tyler. Yeah, I touched Liv Tyler’s boobs. Through her shirt. Hotttttt ...
IS: So what's the plan for the next few months ... more tours, videos, new songs?
Rob: Well, we are currently booking late summer and fall. In the meantime, we’re letting the dust settle from the tour, taking account of what worked and didn’t work, how well the merchandise did in numbers, hanging out with our loved ones, and yes, working on new songs.
In fact, on the tour we were road testing a few new songs that are really exciting for us. I would say that based on these songs, the next album is going to be more guitar driven. Billy might have to load his electric guitar in the van. We’ll see ... And we’re going to start working on more BLTV soon too. And podcasts. There is always content to create, and we love doing it.
IS: It looks like you now have a bit of a team behind/around you ... is that translating into making the next step up for the band commercially ... what are your hopes and dreams in that department?
Rob: Yes absolutely. We have a team made up of members all around the US, particularly in Nashville. And they have a prominent role in the success that we have achieved in the most recent tour and album release. We’ve run a lot of people through our mill, and we feel we have something really special right now. Our gauge has always been “They may know the music industry, but do they ‘get’ us?”. And we can safely say that our current team does. And the result is nothing short of magical. It’s like the perfect recipe. You experiment and experiment, adding and taking away ingredients, and then there’s that one time you try a forkful and realize you have come upon the perfect balance of ingredients. And you can’t wait to cook it for the people you love.
IS: Seriously, did you never see Spinal Tap before a couple of months ago? What's your favorite scene?
Rob: I’ve always seen bits here and there but never had a chance to see it all the way through. And of course in my mind it was pumped up way more than it should have been, but of course it was still funny. Funniest part? Probably the guitar solo where he played one guitar with his foot, then used a violin to play the rest of the solo, tuning the violin part way through. He just has this look on his face that looks like he’s either doing something disgusting, or something godly. That right there is my ultimate goal when I get on stage. Maybe I need to get a violin.