by Evelyn Miska / Schwegweb.com
Thus far, 2009 has been a busy year for Innerpartysystem. After the release of their first full-length album, the band has set off on an extensive tour across the U.S. and much of the U.K. Their hit song “Don’t Stop” is almost impossible to miss on alternative rock radio stations and their music has even shown up in video game soundtracks. For a band that has only been around since 2006, things are happening very fast and, according to drummer Jared Piccone, they don’t have any plans to slow down.
As with any first release, Piccone and his bandmates had high hopes for their debut album and as the market becomes even more saturated with releases, it can be difficult for an up-and-coming band to even be noticed. Luckily, this was not the case for Innerpartysystem. “The reactions have been good. That’s such a difficult question for bands to answer because you’re so biased and living in the moment. I think in the current climate of music, it’s so difficult to get something out and get people’s attention, that we’re really happy with the way things have been going. Our new fans all seem to really have a genuine connection with the album, it’s not like they just connect with one song and we have this kind of naïve fleeting relationship,” Piccone says. Having received some good press for their EP, it wasn’t too surprising that the album itself has done well and because of the album doing well, the band has been able to move up in the world a bit, something Piccone enjoys, “On the other end of things, we can tour and finally not lose our shirts every night. Sleeping in hotels versus sleeping in the van makes a huge difference. With our most recent U.S. tour and the U.K. tour we’re on now, things seem to be growing much faster. What more could you ask for in a band?”
For many bands, the chance to perform overseas can be an indication of moving up the proverbial food chain. For Innerpartysystem, the chance to play live for fans in the U.K. has been somewhat of an eye-opening experience and makes an interesting contrast with performing in the U.S. “Going to the U.K. in general is always amazing. I’m actually in Scotland right now, playing our forth sold-out show in a row; every show on this tour is sold out. It’s weird because we sell more records in America (of course, the population’s much larger), but play bigger venues in the U.K. I think most bands focus on the U.S. and the U.K. separately, starting in one, then crossing into the other, whereas we released the album in both continents at the same time. The excitement for what we were doing just seemed to exist in both countries,” Piccone explains.
Not only does Piccone see a difference in the types of venues in which the band gets to play, he also finds that those listeners and fans in the U.K. seem to understand what the band is trying to do more than American listeners. “The U.K. generally seems to ‘get’ what we’re doing a little more. America is awesome, but we’re not always sure they’ve figured out where we fit into the scheme of things musically. I think every band has this when they combine genres…It’s really exciting to come here and play for so many people. It’s the reason we do this. I wish we could spend more time here, but we’ve got a lot of ground to cover in other countries and wouldn’t want to wear out our welcome. I’m most excited for the London show. It’s sold out and almost twice the size of some of our other shows. That’s the most people we have ever drawn on our own besides our hometown shows,” Piccone says.
As the music industry changes, many musicians have found new ways of marketing their music and new outlets for finding fans. Now it is almost unheard of for a band or musician to not have a MySpace page in addition to (or in place of) a separate webpage. Beyond that, exposure on YouTube, television shows that favor up-and-comer artists for the soundtrack and even video games are all ways to find new fans. While some see this as shameless self-promotion, for many bands these opportunities can make a huge difference in how quickly they develop a following. Innerpartysystem chose to go the video game route and “Don’t Stop” has been included in a number of games already. Piccone explains, “Kids definitely have found out about us through the video games. We’ll get kids commenting on our MySpace that they first heard “Don’t Stop” in Madden. There’s something slightly disturbing to us that it feels like advertising in video games and films to a certain extent is taking up the positioning that used to be occupied by radio and music videos. Especially in America (music videos on television are very sparse anymore). To younger kids, it makes no difference where they first heard a band. To us, in this new landscape of music, we feel like those kind of placements are important to get your music and messages heard.”
In addition to joining the trend of diverse marketing, Innerpartysystem also launched a “Don’t Stop Remixer” on their website as an effort to attract the creative efforts of their fans. Allowing listeners to mix their own versions of the song added an interactive aspect to the website as well as giving listeners an opportunity to put their own twist on the track. “We’ve always strived to do cool, creative things with our videos and online content. There’s so much of it out there at this point that most people really only scratch the surface. You know someone’s a hardcore fan when they start talking about the mixer or ‘talkin berks county’. The remixer actually came about because we got linked up with these guys in an awesome video collective called Eclectic Method. They actually just did this video remix of Stephen Colbert that he picked up on his show. They do pretty amazing things, remixing video content in real time. It was one of those situations where they were affiliated with one of the guys from EBN [Emergency Broadcast Network], and the first “Don’t Stop” video was heavily influenced by EBN’s style. Everything just came together and made sense,” Piccone says.
With all the time on tour and the chaos that comes with living out of a suitcase, Piccone still doesn’t regret being part of Innerpartysystem and sees it as having a lot of perks, “Psht, free bitches and cocaine, what do you think? No, really, it’s just travelling all over the earth, doing new things, meeting new people, playing music for people that actually made the effort to come out and see you play. It’s all amazing. The most difficult is missing my loved ones. I miss my family and friends so much sometimes it’s unbearable. I think you always underestimate how much it will sting being away from them for months on end. But I signed up for this, no one twisted my arm. Like everything else in life, there are pros and cons. At the end of the day this is all totally worth it. I feel very lucky that I have the chance to do this. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.