March 29, 2015

Tips For Making It On The Road

By: Kristi Agne

● PLAN AHEAD! Do the math. Estimate how much the cost of gas, food expenses, and sleeping arrangements will be. You don’t want to be stuck hoping you make enough money from a gig so you can eat a burger off of the McDonald’s $1 menu or need to pass a jar to get gas money home. Work out a budget with your band and how expenses will be divided among members.

● Rent a van! You don’t need to try and cram yourselves into that old, rusty mini-van your mom used to drive you around in.

● Hotels aren’t necessary. If you plan your sleeping arrangements ahead of time, you’ll save yourself a lot of money and a lot of last-minute stressing.

  •  BetterThanThe Van is a site that connects bands with “hosts”- nice people who live in the town you’ll be playing in that will let you sleep on their couch for free!
  • CouchSurfing is a social network for travelers similar to BTTV, but not specifically aimed at bands. Another free option.
  • AirBnB, though it costs you some money, is often times cheaper than a hotel or even a motel. People list out rooms in their homes for nights and single-week long rentals. If you’re lucky it might be a whole place to yourself. Cost depends on the owner, but this is another friendly option.
  • Got a lot of followers on social media? Use it to your advantage! Hit up your fans on social media and find those who are willing to let you crash at their place for the night.

● Create a driving schedule. Having someone drive who is too tired, or intoxicated is never safe and accidents can easily be avoided with responsibility. Depending on how long the tour is or how far away dates are, split up driving hours amongst members. Set specific day shifts and night shifts to make it fair for everyone.

● If you have merch sell it! And use the money wisely. This could be used towards “emergency funds”, or gas, food, etc. but don’t count on this to pay your way. You don’t want to be one t-shirt sale short of the cost of a room! Decide how profits will be used and stick to it.

● You never know when something outrageous will happen. Flat tires, engine trouble, even van break-ins are all things that have happened before. Be prepared. Do some research and make a list of car-repair services for each date, have an emergency fund, and also make a list of emergency care centers or hospitals. People get sick, accidents happen, you don’t want to be scrambling to find out where to take someone who needs help.

● Speaking of break-ins, help prevent this by keeping your stuff secure. If you’re leaving your gear in your van or trailer, try to back up/park against walls so it is harder to open the back door. If you have another car, use that to block it in. Keep your windows covered at night so no one can see what you might have in there. Park where it’s well lit. If you really want to, give someone “night guard” duty. Have a member or two stay in the van for the night. Your vehicle is less likely to be broken into if someone is inside of it.

Don’t Try This At Home!: Featured Interview with David Taylor

By: Jasmine McFarlane

I sat down with Music Garage guitar tech David Taylor to get a better idea of his take on repairing instruments, some general tips for keeping your instruments in the best condition and to hear some disaster stories that he has encountered while touring.

The first question that many artists ask when it comes to repairing instruments is who should they take their guitar to? You basically have two options. Either take it to a professional guitar tech like David or learn to do it yourself. Both are doable, however, David told us why bringing it to a professional is the better option.. It boils down to two main things:

1. The experience techs have
2. The right tools for the job

David Taylor started guitar repairs professionally when he was trained by a master luthier. He spent 5+ years working with him, seeing a wide range of unique instruments, and learned firsthand through watching, learning and doing

When David first started out repairing instruments diagnosis was, “this feels weird” without knowing why it felt that way. However, through years of practice and working with musicians closely, David now can say exactly why it feels weird , isolate the reason and fix the problem.. As he says it, “it’s converting a feeling or sound into something tangible that I can adjust.”

The Right Tools
So…the tools used are important huh? Indeed! The tools that techs use play a big role in the quality of the repair. For instance, having acquired a high end tuner David can listen to an instrument more specifically than an iPhone app or a tuner that you can buy at a store for $12. The use of a ruler designed specifically to fit in certain spots on the guitar and make certain measurements allows the precise repairs necessary for the best sound. As well as tools themselves, subtle things like the right thickness or thinness of super glue used to glue on a nut is also another of the nuanced things that most people ignore.. After years of getting his hands covered with glue, he has learned that little things like this do, in fact, make a difference.

Lastly, bringing your instrument to a professional also saves time and frustration. It might take the average person a couple of hours to figure out what to do and then get it done. For someone with David’s expertise, it could take only 30 minutes because he’s been there before..

Emergencies on the Road— David’s Got You Covered!
David Taylor is on call so he’s definitely willing and able to help out touring groups that come in with whatever instrument repair and questions they may have.

“If someone is in town at 10 pm and something breaks down, it might be late, but we can figure out something f they call me and leave the instrument at Music Garage, I will tell them I will have it done at a specific time and they should be set.

Don’t Make These Common Mistakes
After talking with David Taylor, I was curious to find out if there are common mistakes that people make when handling their instruments. What I found was very interesting and beneficial for artists to know about.

1. Restringing problems. Just go to the internet, watch a video, or go to a Music Garage event and watch a demonstration. Be patient and make sure to give yourself time.

2. Don’t leave guitars in cars or trunks! Why? Well, there’s always the risk that someone may steal it and that’s never a fun thing. Secondly, the heat in your car acts as a greenhouse effect which does a lot of bad things to a guitar…things you don’t think about!

3. On tour? Think ahead at what you can do with your equipment to keep it safe. Take it in your hotel room, leave it in a secure spot at the venue, or bring it along with you. Just don’t drink too much that you forget it somewhere!

4. Guitar placement. Myth or not, if you lean your guitar against your amp or put it on top of your amp, there’s this thought since your pickups are magnets and speakers have magnets in them, that the speaker from your amp can affect the sound of your pickup.

“I haven’t totally experienced it but people that I trust tell me about it. The larger magnet will mess up the smaller one. I’ve had people come in with things needing to be demagnetized so it makes a lot of sense.” The best advice for this is to simply bring a stand. It reduces the chances of your guitar falling down and getting ruined.

Disaster Story

If you think these only happen in movies, think again. Things happen all the time and always at THE worst possible times. However, you just gotta keep truckin’ along! If you want to hear about a disaster story that David experienced keep on reading!

“I’ve had some pedal emergencies at the worst possible times. I was doing Carrie the Musical by Stephen King and you know, musicals are very specific. This note has to happen at this time with this sound and volume. If your pedal isn’t dialed in at the right time, people who have seen the show before will notice something is different. So I had a tour and it was a tender moment, I had 4 pedals, guitar and an amp. It started making this loud humming noise which is distracting the audience, the people delivering dialogue on the stage, the music director is yelling at me so I starting going through what it could be but it could be 15 different things. So, mid song I’m shifting things around and I found a way to get through the show and then eventually spent a day testing everything. Found out that the tuning pedal wasn’t grounding to the cord and there was a loose bolt. It wasn’t making a connection and if it’s shorted the wrong way, it will go to your amp…was something with that. Works well now!”

Guest Spotlight: Carbon Tigers

Carbon Tigers
By: Nick Cudone

I’ve been playing in Carbon Tigers for four years now and it’s overwhelming to think about all the mistakes that we’ve made over the years. We’ve been through a lot as a band and new situations arise that make me reevaluate what I believe, but there are two important things I’ve learned. Don’t listen to everybody and always try to be present for the experience that lies within your music. Before I elaborate, I’m not upholding arrogance and by no means are these rules that should be applied to everything. These are from my personal experience and I find that they’re good guidelines for me to live by. Especially when I feel like quitting.

When I was fifteen I went to see one of my favorite hardcore bands at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY, Most Precious Blood. They were loud, radical, and part of the hardcore scene that I identified with while I was growing up. I happened to be walking up a stairwell in the venue and the singer, Rob Fusco, walked by me. I quickly turned around because I had to tell him how much I loved his band. I was talking really fast because I didn’t want to waste his time and in a short breath I asked him: “I’m in a band, do you have any advice for me?” He looked me dead in the eye, pressed his pointer finger into my chest and said: “Don’t fucking listen to anyone.” It was probably the most important thing I heard at the time because I was in a band that was pretty awful and my peers at school definitely never let me forget about it, so hearing that was really encouraging. It’s a really extreme viewpoint, but sometimes going to extremes helps me find a balance.

Somewhere between then and 25 years old I forgot about his advice. Until one night Carbon Tigers played a show at a huge venue, the audience loved it, but I didn’t, which still happens sometimes. Anyway, I was by myself in our green room thinking about all the things people have told me about my band, all the negatives and positives. I should emphasize that at the time we were going through some identity issues; figuring out what we were about, our style of music etc. We’d have conversations regarding our identity and someone would say something like, “oh well so and so said this” and use it as a reason for why we should do things a certain way. These points only pushed us closer to failure because rather than being ourselves we would be sucked into a whirlwind of confusion, spinning so fast that we could never stand still enough to get a good look at ourselves. I realized that rather than looking outward the solution was within us. We had to listen to ourselves and forget about what everyone was saying. I went back to my favorite albums to figure out what I loved about them and how I identify with what I’m hearing. I went back to my theory books, turned on my metronome, and practiced. I went back to the start. Today, I feel liberated and more passionate about music than ever before. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate it when people say good things about our music and I seek out opinions from friends, other musicians, and non-
musicians, and that’s why I tell myself, “don’t listen to everybody.” Not listening to anyone is extreme.

I’m a musician and to me that means it’s my job to be an agent of emotion and the essence of that experience. It is my duty to figure out how to express my experience through my guitar. When we’re playing a show I want to exist solely in the space between the listener and me. I want our worries, concerns, and sense of time to disappear for the sake of being present for a moment. In my experience, the only way to achieve that is if I feel what we’re playing.

From there, I believe that something divine happens. All that time listening to the bands I love, studying the intricacies of music, and investing in my soul creates a spark that sets my body on fire. It seeps into vibrations, which overflow onto the listener. I swear it’s there. I can’t prove it. It’s abstract and you just gotta be there to feel it. I think that’s where the listener and me can begin to relate to each other.

Look at us! Have you seen our new sign?

New Sign

11 Tips for Gigging Bands from No Love for Linus

No Love for Linus

1. Don’t tell the sound guy he looks like a young Angela Lansbury.
2. Show up for the opener and listen – they could use the support.
3. Help the drummer load his kit (looking in your direction singers…)
4. Treat the small shows like the big ones – you never know who will be there.
5. Don’t be a dick to staff/fans/other bands. If you were as good as you think you are, you wouldn’t be carrying your own gear.
6. Crowd sing-alongs don’t work when there are three people in the crowd.
7. Never EVER give that one asshole who screams “Freebird” what he wants. If you cover Freebird you deserve to be locked in a room with Justin Bieber while being forced to listen to Insane Clown Posse for the rest of your days.
8. Gear goes on wheels – future you will thank current you.
9. Never hit on your bass player’s girlfriend…have you seen the size of that guy?
10. You really get to know your bandmates on the road. Make sure that is something you are prepared for when adding new members.
11. Yes, there is a chance your singer wears makeup and secretly loves Air Supply.

First Gig Fiascos & Words of Wisdom from Death By Icon

Death By Icon

By Kristi Agne

“When I first started out, I was a hype man for this gig and chose to do a freestyle with mad swears to an audience of parents and kids (wasn’t aware of it). Grandmaster Flash, who was hosting the event, cut me off and told me (and the audience) that I was what’s wrong with hip hop today. I was quickly escorted out to boos and mean words thrown my way. I was 17.

As for advice, understanding who your audience is and what type of venue you’re playing helps. Also, having enough material rehearsed and having different versions of your songs/sets catered to a specific audience & venue (for example: small intimate crowd & venue with more laid back versions of your songs) creates more of an personalized experience for an audience.“
- Anthony

“This may be cliché, but perform at a high level no matter who’s watching. It can be hard to really turn up at show when your friends and a bartender are the only ones watching, but going through that only prepares you and allows you to appreciate the larger crowds you hopefully play in front of.”
- Victor

Learning From Experience: Stories with Mighty Fox

By: Jasmine McFarlane

Jasmine McFarlane: What is the worst thing that ever happened to you at a show? Any OMG moments?

Mighty Fox: Technical difficulty is our biggest hurdle. I feel like we are plagued with it. Whether it is an amp that just craps out, the monitors feeding back, or a cable just decides it doesn’t want to work that night. We have worked at getting the gear we need, but i’ll be damned if we go more than 3 shows without something going wrong. It’s been a blessing in disguise, however, because it has taught us how to get through a show even when things are going awry. How to “roll with the punches”, if you will, and still put on the best show you can despite the dilemma.

Being a newer band we don’t really have too many OMG moments, in a negative way at least. Our first show as Mighty Fox was definitely a huge positive moment, however. So many friends and fans came out before they had ever seen us. We played at The Beat Kitchen that night and the support was overwhelming. It was one of those shows where we finished playing and couldn’t help but have a huge smile on our faces. It was truly surreal. We can’t even begin to explain the gratitude we have for our friends and fans.

JM: What advice would you give someone who is trying to book their own shows? Is there a self booking band etiquette?

MF: 1. Network. It is the key to making it in this industry. As much as it may suck, who you know is everything. Hangout at shows, bars, whatever. Have a business card or a CD to give away. You never know who you are going to meet. Talk about your band. It can be hard sometimes, but if you show people how proud you are of what you are doing they will want to know about it too.

2. MAKE AN EPK ( Electronic Press Kit ). It surprises me how many bands don’t have one. This is your musical resume and most promoters/bands will not give you the time of day without one. We use Reverbnation for ours. It’s not expensive and easy to make. Get one, please.

3. Be humble. You are not the biggest band in the world until you are the biggest band in the world. Even then there is someone who is better than you. Be on time to shows, thank everyone that helped you. Thank the bands you played with. Be the people that everyone wants to hang out with. When you are someone people want to work with, they will work with you.

JM: Recall your first gig ever. How did it go? Tell me where it was, who was there, the turnout, etc.

MF: I mentioned this in question 1. We played our first show on Feb. 13th, 2013 at The Beat Kitchen. It was an amazing show. The turnout was awesome. We were blown away by the support we had gained through networking and meeting new friends in Chicago. This town has been so good to us. We have met so many amazing people who support Mighty Fox whenever they can. Since that show it’s great so see the new faces, and new friends we can meet or have met as well. Chicago is an amazing city, with an incredible love for music. We love this town so much, the last 2 years have been incredible.

JM: Have you ever crowd surfed? If so, how was that?

MF: Of course! When I was just a wee lad of 17, punk rock was all that I cared about. And with a punk rock show comes moshing and crowd surfing. It is what it is. Kind of a game of trust with a lot of complete strangers. I have definitely seen some stage diving go wrong in my day. Lets just say I don’t do it anymore.

JM: Do you guys think about what you’re going to wear for a show? Is fashion important for your band image?

MF: This is always a hard question to answer because, unfortunately, the music industry is almost as much image as musical talent. Image is very important for a band. These days you have to create a three dimensional aspect to your music to get people’s attention. It takes time to do and we are still working on defining our image as a group. But to be short, yes, we do think about what we wear. If you start thinking about your music as a business that you love and want to build, you think about all aspects of it. What we look like is almost as important as how we sound or the lighting on stage. There is a difference between putting on a show, and just playing some songs on a stage. Every aspect of your show is important.

JM: What is your favorite venue/least favorite venue? Why these?

MF: My favorite venue to play would have to be Lincoln Hall. Every time we play there everyone is extremely helpful, and the sound engineers are incredible- it sounds like you’re playing at an arena! They also just put in a new green room which is great.

My least favorite venue to play at would have to be the Subterranean. The sound there is great and the staff is really friendly and accommodating, but those stairs….I once had to carry an 8×10 up the stairs and it has haunted me ever since. What if they turned the stairs into an escalator?!?

JM: What is your best memory performing and why does it stand out to you?

MF: My best memory performing would have to be with Mighty Fox at North Central College in Naperville. We were opening up for Yellowcard so I was a bit nervous at how the crowd would respond. We had tried out some new things in our set so I was anxious to see how they would turn out. The stage lights were rather dark that night and I couldn’t see into the crowd until the bridge of our first song. When the lights had flared up, looking out, I could see that every person in the auditorium had gotten out of their seat and rushed to the front of the stage and were clapping and singing along. It was cool to know our music could vibe with that many people that had never heard us before.

JM: What are you doing when you’re not performing?

MF: We all work in the service industry. Collectively we bartend, serve, or manage at restaurants.

Introducing Our Premium Hourly Rehearsal Room

Room 205

After weeks of planning and construction, The Music Garage finally launched our Premium Hourly Studio on May 17, 2014. This spacious rehearsal studio features incredible sound, our best gear, a lounge area and a host of other amenities aimed at the touring musician. The room has already seen Iron and Wine, Wild Belle, Andy Timmons and !!!.

To book an appointment, give us a call at (312) 997-1972 (2 hour minimum).

Premium Monthly Rehearsal Spaces & Engineering Suites – AVAILABLE NOW!

You can join our community of bands, producers, and Music Industry Professionals in an environment like no other


Engineering Suite 506Our rehearsal studios feature:

  • Windows
  • Sound Treatments
  • Central Air Conditioning & Heat
  • 200 Amps of Clean Power
  • High Speed Internet
  • Extensive Sound Proofing Including 16″ Thick Walls
  • Covered Loading Dock
  • 2 Freight Elevators
  • Simple Month-to-Month Lease
  • Off street parking in a safe neighborhood
  • A hand full of rooms at the Music Garage have been retrofitted with custom booths and suites. These rooms are perfect for recording, mixing, and engineering. Each room is a different size and shape and are in extremely high demand.

Check a list of our Engineering Suites & Private Monthly Studios that are available NOW!


Book our Showcase Room for your next Rehearsal or Event!

Our Showcase Room is the perfect place for artists of all levels to experience the ultimate in performance, comfort, security and service.

Our beautiful 1,000 sq foot tuned room with 350 sq foot attached control room is the ideal space to tune up for a show or get ready for your next big tour.
The space is also the perfect location for your next album release party, small concert, live stream or photography session.
The room features 24-hour lockouts, 3-phase power, easy load-in and a multitude of audio and backline packages. The room accommodates up to 10 individual monitor mixes, side fills, 32-channel console, eq,compressors, gates, effects, and an engineer to ensure that your rehearsal or event all goes according to plan.

In addition to all of those amenities, the Showcase Room provides the following:

Five minutes from downtown
Private security keyed elevator accessibility
Custom-tuned 1,000 square ft live room with wood walls and high ceilings
Adjoining 350 square ft custom tuned control room also available
200 amp 3 phase Camlock service in the Showcase and control rooms. For conventional power there are approximately 50 – 20 amp 110 outlets in the Showcase room.
Experienced and professional staff – We’ll work with you to make sure all your sound and lighting needs are met. Full backline available (even those impossible to find items).
Additional rooms available for production, catering, lounge, tech and storage.
Private off-street bus parking

“We have seen so many facets of the business come and go. When you do find something that makes you step back and say “whoa dude!”, you treat it like your own personal discovery….not to keep it secret, but to share it with your fellow production friends as a hot connection. Such is the case with The Music Garage. I look forward to many years of business and friendship….”
Rocko Reedy, Production Manager, Def Leppard and Journey – Stage Manager, U2