Quietdrive edge into crowded pop/punk scene through a hardcore DIY work ethic

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:: Quietdrive :: Gothic Theatre :: January 16 ::
:: The Black Sheep :: January 17 :: 

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By Brian Kenney

The promotional aspect of the music industry is a strange one. Certainly, you have to play your gigs, stop by junkets and do your interviews. But it’s also about merchandising: the discs, posters, stickers, t-shirts. For Minneapolis’ Quietdrive, those t-shirts can end up in some very strange places — such as on both sides of the war in Iraq, where a Quietdrive t-shirt showed up on a captured Iraqi rebel. “We had some friends fighting over in Iraq [and]we wanted to support them,” recalled Quietdrive bassist Droo Hastings during a recent interview with The Marquee. “So we sent them a bunch of Quietdrive t-shirts and discs. But their truck got raided and a bunch of stuff [got]stolen.”

Last he heard, the shirt turned up on an Iraqi rebel who was in bad shape to say the least. “It’s a gruesome story,” Hasting concluded.

“Ironic” is a good word to describe this young pop/punk Minnesota quintet, which in addition to Hastings also includes vocalist Kevin Truckenmiller, drummer Brandon Lanier, and guitarists Justin Bonhiver and Matt Kirby. Signed to Epic (Sony BMG) in 2004, they soon entered the studio with producer Butch Walker (Avril Lavigne, Pink, Pete Yorn, Hot Hot Heat) and left with their major-label debut LP, When All That’s Left Is You, a pop/punk, melodramatic, catchy, young male vs. the rest of the world exploration that draws off a palette of everything from The Dismemberment Plan and O.A.R to 311 and Taking Back Sunday.

Not bad for a job right out of college. But that was just the beginning of Quietdrive’s job.

While irony and coincidence keep this young act in a constant state of “Where’s Waldo” with their shirts, promotion is a major part of the game — a game they play well and one that has served them well in the age of technology. They went out and made their own luck: MySpace style.

They pounded the proverbial cyber pavement with the work ethic of a hacker, an ethic which got the Minneapolis band close to a half-million hits on their radio-friendly MySpace singles “Rise from the Ashes” and “Take a Drink.” It also garnered the attention of Dateline NBC, who was doing a story called “And The Band Played On,”  focusing on MySpace acts who profited from promoting to the MySpace generation. “We started using MySpace right before we were signed,” Truckenmiller told NBC. “I signed up and I didn’t really know what it was, but I knew that you could post your music on it. I was like, ‘This is kind of a cool way for us to get our music across and to connect with people.’”

“We kind of made it a part of a daily routine,” guitarist Kirby added. “We would spend a couple of hours branching out to people that we couldn’t branch out to just out of Minneapolis or places or shows that we’d be on tour with, because we never really went far out of the region.”

But the MySpace sword is double-edged, and a band, or at least a band worth its salt, can’t exist solely in cyberspace. Quietdrive knew this. Epic knew this. And Epic delayed the release of When All That’s Left Is You, although recorded and in the can by the end of 2005, for the better part of 2006 in favor of road exposure. “We were very green when we first signed and needed to get some shows under out belts before we learned the ropes,” Hastings said. “Coming into this, we didn’t have much of a tour history so we had to be careful of when we released. I guess it was an issue of time. It’s such a competitive industry and from the record label’s perspective and from our perspective, we didn’t want a fourth quarter release where you’re up against the Green Days and U2s and you get swept under the rug.”

The band has avoided getting swept under because of its inherited work ethic: the same Minneapolis code rich in rock lore that produced such acts as Soul Asylum, Hüsker Dü, The Replacements and, more recently, Motion City Soundtrack. So with the disc dropping in May of 2006 and some airplay surrounding their sly cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” they hit the road touring with acts such as Houston Calls and White Light Riot, and in early 2007, they’ll kick it with Bowling for Soup and Cartel  “We look at things differently from a band from the coast. We’re from the middle of the country so we have some catching up to do as far as learning what it’s like to function in a New York or an L.A. — not that Minneapolis is small, but it gives us perspective.”

 

:: Quietdrive ::

:: Gothic Theatre :: January 16 ::

:: The Black Sheep :: January 17 ::

 

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