Playing To A Crowd of No One

Zimmy asks:

– i have a question: have you ever played to a crowd of people & just thought, ‘wow … nobody really listened to that’ – how do you keep going when you get a bland reaction like that — after you’ve poured out your heart & soul? what keeps you going & makes you feel excited about it?

Haha. Why yes indeed!!!

This type of situation is inevitable when you’re an average sized person in a big-ish sized room armed with only a guitar. Things like venue, sound system, sound dude, other bands on the bill/crowd in attendance can make or break the show. That is, if you let it get to you.

Somewhere along the line I realized that any opportunity I get to play in front of anyone, I should be grateful for. Whether there are two of you or two thousand, you will see the same show. This happens (in my case, at least) because I have this theory: I would be at home, alone, doing pretty much the same thing anyway, so the fact that I’m here, and we’re in this together, is a total bonus.

I have been lucky enough to play shows where not a single person in the audience uttered one word for the whole set. I have also played shows where it seemed like just about everyone talked the whole way through. To quote a wise prophet and paraphrase just a bit, Performing Live Is Like A Box Of Chocolates…You Never Know What You’re Going to Get.

I always make it my mission, manifesto and code of conduct to battle my way through any tough audience. It is my goal to get at least one talk-y person to lend me their ears for a half hour or so. Sometimes, the results of this are astonishing, and somehow, everyone in the room starts acting like they’re enjoying themselves or something! Sometimes you just fight and fight the whole way through, but then someone comes up and tells you they were impressed by how you handled everyone talking and it makes it all worthwhile. This is why I sometimes play with a band…then I’m not as quiet 😉

Random Fact 17: I have lived in 3 group homes, 3 foster homes and with many, many kind friends and relatives.

Question Two

This from Chris Kettleson:

“I am kinda of a folky, acoustic, alt pop kinda person… I play my own music and stuff but I was just wondering how did you manage to get your first break?”

Hmmm…first break huh. I guess that depends on what one would consider a “first break”…

Was my first break the all ages show I played with my punk rock bank The Blue Collar Bullets? Was it the time that Billy Bones from Teenage Rampage Records (and now, Sparrow Guitars) offered to put out my first album? Or did the “lucky breaks” only start when I started flying around places and working with people I looked up to?

Perspective.

That is what I am naming my new album, by the way.

They say it takes ten years to make an overnight success.

I am by no means an overnight success but if you talk to anyone on the other side of Living Off Music they will most likely agree with this concept. In the ten years that I’ve been playing all ages punk rock shows, learning how to manage a band and record company and driving all over the damn places cause I love music, it’s been a series of small breaks. You never know where the next one is going to lead you, and sometimes even the not-so-lucky breaks turn out to the be the best thing that could have happened.

I find it incredibly cheesy when someone asks for advice and all they’re given is “Just Keep Up the Good Work!” or “Follow Your Dreams Kid!”, “Never Give Up!” Sure, this is good advice if you’re already on the other side, but it doesn’t TELL you a damn thing. I’m not on the “other side” but I swore if anyone asked me for advice I would be truthful. In my opinion, the best thing you can do for your music is WORK.

Work.

1. Get a good paying job, or find a skill that sets you up every time you come back from tour unemployed (fork lift driver, cook, construction…anything, regardless of whether you like it or an interested in it at all.) If you can hack it, get two jobs…you’re going to need the money.

2. Put all your money in to your band. Merch, tour, a van, posters, gear…you’re going to need stuff that will stand the test of time cause Lord knows when you’ll be able to afford it again! Look at your life and analyze where you spend your money and see what you can/are willing to live without.

3. Build up as much credit as you can. Get as many credit cards as you can. Take out a loan. This could potentially be the worst advice anyone could ever give you but the fact of the matter is this: You never know when your “Big Break” might come, and wouldn’t it be a shame to miss it because you don’t have any money to do that big tour, fly to that cool studio to record or do a new run of merch cause you just got added to Warped Tour?

4. Learn everything. Everything. If you think you know half of anything, you’re wrong. Learn how to book a tour, settle a show, run a publicity campaign, follow up with radio, build a mailing list, market online, record yourself, write songs…any thing Music OR Music BUSINESS related…You Need To Know It.

5. Start working. Yep, as if you didn’t think you ere working enough cause you’re exhausted from your two jobs, trying to book a tour and make it to band practice without falling asleep on the bus, now it’s time to really work. Every second you are awake, there is something you could be doing for your music. Whether it’s writing, recording demos or getting better at your instrument, there is always, ALWAYS something that you could/should be doing for your music if you’re serious about it. Every time you sit down in front of the T.V., pick up your guitar. On your lunch break, read music industry books and write lyrics. In the car while driving plan your new album artwork. See? It never ends.

Did that help at all?

Random Fact 16: I’ve been keeping a scrap book of every article, interview or review that has ever been done about me since I was 16. I also keep every piece of mail I’ve ever been sent. Once for my birthday Dana gave me a $20 bill with a thank you note written on it and I still have it. It reminds me that no matter what, the sentiment was more valuable than the money. Always.

Question One

This question hot off the press courtesy of THE BEEZE:

I’ve got a question, or two…

What is your favorite song of all time?

Who are your biggest musical influences?

ALL TIME!?!?!?

I ONLY GET ONE!?!?!?

gosh.

Atlantic City by Bruce Springsteen. I have listened to it about a million times.
Other tunes on the all time top listening list include:
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down – The Band
Joleen – Ray Lamontagne
Oh My God, Whatever, Etc – Ryan Adams (actually, everything by Ryan Adams)

Biggest musical influences? Hmmm. Much the same of the all time favourite song list… The Band, Neil Young, Dylan, Springsteen, Kathleen Edwards, Ray Lamontagne and Ryan Adams for sure. Musically, that is 😉

Random Fact 15: I hate listening to my own music. In fact, I can’t even be in the same room with someone if my music is playing. This includes recording. I’m incredibly shy.

PROMOTIONAL PHOTOS

Hi Resolution Promotional photos.
“Save Link As…”

Billy The Kid | Billy Pettinger | Vancouver Singer Songwriter Billy The Kid | Billy Pettinger | Vancouver Singer Songwriter Billy The Kid | Billy Pettinger | Vancouver Singer Songwriter
Billy The Kid | Billy Pettinger | Vancouver Singer Songwriter Billy The Kid | Billy Pettinger | Vancouver Singer Songwriter Billy The Kid | Billy Pettinger | Vancouver Singer Songwriter

A Question

Anything you want to ask me?

Got a question, problem or concern?

Ask away! 🙂

Random Billy Fact 14: I love sending you mail

Win A Prize, Get A Thing, See A Show

Hey Gang.

Couple things…playing some shows, including Tomorrow at the Hotel Cafe and July 28th with Our Lady Peace at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. Details attached, please let me know if you’re able to make it.

So, I got this new website, and I had an idea (stop me if you’ve heard this): If you put a link to the new site http://www.BillytheKidOnline.com on your Facebook, Myspace, Blog, Website etc., I will send you a signed promo photo and/or thank thank you letter. Just let me know where you’ve put the link and where to send you your mail.

Lots of new merch including hats, bags, aprons, key chains, mugs, beer steins and dog shirts at http://www.zazzle.com/billythekidlost

I’m in the studio working on some new Billy and the Lost Boys tunes as well as some new Billy the Kid material. If you want to keep up to date on the struggles of producing, engineering, writing and recording your own album (a first for me!) follow my blog at http://www.BillytheKidBlog.com

Last but not least: I’m thinking of starting a Video Blog. Anything you’d like to know or any questions you might have for me?

Thank you so much for your support…love you to bits.

-Billy the Kid
http://www.reverbnation.com/bilythekid
http://www.twitter.com/billypettinger
http://www.myspace.com/billythekid

Happy Tears

I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty overwhelmed today.

Not in a bad way. No, not at all.

I put up this thing… a thing that says “if you put a link to my new site www.billythekidonline.com on your blog, forums, facebook, myspace, website, etc I will mail you either a hand written thank you letter or a signed promo photo.”

I honestly expected about 2 people to sing up for this endeavor. But now, I’m really overwhelmed.

Everything from car blogs to toy blogs, you guys are out there spreading the word. It makes a little happy tear go to the corner of my eye and try to bust out, but I say “No! You Will Not Escape The Confines of My Eye! Stay In The Eye, Happy Tear!”

I know awhile back I said I was going to try and blog every day. Some days though, I feel like I have nothing decent to say. Sure I could think of something, but why drag (the two) people reading this in to how my brain works some days.

Most of the time, I’m as happy as I could possibly be. The fact of the matter is, though, I’m still just trying to get by and this music thing is just struggle after struggle. I mean, I got some good things going, some new plans in the works, and my future is looking like it just might turn out ok. But right now we’re in the trenches people. Contracts, meetings and trying to spread the word about my music takes up my day so that I rarely have time to do my fav. thing which is create.

In case you wanted to know my day-to-day these days, it mainly consists of planning and executing ways to inform new potential fans that I exist. I know this sounds ridiculous, but this is really the only way I live. And, I am the only person I have helping me. Sure, I have a producer, my family and the love of my life are extremely supportive, but when it comes down to “marketing”, it’s just me and this MacBook that I am now writing on. Whereas some people who have been playing music, touring, recording and creating for as long as I have likely have some type of management, booking agent, record label, publicist or internet marketing help, I have: Me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not complaining. This is the path I chose, and most of the time, I prefer it this way. I guess I’m kind of a “lone wolf”. “Doesn’t play well with others” heh heh. The bottom lines is that my life, my music and the portrayal thereof is extremely important to me and I can’t stand people screwing that up and/or trying to capitalize on it. I’m just a kid who really liked making music, and most of the time I have my head on straight enough to realize that everything else is just a bonus. But in the trenches, it’s hard to know when the fighting will end.

That is, until I get an email, a comment, a facebook message…any little sign of life from someone out there that I either know or don’t know, telling me that they’re out there, they exist, and they’re listening. Most of the time I live a pretty solitary existence. You stare at a computer, a console or a highway and see the same couple of people most every day. I don’t mind this because I try to surround myself with the best caliber of people imaginable, making it very easy to tolerate them for extended periods of time 😉

But it does get lonely. Every time you guys reach out to me, or show your support, or I get an email saying “You Have A New Order”, you don’t know how happy it makes me. I actually smile every single time. And it doesn’t have anything to do with money. It doesn’t have anything to do with “success” (which is a perspective driven definition, in my opinion) or “fame” (which I don’t believe in anyway). It’s just the feeling that there is someone else out there, like me, and we’re in this together. Lost.

Forever,
Billy the Kid

Random Fact 13: My first car was a 1965 Valiant that my foster dad gave me. It was the car that got be to band practice and shows for years. It was also the car that got my foster dad to his band practices and shows for years.

Contest

CONTEST:

If you put a link to my website (http://www.billythekidoneline.com or http://www.billythekidblog.com) on your blog, facebook, myspace or website, I will mail you a handwritten thank you letter OR a signed promo photo (your choice). Just send me where you’ve posted the link and you’re address and keep an eye on yr mail! 🙂

Thanks,

Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid – New Merch

Hey guys!

Just wanted to let you know I have some cool new merch items for sale…if you head on over to the Billy the Kid Zazzle page you will find Billy the Kid Mugs, Lost Records mugs and Trucker hats.

I’m just wondering…are there any other merch items you guys would like to see? If so, please add a comment to this post. I’d love to know your ideas!

I have two shows coming up in L.A. posted in the shows section, let me know if you can make it out and I’ll keep an eye out for ya 🙂

All the best,

Billy the Kid
http://www.twitter.com/billypettinger
http://www.myspace.com/billythekid


create & buy custom products at Zazzle

Stan, Anvil, Tofu Scramble


The other day I went to Venice Beach for the first time.

I went to Venice to hang out with a living legend by the name of Stan “The Baron” Behrens. I met Stan (like many of my favourite people on this planet) because of a certain producer named Raine Maida. Raine had already called Randy Cooke and Joe Karnes in to do the session and while recording, we started talking about getting a harmonica player for a couple tracks. Joe recommended Stan, and the rest is history.

Stan grew up in New York and has played with the likes of Willie Dixon, Canned Heat, Ruth Brown…he’s even on a Four Tops record! You can also hear him in the T.V. show “My Name Is Earl” (among others). Stan is a supremely talented multi-instrumentalist and we had a blast walking around (and over) the canals of Venice while catching up (the guy has a million amazing stories…and such a sweet man).

Yesterday I wrapped up the last of the electric guitars for the firs batch of Billy and the Lost Boys tunes. I finally owned up to the fact that, left to my own devices, I will take all day to get ONE guitar sound. So, we asked a friend to come in and help for a few hours. Being on the clock and having a little input turned out to be exactly what I needed. I finished everything in about 6 hours and then it was off to see Anvil: The Movie followed by a very special performance by Anvil: The Band! (followed by Tofu Scramble at Swinger’s Restaurant. Yum.)

Little Known Fact Day 12: I have been listening to nothing but Ryan Adams records for two months straight