Independent must & the Internet

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH COLE HARPER OF ESCAPE GRACE

Q: First of all, about how long has the band been together?
A: EG has been together since late 2002. I started singing August 2002, I think. I played guitar before that.

Q: How long out of that time have you had a Web site?
A: We have had a Web site pretty much about a year and a half. It took a while to get developed because our Web designer is such a total slack-ass. But we had it registered from the get-go. We just didn't have it up and running because we're procrastinators.

Q: As far as independent music, how do you think the Internet has had an impact on it?
A: I believe it has a beneficial and a negative impact. Of course for indepedent music, you can get it through any number of alleyways, through file-sharing and whatnot, where it might hurt "larger" bands, but smaller bands get more of a prospective audience. It also helps with promotion because of things like Myspace, whether you like it or not. You can get a mini-Web site, you can get it around networks. It goes through the system. So it can be tremendous. It can help a lot. But at the same time, we've played with dozens of bands that were kind of bigger than they had to be because of their Internet following before they had a record or anything. They kind of made a name for themselves before they really did anything, you know?

Q: So do you think the Internet has made it easier or harder to get noticed?
A: I think it has made it easier overall, generally. Like I said, with concerns to file-sharing and networking and all kinds of stuff, it's easier to go online for people to click than flip through paper catalogues or go to shows even. The word of mouth has just accelerated because you can send a link and it's just right there. And another thing is to think the Internet is tremendous for bands because of just sheer distribution. It's phenomenal. Kids in Australia and kids in Japan e-mail us just because they saw our record review on a Web site or they saw our Web site. So I think it has definitely made it easier.

Q: And how does your band use the Internet?
A: We use the Internet pretty much for booking things. We took a lot of time and really got proactive with our Web site because we want it to represent us aesthetically and visually and go into the package with our floral theme and all that. We use it to basically get our mp3s out. We use it more or less for show notifications and to network with other bands. Like the band we're with now, The Classic Struggle, we met them through Myspace I think, or through our booking agents Web site. We use it all the time. We use it to book shows, book tours.

Q: Do you provide free samples of your songs on your Web site or anywhere else online?
A: Uh-huh. Definitely. We have one on Myspace, and I think we have three or four on our Web site. We're more than down for people to share our music. That's what we make it for. We actually were talking about releasing the files on our Web site so people can take it and do their own remixes of it and send it to us and reformulate it and do stuff like that. We've passed that over a few times.

Q: Do you sell merchandise on your Web site or anywhere else online?
A: We do. We sell our records. Our merchandise section hasn't been updated with all our shirts because we do limited-run shirts because that's what Jonathan does. Our guitar player prints shirts, so we print our shirts and our sweatshirts and all that kind of on a need basis. But we definitely sell our records through our Web site.

Q: Do you think that copyright laws do a good job of protecting artists' rights?
A: As far as that goes, I'm not too familiar with it. I do have a friend, our roadie is in law school and he's a copyright nerd. He loves it and he's all about it. From what I have gathered, I'd say yes. I think they do a good job.

Q: What are your thoughts on burning CDs and file-sharing over the Internet?
A: I love it. I do it. I hope people do it with our music. I honestly, truly believe that music is an artistic expression. It's to be shared. Of course, there are elements of music that people need to get paid. But I think generally people that are going to get paid to make music are going to get paid to make music either way. I think for the smaller guys, file-sharing is great. For people like us, our size, or bands we look up to like Botch and stuff like that, I think it's tremendous. It helps them out.

Q: Obviously you think it's more of a benefit, but do you think that there are cons?
A: I think there are cons and I can understand where like, with the whole leak, from an artistic and professional standpoint, I can understand how people would get pissed that their records are released before they released them. And there definitely are cons because, I don't know if you file-share or download, but I'll download versions of songs that aren't mastered or aren't mixed yet. It's really unfair to the bands sometimes when one of their songs is released and isn't finished or might be changed in some way or remixed. So there definitely are cons.

Q: Do you think that file-sharing poses a serious threat to bands signed to major labels?
A: No. I don't think so. I think record labels and larger labels are going to come up with ways for their artists to make money. So much of that is subjective anyways because some bands really tweak their contracts and some people just get run over. As far as Metallica goes or something like that, I don't think it matters. It may at the very most make a small dent, but I don't think it goes any further than that.

Q: That's all the questions I had. Is there anything else you wanted to add about the Internet?
A: I think it's a great thing, for our community at least, and I think people should do it. The exchange of ideas and the spread of expression I think is good. While there are definite cons, I think overall people are getting helped out, people are doing a good job getting it spread out to where kids have an option, an alternative to what they hear on the radio or MTV.

Q: And what does your band have in store for the next few months?
A: In the next few months we will definitely have a new record out. It was supposed to come out before we left for tour a couple weeks ago. It should be out any week now on Arsenal Records. It's a four-song EP of all new stuff. We are recording either late-May or early-June for our full-length on Hawthorne Street Records, which is a label out of New York and Chicago that puts our some more unique type of hardcore stuff. I think we're doing a three-week tour in June and probably again in August and probably again in December. So we're going to be on the road and releasing records.