The Red Coats have been a “local” band for a half decade.
The quote marks reflect a kind of hierarchical status, more than the group’s relative worth.
The trio (Gabriel Francisco, Nathan Navarro and Bobby Jenkins) has been playing together since high school and works hard to pull a following for its catchy contemporary, classic rock (think Cheap Trick if its members grew up listening to Nirvana). The band has gigged at most of the clubs in town and caught a few spots opening for the national touring acts (including this weekend’s Summerland tour festival, FYI).
But the band still doesn’t have an album out. It doesn’t have any merchandise, really. There are burned copies of a Red Coats CD floating around, but those were mostly given away at shows, just to get the music into people’s hand. The band doesn’t have the resources (read: money, know-how) for a proper release.
Now, they’re getting some help, in the form of a crowd-funding campaign from Croptown Creative, the hyper-local marketing company run by Craig Scharton.
The one-month campaign, which launched on Saturday, will pay for the band to finish the album they’ve been working on since high school and press 2,000 CD copies. They band will also do a music video and print T-shirts and stickers to sell at future shows. If things go really well, there will be some cash to help pay for a tour van.
The goal is $11,500. The campaign can be seen at www.indiegogo.com. Search for The Red Coats.
Scharton was taken by the band the first time he saw them perform.
“They started playing and we stopped to listen. We noticed that everyone else stopped what they were doing, too. Everyone turned and listened and smiled. Everyone moved closer to the stage. That’s the kind of reaction they get every time they play,” he writes in the campaign’s notes.
The Red Coats are a test of sorts.
If their campaign works, Croptown will help launch a new campaign for a new local band every six months. How those bands will be chosen is up in the air, though Scharton imagines some kind of online voting, or maybe a battle of the bands.
They wouldn’t call it that, he says.
“We’ll try all the things that don’t work until we find the things that do work,” he says.
“And keep it running as long as it keeps working.”
The campaigns will be tailored to each band’s needs and designed to help move the bands beyond that “local” designation. The ultimate goal is getting a Fresno band in the national mainstream — our own version of the Sacramento band Cake, Scharton says.
It’s worth noting that much of the money will go toward building an infrastructure to support local bands in that process.
“The money is going to go to local professionals,” Scharton says.
The campaigns will tap local audio engineers, filmmakers and graphic artists. The Red Coats will work with Punit Dhesi, a local filmmaker who’s done videos for Fashawn and others. Pete Wolf will record and engineer the album at his studio in the Tower District.
Wolf has been doing audio engineering for two decades. His client list is a who’s who of local musicians: 40 Watt Hype, Circus Bogus, Eva Scow, Mofo Party Band,Trey Tosh and dozens of others.
For Wolf, the campaign is a paycheck, but also a means of raising the bar for the entire music scene. His goal has always been putting out professional, high-quality product and this is a good way to do it.
“I want to up the game, here,” he says.
The idea of asking for direct support from your fans base is fairly well accepted these days, even among mainstream artists. Amanda Palmer famously created a career out of it (and has written an insightful book called “The Art of Asking,” which you should read). Several local bands have run similar campaigns in the past with varying degrees of success. The psych rock band Light Thieves comes to mind as having met its goal and then some.
This campaign has the benefit of reaching a wider community of backers.
“It’s nice to have someone extend their hand to help out,” Francisco says.
It’s the Nashville model, Scharton says. That city started a music scene with just a radio station (WSM radio) and an old church (Union Gospel Tabernacle), he says. Of course, that gave rise to the Grand Ole Opry and that supported a community of bands and musicians that thrives to this day.
Scharton isn’t looking to recreate Nashville, really. He doesn’t have a church. Or a radio station.
What he has is a pub (Peeve’s Public House) and access to a community he knows is willing to support artistic and entrepreneurial endeavors. It supported his crowd-funding campaign to open Peeves.
That support is how artists (or bands in this case) grow and succeed. That success will inspire a whole new set of of bands along the path, he says.
“It creates a really cool feedback loop.”
Indiegogo Fundraiser for The Red Coats
- 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, Peeve’s Public House, 1243 Fulton Mall
- Free (donations encouraged), all ages
- 559-573-5735, www.peevespub.com