Lazarus A.D.’s Jeff Paulick: “If You Aren’t On A Good Package, Your Tour Is Going To Suffer”

Posted by on May 11, 2011

It’s tough enough for bands trying to make it big on the road as it is. So when Lazarus A.D.’s van was broken into while they were on tour in the U.K., we felt awful for them. Though fans came through for the band, raising enough money through donations to help Lazarus A.D. out, the current state of music industry and economy doesn’t make it much easier on the Wisconsin thrashers or up and coming bands alike. Despite this, the band moves on, currently on the road with Cavalera Conspiracy. I got the chance to chat with bassist/lead singer Jeff Paulick after their set at the New England Metal & Hardcore Festival last month. While in the parking lot of the Palladium Theatre (the festival’s venue), Paulick discussed his reaction to the overwhelming support from fans after the van incident, the hardships that currently go into touring, and what he believes the music industry needs to do in order to prevail.

This past March during the band’s European tour, your van got broken into in the UK. How has it been for you guys since that happened?

Luckily we set up some donations on PayPal. Our fans really stepped up and helped out. We’re okay, we got through all that. It sucked, being so far away from home, in a place you’ve never been to. That’s never happened to me in the States, so especially for it to be out there and happen like that. You’re sailing up river without a paddle; it’s scary. It sucks and you just want to end it right there. But we got through it, we got our donations set up and our fans really stepped up. We were able to continue the tour. We definitely have a lot of fans over there and hope to be back soon. We loved it there.

So that was your first time in Europe?

Yeah, it was a rude awakening, but you live and learn. I carry everything on my back now.

Did the fans’ response remind you how popular the band really is or has become?

Definitely. When it happened, we figured we’d set up some donations and our families would help us out. But to see how many people that came through. Bands that are much bigger than us were donating. It was very flattering to say the least. To see where they were donating from, and how much, I couldn’t believe it. They had no connection to what happened to us, they just wanted to see us succeed so they could come to our next show. That’s what it was about. It was overwhelming. In the darkest days of touring, when you’re at your lowest point, that made everything worth it.

Were you able to regain anything that was stolen?

We were actually onstage when it happened. So all the gear was onstage. Basically, all the band money and personal items got taken. So from the donations, we were able to get back everything.

It’s hard enough as it is for smaller bands to tour in the States. What would you say is the hardest thing about touring is?

Number one: the gas. We have a diesel engine, which is great for touring, but at the same time is expensive. When your guarantees are x amount and you’re putting x amount into your gas tank, it ain’t adding up. The touring world has never seen this before. Two dollars a gallon is no big deal, but four, soon to be five, dollars a gallon? Shit’s gonna hit the fan. Bands aren’t going to be able to tour. You go through a lot of gas on the road crossing the country. It’s killing.

The second hardest part is the oversaturation of bands. Because records aren’t selling, bands are touring more. It just keeps going. As a fan, you have to pick and choose. Then it becomes really hard for bands like us trying to break out. We’re trying to take every tour we possibly can, but we don’t have the money to do it. I literally can’t do it.

And you have another job outside the band, right?

I have two jobs at home; I’m a bartender and I work at a Mexican restaurant. So when I’m not touring, literally I come back to working 40 hours a week. And that’s just to cover my end, and I am a fan, but I’m on the other side of the fence. If I’m going to shows, I want a package, and a good one. Unfortunately, many of the packages that these agents are putting together aren’t so hot, and it kind of sucks. They’re going to pick and choose. If you aren’t on a good package, your tour is going to suffer.

Have you been finding it hard to get on good packages?

Yes, definitely. A lot of that is politics. A lot of it is that we don’t sell enough records, the fact that the money isn’t there on some of it. And when I say money, I mean resources. It’s a loose term. When we started out, we hit two really good tours right out of the gate. We had Amon Amarth and Testament right off our first record and they were amazing. It was a great experience. Since then, we haven’t been on a tour of that caliber. We’re going out with Cavalera Conspiracy, which is another high profile tour which we’re very stoked on. You just learn that in this industry, there’s so many ups and downs, and you have to take the good with the bad. There’s some tours that you’d rather not do, and you’d rather just stay home and play Xbox and hang out with your buddies. But at the same time, it’s a job, it’s a struggle. Everyone’s trying to figure it out right now.

I don’t know if touring constantly is the answer. That’s what the labels and agents tell you, but is it the answer? Nobody really knows right now because none of these bands are making money that are constantly touring. They’re barely breaking even if they are. Another big part of it is that the money isn’t there so the bigger bands are taking bigger cuts, and the smaller guys are suffering. As a whole, every aspect of the music industry is turned upside down because the basic foundation of the music industry is selling CDs, vinyl, records, whatever, and they’re not anymore. And when that’s gone, where do you turn? I know where they’re not turning. And as an artist, that drives you crazy, but that’s the situation you’re in.

Does it make it disheartening to record?

Not in my eyes. When we did the original record, we weren’t signed. We took out a loan from the bank and did it on our own, and it got re-released by Metal Blade two years later. So we know the tune of getting money on our own, and look where it got us. Now, the label is giving you money to record, which you have to give back obviously, but the records aren’t selling and you’re like, “oh shit”. But at the same time, it doesn’t scare me at all. I could talk for hours about the music industry and where it should head. But a lot of these digital outlets, labels aren’t picking up on. It’s dumb. Like this thing with Amazon and their cloud [The Amazon Cloud].

In my eyes, I think music should be free. Do it like these other bands. Granted their much bigger, but take Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor asks you how much you want to pay for this record. Here’s some packages with awesome shit if you want to donate a lot of money, do what you want. I think three or four years from now, CDs are going to be absolutely done. You look at shelves at Best Buy or Wal Mart, mom and pop record stores are gone.

Happy Record Store Day, by the way. (laughs) [Editor’s note: This interview was conducted on Record Store Day, April 16].

Yeah, good luck. Vinyls are still kicking, that’s cool. It makes sense. What I think is going to happen is all the labels are going to disband, and all the people from the labels are going to set up a 360 deal. They’ll have your agent, your PR person, and all the politics for things you can’t do as a band are all going to be in one little organization. And that’s how bands would get signed. They’d sign to companies that do everything. Which is what you’re doing now, it’s just in 6 different buildings. The record industry is dumb.

Do you think it’s harder for smaller or newer bands to do that though- with digital releases?

Did it work for Job for a Cowboy before they were signed? They had a million hits on MySpace before they were signed. Did they need to sign to Metal Blade? I don’t know. The internet is the internet. Look at these people that are internet sensations on youtube overnight. Do you need a record label to do that? Yes, because you can’t get on the tours you need to be on.

But in three years, you feel that might not be the case anymore?

Once everything is gone, what are you going to do? When there is no money to be made in CD sales, the business model has to change. The labels are squeezing that orange until there’s nothing left. The agents aren’t losing money yet. The promoters and artists are taking massive hits. But managers aren’t yet. Once everything comes full circle we’ll see what happens. My mind is centered forward. I know you’re going to fucking steal my CDs, go steal it. But go to my show and buy a t-shirt. That’s all I ask.

You mentioned your upcoming tour plans with Cavalera Conspiracy. After that, any plans?

Not right now, unfortunately. And especially, if you’re not on Mayhem or Slaughter, you’re up against two monsters. Kids are spending $45 to go to these festivals and they can’t afford anything else. It’s the whole package deal I was talking about.


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