Gaining Separation – Headstrum

Whether we are talking music or sports, writing books or broadcasting the news, acting on stage or on screen, whether we are talking arts, athletics, or academics, our world is more competitive than it has ever been. Talent – is everywhere. Drive – is everywhere. Enthusiasm – is everywhere. So – is bullshit. Gaining a perspective on where you are, what you want, and how you will get there, is perhaps best first served, by really having a come to jezus talk about Who you are.

In discussing these questions, it is best not to think of your band as a collective of artists and performers, but as a small business, and deal with it exactly the same way. This is actually something that has been on my mind quite a lot lately, because for the first time…. I’m in a band (lol), and we, as all start up businesses (aka bands), have been addressing these concerns by applying a business model. Value. Rarity. Imitability. Organization.


Hookworm Records (Left to Right: David Rhodes, Ryan B. Clark, Kevin Michael Prier, The Ryan King.

Who You Are: Does what you produce have value? Absolutely, that is never in question. Creating something and putting it into the world always has value, but think of it in terms of business. What is value? Do people want it? Do people need it? Will people pay for it. *Note: value does not always have to be contingent on commercial gains, but that differentiation is a very important part of this dialog.

What You Are: In the small business model, defining yourself starts with a discussion of rarity. There is a LOT of talent in Phoenix, to say nothing of Arizona as a whole. So, there is nothing Rare about your your band. Nothing. Bands are performing everywhere, almost every single night of the week, and most folks…. will just pick one. That is not meant to be harsh. It is meant to be part of the epiphany of this dialog. In business terms the question of rarity is raised as follows, “Is the control of the resource in the hands of a relative few?” Is the control of local music in very few hands? No. It is everywhere. Next question. Is the control of quality local music in very few hands. Define quality.

Where You Are & Want To Go: Imitability. When I was a freshman in high school I took introduction to art. It is a common freshman elective. I was awful. I cannot draw, I cannot sculpt, I cannot paint, I cannot fabricate. Not in my wheelhouse, but my teacher still should not have said, “Your art is wrong” to a freshman in high school. How can art be wrong? It is personal expression and creation. Who are you to say it is wrong! So… quality becomes a very sketchy conversation. We all have our own opinions about what makes a band, or a coffee shop, or a sound studio better than others. So how do we even start to have an objective conversation about quality? By thinking of it as a business.

Is what you are producing easy to imitate? You are filling a bar, with patrons drinking (likely), having conversations maybe even dates (likely), and listening to your band (hopefully). Is what you are producing in that setting being done somewhere else? Would people know the difference. You can write a hell of a book, does it keep me thinking about it, after I finish it and move on to the next one? You can play a hell of a blues song, but am I still thinking about it the next night at a bar down the street where another performer is playing a helluva blues song? These are important questions. In fact, they are essential for any small business…. aka band.

How You Will Get There: This is pure organization. It is also time for some blunt honesty. Businesses that are not as “good” as yours will go further than yours. This will always be the case. It has been the case since Hamlet. The spurns . It doesn’t come down to quality, at this point. It comes down to honestly answering the other questions. If you have ambitions, goals, at any level, than laying out an honest road-map is the only way to achieve them. If your business wants to elevate beyond Phoenix, then it has to have VALUE outside of Phoenix, it has to have a rarity and exclusivity outside of Phoenix, and it cannot be easily imitated by another business that is closer, or more convenient.

Who You Are REVISTED: Do you have a family? Do you have a full time job? Will your job give you extended vacations? Do you have the ability and pure force of will to WORK and do what it takes to get your songs on the Billboard Top 40? Ask The Black Moods how often they are on the road. Ask them where they live. I did, wanna know what Josh Kennedy said? Why would we pay rent for houses we are never home to stay at? Think really hard about WHO you are. WHAT you want. Not only as a business aka band, but as a person. There is one thing you will hear over and over again when talking to small business owners. It is WORK. It is constant. It takes over your thoughts, your time, your wallet in some cases. It usually comes with failure before success. It is almost never instant, and most business models say a profit should not even be expected for three years.

The Black Moods have been doing what they are doing for fifteen plus years in some capacity to get where they are. The band that was Chalmer’s Green split. One took to the road and the airwaves with punchy rock songs, fantastic musicianship, and pure determination. The other had a family, works at Fender, and dedicates his passion to recording the best songs that he can with his band The Real Fakes. This is not a conversation about quality or favorites. It is not a conversation about which path is better. This is not about #ThowingShade. It is a conversation about being honest in your assessment of your business, and then linking action to those answers.

Chalmer’s Green playing in support of Marc Norman 2020

A while back Josh and Kevin walked into a bar, and the host recognized them. You guys are Chalmer’s Green! Man I miss you guys. Um…. we are both still here… and in bands….. The guys answered. Lol. #StillHere


Perhaps being the best local blues band, or jazz band, or country band, fill in the blank that you can see on a Friday night is exactly what you want. Perhaps you have no ambition whatsoever to ever tour, you simply want to create the best damn music you can and have something to leave behind to chronicle your passing. Perhaps producing your own book and every aspect of it and having faith in your product is more important than trying to be Stephen King. Perhaps you want to take over Rock Radio.

But you gotta have the come to jezus talk.

So there are some examples and discussions from the veterans. The guys doing it right now, with experience and determination, and eyes on their prizes. Two roads…. both gaining separation. Let’s meet some young-bloods!

Feature Spotlight: Headstrum

Headstrum, from Queen Creek, Arizona, bring high energy, solid guitar lics, and nostalgic 60s and 70s rock n roll, but with modern attitude.

Headstrum at The Rebel Lounge Phoenix

1. What three local bands in town are people not paying enough attention to besides yours?

Anarbor | Never Us | Callie Young

2. Where do you shop for stage clothes?

What are stage clothes?



3. Have you ever met Bubba? Explain.

Yes!! Bubba Irwin did Alex’s stepdads tattoo of our drummer Tyler. Bubba is with old town ink in Scottsdale


Crazy how many different answers I get to this funky question. LOL Bubba Whicker is a local staple, who is simply everywhere… he usually comes with hilarious stories, but sometimes… you get awesome tattoo artists.

4. What other bands do you play in around town, if any?


5. What is your go to cover song?


6. Besides being musicians, do you have day jobs, and if so what do you do?

Cleaning pools man… cause Arizona needs pools

7. Ninja or Samurai?


8. As a band what are three of your favorite venues that you play around town?

The Rebel Lounge | Yucca Tap Room | Alex’s Bedroom

I also featured Headstrum in this week’s #ChurchOfRock… check it out, and follow my Spotify for weekly playlists from Ghost Writer Radio!!!


Next week….. The Psychedelephants and The Stakes !!!!



Keep the Greasy Side Down my Friends !!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.