Welcome to the second issue of UNCOVERED! This month we sat down with Anthony from the band We Outspoken. Anthony let us on exactly how far your band can go with a DIY attitude. So get comfy and let's tour the world with We Outspoken. Raw audio interview located below.
We Outspoken, a voice for those who want and need to be heard, a stance above the crowd. An inclusive movement, philosophy, and driving force that four musicians have cultivated into an art form that expands the medium of music into something relative, real, and true, calling their audience to be outspoken; to live the life they choose.
Authentic, edgy, and disciplined are some words used to describe the sound and focus of the band We Outspoken from Toronto, Canada. The year of 2008 brought together Anthony Mascarin (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Alex Mascarin (drums), Joe Manchisi (lead guitar/backup vocals), and Chris Andrews (bass), in hopes of creating their dream of playing in a band, not making music a pastime, but making it a career.
We Outspoken have released three albums and three EPs: Born a boy...raised a punk (2003), Hear we go (2008), Self-titled (2012), New heights EP (2013) Musicomonaia EP (2014) and All the right pieces (2016) under Outspoken Entertainment. All of these albums made their way onto shelves and digital stores across the world. This feat made things very real for We Outspoken; a profit was being made, tours were happening, merchandise was selling; a medium was being marketed and sold.
James: Hey, Anthony.
Anthony: Hey Jim, how are you?
Anthony: WOW long time.
James: I know right, it's been too long. The last time we chatted the band was opening for the Ataris at FOO's here in Montreal.
Anthony: WOW ya that was like 2010 it think.
James: Ya, you were touring and promoting your single Crises
Anthony: It's good to hear your voice.
James: I've been following the band over the years. I'm so happy for everything you have accomplished.
Anthony: Thanks so much. Yeah, it's been it's been a ride. It's not been easy, but hey we're still here.
James: That's why I'm excited to have this conversation. We Outspoken has accomplished so much. The wealth of knowledge you have gained from your experiences is staggering. I want to start off by reading something out to you and our readers.
"We Outspoken spent their early years and many hours writing, recording, touring and performing—getting their feet wet; understanding the music business with a “do it yourself” attitude."
I can honestly say that this statement could not be truer. It's that attitude that I want to explore today with you. Can you give our readers an idea what exactly what that DIY attitude has accomplished for the band?
Anthony: Man where to start? First, we have been together for so long. We have been able to make mistakes and learned from them. A lot of bands get discouraged because things are not moving as fast as they planned. It leads to fighting and can cause a band to split up. We've had some members come and go, but the core values and vision for We Outspoken have always stayed the same.
We always knew that we couldn't sit and wait for the success we wanted. So instead of getting discouraged, we decided to steer our ship and move things along on our own. With that attitude, we have had the pleasure of touring all over the place.
We've been to Europe four or five times. Which now that I think about it, it's insane that we managed to do it. We've been to South America twice, Asia, Japan last June-July and we had some dates in the U.S on the Warped Tour. We are going back to Japan and adding in Indonesia this year. And in the next month, we are touring Mexico.
Our biggest accomplishment has been that we're able to visit these amazing places. And make great friends along the way. It all comes from the attitude that if we want to make it happen, then we have it within us the ability to make it happen.
James: When did you first realize this as a band? How did that DIY spark first manifest?
Anthony: I guess it started because as a group we were getting antsy. We grew up playing shows, and like every young band, we thought someone is going to approach and BAM, give us a tour. We thought some guy in a suit would one day say "Don't worry guys we've got this. We're going to book you here and there and everywhere." And it didn't happen as fast as we would like. It wasn't the music because we spent our time with that and we were booking large venues. We built an incredible local fan base. There was just so much competition we had decided to stand out and take the reins ourselves.
"So we began booking shows on handshakes."
I remember it started by saying "hey maybe we can go to Buffalo for a couple of shows this weekend?" Then after accomplishing that thinking, "I wonder if we could make California work?” Then it happens, and you get back home, sit down with your best friends, and you get the itch to be back out on the road.
You get better at booking shows, and you realize how easy it can be. So we began booking shows on handshakes. We started meeting new bands abroad through Facebook. We made friends with promoters and became promoters. Our destiny was more and more in our hands. It takes a lot of work, but the payoff is tenfold, especially early on in your band's life.
From that point, we went wild setting crazier and crazier goals. One after the other as we accomplished them the tours starting getting bigger and longer. We began to see what countries worked and what wasn't working. We made a decision to start hitting the same places again and again. It all started with baby steps.
James: What advice would you have for a young band getting ready to plan their first tour?
Anthony: Baby steps. Don't decide to go to Europe right away. Start by finding and booking shows in your neighboring city. Then after you get a feel for that, take it up a notch and cross a border. From Toronto? Go to Buffalo as your first border cross.
The best way to book those shows is to become friends with bands in the cities you are planning on booking. Use social media to make that first connection. The Internet has completely shrunk the world, and it is easier than ever to find a band that fits your style. So you find them, make contact and show trade. That's how it all starts.
James: So step one, network and make mini tours to neighboring cities. What's the experience been like touring so far from home? Have you ever run into Canadian fans abroad?
Anthony: Yeah in California. We were playing Santa Monica and happened to meet up with some fans from Alberta. They found out we would be in Santa Monica during their vacation, so they came to see us play. That was so cool. In Japan as well, we had some British fans meet up with us at a show. It's been life changing seeing the world and making new friends. I can say I have a place to crash almost anywhere in the world.
James: Ever a problem crossing a border with your gear?
Anthony: To be honest no, it's gotten better over the years. Our first big tour to Europe we weren't sure how it was going to turn out. 99% of the time there's always a backline, and we are gear sharing with bands too. The bands and promoters know you are coming from out of town, so you arrange to share equipment. If you don't, it would otherwise be too expensive to travel. We bring our guitars and pedals and ship merch out in advance.
It's the gear handlers that can be scary, but you have little to no control over that. So get a good flight case, and you are good.
James: Promotion is something you guys do very well. Everything from tour videos, engaging with fans and being active online. What kind of advice do you have for somebody setting up their promotional programs?
Anthony: Yeah we are always learning and adjusting. In the beginning, we would use Myspace then thankfully Facebook came along. It's important also to be available to connect with your fans wherever they are. Facebook has made it so much easier to engage with fans and promote our music.
On social platforms, often the smallest of things that enhance your fans experience don't get used. So spend some time reading about how to use the space by searching online, and you will learn the value. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube those are critical areas to have a profile. It takes time to set up right, but the value it can provide for fans is priceless.
We got a significant boost to our fan base as well when a video game on mobile phones Downhill Xtreme approached us to licensed our single Crises. It was our first time Licensing for the video game, and it couldn't have been a better pair for our sound. Growing up we played games like Tony Hawk Skateboarding and Dave Mirra BMX. That's how we found a lot of our favorite bands. So when the opportunity to follow in those footsteps came along, it was a no-brainer. The game ended up being hugely popular with almost 15 million downloads. Crisis became the main theme song for the game and was in all the marketing online. From that exposure, people started to find us online and started writing to us. Having an online profile in place was critical to being able to communicate with all our new fans.
To stay on top of you have to always to be available to talk to your fans. We dedicate time out of each week to have a full day of online interaction. We write back to messages, respond to questions, and post fun things about the music and our lives. It's important to us that we build friendships with our fans.
James: So are you guys doing this full time?
Anthony: No "Laughs" it isn't there yet.
James: It will be.
Anthony: I wish, But no. Right now we are all still holding down day jobs. It's great because it allows us to staggers the pace a little. Having that time between tours makes it possible to regroup. With the down time, we are planning so when we do leave it's with purpose. It also gives us the time to engage with all the fans we meet on tour. But yeah, I guess that's the end goal, to do this full time. I dream of the day we can run like 280 shows a year.
James: Let's talk about videos. You guys have powered through what seven music videos or more now?
Anthony: Yeah we have seven out. The eighth one is being colored right now. We are aiming to launch that in the middle of March. That's also another marketing thing too. When the video is ready, you've got to think about creating a buzz. To do that you need banners, ads, blogger outreach, social media and more to promote it.
James: your production value is through the roof. It's not just a friend with a camcorder. How did the full production fall into place?
Anthony: Yeah, it starts with the company Rawfootage Productions. We've been working with them from the outset. We did "I don't know" with them first. That video went over so well, and it was such a blast filming with them. One after the other we stuck with them, and now they have been shooting for us going on seven years i think. Alex Colthart has been the director on the majority of them. His production company goes all out and rents and acquires everything we need to make the vision for the video come to pass. We've been lucky to get to know these guys and become friends with them.
All The Right Pieces
A Million People Watching
I Don't Know
James: What about funding. All these ambitious goals. Is it challenging to get funding from the government? What's that process like?
Anthony: I would say you have nothing to lose, so try! We've tried, and we haven't gotten any movement. It's many things that make it almost unattainable. It's the competition, and it's who's judging, and it's a lot of who you know. But again you have nothing to lose so go for it. I've rarely met another band that has received grants, from the government. Just don't count on it. If a subsidy is your Plan A, then I beg you to have a plan B. Again it comes back to take control and make it happen on your own.
I guess to sum it all up. Just plan some baby steps and run with it. Don't wait. Make it happen. There's no rule book on this. The best thing to do is get a blank sheet of paper. Write down what you and your band think should be your first step. Then look at what you wrote, toss out the paper and make it happen. There is no wrong way to accomplish your goals. And once you start ticking things off it will become easier and easier.
James: So what's next.?
Anthony: We have eight shows in Japan this April. Then from there, we finish with four shows in Indonesia. Will swing by Mexico for eight shows then break for a short bit to plan our next move. We would love to be consistently on the road but like I said because we're in control we're going at our pace. Will build up resources for the next trip and be on the road again shortly.
It's a really really exciting time for us now.
James: In the spirit, SoundSpot can you give us a shout out to some Canadian bands people should have a listen to?
Anthony: Yeah definitely people should check out our friends in SLAMBONI. Black Cat Attack out of Ajax Ontario, and Stuck On Planet Earth, all amazing bands people should have a listen to.
James: I can't thank you enough for taking some time to talk to me today.
Anthony: Jim anytime, and all the best to SoundSpot It's an excellent concept, and you have our support! Best of luck.
James: Thanks again Anthony. Cheers
VISIT WE OUTSPOKEN
Listen to the raw interview with Anthony from We Outspoken. Please forgive the audio quality I am still looking for a good solution to recording phone interviews. Note that the interview text has been modified from the audio version for smoother reading and has been approved by Anthony.