“I'm not going to lie—times are tough. Maximize on EVERY opportunity that you get.”


Shinobi Ninja Tears It Up at the Roxy,
Frank Hill Talks Grassroots Management

By Jesse Beer-Dietz

Check out my interview with Frank Hill, manager of rockers Fair to Midland. For those interested in interning in the NYC area, you can send a resume to Frank at [email protected]. Keep feedin’ the inbox: [email protected]

Shinobi Ninja
(http://www.shinobininja.com/) played a show Wednesday at the Roxy, and I have to say I came away very impressed. Shinobi has been a Wheels favorite for a while now, but this was the first time we’ve had the chance to see them live, and they did not disappoint. They definitely brought a great energy and presence to the Roxy that had the whole crowd jumping around and having a good time—and after all, what more do you want when you go to a show? If you haven’t seen them live, or for some reason have been asleep at the wheel (no pun intended), we strongly recommend checking them out.

How did you get your start in the music business?
Back in 1999, I was a jazz studies major at the University of North Texas and was waiting tables and bartending at a large arcade called Gameworks. Every now and then, we would have artists come and perform at the arcade, such as Incubus and Vertical Horizon. The marketing manager knew I was into music, so I always got to work with the bands that came in. When Vertical Horizon performed, I met Michael Starr, who then worked for BMG Distribution. I asked if he possibly needed an intern and he said yes, and I began interning in early 2000. Michael left BMG later to work radio promotion at Wind-up Records, and I followed him there. I ended up bouncing around from Timebomb Records (first paying gig in music industry), Interscope and back to BMG, all while in college. When I graduated, I had a short stint at RED Distribution but quickly landed a dream gig doing marketing and sales for Island Def Jam. I left there in early 2007 and moved to NYC to manage fulltime.

Talk about some of the bands you are working with, including Fair to Midland.
All of my bands are very active at the moment. Fair to Midland (www.fairtomidland.com) released a new record, Arrows & Anchors, in July and have been touring ever since. They toured the west coast with Dredg and the full U.S. with The Damned Things. In November they are headed to Europe with Evanescence, and we just announced a December headline tour. The first single, "Musical Chairs," had a nice run at Active and Modern Rock radio. FTM are a very special band that really cross genres. A lot of people consider them a metal or prog band, but check out "Amarillo Sleeps on My Pillow." They use a banjo! For fans of System of a Down, Dredg, Tool.

Ha Ha Tonka (www.hahatonkamusic.com) are currently on a 50+ date U.S. tour in support of their most recent record, Death of a Decade. Their first single, "Usual Suspects," is doing great on AAA radio. They have been playing radio shows across the US as well as an amazing performance at ACL Music Fest. The band had the special privilege of performing and hosting a dinner for Anthony Bourdain on his show No Reservation on the Travel Channel. The press on the new record has been outstanding. I really see these guys blowing up in the next year. For fans of Fleet Foxes, Mumford and Sons, R.E.M. and The Avett Brothers.

Heypenny (www.heypenny.com) have been super-busy. They have a new EP of mellow songs called Tendre dropping on Nov. 15 and will be available for FREE for those willing to give up an email address. That will lead into a short two-week tour of the East Coast in support of the EP. In the spring, the band will be nationally re-releasing their full length, A Jillion Kicks. The band is currently making videos and finding other artists to remix several songs on the record. The band's song "Parade" is currently featured in a new Honda commercial as well. For fans of Of Montreal, Weezer, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

What advice would you give to up and coming bands in this current climate of the record business?
I'm not going to lie—times are tough. Maximize on EVERY opportunity that you get. Make sure at every show you are collecting email addresses. Have nice merch to sell at your shows and always have music on hand. If you get to support a bigger artist, make sure everyone at the show leaves with something with your name and website on it. Don't give music away totally for free—make the fans give you an email address or the like. Communication is key. This will lead to real money down the road.

What entices you to pick up a band for management? will you pick up a baby band, or do they have to have some sort of established history?
There are really four main things I look at when deciding to take on a band. The first is songs. Does the band write good songs that are catchy as well as credible? Without this, the band will go nowhere. Second is the live show. The band must be able to play their songs as well as put on a good show. I'm not a fan of the indie bands that stare at their shoes when they play. Third is marketability. Does the band have a unified image? What is their target demographic? The fourth is hard to explain. I guess you could call it the "IT" factor. It is just something that moves me, something I really connect with. I've had a lot of friends say, "I have a band for you that is right down your alley." I manage a proggy-hard rock band, an Americana indie-rock band and a dancey-pop rock band. I'm not sure what my alley is. I just know when I truly believe in and love an artist.

Final question: if you could be any type of superhero, who would you be and why?
Multiply Man so that I could clone myself over and over. I'm really busy and could really use the help.