After 12 Years of Saying No, I’ve Finally Said Yes (to managing a band)

For years I’ve been asked to manage artists, but my answer has always been “no”, for the simple reason that I was never interested in focusing my energies on 1 individual artist. It wasn’t personal, I just preferred to work with as many artists as possible on big-picture projects, whether it was my film “What is INDIE?”, programming two venues for St-Ambroise, or now with my work at CIRAA and Bandzoogle. But I threw my “no managing bands” policy out the window recently when not only did I say “yes” to managing a band, I actually pursued them offering to manage them. That band is Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir; a secular, rabble-rousing, barn-burning, queer-positive, feminist, anti-racist, subversive Gospel Music Band. A few months ago I wrote a blog post called “The Story of the Only Band I Ever Booked Based on 1 MySpace Song” describing how I first booked Irreverend James at the Centre St-Ambroise. I wrote the post out of pure passion for the music, and to help them in any way I could with their EP launch in June. I think I must have watched the teaser video for that show about 100 times: It soon became clear to me that I was interested in more than just being a fan on the sidelines with these guys, that I wanted to be involved with the project in some way. And after a few meetings with the band, it became clear that we were a very good match, so I’ve been quietly helping them out behind the scenes since then. But that support is now official, as we have agreed that I will manage the band going forward, and I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. For those of you who follow my writing, you know that I’m a fan of lists. So here’s the Top 5 Reasons that I’ve decided to manage Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir:

1. If I had $10 Million, I would still manage them

To measure whether I’m enjoying what I’m doing in life, every so often I ask myself a simple question: If I had all the money I needed to live and sustain myself, would I be working on this? I can say without a shadow of a doubt that even if I had millions in the bank, I would still be managing Irreverend James (and I’m willing to bet they wish that I did).

2. Passion

This project has ignited a passion within me that I haven’t felt since I made my film back in 2005. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed working on lots of projects since then, and have put 110% of my time and energy into those projects. But very few things in my life have kept me up at night quite like my movie, or this band. I regularly find myself just sitting at my desk late at night listening to their music and brainstorming ideas, or just watching their videos over and over again. When passion like that hits, it’s impossible to ignore.

3. The Concept

With a leveled playing field in today’s music industry because of the Internet/social media, etc., being unique/different in some way is vitally important for artists. Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir describe themselves as: A Secular, Rabble-Rousing, Barn-Burning, Queer-Positive, Feminist, Anti-Racist, Subversive Gospel Music Band. Sign me up please. And many of you probably don’t know this, but I actually grew up on punk-rock, listening to bands like Minor Threat and Bad Religion, who were hugely influential in my life. So I see this project almost like punk-rock gospel :)

4. The Live Show

This is how I described the first time I saw the band: “People were up dancing, clapping and singing along instantly, it was infectious. The room was alive, there was energy and excitement that you only wish you could feel at every show.” To survive as a band in today’s music industry, making the live show experience memorable is a must. I was involved in more than 500 events during my time at St-Ambroise, and that night is still etched in my memory.

5. The Music

It starts and ends with the music. If the music isn’t there, then there’s really nothing to talk about. But with Irreverend James, the music is there in spades. I listen to it everyday, often on repeat. The singer of the band, The Profit (known as Baptiste in some circles), is easily one of the best singers I’ve come across in my life. The man has clearly put in his 10,000 hours. Evidence? Check out this 1-minute clip from their last live performance. It’s a cover of the classic “Roll, Jordan, Roll”, and the vocal performance gives me goose bumps every time:  

Come celebrate with me on August 24, 5 à 7 @ Divan Orange

Although August 24th is being billed as the official recruitment for the Critical Mass Choir, it’s also the official start to this partnership. So I hope that many of you will stop by for a drink to help us celebrate, and to see what the fuss is all about. Here’s a new teaser video from the band to preview this show:   Recruiting Now (Critical Mass Choir Teaser) from The Critical Mass Choir on Vimeo.

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