Pledging allegiance: The Blood Arm on how their new LP became fan funded
The Blood Arm discuss how Pledge Music - and living in Berlin - changed the band's approach to things, and how you can get involved in their upcoming record 'Sister City'
For a long time, I felt we were lost. Not necessarily that The Blood Arm was finished, but that a moment had passed. Well, that’s okay, I’d say, it happens, people change and times change and we had lots of highs and lows, all this stuff is very cyclical and I understand that. Bands get lucky, money’s funneled into radio and promotion and videos, but there is always the inevitable crash. Part of being in a band is the ups and downs. That’s clear.
What bugged me though was that at a certain point I felt people didn’t care. That seemed like an error on OUR part. We had a moderate hit with “Suspicious Character” from Lie Lover Live, but then fell completely off the face of the planet. Our follow-up was four years later, Turn and Face Me, and although it was relatively well received, I understand why it wasn’t a huge success, time passed, people changed, we changed, no one was feeling it, whatever. Our label had collapsed and we were broke. We went back to our day jobs. Still, we worked hard on that record, but to everyone else it just didn’t sound like music from a band who had been away for four years.
We needed a change, I mean we’d been together for nearly ten years. Most of that time spent with one foot in Los Angeles and the other across the world. So, Dyan decided to move to Berlin and pursue music full time. I was not far behind. Zebastian came over soon after. We left our day jobs, friends and families, selling everything we owned. It’s a rare opportunity to make a huge change like that in your life, but no better reason than for what we’ve worked so long for—The Blood Arm. We’ve been writing ever since.
What can I tell you about the new record? We’ve got over 30 demos and we’re calling it Sister City. It sounds like change, like we’ve given up the safety of what we had for something entirely new. Sometimes folky, sometimes bracing, a kind of weary melancholy mixed with wistfulness and hope for something better. There’s a feeling of motion. In a way, I feel like we’re altar boys at church, fidgeting, unsure, drunk on wine, sneaking a dance in the confessional. We’re trying to break out of rote habits. Things are DIFFERENT.
But as a small band with no label and no funding, you can write as much as you like; it doesn’t really matter if you can’t afford to record it. We couldn’t depend on a publishing deal or getting signed again, those things had failed us. We had to search for a new model to survive in a failing music industry. So we asked, who are the only people that care about our band besides ourselves? Our friends and fans. Enter Pledge Music.
We’d heard of Pledge Music, but didn’t know much about them in practice, so we got in touch. It’s a pretty simple model. What happens is, you set up a project and goal for what you need, in our case it’s to record Sister City, and you give people incentives for pledging. Incentives can vary, besides the standard t-shirts and tote bags, some of our more interesting ones are: your name printed in the credits of Sister City, a hand knitted scarf from Dyan, a Sister City studio visit, a secret Pledgers only acoustic concert and, my favorite, a personalized song about you. It’s great for small bands like us because it really gets you involved with your fans. In exchange, fans walk away with cool incentives and the knowledge that they are directly contributing to the band, without a middleman. The best thing about it all is that it actually works.
In just over a month we’ve raised over 50% of our goal, which in my mind is so amazing, especially for a band that’s been off the radar for so long. You can see all of it here:
We post a lot about our lives in Berlin. All the changes we’ve seen and the projects we’re up to. One of the things we’re currently working on is a concert tour of the U8 UBahn line here in Berlin. It’s 23 stops in 2 hours and our plan is to pop out of the train at every stop and play a different song, old and new. We’re filming the entire thing, posting a new song from a different stop every week and editing together a short film about the whole experience available only to pledgers. Pledge really encourages you to stretch your imagination and try innovative ideas in the hopes of reaching new people. It’s very unique, DIY and we’re excited to be a part of it.
Like I said, I don’t mind the lulls, I just don’t want another four years to pass with anyone thinking that we don’t care. We love making music. If you do too and if you want to be a part of Sister City you can pledge your allegiance to The Blood Arm at the link above. Check out what we’re doing, be a part of the experience and let us know what you think. Thanks for listening.