Friday, November 20, 2009

Hanging out with Shayne and Larry of Promiselab

The recently released CD entitled “When the Lights Go Down” by their own indie label, TbN AUDiO, LLC. A group of guys known as Promiselab shows promise not only from their skill to manage their own company from their basement, but from their spectacular creative music.

While their music breaks no new innovative sounds, they possess that key element that makes this band stand out from the rest, and that is, soulful rock.

There is something persuasive and compelling that will draw in listeners. Songs like Burned Down, Situation, New Dawn, and Where to Now will capture the attention and make for everyday listening for any occasion.

Here was my exclusive interview with lead Singer and Guitarist, Shayne Hudson, and Drummer, Larry Rohleder:

Ok, I have to ask. Where did the name Promiselab come from? Does it have a meaning? How did you all come to agree on the name?
Shayne: I’ve always called my little home studio The Lab, the place where I create so I thought it would be appropriate. “What’s the Promise all about?” I thought it should be the lab of promise or some word resembling hope or quality-ish like features. To me it sounds good, looks good, and I love it!Did you guys start out as a duo band? When did it come to a point when you realized you had a great product that you wanted to share with the world?
Larry: Shayne and I were playing in a band together and there were starting to be artistic differences between the members. Shayne was always the most prolific songwriter and I had a vision of starting a label and putting out a good product. Shayne and his songs fit the bill. We were sharing a house in downtown Baltimore at the time and Shayne used the basement, aka “the lab”, as his home studio. When I heard the songs he was working on, I knew it was something that should be put out. We asked the other guys to be a part of the project, but they were not interested. Actually, our bass player at the time, Mark Butler, recorded for us, but couldn’t commit to the project because he was in the process of starting a family. So his role was limited to session musician. We tried to put a legit band together before hitting the studio, but it wasn’t happening so Shayne (vocals, guitars) and I (drums) went in to lay the core tracks. Butler helped us out on bass and a great guitarist, Bryan Ewald, tracked some lead guitar parts. After leaving the studio we added the missing members (Jon Adams on bass & Jeff Klinetob on lead guitar) to complete the live show.What was your timeline from start to present?
Larry: PromiseLab was officially kicked off with the signing of Shayne to TbN AUDiO in January of 2008. At that point, we didn’t have a name for the project, but knew we wanted it to be a band name and not the Shayne Hudson so and so because it seemed like singer songwriters were being marketed all over the place. It’s funny now we’re actually re-thinking that and trying to re-brand the project with more emphasis on Shayne since he is the heart and soul of PromiseLab.What was your biggest challenge forming your music and the band?
Larry: The biggest challenge for me is finding other musicians that are in a position to be able to sacrifice stability, to put it all on the line, to chase a dream that has no guarantees other than the satisfaction of knowing you didn’t quit and gave it your full effort. Shayne and I have positioned our lives in such a way that we can hit the road at any time. It’s hard to find band mates when there is no guarantee of financial support.I heard that Larry started his own label from his own basement. How much did you have to invest to create his studio? Was it a lot of work or did having a MAC make it easier?
Larry: Actually, the label was started in our house based on the demos Shayne was recording in the basement--- on his Dell to be specific. He now has a Mac and will sing é it’s praises I’m sure. The initial investment was to secure Shayne under contract and legal fees to incorporate TbN AUDiO, LLC. I won’t disclose the amount, but I wanted to show Shayne that I believed in him as an artist and we were going to make a serious push. That continues today as we explore new opportunities.
Shayne: I love Mac products
Did you have to use a professional label studio to record your first tracks?
Larry: Yes. We took the basement demos to Steve Wright at Wright Way Studios and recorded the album that you now have in your hands. Steve has worked on many major label projects and we were fortunate that he would take us on. You can check him out at TbN AUDiO financed the recording process, but does not own an actual studio- we paid the fee for recording time, engineering and production services. Maybe in the future the label will add a studio and become a one-stop shop. Stay tuned
December 12 is your official CD release party. Are you planning on an East Coast wide tour to showcase your new CD? If so, what locations can people expect to get a taste of your music live?
Larry: It’s funny, I’ve never been a big fan of CD release parties. I mean typically, you guilt family and friends to come out and buy your cd. We’re doing it a little different in that, anyone who comes to the show and provides us with an email address will get a FREE copy of our debut, “When the Lights Go Down”. We’re in the beginning stages of a relationship with industry consultants to re-launch PromiseLab in Jan/Feb that would include an extensive East Coast touring schedule. For now, we have this party on the 12th at Baltimore’s 8x10(my favorite room). Then we go to Arlene’s Grocery in NYC for the first show of 2010 on January 2nd. Get there early to see us, we go on at 7pm. After that, back in Baltimore for a 98 Rock show at the Quarter on January 18th. 98 Rock is a Baltimore radio station that supports local music. As far as the music itself, what was your motivation for the lyrics? Was it based on personal experience or did the words just come to mind when you wrote the music? What came first?
Shayne: My motivation for lyrical content is everything in life. It’s all definitely based on my real life experiences.The experience came 1st, the music then the words. Just listen to songs like 1991, the last track. It’s about my biggest life changing event ever. Or listen to When the Lights Go Down. That tunes all about one of the greatest points of my life.What do you want audiences to pay attention to when they hear your music, what is your overall message to them?
Larry: We’re all in this thing called “life” together. Human experiences are relatable to people of all walks of life. I hope that our audience can relate to the songs because they are relevant to something in their own lives.From the music industry, what bands became your ambition to become musicians yourself?
Larry: Early days I was all about Billy Idol, Motley Crue, Prince, Van Halen, Michael Jackson- playing drums in my bedroom with the boom box cranked up. I mean this is like 1984-85. It wasn’t until Nirvana that I really thought I could do this as a professional. Before them you had to be sort of freaky looking to be a musician. Nirvana and Pearl Jam proved you didn’t need to wear leather pants and have big hair/ make-up to be in a band. Not that there’s anything wrong with thatHave you had a lot of live performances and have you opened up for any bands that you admire? If so, who and what was your experience like meeting them?
Larry: Just local hero’s, no real superstars yet. I’m always checking out other musicians to see how they roll, how the audience reacts to their show, what works, what doesn’t, etc... I’ll let you know when I play with and meet someone I truly admire.
Shayne: I think the biggest artist for me would be Johnny A and I’m pretty sure I got the gig because the opening act bailed last minute. He was a nice guy and a smoking guitar player. I remember him cleaning the microphone off with mouthwash to kill the germs, smart guy!

When you perform with other musicians, does it drive you to keep going?
Larry: I think so. In a local scene success is kind of shared. If one band get’s a great opportunity it’s a little flicker of hope reminding you what is possible. I like to hear about other guy’s successes. It keeps me pumped.With the way the music industry changes, is it easier to create music compared to 10 years ago?
Larry: Easier to create with all the modern technology, but harder to separate yourself from all the noise out there. Everyone has an album now, and everyone wants you to hear it on their MySpace or buy it from iTunes. The barrier to entry has been removed.
Shayne: That’s a great answer
Do you think commercial radio is going away to become more wide open for independent artists like yourself? What’s your take on the whole music industry?
Larry: No, it is the last barrier to independent artists. If you can break onto commercial radio, the effects can be life changing. In a way I want it to stay that way. I think college radio/ internet radio/podcasts have filled the gap nicely. You can tour strategically, receive college airplay/ internet support and carve out a decent living for yourself. That is how I define success in music. Breaking it to commercial radio and larger tours is just the icing on the cake.
Anything you'd like to add before we end the interview?
Larry: Check us out on iTunes and CD Baby. Leave a comment good or bad, we can handle the critique. We really appreciate all the support!

To check out more information about Promiselab, visit their website at: and MySpace

To listen to Larry and me with a special 4-track preview from the album, "When the Lights Go Down", go to The Great Unknowns Presents.

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