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Here at Get Sad Y'all, we thought it would be a great idea to interview numerous people in various aspects of the music industry to serve as guides for those that might want to pursue a career. Those interviews can be found here
Below, we chatted with JT Woodruff (Hawthorne Heights) about large-scale DIY band operations.
Who are you and what do you do?
JT: JT Woodruff. I sing and play guitar for Hawthorne Heights. I consider myself a purveyor of positivity.
How long have you been DIYing with your band?
JT: Basically since Day 1. We’ve had label help along the way, but we write our songs and set our schedules. We work as hard as we want to, and have seen the benefits. We love the ownership of seeing the fruits of our labor. Nobody will love your music as much as you do, so you might as well work as hard as you can.
What are some of the bigger/longer tours you've done DIY?
JT: Warped Tour 2013. We drove ourselves, set up our gear, and did everything but sell the merch. We were exhausted. The financial reward was definitely there, and certainly helped our band push forward. But we were mentally exhausted, which created some great songs. We aren’t afraid to load our own gear.
What's your day-to-day look like?
JT: Whether I’m on tour or home, I’m up by 8am.
Cup of coffee, then it’s laptop city for a few hours. After that, it’s songwriting for an hour.
I work at least until 5pm when I’m home, basically all on Hawthorne Heights. I’m a firm believer in putting in the time. You can’t expect to win if you don’t play.
Why did you decide to go the DIY route with your band?
JT: We really just decided to stop paying people to work for us, and reinvest that back into our band. We think that is a recipe for longevity. Work hard, take it seriously, reinvest.
What is something you've learned about DIY over time that you wish you had known from the start?
JT: I wish we would have not paid clowns. You have to make sure that people have your best interest if you are paying them. Trust is a major factor.
Where should a band looking to go DIY get started?
JT: Find the cheapest way to source things that can help you last longer.
Merchandise is a huge factor for bands. Don’t pay too much for it. We started printing our merch in order to cut that expense out. Always be learning...
What are three key things that a band looking to go DIY should know?
- You don’t get any sleep, but you are exhausting yourself for your art.
- It’s a slow build. Work hard, but expect the results to be a slow and steady. Don’t be concerned with home runs, just stay on base.
- Build a happy work environment. Make sure everyone in the band is helping equally. Resentment is a killer.
Anything else to add?
JT: Love what you chase. Chase what you love.
Be sure to throw Hawthorne Heights a follow and check out their music below!
Also, catch them on tour with New Found Glory this fall with a stop at Cat's Cradle on 11/25 - snag your tickets here