NEW LONDON, CT (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — When the Reducers first journeyed to Japan, this past June, band members Peter Detmold, Hugh Birdsall, Steve Kaika and Tom Trombley, had no idea what to expect. None of the band members had been to Japan, and almost anything could go wrong during their 10-day, five-gig trip, but a funny thing happened…it all went right. As Ben Johnson, of The New London Day, wrote "They needn't have worried. All five gigs The Reducers played were literally jam-packed – somewhere between a fire marshal's nightmare and evidence of the Japanese tradition of using every last bit of space."
How did this little known, unsigned, underrated band of the '80s and '90s, from Southeastern Connecticut, create a rabid following on the other side of the planet? Ask the band, and they'll most likely say it just happened, but only after sticking to their guns, and doing it their way. Ask anyone from Connecticut who the best unheralded, under appreciated, band that ever was, and undoubtedly you hear "The Reducers."
And it was not just fanatical fans that saw the light, because famous music critics, like John Dougan, wrote "The Reducers recorded, in just under two years, three albums of punk- and pub rock-inspired rowdy rock & roll, chock-full of wiseass ruminations on life and love. The Reducers are post-punks with a formalist approach to rock & roll: two guitars, bass, and drums that echoed mid-'60s British Invasion and American garage rock. What makes them different from the average retro-rock bar band is being hip, funny, and smarter-than-most; plus having two ace songwriters in Hugh Birdsall and Peter Detmold," so obviously the band had honed its chops, and all one had to be was someone who appreciated good music, and that is all it took to build a fanbase in Japan. Sound simple, well if you're The Reducers, maybe it is.
CA: As basically an independent local group in the U.S. without a major record deal, how were you able to book the Japan tour?
Detmold: The Japanese tour was booked by a band from Tokyo called Firestarter. They have been big Reducer fans for many years, and suggested the tour, which they would fund themselves. All of our airfares and hotels were paid for by Firestarter, and they also booked and promoted all of the dates. The three biggest shows we did were all on a bill that included them, although we were always the headliner. I believe it was a labor of love for them, but since they were able to charge roughly $25 dollars a ticket for the shows, I think that they made most of their money back. (I certainly hope so – the shows were all packed!)
CA: Did you have any trepidation prior to, or on your way to Japan?
Detmold: We weren't worried about going to Japan, we were excited. I guess that we were dreading the non-stop 14 hour NYC to Tokyo flight, and we weren't sure how we'd be able to deal with Japanese cuisine, but we were excited to play in front of a crowd that had never seen us before. (And the food turned out to be great!)
CA: What size venues did you play, how sold out were they, and what were they like?
Detmold: The five gigs that we played in Tokyo and Osaka were all in the 200 – 300 capacity range. All five were jam – packed and a couple of them were definitely sold out! (Tickets cost between $20 and $30 for the shows.) The clubs were great – spotlessly clean, which is very unlike American clubs of that size, and efficiently run. The shows started early – like at 7:30 or so, and ended around 10:00. All the bands would share the house equipment – guitar and bass amps and drums, which were all good quality stuff, in great working order – and the breaks between bands was never more than 10 minutes or so! (Once again, very unlike U.S. rock clubs, where every band brings their own gear, leading to breaks of 30 and 40 minutes between bands.) As a result, nobody wandered in and out of the shows – the crowd arrived at the start of the show and stayed through until the final encore. The sound equipment and sound technicians were extremely professional, and the sound on stage and out front was always great! The entire operation
was always run with amazing efficiency – we were very impressed.
CA: Were you surprised by the incredible reception you got?
Detmold: We were shocked by the reception that we got – everyone went nuts! People seemed very aware of our music, and were singing along with the songs from the very first show! Many had all of our LP's and CD's, although we were also able to sell lots more of them at the shows. (Record stores in Tokyo and Osaka have "The Reducers" sections!) We were blown away by the respect and affection that people showed us during our stay in Japan. Some fans were at the shows in both Tokyo and Osaka, although there is an eight hour drive between the two cities!
CA: How familiar were audiences with your music?
Detmold: It seemed to us that a good portion of the crowds was very familiar with our songs. Many in the crowd sang along with them immediately! Those who maybe were not so familiar were equally enthusiastic – all we saw in the crowds was a roomful of smiling faces, every night!
CA: As an indie band without major label support, is there any lesson to be
learned from your tour experience in Japan?
Detmold: We've always been "an indie band without a major label" and so over the years we've realized that a band can achieve a lot of things without a major's support. We've sold thousands of records and CD's and played in most major cities and college towns in the eastern half of the U.S. We've repeatedly headlined at the most respected clubs in New York and Boston, and we've maintained a following that can still sustain us – long after any major would have given up on our ever selling millions of records for them. And now, we've played in the two biggest cities in Japan. The lesson is – you don't need a major label's support to get things done!
CA: After the reception that you received in Japan, do you plan on returning to the country? Any other countries you plan to tour? What are your top touring markets in the U.S.?
Detmold: I would love to return to Japan, and our recent success there makes me think that there is no reason that it can't happen again. We'll play anywhere that people want us.
CA: Your band has had the same members since its inception. What keeps eachof you loyal to the original line-up, and more importantly what is the glue that has held you together this long?
According to my research your band, or the majority of them, all went to the same high school, and that you have essentially known each other since then. I'm also told that the band is highly educated. Of all the professions, why this, and what else do you all do on the side? Do you hold "normal day jobs?
Detmold: We were friends before the Reducers were formed, and have maintained our friendships through the 25 years that the band has been together. The band may dissolve someday, but our friendships will likely continue. For that reason, there's no real reason for us to quit playing! For the most part, we enjoy each other's company. That may be the secret to our longevity, and our successes. The "glue" that binds us together is a love of each other, and of rock & roll.
As for our education – we all met in high school, or earlier. The Reducers were busy enough in the mid to late 80's that it supported us, (we were playing roughly 100 shows a year.) but we all now have "normal" jobs. I own and operate a small tavern, Hugh teaches, Steve builds houses and Tom works at the kitchen of a hospital.
CA: What are your future recording and touring plans?
Detmold: We are starting work on a new record, with the idea that, if and when we return to Japan, we'd like to have a new album to promote.
CA: Have you found any other pockets of extreme loyalty in other countries or cities?
Detmold: Japan is the only place outside the US that we've ever played. We have followings in the cities that we've played most frequently – New Haven, New York, Providence and Boston.
CA: You use to be booked by Frank Riley who now operates High Road Touring, and has a very high profile in representing cutting edge artists. Does this recent interest in your band, and the success you just had in Japan, have major agents, or high profile managers contacting you for representation?
Detmold: No – we're most assuredly not the "next big thing" that managers and agents are always looking for. Plus, our years as an indie band probably scares them off – we like to do things our way.
CA: Is there any advice you can give to other young bands, that are juststarting out, that are independently minded as yourselves, and want to keep their business under their control…any ups, or downs, in doing it in-house, that you may want to impart?
Detmold: The obvious thing is to just keep at it, if you really believe in what you're doing. The pay-off may not come anytime soon, but persistence usually pays off, – and if you're in this for the quick success story, then I really have no helpful advice for you.
CA: How do you and Hugh feel about the state of our industry regarding:
b) Consolidation of the major labels
c) New bands carrying on in your genre
d) Your favorite new acts
Detmold: a) No problem…they said that home taping was going to kill music. The real problem is that the people who run the record companies don't know what normal people want – that's why they keep shoveling money in the wrong direction. Downloading allows kids to find good music. They can't find it at a Best Buys!
b) The major labels have some major problems, and they'll always be more interested in maintaining the status quo than they will be in discovering and nurturing new acts. They're becoming obsolete.
c) We always felt that we were carrying on a tradition, and if kids are mining similar territory nowadays…good for them!
d) I like rock and roll, and it doesn't matter a whole lot whether it's brand new or very old. Any band that is more interested in getting on stage and giving their all than they are in honing an image for MTV or whatever might "break them" has my respect. The "real thing" is easy to identify.
CA: Your popularity seems to have grown organically, and without the usual hype associated with bands of your genre. Was this planned, or did it happen naturally?
Detmold: We didn't plan anything – we just started playing and never stopped. I guess that's organic. We certainly never calculated our career moves!
CA: You've released five albums since the mid-80s until now — Let's Go, Reducers, Cruise to Nowhere, Shinola, Rave On, and recently Old Cons. Where would you like to see The Reducers 10 years from now, both as a live entity, and recording act?
Detmold: I'm grateful that we've played as much as we have, and enjoyed the success that we have. Hopefully it will continue, but I look at it from year to year, without much of a long-term plan – I guess that's what's gotten us this far. – by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers
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Management: Rave On Productions
Responsible Manager: Peter Detmold
Direct Phone: 860-447-8928
Address: PO Box 1388
New London, CT 06320 United States
Record Label: Rave On Records
Responsible Manager: Peter Detmold
Direct Phone: 860-447-8928
Address: PO Box 1388
New London, CT 06320 United States
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