Andrew Tinker competes for ACL spot, needs your help

28 Sep

Andrew Tinker is on his way to playing Austin City Limits. When a fellow musician friend asked him to vote in ACL’s Sound and the Jury Contest, Tinker thought – well, I’ll enter, too. His band survived three rounds of voting and judging and now is up against four others (3 from Austin) in the final round. The last round is a free show at Antone’s where audience votes pick the winner. He’s got a chartered bus heading to Austin on Wednesday afternoon and coming back after the show that night.

Is he proud? You betcha. “I don’t know how good we are,” Tinker said. “but I know I really believe in what we’re doing. I really love this project – well duh, your name is on it.”

He met up with Day Bow Bow yesterday afternoon at Cool Beans and had a few things to say and a few things he is looking forward to saying about making it as a professional musician.

What’s your history in Denton?
I went to high school in Flower Mound, right out of high school I toured with Polyphonic Spree for a year. That started in 2000, right before my 16 birthday was the first show. (He’s 25 now)

I did that for a couple of years, the band really broke right as I got out of high school. We went on a couple of tours, did some UK stuff, and a US tour and my last deal was in Japan. We finished the second record and that’s when I came to UNT and that’s how I got into Denton. I really wanted to start meeting musicians my age and I wanted to get to write more and perform the tunes I’d been working on.

Denton has world class musicians from all over the place, and this is really my backyard. You know, I grew up in the metroplex all I had to do was come up here and start harvesting.

How did Sound and the Jury come about for you?
Nate Bolling of the Astronomers sent me a Facebook update asking to vote for his band for this contest. I went to the link and, “Wait a minute. Entries are still open for this.” So I just entered because I was like — you know, maybe we can get to ACL. If they can get to ACL, I’d like to at least give it a shot.

We entered and made the first round, top 100 bands based on online voting, after that, the jury cut, then top 20 bands, and once we made that we were like okay – we’re really going to promote it and go for it.

But the Astronomers didn’t make it. Any bitterness between you and Nate?
I don’t think so. He’s busy with other stuff. I don’t even know if he knows I entered because of him. He goes to ACl every year, so if I see him, we’ll have a beer and I’ll tell him thank you.

And now here you are!
The final round is in Austin, we’ve had people voting from all over the place and now we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to get people to Austin. We’ve got this tour bus going. It’s leaving on Wednesday afternoon and coming back right after the show. There’s probably about 10 seats left on the bus.

We knew 3 of 5 bands are from Austin, we were like we’ll have to get some people out there or we don’t’ stand a chance. We’re filling the bus up with friends and family. Just like get out and help us. The last round is dependent on audience vote and a panel of judges.

Our only chance is to get as many people out there and play our best. The odds don’t matter. We have to bring a lot of people and perform well live, and that’s really just a microcosm of the music industry.

E-mail as soon as possible at It’s $30 to ride down and back and you may BYOB, but no glass allowed.

How will you fit with the other finalists?
We play a lot of different genres. We figured our best bet will be to pick the best one and just do it the best we can. We looked at the bands, well, we can do some really avant-garde stuff, pop, R&B set. But we decided against that and are doing a rock n’ roll set. You know, out rock the rockers.

Our strategy is to show up and be genuine rock and roll. It’s a 20 minute set – we will not stop from the down beat to the last beat. It just goes.

Your music has been described as having obvious passion. What do you think that mean?
There’s really something energetic about going to a live show that you can’t get on video and you can’t get on an audio recording. It’s something that is present in the air and vibes with the people around you. What I really enjoy about playing live is when the band is really connecting with each other – we may be playing songs we played before but they always seem to have some new energy to them when they’re played with passion.

We’re just trying to connect with each other. The more we connect – it’s like a feedback loop of energy. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger. It’s like a pulse, a vibe, a fire or something that starts mutually: the band looks at the audience and says we’re going to rock for you and the audience says well, we want to help you rock. If you have a great audience, it just gets huge. Doesn’t have to have a huge audience but if they’re in to it, it brings out something that’s not present in rehearsal or video.

How would playing with ACL add to your experiences: UK and Japan tours with P.S., plus your own stuff?
It’s interesting because the band I went around the world with was a different project. This is my stuff. Polyphonic Spree is a funny brand, because you go oh yeah I used to play in Polyphonic Spree and someone goes oh well do you know so and so and der der der and this cello player? In the musician world, everybody knows someone in Polyphonic Spree.

This is my stuff. That’s what it means to me: Getting to play ACL and having created it with a group of 5, 6 people. I’m proud of the band and our fans, we’re in the top five of a national competition in less than 6 months after or debut record came out with no label, no promo, no booking agency, nothing. I want to say we played at ACL and we did it in 6 months.

It seems like professors in the music college say, “If you’re going to make it, you’ll have to play this, this, and this. Transcribe this tune, do this, if you want to make money.” When do you get to play your own music?
The professors are right. I paid my dues. I used to play in a dueling piano bar – Rockin’ Ivories. I know all the pop tunes. I know as many pop tunes as jazz players know jazz tunes. The bar closed last year and it was like – there’s my money, I have to start doing my own stuff. The professors aren’t telling you wrong — you have to know the repertoire to know what makes great pop or great jazz tunes. If you play hundreds of pop tunes then you know why yours is good or why yours is weak.

It doesn’t do you any good to say oh, my pop or jazz music is going to be great because I made it. No, you have to acknowledge that there are 100s of people who’ve been refining this since before you were around. You get to play your stuff after you’ve mastered what’s been around. The rolling stones were a bar band – they knew who the majors players were.

I just don’t think that there are bands that make it into history that don’t know what came before them. Even the people that spring up like the pop stars of today, there’s somebody behind them that knows the industry and the business and the music. Even if it’s not the person whose face you’re seeing, someone who put them there knows the game. It’s different for me because I’m the one putting myself there. I have to know the game. There’s no puppeteer or manager, although sometimes I wish there were.

Is there anything that makes believing this will happen hard?
Since I decided to be a professional musician, people have been asking me, “Yeah, but what re you doing to do for money?” That’s what makes it hard. The world doesn’t believe that I’m going be playing American Airlines Center. They think that’s reserved for someone else.

You have to ignore every status quo ever: This is how the world works, this is how things are. You have to walk through that and ignore it. Then you have to go out and do it.

I’m sure you’ve had a dream before when you say am I going do this or am I going to relax a little bit and do something else? The hard part is not relaxing and doing something else. Saying nah, I don’t need the money that bad. O no, I don’t need the cred that bad. Or whatever it is that’s going to distract you: No, I don’t need it that bad, I need my dream more than that.

My support team is amazing, if you falter for a second, they go, “No, no no, get up, we’re in this together.”

Closing remarks?
This has been a crazy awesome journey. We’ve continued to expand and grow more I think from this competition than from any single gig I’ve ever done with any group. I’ve grown more in the last two weeks professionally than I have grown in any two weeks of my life.

At the second I realized: “Holy shit, we really might be playing ACL!” It means you need a better Myspace, it means you need more fans, it means you need to impress the judges, dress nice, put on your best show and put on some rehearsals, your level of professionalism has to go from amateur to where you’re on the same level as everyone else playing ACL. We’re just trying to keep up.

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