As Jason Tang rumored, I caught up with Alameda hometown heroes, Finish Ticket after their recent Crocodile show 3/19 for a little one-on-one convo.
Finish Ticket, who was on the first leg of on their first major tour since being signed with Atlantic Records, were psyched as they rolled into Seattle on their tour bus with Aussie tour mates Headliner, The Kin and newly signed Atlantic Label mates Opener, Folk/Pop duo, Oh Honey, from Brooklyn.
First of all, The Kin, besides being totally charming with those Aussie accents and slender good looks, know how to please a crowd. Besides having a drummer with one of the best names in the business, “Shakerleg”, this guy will totally blow your mind with his stick-free, bare-knuckle percussive drumming. Percussive hand drumming you ask? Yep, the man uses no sticks! Besides providing great synth based “Danger-Pop”, what put me over the top on the likability scale was when the three of them came down into the audience and formed a drum circle for what I thought was the closing song. Armed with only an acoustic guitar, a mic, and Sharkerleg playing percussion on an equipment case with his hands and a set of car keys, these ‘Musical Commandos’ performed what they’ve coined as a “Musical Robbery”, a surprise unscripted musical experience. You must watch the surprise on these unsuspecting deli patrons in NYC. A bold move to pull off. It makes me a little scared for them.
I have a saying, “leave it all on the stage”, and boy did they! They know how to entertain and they make sure you get your money’s worth. As a matter of fact, I went into the back bar on what I thought was the last song and I heard from a patron 20 mins later that they were still at it in the drum circle. That my friends is how you win new fans and keep old ones. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Opener Oh Honey was a breath of fresh air and a great way to kick off the evening. Danielle Bouchard reminded me of a more mature Whitney Ballen, with a clear, higher pitched vocal that was clean like a Emmylou Harris along with vocal partner Mitchy Collins, the two provide songs that just make you feel good, summer sounds of bonfires, walks on the beach, and beers with friends. They have a familiar sound I’d liken to The Lumineers, (not a bad band to be likened to) and they had a good engagement with the audience. I think good things are ahead for this duo. Remember that name.
I’ve been watching Finish Ticket’s gradual rise since around 2006 when they were trading stages with a band I managed called, Shotty. They were still in high school but I’ve got a pretty good eye for talent and they had that special something. FT’s music has always been what I call “sophisticated” for their age and they have an incredible work ethic which I’m sure Atlantic also noticed.
Meteoric rises in the music industry are rare and what appears to be an overnight success to the public in reality has been many years in the making. Finish Ticket has been honing their craft in “the slow burn” for years. Comprised of two sets of brothers, I believe that bond is partially responsible, “the glue” as I call it, for keeping them together.
I caught up with the guys in The Crocodile Back Bar after the show to find out what’s it’s like to tour on a tour bus for the first time, and to get signed by a Major label which is major and quite rare these days.
Guerrilla Candy: You’ve been together for quite a few years. What’s your secret to staying together when so many other bands have broken up just about the time they are reaching some success?
Finish Ticket: We love making music together and enjoy each other’s company. We’re all best friends and we hang out with each other all the time anyway, so that makes things easier.
GC: You seem to have found “your” sound. How do you describe it?
FT: Our “sound” is definitely still evolving with every new song, but I think that on “Tears You Apart”, we really managed to find a sound that perfectly represented our new lineup. The beginning of that record was spent jumping from studio to studio, demo-ing songs as a 3-piece (just Brendan, Michael, and Alex were in it at that point). Eventually it became a full record, recorded by a full band. I’d say our current sound is a result of an emphasis on melody, while still embracing the importance of quality music and thoughtful lyrics.
GC: You’ve had a lot of success in the Bay area, your home turf. How’s the response been now that you’re touring areas of the country who may not be familiar with you?
FT: Since these are new areas and we are in front of another band’s audience every night, we have had to make that shift in our live show from headliners to openers again. We definitely enjoy the challenge that comes along with that, and we’re seeing improvement in all aspects of our live show because we have to be much more aware of ourselves on stage. A few slips here and there can slide when the crowd already loves you going into the show, but definitely not when we are trying to make a great first impression!
GC: What have you learned about each other by sharing a bus on a long tour?
FT: We have been touring together for years now already, so we know pretty much everything about each other.
GC: Sharing a bus with an experienced touring Headliner like The Kin, what tips or words of wisdom have they imparted on you?
FT: They have shared countless words of advice and wisdom with us about living on the road and life in general. One thing we have all learned together is how important it is to keep the tour bus clean. As everyone’s communal living space for the few months we’re on tour, bus cleanliness is a must.
GC: Tour Van -or- Tour Bus? How has if differed?
FT: We love being on a bus. We get to rest more (due to the personal bunk beds) and have more space to work comfortably all day. However, we aren’t as free to roam around and stop wherever and whenever we want with the bus as we are with our tour van. Due to the large schedule of the tour, we’re pretty much forced to go wherever that schedule takes the bus.
GC: What has been the biggest adjustment as to becoming a touring act with a Major?
FT: Since we signed on with Atlantic in the middle of the tour, we haven’t quite been able to see the full spectrum of their tour support. We’re still carrying out the tour plans we had before we’d signed. However, the amount of support and structure we’re seeing on our team already is awesome!
GC: How did you celebrate when Atlantic Records offered you a deal? How did you celebrate the day you signed that deal?
FT: I’m pretty sure we were playing video games when we first heard that Atlantic was interested in us, so I assume we celebrated accordingly. The night we signed the deal was Valentine’s Day, we were on tour in Chicago playing a sold-out show at Schubas! Great times. : )
GC: What have you been doing for fun while on tour?
FT: We’ve had a great time trying out every area’s local food! Also our tour van has an Xbox, so quite a bit of that goes on. We’ve had some great snowball fights in the Midwest and East Coast.
GC: What can we expect next for Finish Ticket? New single or album later this year? Can we expect more of the same sound or will you be departing from that a bit?
FT: You can expect a whole lot! We’re re-releasing Tears You Apart through Atlantic this year. It will have a few slight changes in mixing and recording, but very similar overall to our original self-release. Otherwise our plan this year is to tour all over!
GC: You’ve had some pretty choice music placements in the past year, especially with the national BMW TV placement. If you could have your music placed anywhere of your choice, what would you choose and why?
FT: We’d love to have our music placed in Workaholics or The Kroll Show. We love those shows and it’d be awesome to hear our music in them.
GC: Will we be seeing you pop up as a musical guest on any late night shows in the future? Maybe Finish Ticket and The Roots on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon? If you could do a song with The Roots, what song would you choose?
FT: No TV appearances scheduled as of yet, but we’d probably do “All Star” by Smash Mouth if we could play with The Roots. Something in that vein.
GC: What are you looking forward to when hitting Seattle? Any favorite hangouts? May I suggest taking a spin on the Big Wheel and taking some selfies?
FT: We always love going to Seattle because our manager, Warren, and his wife Julie live there and we get to hang out with them!
GC: What message would you like me to tell Seattle for you?
FT: It was a great time! Love The Crocodile and all the people that came out!
Just this week, they also announced they be performing at this year’s Outside Lands Music Festival August 8-10 at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park with a star-studded lineup which includes our own Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Death Cab For Cutie to name a few. How exciting for these Bay boys to play a festival of this magnitude at the site of one of California’s most historic parks in their own backyard with some of their closest friends and families who have been there from the start. It’s going to be a rager for sure!
I believe this is just the beginning of many big announcements for Finish Ticket. I wasn’t kidding in my preview on 3/19 when I said, “catch these guys before they blow up!” and you know what, it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys. Who says nice guys finish last?