We’ve been trying to work with the Oakland band Bonnie and the Bang Bang for over a year. And on several occasions we might have tried to destroy them.
Let me explain.
No one is more responsible for the plight of the musician than the musician. Or more specifically, the unavailable musician. And even more specifically, the musician in your band (see: drummer) whose efforts and resources are split between too many projects, causing each of the aforementioned projects to fail, or worse, stagnate.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. There’s a small number of wonderful, highly organized men and women who are capable of keeping several bands in the air. The question was - could Robby Cronholm be one of these musicians?
Again, let me explain.
When we met Robby at the beginning of 2014, he had just finished recording a wonderful record with his band and San Francisco sweethearts, Taxes. Alex and I, having just spent our first ever winter in Portland, were deep into an emo revival phase and couldn’t have been any more ready for the former crumb lead singer’s record.
On our second call, Robby threw me a breezy, “Love you betch” before hanging up. We were obsessed.
The release of It Never Ends was a long, sweet success, topping out at #127 on national college charts. Unsurprisingly, Robby takes well to publicity. He interviews great. We received emails from college stations around the country thanking us for Robby’s melodramatic and long-winded station breakers.
Things were going exceptionally, so you can imagine my dismay when Robby began sending me early mixes from this other band’s new record.
The other band in question turned out to be Bonnie and the Bang Bang, a band with an irresistible mix of brit-pop and post-hardcore. This band took our Robby out of town, and worse, into the studio for weeks on end, their dogged diy ethic, a true thing of envy.
They’re the kind of band anyone would be lucky to work with and I absolutely hated that they existed, often taking the leader of our beloved Taxes out of our regular workflow to play bass in front of sweaty, raucous live audiences all over the west coast. Once or twice I suggested that perhaps Robby quit playing with Bonnie. I was brushed off.
On and off for months, I shot lasers at Bonnie with my mind. And then I got a call from Robby. Bonnie wanted to release their upcoming record with us. It was like getting asked out by the hot, athletic kid you had forced yourself to hate.
Since beginning our work with Bonnie and the Bang Bang, my main contact has been singer/bandleader Patrick, who is in some ways the complete opposite of Robby. Ideas about release timelines and PR campaigns are far from his native lexicon, though admittedly, his experience and area of intelligence, are very “rubber hits the road”, which as I mentioned before, is very cool. Fortunately, Patrick has been a quick study, who we hope to have interviewing at Cronholm standards by the time the Bonnie full-length comes out at the end of October.
Robby and Patrick do share two huge similarities; they can both write the shit out a song, and I consider them both to be wonderful friends.
As Taxes buckles down to record album number four - which Robby is threatening to call Retirement Home - I feel lucky. Lucky that Taxes and Bonnie and the Bang Bang’s release cycles seem to be intermittent, and lucky to be working with these two great projects, lead by two individuals who are, what we call in the industry, lifers.
Throughout the life of our agency, we’ve been constantly learning new things about how to help bands grow in their careers. We learn what works and what doesn’t. But the lesson we learn over and over again is that there is only one true north, for which all other wisdom must be ignored. Where the music leads, so must we follow.
Bonnie and the Bang Bang’s new single Every New Love premiered last week on The 405. The single is officially out this Friday with a release show on 8/30 at the legendary Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco with John Nolan from Taking Back Sunday.
Taxes will release a new remix by clintongore of their single Lost at Sea later this fall.