In Feb I booked my band a show at a tequila cantina in West Hollywood called Isla. I landed the gig after having a really great chat with the bartender/proprietor. A real sweetheart of a guy who not only offered to pay us what we deserve and offer us a percentage of the bar tab, but was also genuinely interested in bringing good music back to the Sunset Strip. We settled on Thursday April 1st as the show date and I was treated to a round of drinks and some amazing chicken nachos. When I went back in March to post up posters for the show, I was treated like a rockstar, comped food and drinks (a second time) and this wonderful man was beside himself with excitement about having us perform.
Fueled by his enthusiasm I was determined to promote this show to the best of my ability…which meant I needed to pull off a promotional stunt. Promotional stunts can be very bold and effective but they can also have a backlash. In the entire history of playing music in bands I have never resorted to pulling a stunt…but I felt like the time was ripe for an act of devious deception, and after all, the show was booked on the granddaddy day of deception, the historically prank infested date of April the first.
So I set the rusty cogs in my mind a rolling and I decided to create a ruse that centered around the fictitious break up of The Brian Travis Band. The plan was simply to send out an email blast to all of our fans stating that the band was breaking up and that our last performance together would be at Isla Cantina on April 1st. I painstakingly wrote up the email, revising the text many times to make sure it sounded authentic. Within minutes of sending it out, one of the biggest Brian Travis Band supporter called my cell freaking out.
I expected to have a little time to get my ‘game face’ on but the biggest BTB fan on the planet was on to me from the start…she demanded to know what was going on…what happened and why were we breaking up. I had not thought that far ahead yet…so I did not have a decent “story” to tell her…so I told her the truth and that it was a stunt. She promised to keep our secret and when I checked my email account I had a gazillion emails of people asking me the same sorts of questions.
I wrote a new email telling everyone that the band, in order to cut down on any one sided statements regarding the break up, has decided to reveal the details of ‘why’ at our show on April 1st. I said that we wanted to do so together as a group. This both quelled the questions from my fan base and ensured that those who desired the answers to our band drama would have to attend the gig.
A few people caught on as the show date drew closer. I got a lot of emails asking…”is this an April Fools day prank?” I sent back stone faced emails in denial of the truth in order to keep the ruse watertight. The day of the show arrived and the prank worked like a charm. That tiny little cantina was packed to the gills with BTB friends, fans and supporters. We opened the show with “This Could Be The Last Time” by The Stones and played for 2 hours and made a grip of money from the bar tab too! We ‘revealed’ the hoax at the start of our second set, and the fans struggled with both relief that we were not breaking up, and anger from being ‘fooled’. In any case it was a charged night of fun and great music. We had a blast, both Isla cantina and the BTB made money and We got as many free drinks and free food as we wanted.
I was a battle well won, but there is yet another act the the story. To be continued…