Friday, July 17, 2009


So I caved and started a Tumblr.

I'm not meant for a formal blog and Tumblr lets me be the random person that I am. This blog has been me in a nutshell though. I go on a streak of talking and being informative to disappearing for an extended amount of time - ask any of my friends, even my closest ones.

I encourage you all to follow me on Tumblr. I can update it on my iPhone and it seems a lot more fun that a formal blog. I actually overly update it now. Ha.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

007 Ups And Downs

It’s been a little while since my last update, I really have no reason aside from shear laziness. After a long stretch of touring when I am home for more than a week I seem to go through my own personal detox and slowly shift from my routine of going to bed at 2am and waking up at 9am to going to bed at 7am and waking up at 3pm. It’s actually quite relaxing. My day tends to be spent primarily productive with label work, but my nights seem to consist of Seasons of TV on DVD/iTunes. In the last week I have gone through 3 seasons of Weeds and 2 seasons of Dexter. I love my Detox Program. I highly recommend it to everyone.

I leave for tour on January 20th, this time with the singer/songwriter Joshua Radin. The tour lasts for 7 long weeks, but I am honestly excited to be a part of it. I’ll be vending for every artist on the tour, which seems to be a trend of mine lately. It has pros and cons to being the only vendor. On the upside, I don’t have to fight for prime real-estate with another vendor and can take up more space, but on the downside, I have nobody to hangout with or ask to watch my product if I need to do a pull or run to the bathroom or grab a soda.

Ups and Downs, that’s the general theme of the entire touring community and nobody outside of it wants to believe that it’s true. We get to have the times of our lives on the road traveling from coast to coast and country to country. Its a once in a lifetime opportunity and we shouldn’t take it for granted. Touring personnel also sacrifice so much more than sometimes we even want to admit though. From safety, to family, to friendships, to leading a healthy love life - we tend to live our lives as a constant highlights reel.


Our well-being and safety are constantly in the hands of another human being. Everyone has been on a road trip where someone hits the brakes rather roughly and you get scared and look out the window abruptly and in a hurry to make sure you are okay. Now imagine a car cutting of a few ton bus and slamming on their brakes and three in the morning... When you wake up to that feeling in a pitch black bunk and have no window to see if you’re safe, its scarier than hell.

On the last Brian Wilson tour I did in November I was standing towards the aft of the front lounge, computer and beverage in hand and as I was reaching for another our Keyboard Tech told me finish up the one in my hand, but the minute I put the bottle to my lips our driver slammed on the brakes and Brian and Myself literally flew 10 feet across the front lounge onto the floor within half a second. Luckily Tweaky caught my computer since he was already sitting down.

We’ve also heard the tragic story of Beatz from Bayside passing away on the road from their van hitting black ice. He was blessed to have as many friends as he did, but nobody deserves to have their lives ended so abruptly. Although it was a medical complication the same can be said of Casey Calvert from Hawthorne Heights whom I can honestly say will always be a part of me. Everyone who travels should never take their safety for granted.

Friends & Family

I love my friends and family more than they realize. They are all that I have in this world, I would never want to be alone. When it comes down to it though, I am a horrible uncle, brother, son, and godfather at times. I’ve seen my nieces and nephews grow up as if I’m living in some time lapse of a life only catching them for a couple weeks at a time months apart. It’s a wonder that my lovely niece even remembers my name since I was on tour when she was born.

I also get more shit than anyone I know for “not calling or texting back enough.” This is my public apology for being too busy at times on tour, or just wanting a little time to myself after a hectic day. While the phone/e-mail/letters to go both ways, I am of equal blame. Most of us who tour and aren’t single (although currently I am) we tend to use the little free time we have to call or text that person of interest. Some have kids to call as well. We are busier than anyone who has never experienced it can imagine. I’m always busy and I know the rest of our crew is usually ten times busier than I am, kudos to the backline, audio, and lampies of the world.


We are all married to our jobs, admit it. Now try and marry a job that you have to chase around the country. In the midst of this try to hold down a healthy relationship. I could date my next door neighbor and we would still have to work through a long distance relationship. I’ve seen it work and I’ve seen it devastate people. Girls will tend to assume the stero-type of “guys on tour,” which is a shame because there are just as many decent guys on tour - I’ve seen them, I’ve met them, I am one. This topic could be argued for days, however, the point is that it is something we sacrifice on tour. Not being able to run to the rescue if our girlfriend/boyfriend is having a bad day, or vice-versa. We can’t grab coffee on our breaks, we can’t know that no matter how rough the day was, we can see the one person we want to at night - call me a cry baby, but try to fathom 80 days without your girl/boyfriend and ask if you could stay together through phonecalls, videochats, and the postal service. Not so easy.

As my friend and old roommate Dan Brunner used to say (don’t use google, it’s not a name-drop, he was seriously just my roommate - by “just” you know what I mean Dan...) Anyways, to pull a Brunnerism on you - “At The End Of The Day” I wouldn’t trade this job for the world and compared to a lot of my peers, I’m still in my rookie years, but I know this and I embrace it. I try to learn more and more on every tour. I’ve made some mistakes, I probably couldn’t get hired back by everybody I worked for, but not because I was a shitty person, and I’ve never been fired from a gig. There are a few tours that my boss asked me how I actually made nice with certain crew members and asked what I did to make them love me. Through all the ups and downs I feel that I have the best job in the world and I count my lucky stars every night for that.

New Tour Dates Posted Soon, but until I’m done with my detox please check them out at: Joshua Radin's Myspace Page.

Monday, December 22, 2008

005 Merch Settlements

The Proper Way To Settle Merchandise Fees

I recently came across a venue in Houston, TX, while I was on the Ice Cube tour, that had no idea how to settle a simple mechandise percentage. Furthermore, they told me that I was in the wrong and this came after a day of hearing them gloat about being the best promoters - “we know what we’re doing here, we sell tickets unlike the other venues in town, we’re basically the training camp for them since they steal our employees.” Well “Bob,” perhaps if you trained them right the other venues would appreciate it a little more.
So, here we go. I lesson in the proper way to settle an evidently not-so-simple merchandise percentage so swaggies/merchies alike, if you’re doing this the wrong way take down some notes and you just might get a raise, or keep your job.

This is really simple if you can handle basic math, and I do mean basic. So here are the first few rules:

Always take the fee off of your ADJUSTED GROSS SALES.
Always check the contract for proper percentages, it varies per show/agent - its not a house standard.
Keep in mind it is VERY common for the venue fee to be different on clothing vs media.
Find out the CURRENT Tax Rate of the city you are in. I use google a lot.
Ask if the artist or venue retains the tax. If it’s the venue, ask for a Tax-ID (EIN) Number before handing over any tax. If the venue retains they absolutely have to give you this information.
In some markets such as Minneapolis there will be no tax on clothing, but everything else. Certain cities/states are unique. The only states WITHOUT any sales tax are New Hampshire & Oregon.
Always divide the tax, never multiply. (We’ll Get There)

Let’s assume that if you are doing merch, you are doing it the proper way and counted in and out, accounted for any comps and/or half-sales and you have your correct GROSS SALES and your money matches up. Okay? Good.

For this equation let’s use a safe round number and make our GROSS $1,000, the sales tax is 10% (we must be in Chicago), and the venue fee is 15% on everything we sold.

Here is our Formula.

First we find our net and sales tax:
Gross Sales / (1+Sales Tax) = ADJUSTED Gross Sales Gross Sales - ADJ Gross Sales = Tax

After this is formulated we take the venue fee off of our Net:

ADJ Gross Sales X Venue % = Venue Fee

So Artist Total Take Will Be:

Net Sales - Venue Fee

Of course, whoever retains the tax will have that added to their take. Don’t forget who retained or you’ll have an accounting nightmare.

With Numbers:

First we find our net and sales tax:
$1000 [GS] / 1.10 = $909.09 [ADJ]
$1000 [GS] - $909.09 [ADJ] = 90.91 [TAX]

After this is formulated we take the venue fee off of our Net:

$909.09 [ADJ] X 0.15 [VENUE %] = $136.36 [VENUE FEE/MERCH RATE]

So Artist Total Take Will Be (Also, lets say we retain tax):

$909.09 [ADJ] + 90.91 [TAX] - $136.36 [VENUE FEE/MERCH RATE] = $863.64 [NET SALES]

Why bother with all of this math?

If you did the quick and incorrect way it would look like this:

$1000 [GS] X .15 [VENUE %] = $150.00
$150 [WRONG WAY] - $136.36 [CORRECT WAY] = $13.64

It might not look like a lot, but ask the band youre working for if they’d like to give away $13 - chance are they aren’t too willing. Let me kick it up a notch to some real numbers to show you the difference...

I’ve done merch for bands that have done $40,000 in sales for a night. Skipping all of the math, here is a breakdown of what it would be each way on a 25% Venue Fee (sadly, this rate is normal for bands that are considerably larger. How their booking agent doesnt fight for them is beyond me.)

CORRECT WAY: The band would pay $5,454.55 to the venue.
WRONG WAY: The band would pay $6,000.00 to the venue.
A difference of... $545.45 - So yes, the headache is ALWAYS worth the extra 3 minutes of math.

Here is a screen shot of how our example looks on my spreadsheet:

And yes, I am an expert spreadsheet maker having to amend so many of them in the past. If you need a good one to use e-mail me and I’ll help you come up with one best suited for your current tour.

I hope this proves to be helpful, I know there a LOT of merchandisers doing this the wrong way, I know that I did on my first few tours - just start settling the correct way and if the venue tries to tell you that you aren’t doing it properly offer politely to call your tour manager, band manager, and booking agent for them to talk to as well. Usually they’ll realize you’re serious by that point.

Questions/Comments? Leave a comment on here or email me from my profile page and I’ll hit you back as soon as I can.

- Joseph A. Lemble

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

004 Best Of 2008: Extend Play

This is installment #1 of my "Best Of 2008" Lists. Please, please, note that there are so many albums that come out in a year that I do not even get the chance to listen to, that I could make a category for them alone each year. With that said, I would LOVE for you to email me or post a comment letting me know what I should check out that might alter my lists.

Here we go.

Best EP's of 2008:
Limited to my knowledge & opinion

5. [Tie] honeyhoney - Loose Boots

I was privileged enough to spend somewhere along the lines of 6 Weeks selling merchandise for these two amazing musicians while they opened for Lifehouse in the Winter/Spring of '08. Fantastic live and won me over night after night.

Listen To: Thursday Night, Shiny Toy Gun

5. [Tie] Brighten - Early Love

As delicious as the cover looks if you're a fan of pop-punk and indie rock with interesting tunings and vicious melodies. There is a reason that Justin co-writes a lot of songs with the scene's most rising bands, he's got an ear for pop that he's not afraid to use.

Listen To: Carolina

4. Streets Of Fire - The Ghost - EP

Obviously a little biased here as this came out on my label, but the songs are reminiscent of an alt-90s pop-rock that is missing in modern music while not being afraid to show a pop-punk influence. It's catchy and great to listen to. It is a perfect introduction to this band and I am very excited to see where it leads them to musically.

Listen To: Your Turn, Taking Minutes From Myself

3. Monument Monument - Sleep Well When You Get There

A hidden treasure in the state of Michigan, this is a perfect EP for fans of Copeland, Jimmy Eat World, and The Fray. Melodies are spot on, the bass, well entire rhythm department, has you tapping your toe and wanting to sing along before you even know the well crafted lyrics.

Listen To: This Can't Be Love, You Can't Get Any Further Away

2. The Weakend - Tornado Days EP

Again, I might sound biased but this band has come so far and down a beaten and torn path at that. This EP, sadly their final, truly showcases their potential as musicians. Intricate drums and guitar, vocals and lyrics that make you wonder what is going inside of Andrew's head... Fans of At The Drive In, Circa Survive, Thrice

Listen To: Werewolves of Detroit, Black Hole Party

[Tie] Paper Route - Are We All Forgotten

An EP that you simply have to listen to and furthermore see performed live. I saw them for a month straight on the Paramore tour and my mind was blown away night after night at how well crafted each individual song was and how every moment of every song was an experience that you couldn't put into words, just music. I HIGHLY reccommend that you go watch this band live if you want to see one of the best new bands on the touring circuit.

Listen To: Are We All Forgotten

1. [Tie] Steve Moakler - Like I Mean It

If the world of music were fair, Moakler would have long since graduated from the title of "my favorite unsigned artist," but while unsigned, he is penning some of the perfect anthems and sing-a-longs with the perfect amount of singer/songwriter vibe to them. He should be winning hearts everywhere with his John Mayer resembling songs.

Listen To: 18

Monday, December 8, 2008

003 Back-To-Back Tours

I used to complain about my work schedule all the time when I was employed at a local Pizza Hut in Toledo, I hated it even when it was built around my personal “needs.” [Needs - a word to describe my whining enough to get days off for concerts, friends being in town, or just to sleep in.] My favorite thing to cavil about was the dreaded open-to-close followed immediately by another. It was the worst. Wake up “early,” [Early - 10:00] work all day and late into the night [Late - 23:30] just to get up and do the whole thing again longing for that day off to come so you can just rest and watch repeats of Law & Order all day long, was there anything worse that the back-to-back process?

Here I sit on an airplane thirty-thousand feet in the air. We will soon begin our decent into a warm Atlanta, Georgia airport, well, at least slightly warmer than Newark, NJ and the New England states that I am leaving behind along with the end of the Mindless Self Indulgence tour. The tour was over before it started to a degree, or so it seemed. We wrapped four “quick” shows with no days off, no days to recoup, no days to worry about accounting or make sure all of our bags, which we barely unpacked, were packed up again and ready to fly with. I have today to travel between two tours, I have only today. Yesterday I was vending for MSI in New Haven, CT. Tomorrow I will be vending for Ice Cube in Atlanta, GA. The turn around between these two tours is more stress than I ever would have had to deal with at home before let alone what happened between the bookends of flights that compromised the tours and allowed them to transit into each other.

The pilot is telling us that we will be in Concourse D this afternoon, that is my queue to turn this off and pick back up when I check into my hotel downtown, on the ground.

* * *

Back on the ground now. My Thai food at the hotel was sub-par, but thats a digression at best.

The last day of the MSI tour was a bit hectic to say the least. I had to inventory all remaining merch, do all my merchandise accounting and have the money ready to turn in. Since the tour was over a weekend, I really didn’t have an opportunity to head to a bank. That took me until just before doors where I then had to advance a few shows for the Ice Cube tour. The show itself kept me steady and the band didn’t even go on until 22:45 (Remember “Late” from earlier?) The show ended around midnight and I was on the bus at 01:00. We stayed awake until we got back to NYC, helped the band get off the bus, and then dropped everything in Newark at the storage place in the bitter cold, this was around 05:00. We finished at 06:00 and then had to head back into NYC at 0930 to meet up with their manager and then accountant to settle the end of the tour. Immediately after were dropped off at the airport and now I am here, in Atlanta, Georgia - where it is not as warm as it sounds.

A lot of people try to look at me like I don’t have a real job when I go back home. They’ll make comments like “what do you have to worry about, you tour for a living, how hard can it really be?” The thing is this - it is physically exhausting to a degree you don’t imagine until you load in at 9am and load out at 1am, sleep and do it every day, with the rare and worshiped day off. It is an amazing job that I love doing far more than I ever liked my job at a pizza place, but that doesn’t change the fact that people on tour do far more work then anyone gives them credit for. Merch sellers tend to get lumped into this all time time, even amongst other crew members who don’t see the hard work we do.

Tomorrow I start the Ice Cube tour and I will try to update a little more often on more relevant topics.

Until Then,

Joe Lemble

Sunday, November 30, 2008

002 A Quick Thank-You

Hello everyone.

I have not updated this too frequently yet, simply because I am trying to bring people's awareness to the blog itself so that people can follow along, without being too far behind or knowing what is going on. On that note itself, I would love to extend a quick and huge thank-you to the staff at The Music Slut for featuring me in one of their posts today. It makes me very excited to people supporting my idea and wanting to read and follow me along my journey on the road and away from home.

If you do like the idea and purpose behind this blog, please leave a comment or e-mail me and let me know that you are reading this blog. I would love for everyone to tell people about these posts and I hope that everyone finds them to be an interesting read.

Since the last post, the Brian Wilson tour came to an end in Westbury, NY with our final show held at the Capitol One Bank Theatre and it was very well received. There was a little bit of stress in the beginning of the day as the room is "in-the-round" with the stage sunken in the middle and tiered seats 360 degrees around it. In the end, our amazing crew curtained off the seats not in use and made the show possible on the smaller than normal stage. Watching the show from my view, it looked like everyone was treated to one of the more intimate shows of the tour, which made it all the more fitting for it to be the last of the tour.

This was my 2nd Brian Wilson tour and I had managed to not meet the legend himself until this night. It's not a case of him not wanting to meet people, just simply a case of myself feeling as though I didn't know what to say to the man who wrote one of my first "favorite albums," and possibly still one of them today. (Hence the title of this blog.) He was always walking around and loved to play music even in his dressing room, so I never wanted to interrupt what he was doing just to say "hello." Two tours later, I finally have a signed copy of his newest album, "That Lucky Old Sun," on 180g Vinyl. It will forever be one of my most prized possessions.

The tour itself ended smoothly, and I made it home to Toledo, Ohio in time for the holiday's, although American Airlines was kind enough to lose my luggage and then deliver it at one o'clock in the morning. That, however, is not what matters, I am safe at home and was able to Thanksgiving with my family for the first time in 3 years.

I leave again on Tuesday for tour with Mindless Self Indulgence followed by a run with Ice Cube. I have decided to add my schedule to the right hand column on this blog - please feel free to send me a comment if I am coming near you and you would be interested in catching a cup of coffee.

I hope everyone had a great holiday and if you are traveling like myself, please be safe.

- Joseph A. Lemble

Monday, November 24, 2008

001 An Introduction

I finally decided to do it:

This is the start of my blog specifically to do tell stories about my life while I'm on tour and to maybe showcase a glimpse of what it is actually like to do what a lot of people dream of doing. The only catch is that while touring can be glamourous, exhilarating, and full of half-remembered nights partying into the night, juice or booze aside, it can be equally as, and more often, strennuous, aching, and mornings remembering the sleep you didn't have the opportunity to get the night before...

I suppose I should introduce myself to anyone that doesn't know me already. I am not being egotisticalin saying that, just counting on only my friends & family reading at first. My name is Joseph A. Lemble and I am from Toledo, Ohio. I graduated in 2004 from E.L. Bowsher High School and did not pursue a "higher education," but I would debate with you for hours that I have learned more about myself, the world, friends, and people because of the opportunities I've had while away from home.

I started an independent record label when I was 17 with a friend, Brad Gilboe, called Silent Movie Records. Although Brad no longer works with me, he is still one of the best friends I could ever ask for. We had success with the majority of our signings, primarily Hit The Lights (later signed to Triple Crown), My Favorite Highway (later signed to Virgin), The Weakend, and I Am The Pilot (later signed to East West). We are still going strong and announcing more signings this week.

Shortly after Hit The Lights signed to Triple Crown I turned our entertainment lawyer onto a few bands hoping he could help them out. Amongst them were The Consequence, now Cash Cash, who have since signed to Universal Republic.

I have managed bands for short periods of time. I helped each artist take their career a step further until me staying on board would only hold them back when somebody of more experience was able to take them further. I still have outstanding friendships with both of them.
  • Every Bridge Burned - Signed to Rise Records
  • Fireworks - Signed to Triple Crown Records
I worked at Victory Records for a year of my life (2006) doing tour marketing & promotions. I met some amazing people and learned one of the most valuable things of my life. That is that sometimes in order to learn what to do correctly to be successful and still respected, you have to learn what not to do first. Tony has built an incredible label and is largely responsible for a lot of the soundtrack to my youth when discovering hardcore, but there are a few things I'd rather not discuss into detail as to why I ultimately quit.

During this time I tried shopping Fireworks (Triple Crown), My Favorite Highway (Virgin), & Kids In Glass Houses (Roadrunner) to the label as well. They passed on my opinion each time.

I presently tour full time for a living. I sell merchandise, tour manage, assistant tour manage, and a little of everything in between. Bands that I have had the pleasure of working for include, in no particular order:
  • Sigur Ros
  • Brian Wilson
  • Melee
  • Hawthorne Heights
  • Phantom Planet
  • Type O Negative
  • The Spill Canvas
  • Just Surrender
  • Every Avenue
  • and more...
Currently I am on my 2nd tour with Brian Wilson, legendary musician and founder of the Beach Boys, and after thanksgiving will embark out with Mindless Self Indulgence shortly followed by a tour with Ice Cube.

So this is it. This is my blog, or as I'd like to call it, my professional excuse to drop names and inflate my ego. I would counter this with the fact that most people that meet me rarely learn this much about me and usually call me extremely modest, but this sentence would unbalance that very argument. Interpret it how you will, but this is my background. It doesn't mean that I have anything important to say, it doesn't mean that I have good taste in music - afterall, if you throw enough lines in the lake you're bound to catch a fish.

All I'm offering is this... If you are interested in knowing what actually happens on tour, back stage, on the bus, I would love to share it with you. All of it, the Ups & Downs. The moments when you feel on top of the world and the minutes you spend looking up flights home, but also remember that no matter what your job on a tour is, it's part of a foundation and you would be letting everyone fail with you. Sometimes you count the days you've been on tour and sometimes you count the days until you're home again.

If you are looking for tabloid stories or incriminating photographs, this blog is not for you. While I would love to show you what an artist does everyday or what he gets at Caribou Coffee, part of being on a tour is respecting your family that is the crew and band you work with and for.

These are my thoughts, will you let me share them with you?

- Joseph A. Lemble