A little less than 365 days ago, prominent Milwaukee music mainstay Paul Cebar and his band, Tomorrow Sound, rang in the new year with a bang, playing a hometown show at Turner Hall on Jan. 10 in support of the band’s newly released album, "Fine Rude Thing."
After a productive 2014 promoting and spreading the new record around the country, Cebar and company are now coming back to Milwaukee to crack open 2015 in a similar fashion, playing a set at Shank Hall on Friday, Jan. 2., beginning at 8 p.m.
Before the show in Milwaukee – and the ball in Times Square – drops, OnMilwaukee.com had a chat with the local legend about the state of music, the year in the rearview mirror and the year fast approaching.
OnMilwaukee.com: Now that the year is wrapping up, how do you feel about the development of the Milwaukee music scene over the past 365 days?
Paul Cebar: Over one year, it’s hard to see enormous change one way or the other, but I think there’s enthusiasm for a lot of bands that are doing records. Painted Caves just did a nice little festival in India, and I think that was quite an uncommon feat for our local scene. That panned out pretty interestingly, and I think there’s a label now that’s going to be rereleasing their record in a more global manner. I think some of the recordings from that festival will ultimately see the light of day, so I thought that was encouraging.
Vic and Gab, I’ve admired, and I think they’re in the process of working on another record. They’ve taken their music out on tour all on their own indie track. It’s not an inexpensive proposition to get yourself out there on the road and to stay out there trying to find support in farther flung markets, so hats off to everybody who’s been sticking their necks out.
OMC: Are you enjoying how the industry has moved in the past couple of years, with control seemingly moving from record labels to artists and the easy globalized spread of music?
PC: I think it’s a really mixed blessing. I think it’s still very expensive to buy your way to attention. I think there’s many, many, many things coming out. For the amount of work it takes to try to do all of that yourself in lieu of having any kind of label support, I admire the fact that it’s possible to actually get stuff out there. But I still think everyone’s that out there in any meaningful way has got some kind of support – a publicity team, a distribution that’s set up, print media and radio.
All of these things cost money, and if you’re going to do it independently – which we did this year with our record – the cost of amounting a campaign for a record is right around $20,000 to $30,000. And with that, you’re still like a beginner. You’re not a master coordinator of publicity; you’re a musician. You end up having to wear way more hats than almost anybody can.
At the end of the day, you’re only as good as how well you’re able to coordinate all of those efforts and keep money in the game, to keep people interested as 10 other records are released every other day. So it’s a very mixed blessing I think.
It remains to be seen now, as all the standard ways to sell things have been challenged by free music, downloads and streaming. I don’t think anybody in Milwaukee has seen more than $100 to $200 for however many thousands and millions of streams they’re stuff has gotten. People can hear the music; that’s great. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to come out to see you if you show up in Philadelphia, and it’s four below outside.
OMC: Going into the new year, what do you have on the horizon for 2015 – other than the performance this weekend, obviously?
PC: This is the first performance in Milwaukee since the early days of October. We’ve been trying to spread ourselves around the country and try to make ourselves slightly scarcer here at home in the hopes that people will miss us and come to see us. In March, we’re going to be touring the Caribbean with a cruise with The Prairie Home Companion. We’re doing that, which means we’ll have a chance to play a club we love in Key West called The Green Parrot. So we’re excited about that.
OMC: Were you a fan of the radio show before hopping on board this cruise?
PC: Oh sure. I was trying to remember when my first time on it was. It was probably 28 years ago, I think.
OMC: What was that experience like?
PC: It was wonderful. What Garrison does sounds so offhand on the radio. I have friends in different parts of the country that are giant fans, and I have others who are enormous detractors that can’t stand him. People never forgave him for singing with the Everly Brothers or whatever, but I’ve always admired his perspective. I think he’s a quintessentially Midwestern humorist and very bright and a talented guy. I’ve always enjoyed being a part of it whenever I’ve been able to be.
OMC: Do you have any special plans for this show this weekend? It isn’t a New Year’s show, but it is very shortly after it, so any special plans?
PC: It’s a forward-looking show. We’re still playing some of the songs from the last album for the first time. We’re excited to be playing. We’ve had a relatively good year. We took it to Ottawa and played a nice festival there this summer, and we were in Philadelphia and Hudson, New York. We’ve been around the country, and we’re hoping to do considerably more of that. We haven’t been south much for a year or two, so we’re going to head down to Nashville and New Orleans. There’s a lot of things coming up.
OMC: I have to ask: Any New Year’s resolutions for 2015?
PC: (laughs) To sing my heart out.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.