"Me and Sergio were in this band called the Early November back when dinosaurs roamed the earth," Ace Enders told a packed crowd at New York's Blender Theatre in November. "When I started, I said I wanted to make music that changed the world . . . eventually [the desire] only to make money drove our band to break up."
Despite previous obstacles with the Early November, Enders' hasn't give up his hope to change the world just yet. His current band, Ace Enders and a Million Different People have been keeping busy. Whether it's releasing albums as free downloads for fans or recording "Bittersweet Symphony" where all proceeds go to the Save the Music Foundation, Enders is fulfilling his dream one step at a time.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Enders while he was on tour with Hellogoodbye in the fall. Throughout 2008 he has toured continuously as well as recorded an album, which fans can download for free on fuze.tv. Enders talked to me about the pros and cons of being a musician, his upcoming album (due out early this year), and his advice to aspiring musicians. Before you decide to download a record from that next up-and-coming band illegally for free read the interview below for some insight on how bands can (or can’t) survive the craziness that is the music industry.
The last time I saw you was at Rutgers in 2006 just as your last album with the Early November was released. What have you been up to since then?
Doing a lot of recording. Lots of new stuff. This last year we’ve toured over eight months. Just trying to get a record out. Hopefully one of these days. It’s been non-stop really.
You just put out a record not too long ago.
Yeah, a free thing for everybody. I’m going to put another one out in December, for free for the holidays and I’m going to have another regular record coming out in February.
So how do you make money if everything is free?
You don’t. I don’t make money anyway; it’s as simple as that.
How do you live and survive then?
I don’t know. It’s hard. Usually it’s a lot of panicking around the end of the month [when] we’ve got to pay our bills and somehow we scrape it together. It’s been a rough year though, I’ll be honest. But, I feel that it will all pay off as long as my head and all our hearts stay in it for the right reason we’ll be alright. Hopefully, anyway.
You also have a record label. How’s that going? I read that it’s located in a grocery store basement.
Yes. That’s where my recording studio is. It’s in a basement of a video store. The label, I just wanted to help out bands that I felt shared the same reason and the same goals and had the same type of inspiration and whatnot. But that’s on hold right now just because of the money thing that we were just talking about. So, once we get a little bit more money again we’ll start that up, but right now that’s just hard to do without any income.
You’re making money from touring at least right now. In the past was it better with the Early November?
It was much easier because people still bought records then. Now, everybody just downloads everything and that’s kind of difficult. Back then we still made some money from that and made some money from other things where it was a little easier to survive. Now it’s like you’ve gotta be hot and if you’re not hot, you’re just floating around with everybody else.
How do you get hot?
I don’t know. Some people are very lucky and just fall into it. Some people are just doing the right thing at the right time. But also nowadays, bands that are hot are out quicker than ever. If you don’t want to be one of those bands ’cause you don’t want everybody to forget about you, [and instead] you want to be the type of band that is just steady and create a really devoted fan base, [that] takes years. It’s hard because you don’t make money, but you have to be able to find a balance until you are at a place where you can have a good living. That’s where I’m trying to get. I’ve been doing it for a long time, trying to not be hot but just be in people’s minds a little bit until the day when it all makes sense.
So tell me about Ace Enders and a Million Different People. Where’d you get the name?
Well, Ace Enders is my name – that’s why I chose that part of it [laughs]. The Million Different People part, I’ve always been a huge fan of the “Bitter Sweet Symphony” song and what it means and everything. I was listening to it one day and was like, “I’m a million different people.” I feel like I change. Sometimes when you’re in that mood where your head is just like, “What am I doing?” Basically, that song says it all for me. You look at it and it makes you look at things differently. Which brings me to my next thing; I actually just covered that song with a bunch of people from bands like Mark Hoppus from Blink 182, he sings on it, and Aaron from Copeland, Kenny from the Starting Line. Just a ton of people got together and it’s all for charity. We covered the song and it’s all going to be for Save the Music to get music in the schools so kids are aware. Should be pretty awesome. I’m psyched about that. It will be available for download December 2.
What can fans expect from your show tonight?
Fire, lots of dragons, a huge light show, lots of pyrotechnics, a lot of fireworks probably. You know, stuff along the lines of that [laughs]. Really, what we try and do is keep it real. We have a thing where it’s like, a lot of bands nowadays want you to dance as much as you can or sing along to whatever, this weird trendy stuff. We just try and keep it old school so it’s just like rock ‘n’ roll. And we just try and rock it as hard as we can, that’s all. That’s what you can expect.
On your MySpace you have a tour video and you’re at a show basically telling the audience, “Do what you want with your life, no matter who says no to you.” As a musician it’s hard to convince people that you’re going to make it as a singer-songwriter or a band. Have you had people hold you back and tell you that you’re crazy for being a musician?
Yeah, of course. I like to try and tell people that because life is too short. Especially the way things are now, everybody’s like you have to be safe and do all this stuff, but that’s going to make you miserable your whole life. You can try something and fail miserably, but if you never try it at all you’re going to go through your whole life wishing you at least tried it. It’s weird because you need to have that security but at the same time, what do you really need to have? Everybody always says to me [they have] a backup plan, they want to do this but they have a backup plan. It’s like; if you’re married do you have a backup plan, if you get a divorce, if something happens? You don’t work on your backup plan while you’re trying your main plan. If you never put what you dream as a first priority, it’s never going to be a first priority unless you luckily fall into it and for some people that works. But for most average people that’s not how it works — it’s a lot of work. What I’m saying is, yeah you can do whatever you want to do – just do it.
What is your advice to musicians who want to tour and make music for a living?
I would say to any musician who wants to do that, if it’s in your heart that that’s what you want to do, nothing’s going to stop you. It is really hard right now. It’s a really awkward time in the music business, but if you know that you can do it then nothing can stop you. Just do it. It’s going to be really hard, but make it work. That would be my advice because everybody is crazy right now and nobody knows what’s going on. Nothing is guaranteed anymore.
It seems like there’s more of an opportunity for independent bands right now.
Yeah, but all the other bands that are on labels are stuck. And right now it is mostly bands that are on labels, but it is definitely changing. For independent bands it is way easier. It’s a lot more freedom and you can get your name out there way easier then you ever could before.
What is your ultimate goal?
When I feel like I’ve actually done something right is when somebody comes up to me and is like, “You’ve helped me get through something.” That’s pretty much all you can ask for, unless you’re the type of person who’s like, “I’m just going to do this for money and that’s it.” Which is great, if you can make money, then you can make money. But it doesn’t work like that for everybody. I believe that there needs to be more people trying to be artists in this business rather than just making it a business. My ultimate goal would be to help that happen, to bring respect back and make it a place where people can come to forget about their everyday horrible days or great days or make your day even better.
What can fans expect from your next album?
I actually recorded three records this year. The first one was a little too slow so I did another one and I just did another one. There’s definitely a concept in it. I think it’s the frustration of the past year or couple years that I’ve been going through. It’s hard to wrap up; it’s one of those things you just have to hear to get it. I really can’t put it into words yet. I haven’t thought about it enough. I actually just finished recording the day that we left for this tour. Pretty crazy.
Do you have a special writing process? Do you carry a pen and paper everywhere?
I try to as much as I can, just in case anything comes to me. My process is just do what feels right. It’s different. It always changes with me. I could be banging on the table and come up with something or I’ll actually sit there and write it. It’s always different.
Do you have a favorite song you’ve ever written?
I don’t know. People always ask that question but it’s kind of hard for me because whenever I write a song it’s usually my favorite song as soon as I write it and then I’ll write another one and that’ll be my favorite song. It changes at all times If I wrote a song right now it would probably be my favorite one.
Do you have a song you like to perform most?
On this tour I definitely enjoy performing a song called “Body Like Mind” that I just released on that free album I did. It pretty much walks through the past year of my life and I just enjoy playing that one.
Be sure to check out Ace Enders and A Million Different People on MySpace and download his free album here.