Get Out of the Van: thelastplaceyoulook Celebrates a Huge 2012

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Last time Rocks Off caught up with the guys in thelastplaceyoulook, they were trying to get a new van. Like any other automotive purchase, the van wasn't going to be cheap so they turned to Kickstarter. That turned out to be a smart, albeit controversial, choice.

Some $10,000 later, the band got their new ride and hit the road, all without lead singer Justin Nava having to shave off his trademark beard. (For a $10,000 pledge, he was willing to shave and mail it off.)

Flash-forward a few months to tonight, where the group finds themselves at Warehouse Live for what is their largest headlining show to date. Not only are they celebrating the holidays, not to mention the end of the world, but they're also celebrating their first new release in four years.

With new music and a black and white van dubbed "Cha-mu," 2012 has been quite the year for thelastplaceyoulook. Rocks Off talked with Nava about the year that was.

Rocks Off: Kickstarter is a hot-button issue in certain music circles. Having gone through the process, how did using the site work out for you?

Justin Nava: Kickstarter is great! The whole idea of D.I.Y. is not "stay broke" but "be a worthwhile artist that has made a difference with enough fans to have them willingly support you." We didn't hold a gun to anyone's head; if they cared about the band and wanted to help and had the means, they did.

We raised about $10,600, and all of that went to help with the down payment of our new van. We left town for a six-week tour with about a thousand bucks, so we had to earn every merch sale and every fan by busting our ass.

And it worked. We sold close to 1,800 CDs and about 300 shirts. Most importantly we made tons of fans everywhere we went. We know we were really fortunate to have it as our first major tour experience.

RO: Your fans funded your Kickstarter and your holiday show is your biggest to date. How do you keep the fanbase energized considering the fact you haven't had a new release in four years?

JN: Connection. Make an actual emotional connection with someone in their life, not a flash-in-the-pan single or en vogue genre. No matter what style you play, give your fans something they can take home and internalize. Talk to them. Friend'em on Facebook. Randomly ask them how their day was and mean it. I guess it's just being a human being.

Also, the level of production we bring to a show most bands don't bother to do on a local level. Between custom lighting we programmed ourselves, added props onstage, snow machines, cryo cannons, etc., we try to create lasting experiences that people will not forget.

RO: So why the four-year wait between releases?

JN: Well we wanted to give enough time for See the Light Inside You to soak in. Then it got radio play a few years after it came out, so we didn't want to switch it up just as it was gaining some traction. We kept writing and recorded some stuff last year with Matt Novesky of Blue October and had it mixed by a good friend up in NYC, Paul Logus.

Around that time we started opening for a ton of bands and playing for even more new faces, so we waited. Now we wanted to give something to the hometown crowd to chew on until we do a full-length as thanks for supporting us and being patient.

Recovery Room also has some new stuff on there and there are some tracks from Another Run as well. It was fun to do a split release as a one-time only offering. You don't see a lot of bands working together like that in Houston anymore.

RO: So if the world ends while you're on stage, what song do you want to be belting out while it happens?

JN: For me personally I would have to say one of our new ones, "Ebb and Flow." I wrote it in an hour and a half while recovering from my broken collarbone and it was one of those "ah ha" moments for me.

RO: How are you going to remember 2012?

JN: This was the year we quit jobs and finally went on a real tour. We found out we can make it just fine if we can get out on the road, and that the music works in a lot of different parts of the nation. It was the year we realized we can do this.

With Another Run and Recovery Room, 8 p.m. tonight at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel, www.warehouselive.com.

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