Just how viable is Kickstarter in helping an up-and-coming band to raise funds? As much as it saddens us to admit it, it mostly seems to fail. However, for one of our favorite local rock acts, the 71's, it has been an astounding success.
Fans of the band have raised a mind-boggling $12,541 for the recording of the third act of their amazing Rock and Rock Reaction trilogy. How in the name of Fender, Jesus, does a local act raise enough for a new car through just donations?
"I literally have no clue, but I am very excited," says singer Keeton Coffman via email. "It makes me happy people want to hear our songs. Also our fans are the nicest people you will ever meet, and I'm not just saying that. They really are."
We've chronicled the rise of the 71's for going on three years now, watching as they grew from an act with a Christian message to something electrifyingly and unapologetically rock. Their style remains brash. It could almost be called cocky if it weren't so damned good-natured, and they're not above a good cheeky stunt.
Coffman and director Justin Kling invaded a Wal-Mart in the middle of the night to film a video for "Start Again," a move that's notoriety brought them much attention and momentum. A subsequent video for Rock and Roll Reaction, Vol. 2's "Start Again" made our Best Music Videos of 2011 list, the only local act to do so.
The previous two chapters in the trilogy have been solid EPs with a garage-rock approach that kept the music fast, loud and alive. For the final, full-length installment the band decided to go big. They're working at Vinyl Studios in Dallas with Will Hunt, most famous as a drummer for Evanescence, Static-X, and even filling in for Tommy Lee in Motley Crue when Lee had a bout with tendonitis. The goal of the record is to capture as big a rock sound as possible, something they just couldn't do on their own anymore.
"'Rock and roll' is a difficult sound to record and capture," says Keeton. "I don't mean the kind you hear on radio in Houston. I mean older bands like Zeppelin or modern bands like Band of Skulls."
Fans of home-recording, and we certainly are, know that one of the reasons you become proficient is because of the costs associated with the studio method you see in the movies. The 71's are recording RRR, V3 entirely on tape for the fullness of the sound.
In the past it's been no trouble for them to sit in the closet with a microphone and lay down a guitar or vocal line, but this time the songs demand large rooms with isolated noise options, a digital-to-tape recording device, a full recording console plus pre-amps, and the hands of a professional like Hunt to control it all.
The story behind the trilogy has always been the roads that the 71's themselves have traveled. Each piece has been a detailed map, or a better analogy might be a trauma report. Promo photos show them as battered survivors in the music game, learning from each cut, bruise, and mistake.
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The 71's want to represent the daunting, upstream challenge that faces any act with frankness and honesty. Perhaps it is those traits more than any other that gives their music the kind of appeal that gathers fans supportive enough to ensure that the message isn't delivered in a frame not inadequate for the art it houses.
Download some of the band's best songs for free here.