“Diy” is a subjective term in music. Everyone has their own definition of it.
To me it means taking matters into your own hands and getting on the road and playing live. Live music is a fickle business and most artists don’t have the cash reserves to not tour and wait for record deals or management contracts.
Without a strong DIY ethic in the modern era, I believe you’ll be forced into an early musical retirement (unless you become the next big thing like Portugal the Man, etc )
*NOTE: I’ve met a large handful of DIY greats on the road, and I know I’m accidentally forgetting a few folks. So apologies if that happens :( *
Here are the hardest working musicians I’ve met on the road that make their living from music...
JEFFREY LEWIS (Brooklyn, NYC)
Jeff is historically noted as a godfather of anti-folk music, a spit fire lyric writer and quirky as all hell. The man also makes his own comic books. When Jeff emails me it’s usually a two page long inner monologue. He’s extremely honest and real.
MATTHEW LOGAN VASQUEZ (Austin, TX)
To me, MLV is the undisputed champion of the indie rock underground. One of the few cats I know who makes an honest living on the road AND does it while supporting a family. Undeniable and intense live show. Do not fuck with this man.
AUSTIN LUCAS (Bloomington, IN)
I met Austin at the Mile of Music Festival in Appleton. Every time I go on the Internet, Austin is in a new city playing another show. You can tell this man just fucking LOVES what he does 1000% and I love to be around people like this, as it keeps me motivated and inspired.
NIALL CONNELLY (NYC)
I once asked Niall if I could open for him in Dublin. I said that I would “add value to the show.” He told me to go fuck myself and to “stop selling him used cars”. I knew we’d be friends after that.
MILES NIELSEN & the Rusted Hearts (Rockford, IL)
Miles banter between songs is gold. He has the chops to do standup comedy in his free time. Best rock n roll band in the Midwest in my opinion. I’d rank him higher on this list, but he hit an NBA three in my face at the Rockford YMCA recently.
ABBY JEANE (Milwaukee, WI)
At the moment, Abby is Milwaukee’s most undeniable act, just one man’s opinion. She’s a double threat in that she’s got the golden pipes and also understands the administrative side of keeping a band afloat.
JARED AND THE MILL (Phoenix, AZ)
We met at SXSW while I was guest hosting for Paste Magazine. Since they’re from Arizona, I introduced them as Gin Blossoms to bust their balls. A hipper, snootier band would have been offended, but these cats are just good old fashioned blue collar workin’ rockers and love bad 90’s jokes. Anyone who appreciates Gin Blossoms is good in my book.
KOLARS (Los Angeles, CA)
Rob Kolar grew up around LA rock n roll and just knows the business top to bottom. His band is taking over the world at the moment. His wife Lauren is a force and plays the drums. They collaborate on the tour promo and festival research and it’s an all around impressive tag team, both on and off stage.
Rob is also a giant hockey player and smashes jabronies into the boards when he’s not on tour.
LUCY LAFORGE (Los Angeles, CA)
Lucy is always always working. One thing that impresses me is her infinite willingness to collab. She teaches me a lot about social media too. Lucy doesn’t care about being a “cool” band, which I believe goes a long way in this business.
JOEL HAVEA (Hamburg, DE)
One of the funniest fuckers on the planet, Havea is the undisputed champion of stage banter. Groovy, feel-good band as well. We work as each other’s band psychologists in our free time.
GINA ROMANTINI (Los Angeles/Milwaukee)
Gina is one of my best pals. She is pretty much the “go to” fiddle player for indie rock in LA at the moment. She’s toured with the Wallflowers, Fountains of Wayne, and a bunch of other legends you’ve heard of. She has a great bullshit-detector and also extreme patience, which comes in handy in LA.
JON SHABAN & RYAN McArthur of The Shabs (Cape Town, ZA)
If you are a person who listens to lyrics, Jon is your dude. The only cover song I ever released on an LP is “The Maths”, which he wrote. Jon and Ryan are gods of South African DIY. Their band, The Shabs, are one of the worlds folk/punk staples at the moment.
ROB MOIR (Toronto, CA)
Rob is eternally optimistic. The man never gets down even after a soul crushing show. Master of house concerts. Just a great guy to travel in a car with for long hours. He’s been to some 50+ countries.
SHANE ALEXANDER (Los Angeles, CA)
Shane has weathered the storms of the industry and never appears to get too down on the game. He's resilient. Perhaps being a Buddhist helps. We wrote a nice tune together last time I was in LA and it was effortless to work with him. His last record "Bliss" has some great tracks on it.
JOE PUG (Nashville, TN)
Joe has been able to diversify beyond just music, becoming a successful podcaster and writer when he’s not on the road. He is a man for the community and looks to help other artists as well. Prolific songwriter.