Many years ago, I sat in a second or third grade classroom on Valentines Day with my decorated shoe box/mail box, hoping I wouldn't be the one with the least Valentines. Can I blame that memory for a lifetime spent wanting to be liked?
I often read about how contented some people become after the age of fifty - life gets better as they become less and less concerned with what other people think.
I want to get there, I really do. But how can I, when nowadays on any gig listing or ticket link, there's a box that tells you how many people are interested in your "event"? How many are planning on going?
It used to be you could put that kind of worry out of your head until walking into the club. A promoter might say "Hmm, ticket sales have been a little...slow. But don't worry - we'll get walkup!"
Or worse, the bar staff proclaiming, as you entered the club - "The phone has not stopped ringing all day! This show's going to be packed." At which point, you'd want to tell them, "Look, run home and get that copy of War and Peace you've been wanting some free time to get through - it's going to be a long, quiet night."
Is people ticking the "Yes, I'm Interested, Definitely!" box the today equivalent of calling the club in lieu of attending the show? Do less ticks actually bode well? Or should we be on the computer at all hours of the day and night, racking up imaginary fun concertgoers who want to tell the world weeks in advance that they're going to be at our show, unless something better comes along or it rains that day?
I like to think our audience are people with so many interesting pursuits and important jobs to do (brain surgery, Chipotle manager) they don't have time to trawl the internet registering their gig desires
The best would be to stay off the club sites completely, and oh how I wish I could. But then I'd miss all the cute surprises promoters plan for us - like putting our names wrong, or using a picture of Eric at 20 and me at 45, ("hmm, this mother and son act - now that's something you don't see every day! Where do I click to say I'm for sure going to be there?") Or putting a six-piece power pop band on the bill without mentioning it? Or having our show scheduled sometime near midnight on a Tuesday, after the prog rock extravaganza in the bigger venue outside?
I shouldn't focus on the negative - the majority of promoters work with us to try to do something that makes sense as a show, not just an attempt to get as many bodies in the door as possible. If we just wanted a packed club, dancing, singing along, laughing and crying at the memories, having the time of their lives, there's always the tribute band route. But you have to have at least been popular for a little while for that to work.
The thing is to work and keep working. Can't go out wearing a real or virtual sandwich board in every town and collar all potential audience members. Can't do everything, can't be everywhere at once.
Except, ideally, on record. I don't know whether I go out to play to let people know about a new record, or make new records so there's a reason to go out and play. But Wreckless Eric and I have a brand-new album we're putting out ourselves on June 1 - it's called Two-Way Family Favourites and is available here and at our upcoming shows. You don't have to tell us in advance that you're coming. Just be there.