Redefiniton: The Conundrum of Who We Are

Have you ever thought about how to define yourself in a meaningful way in three to five sentences?  Would you go with who, what, when, and where?  Would you stick to shallow or dive into substance?  The Lava Pups pondered this conundrum recently.

As a sign of recognition or -- possibly -- an act of desperation, the Pups were invited to participate in the KFJC Battle of the Surf Bands.  Recognition or desperation?  We really did not care.  We felt privileged to receive an invitation.

Here’s the deal.  Four bands an hour for four hours.  That is 16 bands at 12-minutes a band with 3 minutes to get on and off the stage.  Plug-in, play the songs that we hope will knock the socks off of the audience, and unplug.  Spend the rest of the afternoon eating, drinking, and listening to 15 other bands trying to knock our socks off.

We weighed the pros and cons.  Three plus hours of road time to and from Pacifica -- con.  The opportunity to play in the Bay Area -- pro.  Twelve minutes of playing -- con.  Not having to schlep equipment to a gig -- pro.  Risk of screwing up and forever foreclosing playing outside of SacTown -- con.  Strutting our stuff to a bunch of new folks -- pro.  The tiebreaker:  Having a great time!  We signed up.

After the lineup for the show was solidified, we received an email addressed to “Band Leaders.”  It made a simple request:  “Could each of you please send me a blurb about your band. It doesn't have to be very long, 3-5 sentences. Describe your sound, where you're from, what makes you unique, how long have you been together, release history.
This will go in the handbill for the show, and also be used for promotional press releases.”

Thinking that the response was a couple of mouse clicks away, I went to our website.  The description there was really a non-description -- nothing that made us unique.  Nothing to differentiate us from any other surf band in Northern California.  Maybe the description on our Facebook page had the answer.  Like our website, we were a plain vanilla, nondescript influenced by all of the usual suspects.

Shallow was what our descriptions were -- pure pablum.  We needed to go deeper and look at the substance of who we are and what we do.  Finally, the following emerged:
  • Start with a traditional surf sound, blend in a healthy dose of Northwest garage sensibility, add a heaping spoonful of Link Wray edginess and a pinch of punk irreverence, and you have the Lava Pups.  Formed in late 2010 and hailing from Sacramento, the Pups play a combination of original songs and surf/retro standards.  Even though they do not take themselves too seriously, they released their debut CD, “Into the Flow,” featuring 8 Pup originals in 2011.
Three sentences.  Did they capture the essence of the Lava Pups?  Who knows.  But a little self-contemplation made us change our website and Facebook.  Maybe we all can use a redefinition from time to time.

1 comment

  • Shecky

    Shecky

    Good post Bill. Trust me, the "surf battle" is no battle, it's a surf music love fest. We're all there to celebrate each other's choice to play this style of music and to support each other. No matter how well or poor you play, you've already won. See you there....

    Good post Bill. Trust me, the "surf battle" is no battle, it's a surf music love fest. We're all there to celebrate each other's choice to play this style of music and to support each other. No matter how well or poor you play, you've already won. See you there....

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