Last night I sat down with DeAnna Munger, founder of DEADBEATFRIENDS! Booking and Promotion. Dee is currently doing all the work herself and you’d be impressed with her résumé. She took me through what it takes to start up a booking agency and why she does it. This girl has to be crazy, but I love her.
How would my readers know you?
I run Deadbeat Friends, a booking agency among many other things.
If you’ve been to a local show in Jersey or Philly, you’ve definitely seen her before.
Could you give the readers some background on your business?
Well, back in 2003 I started a website called Love the Locals to promote local bands.
My friend Scott was running shows at the time and he asked me if I wanted to run a show that he had coming up because he couldn’t do it. So, I did, and after that I started booking my own shows.
My first show I got an out-of-state band to come down from Connecticut and play at the Holly Bowl (in Mount Holly, New Jersey). Now it’s actually demolished.
After that I started doing shows at Grand Slam in Mount Laurel and I did about three shows a month there. The last show I did under that name (Love the Locals) was back in late April of 2006. It was a great show. Houston Calls, Front Page (aka Man Overboard), Rushmore, and a bunch of other bands played.
Why the name Deadbeat Friends?
Well, when I stopped doing shows in 2006 I took a long break. in 2008 I was friends with Zac of Front Page and Nik from A sense of Belonging and I started getting back into the music scene through them. There’s a song called “Passing Ends” that Man Overboard released and in the song it says, “You and my deadbeat friends..”
Don’t you have “Bigshot” tattooed on your arm also?
Yup. That’s also a Front Page song and I also have Man Overboard lyrics on my leg. “I will cross them out, I will cross you out, then I’ll X myself out,” from “Basics 101”.
Ok, back to DBF! When was your first show under that name?
When I got back into promoting, I actually produced a few bands before I did my first show for DBF in 2009 with The Wonder Years, Man Overboard, Settle For Less, and The Prize(aka Eyes on the Prize). Settle for less has now changed their sound a bit and started booking shows with bigger bands.
From what I have seen of your work, you’ve come full circle within the New Jersey music scene. You’ve booked hardcore shows, like the few you did for me when I was in The World Ends With You, but what is your favorite genre to book?
I prefer to do Pop-Punk because it’s more of what I like. The thing with doing hardcore shows is that hardcore bands are bigger. I did a show at the Elks Lodge..
I remember that show, we played it. That show was huge!
Yeah! There was almost 200-plus people there and the owners said that if I let one more person in that they were going to call the fire department. The closest show I’ve had to being that big was, maybe, one or two Pop-Punk shows. My hardcore phase was because the scene loves it. I’m not really into the local hardcore bands.
Hardcore has definitely changed, would you agree?
Yeah, it’s not what it used to be. What ever happened to good hardcore bands like Converge? Now the scene is flooded with kids who care more about what they look like than what they sound like. Like Divide the Sky, all this, “I want to straighten my hair and look like a girl bull-****” It’s all about image.
I find that today’s hardcore lacks substance, what do you think?
Yeah, that’s why I like Pop-Punk more because it’s about lyrics and meaning than hardcore.
I feel that Pop-Punk has died out a little and is finally making a comeback. With Blink-182 finally releasing a new CD, Neighborhoods, I feel like a new wave of Pop-Punkers will soon be coming. A few tracks off their new CD remind me of a simpler pop-punk time.
I, respectfully disagree with you only because I feel that the pop-punk that’s coming out now won’t turn into Neighborhoods. At least, I hope.
Ok, what is one of your favorite bands that you represent right now?
Well, representing is one thing. I manage two bands right now. I find them shows and try to book them tours but it’s extremely hard. The first is Boardwalks from Massachusetts, very good! The second is When In Motion from Connecticut. Both are Pop-Punk with a very different feel to them.
When it comes to representing it’s so hard to do promotion for my shows, promotion for other local bands, and managing two bands. It really takes up all of my time.
When it comes to booking bands, I love booking all of them! But there have been bands that have stolen money from me. There have been bands that are set to do a show but don’t do any promotion themselves or they don’t even show up. It sucks.
There’s always some bands like that but I never feel personally hurt by it. They’re only hurting themselves. And if they do show up and don’t bring a lot of people with them, they still expect to get paid $50 even though they didn’t bring $50 worth of people with them. There’s always pro’s and con’s to booking shows. Some bands understand the business, others don’t.
I know you put a lot into your shows, I’ve seen it, but often times that’s all over looked. So then, whats the pay off for you? How can you afford all this?
A lot of it comes out of my own pocket. Most venues want money right up front. I’ve paid a couple hundred dollars to venues in order to book shows in advance.
There are other venues that will take the money after the show. So we take money at the door and pay the venue right after. First and foremost, the venue gets paid.
After that, it goes to the headlining band. If you want a good show you have a headliner who’s worth it. The majority of the time the headlining band has a guarantee. After the headliner gets paid, I calm down a whole lot. Then, depending upon how much the rest of the bands ask for, they get paid with what ever is left over, or I keep it for Deadbeat… or if I need it.
Isn’t that generally what it comes to?
Pretty much. Like, the shirts we just ordered, that’s all out-of-pocket.
It seems more like a full-time job than a hobby.
It’s a job that doesn’t pay well. It’s a job that you get more satisfaction out of promoting bands, seeing bands play, and having people come out. It’s just a generally good feeling but it’s still a business you know?
Yeah, I remember playing a show for you. After the show we had to come up and ask you to get paid.
Yeah, the Trophy Scars show at the Flyers Skate Zone! Every single dollar that was made went right to Trophy Scars. I paid them $900. I actually had to ask for money. But it’s not like it was a bad show.
Actually, I remember that show being pretty awesome. Good job.
I remember you looking like an idiot.
Yeah, I wore cut off jean shorts and flip-flops. Not hardcore attire. Anyway, that brings me to my next question. What’s your favorite venue to book?
Hands down. Broadstreet Ministry! But I did like shows at Holly Bowl a lot.
That was when Pop-Punk was still around. Local shows with bands like The Third Try (aka Middlecoast), Stratus-35; a blink type band, and then a crappy metal band like Hay-Wyre. There was more diversity within the local scene back in 2000.
Yeah. That’s how I used to book shows. That’s when Templeton was around, and Break Away was around. Waiting on Wendy was around. Break Away actually just got back together! But yeah, my favorite venues to book were Holly Bowl and Grand Slam.
I booked so many shows at Grand Slam that I became known as, “The Grand Slam Girl”, which has different meanings.. I guess. I actually had to break up a fight there once between Templeton and The Concubine because neither wanted to close the show that night.
I also liked booking shows at The Skate Zone. Back when it was Love the Locals, I booked Houston Calls to play on the floor, out on the rink. That was back when I drank; I got so drunk that I fell off a car and cracked my tailbone. But when it was Deadbeat Friends they only let us play upstairs. But I had The Let Down reunion show there. That was awesome!
Ok, my final question is this: What is your advice to someone who wants to start their own production agency?
Think twice about it. I started out when I was 14. It was a lot easier back then. It’s all about business sometimes. You have to stay focused because it will take up a lot of your time. There will be days where I spend all day promoting.
Have you ever thought about setting up a real shop? Maybe take on a partner?
Well, Me and Eric, Preuss the sound guy for DBF!, thought about doing that. We were looking at places in Philly.
Because, I mean, you already have a whole Rolodex full of bands to play. Any room for expansion?
Yeah, but honestly, I’d still tell people to think twice about doing this. But of course, you want to do it because you love it, because you love the way it makes you feel.
Not because you want to be part of something, that technically is fleeting. This whole scene, I’ve seen it change a couple of times a year. It’s not about how you look or how people think of you, it’s about music. Oh, and don’t expect credit for things. At this point though, I don’t take it to heart.
Ok, well, thanks a lot for talking to me.
– DeAnna has been at this for seven years. She deserves a medal or something. Show some support for the local scene and come out to her next show in Philly!