Musicians’ group finds strength in numbers

By Tom McLean

Ottawa’s struggling pop/rock music scene may be getting a boost with the Nailgunner Music Collective, a group of local bands and performers who have banded together to lower costs and increase their media exposure.

The group was founded last November by Glen Smith, a 30-year-old Food and Leisure photographer who’s been a dedicated fan of the local music scene for 18 years and Larry Russell, 25, a bass player for the rock band Pleather. The collective includes local bands Atticus, Nero, Forget Finnigan and Pleather as well as individual performers Ashley Newall, Jay Willis and Jane Radmore.

“What we’re doing is capitalizing on our connections in the community for discounts on CD production, printing, flyers – basically every facet of promotion and production in the music industry,” says Smith. “It’s all about boosting local music.”

Smith started his obsession with local rock music when he was a 12-year-old living in Toronto.

He transferred that enthusiasm to Ottawa, where he’s resided for 11 years. Smith says because he’s such a fan of live, local performance bands, he’s met a lot of people who stand to benefit from his reliable media and production contacts.

Russell, a university-trained musician, says he approached Smith with a business proposal outlining about 33 different services that local bands needed in their development towards success. Smith reviewed the proposal and realized he had direct access to almost all of the services, and the collective began to take shape.

“Glen had all the media contacts, and I had a lot of music contacts,” says Russell.

“We were about three pieces of the puzzle short of completing this list, and so we went out and secured the last three,” says Smith. “Then we had everything covered, even in terms of music stores, so that I know the actual guy and I can take the product down and have it taken care of directly.”

The Nailgunner services are too numerous to mention, but include posters, bookings, promotion packages, T-shirts, Web site architecture, tax advice, sound engineering, package design, equipment rentals and advice on legal issues.

“Let’s say four bands want to do shirts; well, instead of four separate bands going out and placing four separate orders for shirts, we go out and get the quantity for four bands and save the money,” says Smith.

Smith says the collective, which has a one-time $20 joining fee, is still in its infancy and is concerned mainly with offering its members access to reliable services. He says that a lot of shrewd business people are out to take advantage of new bands by fudging their credentials and running off with the cash.

Not just any band can join Nailgunner. Smith says the collective is for bands with talent who can compose their own songs and who understand that each band is expected to actively contribute to the success of the others. Cover bands are not welcome.

Nero guitarist Dave Lauzon puts it simply:

“Posers should not approach Nailgunner.”