By Marlys Kruger
Little did they know when they were growing up as neighbors in rural Colfax, Vince (Bo) Weber and Steven Price would form a bond through music that would eventually lead to producing their own record album and perhaps a professional career in music.
Both 2006 graduates of Colfax High School, Bo and Steven were active in various sports programs throughout middle school and high school but also joined their friends in the back row of the choir as bass singers during those years. Although they were both interested in new music, at that point, things didn’t go much farther than listening to their favorite bands on the radio or CD player. But that all changed one night during the summer after graduation.
After a long night of playing video games, they came up with the idea of making homemade music videos to go along with a couple of their favorite songs.
“I dug out my parents’ camcorder as Steven went home to search for an electric guitar he had received as a gift in seventh grade,” Bo said. “As soon as he came back, we began filming ourselves lip-synching along to a number of our favorite tunes. As silly as it sounds, making and watching those videos kept us entertained for a couple of days.”
Eventually, Steven grew tired of singing into a flashlight and Bo was no longer satisfied pretending to play guitar so they decided to try writing their own songs. This certainly was not an easy task as neither of them knew how to play any type of musical instrument, let alone write original pieces. This didn’t deter them however, as Bo borrowed Steven’s guitar and after many months of horrible notes and sloppy strumming, he slowly made his way to understanding the fundamentals of the electric guitar. Steven began singing to whatever music Weber made up on his guitar and eventually he learned to play the instrument himself.
“We began writing songs right away,” Bo said. “Whether they were good or not was questionable but we pushed our original lyrics and melodies from day one. We didn’t learn the names of the notes or what key we were playing in, but creating music made us happy.”
In the fall of 2007, they began sharing some of their original songs with friends. As luck would have it, one of those friends encouraged them to be one of the opening acts for a show he was assembling in Eau Claire. Thus began their introduction to the Eau Claire music scene which showed them a variety of talents and creativity just 24 miles from home.
“Being exposed to this scene gave us hope that one day our hobby might possibly become more than that,” Bo said.
Their next step was recruiting fellow Colfax students Tom Ryan as a drummer and Kayla Styczinski on the piano to join them. They began playing as many shows as they could, but with no real performing experience, they decided to become their own booking agent. They also began educating themselves on how to build a career in the music industry by reading advice columns in various music scene magazines and internet forums, which covered a range of information on everything from booking shows and building a fan base, to music publishing and audio engineering.
Using the name “The Silver Heart Club”, they began performing at just about any venue that would have them and with any band that would share the stage with them. They even made trips to the nearest college campuses. Armed with an acoustic guitar and a satchel filled with poorly-recorded live CDs, they wandered through the halls asking if anyone was interested in hearing their material.
The two also became experts in marketing as they designed and supplied their own merchandise to sell at their shows. This consisted of a few shirts, buttons, stickers and demo CDs, and they personally designed flyers for most of the shows they played at. This helped them get better acquainted with computer programs like Photoshop and Illustrator.
“We also dabbled in HTML so we could control the design of our MySpace page, which turned out to a great stepping stone to designing our own professional website,” Bo said.
After playing a large number of shows and developing a local following, Bo and Steven began to feel the urge to record an album, another unfamiliar area of the music business for them. They attempted to record a full album with a local engineer in roughly 13 hours, but were not satisfied with the rushed results.
In an ambitious but slightly out of the blue manner, the boys moved to Arizona to continue their education in the school of hard knocks. They met and exchanged knowledge with local musicians and also became aware of the dark side of the music scene. They discovered promotors who undercut performers and they lost money to a studio when they attempted to record some new songs. But they also met an independent artist who had built a career touring Europe and performing at colleges which motivated them to stick with their dream.
After moving back to the midwest in July of 2010, ending up in the suburbs of the Twin Cities, they had a third failed attempt at recording an album with an outside party.
“We came to the realization that no one was going to help us get us to where we wanted to be except ourselves,” Bo said. “We had to do everything on our own, which is the way we wanted to do things anyway.”
The boys pooled their money and purchased a few inexpensive pieces of gear to make up a home studio. They taught themselves how to use the programs, instruments and software plug-ins they needed to record their music.
“This was definitely the biggest learning curve we had experienced so far,” Bo commented. “It took us about a year and a half to record and edit 13 songs.”
The final result was a release of their full length album titled “Rookie Card” on Aug. 31 of this past year. They held an album release concert on Sept. 16, 2012 at the Oxford in Eau Claire, and the album is now available to purchase digitally on distribution websites.
The band also released what is called an album advance which features four songs that are used to promote the full album. They had a trial run this past summer at one of the Warped Tour dates in Milwaukee and also a full week at the Minnesota State Fair. The band was able to succeed in meeting their goals and plan on expanding on their current model this coming summer by following the entire Warped Tour (roughly three months), across the United States.
“We hope that with the promotion of our full length album, we will also be able to develop a modest fan base in each of the cities we perform in,” Bo said. “This will allow us to book smaller regional tours this winter and spring. Our hard work and dedication has given us opportunities to land opening slots for many national acts. Having a chance to play concerts with bands we grew up listening to is something we never thought was possible. The best part about being an independent artist is that our work is never finished. There will always be room for us to grow, and we are striving to make what started as a hobby for us a lifelong career,” he concluded.