This Sunday, April 19, The Spill hosts some awesome people playing fun music: Renders (Peterborough native Kelly McMichael’s latest project), the electronic/folk hybrid Kashka, and the musical/fundraising hybrid Blimp Rock.
If you didn’t know better, you might think Blimp Rock was a band. They write songs, they play instruments, they get interviewed on music websites… But really, music is a secondary priority (if not significantly lower) for these entrepreneurial Torontoians. At its heart, Blimp Rock is a business venture, an (extremely serious and not at all a joke) attempt to stage the first-ever blimp-based music festival over Lake Ontario.
Unfortunately, the crack financial team behind Blimp Rock Enterprises have estimated that this would cost around $700,000 – hence their decision to start selling vintage office supplies and to start that classic get-rich-quick scheme, a touring Canadian indie-rock band.
And yet, even though music is a mere after-thought (and getting them to talk about it is extremely hard, as you’ll see below), Blimp Rock the band is pretty great. Frotman Peter Demakos’ wry, observational lyrics about the life and mind of a twentysomething are reminiscent of The Burning Hell in the best way possible, and he’s assembled a band made up of great Toronto indie people to back him: Claire Whitehead (Forest City Lovers), Emma Tollefsen (Rouge), Stephen Callahan (Suds), and Robyn Letson (Sweet Homewreckers).
Together, they’ve now put out two albums of funny, insightful, and ridiculously catchy pop. They just released their second, the winkingly titled Sophomore Slump, and now they’re embarking on the “Powerpoint Tour of Ontario” to promote it and raise money for the festival. (Seriously, they have a Powerpoint presentation.)
I recently caught up with Peter Demakos. I sent over some questions, and here’s what he sent back:
Describe for me your ideal vision of a blimp-based music festival.
We’re so glad you asked. As you might know the Blimp Rock Live experience will feature three main components: (1) Fancy Mix Drinks; (2) The Finest Cover Bands; and (3) Wood Paneling.
We’ve also put together an acrostic poem (or in business terms: acronym) to better convey what Blimp Rock Live offers:
Over Lake Ontario rather than beside it,
Toronto themed mix drinks,*
Absolutely no original music,
Improving public perception of blimp safety (fingers crossed!),
Recycled wood paneling salvaged from abandoned recreational vehicles.^
* in development with the BRE mixologist team
To raise funds for the festival, you’ve decided on “releasing albums and touring as a relatively unheard of Southern Ontario band,” also called Blimp Rock. As a business plan, how is this working out?
Thank you for taking time to read our business plan! For those who haven’t read it, the Three Tier Economic Plan For Finance (or 3.T.E.P.F.F.) also includes selling vintage office supplies, which when taken with the other two revenue tools you mentioned has us on pace to pay off all outstanding payday loans and launch Blimp Rock Live sometime between 2060 and 2075!
The band has some really great people involved from a number of Toronto groups. How did you all come together?
A helium-of-a-question! Back in late 2012, Toronto-based corporation Blimp Rock Enterprises was on the lookout for a marketing team. After flipping through their rolodex and considering each card carefully, the company conducted several interviews via FAX and confidently decided that Claire Whitehead (leader of several solo projects), Emma Tollefsen (source of extra kick), Robyn Letson (works on supportive basis) and Peter Demakos (team spokesperson) could truly band together and market an airborne music festival. It wasn’t long into our first marketing scrum that we realized the optimal combination of our skills was to form an easy listening rock group.
Your new single, “Let’s All Stay In Tonight” is about the joys of staying in and not going to see live music. Why should people come see you, Kashka, and Renders at The Spill next Sunday? Will there be PowerPoint?
Though we are not ones to shy away from contradicting ourselves (see the first two tracks on our new album), “Let’s All Stay In Tonight” is not so much a rejection of the nightlife, but an endorsement of the indoors. We encourage the good people of business in Peterborough to take notice that the song is called “Let’s All Stay In Tonight” and not “Let’s All Stay In Every Night”. And because the show will include a Powerpoint presentation on our business plan, perhaps it can be thought of as more of an investment opportunity than a indie-rock concert!
And finally, a question I ask all touring bands coming through town: name the top five things you know about Peterborough. (If you run out of things, feel free to start making things up.)
1. It is a friendly place for corporations! See: General Electric and Quaker Oates.
2. It was ranked as the #1 location for business in Ontario by Canadian Business in late 2004.
3. The largest employer is the Peterborough Regional Health Centre.
4. Trent University has a program in business administration!
5. Other key industries include automotive supplies, electronics, aerospace and life sciences/biotechnology!
See Blimp Rock live at The Spill this Sunday, April 19 with Renders and Kashka (more info).
All images courtesy Blimp Rock.