As important, or sometimes even more important, than bands themselves, are the people behind the scenes making things happen. Whether they are pressing records, booking shows, or just keeping everyone in line, they are integral aspects of the music community and don’t deserve to go unnoticed.
Kate Hiltz has dedicated much of her time and energy over the past couple decades to managing The Bouncing Souls and running Chunksaah Records. In our latest 10 Questions interview she tells us her advice for up-and-coming bands, describes her love of touring, and lets us know what the near future holds for her and the Bouncing Souls.
My dad had some really great 50’s rock and roll compilations and some Eagles records. Also, I really loved The Muppet Movie soundtrack (still do). I basically listened to top 40 pop music (luckily my youth coincided with new wave and the new romantics) until i discovered Duran Duran. I listened only to Duran Duran for about two years and then I discovered The Cure and The Smiths and it was all on from there…
My brother Jon did punk shows in our basement in New Jersey for about ten years starting in the late 80’s so that was a really big deal in terms of punk bands and culture and figuring it out. I also went to a lot of concerts in New York City that I would learn about in the Village Voice and then wait on line outside the record store to buy tickets when they went on sale. At some point, I figured out that there was almost always a Sunday matinee at CBGB and would just go. I’ve always just loved live shows and will still go to almost anything at anytime.
3. Chunksaah Records has been around since 1993. How has it evolved and what do you think has been the key to its longevity?
It’s evolved so much and also not at all. The Bouncing Souls started Chunksaah as a DIY label for their own records when they couldn’t find anyone else interested. Back then it was a post office box and in between tours they would mail out 7”s and t-shirts and answer fan mail. In the mid-90s I took over doing the mail as they were away so much. Around 2000 I started trying to put out records again. It’s still basically a place for the Souls to put out records when they want and for me to do what I want as well. It’s very tiny and very family-oriented. The key is that we never tried to be a big deal and therefore didn’t fall into a lot of the traps that ruined a lot of indie labels at the advent of the digital age.
4. What advice would you give on maintaining business relationships and promoting bands in a constantly-changing music industry?
5. What is the best piece of advice you’ve gotten in terms of following your passion and moving ahead creatively?
Easy. It’s from a Bouncing Souls song: FIND WHAT’S GOOD AND MAKE IT LAST.
I can’t decide because it is all so difficult? Haha. I think logistically, the biggest problem is always money. There’s never enough and it causes so many collateral problems. But really, I think the thing that is the most difficult (and I would think this doesn’t apply to a lot of bands and that we are extremely lucky to care about and value each other so much that it is such a challenge) is to take everyone’s preferences and schedules and ideas and needs and form a compromise for the greater good. This concept applies to the smallest thing (where should we stop to get food?) to the biggest (what tour/show/stuff are we going to do and how?)
I love touring. I love long drives and seeing other places and visiting friends and seeing bands all over the world. Sure, you can be tired and hungry and dirty for weeks on end, but it’s a choice. I’m sure if I thought about it, I could list hundreds of nightmares but at the end of the day… I just love it.
Communicate. Be clear and honest with each other about your dreams and goals and other commitments and preferences and relationships… and come to an agreement/compromise… and then keep talking about it. I think a lot of bands fall apart or are unhappy because they stop talking to each other and the dynamic just sours. It’s hard to face challenges and disappointments if you’re not a united front.
9. The Souls celebrate their 25th anniversary this year which is an achievement for you as well. What stories and accomplishments stand out the most from your involvement with the band?
I’m so proud of them and us everyday. I’m the luckiest girl around, even when things are difficult. It’s hard to pick out any particular events only because there are SO MANY. Years ago we had a conversation about what anyone’s goals for the band were and we’ve long accomplished them (anything from being on TV to making our own documentary to playing certain venues or with certain bands to starting our own mini-festival in our hometown) yet we are still here, dreaming more dreams and making them reality. That is the accomplishment. Still being here and happy to be here.
10. What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Speaking of personal goals….. next up is Riot Fest in Chicago and Denver where we will play with The Cure (who is my favorite band of all time and I am basically freaking out). We have basically been taking it really slow this year, only a handful of shows and getting together to rehearse and write and hang around them. After Riot Fest we will play one or two other shows (shhh still secrets) and then it’s time to party at Home For The Holidays!!!
Portrait © Angela Datre/How We Are 2014 and Live Photo © Andy Jimenez/How We Are 2012