Under Surveillance indie band
“This is the first album we have done with a female vocalist, I had always worked with males, and this took some growing to learn to write from a different perspective. There is still that power-pop influence, with lots of harmonies and vocal melody laced with guitar hooks, but it is doubtlessly more aggressive than the sonic on Between the Lines. ” – PHIL HATFIELD, GUITARIST, SONGRWRITER@UndrSurveilnce

Live Interview on February 11 – 6pm et
Episode #297 : A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jax : http://www.blogtalkradio.com/avaliveradio/2016/02/11/episode-297-ava-live-radio-behind-the-music-with-jacqueline-jax

Jacqueline Jax logo photoGETTING TO KNOW PHIL HATFIELD
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio

I started playing piano at age 8…
after hearing an Elton John song. I think it was “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and I had my Dad buy the album at Sears in their record section. That was it, my interest was fired. I thought, ‘well I should be able to play like that too’ but it didn’t work out so well. I switched to guitar a couple years later and stuck with that ever since. My earliest influences on who I listened to were older neighbor guys turning me onto bands like Kiss, Grand Funk Railroad, in my preteen years, and then I had a cousin who was a professional musician that played keyboards and toured with bands like McGuffey Lane from Ohio in the 1970s. He had a profound influence in the way I approach rock music.

99 Reasons…
is on our second album, called “Savannah Moon.” This is the first album we have done with a female vocalist, I had always worked with males, and this took some growing to learn to write from a different perspective. I think Under Surveillance is unique because the bassist and drummer and I grew up together and started performing together in high school. In one way or another we have been in the same bands or recording projects for our entire musical career. I think Savannah Moon represents a departure from our debut CD also, which was called “Between the Lines” in 2013, as it has more aggressive, harder edged songs. There is still that power-pop influence, with lots of harmonies and vocal melody laced with guitar hooks, but it is doubtlessly more aggressive than the sonic on Between the Lines. One can best understand my lyrics/writing style by approaching it in both third and first person; sometimes I write about myself, things I have lived through, or about something another person went through whom I may admire, or be angry with for their own actions. What I hope to accomplish with Savannah Moon is to attain international distribution with a major label or music corporation. Song: 9 Reasons by Under Surveillance from CD “Savannah Moon”

Under SurveillanceCharleston West Virginia…
Somehow WV has a very bad stereotype about the music scene here that I have noticed talking to people in some larger metro areas where we have performed, but there is a vibrant and rich music scene in this area. Some of the highest caliber musicians and songwriters I have ever known are from WV. Like many scenes, we are smaller, though, and have a population under 200,000 in our metro area. Much of the area is quite rural. The struggle here is to maintain a consistent venue circuit without saturating the limited population who come out for original music here. There are a few regional venues here that are very open to bands doing original music, and we are very fortunate for that.

One “fun thing” I love to do is to go to music stores, preferably those places that sell vintage guitars. I have acquired a fairly substantial collection of vintage guitars over the years, and anytime we are on the road, I make a point to visit local music shops scouring for new guitars or other music gear.

Music Business…
How I feel about the music business is really a moot point. The business exists as it is whether I like it or not. As much as I would like to believe that people will simply buy music or art on its own merits, and support working musicians out of respect for the time, money and effort it takes to function as a pro musician, I know better. I quit worrying about art for arts sake years ago, at one level, because I learned from hard knocks you have to run a band like a business to survive. Its no different than any other small or medium sized business as an independent, you are in fact self-employed and have to hustle. Only experience and proper guidance will tell you where the common traps are i.e. who to avoid, what contracts not to sign, etc. There are a lot of very dishonest and unscrupulous people in this business, and after you get burned a few times, hopefully, one learns to do better making choices who to get involved with. The advent of new technology that enables artists to have their own recording studios has helped tremendously to break the dependence on “major labels” in the old school A&R days. Of course it would be great to have someone hand a band two or three hundred thousand bucks to support a major tour and promote an album, but that is very rare now days. Bands can survive DIY of they just hustle and network effectively. I am always seeking to learn better ways to network and market my music.

Social media…
opens up doors that were never possible in the analogue era. My first serious band, The Score, had a full length independently produced album in 1982 that managed to attain an international distribution contract with Sony, and that thing is still out there in vinyl stores in places I have never even heard of. But that happened only through pounding the pavement, meeting people 1:1 to promote, and performing as often as we could, and using FM radio contacts. Now, I find social media to be a double edged sword. One the one hand, you can access millions of listeners on your iPhone if you do it right. On the other hand, you may never actually see them at a live show or talk to them. One could argue that in earlier decades, rock musicians didn’t always know their fans, which is of course true, but there is something about social media that still feels very artificial and impersonal for us. We try very hard to actually communicate with people who like our Facebook page, for example, even if it is just to say hello or share song link or something. It takes a lot of time, but personalizing social media has worked very well for us.

Singles vs an album…
I am not a big fan of singles on digital media because of the typically low payments artists receive from the digital carriers usually. Even with BMI, artists still do not usually make more than a cent or two from singles. I am optimistic the new Sound Exchange service will streamline registering songs and improve payments for independent artists. I have learned we have to diversify our marketing in order to sell CD’s, there are certain demographic groups who seem to prefer buying CD’s or “album” length works, not just singles. We do make our songs available as singles, however, but to be clear I do not rely on that as a primary income source.

I would love to have 5 minutes alone with…
John Lennon. Oddly, I was not a hard core Beatles fan, but I do like a lot of their music. I respect what they have done for us of course. But Lennon was a master piece in terms of his writing, and ability to stay politically and sociologically engaged, without compromising his art or seeming cliché’ and predictable. I am especially interested in the chord voicing techniques he and George Harrison used in the Beatles music, there is true genius in their work. If one considers the limitations on the type of gear they used and recording technology then available, it is mind boggling how they managed to get some of the sounds they did in that era. It is still highly relevant today some four decades later.

The music industry has always been obsessed with creating trends…
It is not always a bad thing you know. Trends are usually a reflection of something going on in popular culture, but they can have a down side when people act like blind sheep and simply dress, act or try to look like something because they feel people will not like them if they don’t measure up. That is unhealthy in my view. Music industry marketers have always been focused on the youth and beauty culture, and there is a new trend emerging every week it seems so its really hard to know what is “hip” or not anymore, so I simply try to focus on what I know makes me happy, and work within industry standards for my area of music as best as I can. It’s a happy balance I seek if you will.

For example, for decades in rock music, it was common to carry around a stage load of gear, play for 2-3 hours then repeat the process the next night. Now, multi-band billing is the thing, with often 4-5 bands on a single bill and they usually carry only minimal equipment. Technology has changed a great deal in 30 years, so we now have a lot of equipment that can do more with less, but I am kind of a purist and prefer to use actual tube amps for tone, not digital models that are much easier to carry, but I don’t think they sound the same so I just do the leg work.

I am most afraid of…
not accomplishing my musical goals. The bucket list is that I want to tour and open for a major act, old school arena stuff. I dread if I were unable to complete at least three more albums worth of material in my lifetime.

My personal definition of success is…
This feels like a job interview (laughs). I do not think success has a universal operant definition that applies to each of us. We must define it ourselves, and for me, success in music is to consistently perform, be well paid for my work, and have people love my music. A particular example is the rush you get when there is a crowded venue and you perform a certain song, and people whom you do not know are standing in front of you singing the words to something you wrote that they have heard on a CD or radio or other show somewhere. That is the universal connection for us all in my view. Music has that way of crossing boundaries. To me, that is success to know that you can create something that does just that, but to also be paid well for your work.
In addition to music…
I have also published three books and 28 articles in major academic journals. That is one level of success I have defined for myself.

3 Ways that I challenge myself…

1) Constant networking on social media, sharing my music

2) Constantly practicing/rehearsing trying to improve my guitar skills

3) Constantly researching new gear, tech issues, trying to perfect our band sonic so that it accurately reflects the material I write.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/UndrSurveilnce
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/philhat14/Website: http://undersurveillancewv.com/



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