This summer, Yellowcard’s Ben Harper was looking to sign some new acts to his fledgling label, Takeover Records. There was only one problem: Being the guitar player in a successful rock band does not necessarily afford one the time necessary to check out up-and-coming acts at tiny clubs. So Harper had the bands come to him. And the “Sign My Band” contest was born.
“The contest idea came around because we would collect demos from each city we went on Warped Tour, and we didn’t really have any time to follow up with the kids,” Harper said. “So we started working with a couple of Internet sites to give kids more opportunities to send us their demos and stuff.”
Harper got the word out on Takeover’s official site, and the bands responded, flooding his Santa Monica, California, office with more than 7,000 demos. Harper and his staff then got to work, narrowing all those bands down to a list of 10. MP3s from those 10 bands were posted on Music site PureVolume.com, and then, six months and more than 100,000 Internet votes later, those 10 became two: Pennsylvania’s Strike Fire Fall and New York’s Silhouette.
“We’re such a baby label! And we were able to get two amazing bands in the finals of our competition,” Harper said. “We left it up to the kids to vote, but we’re really happy that these are the two bands they chose. Strike Fire Fall have got so much to work with. They’ve got a great work ethic too. And Silhouette have got these amazing solos and lyrics.”
Whoever wins gets a contract with Takeover and the opening slot on Yellowcard’s 2005 tour, which would be a pretty sweet change of pace for either band: members of Strike Fire Fall are students at Penn State University, while the guys in Silhouette work at a hockey arena and mow lawns for cash. Voting runs until Friday on PureVolume.
“If we win, it’d be amazing. The longest tour I’ve ever done was three weeks, and we were getting by on 20 bucks a night,” Silhouette drummer Kevin Ragusa said. “So this would be like touring in the lap of luxury. I’ve slept on a whole bunch of floors, and some of them have been in real seedy joints.”
“We just handed Yellowcard our demo at Warped Tour, and we figured that was going to be it, but we’ve made it this far,” Strike Fire Fall guitarist Chris Arotin said. “And now visitors to our Web site are writing us letters. Like, we got this one letter from a mom in Texas, who told us that our album was on her daughter’s Christmas list. So we made her a Christmas card.”