Several years back, Salisbury, MD natives, Life on Repeat, released an electrifyingly underrated album on Equal Vision Records. Struggle & Sleep should have catapulted the act into the mainstream consciousness, but instead Life on Repeat is now calling it quits and pointing to lack of solid tours as the culprit. Sadly, we are now saying goodbye to another band with all the potential in the world. Devon Voisine and Andrew Baylis explain the journey and ending here.
Substream Magazine: Struggle & Sleep seemingly came out of nowhere and became a lot of people’s favorite album. It felt like you guys would be the next quickly rising band for your style. Tour dates dropped and we really didn’t hear much about Life On Repeat anymore. Walk me through what happened after Struggle & Sleep released.
Devon Voisine: When Struggle & Sleep came out we went out a some smallscale tours all over the country. We were busting our ass to try to get our name out there as much as we could. We would go from New England down to Florida to Texas To Cali and everywhere in between. However, the tours we were on did not draw a lot of people. The headliners for these tours were awesome people and awesome musicians but in reality they were not much bigger than us. Don’t get me wrong, we had a blast and it was great playing to the people that came out but after touring and playing to small crowds, it starts to wear you down; But the biggest factor was we just were not making much money. The cost of gas to get from one show to the next was more than our guarantee most of the time. Some of the tours we did would start on the other side of the country and band members would have to loan money or borrow from our label. It cost around $1500-$2000 to get across the country in a van and trailer. There were a couple times that we were in debt before the tour even started. All in all, the lack of big tours was our downfall financially and mentally. Let me just tell you, there is nothing more frustrating than have no money and showing up to a show that is supposed to have catering only to find out it is a single Little Caeser’s pizza to feed five grown ass men (laughs).
SM: At what point did you know that you’d be calling it quits with Life On Repeat?
Andrew Baylis: I think after the many hardships we faced with management, booking, and never actually getting that one big break – we were all pretty discouraged. There’s been a lot of bad luck involved with the band since day one and although we think our music is 110% Life On Repeat, I guess that’s just not enough for people now days. I’m talking about fans and the music industry. I think after our tour with Hawthorne Heights we knew we just weren’t happy and that playing music together for almost eight years had taken it’s toll….
DV: I would not say that there was a single event that caused the break up. It was more of a gradual realization over the course of a year that it just was not going to happen for us. After we got off tour with Hawthorne Heights in the summer of 2012, we knew we could not go on smaller scale tours anymore. It was literally costing us money to be on the road. So we sat down as a band and decided to focus on writing a new record and working on getting booking and management. We were emailing every possible management and booking company we could think of to try and get picked up. Nowadays, good management and booking are the absolute most important thing in a band’s career. They are the ones that control the tours and without them it is impossible. There is a small handful of people that handle all of the big bands. That is why you see a lot of the same bands constantly touring together. Those managers and agents want to package all the bands they control together to make the most profit. For almost a year we diligently tried to get management and booking. Everyone just wrote us off as washed up because we did not blow up instantly. Which is funny because when we first started touring and all, most of the managers we contacted said, “you have to pay your dues” and go out on your own tours to make a name for yourselves. Now we see bands that have never toured before, get signed by a label, get awesome management and booking and play bigger tours than we ever did. As the months pressed on, looking for management and booking, our outlook became bleak, to say the last. After every rejection we became more disheartened. After being home and not touring you start to look at the world around you. You see your friends and people you know that have careers and are buying houses. It’s hard to be in your mid 20s and not have a steady income or still live with your parents. Eventually, some of the members wanted to move on in life; some members will be going back to school to pursue a different career, another is joining the military. We wish the band could continue and we could follow our dreams but dreams do not pay the bills or put food in your mouth. Dreams cannot pay rent or put gas in your car. At some point you just have to sit back and realize that not everyone’s dreams come true.
SM: You’ve said that it would be impossible to keep your spirits high and financially survive the industry. Can you elaborate on that thought? How do you see other bands your size surviving?
AB: What many people don’t know, is that our band formed in 2006 under the name Amen. The Animal. We live in a pretty rural area so we really had no connections to the industry. We just toured our asses off in hopes that someone might take notice. So from 2007 to 2009 we had already done 10-12 tours unsigned and just scraping by. We changed the name when we inked a deal with EVR, but a lot of the bands our size get signed, and then start touring. Some of them are just in with the right people in the industry and everything is always up hill.
Life On Repeat has just been a struggle since day one, trying to catch the big touring opportunities and eight years of living on a touring budget gets a little out of hand. You can’t buy normal things like jackets because you spend what you have on guitar strings and drum sticks. It’s pretty awkward showing up to your family’s Christmas party with no presents to offer anyone…
DV: Like I said before, when you are making no money while touring your ass off it gets depressing. It sucks spending all the money you made the night before on gas to get to the next show. We were just not seeing the progress that other bands our size were making. There are some bands that signed the same time we did that just steadily kept rising to the top and get bigger and better tours each time. It seemed like everyone was getting better opportunities than we were. Again reiterating what I said before, that is all due to good management and booking.
SM: What do you want to leave your fans with in terms of what went into creating Blacklisted?
AB: We want to leave them with a true Life On Repeat release, not something that managers concocted to make us shiny in their eyes, by making us add dub step or more screaming / breakdowns. We’ve always just done what we want and this CD is an even better representation of that. I think we are leaving fans with the best Life On Repeat record we could possibly create.
SM: What’s next for the members of Life On Repeat?
AB: I think everyone is just going to take a breather. It’s been a stressful eight years. Some of us have signed up for school and military but that’s not to say there won’t be a new music from some of us. Who knows!
SM: Thank you for some great music and live shows over the past several years. Is there anything else you’d like to add here or say to your fans?
AB: We honestly can’t believe how far we’ve made it in music. Just being in high school dreaming about being signed and touring was so far fetched. We don’t regret any of the friends we’ve made or anything about this experience. For anyone who gave us the time of day or bought a concert ticket or CD, we can’t thank you enough. We hope Blacklisted closes this chapter out and leaves you totally content with Life On Repeat.
Interview by Jameson Ketchum