Chasing Dreams: Talking with Rock Star Emily Lazar, 18-Person Hungry March Band Performs Tonight

I used to tell all my potential first-time nightlife industry employees a little ditty before they actually agreed to come aboard. If you are a regular reader (well, you must be quite irregular for that) you have heard this before… and now you’ll here it again: I told the people working for me to have an exit strategy. The money is good. The people, the celebrities, the action can be an addiction – but the life, except for a few, has an expiration date. When it’s over, you have to have a way to support yourself. It ends when you need a change but no one will hire you because they want younger, or you just can’t put in the hours anymore, or the "distractions" of the night become a real problem. I would tell them nightlife is like a rollercoaster…you pay a little money to get on and the first thing you do is go up a great hill and from there at the top it seems like you can see forever, when in reality you are seeing just a bit more. Then its a fast ride down and around, thrills spill treacherous curves, some screams, some fear, some exhilaration, and when it’s over you end up basically where you started, spent a little time, had some fun. Many creatures of the night are putting themselves through school or are actors or artists or dancers. They are pursuing dreams in a place built on them. They often service stars, people who were just like them a decade ago. Failure and shattered hopes often are a heavy burden as time goes on. Breaking out is hard to do. The odds are stacked against them. Emily Lazar left NY behind to chase her dreams on the left coast. She used to work with me. She’s a rock star trying to let the world realize that.

Most nightlife workers are doing this on their way to that… Tell me about the jobs you took in nightlife so you could perfect your art. Tell me about your club life and how it helped you chase your dream.
I think i’ve done pretty much every job there is in nightlife… promoter, bottle service, assistant to the manager… it was a way to keep me going as I developed my craft. Working in that industry taught me how to develop relationships with people on so many different levels. I was lucky to have you watching out for me and helping me on my way to where I am.  
 
Tell me about the band.
September Mourning is the creation of a universe. It is not a band, it is a story… a fantasy storyline with a musical element intertwined within its world. I created it with Marc Silvestri/ Top Cow Comics. The hard rock musical element of it was previewed on stages with the legendary Marilyn Manson, only months after its inception a few years ago…. Performances with The Birthday Massacre, I Am Ghost, Hanzel Und Gretyl, and Dommin followed, as well as radio play across the country. This past year at Comic Con in San Diego, SM announced a partnership with MTV Geek that will further the development of the character and the world in which she dwells through webisode programs and online comics. Top Cow also announced the unveiling of the graphic novel of the same name in 2012. In the overpopulated music scene of today, I’d like to think that September Mourning stands alone in its originality. We have been recording new material with a slightly different musical direction this year (much more of a hard rock/ alternative feel) for release in the states, but we decided to put together an album of songs that we toured on in the beginning of the project and release it before we release the new direction and sound here. Our album, "Melancholia," drops on May 18th on Repo Records in Germany and Russia, but can be preordered now online at www.poponaut.de.
 
You are in LA, and yesterday a very savvy guy told me that it is much better than ever and in many ways – low rents, jobs, an easier place to pursue a career and have fun at night. What have you found?
The music scene here is thriving. Rents are lower, but you have to have a car, and with the gas prices as they are, well… I think it evens out, haha. But for musicians, there are definitely more opportunities to develop as an artist here. Even the art scene in general seems to just be more inspiring… but I’m a New Yorker at heart. There’s an energy in Manhattan that you won’t find anywhere else on the entire planet. It’s electric almost… and being there, it pulses through your veins and drives you. I kept that with me when I moved, that energy. I also miss the people of NYC that I hold so close to my heart. If I could transplant all the people in NYC to here, this town would be almost perfect.
 
More importantly, do you miss me?
Every hour, every minute, every second of every day… hehe  ðŸ˜‰
 
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Hungry Marching Band
 
David Rogers-Berry is a friend and BINGO buddy. He was raised in rural South Carolina and has that southern hospitality-way about him. He is the drummer in the touring band O’Death and has 500 concerts in the US of A and Europe and has three studio albums to brag about. He is also a cancer survivor. The other night at BINGO he told me about his part in Brooklyn’s inimitable  Hungry March Band." There are apparently 18 people in this act and they have a following in Bogotá, Columbia. I can’t make this stuff up!. It is logistically impossible and very expensive to get 18 people and equipment to Columbia, so they’re doing an event in New York.
 
I know you as the drummer of O’Death and as a friend. Now, I hear you are involved with an 18-piece marching band. Tell me about this project.
Hungry March Band (HMB) was established in 1997 for the sake of marching in Coney Island’s annual Mermaid Parade. Since then, the band has become the cornerstone of what you might call an anarchist marching band movement. Nowadays, you will find bands like this in most major cities around this country and abroad. HMB has made three or four studio albums and toured Europe and America. As you can imagine, traveling with this many people can be a logistical nightmare – hell, just working in a creative context at home can be enough to drive a person insane – and it has! Right now, there is an influx of new blood injecting this Brooklyn institution with fresh vitality. The band remains an NYC fixture that can always be seen in Greenwich Village’s Halloween Parade and Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade, but we also play clubs, private events, art happenings, late-night speakeasies, and the occasional protest. The band maintains no political affiliations, but  there is anarchy at the heart of what we do, so we find ourselves aligned with Socio-political institutions from time to time.
 
Tonight, you are trying to raise money to get this crowd to Bogotá, Columbia where you have a large following. Tell me about whats going on to raise funds.
Tonight’s event promises to be spectacular, with live performances from the band and other musicians, aerial acrobatics, some burlesque, drink specials, a cocktail hour, and an extensive silent auction. We’ll be at Galapagos Art Space at 16 Main street in DUMBO, Brooklyn. This is a beautiful and unusual space, for anyone who hasn’t witnessed it before. We’re getting started early – doors are at 6pm, and the festivities kick off around 7, the auction closes at 10pm, and the winners will be announced around 10:30 – then, there is only drinking and socializing left to do!
 
How does one get a large following in Bogotá?
We’ll be working on that with this trip, which is the band’s first to South America.  We’re going to Bogotá for the massive Ibero-American Theater Festival. Some of the festival organizers saw the band in Europe a couple years back and invited us to be a part of this event that lasts for two weeks and includes many outdoor street theatre presentations, in addition to more conventional productions in venues throughout Bogotá.
 
What’s up with O’Death?
O’Death is preparing to tour in early summer and we’re becoming more and more comfortable with our status as a genuine cult band. I’m hoping the band can start recording our next record in the fall, but in the meantime we have a lot of other eggs to hatch.

Travel Dispatch: Five Things Not to Do in Bogota, Colombia

Bogota is what you make of it: it can be easy, breezy, and beautiful or wild, uncensored, and nocturnal. Or both. Either way, it’s a destination that comes with disclaimers. To prevent some potential mishaps, obey the following rules and you will be planning a return visit before you even leave.

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Don’t Forget Your Inhaler

Most people don’t realize Bogota is 9,000 feet above sea level. When I arrived, I was immediately reminded of my first trip to Mexico City (7,500 feet), where I became winded climbing just ten steps up to my hotel. There are really no quick-fixes like the coca leaves you chomp on to alleviate altitude sickness in Cusco, Peru (11,000 feet). So take it easy on your first day and acclimate by hydrating yourself and avoiding a quick boozefest. Kill two birds with one stone by visiting the Catedral de Sal de Zipaquira (salt cathedral). It’s the only salt cathedral in the world, an underground, cavernous attraction that’s purely made of salt. Sure, you’re only less than 1,000 feet underground but it’s a head start for adjusting, not to mention it’s a fascinating site to absorb. The charming town of Zipaquira—just outside Bogota—is hundreds of years old and home to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s high school.

Don’t Pack Your Bermuda Shorts

Unless you plan on visiting coastal cities like Cartagena or Santa Marta after Bogota, leave your Jams at home. Unlike many South American cities that have a steady, luke-warm temperature throughout the year, Bogota is on the chilly side. We’re talking an average high of 63 degrees every month. Remember, you’re up in the mountains where it’s much cooler. Nighttime is pretty much jacket weather. If you packed in a rush, head to Zona Rosa and pick up some warm threads. This trendy neighborhood is chockfull of local designer boutiques for both men and women, like Lina Cantillo, Pamela Duque and Julieta Suarez. It’s also the ‘hood for champ designers like Adidas, Lacoste, and Dolce & Gabbana if you want to remain brand loyal.

Don’t Talk To All Strangers

Obviously, use discretion. Colombians are incredibly fun, friendly and social but in some shady areas, you could get hustled. Be aware of occasional security imposters who could take all your money and run. It’s a city-wide scam that’s dwindling but even still, be alert. They usually linger around hotels and other hot spots for tourists. These fuckers will approach you with a fake badge, claim they are security or the police and ask you for identification. Once you’re hooked, they’ll ask for money in one way or another and the next thing you know, you’re robbed blind. There are no such people who do this. Keep on walking. They won’t follow, and you’ll have enough money for empanadas. Hiring a guide is smart. I loved Rosa Inez Rojas (or “Rosita”), who’s been in the industry for more than 25 years (Tel: 571-314-295-2258). She had me laughing for hours, knows Bogota like the back of her hand, and being with her was like being with an old friend. It’s also recommended to hire a private taxi. I had absolutely no regrets with the super-friendly, multi-lingual ex-flight attendant Luis Eduardo Suarez (or “Lucho”), luisesuarez – AT – hotmail – DOT – com, who only charges about $15 per hour, and made a great companion.

Don’t Pop That Viagra Just Yet

There’s no doubt in mind that Colombians come blessed with good genes. And perhaps at some point you’ll maybe want to “make friends” on your visit to Bogota. With that in mind, choose your hotel carefully. Some hotels will charge you a fee for having an overnight guest. Some hotels simply ban guests past 8 pm. Do your research. I thought Sofitel Victoria Regia was fair with their policy, which simply asks the hotel guest to register all visitors at the front desk. No big deal. Sofitel Victoria Regia is a comfortable, luxury hotel option and also happens to be in the popular Zona Rosa (in addition to great shopping, Zona Rosa is home to some of Bogota’s top restaurants and bars).

That Whole Cocaine Thing

While most people will justifiably associate Colombia with cocaine, it’s an image the country is not stoked about. In fact, it’s the last thing they want to discuss. Colombians are so over foreigners thinking they come equipped with the drug (this isn’t Bolivia where, at some establishments, a line comes complimentary with a drink). Remember, this country exports that shit. Don’t embarrass yourself and just be happy you are visiting one of the most wonderful cities in Colombia!