YOUNG MONEY Music Editor Kate Tobin interviewed Corey Joseph, a member of Decaf Poet, a popular NYC-based college rock band.
YOUNG MONEY: So, who is Decaf Poet?
JOSEPH: We’re a group of friends who got together during high school and have stayed together through college to pursue a music career. The band is made up of myself on rhythm guitar, Dany Jacob on lead guitar, John Schmitt on drums and percussion, and Craig Cooke on bass. Dany and I are also the vocalists and songwriters.
YOUNG MONEY: What’s it like being a “college band”? What kind of difficulties have you encountered on your road to stardom?
JOSEPH: We all love being in a college band. It’s just something completely independent that we get do. It is also a lot of work, rehearsals, and self-promotion. Building a following is probably the most difficult part of college band life. We tend to rely heavily on close friends, family, and word of mouth as a means of developing that following.
We learned early on that the phrase “I’m definitely coming” really means “there’s a 50 percent chance I’m coming.” Some of my closest friends have said that they’d be at gigs and just never showed up. On the other hand, we had people at one of our shows at CBGB’s [a legendary NYC rock club] that came because they got flyers or our sample CDs. It’s really hit or miss most of the time; we’ve played self-promoted shows for 8 people and for 200 people.
YOUNG MONEY: Time is obviously a big commitment for you guys. Along with that, how much of your own money goes into promoting the band?
JOSEPH: Promotion is absolutely the most expensive thing we do, however, we try to find the cheapest ways to do it. For instance, our website is economical to upkeep because my father works in website construction. And additionally, we have a fund where we keep all the money we earn from shows, the CDs we sell, and so on.
As of right now, money from this musical venture is not something to live on; all the money we earn is reinvested in the band. We save mainly for promotion, and we save to pay for studio time and recording equipment usage.
YOUNG MONEY: Does everyone in the band take care of money matters?
JOSEPH: As far as the business side goes, I pretty much take care of that. I do most of the booking, and handle our earnings. Within the band, people are responsible for whatever job is given to them. Selling tickets for our next show is a job all four of us have. Promotion is generally organized by me, but done by everyone. We wouldn’t work as a band if we didn’t all both perform and promote.
YOUNG MONEY: How do you feel when you are performing? Does it make all the hard work worthwhile?
JOSEPH: There’s nothing like seeing people mouthing the words to a song you wrote while you’re playing it. The more people who hear and appreciate the music of Decaf Poet, the more satisfying the experience [is] for us. We really want to develop a following that we can rely on; we want to earn respect in the music community and find our niche.
YOUNG MONEY:Any other long-term goals?
JOSEPH: The long-term goal is rock stardom, so-to-speak. We want even more people to see and participate in our shows. We’re not actively seeking management at this time because we are managing ourselves well enough with our connections and promotion. However, if some form of management were to seek us, it is something we would seriously consider. A close friend in a successful band once told me that you couldn’t rely on anyone for anything in the music industry. At the time, he, although signed to a major record label, still booked the shows for the band.
YOUNG MONEY: What about college? Did music influence the decision you all made to go to school in the New York area?
JOSEPH: My decision to go to NYU was made about one month before I knew I loved to play music. I personally had wanted to go to Yale, but kind of ended up in New York. The summer going into my freshmen year was packed with shows as the band kind of grew to a new level. We played Long Island venues and I loved it. That’s when I thought it seemed like fate that I’d be in the city, the Mecca of music.
I am majoring in journalism with a minor in sociology and a minor in music. Dany studies jazz guitar at New School University, and John is undecided at Nassau Community College. Over at Baruch College, Craig is going into music management (a perfect major if I may say so).
Our weekends are devoted to rehearsing and gigs. We will perform this year, probably at CBGB’s and the Lion’s Den, and on Long Island, we’re looking to play the Downtown in Farmingdale. And that’s us, Decaf Poet.
Kate Tobin is a junior at New York University where she studies journalism and mass communications.
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