In a lot of ways, it's a propos that rock troupe Sherwood was signed to MySpace Records.In a lot of ways, it's a propos that rock troupe Sherwood was signed to MySpace Records.
"One thing that we do, and what we've always done, is give our fans as much access to the band as possible. We're part of the new approach, where we want to be in on as many things as we can be part of," says guitarist Dan Koch. "Podcasting, blogging, personal videos... we're still at a small level of recognizability that we can just sit out for hours talking to kids about our band."
Making personal connections, and not just on MySpace, was important to Sherwood from its early beginnings. The quartet -- comprising Koch, vocalist/bassist Nate Henry, keyboardist Mike Leibovich and drummer Joe Greenetz -- formed as friends all attending California Poly State University in 2002, and were "very serious from the beginning, but not very good."
The group upped its chops when Sherwood made its way on to Warped Tour 2004, when friends Waking Ashland encouraged them to sign up for duties setting up and tearing down the event's smaller stages, with a chance to fill-in when other bands fell through. They agreed and followed the punk-rock circus around the country in their 15-passenger van, performing more often than not.
According to Koch, though, it was Sherwood's time off-stage that proved most productive. "We'd just spend shifts running the merch table and walking around talking to kids, getting them to listen to our music and buy our T-shirts. We made more money doing that than playing the shows!"
The group has gone on to play with bands like Relient K, Rocket Summer, Motion City Soundtrack, Waking Ashland and, most recently, with Daphne Loves Derby: touring is their bread and butter. However, during the four months out of the year that the band isn't touring, Sherwood has been promoting its records, including 2005's "Sing, But Keep Going," like machines.
"We'd do shifts, first at the school libraries, then at state libraries with high speed internet, training ourselves to send out messages rapidly. At one point, we'd be able to send 800 emails to MySpace users in only an hour and a half. We had to start up a new profile just to handle it all," Koch explains. "Irony of irony, we get signed [to MySpace]. Tom [Anderson, president of MySpace] was a big fan of the band. It was like we already had our street team ready to go."
Which brings them up to date, with the band's sophomore set "A Different Light" bowing at No. 12 on Top Heatseekers and No. 38 on Top Independent Albums last week.
"Through Warped and outlets like MySpace, we typically appeal to a younger crowd. We play all-ages venues whenever we can," Koch says. "To the 20-something, the normal working adult, we might just be that band that signed to MySpace. But for our fans, who might be a little younger, we've been around for a while making better and better music. We were already there a couple years ago, shaking their hands."