From left: Daniel Glass of Glass Note, lawyer John Strom (and former Blake Baby), musician Bob Mould, moderator Kim Glauber, Nada Surf's Matthews Caws, Merge's Mac McCaughan also of the band Superchunk, and CMT's Leslie Fram made up 'Creating Your Second Act' panel at SXSW. (Photo: Jeff Miller)
Networking was the name of the game at the Creating Your Second Act panel at SXSW, with all the panelists - including former SX keynote speaker Bob Mould and Merge records founder Mac McCaughan, who recently entered a deal together - discussing the importance of building a solid team, especially if your priority is reinvention.
The panel consisted of a diverse group with very different stories: McCaughan used to play in Superchunk, Mould was obviously the frontman of seminal bands Husker Du and Sugar, though he shared stories of attempting to become an electronic artist (and failing, at least commercially), and his current autobiography, which he collaborated on with notable author Michael Azzerad. Former major label guy Daniel Glass now runs burgeoning indie Glass Note, Lawyer John Strohm toured with the Lemonheads and Blake Babies in his earlier days, Leslie Fram - now at CMT (and barely speaking on the panel, thanks to laryngitis) made her name breaking bands on rock radio, and Matthew Caws, the lead singer for Nada Surf, watched his band climb to the heights of stardom and then fizzle out before they gained indie-artist credibility.
Each shared a similar story, though, of perseverance, letting art speak for itself, and aligning yourself with the right people to meet your goals. "We hope that life is long," Mould said. "You never know when you're going to end up in another spot with these people."
Caws described his journey with stories of remarkable resilience. He described a conversation with their manager after they were dropped. "[He said] 'what do you want to do now...you had some success and then failed - maybe you should start over," Caws described, mentioning that the manager suggested that maybe they'd want to change the band's name. "In the end," said Caws, "I asked, 'do you think you're the right manager for us. He said no."
But the most potent point may have come from moderator Karen Glauber, now of Hits Magazine, who's previously worked in just about incarnation of the industry herself. "If you're going to embark on another phase of your career, it's good to have mentors," she said. "None of us can have egos anymore about what we do. We're all in this together."