In today’s technological age, it has become increasingly difficult to remember a time when music and the Internet weren’t drastically interwoven. In fact, it is now nearly impossible to break a band based solely on the conventional outlets of a record label and the radio.
“At this point, a lot of bands have figured out that the first step is to be really visible on the Internet,” Sherwood keyboardist Mikey Leibovich told me before last week’s headlining show at Chain Reaction.
However, when you think about it, this new development didn’t start that long ago.
“We were kind of right there at the right time,” lead singer and bassist Nate Henry admitted.
The cheery pop-rock band formed back in 2002 while the founding members were attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, right around the time social networking sites like MySpace were booming and music downloading was skyrocketing. Since then, they have been able to combine their diligent resolve with the Internet’s vast resources to arrive at a recipe for success.
The group, which also includes guitarist/singer Dan Koch, drummer Joe Greenetz and guitarist Dave Provenzano, first garnered exposure on PureVolume, and the positive feedback from the Web site’s listeners led to their first self-booked tour. Around that time, they struck up a relationship with the management behind Long Beach’s SideCho Records, the sister label of The Militia Group, and soon had a one-record deal.
They released their debut full-length album Sing, But Keep Going in mid-2005, and it went on to sell over 20,000 copies. The band spent many months touring in support of the effort, including a stint on the Vans Warped Tour, and saw their status rise as a result. However, once the album ran its course and their contract with SideCho expired, the band’s position was up in the air.
“We were kind of in between a rock and a hard place,” Leibovich explained. “We didn’t really know exactly where the next step to go was.”
In the spring of 2006, Sherwood boldly decided to give away their recently recorded The Summer EP for free on absolutepunk.net. Thirty thousand downloads later, the band had numerous offers from a variety of labels. In the end, they made a surprising move by settling on the newly formed MySpace Records that October.
“We didn’t want to be on a traditional record label,” Henry said. “We figured the best company in the world that can do anything for a band is MySpace. They can work with a thousand companies, let alone they know every band because every band’s on MySpace.”
The band soon headed to San Francisco to record their sophomore album A Different Light with veteran producer Lou Giordano, whose resume included the likes of Sunny Day Real Estate and Taking Back Sunday. When the album was released in March 2007, it sold 4,000 copies during its first week in stores.
In sticking with their DIY attitude, Sherwood spent the remainder of the year on the road, supporting the record with three different tours for Relient K, Motion City Soundtrack and The Academy Is…
Now currently in the midst of their first ever headlining tour, the band is set to head overseas for a run of shows upon its conclusion. Then after a much deserved break, it will be time to gear up for album number three.
“We’re really kind of anxious to get off the road and start actually working on this next record,” Leibovich said, adding that there’s a good chance they might not be touring the States again this year. “We want the next album to start becoming a priority.”
“I think this record’s going to be the most involved record that we’ve ever had,” Henry added. “We’re going to have a lot more time, a lot more money, and we’re all going to have a lot more ideas.”
While there might be a lot riding on the outcome of the group’s next album, they also recognize that sometimes being in a band isn’t always about the music.
“I would like to take the band’s popularity and do something good with it besides music, like start some nonprofit agency or do something that’s more involved with helping people on a basic human need level,” Henry pointed out. “Music’s cool and music’s great, but eventually if that’s all you’re doing it for, I think that you become very shallow.”
In a genre usually known for its lighthearted and carefree habits, that outlook is further proof Sherwood are standing out among their peers.
“I think we’re all pretty tired of this scene we’re in, you know?” Henry confessed. “We’re all like mid 20s, pushing late 20s, and after awhile you’re like, ‘I’m not 19 years [old] anymore.’ You want to challenge yourself… Some things get better with age, and hopefully that’s what happens with us.”