Matt Verburg, founder of Lot Riot apparel, joins Dan to discuss the culture of the marching arts, building a small business within a niche activity, and the current state of creativity within the band world.

Read the transcript of the podcast below.

Dan Schack (00:00:09):

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Dan Schack (00:01:39):

All right, we are live well. We’re recording. We’re not necessarily live, but we’re live here together. And we have a very special guest, a supporter of not only this podcast actually, but also just me as a person. And I’m a supporter of view. Why don’t you introduce yourself? Tell us who you are and what you do.

Matt Verburg (00:01:58):

My name is Matt Verberg and, uh, I am the founder creative director of lot, right. A brand here in the marching arts space, uh, clothing, fun stuff. Uh, love going to shows and, uh, using my what skills I have may not have been as a drummer. They only got me so far, so I had to find some other skills to stick around in the, uh,

Dan Schack (00:02:21):

Right. So, um, you know, I remember us kinda meeting after, uh, WTI con, which was, I can’t even remember now. It wasn’t the 20 right off the 2019 season in new Orleans. And that’s kind of when we hooked up and started working together. And I don’t think a lot of people out there know what your background necessarily is. Could you just talk to us a little bit about sort of how you came up through the marching arts and what you did and sort of what led you to the inception of starting this clothing brand?

Matt Verburg (00:02:49):

Sure. I, uh, from Orlando, Florida currently in Vicksburg, Mississippi, but grew up in the Orlando suburbs, Marsha high school March to UCF, a marched at Disney world during college played some drums, uh, for the mouse at magic kingdom. And then in Orlando, uh, started some indoor drawn lines in the high school. Uh, the group that kind of got some notoriety was timber Creek independent, gosh, this must’ve been five or six or seven, those kinds of years. And, uh, we were a group that came out independent. We went from high school to independent. We started independent, a got promoted, independent open, got promoted independent world and made world finals. That’s all in one season. And I do not recommend that to anyone that was, uh, it was exciting and terrible. Meanwhile, I was in business school. I did not pursue the music performance or education degrees that are great at UCF, but kind of decided to do it.

Matt Verburg (00:03:48):

My dad did kind of stay in business, um, knowing through my Disney experience that business can open doors in lots of different areas, right? So you can be a musician in the music space, or you could be a businessman in the music space. And that’s kind of where I was thinking teaching these indoor drum lines and kind of developing some merchandise for those groups, uh, and marched a drunk Orin was designing little demerge pieces for Southwind, where I marched and where I was teaching. And then for timber Creek independent, we started to kind of gain a little traction just with our merchandise and how cool it was and how the members appreciated the little, you know, the, what effort was put in to our merchandise pieces. And that’s, I had a pretty serious light bulb moment. It’s 2011 or 2012 to, you know, in Florida, everyone has a skater look or a surfer look, everybody serves.

Matt Verburg (00:04:43):

And if you don’t surf, you still wear surface stuff and you still wear yeah, because you want to be associated with the lifestyle. And what we were doing in the drum line space is as much of, if not more of a lifestyle than some of the skaters who, you know, would skate for a half hour after school. Meanwhile, you know, the band kids and the drunk kids, it’s a, it’s a class it’s afterschool, it’s weekends, it’s summers it’s over holiday weekends. You can’t, uh, say that this isn’t a lifestyle, but there wasn’t anything really representing that beyond band shirts. And that was disappointing because those band shirts come off. As soon as, uh, you aren’t required to wear them. You aren’t wearing them anymore. Right. They go in the bin. Absolutely. Or, I mean, my dad was mowing the lawn and all my extra large, because that’s the only size they would have. All these extra dollars band shirts would become, you know, a yard work t-shirts. But my students and I were not wearing more, we’re wearing other brands. And so that was kind of the light bulb moment was, Hey, we’re doing something just as big, just as good, just as exciting. Um, maybe even more so, so let’s start something that represents us. Absolutely. That, that is,

Dan Schack (00:05:57):

It’s super cool to hear that because I feel like you, and I just were kindred spirits of that way. Like, you know, for people who don’t know, like I, before I got serious about drumming, I was very serious about skateboarding and it was a eight hour day commitment when I wasn’t at school, you know, like we, we would go out on the weekends and we would be out there all day, you know, no money just getting by like trying to use our, our change to like, get something to eat in the middle of the day. And that was such a big part of my life. And I kind of not, haven’t thought too much about this before, but like, I wonder what you think about skateboarding and drum line culture specifically? What, what draw? Cause I know a couple of people that went from or go back and forth. Like I, I have a board and I, I can actually kinda busted out. It’s a lot harder being older and doing those tricks, but what do you, what do you think kind of attracts people to those two cultures specifically?

Matt Verburg (00:07:02):

It’s a great question. Uh, I feel like there is in the state workspace, it’s purely purely individual and independent. You can be on a team, you could be on a squad, you can be with a crew, but there’s no, there’s not that sense of uniformity. Right? There’s um, it’s purely independent. It’s purely you on your board in your own head, which is own amazing discipline. And this is, I mean, they’re totally polar opposites, but it’s golf as a sport in the sort of way of your own head. And it’s, you have to do your own thing and you have your own equipment and it’s on you golf. Of course they’d probably have a little more change for a lunch on a Saturday. Yes. But there’s this independent nature specifically to drum line in my opinion. And yes, you can say this about a lot of different instruments because my history is on the drum line side of things.

Matt Verburg (00:07:56):

I saw that independent nature in the students of drum line specific, again, just my experience that then had to turn itself off for a sense of uniformity for a, uh, a sense of creating a single sound together. And yet the individual spirit, the individual attitude is still there, which I find extremely interesting. So where the skateboarder never really has to sacrifice that individuality for the success of a larger group. That’s one of the things that really in analyzing, you know, what we do there is that we’re that we’re, we, we are these polar opposites. We are the individual, we are the fun. We are the justice, you know, smart and interesting and sort of these, these social beasts that for the length of this rep or for the length of this ensemble rehearsal, we have to turn off that, um, to really reach these, not just group goals, not a basketball team where everyone does their own thing to make the team win. We are doing the exact same thing and the exact same millisecond and the exact same space. We are creating robotic versions of ourselves to Lincoln arms with our brothers and sisters to do something that creates a greater good, a louder sound and more effective, uh, piece of the puzzle. I’m sorry if I’m waxing romantic, but it’s kind of,

Dan Schack (00:09:29):

It’s very interesting. And I haven’t thought about this whatsoever before, but now reflecting, I think something that I felt drove me in both of those activities and, you know, I did do the conventional team sport thing and none of them clicked for me, you know, I’m also five, six, so there’s not too much of a future I could have gotten into maybe wrestling or power lifting or fighting, which I kind of wish I could see it. Yeah. Like I kinda, I kinda wish I had like done some wrestling and younger years in terms of, of skating and drumming to something that I feel there there’s a similarity, at least from my experience was I would put myself around people that were either on par or better than I was. And I would learn from being with them. So like one of my really good friends and I was a little kid, um, Dennis Feldman, who great dude.

Dan Schack (00:10:21):

And he ripped, like he was getting sponsored by the local shops. We both were meddling in competitions, but he was, he was on another level and moving even faster and was in that direction and being around someone like that, you’re like, that is, that is something that I haven’t accessed yet, but I’m seeing it. And I’m seeing the type of person and commitment that it takes to do it. And then, uh, being around someone like Tom Gasperini, for example, who, you know, March hurricanes and United and rhythm X with, like, we just came up through the grind together and he was so naturally talented. It drove me to be like, there’s a higher level to this. And here it is, there’s someone here. Of course there is always internal competition too. Cause you’re saying like, there’s this, it, it was just such a weird paradox.

Dan Schack (00:11:07):

There’s just like, we need to be uniform and like breathe together and all the tiny details that nine people in a snare line have to do, but also, you know, as well as anyone, there is a competitive spirit, even on the same team, we were like, yo, I’m going to be better than you. I’m going to reset faster. I’m going to hit my dot more consistently. So there’s these odd kind of paradoxes in, in both of these areas where it’s like individual and then team or your social group, because there are so much of that in drum Corps and indoor too is like different groups have these like social kind of overlaps. And I think ly Ryan is a place where that sort of happens to people from various competitive backgrounds, for example. Yeah.

Matt Verburg (00:11:51):

Well you just described someone like yourself or myself would continue to get better. Right? There are tons of folks that don’t really make it have no desire to make it past a high school ensemble. And that’s perfectly fine, but it’s, it’s the books who are looking to get better, looking to push themselves, looking to be the worst person in the room and being okay with that. Those are the ones that grow, right. If you find yourself as always being the smartest, the most adept, the most skilled person in the group that you’re hanging out with or playing with, you’re going to flatline pretty quick. And that will only take you as far as, you know, your own self-discipline, which at times we’ve all struggled with that. So let’s put ourselves in a room with better people who are smarter, who are more experienced, who might be more naturally talented.

Matt Verburg (00:12:40):

I was never one of the naturally talented guys. I always thought myself, middle of the road in terms of talent. Um, but I soaked up what I could. I watched the videos. I found people better than me and put myself in situations where I was out of my depth, but I got to grow into those. And what we’re talking about super high level groups, whether it’s indoor outdoor, I think these drum lines are full of people. Like you like me, like, like what we’ve been talking about. And yes, that’s what lot riot hopes to represent. We want to represent even, you know, those high school groups too, but we want to kind of create this sense of let’s grow. Let’s get bigger. Uh you’re in this together. No one, no one’s doing this alone. It’s the folks that are doing it alone. That can, the conveyed out that can fizzle out that can feel defeated. And uh, what can we do? What can anyone do to help encourage those folks?

Dan Schack (00:13:34):

Yeah. Uh that’s that’s cool. And I totally get what you’re saying. I want to kind of go back and, and think more on, um, some of these less, um, physical and more maybe cultural or stylistic parts of what, what you do or what I do looking at the marching arts space until if you ask me until very recently, the traditional aspects were kind of superseding some of the creative aspects of the activity. So it was more about uniformity and cleanliness, a technicality and the nuts and bolts of being a musician and marching drill. And we’ve obviously seen this start to change from, from that to a more stylized, interpretive creative, artistic realm. And now we have a little bit of friction between, is it art or is it a competition? And, you know, I had an interesting conversation with my Jackson kind of about this and the way people, even people that are placing right next to each other have such different visions for what it is.

Dan Schack (00:14:51):

I think lot riots interesting because if you look at a traditional band uniform and then you look about, look at what you were discussing in terms of Merck, and in terms of the aesthetic around a program, it was very square. It was not really important. And I think we’ve seen this turn as the art has grown more creative, that the branding aspect around these groups has become its own vehicle for the group to speak to the public. And as you know, and this is one of the sparks that got us together, it was like, I care a lot about that. The Mason is that we’re not just designing shows and being a competitive drum line, but that like, we are a brand that has something behind it has a voice. And I wonder from your perspective, how explicit that evolution has been to the point where you’re like a brand can actually prosper that’s streetwear. And isn’t just like these crappy prints on a Gildan shirt going and thinking about the materials and thinking about the colors you’re using and thinking about the language that you use. This doesn’t just happen automatically. This is a new thing. So I just want to hear like what your perspective was as this change has occurred through time

Matt Verburg (00:16:13):

Accidentally probably asked 5,000 great questions, or at least you have sent me and what could be a million different directions. I was a director and designer of a group TimberCreek independent, kind of at the turn. This was 2008 to 2011. We were an independent world-class group myself with, uh, cliff Walker. I can’t, I can’t tell any TCI stories without acknowledging probably, you know, my big brother when it comes to a design, he was musical. And I was visual

Dan Schack (00:16:42):

Now with the Cavaliers that’s right.

Matt Verburg (00:16:44):

What a great ensemble book they had this year. Great show. I know that this isn’t DCI recap, but how fun and how incredibly fun it’s the season to see those shows? We felt like we had an identity as well. We were doing shows with modern music. We did not do a whole lot of studying of the art form. We did not model our shows after anyone at the top, we just created, we just did what we thought was cool. We created shows that fit the skill set of our students and went from there and put it in the hands of a system of a set of judges. And we didn’t care. We were creating, we were making art and also building relationships with students to turn them into good humans. And that was the core of it. And I think at the time we didn’t have the infrastructure to turn that into a competitively successful attempt. You know, those, we, the, the competition and the art for us didn’t mesh. It was then that, that sort of outlet for the, for the brand. How do we speak to a larger audience? How do I become an, an inspirational instructor, which I always tried to be, how do I do that for an even larger group, not just 40 members, but an even bigger group. How do I turn the whole entire activity into a, I don’t know, a scene S E M a scene group of people.

Dan Schack (00:18:14):

I mean, you’re talking about being a director and you are looking at your group in a certain way, in the way that you can do things the way you can approach branding the group, the way you can approach the design and the brand together. And then all of a sudden it’s like, boom, this is a moment where the activity can support a, a brand, a clothing brand. I don’t think there was a brand, a clothing brand before, lot riot that was specifically for the arts that wasn’t like, FJM has MTX shoes and D you know, Vipers. And we have our like utility stuff, but we didn’t have a brand that was creating clothes just for the marching arts. I think that’s a new thing. And that moment came in. You you’re the one that picked it up. So how did that, why was it you? Yeah,

Matt Verburg (00:19:02):

Well, there, there were folks making t-shirts and there word folks, you know, kind of doing the souvenir and merchandising sort of route all the drum Corps kind of depend on souvenirs, but in terms of an independent brand that was focusing on quality and design. Yes, we were, we were the first, um, running this brand is so similar to running a world-class ensemble. And I feel like that was just in my nature, maybe between doing some business studies, but then also being in it, I would, when I started, I had been involved in the drum line world for 16, 17, 18 years, somewhere around there from like sixth grade to, you know, when 2011 or something. And you asked about materials and you asked about design and quality. It’s what you’re describing for George Mason as well. I was thinking for TCI and as what we try to do for a lot, right.

Matt Verburg (00:19:59):

We can’t just model ourselves after what’s been successful. We can’t just, um, make the shirts because they’re cheap and the margins are high if we really value. And I think that was happening culturally is what you’re saying in the marching arts activity. And as well as, you know, the generation Zs that got into high school drum line, if we value them and we see them as, as humans with skills, with futures, we need to treat them as such, both from artistic designers to, um, instructors who are not trying to create robots anymore. And I feel like that was a little bit of my education in high school and drunk work. There was a little bit of robot construction. That’s what fell from a bigger cultural thing. And I don’t know if that’s social media, I don’t know if that’s a term of, you know, the generational, uh, evolution, but we want it to represent that.

Matt Verburg (00:20:58):

And as early as possible, it wasn’t a matter of, I, I truly felt that if I didn’t do it, someone was going to do it soon. Um, and we, we had to take advantage of that. It was a, it was an easy extension. I feel from where I was designing and where I was teaching and where I saw the activity going and the relationship I had with the students. I was never a gear guy. I was never a music writer. I designed some visual stuff, but my passion for the activity was the relationship with young people and seeing, you know, kids get older and get smarter and get better and becoming rad people. And that’s where I felt like Laura could fill that void, where there are tons of great educators, and there are tons of great writers and I needed to find my own. Maybe it was a personal quest, a little bit to find my own little way in the activity.

Dan Schack (00:21:50):

I love that. Yeah, it’s really hard to be one of the 25 DCI world-class Rangers, there’s only X amount. Of course, there’s only X amount of independent world groups. You can start one so really hard. Uh, there’s only X amount of drill writers and obviously a different conversation to be had and maybe, uh, uh, related to the story of lot, right? Is this, this separation of, and I don’t know if this is related, but that there is a top 1% of people who are doing this and they are recycled in all these groups. And then everyone else is clawing to get their voice heard. And it’s really hard. Like every group in Texas has this drill writer and this music writer and, and this program coordinator. And it’s, it’s very much homogenized like that. And that I think is unfortunate. And it’s one of the components and it is related to what we’re talking about in some way, is this about creativity or is this about easy consumption in your, your profit margins, uh, and your, your investment and things like that.

Dan Schack (00:23:01):

It’s tough, you know, and thinking about a clothing brand coming in, or thinking about a small business coming in and looking at already how this works. There’s clearly a parallel between small businesses in, in the real world and in the marching arts, we’ve got multinational corporations with infrastructure and all that, but to bring it back is none of them care about apparel. Yes, we get our sponsor shirts and that’s not to say, you know, all the companies that support me, uh, all their stuff is amazing and great, but none of them would say, we’re an apparel brand. They’re drumsticks, they’re a drum. They’re a, a hardware. They are the wraps. They are the floor or whatever. They’re still not that many. And once, lot riot sort of lit that few fuse. We’ve been seeing some of these other brands come out and on one hand, having competitors is probably a sign that you, you created some kind of movement in the activity, which is dope. And then the other side is like the biting and the reproduction. So that’s a, that’s a weird thing. And we’ve talked about that before. So it’s like for you, what’s going to set you apart. What’s going to be, as we go forward and lot riot, 2.0 3.0 4.0 however, many years, however many iterations in we are. What’s the thing that keeps you set apart.

Matt Verburg (00:24:28):

We feel like we do a great job at shows, and it’s difficult to really scale that up and be at every show around the country. But when we sit around and we’re talking about the things that we’re excited about, we’re talking about the things that we do well, we love going to Dayton and having the rattus booth with the rattus people, staffing it and creating a, an experience that hopefully lifts you up. If you come to our booth and hang out with us and have a conversation, and we’re not trying to shove selling a t-shirt down your throat, we’re there to hang out and really encourage some of the younger students who might be there for the first time who might feel overwhelmed, who didn’t make semis or finals. What is actually happening is you are in a larger conversation. You are meeting people that are in your tribe to use an overused marketing word, right?

Matt Verburg (00:25:24):

Um, we want to get them excited to come back, to get them excited, to sign up for drum line next year. I think the one thing that we do best is that sort of Dayton booth experience. Um, and when we do smaller shows, we try to have that right booth again with the right people. And the product is a byproduct byproduct product by product. Anyways, I remember marching at, uh, at Southwind, our directors, Patrick sideline, who went on to, uh, also direct a van regimen. And now he’s with the blue devils. And one of the things that he said that always stuck with me is if you do things right, if you do things for the right reasons, if you do things high quality, if you treat every rep, every show as important, competitive success will be slow, but will eventually happen. If you teach to the test, if your goal is to win this year, you’re going to have a really tough time of it.

Matt Verburg (00:26:23):

And when you don’t win, you’re going to be disappointed every day, every contest you’re going to be, but you’re going to be bummed. But what if you put in the work early, what if you really strive for quality? What if it’s a human experience? What if it’s a quality experience you’ll eventually get success because you’re going to attract the right people. You’re going to design the right things. And, um, that’s kind of been our little drum core bleed over philosophy is let’s do the right things. Let’s make high quality gear. Let’s not just print the cheapest on the cheapest for the most money, um, which in terms of business, you know, we, we could cut corners easily. It might even be business advantageous for us to do things a little cheaper. Uh, but I’m just not, I’m just not interested. And that maybe disqualifies me from ever having like a million dollar CEO position at some mega corporation. Cause that’s just not in me. And it’s, it’s, it’s similar to where the story of TCI that the competitive versus the, the art didn’t mesh and I’m still team are, um, when it comes now to art and experience versus profits, um, again, that might be a, some people are hollering at their phones or their computer saying, Matt, you’re an idiot,

Dan Schack (00:27:45):

But, well, I don’t know. I mean, you guys, I think it’s clear have, have maintained the status and the, through the quality. So I’m all, I’m definitely hearing what you’re saying. It reminds me of just a thought that I’ve had conversations I’ve had about value. Um, and that we live in this really weird situation where things that are better cost more and people don’t want to pay for that. They want high quality for cheaper. So, and like, I’m not the, I guess I’m not always the best example because like I dropped a lot of money on like shoes and clothes, as you know, so that’s not always the most pragmatic thing to do. Um, but it’s important to me. I have a creative interest in fashion and footwear, and I believe that if you spend the right money for the quality, that’s an investment, you know, when you get a pair of Ray bans, they’re going to last you for like 10 years, you’re probably going to lose them before they break or get messed up.

Dan Schack (00:28:56):

But then we look at companies like Walmart and Amazon, her exporting their labor overseas. The quality of their goods is very low and the, the personal relationship with the company is just not there. So, and, and this actually for me, relates to even the cost of marching drum Corps and indoor drum line, this is like such a huge, uh, conversation activity, as I’m sure everyone’s aware the costs are going up, but I will still say that the students want the highest level instruction from the most qualified people. And those people are still vastly underpaid. Oh gosh. Yeah. So we’re, we’re asking these people who are professionals, they have master’s degrees, doctorates, decades of experience in activity to work for under minimum wage. We’re all arguing minimum wage to be, needs to be higher yet the cost of activity is going up, it’s meeting the standards of inflation, but then the, the amount that we get paid as instructors, it hasn’t caught up. So there’s this very odd thing where it’s like, we want better and more, but we don’t want to pay more for it. And I just am confused by that. And I don’t know what to make of it because my, my personal opinion is if you want something that’s quality, it is going to have a slightly higher like monetary value on some level. Sure. I don’t know if there’s a question in there.

Matt Verburg (00:30:27):

Yeah. I don’t know either, but how many great drum Corps instructors have we seen leave the activity or turned down jobs to teach a, a not great marching band band camp, right? They’re not even using their, their high level skills, but they’re getting paid three times as much. Yes. You know, I did it personally. Um, I can’t, I gotta get off tour or I can’t do it this summer because I’m actually gonna, you know, make some money and pay some rent. So you’re right. I mean, I I’d hate to calculate an hourly wage of what’s happening for some of the young instructors on tour would be wild.

Dan Schack (00:31:06):

Here’s the problem of why our whole culture is like, we don’t talk about money and we don’t talk about how much we get paid. And then we’re held to the standards of social workers, psychologists, teachers, coaches, all that. So it’s like, look at what we now have to do to qualify, to teach any group at this point. Yet we are afraid to talk about what our value is. And at the same time I’m supposed to work and be a professional. It’s very, that isn’t, that is not okay. I think that’s a little bit of toxic in our activity. Not not you, but that we all, that is a symptom of, oh, we don’t talk about, you know, I have taught groups where I don’t see a contract. I don’t know how much I’m getting paid yet. I’m supposed to show up at 9:00 AM, like, and be the most like positive coach. It’s like, yo, this is a job. And you’re telling me this, I’m supposed to treat this like a job yet. You’re paying me like I am now. It’s not a job. Let’s just say that. So that’s, for me, we’ve got to figure that out because it’s sending a message all the way down to the level of a brand or a company and the way that we envision what we should put our money into it. It’s kind of weird.

Matt Verburg (00:32:19):

Yeah. The economics of the entire system is suspect. I don’t know how much deeper to even go. I, I don’t, I, I can tell you about running a small, independent, rural ensemble and our, you know, financially, it was just it’s, it’s wild. The, the, the amount of time we asked of our staff, I can’t, I can’t thank them enough. I mean, I know it was 10 years ago, but I want to write them all cards and say, thank you. This isn’t saying I can’t. And it’s even evolved more since then, at the time I was indebted and now we understand things even more and we’ve placed an even bigger value on people in their time and their energy. And I can’t to go back in time and do that would be, I would have

Dan Schack (00:33:06):

The difficult time. I’m sure all those people know well that you’re, you know, that you’re thankful. And you know, on the flip side, even at GMU, I work months, I’m not getting paid saying I wake up in the morning and it’s like, GMU. Um, I’m going to sleep at night. And I’m like, oh man, you know, like this happened, the design meeting. And I’m like, I’m thinking about it. And like, like if you’re passionate about something, there’s no hours. Um, I’m working a GMU while I sleep. So I know that there isn’t a monetary value, but I also understand because I’m on the inside of it is that that ensemble is doing everything it can to, to pay me fairly and compensate me fairly. So it’s no, that’s no like shade to any group. Cause I know most groups are doing what they can.

Dan Schack (00:33:51):

That being said, that being said, if you are spending a hundred thousand dollars on props that the students don’t even touch and that have a one point effect on your score, you need to pay your staff more and get rid of those props. Like, I’m sorry if I’m talking and I will cause I don’t care. And this is my podcast. I’m looking at groups, making decisions about props that no one’s looking at. And that have a very little, if your program relies on a prop, we’ve got to rethink where we’re headed. This is like, the whole thing is we’ve gotta, we’ve gotta, we gotta dial this back and go all that money could have gone to those texts and these real people who have lives. And like, I hate that we are creating economic barriers to design period. I don’t think that’s right. Um,

Matt Verburg (00:34:43):

Yeah. Amen. I left TCI with not with money in the bank, but with debt I, between when I got there and when I left I thousands of dollars debt in my name that I there’s a, it as a credit card, I’m still, you know, as 10 years ago, but I haven’t totally cut that credit card off, which is kind of insane. Yeah.

Dan Schack (00:35:05):

So I, I do it. This is this an awesome segue. As someone with insider business, you know, formal knowledge and training, what can independent groups or drum Corps or whoever do to run more like a business. So they’re not leaving with debt, but then they can actually make money and pay their staff more, fairly and buy all the props they want. Like how do we do this better?

Matt Verburg (00:35:31):

Wow. You, you treat it like a small business and maybe have someone on your staff that understands what that means. Um, potentially incorporate, um, and run a system. That’s, uh, there’s a book that I read recently, profit first. There’s a whole lot of small business, uh, books that might be interesting. You are a business, whether you’re a registered non-profit or we back in the day, we just registered as a small S Corp, um, just to kind of protect ourselves so we can get a bank account. So we could actually check things in that we ran our cash flows every week we saw where money was going. It’s not that hard. It doesn’t take that long. It should not be a knee-jerk reaction of, oh, I check the bank statement today and we have $0 or a hundred dollars or negative, a hundred dollars. If you’ve reached that point, you are way behind and planning for financial success.

Matt Verburg (00:36:31):

This is, it’s actually a good question. And I wonder if maybe that’s something that I could work on is kind of a five point or 10 point or for a small independent ensemble or even some of the Scholastic groups have independent budgets. Maybe there is some financial guidance that we can, um, I mean you, with some of the more modern, uh, knowledge as well, and I’ve seen those spreadsheets, I’ve seen those, uh, those Dan check spreadsheets, a, uh, maybe we could work on something like that. Maybe a little, you know, a little one page or just a couple pieces of wisdom. That’d be, that’d be really interesting.

Dan Schack (00:37:07):

I think that’s super useful because man, like, like I was saying, we are social workers and psychologists and educators and coaches, and also we’re accountants and we’re business owners or we’re business operators. And these are people who like, don’t have this background it’s and maybe that’s what makes this cool. Like I do like that. You look across like the design teams and everyone, like, you know, we all did band, but we have different backgrounds. Like I think that’s dope. I don’t think we all need to have the same formal background, but the fact that nobody has a business background and you’re moving pretty large amounts of money around and just investing time and money without much foresight. I feel like there is an absolute need for that type of information out there. Because right now what we do is we like learn. That’s not, we don’t talk about money here because this is educational.

Dan Schack (00:38:03):

Well look, what’s going on in public schools because the financial situation is in ruins and in the public school system. So it’s like money creates more quality education. Right? We know that we already know this. So it’s just very weird to me. We like shield like, oh, these are students. And they need to just have an authentic experience. And like they do, but like, yo, if you’re underpaying your snare tech, they’re going to be burnt out and they’re going to teach works. I’m sorry. But if I show up to a gig and you haven’t laid out a contract me, I’m like AF thinking like, am I going to get paid for this? What can you expect out of it? We, we definitely need help. I think that there is much help needed in, in that. And we shouldn’t pretend like money doesn’t change the way these groups operate.

Matt Verburg (00:38:51):

Here’s here’s two, two points that while you were talking, I kind of came up with number one. Every organization should have their goals. What is the goal of this ensemble? And if you want to say it’s to win a gold medal, fine, I suggest you don’t. But if you want to go for it, if your goal is to create an educational experience for your students, do it. If your goal is to create a creative and athletic experience, I don’t know, coming up with random goals, pick your goal and stick with it. And then knowing your budget, first of all, have a budget, know what your pool is going to be at the beginning of the year, and then assess every single dollar to see if it gets you towards that goal. That’s as simple as you can make it. If it’s an educational experience and teaching rudiments to high school kids, then you need to pay your snare tech and not buy a product, et cetera.

Matt Verburg (00:39:48):

Once you get past that, then you can assess future dollars to see if the return on that investment is a good one that I think that’s as plain as it can go, right? Have a goal, have a budget, and then assess every dollar to see if what you’re spending gives you a return towards your goal. And I, I, I know ensembles that don’t do that. It’s it’s, uh, it’s competition first or it’s prop first or it’s, um, you know, new drums Merced. Now, those could all be part of your plan. That’s going to all get you towards the goal, but what you have now, what you have in the future. And just check to see if that dollar has been,

Dan Schack (00:40:35):

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Dan Schack (00:41:26):

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Dan Schack (00:42:27):

And one thing that I’ve been doing since really taking the helm of the creative side at Mason is that merchant side of things. Because I look at artists out there that I’m inspired by and the way that they roll out their stuff. And we live in a drop heavy, exclusive world, whether it’s the sneakers app, whether it’s, uh, Kanye is Merck and his new stuff with gap, or whether it’s Travis, Scott, we live in this like hype beast exclusive drop world. And I’ll tell you, it’s thrilling. I’m all about it. I love that exclusive. They were like, where is this drop? Even at, okay, I got to go to Travis Scott’s website. And like, he’s just says drop soon. And then it opens and you’re in a queue. Like I think that’s dope. I don’t really care what people’s opinions are. Like. I think that’s super fun and it makes it an experience.

Dan Schack (00:43:22):

And when you see people wearing the shoe that you put effort into getting, that’s hard to get, you’re like it starts a conversation and it is that, that community aspect. So with Mason, I’ve wanted to always create that exclusive like drop vibe. And it started at 19 with the pink friend shirts with the Frank ocean print and the, the album that Joseph Noah like actually printed and signed and gave out at finals. And I think that it was, it was dope, but it was like, this is so cool for indoor drum line, but this is what everyone does in rap music and hip hop, right? Why in the world? Aren’t we doing this? Yeah. Why aren’t we doing that? Should we do that? I guess, what do you, do you agree with my perspective on this?

Matt Verburg (00:44:09):

That’s, that’s part of the culture of your ensemble that makes you unique that makes the Travis Scott’s and some of these big stars unique. And I think not every, not every genre of music is doing that to use your music artists as an example, uh, Tim McGraw probably isn’t dropping, you know, dropping kicks this weekend, but that’s fine with his audience, right? So you’re creating by doing that, you are creating the culture, you’re creating hype, you’re creating status for your members and for your ensemble, that’s going to get more kids in the door. And then if we followed this, you’re creating culture, you’re creating some excitement. You’re getting more kids in the door. Where are we heading? We’re heading towards your goals with your ensemble, which is probably creating a good experience for students that has some competitive success, right? So you, what you are doing are the far reaches of what we just talked about for setting goals and bringing it all back to achieving your goals and merchandising and height building is absolutely one of those ways to, uh, achieve those goals.

Matt Verburg (00:45:26):

And you probably so more emerge because of it. You know, those Mertz drops are going to do better because there’s a level of exclusivity because it’s quick because it’s red and you’re creating these sort of moments. Um, and other ensembles could very well do that and copy that, but that’s in their own sort of space to do it or not do it. Um, I think you are a good example of taking what’s happening in the wider artistic culture and applying it to indoor drum line, which is what we’re trying to do as well. There are brands that exist. There is culture that exists and where there is a gap is that no one for the longest time was saying to our students, to our drummers, to the marching arts as a whole, whether you’re a trumpet or a color guard or you’re in the front ensemble.

Matt Verburg (00:46:21):

And no one’s been saying your sacrifice is appreciated. What you’re doing is rad. The lifestyle that you’re living is hard, but you’re creating these athletic, beautiful artistic moments and it should be celebrated. And we’re going to celebrate that through something cool, something that fits something that looks good and something that puts you on the level of some of these other activities. That’s where I feel like we have, you know, not, we felt inferior for so long. Let’s stop that we aren’t, our culture is not inferior. Maybe it doesn’t quite have the photographic ski slope of a skier or the arena 40 times a year. That’s full in your home town, full of 30,000 people. But what we’re doing is, is, is all of those things combined together and where we’ve had difficulty in this sort of inferiority is all these old stereotypes. And I think to go back to one of your previous points and please stop me if I’m just nonsense rambling, but one of your earlier points was the activity is evolving from a militaristic background, a tick system, right?

Matt Verburg (00:47:38):

It’s, it’s built from the military. I absolutely love if you fall a lot, right on Instagram, you see a lot of our old vintage drumline posts. You can’t find someone who’s as interested in some of those aspects of a historical drum line culture that I am. I absolutely love it. And I love finding all vintage photographs. It’s so cool, but you’re seeing the evolution too in artistic activity and athletic activity away from the militaristic activity. And from that, we are all going to be able to, hopefully, you know, those stereotypes are going to break quicker now because of the advances in the activity itself. Um, some of those stereotypes may have been truer 10, 15, 20 years ago. And we’re just trying to catch that wave. And just the same as you are doing with Mason, that’s the wave that we should be on is taking notes from some of the activities and some of the, you know, cultural touchstones and the 21st century. A lot of folks are still in this sort of old fashioned sensibility with the marching arts and that’s changing if they, and if they stay stick to it, um, they might, they’re going to get past.

Dan Schack (00:48:53):

Yeah, I, I, I’m trying to figure out because I’m obviously in my own bubble, I’m trying to figure out why individuals who are leading the charge in, let’s say indoor drum line, where I feel like I have probably the most influence with my group, why individuals wouldn’t want to be putting out products that are widely accessible from an intellectual or popularity standpoint. I feel like something happened at some point where I was just like, why in the world are we choosing this repertoire? That is for nobody. It’s for like the two judges up there. Why are we choosing costuming that makes our students uncomfortable? Like I like my thing is the merge is the uniform. The merge is the costuming. And even with Mason this year, I don’t know if I send you a uniform this year, cause it’s mocked up. But it’s streetwear because what’s going to make your student shine and perform and feel authentic in your show is letting them wear something.

Dan Schack (00:49:59):

That’s a little more like what they would wear anywhere else. And I know that’s not for everyone like my style isn’t for everyone. And I get, I’m infusing my personal style into the group that I teach because I get to do that. But I’ll tell you this. I don’t see people walking around in brown and tan, fuzzy [inaudible] with the pinstripe and like your nipples are out. And it’s just like, oh my God, like who dressed? You like literally who dressed you? Who thought that this is going to make your students feel confident? And I’ll go back to the conversation we had when we first met over the phone was the shoes we’re wearing are all wrong. Like these clunky. And I’m so glad like people were in the Cortezes and wearing the Pumas and wearing the different shoes. The [inaudible] like, it’s great that groups are doing that.

Dan Schack (00:50:49):

And I’m all about that. And it’s wild to me that there’s all these amazing shoes out there that work for what we do. And we were like the MTX and that shout out Michael’s area. We know each other, but, they’re ugly. Those are not cool. And I did not feel cool wearing that. So there’s and there’s differences like yo, when you’re in the Cavaliers uniform, like I wore that thing and it was bad. Like I love the, the Aussie and the plume and, and like so many great people before me had worn that uniform. So many legends, there’s a place for that. And I’m I’m with you like uniformity and clarity. There’s, there’s a place for it. Don’t dress your student and fuzzy onesies. Don’t design shows that aren’t, they don’t have a thing to do with your students. To me, it’s so crazy that people are still doing that.

Dan Schack (00:51:42):

And it’s like, I don’t want to say that there’s not a place for like super old guys, but like, we still have a generation of like pretty old white dudes who have no clue what’s going on with their students, for anything in their lives. And they’re the ones that are either like making the decision on the tape or they’re the ones designing the show. I’m like, get out. Cause you don’t know what is good for your student. Like it does makes no sense to me. And I know that’s like pretty aggressive, but whatever we’re like in it, we’re in a hypothetical conversation in a way. But you have to know what’s cool for your student. If you want your student to come back, if you want the show to speak to them personally.

Matt Verburg (00:52:19):

Yes. You’re describing the struggle of an artist, right? Who’s trying to create a new sensibility, a new style of art that is, is revolutionary to tons of previous generations across all art forms, right? There’s w why are these old radio executives making decisions about, you know, the new style of music? I will say though, that the brown buzzy onesy, the, you know, the, the, the velvet pajamas, as we used to have them, they are still new school to some people you go back in time, 15 years. Gosh, I think the very first Wii championships, I don’t know what year it was in the eighties, late eighties, something like that. They’re wearing marching band uniforms, man, they’re wearing. And not even what we now know today, as you know, marching band informs they’re wearing like tales and ruffles and cover bonds, man,

Dan Schack (00:53:18):

Looking at wool.

Matt Verburg (00:53:19):

So we’re not too far away from military uniforms on a WTI floor. So to expect us to move through the velvet pajama generation, oh my I’m like, I’m taking that velvet pajamas generation name of my podcast. And I’ll just, you know, nineties indoor drum line all day

Dan Schack (00:53:39):

Nail that you heard it here, first baby,

Matt Verburg (00:53:41):

That’d be there. Or at least a t-shirt that’s still new and painful. I’m sure it’s a somewhat painfully. Right? Right. So you are everything you say is like true and feeling and accurate. And it’s two generations past what our students want and what they will feel correct on. And it’s the people who are going to be able to adapt to that and what you’re saying, and actually key into the life and forgive me for saying emotion of our students. Um, the people who can adapt to that will be the ones who are successful in breaking those boundaries and moving forward. And that may come at the expense of competitive success because they’re those artists, won’t be the ones in the judge’s booth for quite some time. And even when that happens, when you, you won’t be, maybe you will. But when you’re the chief judge, 30 years from now, some, some my, my kid’s going to be like, oh, Dan shack, wasn’t old balls. That guy at,

Dan Schack (00:54:49):

When they’re on hoverboards and whatever. Yeah. I’ve lost my train of thought when I just thought of drum lines and, and hoverboard. And, oh, this is what I was thinking about. What I was thinking of is there’s also this weird issue with we compete in a, in a space where there’s rules. So some of those rules create friction with creativity. 2019 is a great example. I’m going to probably use these examples for the rest of my life. Cause it was like such a cornerstone year. For me, at least maybe rap music has no place in drum line. If all the judges need to hear are the words, because we had words that were wrapped. And if you asked me, you could tell what the dude was saying, but the judges compulsory, I can’t understand every word. And therefore I’m going to talk over the rest of what he’s saying. And now I can’t hear what they’re saying. So it’s like, we are programmed to call these things out because it’s easy when you don’t know what else to say. That’s a good, easy thing to do with that. Narration is, oh, I can’t hear what they’re saying. Well. When I listened to M and M it’s not about every word, right? It’s about the rhythm and it’s about the technicality of his

Matt Verburg (00:56:08):


Dan Schack (00:56:09):

Yes. Yes. So it’s like, why does it have to be about your ability to name everything? And I think that some judges are really good at this. Like when I like I’m going to be interviewing Omar, Carmen days down the road here, and one of those judges and he can watch something and he can pick out everything that’s going on, but he’s not like, and he’s just an honest judge. And he has an amazing, like analytical and synthesis oriented mind. There are judges out there who are at the point where they can’t access that level. And there’s like, what’s the guy saying, how about just be along for the ride and not trying to be so analytical about, well, I can’t hear every word, no one does that. Listening to music, music it’s. But when we’re at the drum line and the drunk where we’re running around, we don’t look at it like a song we’re looking at it like something else, because you have to like use the N the, the words on the sheet. You have to use them in some way, instead of just like, oh, this is a 10, or this is an 8.8, or this is like a seven or whatever.

Matt Verburg (00:57:12):

We experienced that a little bit with some of our more modern shows at 10 years ago. But like, some of our shows were maybe not executed all that well, but conceptually, we thought they were on the leading edge. We referred to the traditional story of the Rite of spring, right. Stravinsky’s piece that created literal riots in the stands, right. Dan’s thinking totally WTI. There’s a piece of music that blew people’s minds so hard. There were they physical reaction. That’s a real human, those, those people weren’t idiots. They weren’t necessarily critics either. But when there is something so new, when there’s something so fresh, it’s funny to talk about storage of Stravinsky as fresh, you know, it’s something so revolutionary, the people physically couldn’t handle it. Imagine you’re sitting in the stands with a tape recorder and a rubric to analyze a piece of art, and it doesn’t fit inside the box. There are good judges who can think that and internalize that and find new places for it, maybe within the realm of their rubric. But it’s tough for me to really, that’s such a human experience of here’s something new and think it’s like Fred life-threatening like, do I hear a breeze in my Nutri? Or do I hear a, the rattle of a snake? Like, there’s something deep in us that doesn’t like new, that doesn’t like fresh. And I can only say congratulations for rattling people.

Dan Schack (00:58:50):

That’s a great point. It’s a great point. I don’t know if you saw little NAS, X came out with these like Nike air max 90 sevens with like the drop of blood and, and people literally were like, freaking out like a Satan shoe, like blah, blah, blah. It’s like, these are like progressive people now, like flip our whole like orthodoxy is so like flipped on its head that it trickles in every direction. It’s like these, like, you were an artistic creative person and something guided the point that you’re like a, a judge. And you clearly are one of the people that rose to the top of this. And now you’re that person trying to sort of conserve what it used to be. It gets literally like a political issue on some hand, because you have the fear of the new and the fear of progressing. Right. And it’s this weird, weird tension with that where it’s like, I don’t know what that is. So I’m scared. Right? And it’s like, what can’t you just experienced something for the first time? Yes.

Matt Verburg (00:59:51):

It’s not. Yeah. I wonder I have no information as to what’s being said and like the judges training, but what’s in there. What’s what are they told to do? And that sort of moment when somebody does something really new and fresh,

Dan Schack (01:00:04):

I don’t know if it’s clean, uh, the clarity of intent is there. Yeah.

Matt Verburg (01:00:08):

Yeah. I guess the question is if the, if it’s like an effect thing, does it affect you? And I, I would argue that in that moment, it clearly did affect you if you, if it’s new and you don’t know, and even if you dislike it, weren’t you, haven’t you been to totally misuse the system, but haven’t you been affected by it?

Dan Schack (01:00:25):

And let me ask you this, we’re going to go in we’re we’re going to a freaking rabbit hole and I am here for it. Let me ask you this. And this is touchy, but we, this is worth thinking about is Carolina thunder, 1990, whatever, eight or something, they do the Holocaust show. Yeah. Right. And I don’t know if they sucked or whatever, but it was obviously received and in a certain way, but then I want to ask, like, why is there, why should there be subject matter? That is real, that we can’t touch on or interpret in our space, without it being taboo, uh, music, city mystique, 2013, they did the, uh, they did the 50 shades of gray show. I think it was 2013. Um, Northmont 97. Does Dante’s Inferno and does a hell of a show. I remember

Matt Verburg (01:01:14):

That too.

Dan Schack (01:01:15):

This is an art form. If we can’t do it here, where can we do it? And it’s like, well, there’s children in the audience. It’s like, do you understand what the internet is? And like, this is, uh, another major thing out there. Not just from my world is like, you know, swearing or whatever. Like, wow. It’s like, do you know what their kids know how to navigate the internet better than us. So to think that we should shield them from the subject matter, it’s kind of silly, you know what I mean? And I don’t want to derail my own question, but like, can you do a show that is artistically viable about the Holocaust or about genocide, for example, I know that’s crazy, but it’s happened. It’s literally happened in the last however many years.

Matt Verburg (01:01:59):

Right. Are, are these shows or these subject matters now, like off limits? Is that some sort of written or unwritten rule?

Dan Schack (01:02:06):

I would feel pretty, uh, uncertain trying to go in that direction. For sure.

Matt Verburg (01:02:12):

I don’t have a super strong opinion, but I was involved in a, uh, consultation of some indoor color guards. A couple of years ago. One of the guards wanted to do a, an unmasking of Muslim women show. Yeah. They wanted to start the show with their girls. And, uh, how’d you use, forgive me for not saying the correct, uh, technical names, but they, they started in like full body, you know, totally covered up. And then by the end of the show, whether it’s women’s their interpretation of women’s liberation or the Muslim religion, they were going to have the women take all of their things off and complete the show as a, as a, as a new being, as a enlightened woman and sitting in the room and having a voice to encourage or discourage this. I discouraged it. Um, I did not know how in a high school setting, the girls, the parents, and, uh, the small circuit would be able to correctly and artistically express their views while walking, what would potentially be a fine line between religious freedom, first amendment rights.

Matt Verburg (01:03:34):

Um, and it was, it wasn’t too. I must’ve been like 2000 7, 8, 9, somewhere in there. And it was still as a result of, uh, nine 11. We’re still kind of on the minds of this particular director designer. I think that’s at least a large factor, a large variable in making decisions, um, for shows like you’ve described, I would be really interested to hear, maybe you talked to either a designer or a member to see what sort of groundwork may have been laid for those students, if any, at all. And if you are really entertaining the idea of doing a show along these lines, what sort of groundwork, what sort of presentation, what sort of individual work might need to be done to protect your students from any sort of duress or, um, you know, cause cause we try to bake emotion into these kids a little bit, right?

Matt Verburg (01:04:33):

There should be some self-expression whether it’s like the fake old fashioned nineties, two thousands emoting, which is the worst thing that ever happened to the activity. Oh my gosh. And that smile, cry, the eyes are crying and the mouth is smiling. I want to, I want to punch your face right now and punch it. Um, you want to purchase, but some sort of personal emotion and identity into your show. Can you have it both ways? Can you do a show that is purely commentary or are you trying to, like you said, talk to your students and get them really involved and own it before they perform it. Um, that’s another layer of, of making sure your, you know, what you’re doing, Hey man, we are in such a critical moment

Dan Schack (01:05:17):

Of just how we are even like looking at history in history class. And then you want to, it’s like doing it in a theatrical space. It’s it might be expressed better. I mean, we’re grappling with, you know, the way that we even were taught these narratives and how all these narratives have, have focal points or have subjectivity baked into them. And what truth is versus truth. It’s like we’re at a such a weird time. I would think that it’s, it’s a better time than ever to navigate some of those things through an artistic form. Something that came to mind was 2012 Fantasia. They did a show called a good German and it was almost this meta approach to color guard and drum Corps in our activity as this like militaristic highly militarized thing. So they were able to draw an aesthetic of rifles and of some of those like things that we don’t even think about.

Dan Schack (01:06:14):

And then it’s like we spin rifles and sabers and then the military industrial complex is still very much at play. So it’s like, oh, this is not back then. This is like, now the thing you’re talking about with, um, middle Eastern women taking off on their head covering this is not like a past subject and too, I think it’s very dangerous to look at a subject matter like that and say, we can’t touch that because we are being bullied out of expressing our thoughts around that. And maybe like you and I aren’t the people to like be the deciders of that and that specific situation. But if you asked me like, we’re going to do a show about like white masculinity in America in 2021, I’d be like, that is cool as because there is a place for that. And people need to think about that subject with a lot more delicacy and a lot more depth than you get from headlines and you get from out there. So it’s this weird thing where it’s like, I know it’s drums in a gym, but also like if not us then who type deal. And obviously I haven’t done a show about that. Uh, but you see shows, and then on the flip flip of this is you see people do shows about this and they’re bad. And then you’re like, there’s nothing worse than that. You do a show about, about, uh, a student suicide. And it just, isn’t a good show and you’re like, dude, dude, so that’s a whole different thing. Yeah.

Matt Verburg (01:07:50):

Yes. I mean, keep it in the notebook. Right? Keep it in the notebook of future shows and slowly develop that thing. And then as long as you can you get everyone on board and I think you could do something like that. It would probably need to be in an independent group just because the politics of school and parents is absolutely insane. Um, so maybe fit for an independent group, someone with like a creative touch develop over some time. I think it’d be really

Dan Schack (01:08:16):

Interesting. Who’ve, I’m getting all types of ideas that would get me in trouble. Uh, and, but those are good. I don’t know those, those tend to be, they can be worked out. We did get in trouble. Uh, 2015, we did a deconstructed show at cadets, winter percussion, our IP to see WP. Uh, and you know, that was where we got our start. You know, the team I’m on now, Travis Peterman, Andrew Montero and myself. So where we really got our start and 2015, we were with mark Sylvester who who’s just an OG legend. He’s like a true artist. Like I was in his loft in, in Bed-Stuy. And he he’s a visual artist and, and drill is one of his mediums, but he does all sorts of mixed art and things like that. And he was like really obsessed with refrigerators. And we did the deconstructed show with the refrigerator.

Dan Schack (01:09:04):

And originally the end of that show was their uniform. You have the snap off pants and the top and the vest. And we originally had them like bring in their own underwear and at a high school show, the end of the show, they stripped down to their underwear and we got banned from that school the year after we caught flak galore, like a lot of flack because we’re independent groups. So we have like, you know, 18 to 23 year olds is at a local school where there’s high school students. And on one hand, it’s like, yeah, that was probably a little bit of a misstep. And we ended up, they still had underwear, but it was more uniform. There was like more thought out. So for some reason that was less like atrocious to the masses or whatever. On one hand, I see why they were put off by that. And then on the flip side, it’s like, you are instilling fear in children around bodies and their own bodies. And there’s nothing more natural to all of us except our naked bodies. And how are you going to tell me that this is not allowed? Like this is the essence of OSS we are. That’s just it. So I hate this idea where it’s like, we are a, we instill like a fear in a child around their own bodies. That leads nowhere. Good. If you ask me, I don’t know, get

Matt Verburg (01:10:22):

Yet go get them down.

Dan Schack (01:10:26):

I don’t know. I don’t know if I have a boy. I was just like, I get why you’re, you’re like reacting, but like, can we think about this is like part of the problem is like you react to what you see, but you don’t actually think about what, how that trickles down. Sure. Cause our whole thing is like this, this, this versus like what, what’s the root cause? What’s the reality of this when we go deeper, but go ahead. Sorry. I cut you off.

Matt Verburg (01:10:51):

No, no, no, no. I was going to say that you are exactly the type of person that should be conceiving of shows and then like interpreting them through the modern lens, the modern culture. Um, there are, but then a lot of people might be listening. Well, they’re probably not listening anymore. They probably stopped listening 20 minutes ago. But there people who think that there’s this, this, especially on a Scholastic level is no place for cultural commentary. It’s no place for bigger issues. We are playing a Billy Joel show and here’s, our opener are valid in our closer. And this is for the entertainment of our audience for eight minutes. And if we get to the essence of our activity and why we’re doing it, I still find some value in that. You are still have students who are in a controlled environment where are getting mathematical and athletic skills and becoming musicians to some degree. So there’s value there. You have a luxury at this point of being at such a high level of conceptual thinking for the art form and we need people like you in it. Um, you may continue to struggle to, you know, design shows for the local high school.

Dan Schack (01:12:18):

Yeah, I know. I I’m. I’m lucky cause I’m doing the independent world thing now forever. So I, um, I’m in that, in that mindset. And I guess at the high school level, I do understand that there are students of various creeds and backgrounds and I would never suggest that those are illegitimate. I think people have a right to have religious backgrounds different than mine and to have different orthodoxies than mine or other people. I love that. In fact, I think that’s where the doughnuts get made really. And my whole thing is your interaction. And this is like what I probably learned most from like doing the literature background thing is you’re just suspending your disbelief for this short time. If you come into this drum line space and you’re like, oh God, go, this is really, really uncomfortable. It’s not forever, everybody. It’s not going to last forever.

Dan Schack (01:13:22):

It might inform you, it might help you feel empathy for a style of life that isn’t your own, but it’s not going to last forever. And no one’s telling you that this is life now. You know? So like, I think that is important is even if you have this background that conflicts with like this thing that you’re looking out, little lot, knots, Xs, Satan shoes, what is it really doing to you? What pain is being inflicted on you? Because you saw a picture of a shoe with the drop of blood. And it’s just, it’s the mindset of people that are incapable of going, like, what can I take away from this thing? That’s making me feel alienated in my belief system. There’s something there to be taken away. That if you just go like this, you get nothing out of it. That’s, that’s the thing that I don’t, I think in probably benefit anybody of any background is this is going to be good for you, even if you reject it, but you have to give it a chance so that you can have a real opinion and thoughtful,

Matt Verburg (01:14:22):

Right? That’s that’s, that’s, you’re, you’re describing art of all kinds. And some people choose to not expose themselves to art that might confuse them or challenge them. Um, and we have the additional boundary of this being a participatory art. It’s not just a canvas on a wall that we can walk past, right? There are it’s it’s it’s experiential, especially for the people in it. Um, which is why, you know, having that sort of groundwork laid for the people in it. I would argue that the effects of this particular piece of art, if it’s an indoor drumline show is going to have a greater impact on the performers because it’s not just over in seven minutes, right? There’s a, there’s a deeper understanding that needs to be achieved. And there is a significantly deeper understanding in order to perform that art. And I think that’s potentially aware folks, if they’re not on your team or in your room, create their own space from which to throw stones.

Matt Verburg (01:15:33):

Yeah. And that’s, that’s the struggle that, I mean, that’s the struggle that we’re going to have, uh, uh, going back to the TCI stuff and your example with hearing the words and knowing the words we were, we were a group that had, we had a live singer. We had a live performer as part of our group. And I don’t know if it’s because the style of his singing was different because he was singing and not rapping. Then you’re, it’s another sort of cultural barrier that’s arbitrarily placed potentially from your show, which was wrapped to our show, which was singing Radiohead tunes. And could you actually understand the words that he said, maybe, maybe not. Can you understand when Tom York says I’m on a record? Not really, no. So it’s another sort of cultural barrier as an example to where for better or for worse, there is a rubric and we are paying our dues to, uh, to, uh, an organization that sets these sort of rules. I don’t know if that hurts or helps, but you, you, you are speaking eloquently as an artist to about an art form that is, is chained and is handcuffed.

Dan Schack (01:16:45):

That’s awesome. That’s that’s, that’s true, man. I think it’s true. Um, I think that in a way we, we see and like, maybe this is just like my love of transgressive people and transgressive and, um, radical and like punk people. But it’s like, it’s only transgressive until everyone else catches up. It’s only transgressive until everyone else catches up. It’s it’s this weird thing. Well, where it’s all the way out here. And it’s just like, what in the world is that? And then all of a sudden, everyone sounds and looks like broken city, for example, you know, it’s like, man, that thing is weird. This is, this is different. And then we all get it. We all catch up to it. So I feel like there’s a competitive disadvantage to that, but I have very little interest doing this activity if it’s going to be like in a box.

Dan Schack (01:17:38):

I think that it’s so boring and I, I don’t want us to be homogenizing into what is going to get us to when we can all buy a show, that’s going to win. It’s going to have perfect clarity of intent and everyone’s going to have the exposure that they need. And it’s all gonna work together and be perfect and fit. But like what about flavor? And what about the style and the, and the spice of individuality that we see in the groups that really commit to their identity instead of committing to, what’s going to make them successful. We could cut corners so that you have a higher profit margin, but you don’t, you go for the quality materials back to that. Yeah.

Matt Verburg (01:18:16):

I’d argue to the point about the competitive nature. I’d argue that these winning shows, these metal shows tend to be on the cutting edge and tend to be part of their personality. And I think we would both agree that if you want that box show you’ll, you might make finals, but you’re not, you’re not moving forward. You know what I mean? Everyone who chases what the winner did last year, aren’t going to win because all those top groups are continuing to go with some reflection on what might win, but there’s still, we at least have personality and the top five or six groups independent world scene. And if you want a copy of last year’s winner, 10th places you’re taught, right? At least there is still a, there is a culture of originality. You know, you can’t say that music city doesn’t have an identity or that broken city doesn’t have an identity or that even, you know, RCC has an identity. And some of these top groups stay in their lane. That sounds awful. Cause that makes it sound like they aren’t innovating, but you know what I’m saying?

Dan Schack (01:19:24):

Yeah. They have the same people year to year that there’s no, of course they keep, even though their shows can go like all around subject matter wise, it’s still those core group of people. Okay.

Matt Verburg (01:19:35):

Yeah. And saying right. If, if I wanted to copy the merchandise, the gear of whoever sells the most, then I’m the one, what am I doing? I’m not, I’m not, it’s not going to advance the cause. It’s not going to sell us anymore. It’s probably going to sell us less because they could get it somewhere else. Yeah. I feel like lot right. Has become my creative outlet where I used to design drum line shows. I wasn’t the best at it. I was okay. But I get to control the pieces. I could get to, uh, you know, create some new elements

Dan Schack (01:20:12):

As we steer it to base this. This has gone into, in the wackiest, but awesome directions. And um, I knew it was going to go there. So don’t worry when you were like, you know, I’ve done these interviews before. I know we’re going to go, we’re going to rabbit hole, but you know, so let’s, let’s wrap it up with this. Okay. As a accomplished of your company and as a supporter of, of you as a person and of your company, ah, thank you. Of course. And seeing where, where we’re headed, you know, I mean COVID and live stuff in this, still uncertainty around that. How does lot riot pivot, what’s the future of lot riot to keep the steam and keep the energy that you all have established over the past couple of years

Matt Verburg (01:20:54):

That shows the last year. Plus, uh, we have definitely been in a bit of a hibernation mode. I also personally have gotten since the last time I went to Dayton, got married, moved halfway across the country, but feeling fresh for what’s new, where to go next. Um, we will in spring 20, 22, as long as there are plenty of shows, we’re going to spend it be spending a lot of time out in Southern California. I’m working with SCPA, which is pretty exciting. We will be working with some new artists on some new designs. We have pivoted a little bit into the custom gear. If you, if your ensemble needs like custom RI hoodies shorts, hats shirts, um, hit us up and we will work with you. And we are working with people like Dan, we want to be a little more present in terms of, uh, media.

Matt Verburg (01:21:47):

We are consumers of good, uh, drum line, marching band sort of media. And we want to be participants in that. And yeah, it’s always just new. The good news with RIA was we were never resting on the old, we were always designing for new seasons. We try to do two or three pretty big drops every year, and we’re going to keep doing that. So in terms of some of the bigger production schedules, nothing changes, but the gear will continue to change and evolve. And we even have stuff that hasn’t been seen before at shows like we were, we came up with tons of stuff spring 2020 meant that didn’t even ever make it to a show. So we ha I mean, shameless plug, I mean, these beanies are out and they’re one of the best things we’ve ever made. And they haven’t even, I don’t know if they’ve ever been to a show. So we have some good classics that are sticking around and, uh, yeah. Uh, it feels, it feels fresh. It feels good. Moving into 20, 22 to have stepped away just a little bit and gotten a little life experience and also done some shopping, done some sourcing that’s Lauer at a future. Well, how underwhelming was that, Dan?

Dan Schack (01:23:03):

No, I think that was good. I think that was good. And I’m, I’m excited everyone out there can obviously get excited about LA riots future. You guys got to get over to a lot Riot’s website, lot Um, you probably heard the advertisement already run on this episode, use that code, um, get some free stuff and you know, we’re going to be coming out with some, some other gear here in the future. Um, from lot riot CA collab with that Dan band show, as well as some different like media projects. So support small businesses in the marching arts, if you’re true to your mission as a performer and as an educator and instructor support this local business that, uh, small and local business that really came from the merchant arts originally. So that’s my fricking plug. Thanks, man. I wasn’t paid to say that, but I’m a big fan of what you do, dude. I’ve, we’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, so I’m excited we can get on here. And of course, everyone can look forward to, uh, my custom, uh, marching sneaker. That’s going to come out. Oh my gosh, dude. Let’s talk. Let’s talk. I would love to do that, but let’s talk, we’ll say, Hey, back at you honored to be here, honored to be affiliated with that man show and you as an accomplished accomplice rollout, right, dude. All right, everybody. That’s it wrapped up. Thanks for coming. See you next time. Peace.

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