Artist Q&A

@JamminJavaMei’s Q&A with HeLo & The Dirty Jacks - Previous Jammin Java’s Mid-Atlantic Band Battle Winners!


Since the deadline is quickly approaching for the next Mid-Atlantic Band Battle #9, I decided to ask two previous winners  - HeLo and The Dirty Jacks - on what motivated them to apply, what they gained from the experience, and any advice they would like to mention. Find out what they did with their $2,500 Grand Prize and more!



HeLo -

What motivated HeLO to enter the competition  We entered the competition for a couple reasons. At the time we were relatively new to the DMV music scene and we saw this event as an opportunity to see how we stacked up against other acts in the Mid-Atlantic region.  We came into process scared and anxious and with insanely low expectations.  We were also desperately trying to get in with Jammin Java and the lovely and very foxy Mei Verba. Another unexpected benefit we enjoyed was the networking opportunities that presented themselves with the other bands. To this day we are still tight with many of the acts and occasionally split shows at Jammin Java and other venues.  Regardless of your motivation and expections, being apart of this event is a good business decision for your band.

Advice for bands going into the preliminary rounds - While politics plays into virtually every “battle of the bands” event, The Mid-Atlantic band battle is a bit different. The judgement criteria is very well defined and is strictly adhered to.  We were certainly NOT the most virtuous band in our class and we went into the prelims with that assumption.  We spent as much time trying to understand the criteria as we did rehearsing for the event.  We felt that we needed to play to our strengths and not try to re-invent the wheel.  It is important for you as a band to understand your differentiators and focus on becoming more self-aware about what people like about your music.  After all this is a show, you should make it one. Show the judges that you take their time seriously. Dress for the occassion, don’t be a slobby schmuck. Put some thought into your appearances!  Be sure to be gracious and endearing, leave your f**king ego at home.  One of the biggest things that worked for us was the audience participation criteria. If you can demonstrate that the crowd is into it, you will do well for yourselves.  That being said, sell all your tickets and confirm that every head will be at your event. Invite audience feedback and the crowd prior to your set. Get your most obnoxious friends to scream their hearts out. Just have fun with it. You truly get out of it what you put into it.

What did we glean from the experience - Aside from the fantastic prize money (which we used to buy a cigarette smoking monkey), we used the momentum coming off of that win to book more shows, capitalize on the relationships we had established, generate press and allow ourselves to revel in the moment. The experience completely smashed the assumptions and paradigms we thought we were living under.  We also realized that business aspect of being in a working band is very real and if neglected you are toast.  You do not have to be the best band in the world, you just have to have realistic expectations and know where you need to focus your energy to get to that next level.  This helped us get to those realizations.

At the end of the day our advice is simple: Work the judgment criteria, work hard on your performance and do everything in your power to get people out to support your show and do not buy a cigarette smoking monkey.

Break legs & melt face!

Soren - HeLO




Q: Congratulations again on winning the MABB6.  How did you and the band spend your $2,500 grand prize?

A: Thanks Mei! The $2500 went a really long way for The Dirty Jacks.  We’ve used that money over the past year to record a new demo for our second album and help us travel.

Q: What would your advice be for those accepted in the prelims?

A: The best advise I can give is to take the judging process seriously.  Bands are judged in a variety of categories from lyrical content to showmanship, and they are all important.  Successful bands excel in all of these areas, not just one or two.

Q: What have you yourself gained from the experience?

A: Personally, I gained a new respect for Jammin’ Java as a venue and event organizer.  I’ve been involved in a variety of competitive events in the past, and they often are poorly executed.  Jammin’ Java promoted all of the participating bands, paid out the winners on time, and judged all acts fairly.  Win or lose, bands that get accepted will have a great opportunity to play in front of a large crowd, make new fans, and get real show experience.

Q: What motivated The Dirty Jacks to apply for the band battle?

A: The Dirty Jacks were at an interesting point in their careers when they applied.  We had some succes playing local bars and even won several other band battles, however still needed something to help push them to the next level.  We knew that by competing in, and hopefully wining the MABB6, we would raise our overall awareness within the local scene and amongst larger venues like Jammin’ Java…and that’s exactly what we did.  Since our win, we’ve gone on to play some great venues including headlining at The Fillmore Silver Spring, performing up and down the east coast, and are beginning to pitch our second album to record labels.

The deadline to apply for Jammin Java’s Mid-Atlantic Band Battle NINE! is THIS SATURDAY, JUNE 8TH