We're The Suffers, a 10-piece Gulf Coast Soul band from Houston, TX. The music we make is a reflection of diverse backgrounds coming together in one band to create a melting pot or gumbo of music. It might not make sense on paper to put a Latin percussionist with a gospel singer with a classically trained saxophonist with a jazz drummer, but for us, it works.
Put simply, this year has been amazing. We've been fortunate enough to play more than 150 shows all over the US and Canada. It's been a whirlwind trek across the country to share our music with everyone from fans in Boise, Idaho to television audiences on Late Night with David Letterman. Somewhere in between all the touring we were able to complete our first full-length album. We're FINALLY ready to release it into the world, and cannot wait for you to hear it!!
As independent artists, having your continued support has been critical. There is NO way we'd be able to survive without fans like you. Throughout the band's existence, we've had to do things largely independently, meaning that we've come this far without support from an actual record label. This is no small feat by any stretch of the imagination, and speaks to how deeply we believe in our music. It also reflects the outpouring of support we have received from our supporters in Houston and beyond through the years. We truly feel like your sons and daughter! This Kickstarter campaign is a way we can continue to remain independent, allow you to share in the dream and get our music out into the world. Be our record company!
WHAT IS KICKSTARTER?
Kickstarter is a way for our fans to purchase our album in advance which will in turn help to finance the release to a much wider audience. This website seemed like the easiest and fastest way for our fans to make an immediate impact on the outcome of our dream.
WHY ARE WE DOING A KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN?
The truth of the matter is that it costs quite a bit of money to release an album properly. Vinyl/CD reproduction and packaging, marketing, distribution, radio promotion, advertising, and publicity, when done right and all at once, are expensive. The money that we've earned from touring has barely covered expenses this year and is totally not enough to finance a large scale record release (which is what we are aiming for this time!). For a 10 piece band to tour in a 15 passenger van, it costs us about $700 per day minimum depending on the city. By the end of 2015, we will have traveled over 150 days this year. This doesn't leave a lot of extra for the actual release of the album. The financial goal we've set is the bare minimum to make this happen the right way. One of the rules to a Kickstarter campaign is that we MUST reach our goal to see even a penny of your generous funding. So we really need your help in spreading the word as well. We hope that you're here because you believe dreams CAN be realized, you like our music and want to participate in our success. Consider being our record label and in return you'll be the first to receive our album and/or get exclusive thank you gifts! We aren't asking for a handout, but rather for you to buy our product (plus other fun stuff) in advance, so that we can make a timely reinvestment in the release of this record. Its finished. Recorded, mixed and mastered. Now, we just need to get out into the world!
CAN I JUST WAIT UNTIL THE RECORD IS IN STORES?
This presale is SUPER important because you'll be supporting us in the most direct way possible. Your support now will show the world that The Suffers are a band (and dream) worth believing in. To be extremely honest, the only thing holding us back from reaching a higher level of musical success is money. We don't have a record label or a marketing budget to get our songs played on the radio, so we need your help NOW versus later to make our dreams come true. It's very difficult for an unproven band to be taken seriously by major radio, television and music festivals. This is where you come in. We need your help printing the record, advertising and making sure it gets heard by as many people as possible. Everything we've done so far has been with your help. Live performances matter. Good music still matters and it is still being made today. Help us show that to the world. The funding of our Kickstarter means giving 10 little music nerds from Houston, TX a fighting chance of being a worldwide success. Thank you!
WHO ARE THE SUFFERS?
The Suffers were formed because a group of actively working musicians in Houston, TX wanted the chance to work together. Fast forward through many bumps in the road and we're now at a very pivotal point in our musical careers. All the hard work we've put in so far has given us the opportunity to share our music with others on a larger scale. It is very special and exciting to be part of a band where all 10 members are willing to sacrifice so much for a chance to achieve a common dream. We'd love to get to know you and so to start the dialog, here is a little bit more about us...
Patrick Kelly (percussion and keys) Before this journey with The Suffers I was a music teacher, private music instructor and freelance percussionist/drummer in Houston. I've performed in numerous Texas bands including Los Skarnales, The Stingers Atx, The Handsomes, The I Gents, and Soundpatrol just to name a few. I also served as drummer and percussionist for Houston's largest theater company, Theater Under the Stars, starting in 2004. I've worked in the music departments of The High School of Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) as well as the John Cooper School in The Woodlands, TX. I am a proud graduate of HSPVA (Houston, TX), and attended Rice University where I was a percussion performance major in the Sheperd School of Music. I've had the pleasure of performing with with numerous musicians including Lyle Lovett, Laurel Aitken, Frank Sinatra Jr, as well as the Houston Symphony. This campaign, to me, can help get the passion and intensity this band has for music, love, and life out to so many more people...straight to their hearts.
Nick Zamora (drums and keys) My last twenty-three years have been spent drumming in bands, occasional distractions notwithstanding. Beginning at the talent show in seventh grade, traversing a period spent playing on football fields and (under-aged) in Houston’s punk rock clubs, and culminating, for now, as a full-grown adult in various venues performing for audiences ranging anywhere from ten to ten million, my on-stage journey has been constantly surprising and continually formative. I have had amazing teachers who taught me to collect inspiration and shed fear and will pass all of this on to my child to help shape his own amazing life. I’ve always felt successful in music; as The Suffers continue to break personal ground, we are simply adding additional facets to our meaning of success. I credit our independence, willingness to forge our own path, and our team’s grassroots approach for every milestone we’ve surpassed and believe that releasing our first full-length album solely with support from friends, family, and fans will be a crucial moment in this phase of our growth.
Kevin Bernier (guitar) I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach Campus. After graduating, I moved to Houston, Texas in 2003 to work in NASA's Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. During this time, I became involved in Houston's local music scene, eventually joining local latin/punk/ska legends Los Skarnales and going on to become a founding member of The Suffers just a few years later. I've come to realize that to be successful in any career, you have to do not what merely makes you money, but what makes you HAPPY. So, in 2015, my life took a radical turn when I decided to leave my engineering career at NASA to become a full time musician with The Suffers. The personal sacrifice and soul searching (not to mention the financial difficulty) that it takes to make such a move is easily outweighed by my passion for our music (and music in general), my faith that we will succeed, and my unwavering sense that, well, it seems like doing something right!
Michael Razo (trombone) I was raised and attended school in the very small city of South Houston. I was 12 years old when I started playing trombone because the band director said there were too many students signed up to be in the percussion section. So, he decided I would play the trombone. Reluctantly, I gave it a shot and have been playing since. I played all through high school, and after graduating, I attended San Jacinto College where I enrolled into the Symphonic Band, Jazz Band and Brass Choir. After a couple of years I transferred to the University of Houston and took interest in the Spirit of Houston Marching Band. When I was 19, I joined local Houston band, Los Skarnales which lead to 8 years of unforgettable gigs and touring and 2 recorded albums. While playing with Los Skarnales, I learned to creatively express myself, something I had never really explored before. I learned from the best what it meant to have energy on stage and how to share that with others. While The Suffers have only been around for a few years, these last couple of years have been phenomenal and have taken all members into uncharted territory. We were given the opportunity to tour around the U.S. which led us to make some personal decisions & sacrifices. We packed up our belongings, left our full time jobs, our families and hit the road to pursue our dreams of creating music full time.
Kamerra "Kam" Franklin (lead singer) I first got my start singing gospel music in the church 23 years ago, but as I grew older, my interest in other genres of music expanded. Growing up, the size and location of the stage never mattered to me. My main focus was getting in the rehearsal time so that I could become a better performer. Before the Suffers, most of my work came from singing backup vocals or hooks on hip hop records. Some of the people I have worked with include: Portugal. The Man, Hayes Carll, The Very Best, Fat Tony, Chris Tsagakis (RX Bandits/The Sound of Animals Fighting), Wrestlers, Los Skarnales, Sideshow Tramps, The Houston Symphony, The Tontons, Gritsy, and many more. In 2008, I broke my ankle really badly in a bike accident, and I went into a deep depression shortly afterward. It took me 3 months to learn how to walk again. I left all my musical projects and buried myself into my day job as a power and gas trade analyst. I had convinced myself that my musical aspirations were never going to be anything more than dreams until the call to join The Suffers came in 2010. This band brought the dreamer that lived within me back to life. The experiences, and the amount of exposure we have gotten so far, is unlike anything I could have ever imagined. It's hard to believe that it has only been 4 years!
Jose "Chapy" Luna (percussion) I was born into a family of musicians, and my life has revolved around music as far back as I can remember. I started playing live music at the age of 13 in “cantinas” around Houston with my dad and uncle's band. In school I often skipped lunch to practice in the band room because for me there is no other option; playing music is something I have to do. At my young age, I have been fortunate enough to play alongside some of the best local musicians and bands, which of course include my fellow band mates in The Suffers; a band I will forever be grateful to be a part of. At the beginning of this year, The Suffers took a leap of faith in which we all quit our “day jobs”. We left a secure paycheck behind in order to dedicate ourselves to our dream; something that is not promised, but also not impossible. In our short time together we have had a lot of success and many of our wildest dreams are slowly becoming true. We are putting in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this- leaving our homes, wives, babies, and dogs behind for long periods of time. Even though money is tight, we have no intentions of slowing down.
Jon Durbin (trumpet) I've played music professionally for 18 years, and the last 4 of them have been with this band. I feel blessed to have been a part of this band since its creation, and a lot of love, passion and hard work has gone into getting this far. When I was in high school at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), I played a few rehearsals with Texas Size, a band which happened to include Nick Zamora and Pat Kelly. After graduating high school I attended the University of Houston and played in The Moores School of Music Jazz Orchestra under Noe Marmolejo. While attending college my first year, I joined local Houston band Free Radicals. I played with them for 5 years and recorded on 2 albums. It is with Free Radicals that I got my first taste of touring. Towards the end of playing in this group I took an amazing offer to tour a month in Japan playing military bases there with a swing-jazz band called Swoon. Subsequently, I played in a jazz combo called The Trade for almost 6 years. Playing with this group really challenged me to hone my individual sound and create colorful arrangements. While in The Trade, I also started playing with Salmerum, a Latin band that played Salsa, merengue, rumba, and bachata. I was with Salmerum for 5 years, and during this time I developed a "lead" sound. Some time later, Pat Kelly invited me to audition for Los Skarnales. Pat was their drummer at the time. I played with Los Skarnales for 8 years and recorded on 2 of their albums. We played many shows and toured Mexico multiple times. A few years into playing with Los Skarnales, I took the opportunity to tour the Middle East playing for the military troops with Karina Nistal. It was a very personally satisfying experience. While in Los Skarnales I also played in local live hip hop band, Lower Life Form, along with Cory Wilson. I have quit my 7 year job as a machinist and metal fabricator to devote my time and efforts to this dream. We humbly ask that you help make it a reality. Be a part of this. Be our record label.
Adam Castaneda (bass) Four and a half years ago my brother, Andy, called me and said he wanted to start a band. I was a bit weary as I was already in three other local bands: Los Skarnales, Lower Life Form, and Ryan Scroggins & the Trenchtown Texans. My weekends were full of shows and my weekdays were full of rehearsals. But, he convinced me and I'm glad he did. After I got off the phone with Andy my next call was to Patrick Kelly who I had played with previously in Los Skarnales, The I Gents and The Pocket. We put together a short list of musicians and started making more calls. Within a few weeks we had The Suffers! I didn't grow up playing music in school. I moved around a lot; school years and enrollment dates never lined up for me to be in school band. When I was 14 I found punk rock and got a bass guitar. I sat in my room and played. A bell didn't tell me to start or stop. I just played because I loved it. Instead of recitals I had backyard parties that were shutdown by the police. My junior year I got a book from the school library called "How to Read Music." I memorized enough of it to trick the Music Theory teacher into letting me enroll in his class. First day of school it took him ten minutes to figure out I didn't really belong there - but by then it was too late I was in! I never returned the book. I'm surprised they let me graduate with a fine. I've been in countless bands around Houston, made some records, and stolen a few more books since then. I've never stopped making music. This is what I do. I had a normal job and a career but I've let that go to pursue this. I'd always put my dreams on the back burner and I'm not going to do that anymore.
Cory Wilson (saxophone) I was born in Houston, Texas, and I have the great privilege of performing with The Suffers. I began my music career at age 12 before attending The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston and finally finishing with The University of North Texas jazz studies program. I have been a working musician for many years now and been in many bands. I love any and all types of music and consider myself lucky to be part of a band that has so much versatility and creative freedom. We have been at it for 4 years now and in that time we have made some great progress and gained so many friends and, really, family would be a better word to describe them. The Suffers is an institution that people gravitate towards due to it's positive vibrations and inclusive attitude. I want nothing more than to continue this dream of ours that, frankly, has reached the point of no return.
Alexis Zamora (guitar) I grew up in a musical family and, by the age of nine, music had established itself as a fundamental component of my life. In my early teens I began playing in Houston professionally and, shortly thereafter, discovered the emerging world of computer-based recording and composition. Although I continued to perform regularly, I embraced this new technology and, as it has matured and improved over the subsequent twenty years or so, have continued to write and record music on a relentless, almost daily, basis. Performing and writing music have remained a constant creative outlet and, more importantly, have been vital for me in navigate life's challenges. I've always been interested in music as a powerful therapeutic force and have experienced, first-hand, its ability to aid in the healing of mental and physical trauma. Like my bandmates in The Suffers, musicianship has always been my most valued skill and I'm both shocked and grateful that the opportunity to have a career that utilizes my truest talents is within my reach. Artistry, in general, is not a financially rewarding endeavor. It doesn't offer good job security, health care, or really any other of the components found in a typical career choice. It does, however, tend to garner strong support from those who really appreciate the art. This Kickstarter project means so much to me in that it is a real way to draw on that support for funding that will allow us realize our work and further our enterprise. This is our trade and our daily grind. We cherish every moment but it is not a rainbow road. We're so grateful for the support we have received thus far in our journey and commit to you that we will continue working our hardest to honor that support. We can't wait for you to become a part of this effort. Thank you so much!
We are super excited about this campaign and hope to connect with many new and existing fans! We've always wanted to prove that a band doesn't need big record executives to succeed, but instead only the love and support of the folks who believe in them. We've gotten so far with only you and we know we can make a difference in the music world if we only had your faith in us to continue and help us to the next level. Please help us reach our goal!
Kam, Adam, Nick, Pat, Cory, Razo, Alex, Chapy, Kevin and Jon
Risks and challenges
With the ever changing music industry comes ever changing risks and rewards of getting your music from you to the fan in the quickest and most direct way. With no financial backing (aka record label, rich uncle), this gets really tricky. We've got the right people lined up to make sure this album makes out the rest of the world, but that's not cheap. The good news is that our album has already been recorded and mastered! We just need your help for manufacturing, marketing and distribution.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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