Music

Shane Farrell: How to crack L.A.

From drummer to manager, Shane Farrell talks about the reality of making it in L.A's music industry.

“We were in the studio yesterday, from one a.m till nine a.m and got five songs done. It’s better to record at night, ” Shane Farrell advises.

“Why?” I ask. 

“Any time I’m in the studio late at night the energy and atmosphere is a lot more exciting. Everyone works together easily and is just focused on making music, some of the best drum solos I’ve come up with have been at night,” he says smiling proudly.

In the recording studio with Rozeboys working on some new tunes

 Now he manages emerging artists and bands such as hip hop duo “Rozeboyz” and rapper “Philly” amongst many others. Shane’s journey into the music industry started five years ago when he and his older brother Max founded alternative rock band “Kilroi.” The brothers discovered that they had great musical chemistry together when Shane was 10 and his mother signed them up for music classes. “We were just always playing music so it was always bound to happen,” Shane recalls. Upfront, Max was the lead singer and guitarist with Shane pounding the drums behind him. Luckily, jealousy was never a problem and being in a band together actually brought them closer; “let’s get something straight- Kilroi has always been Max’s baby. It’s definitely mostly his. When I was in the band all I did was sit down and play the drums, he wrote all the guitar and lyrics, booked all the shows and did all the merchandise. Kilroi would not be Kilroi without my brother. That’s the way it is,” Shane says sternly.

“There’s nothing like banging away at a drumset.”

I couldn’t help but think why would he want to leave the comfort and familiarity of drumming in his brother’s band to venture into a whole new world of managing?

Shane explains, “I’ve always wanted to be a businessman and when I figured out I could combine music with it, I was so excited. Of course, I would love to play the drums for my career, but realistically it’s hard to make a career off of drumming, it really is. Unless you’re one badass drummer and I’m not saying I’m not good, but there’s a lot of people out there who are better than me.”

Shane and his brother Max songwriting for Kilroi

Max was supportive of his brother leaving the band, even though it was a difficult thing to accept. Shane reflects, “It was definitely a sad thing, but a good thing, Max knows I’m doing what I want to do and what makes me happy. He’s happy for me, but he did tell me that he felt like it was the end of an era.” Shane continues to manage the band and when I asked him if he had any plans to re join he took a long pause and said “maybe five years down the line or when I’m making enough money to have the free time to do that. Then yes I will, but right now I don’t have the time to do both. That being said I will forever be a part of Kilroi.” 

While San Francisco does have it’s own, vibrant punk and indie music scene Shane was motivated to move to L.A because, “I wanted to get into more mainstream Hip Hop and R&B and San Francisco didn’t have that. There are even more opportunities in L.A than there are in San Francisco for music, L.A is the place to be if you’re an artist.” As a drummer the transition into managing was surprisingly easy, “I’m a people person. Anyone I meet I can befriend and I use that to my advantage when it comes to managing. I definitely did miss taking a step away from drumming, I haven’t played the drums since moving to L.A  and that’s been the hardest part. There’s nothing like banging away at a drum set.”

“L.A. is the place to be if you’re an artist.”

Shane kicking back with Philly

Any regrets Shane has about leaving are outweighed by his passion for managing. “I get to be involved with everything from production to promotion. I love it. But the hardest part is making sure my artists are on track and not messing up their careers and doing anything bad.” For many, there’s an intense fascination and curiosity with L.A’s music industry; it has a cold blooded reputation for chewing up artists and spitting them out. It’s also image obsessed, fast paced, and above all, brutally competitive. Shane isn’t blinded by the false promise of quick fame and success that it holds, instead he sees it for what it is. “It’s a dirty industry, if you get signed to a label it’s hard to be authentic because they have so much control over your music. That’s why the music business is rough because you want to get signed, because yes the label’s going to help pay for your tour, music videos and studio time. But at the same time they’re pretty much telling you what to make. It’s a win lose situation.” Nonetheless his realism still has a pinch of hope “I’m not expecting my artists to blow up and be as big as Kendrick Lamar. I’m not expecting them to be these big stars, not that they can’t be or have the ability to but I have to lower my expectations and know that they might not reach that level. Of course, I’m going to do everything in my power to help them reach that level. But at the end of the day just because they don’t reach that stardom doesn’t mean we failed, as long as we are able to sit at our houses and talk about and make music, then I think we’ve succeeded.”

“As long as we are able to sit at our houses and talk about and make music, then I think we’ve succeeded.”

That classic American dream of making it big in L.A quickly fades away for so many after a few years of trying and getting nowhere, I wondered what motivates him to keep going? 

“At the end of the day we only live once, I know that sounds so cliche, but it’s the truth and if you’re going to spend your whole life doing something you don’t love doing then, you pretty much just wasted your life in my opinion. ” He knows that “it was definitely a big risk to take”, and he’s still “struggling to pay bills at the end of the month” because he’s not able to completely support himself off of managing just yet. One thing is for certain, he loves managing more than anything else and is willing to roll up his sleeves to chase his dream, “if we have another interview in a year or two I promise you I’ll be in a different position,” he says with a light chuckle. 

I get the feeling that he will be.

You can follow Shane’s journey here:

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