Fancorps' G.I. Sanders: "The Parallels Between Being in a Band and Being a Start-up Are Actually Quite Close"
G.I. Sanders and son
About seven years ago, G.I. Sanders signed a record deal with MCA, as part of a pretty successful local rock act called South FM. The sun set on that band not long after, and Sanders more or less walked away from playing music, and into his own start-up company, Fancorps. He and a small but dedicated band of do-gooders started running street teams for locals like Bowling For Soup and Fair to Midland, as well for Coheed and Cambria and Andrew W.K. Today, it's a pretty successful little brand marketing company, and not just for music.
You recently became a father. You're developing your own company. Is it a "good tired"? As you'd imagine, it's incredible. A life changer to say the least. You always hear people say, "Everything changes when you have a kid," and well, they're right. The biggest thing is a complete shift in mindset, as it pertains to your priorities in life, at home, at work, in every thing you do. For many years as a musician, and then as an entrepreneur, the entire focus was career-oriented. But when your child comes into the equation, your brain inherently begins to question every decision and weigh its importance. Even tiny things that effect an hour here, or an hour there, things I never even thought about before now get me thinking in different ways about how I could be spending that time at home instead, making an impact on my boy's life.
I imagine it's been quite a workaholic pace before fatherhood came calling. Since creating Fancorps, it's been nonstop, scrapping and hustling every moment we've had. That same mentality is still there; it has to be when you're a self-funded start-up. But now I'm more careful to pick my battles and make certain I maximize my time spent at work so I can squeeze every minute out of the little time I get at home, especially during the work week.
Was it awkward to make the transition from performing with SouthFM to working behind the scenes? Did it seem boring or anticlimactic at first? It was completely natural for me, mainly because I handled the vast majority of the business side of the band when not on stage. From day one, I booked the shows, handled the accounting, designed the websites, headed up promotions and social media, coordinated artwork and scheduling, etc. Everyone else chipped in, of course, but I was the ringleader. We eventually landed a legitimate management team (Rainmaker Artists), and for a short period a label (MCA), who took care of a lot of the big-picture stuff, but I took the lead on the majority of the day-to-day business to the very end. So yeah, I handled the boring stuff back then too. Don't get we wrong though, I enjoyed it, and I chose to do it. In a lot of ways all of that experience funneled right into my role with Fancorps, as it was born right as SouthFM was winding down.
Are you up to anything as a musician? I get asked a lot if I still play, especially from friends in the local music scene and from others I've worked with on the industry side. Since SouthFM officially ended in 2006, the only time I've gotten involved was for our one-off reunion show in 2010. I pretty much quit music cold turkey, which, to a lot of musicians just sounds crazy. For me, I guess I had just had my fill. I gave it everything I had for about eight years or so, on the stage, in the van, loading gear. Maybe I burnt myself out, and/or it was just time to move on.
Obviously you loved performing. Do you still feel that pull? I loved playing live, even though it was a ton of work, and really loved the writing/recording aspect of being in a band. I just got to a point where I knew I couldn't take it any further personally. We had a damn good ride, some amazing, memorable moments I'll never forget. In a lot of ways I'm glad I went out on my own terms when we were still in top form, performing really well. The reunion show confirmed I missed that experience, but also reminded me how much freaking work it took on a daily basis to make that machine run smoothly, and it was just a single show. My life still revolves around music; it's still a huge passion, just not from the stage.
Are there things about working behind the scenes that are actually more enjoyable than being onstage/touring/recording? The parallels between being in a band and being a start-up are actually quite close. I put together a blog a few months ago that compared "getting signed" to being funded as a company. The similarities are pretty interesting, and the likelihood of either happening are on par with winning the lottery. Meaning, good luck. As for what's more enjoyable behind the scenes? Well, I don't have to load near us much gear these days. Oh, and a steady paycheck is nice, and there are far less long drives while being hungover as hell.
I understand KXT is a big part of your local music fandom nowadays. I contribute to KXT, which I absolutely love. That station is a godsend to this area, introducing me to artists like Sarah Jaffe, Telegraph Canyon and Air Review, to name a few. Plus, they still give spins to the likes of Centro-matic, Ben Kweller, Toadies, and other locals that have been around for years. Of course, I still keep tabs on what the other guys from SouthFM are up to as well. Paco Estrada continues to put out some really great material as a solo artist and a number of other projects.
Is it even tougher for bands right now? Music is tough right now on a local and national level. It was hard a few years back when I was involved, but that was nothing compared to today. I think the only way local scenes like Dallas will thrive again is if the music industry as a whole figures out where the hell it's headed. It's going to take several more years to figure it out. Once the dust has settled, hopefully it will trickle down from a national level and start to impact artists, venues and promoters who depend on the local scene.
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