Many bands dream of making a living playing music and never having to set their alarm for the morning or punch a time clock at a miserable job. The fact is that it can be more than a dream — but it takes a vision, hard work, and perseverance.
Even with all of that in place, there are still challenges that must be overcome along the way, and one such band who has not only stood the test of time, but also paved the way for countless other bands is this month’s spotlight artist — a New Orleans six-piece known as No Idea.
Way back in 1994, singer Troy Marks wanted out of the daily grind. His passion was for music, and he saw an opportunity to get some work playing in the local club scene. He felt that if he put together a group of great players, that they could make something happen. His first thought was to call up long time friend and guitarist Glenn Farley, and it wasn’t long before they put together a full band.
Marks didn’t want to play the hard rock staples of the time. He had a vision from the very start that this could be something bigger. “I was pretty adamant from the beginning that we’d be able to play anything.” Although there were other cover bands on the scene, most were “older, stuffy cover bands that played weddings and wore bow-ties.”
While this young group had a lot of drive, there was no blueprint to follow on how to make this work.
“We kinda did everything by the seat of our pants. We never really sat down and had this giant master plan of how we were going to go about doing everything” says Marks
The band’s name came about when they were on their way to their first gig. The members were desperately trying to come up with a name when, according to Farley, “Somebody in the car said ‘I have no idea what to call the band,’ and and somebody else said ‘That’s a great idea!’ and then Troy said we were just going to use it for tonight.” But the name stuck.
Right out of the gate, the band got to work getting gigs. “We hustled to get our name out there” says Marks.
The timing was advantageous for the band as there were new casinos popping up all along the Gulf Coast affording the opportunity for the guys to claim some good gigs right away. With a VHS copy of their new promo video in hand, Marks was able to convince the entertainment director at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Misssissippi to give them a shot. After their first gig, Marks got a phone call where he was told “I want to book you every available date for the coming year,” which kicked off a 10-year run at the Beau where they were booked about “20 weeks a year” according to Farley.
As many musicians know, some of the best work you can get is to play wedding and corporate events, and No Idea have become the template for all others to emulate. From the very beginning, part of the band’s vision was to aim high. While many bands struggle to figure out how to break into the higher paid gigs, Marks’ strategy was simple:
“One of the things that we actively did was take pictures in tuxedos to let people know that we were that kind of band. Marketing in that direction helped a whole bunch.”
But it’s not enough to just get the gigs. You have to know what you’re doing and have the proper approach.
Marks adds, “In general, make sure when you play a wedding that you know that it’s not a concert—it’s a wedding—and you keep the focus on the bride and the groom, not so much the band, and you keep them involved. I think it’s very, very important.”
While some bands like to consider the decision making a democracy, Marks has a clear vision and a professional approach:
“I do hold everyone accountable, but at the end of the day, it’s business. I respect everyone in this band, and if we ever have any issues, it’s always [handled] in a respectful way, without demeaning or talking down to anyone.” He adds, “Everybody understands their role and their job, and they come in prepared. We’re all accountable to each other.”
Marks is clearly in charge, and Farley adds “It’s a pleasure having it that way.” Having a firm leader in any business situation always makes for a more successful clarity of direction. Marks knows what he wants to accomplish, and for the last 9 years, he’s had the same line-up to work with (save for a short stint a couple of years ago with yours truly on bass). When asked what he thinks has contributed to keeping a solid foundation, Marks lights up:
“We all get along. We all like each other.”
One of the glaring distinctions that sets No Idea apart from the rest is their ability to not only entertain, but also involve the crowd at every show, as well as always keep things moving with little-to-no “dead air.”
Marks says, “The more you can involve the crowd in the gig the better time people are going to have. We’re there to entertain people.”
Check the video below of a recent show at Boomtown Casino where Marks and singer Rebecca Rosiere lead the audience in a line around the dance floor during their rendition of The O’Jays’ “Love Train.”
No Idea is a true force in the world of cover bands, and if anyone wants to learn how to do things the right way, this band is one of the best examples to follow.
When pressed for advice he would give to up-and-coming bands, Marks suggests a step-by-step approach:
“Do everything you can every day to move your band forward that day.”
If he had a chance to do it all over again, Marks says, “In hindsight, I wish I had really sat down and put a lot of thought into it, because I think it could’ve helped us a whole bunch.”
Regardless, they’ve done pretty well for themselves.
With a consistent schedule of some of the best available gigs, No Idea remains one of the hardest working and most relevant bands on the Gulf Coast.
Marks adds, “We’re still here. We still love what we do. We still work hard to put out a great product.”
But perhaps it’s all summed up best by Farley:
“We were never weekend warriors. We are everyday warriors.”
Listen to the full interview with Troy Marks and Glenn Farley below: