Stu Shulman Of Cowboy Surfer & Seedless Records
By Sounni de Fontenay [03-11-1999]
[MusicDish] Who are the band members? What is their background?
[Stu Shulman] The band members for Cowboy Surfer are as follows: Stu Shulman, songwriter & guitarist, Peter Farmasonis, Bass and David Haddad on drums & percussion. Stu is the originator & producer of the band writing all the songs and recording & mixing the CD, Surf Saloon with drummer Dave Haddad. Back in the 80's, Stu was associated with bands like Burning Sensations, Bonedaddy's & Urban Artillery. Then in the '90's he started Seedless Records & formed Cowboy Surfer to release the critically acclaimed CD, Surf Saloon. Stu is also involved with helping other artists careers, building websites, producing TV commercials and radio spots for environmental issues in addition to promoting Cowboy Surfer.
Peter Farmasonis hails from Venice, CA and has played with numerous artists in the vibrant scene there. His claim to fame is that he has inspired some famous artists like Stevie Nicks and Madonna to write about him. He is quite a character & loves to surf.
Dave Haddad, drummer for Cowboy Surfer, adds his masterful style to the blend. Dave is a veteran of the California music scene and has played with & helped so many artists, that if I were to try to list them all, Save the Trees would come after me. Suffice it to say that Dave loves to pound his skins and is an integral part of the driving beat of Cowboy Surfer. Dave also lent his adept engineering skills to Surf Saloon and his excellent mixing techniques are displayed throughout the CD.
[MusicDish] Your lyrics are socially and politically conscious. In what way? What is your reason and what message do they send out?
[Stu] Cowboy Surfer's lyrics are socially and politically conscious. When I write lyrics, it is usually because I feel a great passion for something and sometimes I try to speak for those who cannot or whose voice cannot be heard. The issues I'm dealing with on Surf Saloon include homelessness (Homeless), racism (Nazi's In Chile), Aids (Overrated), greed (Obstacle To Greed), suicide (Rogue's Dawn), police abuse (Trails End) and two philosophical statements on life (Cowboy Surfer & Butterfly).
[MusicDish] How would you best describe your music?
[Stu] The music is about real people, for real people and by real people. Socially & Politically conscious lyrics with an eclectic mix of musical styles on the fringes of rock and roll. Guitar...Bass & Drums, straight up no chasers, to the bone. Music as a vehicle for spiritual energy.
[MusicDish] Tell me about the band's debut CD release, Surf Saloon?
[Stu] The CD, Surf Saloon, is the culmination of the vision and the dream I've had for many years. It took Dave and myself 18 months of burning the midnight oil, struggling to stay focused while dealing with unforeseen events like the death of my father (to whom the CD is dedicated to) financial difficulties and a bizarre plethora of drama, (like spending 3 days in a Malibu jail with the rough mix of "Trails End" from that nights recording session in my pocket which lambast the Malibu Sheriff...fortunately they didn't listen to it). So, although many forces were working against me, I was determined to complete the project and with the help of people like Bernie Becker, who has worked with many famous artists, mastered the CD for next to nothing. This CD was meant to be completed and now it is my job to see that it is heard.
[MusicDish] Tell me about your label, Seedless Records?
[Stu] "When you hear Seedless...you think quality." That is the record company motto. We want Cowboy Surfer music to be thought of as quality music and the label, Seedless Records was started by myself initially for the sole reason to release Cowboy Surfer Surf Saloon. I have done extensive research in the music business & related topics and felt that my best chance for recording, releasing and promoting this CD was to take it to the streets myself and employ the tactics that I had learned from my years in this field. And so far, the response has been fantastic and Seedless Records is building a name for itself within the artist community and I will be helping other artists to boost their careers as I have.
[MusicDish] What kind of promotions/marketing is being done for the CD?
[Stu] While not having the budget of a large label, I have been successful in marketing the CD via local media outlets. The CD has been featured on 92.9 KJEE, THE rock station in Santa Barbara and is starting to catch on at some smaller stations and strangely enough was added to PBS Melbourne in Australia. The local newspapers have written extraordinarily nice things about Cowboy Surfer including a feature story in the Coastal View which offered some nice comparisons and compliments. Also locally, the CD was sold in stores with 25% of the profits going to the Save The Bluffs campaign. As a web designer, I built a nice looking site for our Internet presence and have linked our site to as many places as I could find. The response has been overwhelming with letters and orders coming from all over the world. I spend literally 7 nights a week from midnight to 5 or 6 am searching all over the world for promotional and marketing opportunities & responding to fan mail. I respond to every single letter.
[MusicDish] Has Cowboy Surfer collaborated with other artists/bands?
[Stu] Cowboy Surfer is currently collaborating with several talented local artists including the soulful Jennifer Terran whose acclaimed CD Cruel has done well on the West Coast. We plan on touring together and I am building her a new website. I believe in networking with as many musicians and bands as possible. I look at it as we are one big family and by helping each other we are helping ourselves.
Read a review of "Surf Saloon" by Cowboy Surfer
[MusicDish] What press attention have you received?
[Stu] The press has been very kind to Cowboy Surfer. We have received positive reviews from print media, news media, radio & Internet sites from all over the world. My involvement in the Save the Bluffs of Carpinteria campaign has raised media awareness about me and the band to monumental heights.
[MusicDish] What is your Internet strategy?
[Stu] My short term Internet strategy was to build a nice looking, easy to navigate website that presented the image of the music to the world. The site has all the features that I like to see such as lyrics, audio clips, pictures, reviews, bios, online purchasing and a few surprises! But having a website is not enough! Like I said earlier, I literally spend 7 nights a week promoting & marketing myself and my site all over the world. You can never run out of places to go in this ever expanding format. I've submitted the site to all the major search engines, free for all links pages and independent music sites such as UBL & Sevensouth.com. I also use the URL's from my site to send to journalists, radio DJs and music industry people as opposed to always having to mail a CD. The Internet affords me instant recognition and an instant connection to my fans.
[MusicDish] Are any tours or shows planned for the group?
[Stu] Yes. Nothing is confirmed at this time, but plans are in the works for an extensive tour schedule for late spring/summer to support the CD, get more radio airplay, exposure and expand our fanbase.
[MusicDish] You took part in a campaign to save the coastal bluffs in Southern California. Tell me about it. What other activities are you pursuing?
[Stu] Well, I got involved in a campaign to raise $4 million dollars in 4 months to save a 52 acre pristine parcel of coastal California Bluff in my hometown of Carpinteria. Now this has been a dream for some people for 30 years, but developers had run up against a buzzsaw of local environmentalists who fought off lawsuit after lawsuit as the land was passed on from one developer to another. Finally, an opportunity presented itself to purchase the property. But if we did not come up with the money by Dec. 31st, the deal was off. No one gave us a chance to reach that goal in that short of time.
So I took it upon myself to take charge of the media campaign as no one else had the savvy to do it. I single-handedly started my media onslaught by building the now famous bluffs website overnight with my friend Steve Powell of SevenSouth Recordshop (you can link there from my website) which was responsible for bringing in tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. Then I planned the Bluffs Benefit Concert at the Plaza Theatre in Carpinteria and got my friends, Brad & DM, morning DJs on 92.9 KJEE to publicize my cause constantly. That led to me coming on live in studio which led to me convincing them to let me record a 30 second spot which they ran constantly which led to a 30 minute talkshow appearance.
I then took the radio spot to all the other stations and was interviewed there as well. I also was responsible for finding funding at the last minute for a boat ride that we were taking the State Coastal Conservancy on. A newspaper article was written about this and it led to us receiving a $1 million dollar bridge loan and a $500,000 grant from the conservancy. I got to go on the boat and 1/2 of them were surfers. I also organized community service for the local high school to clean the litter on the bluffs before the conservancy tour. But my greatest & most effective accomplishment was the television commercial which I produced, narrated & arranged to have played on Cox Cable which aired over 500 times during our most critical last month. The amount of donations that came in after the commercial ran was over $2 million dollars and we made our deadline & celebrated by toasting champagne in a full moon on the bluffs at midnight on New Year's Eve.
It has totally transformed my life in a short period of time. I have received a commendation from the city council and the mayors office and have been approached by numerous organizations & citizens to help in their efforts. I plan on staying active in other issues and am currently fighting Chevron who kept a benzene leak a 100 feet from my house a secret for over 12 years. I forced them to do extensive ground testing around the area before digging it up and exposing us to the toxic fumes. So Seedless Records and Cowboy Surfer are garnering a reputation for taking a stand and backing our words with action.
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