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The Black Market Club: A Different Approach To Music

Courtesy photo
Black Market Club performing 502 Bar

To a lot of young bands, the music world seems like a great opportunity for fame and fortune. However, The Black Market Club looks at it with a more humble perspective. Going five years strong, this indie rock band has found a way to mesh their passion for music into their lives. Bassist Adam Herzig says that the band “plays shows because it’s fun to play, not for the money. It’s just entertaining to entertain. So when I don’t even have money as an aspect, I get excited for gigs. It keeps it organic for me.”

At the head of the group is Zach Taylor. He’s a guitarist, band manager, and, as some of the members call him, “band mom.” Thanks to Taylor, the band has been able to set aside the stress of managing finances and bookings in order to focus on just having a good time performing. Andrew Bauer, guitarist and writer for the band, shares: “Zach manages all the finances. None of us get a paycheck. Everything we make from our shows gets reinvested into the band, and Zach appropriates appropriately however we deem fit. That’s how we pay for recording and production. There have been times [especially in the beginning] where we’ve done Kickstarters, but most of it has been independently generated from us playing.”

Because the band members don’t generate an income from music alone, they all also work full-time jobs. Ben Griffith, vocalist and keyboard for the band, is the only full-time performer, singing at various locations throughout the week, so he is able to schedule himself easily with the other members. Helzig, on the other hand, has a landscaping job and has to call into work sometimes in order to meet up with other members. However, Bauer says that “we’ve been together for a while now, so we know each other’s schedules. We’re all really close. We have a studio space that we practice at, and so we try to have a couple days a week to rehearse.”

Bauer, who is also The Black Market Club’s main songwriter, explains that although many of band’s jobs are delegated to certain individuals, they come together as a group every once in a while to create songs together. “There is one song on our last album, called ‘Fire,’ that we all wrote together because we had finished our EP and our producer Mack Damon asked us to write a pop-style song. I had this one little piano riff, and the band built a whole structure of a song for it. We all wrote the lyrics and mixed the song together. It took us about six hours. That was our first collaborative effort, and it was a lot of fun.”

What has kept the band going for almost five years now is their passion to connect with others, especially while travelling. According to Taylor, “One of the things that really opened my eyes and made me love being in a band was whenever we started going on tours. We get to all of these cities, and since we’re starting off, we’re going to these real hole-in-the-wall places with 10-11 people. It’s those interactions [that we make] afterwards that really remind me that what I’m doing is the right thing. We were in Chicago one time and we had a total of eight people in there, but one guy came up and bought out all of our merchandise. He was amazed that a band all the way from San Antonio was in his backyard. It really just made me warm inside. I know that with these people, we can really bring happiness to people all over the states, all over the world. What truly drives me are all these new interactions, all these new people that believe in us.”

At the recentSantikos Riffs and Reels Music Video Showcase, the band took second place, along with filmmaker Sam Lerma. Bauer shares that the experience provided a great opportunity for networking and meeting people in the San Antonio music industry. “We’ve seen everybody that was able to make a video, even if they didn’t place, they’ve been able to get 10x more exposure than they had before.” Taylor, who has produced two of the band’s music videos, loved the fact that he didn’t have to worry about creating another video. “Once we got done filming, we didn’t even talk to Screenville Films [the film production company helping us]. I really appreciated that because it was one of those things where, I didn’t want anything to do with it; I just left it to the professionals to make something awesome.”

The Black Market Club has successfully built a self-sustaining band that can go on for years to come. Helzig speaks for the whole group when he says that the basis for loving performance as a musician is “seeing people’s faces having a good time dancing, and to know that I was part of their creation of a good night. That does it for me.”

For more of The Black Market Club, check them out on their Facebook, Spotify, and Soundcloud

Adriana Carner is a senior at the University of Texas At San Antonio, pursuing her bachelor's in Communication with a concentration in Digital Media Studies. She is TPR's 2017 Summer Arts Intern. She is a San Antonio native and graduated from Ronald Reagan High School. Starting her freshman year of college, Adriana became involved in creating short films and doing journalism work. She is the Editor-In-Chief of The Odyssey Online, and does camera work for UTSA's RowdyTV. When she is not filming or writing, Adriana loves to attend concerts, listen to electronic beats and old jazz, and asks too many questions.