Brooklyn duo Ex Cops recently stopped by the CBGB's event at the YouTube studios in New York City to perform their single 'Black Soap' which has been steadily taking over alternative radio. A stripped back version focusing only on Brian's guitar, Amalie's Metric-esque vocals, and their gorgeous harmonies, it's set against the backdrop of actual posters and memorabilia from the iconic punk venue:

"When CBGB closed they put everything into storage. The bar, the plywood panels on the walls, the stools, cash register, literally everything. They rebuild CBGB occasionally with these "set pieces" now, so the posters behind the band in this video are the posters that were on the walls when they closed."

Their excellent sophomore album Daggers will finally be seeing a release in the UK as well! Out on 18 May via Downtown/Sony RED, their shoegaze-influenced pop is a definite step up from the last time we covered them back in 2012. It finds them collaborating with the likes of Ariel Pink, LP, and even Billy Corgan who took them to their first pro wrestling match and provided form and texture to some of the record's demos over a two-week span in Chicago.

The band are playing this year's SXSW Music Conference in Austin, Texas, and the festival hasn't gone without controversy for its often times ridiculous corporate branding (ex. the massive Doritos vending machine stage from last year, where Lady Gaga performed). This year's corporate pal is none other than fast food giant McDonald's, who announced their plans to sponsor this year's festival back in December.

They said that they would “improve the SXSW experience for everyone,” and would create a "McDonald's Lounge" and have a "Fri-Fi" truck which will, you guessed it, have Wi-Fi and free french fries (but if you're really trying to "improve SXSW", just give everyone higher quality free beer instead of Lone Star). Ex Cops were asked to perform at their showcase, and weren't too pleased with it for a number of reasons and tore them a new one on their Facebook page - McDonald's "requirements" are pretty ridiculous (although not entirely shocking considering what they pay [or don't pay] their actual employees).

McDonald's asked us to play SXSW. This is Brian's open letter about it.

This week our band was asked to play the McDonald’s Showcase at the annual South by Southwest, also known to music insiders as “SXSW.”

Their selling point was that this was “a great opportunity for additional exposure,” and that “McDonald’s will have their global digital team on site to meet with the bands, help with cross promotion, etc”

I don’t, and doubt that they know what this means either.

Getting past that rhetoric, at the very least a big corporation like McDonald’s can at least pay their talent a little. Right?

“There isn’t a budget for an artist fee (unfortunately)”

As of 2013, McDonalds is valued at 90.3 billion dollars.

I won’t get into the internet semantics of things you’ve probably seen on your Facebook feed; like that thing where it takes a McDonald’s worker 4 months to earn what the CEO makes in an hour, or their GMO love affair, and I will certainly spare you the bounty of photos showing how they treat their animals.

In lieu of being paid like a real artist, or anyone who is employed to do a service, McDonald’s assures us that we will “be featured on screens throughout the event, as well as POSSIBLY mentioned on McDonald’s social media accounts like Facebook (57MM likes!)”

We recently headlined a show at the Brooklyn venue Baby’s Alright. They are by no means a DIY venue, but they are still an independent small business. The owners are people our age who used to book shows at Pianos and busted their asses to open a venue of their own in Brooklyn.

While I haven’t asked Billy or Zach how much they make annually (that would be weird) I’m going to guess they’re not looking at brownstones in Prospect Park at the moment. Yet when we played, we were paid very very fairly, were provided with drink tickets, and each band member fed a full entree from their menu (try the Brussels sprouts)

I will also go ahead and save time for any schill / troll rebuttals; “Are the other showcases paying you? No one is holding a gun to your head!” This is true. It is our choice (pretty much) to fly to Austin, play shows without soundcheck, and get paid nothing to a little. But hear this loud and clear, we LOVE making music, it is what we do, and despite some of its very apparent flaws, SXSW still provides a decent venue to be heard by some people who are really there to hear new music and not just do blow with dudes who wear square toe loafers.

It is a horrifying and gross reality when one sees the true nature of corporations and their pathetic attempts to achieve relevance with millennials. Doritos received a lot of flack for their stage a couple years ago, but i’m going to assume they paid Lady Gaga.

Oh, I almost forgot; “McDonald’s will offer free food to all audience members”

I don’t doubt that tons of bands will kowtow to this lame, lame attempt at a rock show. And I’m aware that to achieve any exposure is a Herculean task in 2015, but the Boethian Wheel is a real thing, and this will continue to exist if we, as artists, keep saying yes in exchange for a taste of success. Even if smells like a shitty Fish filet.

  • SXSW Dates:
  • 3/17 - 2:00PM - Harry Fox Showcase, The Side Bar (602 E. 7th St) - RSVP
  • 3/18 - 9:00PM - SXSW Official Showcase, The Majestic (419-B E. 6th St) - Badge/Wristband only
  • 3/20 - 2:30PM - Baeble Music Showcase, Empire Control Room & Garage (606 E. 7th St) - RSVP
  • 3/21 - 2:00PM - Pandora Discovery Den, The Gatsby (708 E. 6th St) - RSVP
  • 3/21 - TBC - Audiofemme Showcase