Musician Erik Swenson has found some commercial success with ... commercials.
still gets to experience his
dream in 60-second flashes of reality.Swenson is a drummer who plays in several local bands and manages the Music-Go-Round store in Woodbury.
While waiting to break through, he
has found a valuable side gig playing drums on commercial jingles.
"It's a different way of getting my drums on the air," Swenson
gets paid a one-time studio session fee - he
can make $700 or more for recording several commercials.The ads rarely remain very long on the air; a couple of weeks "and then they're gone forever," Swenson
While it's not exactly art ("I should never use the word art with jingles; they're not art," he
says), they help pay the rent, connect him to a network of other musicians and provide at least a small amount of ego gratification.
"We just did a whole string of commercials, four or five in the last few weeks," Swenson
says."I honestly don't know what all of them are going to be.Most of the time, we're flying blind.When I finally hear it on the radio, it's, 'Hey, that's me on the drums.' "Swenson
also hears his
wife on the radio.
says lots of musicians think recording jingles would be easy work, but when he
first broke into the business, he
had much to learn.
"In a four-minute song, you have plenty of time to think of the next section," Swenson
says."But jingles are verse, chorus, solo, out-chorus and endings - all in 60 seconds.I had to learn a style of playing that had to be more precise, hard-hitting and simple yet flashy."
Complicating the matter: Swenson
was called to serve on a jury in a murder case.
"We were stuck there all day, except for an hour at lunch," he
On a recent Thursday evening, Swenson
and Brown were at Borne's
Richfield studio to record a jingle for a home-improvement company.
It was a small session; the only other player besides Swenson
was guitarist Randy Casey (currently playing with the Hillbilly Voodoo Dolls, among other bands).
Borne tells bassist Thompson, "Keep it funky," tells Swenson
, "You're just real simple on the drums," and within less than five minutes, the band is ready to record a take.
"It got harder when we knew Reuben had to leave in 10 minutes," Swenson
"I made a jingle in a minute and four seconds once," Swenson
says."Other ones take us pretty much a whole afternoon.But now we can knock 'em out faster."Swenson
says he'd love to be able to make enough money at recording jingles to give up some of his
other jobs.For now, however, home-improvement ads are just part of the mix.
If you want to hear Erik Swenson
play the drums, catch him with Blonde Faith.