Dropcards Speaks to Yogi Lonich
[As part of our continuing spotlight series, we are exploring the opinions, advice, and experiences of some of the brightest minds in the entertainment industry. Please feel free to be part of the conversation by emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org.]
As former Buckcherry, Wallflowers and Fuel member, California born and raised artist, Yogi, has a curriculum vitae which reads like an encyclopedia of musical legends sharing the stage and/or recording with artists including Chris Cornell, Melissa Etheridge, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Shakira, DJ Zedd, Richard Marx, Kid Rock, Natasha Bedingfield, Nikka Costa, Five For Fighting, Bonnie Raitt, Booker T Jones and Meredith Brooks. He was also honored to play with Jimi Hendrix’s own Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame opening of the Jimi Hendrix exhibit. Touring support with rock icons The Rolling Stones, Robert Plant, Aerosmith, AC/DC, KISS, Lenny Kravitz, Linkin Park and Korn are a mere few included in an impressive career, which just keeps getting stronger. Away from the world of touring, filming, traveling, and the Grammy’s, Yogi has put his undoubted and versatile talent to good use, and has produced two solo albums and a rock band project.
Dropcards’ Steve Ceragno sits with Yogi Lonich to talk about the music industry and his new record, Sitting on Top of the World, released earlier this year on January 28, 2104.
You are one of the busiest working musicians out there, how did you go from local guy to first call session and touring guitarist?
YL: It all just happened overnight…Actually, it happened over 10 years of paying dues in clubs, getting a Bachelor of Music degree, making contacts, practicing, learning to be professional and audition properly, among dozens of other things. It is of upmost importance for one to ultimately do what they love whether they’re paid for it or not. Also, having the right “vibe” has come in more handy than playing well on more than one occasion.
On the topic of recording, do you think current technology impacts the way an artist writes and records, versus the way it was done twenty-five years ago?
YL: Clearly. It costs nothing to make a studio quality recording these days, so that enables the market to be saturated with product. That’s why so much music is free and readily available. It also allows artists to have less of a filter. We can simply create without putting so much stock in recordings because of budget constraints and can do away with “this is my only shot” type of mentality. We are free of record labels.
What should a band be doing that perhaps they are overlooking or not focusing on?
YL: Although it’s tiresome, social media/marketing is key in today’s industry. I honestly am beginning to find it somewhat repulsive, but as a self-run artist, one must undertake such efforts. There are people who are making literally millions from monetized YouTube pages. Although, at a certain point, I just want to make music.
Were there any mistakes throughout your career that you wish you could ‘do-over’?
YL: No. I’m proud of all the work I’ve done. I’ve learned something from every artist and musician I’ve worked with. I guess I’m just not the regretful type. I like to live in the moment and soak up as much as possible.
As an artist-owned label, keeping an eye on the budget is important. How do you prioritize your promotional budget? If you could only spend money on one thing – say, a radio promotion company, a print media promotion company or advertising, what would you choose? Why?
YL: I would probably focus on social media, videos and bloggers. Everyone is constantly on their phones; much more than reading or listening to the radio these days. If you can go viral on the internet, that is exponentially more successful than having folks hear you on the radio.
What are some other notable artists you’ve either performed with or opened for?
YL: Played or casually jammed with: Chris Cornell, Buckcherry, The B’z, Fuel, Filter, Booker T, Bonnie Raitt, Prince, Melissa Etheridge, Natasha Bedingfield, Mick Jagger, Seal, Kid Rock, Sarah Mclachlan, Slash, Axl Rose. I’ve opened for The Rolling Stones, AC/DC. Kiss, Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, Lenny Kravitz, Linkin Park, Korn. It just keeps going…
We’ve spoken a few times about where digital music has gone over the last decade, and how Dropcards ties physical product with the digital download. Why do you think Dropcards seem to work for artists such as yourself?
YL: Dropcards are the new business cards, only digital. You can access EPKs, video and audio, and communicate virtually anything directly to a person. It has a personal touch and is a unique and fairly new idea. People respond well to it.
You have a brand new record you are releasing this year in which you are infusing a banjo into your music. How’s the record coming?
YL: It’s coming along brilliantly. I haven’t felt this kind of excitement about an instrument (banjo) in ages. I feel like I’m connecting to something primal, something with deep roots that transports me to a universal place. I’m fortunate to have Los Angeles session man, Toss Panos, on the drums. He brings a lot to the recordings. I enjoy treating each album as a unique time capsule. Each successive album will be different than the previous.