When you only have to follow along to three chords, being in a band can be relatively easy.
At least, that what Mike Mowery’s friend claimed when he urged Mowery to join a group.
“I don’t consider myself a musician,” he said. “[My friend] said, ‘Hey, look, it’s not like I’m asking you to come in and do something really incredible. We’re going to play three-chord punk/hard core and I could train a monkey to do it.’”
Mowery had gotten into the area’s punk/hard-core scene at age 14, though he admits he didn’t really get the community aspect of the genre until college. He became a music supporter, put on concerts, released records and yes, joined his buddy’s new band, Good Clean Fun, as the bass player from 1998-2004.
That experience included touring the world for about five years. In true DIY fashion, he wound up doing the logistics for the band as they released their own records and booked their own tours. That experience led to him making the transition to tour manager for other bands, work that lasted about five years as well.
His professional path led him to his current role as president and owner of Outerloop Management, an artist management company based in downtown Silver Spring, as well as Outerloop Records.
He describes his role managing artists as “the CEO of a small company,” viewing the band as a functional business.
“These are small businesses with no outside funding other than typically from the members themselves,” he said. “They’re these cash-strapped, super-small businesses, so I’m the guy who’s supposed to come in and help them, you know, navigate the waters.”
He also views his role as that of a coach of a small team: the band members, the record label, the booking agent and so forth.
“My role as the captain is really to lead all of these people to the goal,” he said, which could be anything, depending on how the team defines success. The idea is to develop artists, create opportunities and help them stand out from what he referred to as “all the noise out there.”
Creating the record label to go along with the management was a result of long reflection and realizing that was where the music business was heading, largely because of financial issues and the resources a record label can bring to a band.
He started the Outerloop label because one of his artists “that we really believed in” had the motivation and work ethic that it takes to be successful, as well as a dedicated fan base.
Mowery helped the band get out of a bad deal with another label and, when he couldn’t find a new label for them, he was able to form a partnership with one that was willing to work with Outerloop Records. In that deal, his label was considered like an incubator and if the band did well enough, it could jump to the parent label, which is what happened.
That metal core band, Ice Nine Kills, released “Every Trick in the Book” on Fearless Records in December. The album sold 7,300 copies in its first week and hit several Billboard charts: #11 in Rock, #3 in Hard Rock, and #1 on the Heatseekers chart.
Mowery also owns and operates Crime Kitchen, a label for electronic dance music artists (some of whom he also manages), co-owns Raver Rafting, a news site for EDM fans, Jabberjaw Media, a music-focused podcast network he co-founded, and produced Mike Mowery’s Guide to Managing a Band.
But his latest passion is rooted in an unfortunate tragedy.
Leo’s Run, a 5K Run/Walk, was founded as a memorial to a son he and wife Caroline Joyce lost at birth.
“We were trying to figure out ways that we could make a positive difference,” he said. “We’ve been quite surprised and elated by the community that exists here.
“As a runner myself, [I] was trying to figure out a way to have something not just for ourselves but for others who have suffered any sort of loss to rally around and have an event.”
Leo was born on Super Bowl Sunday in 2014, and that’s the day chosen for the memorial run.
“I wanted to have some thing for that day to do to kind of take, again to have a very positive impact but also take away, sort of, the pain,” he said.
Last year was the first year for the run and they were pleased to see so much support from friends, family and the community. The participants also could gather later in the day to watch the game “and not have it be this terrible thing for us.
“It was very rewarding to us and we got a lot of positive feedback from other people that have suffered losses very similar to ours,” he said.
The funds raised help support a non-profit called Leo’s Garden, named for a memorial garden in the Mowery’s backyard. The goal is to support people, such as siblings, who have suffered a similar loss. The idea, he said, is to provide funding, similar to scholarships, to allow them to participate in programs such art therapy or yoga or other alternative organizations “to be able to do some of these things that have helped us cope with the tragic event.”
The second annual Leo’s Run will take place Feb. 7, 2016 at 9 a.m. Registration is now open through Run Sign Up. The run starts at East Silver Spring Elementary School, heads to Sligo Creek Parkway, passing the site of Leo’s memorial service, and along Sligo Creek. Runners will make a U-turn at Wayne Avenue and head back into the neighborhood where Leo would have been raised. Leo’s Run is made possible by sponsors The Finn Family Group, Furnace MFG, Nidel Law PLLC, Mowery Consulting LLC, Merch Now, Silver Spring Inc.,Green Gate Studio, Sky House Yoga, Lost Origins and more.