Mike Woods organized 10 consecutive battles of the bands before taking a break from the event in 2016. But now the promoter is back to his usual habits and will continue on his quest to have local talents duke it out on a well-equipped stage while simultaneously exposing the public to new generations of Siouxland musicians.
The upcoming battle – which kicks off at 8 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 21) at The Marquee – will be Woods’ eleventh musical bout featuring all original acts from around the area. Eight bands/artists will take the stage this time around, including: ABSOLUTELYNOT, Artificial Stars, Call Me Cosmic, Evolution, Hell Vendetta, In Due Time, Rev. and Would You Kindly.
The Weekender spoke to Woods about the upcoming battle and his return to promoting his longstanding event:
The last time you held a battle was in 2015. What made you want to bring it back?
Woods: I’ve been out for a year kind of. I did the Acoustic Battle of the Bands over at Work & Church but I just kind of help set that up and let Mac [Dolan] and [Josh] Ronfeldt run it. I had also done the Band Roulette with Hard Rock. Obviously the Lock N’ Load Show guys did one the following year. One of the reasons I kind of had to get out of it was because I thought the [Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City’s] Road to Vegas was so awesome. With what they’re doing, it’s hard to compete with that. I just thought it was going to be done. When this place [The Marquee] opened up, I thought it was cool. I haven’t really been around doing a whole lot, but I was thinking that I could do something.
So what was the next step?
Woods: One of the first things I did was contact Brad Streeter [entertainment manager at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City] and said, “Hey, I think it would be cool to add the prize that whoever wins ours gets right into your Road to Vegas 3.” He thought it was a great idea. I’m used to doing [the battles] in the beginning of April, but that’s usually when the Road to Vegas is roughly ending. So it doesn’t make sense to do it at the end of theirs because then people, I think, have a battle fatigue almost.
How will the battle be set up?
Woods: It’s a one night deal. Eight bands. They call get four songs, all originals. There will be three judges to judge. Whoever wins will get some recording time [with Two Bird Dog Recording Studios] and a spot on Road to Vegas where they can possibly take it further to get better money and better shots down the road.
To me, there are a lot of newer bands set to compete. Was this intentional?
Woods: Yeah, for sure. In a lot of ways, [this battle] feels like a reboot. My very first battle of the bands I featured a lot of artists that nobody really knew or heard of. I just wanted to find that kind of thing again – where you’re searching for stuff that other people haven’t heard. A lot of the bands feature guys that have been around for a while but a lot of them feature people that haven’t really had their Sioux City debut, really. That will be pretty interesting. And there are obviously all sorts of different mixes of music and everything. The thought, for me, was to go after bands that had not previously played a Woods Unsigned Battle of the Bands. I don’t know all the rules to Road to Vegas but I’m pretty sure bands have to have some recorded music to submit. But in this situation, we’re going to take bands that might be playing their second or third show, so obviously there’s no recorded music. And that gives them an opportunity to still make the show.
During that time in 2016 when you didn’t continue on with the battle, what did you do?
Woods: I actively try to do something at least once a year just so that I can feel like I always have that foot in the door, I suppose. A lot of the reasons I had to get out would stem from just school. I’m a full-time student, a full-time worker, a full-time parent – so you’re constantly being pulled in every direction. Then you can’t really give it the attention you want to give it. From 2014 to 2015, I must have done close to 30- or 40- or 50-some shows. I couldn’t keep that pace and make quality events. When you’re fighting that as promoter, I think the best thing you do is to step back.
Would you consider this your signature event for Woods Unsigned?
Woods: Yeah I definitely think it’s what I’m known for in Sioux City or it’s what a lot of people know me for doing. Is it my favorite? Probably, but I also really love Band Roulette and I really have a love for doing the CD releases. Any time I could get a band in the studio and we can put Woods Unsigned on the back of an album, I feel like that, for me, is cementing a legacy that will be here long after I’m gone. That’s something I’m hoping Battle of the Bands XI will be sort of a platform to future releases for future acts that will maybe play that night.
What are you looking forward to most about the big day?
Woods: I’ve very excited about the awards. Obviously there’s the music, but we’ve been developing a habit of doing a Person of Excellence Award. We have somebody picked and we have things lined up and in motion and I’m genuinely excited about that. Without getting into too many details, I’ll say “awards.” It’s definitely plural. There will be more than one person this year. I get to put my name on an award and give it to somebody and that means something to people. I always look forward to that and the reactions of people. That’s what I’m really excited about but I’m also excited to hear new music.