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Petal to the Metal 

Punk-rock prof urges bands to get in touch with their floral side.

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Rocker-turned-music-professor Martin Atkins groans at every undiscovered band that squanders stardom through sucky business savvy. So to plug his new book, Tour:Smart, the ex-drummer of British punk-rock pioneers Public Image Ltd. gives a pull-no-punches lecture tonight on the mistakes most bands make as they search for elusive record deals. "You don't have it because you're not punctual and organized," says the 48-year-old Atkins, who now teaches music-business classes at Chicago's Columbia College. "If you're just a bunch of drunken lunatics, then you haven't got a prayer. Somebody in the band needs to get a fucking clue."Tip No. 1: Try Atkins' "flower-petal" system, in which musicians make the rounds from city to city like honeybees flying from one garden to the next. Northeast Ohio bands, he says, should play nightclubs and concert halls in Detroit, Buffalo, and Columbus to get exposure. "You keep one foot planted on the ground, and you test the thickness of the ice with the other foot," says Atkins. "You never take your country to war unless you're sure of the outcome."And don't hire a manager or agent, he cautions, urging a do-it-yourself approach. Bands too often pay suits to tell them what they want to hear, not what they need to know. "You fail because nobody says your band is crap and nobody has any charisma," sniffs Atkins. "You shouldn't fail because someone gave you some really basic advice." Put down that beer and pick up a notebook at 8 tonight at the Symposium, 11794 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood. Admission is free. Call 216-521-9696 or visit www.phantasyconcertclub.net.
Thu., Dec. 13, 8 p.m., 2007

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