Band with local roots finds fame by hijacking other people’s tours

In the social media era, DIY means, for many bands, hitting the upload button and waiting to be discovered. But two Philadelphia area brothers from Austin-based rock outfit Full Service instead decided to gain fans face-to-face by playing live shows. Other people’s live shows.

“We would just call them ‘takeovers,'” Timothy Kepner, known to his bandmates as “Bonesaw” said yesterday. “If there was a local festival or anything going on, we figured we could get extra fans by setting up and playing in the parking lot or something.”

The idea logically evolved into a full-scale “Takeover Tour” and accompanying documentary, “Takeover!,” which is premiering in Philadelphia May 4 at World Cafe Live.

The film chronicles a 2008 Full Service tour held in fairgrounds and parking lots outside a 311 tour. “We shared a lot of the same fans – their fans are traditionally loyal and receptive to the same thing,” Kepner said.

The footage was shot by Kepner’s friend and Montgomery County Community College professor Morgan Betz, who brought a student and followed the group across the country. But when it came time to edit the film, Betz was tied up in other projects. “We were sitting on all this great footage and had no one to make the movie,” Kepner said.

So, true to the band’s ethos, they did it themselves. “My brother [Full Service drummer and singer David “Hoag” Kepner] got a copy of Final Cut pro and taught himself how to do it,” Kepner said. “He just holed up for four months and made the documentary.”

Spoiler alert: it has a happy ending. “Toward the end of the movie, there was a serendipitous run-in where the 311 tour ended in Austin,” Kepner said. “I had to go to the Apple store to get a hard drive to make the movie and two of the guys in the band were there.”

Kepner approached them and, after a whirlwind trip to Los Angeles to meet their manager, Full Service was playing with them in front of thousands on a cruise ship tour. “It was the perfect ending,” Kepner said.

Now, they hope to leverage the film into yet more fans. “It’s easier to get people to come to see a movie than a rock and roll show,” Kepner said. “The cruise was our big break – we’re hoping that the movie is our big, big break.”

The breakdown

>> Full Service has also crashed shows headlined by Snoop Dogg and the Stone Temple Pilots.

>> “Takeover!” cost an estimated $10,000 to make, much of it generated through t-shirt and other merchandise revenue.

>> It has had three public viewings so far – two on the 311 cruise and one in Austin during SXSW.

>> The film doesn’t have a distributor, but the band is going on the road to promote it starting April 23 with a combination of showings, live music and Q&A sessions.

>> Full Service has had a fair amount of national exposure since the film was shot in 2008 and 2009, touring nationally with Sublime cover band Badfish and 311.

>> They still don’t have an agent, manager or promoter.