Rock star Alex Band is serious about organ donation. He's been involved with the donor foundation Donate Life for the past several years, to the point that he tattooed the words "donate life" on his arm. "I'm like a walking advertisement" for organ donation, said Band, who spoke to the Daily Herald from his home in Los Angeles.
Band, who had one of the biggest hits of the 2000s with "Wherever You Will Go" while he was lead singer for The Calling -- Billboard magazine ranked it the top single of the decade in 2009 -- will be a walking, rocking advertisement for organ donation on Feb. 25 at the UCCU Center. That's when he'll play a special concert sponsored by the Second Chance Foundation of Utah to promote awareness of the ongoing need for organ donors.
Second Chance Foundation president Neil Warner, also a sports writer for the Daily Herald, said that concert event, which includes the Utah Flash basketball game that will be played immediately before the show, will honor Springville High School football star Brandon Curtis, who died shortly after being in an auto accident in July. Curtis's tragic death, Warner said, opened a door to life for an ailing Utah boy, who received a kidney from the sports star (several other of Curtis's organs were donated as well).
In addition to performing after the game, Warner said, Band will meet the two families (Curtis's and the kidney recipient's) brought together by Curtis's unselfish act. "We've got a little gathering before the game that the families are going to be at," Warner said. "He's going to make a personal appearance there and sing a song."
For Band, organ donation became a personal issue while he watched his wife (from whom he is now divorced) wait for a liver transplant. "I kind of learned about that whole world, and what it meant, and how long it could take to get a liver," he said. "Half the people who need it every year don't even get transplants."
One of the biggest impediments to organ donation, Band said, is that many people who would like to become donors don't know how to do it. "If everybody in America right now who wanted to sign up knew how to do it," Band said, "we literally would not need any more donors."
Now 29, Band has followed an unusual career path. He signed a major-label recording contract at age 15, but didn't release his first album with The Calling until almost five years later. "I wrote hundreds of songs and played hundreds of shows around L.A.," he said. "Finally they let me make the first album."
The Calling released two albums, which sold more than 6 million copies, and then the band members went their separate ways. Band recorded a solo album that he said took him about four weeks and was finished four years ago. The word about that album, "We've All Been There," is just now getting out, however, thanks to a long string of management and contract wrangles that eventually led to Band taking charge of his own career.
Recording for his own label is amazing, Band said. "I can do anything I want. I can write a song and put it up for sale in my online store immediately. Or I can wait and put it on an album."
It's a bit more taxing, he said, to worry about the business side of his career: "If I could just write the music and go out and play it, that would be awesome." Instead, he has to be aware of how much money there is, where it's going and what's happening with the music he creates.
The music industry, Band said, has "drastically changed" since The Calling broke out in 2001. "That whole world of mansions and Ferraris, that's all over," he said. "That's not the world we live in now. You can sell 100 copies of your song, and then go out and find 100,000 illegal downloads."
Band said that he tries to constantly be in touch with fans, both inside and outside the United States, by offering contests and new products through his website, alexband.net. He'll do whatever it takes to keep people invested, including following through on a recent brainstorm about "Adrienne," a single from his days with The Calling.
"I had this crazy idea," he said. "For 100 bucks on my store, any fan anywhere in the world could buy a recording of that song with me singing their name instead of Adrienne. People just started buying them and buying them and buying them. That's what I spent most of December doing, singing this song over and over again. I had to try to make names that aren't really singable sound good.
"It was really weird, but it was so fun."
If you go
Gift for Life with Alex Band
When: Feb. 25, Utah Flash game at 7 p.m., followed by Alex Band concert (start time approx. 9:30 p.m.)