Thorny Bleeder Series
by Jade Sperry
Black Hat Villian doing the dirty and dangerous rock and roll. Photo by Jade Sperry.
On Saturday June 5 at the Shark Club in Vancouver, I had the pleasure of starting a project that will feature great talent that is just beginning to see the light of day. I am doing a feature on Thorny Bleeder; this is a new age music industry company that has many different facets to its system. They are a Record Label, management company, social media development and they already have an impressive roster. In 2009, I met one of Thorny Bleeders’ promising young band, Columbia, and I have taken many photos of them as well as done several interviews. I decided that I would like to do a feature on bands that have ties to Thorny Bleeder. And, with managing partner Brian Thompson onboard, I’m starting with a promising band from Victoria called Black Hat Villain.
This is part one of a three part series. Part two will be live photos and an interview with Special Ops, a heavy band from Montreal, and Part three will feature the young Vancouver band Quartered, who have just completed work on their newest offering and have a new single out.
I interviewed Scotty Tuesday (vocals) and Sam Edmunson (vocals, guitars) with some input by Manager Brian Thompson of Thorny Bleeder and Black Hat Villain drummer Tim Sweeting before the show on June 5, and this is how it went down……
Which goals have you achieved in the past year as a band?
Scotty: We have definitely achieved our short term goals – we have a website, our music is accessible and we have more of a presence online now. The big thing was getting money together to record our six song EP. BHV has been a band now for a few years but we needed to have music that reflected where we are now with this lineup. We worked with producer Adam Sutherland (formerly of The Armchair Cynics) and got word from Brian (Thompson, Managing BHV) that Mike Fraser would be interested in mixing it so we had to come up with some more funds for that. Once we knew that Mike was on board, we had the confidence in ourselves because if an international persona in the industry was interested in our music we knew we were onto something. When people hear you, they’re going to think “something”. We wanted to tap into that something which is our dirty and dangerous rock and roll vibe.
Sam: We all sat down and wrote out a list – record a CD, get online with our music and start playing shows, that kind of thing. It’s been executed quite nicely. We were also working on our merchandise (art work and logos) at the same time we were recording our EP. We needed to have it all come together at the same time which in the end it did.
What other goals are you setting for yourselves now for the future?
Sam: We have to make it grow. Basically, it’s getting the EP heard by as many people as possible. We need to play more shows and tour more and do more interviews.
Scotty: You know, the greatest asset we have right now is Brian Thompson (Managing partner with Thorny Bleeder who is BHV’s manager) who really understands the new age music industry and new mindset. It’s not like it used to be. Indie is the key now. But with that comes a lot of work and responsibility – being on Twitter and tweeting, on Facebook leaving messages to our fans, blogging, pictures, uploading video and interacting with them in those ways. We’ve built a fan base who are also our friends just from that interaction and by giving them access to us as individuals. That is a huge social tool. For older guys in bands it’s a reality you have to face and understand that your fans want that interaction with you. Let’s face it – they can get the music any way so stop worrying about selling them the record and start worrying about involving them and having them participate and be a part of something. This is why we started “The Black Hat Nation”. It’s also a give and take relationship – we give them something but in turn they give us back something that is now building its own momentum. We found that this year and we hope that this momentum can push us and take us into next year.
Sam: Things are starting to generate. We have people talking about us to each other so that is really cool. And it takes the pressure off us to some extent – we say something to you and you go to your friends and talk about us to them and it just keeps going. After you talk to a few hundred people it becomes impossible to actually discuss everything as a one on one. So it’s great when the word starts spreading on its own.
Scotty: So our hardline goals – we’re in the CFOX SEEDS competition this year – and we hope to make the Top 50 (which they did are are now in the Top 20). We have a passionate fanbase. We’re small fish in a small pond and we’d like to be big fish in a big pond so to speak. We’d like to move into Vancouver and play bigger venues with bigger bands with their fan base and from there it’ll grow. We’d love to have CFOX onboard too. We’re hoping that happens. We want to rock their faces off from there.
As a band, what has been the best thing and the worst thing that has happened?
Sam: The best thing is the first time we all played together with this current line up. Especially live. It was kind of magical. It’s really cool. All of us that have been doing this for a while, so it was and is very special. There are times that we scream at each other but we make up the next day. We have our rough moments but we are a family so we make it through.
Scotty: We have perspective now and have gone through the stages of wanting to be a rock star and having egos. We totally support each other now and we aren’t as obsessed with fame and fortune. Although that would be nice. Our biggest frustration is the financial side of it. We can’t do it ourselves. We have families and children, and those responsibilities and realities are not with the younger bands….but I think that those responsibilities come through as experience in our music. We just want to continue with the current wave that we’ve created. And see where that takes us.
Scotty Tuesday and Sam Edmunson in action. Photo by Jade Sperry.
What would be your advice to bands that are DIY and are coming up behind you?
Scotty: Just do it and be fearless. When I was younger, I would get to a certain point but I just couldn’t push it over the edge. I was too afraid and that is the biggest regret I have. I missed out on being in a small touring band, getting drunk every night and that kind of thing. I never took that risk. I wish I had done that but now I’m just too old now. (laughter)
Brian: You just need to start earlier in the day. (more laughter)
Sam: Yeah you need to be realistic about this because most of it sucks. That’s the reality. It’s like any other job. It’s hard work and you have to be at it constantly. People think you’re famous just because you’re in a band. Which is totally wrong. Sometimes you don’t get paid, or you’re playing to just the bar staff because no one showed up.
Scotty: To DIY bands….all the technology is now there and so it’s more cost effective than ever before. Self promotion is there with all the tools; you need to participate online, networking, understanding who your fans are and what they want, and engage them online by asking questions……you’ll get more by that in theory than if you just showed and played a show and then leave the venue without speaking to any fans. You may see people in the crowd, and react with or to them, and then the next day you’ll see that same person commenting on your fan page on Facebook. And by commenting back to them by saying “Yeah I saw you in the crowd” will have a far more reaching effect than by just playing the show.
Do you feel that you have control over how your music reaches the fans?
Sam: Yes, but it does bring a responsibility with it. You have to become accountable for the words of the songs.
Scotty: Right now we do have the power. You want to fight for as long as you can for the indie/DIY spirit. But at some point as you become more popular, it’s inevitable that the sharks come from the big pond to pluck us from where we are now. But if you do the work now and you have legs to stand on without that major label help, in the long run you’ll be better for it.
What were some of the reasons why you decided to go with Thorny Bleeder/Brian Thompson?
Sam: Brian sold himself on his own merit. I’m a pretty good judge of character and I really thought it would be a good thing. I liked him and trusted him enough to do it.
Scotty: We have a management deal with Brian. For myself, I had done a solo album which didn’t do anything. I hadn’t met the other guys in BHV yet. Brian contacted me through a mutual friend. He had a really clear idea on how to help me. I was inspired by the fact that Brian had ideas for my stuff. That was flattering and encouraging. Once I started to build this relationship with Brian, I began to see that his experiences and his viewpoint were fresh and were going in a new direction. Branding yourself, giving the fans what they want and that kind of thing, I was appreciative about his honesty.
Brian: It’s all about teaching the “pups” and “seniors” new tricks (laughing).
Scotty: (laughing) Well, Brian has contacts, strategies, etc., and it has been a bit of a trek. Brian has a really good eye for talent and combined with the fact that Johnny, Greg and Brian have built a good solid philosophy of the label/management….the pull that Thorny Bleeder has…..it’s effective and it’s because Brian social networks all day every day.
How has Brian/Thorny Bleeder changed your band for the better?
Scotty and Sam: The social networking aspect.
Sam: The only other avenues we have to promote ourselves is the music and live shows. No one had ever said to us before that “oh you should try this or write that way”……which Brian did. If your music is not promoted well you just don’t go anywhere. Brian showed us how to do that.
Scotty: And also getting us hooked up with Mike Fraser. That was great! And to have a guy in your corner out there working on your behalf is awesome. Brian believes in our songs, in ourselves and in our vision. That is where the relationship really works.
What was the inspiration behind the song “All of My Friends are Dead” as it’s my favorite song……
Sam: Really? That’s interesting.
Scott: Are you sure you want to know?
Sam: It’s about having a core group of friends that you’ve known forever and figure you’ll know to the day you die. It’s essentially about me in another band. This band was my social circle. And I left the band, and literally, these people died. I’ve never seen them since. It was sad but a good learning experience. I did think that it would all just be the same but it was the opposite. Almost like cutting the umbilical cord…painful but….all of our songs are very real and personal.
Who are the principal songwriters?
Sam: Tim and I write songs. Everyone has a contribution to every song. It’s a group thing. It’s about feeling and emotion as well.
Scotty: We have to have a starting point. Four of the songs (on the 6 song EP) were written before I got there. But, I did put my stamp on them and they turned out great!
Sam: You can hear Scotty’s stamp on all the songs, for sure.
Where did the name Black Hat Villain come from? What are the origins of the band name?
Scotty: Okay I want to tell this story…..(laughter)….we were asked this question once before and Tim gave a completely different answer than what the truth of it is. I was like “hang on, that is not the story you told me when I joined”…so (laughing) this is the true story. Tim was at one time married. And it didn’t work out. Lawyers became involved at some point and her lawyer wore a black hat the very first time Tim saw her. So that lawyer became the black hat villain.
(Tim came by and shrugged about the whole story which prompts more laughter)
How did the video for “One Way Street” come about?
Scotty: It does look like “Grand Theft Auto” doesn’t it? I’m a visual person and I had great visions for this song as I contributed a few lines to the song. I had heard of this video game, a movie making video game. I read about it, bought it and started messing about with it. Basically, you start in an empty lot in like 1930, and your goal is to build it up in whatever way you see fit through the decades. You can build custom scenes and that kind of thing. I built avatars of us all. I found a concept, and in fooling around, I came up with a decent idea and I decided that I would create scenes from all angles. It took me about 2 months to do this. So for a $60 videogame, I ended up making a video. I kept it PG-rated with hockey sticks as the weapons instead of chainsaws (we are family men after all), and in the end, I got my soul back with the help of Abe, my bandmates and friends. The firey gates of hell were concurred by the Black Hat Villains.
And finally, what is the “Black Hat Nation” and how can people join?
Scotty: The BHN is a community based on…
Brian: Devil worshiping. (laughter).
Scotty: Yes – thank you Brian…you’re fired…(laughter)…just kidding. It’s based on a tribal notion actually. When we all met for the first time, we all got along well and there was “chemistry” between us all. Our families all get along very well. Our social lives are interconnected. We all help each other out in ways that work for everyone. Our friends, family, fans….its a base that has ownership for everyone. We all own the nation. You can sign up through our Facebook page and join our street team. Click the MY BAND which is our Reverb Nation page. We keep on top of it so that we connect with our fans.
Sam: Scotty pretty much said it all. He talks a lot doesn’t he? But he says it well.
Black Hat Villain are in the Top 20 of CFOX Seeds competition and will be playing a free show at the Bourbon in Vancouver on Thursday July 1. The band should be on at about 10pm. And did I mention that its a FREE show?
Here are some links to the bands various sites, as well as concert listings where the band is playing:
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/blackhatvillain
Black Hat Villain Official Website: http://blackhatvillain.com/
Twitter page: http://twitter.com/blackhatvillain
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/BlackHatVillain
Supernova.com Page: http://www.supernova.com/BlackHatVillain
Reverbnation Page: http://www.reverbnation.com/blackhatvillain
CFOX Seeds shortlist: http://cfox.supernova.com/
Concert listings for Black Hat Villain: http://www.blackhatvillain.com/shows.html
Thorny Bleeder Website: http://www.thornybleeder.com/