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Bad Veins

PAUSE: Alright boys, full names?

Sebastien: Do you want full full names?

Ben: He’s got a lot of names.

Sebastien: I got a lot of names.

PAUSE: Whatever “full names” means to you.

Sebastien: Ok, well my name is Sebastien Richard Michael James Schultz.

PAUSE: And why do you have such a long name?

Sebastien: I was born in France and the tradition is you get multiple names from your godparents; and my uncle gave me an additional name; and my aunt gave me an additional name too. Sebastien was my parents’ choice, and Richard Michael James was godparents and aunt and uncle.

Ben: I only have three names, cause I was born in a pigsty in the country. Benjamin Wayne Davis.

Ben and Sebastien: And we are BAD VEINS!!

PAUSE: Well done. How did Bad Veins start?

Sebastien: Well, Ben was in a previous band called Giant Judy. He also ran a club downtown. I had a band at the time named Cathedrals, so we played shows together and my band would play at his club. So we just kinda knew of each other peripherally. Then, his band folded, and shortly thereafter my band folded. We both had pretty successful runs in the city, pretty well known bands. We had made a lot of contacts in the meantime. We had mutual friends that came about.

So, I was looking for something to do, and Ben had been working on solo things for about a year or so and some of our mutual friends suggested to Ben that he get a drummer and eventually my name popped up. So, Ben called me one day and I didn’t have anything that I was doing. I really wanted to get into something, so I went over to Ben’s house for practice in late August of last year and sat down and I totally ended up wanting to play with him. I loved the music and I thought that I could contribute a lot, so we started practicing from that day on. Every day, we were preparing for our first show. But, initially we hadn’t intended on me playing that show.

Ben: Yeah, I had booked it before we started practicing together.

Sebastien: So, this was coming up on September and we practiced every day and figured it out and it looked like I could play the show.

Ben: Yeah, August 21st was our first practice, September 9th was our first show. We just had like 2 or so weeks. And we haven’t practiced since! (Laughs)

PAUSE: So, when you guys got together, was it pretty much like “Hey, we’re gonna get on a label, this is what we need to do?” What were your aspirations at that time?

Sebastien: Yeah. When we first started, it was basically like…

Ben: We both wanted music as a career. We had confidence in our own abilities but you need to figure out the logistics of how your actually going to do it. So, I had the idea of Bad Veins and how I was gonna orchestrate it. I had Giant Judy, this little three piece, indie, slop, kinda pavement sounding band that ran very simply through guitar, bass and drums. So, we broke because I was a workaholic and the other guys weren’t. I still love those guys, they just didn’t want to work as hard as I did.

PAUSE: Which tends to be the case. It takes a couple of bands to find who you work well with.

Sebastien: Yeah, you definitely learn a lot of lessons from that first band.

Ben: Yeah. So after Giant Judy folded, I bought a house and built a little studio in my house. I spent about a year solid just writing, recording, doing things on my own. Learning how to use samples, and midi and programming and beatboxes and just all the different sounds like I’ve always liked to hear. Sounds that I’ve never really toyed with at all. I started just throwing all these sounds together hodgepodge, like mellotrons, strings, and sampled choirs. I tried to make this ridiculous, grandiose sound that I wanted to hear.

As soon as I started getting it to where I wanted it, I made a little demo E.P., just four songs. WOXY got a hold of that, and they played quite a bit of it, strangely enough. As soon as I got the sound figured out to where I had a good starting point for Bad Veins, that’s when Sebastien entered the picture. Then I had to come back to square one. “Take all these electronic drums out, you’re not gonna need em.” All the little distorted drum beats, and rhythms and loops. So I took all that out, and then he just adapted the weird little beats and samples that I had arranged and turned it into rockish stuff. I changed our sound completely.

That first show, we were really well received. Sebastien has a lot of friends, and all of them came to that show. If it were just me, there wouldn’t have been anybody there.

Sebastien: Oh, that’s not true, silly.

Ben: (laughs) So we played that first show and you can’t go by what your friends say, or anything, but they were all like “oh you guys are great, you’re gonna be famous, blah blah blah.” Which is interesting because in our last bands, our friends liked it but they never said that. It was like there was a difference in the way it was being perceived, that I hadn’t really considered until that show.

Then, as for our second show, we were really strategic about what shows we were going to do. I feel like there’s an oversaturation of local bands in Cincinnati. They play every week, every where. There’s no incentive to go see a band, because they’ll be across the street the next day. So, we’d only play key shows, with touring bands, or when we have new music. So, our second show, we were offered to open for Snowden from Atlanta, playing in Alchemize in Northside. We had been a band every bit of two weeks at this point and we weren’t sure if we wanted to take it or not. We decided to do it. So, Snowden came in to load in, and we were on stage doing our sound check, and they literally walked in the door, dropped their gear and just stared at us the entire sound check. They came up and were looking at our gear, and I have this big box with flowers painted all over it, and a telephone and a megaphone, and everything’s weird. Flowers on everything, etc.

So, they’re just like “What’s going on?” They were so impressed. They were on tour, their next show was in New York the next day. So they went to New York and started telling all of their connections “Oh, you gotta check out Bad Veins. They’re amazing.” So, within like two or three days of that show, we were getting emails from record labels, people that ran clubs and booked events; getting all these offers to go do stuff. It just pretty much took off, right off the bat, and hasn’t slowed down. It’s been awesome.

Sebastien: We’ve had some good developments. But you always want it to happen faster than it does.

Ben: Yeah, but in retrospect, it’s only been a year since then. During that entire year you’re like “Ah, hurry this up!”

Sebastien: It was like three months in and we’re like “Where’s our record deal?”

PAUSE: Where’s the mansions?!?

Sebastien: Where’s the mansions!! Where’s my whip?!

PAUSE: So how did the deal with RCRD LBL come about? Why them?

Sebastien: Well, RCRD LBL, despite it’s name, technically isn’t a record label. Well, that can be argued… you’ll find a lot of people writing about this right now because it’s kind of confusing. It’s not an exclusive record deal, or recording contract in any conventional sense. They do have exclusive B-Side tracks. So there are some exclusives.

PAUSE: There are some pretty great names on RCRD LBL already, right?

Sebastien: Yeah! Art Brut, etc.

Ben: It’s a project from the guys who do Downtown Records, which has Gnarles Barkley, Art Brut, Spank Rock, Cold War Kids, etc. Those guys are fans of ours. So we’ve been talking to those guys for six months or so. There’s been interest in a full length, but that may or may not happen. We’ll see how it falls. But, they did offer us RCRD LBL, which is slightly less of a risk on both parts.

PAUSE: Do you feel like RCRD LBL may be the first real foray into what the music industry is going to become?

Ben: Who knows.

Sebastien: Yeah, I mean, we’ve talked about it, and I’ve talked to people at the label about it. I do feel like the end goal of RCRD LBL is to, at the end of the day, consumers can get free music, and artists can still get paid. Their method of satisfying both consumers and artists, is to go the advertising route.

Ben: You certainly can’t blame them for trying.

Sebastien: You’ve had, since the late nineties, predominately early 2000’s, all of these downloading programs and you have all of these artists that have lawsuits against fans who are trying to get free music… This to me is a step in the right direction of where music is going to go. Maybe it does need to be ad supported, like television for example. That’s how they support those networks and those shows that are free, through ads.

PAUSE: Or magazines, for example.

Sebastien: Yeah, or magazines such as yours. Something that’s free to the public. There’s certainly overhead costs, you have to get paid.

Ben: Or the radio. You listen, and you get commercials. It’s basically the same deal.

PAUSE: What’s RCRD LBL’s way of doing that?

Sebastien: Well, so far, there’s sponsorships from Virgin America, Puma, and Nikon.

PAUSE: That’s funny because Cold War Kids played on the very first flight by Virgin America. (ed. note: Thank you Kevin Rose!)

Sebastien: Really? I didn’t know that. But that makes perfect sense.

Ben: I’m not sure if this is how all of the ads are, but I think they’re all in the form of widgets. Then there’s a little ad on the widget for Virgin America. Or the player, it can be embedded.

PAUSE: Sort of like what Last.fm is doing?

Ben: I don’t know too much about Last.fm.

Sebastien: But there’s RCRD LBL radio, for example. So, you can imbed that widget, and it’ll have all of the exclusive tracks. The other thing, too, about RCRD LBL is that I’ve read a lot of people complaining, just the initial naysayers.

PAUSE: They’re not early adopters.

Sebastien: They’re certainly not. I totally agree with that. So, you get all these exclusive tracks from all these artists that are listed on RCRD LBL radio, and they’re still encouraging bands to seek out a more main stream method of putting out albums, and having a label. But they’re partnering with those labels. So, they’re trying to work with the industry. They’re trying to work within these preexisting labels. They are, by no means, trying to overtake the industry, or gain a huge amount of market share and put everyone out of business. It seems to me like they have the right intentions.

Ben: Yeah, I was reading a Billboard interview with, well I can’t remember who, but someone from RCRD LBL. They don’t intend to replace labels at all. The artists, like us, that get featured on there, still do need label deals. It’s still a machine that’s necessary. There’s no way for us to get the word out like someone like that could.

Sebastien: If some kid goes to RCRD LBL, where all the content is free, and is able to download two or three Bad Veins songs, give him to his friends, what have you, use them in any non-commercial mode….

Ben: And we get paid for that because they saw some commercial for a pair of sneakers, and the sneaker people gave us money. So, we got paid for making the music, and they get it for free.

Sebastien: And then maybe they buy a Bad Veins album.

Ben: And then they get brainwashed and go buy Pumas. And the circle is complete.

PAUSE: Amen. Make music so kids buys Pumas. That’s what is important.

Sebastien: (laughs) I don’t have a problem there. I like Pumas.

Ben: Yeah, I don’t know what we’re gonna do when a Wal Mart widget pops up. Will we feel like sleazebags? And the answer is yes, we would. That’s the chance we took in getting a paycheck, I guess.

Sebastien: Wal Mart just had an ad with Band of Horses.

Ben: Yeah, I saw that actually.

Sebastien: Yeah, they were on an online commercial and it did so well that they wanted to do a television commercial, and they initially said yes and their fans were just outraged by it.

Ben: Yeah, their fans were outraged that the band might actually make some money doing what they love.

Sebastien: But they made a comment that once the music is out there, they don’t care what happens to it. But, then Wal Mart has all of their issues.

PAUSE: So why is it okay for a band to do that with Apple but not Wal Mart?

Ben: Because Apple’s hip. That’s it. Does Apple have a good work ethic as far as their employee rights? I don’t think anyone really knows.

Sebastien: They did give everyone an iPhone. And I’m pretty sure with Apple proper, in the States, everyone gets healthcare. Unlike Wal Mart where their anti-union video is longer than their safety video. There’s some issue there.

Ben: But do people who make that split second judgement call think about that? Or do they say “Apple’s sexy, Wal Mart’s not, Feist is awesome, Band of Horses suck?”

Sebastien: I’m sure it’s more of a knee jerk reaction.

PAUSE: Now that you’ve done your thing with RCRD LBL, what’s next?

Ben: Well, we’re still hoping to get a full length album deal. We’ve been teased with quite a few that we might have been happy with, with a lot of different producers. The big thing with us is that we have such a big sound, with lush production and stuff, we really do need a good producer with the proper time in a proper studio. That gets really expensive.

Sebastien: We feel like the music is that good, that it warrants an excellent producer, money and studio time. We could definitely put out an album at this point, there’s plenty of content, but we would rather wait and generate as much buzz as possible, and maybe throw out E.P.‘s here and there. Then put out a proper album, that we’re 100% satisfied with.

Ben: We’ve had offers, just not offers we’re happy with. So, we’re just trying to get a force behind us that’s strong enough that when we do come out with our first record it won’t be like “Well another label heard that and they want to do a second record and the first one is just going to fall away.” We want the first one to have some weight to it. And if we have to wait another year or two for that, we will reluctantly do so.

PAUSE: And in the meantime?

Ben: Probably sign with a manager. Someone who will help us sculpt the next year of our career. It’s hard to say really.

Sebastien: We will be out and about with one offs. Our 7 inch on Dovetail comes out this month and there’s SXSW.

PAUSE: Hey, we’ll be down there.

Sebastien: Awesome.

PAUSE: Well thanks for your time guys.

Sebastien: No, thank you. We appreciate it, it was actually a really easy conversation.

-Chris Bergman