Black Heart Saints - 10 Questions Interview
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I could easily rant about so many things that have set me off into chasing this dream. It’s never been a hobby; this has been a lifestyle for me. I grew up in a family of musicians with my father being the leader of the pack. He spent his life playing music and having decent success in his earlier years. It was like rock ‘n roll was force-fed to me from a spoon more than apple sauce was. From long hair dudes wearing woman clothes as stage attire to even eyeliner thicker than a woman’s. Ha! This all lead to my brothers turning me on to bands such as Black Crowes, Stone Temple Pilots, Gun N' Roses, and Soundgarden. From then on, the train has been rolling off the tracks until it got me here. I like to think I’m just getting started, so let the fun begin.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Well, we could fill your mind with plenty of stories that are too crazy for the faint of heart, but we stay in trouble enough so we’ll hopefully give ya something just as good.
We had a show opening up for the one and only, Don Dokken. By the end of the night, the kitchen had become over taken by Mr. Dokken. The man wanted his chicken wings and damn it, he was gonna get them. The next thing you know, Don is back there straight up grabbing things out of the fryer. I thought about bringing him some ranch, but didn’t want to intrude, so instead we just took his mayo on the road. He must have known, ‘cause along our tour, our bassist decided to make a five layer sandwich and in doing so, the mayo had decided to explode. Still to this day, we think Don Dokken may have put a curse on us.
What has been the high point of your music path?
I think the high point for the band itself would be a battle of the bands that we won with Buffalo Trace bourbon. This would be the check that paid for our first tour van. At that moment, I think we actually felt that we might have something special here and we dedicated ourselves to this band. We knew we were already launching ourselves into starting rockstar stories from that van, which carried an old VHS player that we left playing throughout our time owning it. Let’s just say we found some good tapes to play, ha!
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Since we’ve been doing this for a little while now, we have found a format that really works for us. Mark (guitarist) will usually send over a riff idea to me, and I’ll sit with it and see what emotion or melody comes from it. There are a lot of times a riff can create an emotion for me. This will usually help with locking in the melody and from there, a pen and paper to lay down some lyrics, depending on how much material Mark sends over. We can usually lock down a complete song idea, which then we will get with Ian (bassist) and Nate (drummer). It never fails -- this method is our go-to because we know once the low end puts their touches on it, we’re locked and loaded and off to the studio to make the song come to life. We are fortunate to work with Omar Vallejo from 512 studios in Austin, TX who gets exactly what we are going for and dials in all those sweet tones that y’all love to hear.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
The biggest challenge these days is simply holding the attention of people for more than a few seconds. We live in the age of Netflix, TikTok videos, and YouTubers that are all striving for your attention. These platforms keep growing, yet we still have the same amount of hours in a day.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
I think, speaking for myself, I would have to say Black Crowes. We like to think of our band as rock ‘n roll with a little soul, and the ones who I feel have done a damn good job at that would have to be them. The iconic voice, to the memorable riffs, and a rhythm section that kicks ya' in the chest. I feel like there’s more to music than a great song. It’s the chemistry between the band, the chemistry with the crowd, the journey that the song and performance can take you on. I feel this band knows exactly how that’s done and I’ve been a big fan and believer in what they do and how they do it. I’m only out here trying to do my best at what the ones before me have shared with us all.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Well, I guess rehearsal is just that. There’s not much more than a hot stinky sweaty room filled with loud ass music and a bottle of whiskey, or half bottle, depending on the night before, ha!
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
Well, every song definitely has its challenges. I don’t want to say it’s an easy process by any means. But to direct the message in another direction, I would say some of our biggest challenges have been trying to think of new covers to do with our own spin to them. For those who have followed the band for a while, know we usually like to add a cover to our EPs. Some may agree with it, some don’t, and in no way does it mean we ran out of original ideas. There are many reasons we do this and take up the challenge in doing so. Taking a legendary song and hopefully not only covering it and make it our own, but staying true to the original artist and giving the song the respect it rightfully deserves. We banged our heads on a few of them and that we ultimately had to scrap them. We’ve also had to steer outside of the box by doing something that may be a little more pop and out of our element with the cover of Robert Palmer’s "Addicted to Love." This was one we knew we had to step up our game, and we think we did a good job at that. Y’all check it out and let us know what you think.
What's coming up in the future?
Well, we have so much coming up and coming quickly. We just released our first single from the new EP to be released this year called “Reach the End.” Check out the music video on youtube and let us know what you think. We will be dropping more singles from it every couple of months with new music videos attached. We have a few tours booked and more shows being locked in as we speak. So who knows? We may be in a city near you soon. If so, come by and hang out, we would love to meet you all. If you want to find out more about us, or buy merch and even check out those tour dates, go to our website. All information is there for you.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
About Black Heart Saints
With a distinct groove steeped in classic rock and a modern intensity, Black Heart Saints exploded onto the scene with a bravado that is backed by talent. Their recent studio singles “Lines” and “Misery” from their latest EP Misery (2019) topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock Radio Charts in 2019, at #19 and #24, respectively, paving the way for appearances at SXSW, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and serving as the support act for such national artists as Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators, Sevendust, Steel Panther, Pop Evil, Buckcherry, Dirty Honey, and more. And although 2020 proved to be a particularly challenging year for the entire entertainment industry due to the global pandemic and subsequent shutdowns, Black Heart Saints quickly adapted to the unprecedented conditions by launching a Netflix-style subscription-based video service for fans called BHS TV. The band also partnered with Harley-Davidson and Loop. tv for exclusive streaming performances that captured audiences from all around the world.
However, while the band first garnered commercial success in 2019, they were attracting massive attention long before that. Their first full-length release ALIVE (2017), drew acclaim from fans and critics alike and led to the now-famous “Road To Sturgis Tour.” Putting Black Heart Saints’ charismatic live performance to the test, the band took the stage at the world-renowned motorcycle rally, attended by over 500,000 bikers from all around the globe, and the group earned the respect and devotion of a whole new audience base. This experience catapulted Black Heart Saints to the West Coast where they completed an extensive tour, including a headline performance at the Viper Room in West Hollywood, CA. On April 12, 2018, Austin City Council and Mayor Steve Adler officially proclaimed April 12th to be “Black Heart Saints Day.” The following year, the band was awarded #1 Best Rock/Metal Act at the prestigious Austin Music Awards, being recognized alongside other local luminaries such as Willie Nelson and Black Pumas.
After being tapped to open for Steel Panther, Slash, Pop Evil, and Dirty Honey throughout 2018 and 2019, Black Heart Saints have been rocking the stages in their native Texas, with highlight performances at prestigious venues such as the House of Blues in Houston, Texas. Rapidly ascending to perform some of the biggest stages and festivals in the United States, Black Heart Saints have built an impressive resume, and have been recognized as one of the nation’s top emerging rock acts. Highlights to date include:
• #19 and #24 singles on Billboard Mainstream Rock Radio Charts
• 2020 Loop.tv Music Festival Performer (over 2 million viewers)
• Official 2020/2019/2018 South by Southwest Artist
• Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (Full Throttle Saloon) 2020 Performer
• 2019 Austin Music Awards Winner
• Music videos featured in over 5,000+ gyms across the US and Canada
• Buffalo Trace Battle of the Bands Grand Prize Winner
• ESPN X Games Performer