Everyone at some point in their life dreams of being a rock star, of strutting out on stage in front of thousands of screaming adoring fans, playing to sold-out venues around the world, filling arenas with your wails. But it’s a difficult business - there’s a hell of a lot of other bands out there to compete with, and nobody spends as much on music as they used to, and it’s harder and harder to make a living.
If only there was a short cut.
There seemed to be, for LA band Threatin.
The one-man hard rock outfit, a vanity project by the reasonably unlikely-named Jered Threatin, were recently exposed as going a little bit too far in terms of finding a short cut to success - an extremely expensive, doomed short cut, with the end result being… not success.
Here’s one of Threatin’s tunes. Note the presence of just one person in the video, multi-instrumentalist Jered, a big fan of picture frames:
Taking daydreams of stardom way further than he arguably should have, Threatin has built a whole empire of untruth around himself and his music. In an extremely in-depth investigation, Tim Williams from Sick Chirpse uncovered a whole fictional world that Threatin built around himself, including:
- A fake PR company
- A fake record label, Superlative Records
- A fake booking agency claiming to represent 40 or so fake bands (and falsely claiming to represent a few real ones, seemingly by accident rather than design - odds are, if you come up with a bunch of legitimate-sounding band names, some of them will be taken)
- Fake comments on YouTube from fake fans, along the lines of “I want to lick the sweat from your body”
- Fake interviews with himself
- Fake awards, such as the “Top Rock Artist of the Year Award”.
- Fake details of previous tours
- A fake Wikia entry with such details as “Threatin is known for his long hair, all black attire and outspoken demeanour” and “[Threatin] has never been photographed wearing any colour”; and, quite brilliantly: “Threatin’s music has a diverse sound that has been compared to everything from The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, to Metallica and Guns n’ Roses.”
- Fake live footage, showing either the band or the crowd but never both
- A fake promotions company called ‘Stageright Bookings’
- A fake music news website, Top Rock Press, that inserted articles about Threatin in between pieces about giant rock names like Guns N’ Roses and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and lifted interviews wholesale from other sites
So far, so whimsical - it’s just a more expensive, time-consuming, real-world version of playing pretend.
Where it gets tricky is when tours are booked, support bands arranged, details arranged with venues and a lot of people’s time wasted. In what could only be a kind of misguided “fake it til you make it” move, Threatin booked a pretty big UK tour (especially for a band with no fans), with booking agent “Casey Marshall” (thought to be Threatin himself) calling to sort things out and paying up-front for equipment. Session musicians were hired, and everything was arranged.
There was even a so-bad-it’s-almost-believable poster created.
Those aren’t insubstantial venues. They’re not giant, but they’d be playing host to established bands more often than not. Between now and Christmas, for instance, the Underworld is hosting Danko Jones, PowerQuest, Nashville Pussy, Skindred, Madball, Marduk and Plastician - not household names, but established bands within their genres.
“We hired the venue to this ‘Casey Marshall’,” Patrice from the Underworld told MetalSucks. “The £780 hire fee was paid in full in advance, so we didn’t really bother to do background checks. We watched a YouTube video, were shocked that anybody would bother to hire the venue for this guy but took the money and figured it was a days work for our crew and staff…” Just three people turned up to that show, despite assurances that 291 tickets had been sold.
“I talked to [Threatin] at the Underworld,” says one of those three people. “He said this was his final solo tour since he is replacing Karl Logan for the upcoming Manowar tour. He then said he would be doing a meet and greet later for £100 but I pointed out that I had just actually met him.”
The Bristol gig on Facebook had over 100 people listed as attending, but all were fake accounts based in Brazil. Threatin ended up playing to an audience consisting only of the support act.
Among the people that had their time wasted were, of course, local support bands. John from Glaswegian band The Sunny Devils told MetalSucks: “My band supported them on the Glasgow date at Ivory Blacks. There were tons of red flags along the way, the biggest being his stupid face.”
Billy Bingham from Ghost Of Machines, support act at the Bristol show, told the NME: “It wasn’t until the hours and days after that I realised everything about his online presence is a lie and that he probably knew about everything beforehand – even before booking the tour. I feel angry that acts like this exist, – who buy likes, comments and YouTube plays and then book reputable venues and lie about ticket sales. It damages the music scene and venues end up out of pocket because of an empty room. It also makes it harder for genuine bands like mine, who work hard, to gain live exposure due to the fact that no tickets were actually sold.”
Every show on the tour has been a similarly bleak shambles, and the increasing visibility of whatever the hell it is that Threatin is doing has led to him/them cancelling their Belfast show.
Since the endless stories of Threatin’s fakeness started showing up, the band’s official website contains nothing but a logo, his Twitter account is protected and he’s taken down loads of stuff from YouTube and Facebook.
The thing is, of course, that he’s famous now - the story has spread all over the internet, as there’s something incredibly compelling about the “fake it till you make it” approach taken so far. Was the thinking that a bit of momentum would kick in, and he would end the tour a legitimate star? The tour is estimated to have cost Threatin about £30,000 - where did that money come from? Is he powered by delusion, cynicism, idealism or some kind of absurd combination of all three?
Is he an eccentric billionaire? A bank robber? Will the whole thing be revealed to be an I’m Still Here-esque art project? Will he end up like The Room’s Tommy Wiseau, getting the fame he dreamed of but in an uncomfortable, laughing-at-not-with kind of way? Either way, a week ago nobody had heard of Jered Threatin, and now he’s (in)famous.
ShortList has reached out to Threatin directly for further comment.