April 13, 2013

The Nasty Souls Tour The East Coast: PART 2 - Meet Brett And Tobin

This is the second of a three part series to promote The East Coast Nasty Souls: Gimme Some Lip Tour. You can catch the first part of this series with the founders of the band, Dustin James and Jeff Turpin, by clicking the link here.

This is a very newsworthy entry because I finally got insight on their newest member: Tobin Dale on Lead Guitar. Also in this interview is the singer, the hustler and the main man behind most managerial duties, Brett Hellings. 

I did this interview a few weeks ago but I saved it's release until now because we're only a few days away before The New York and Philadelphia dates: These are the remaining dates left of their tour:



I have to note that I have no clue what their new material sounds like. I was only around at the time when The Nasty Souls had their former guitar player in the band. I interviewed and talked to Brett many times before but the reason this interview is significant to me is because it's the first time I ever talked to and learned about Tobin. 

And now, without further ado: Brett Hellings and Tobin Dale.  

Brett Hellings
Tobin Dale

Trip Loon: Brett, you motherfucker. And Tobin, the newest member. How the hell are ya?

Brett Hellings: I'm good man.

Tobin Dale: Not bad, hanging in there.

Trip Loon: Ok, when I was on phone calls with Dustin he said that you guys have all new material from scratch. Only 4 songs of your previous set, the songs that I know about, are the ones you play in your current set and the rest is new.

I guess Tobin is an important creative force and central member of the band since the new material was written with him. Tell me about the new dynamic and the new songs.

Tobin Dale: I knew Jeff and Dustin a little bit before I joined but I hadn't really seen them play or heard what they were all about. I think that worked to my advantage because I didn’t approach it like I was trying to replace or improve anything. I just do what I do naturally and it seems to work. The new songs are coming from a similar place but with some new flavors added. I'd like to think they show some wider influences and maybe even some maturity as we learn to work together.

Brett Hellings: Dynamic is fantastic! It's definitely a new Souls. It has more of a southern feel, which I've always felt we needed. Influences from my living in Nashville are coming forward. But we're also tapping into what we have always done best which is good ole' rock n roll songs. Up All Night is a highlight in my mind, it has that high energy rock that we really want to bring to people on this upcoming tour.

Trip Loon: Tobin, how much of the new material has your stamp on it?

Tobin Dale: It's been a very collaborative effort so far. So everything has at least a thread of something I had to offer. A song like Hard Luck Woman started with a riff I had, or On The Breadline came from something Jeff and Dustin were working on. I added a slide melody over. Everything has been coming together pretty easily so I think we're all very involved.

Trip Loon: (To Tobin) What kind of bands and projects were you in before you joined The Nasty Souls?

Tobin Dale: I played in a lot of blues bands in Florida before I moved to California. When I got here I played with a country band and did a few shows with local heros Patt Todd and The Rank Outsiders.

Brett Hellings: It should be pointed out that in addition to us all collaborating on the songwriting we had a lot of guidance from our producers Mark V and Bill Cutler.

Trip Loon: I have tons of questions about Bill and Mark. There's just a few more curiosities about Tobin.

So Tobin, are you purely country or have you been in rock n roll projects before?

Tobin Dale: I don't think I'm purely anything, haha. I started out playing the blues and that's always been the music closest to my heart. Rock n roll is just an extension of blues and country, I don't know where the lines fall in what I listen to or what I play. Soulful, southern American music has just always resonated with me. The Beatles and The Stones are why I picked up a guitar but Robert Johnson and Hank Williams taught me what to do with it.

Trip Loon: Ok, let's talk about the new material. The Nasty Souls I knew when I was first exposed to it was a funk band with a rock n roll twist (or vice versa). Then it got more defined into a soulful boogie. What's the new material like?

Show at Roxy Theater
Brett Hellings: The new material has definite southern/blues rock sound to it which is my favorite genre. It has that soulful Americana sound that a lot of music is missing today. Our choice of covers which is important for any great band has helped. Some b sides from our favorite bands are really helping to dial in our sound.

Tobin Dale: It's cool because we all have common ground but we also have a lot of different influences. I know Jeff and Dustin come from a kind of New York 77 punk background which was never something I was hip to. Brett's into a lot of great singer songwriters and I obviously bring the hillbilly shit with me, haha.

Trip Loon: That's a pretty interesting dynamic.

Tobin Dale: At the heart of it, really, is anything that makes you move, makes you respond emotionally. And most importantly, what comes from a real feeling. Not a computer.

Trip Loon: The quality of the band that I left it off with was had tons of boogie. Is the boogie still there? Is the high energy still there?

Tobin Dale: As long as Luis is our drummer that boogie ain’t going nowhere.

Brett Hellings: The boogie is never leaving this band! Our new song Up All Night should prove that.

Trip Loon: Can you list the names of the new songs?

Brett Hellings: Up all night, Hard Luck Woman, Sweet as Flowers, On The Breadline, Cut Me Loose.

Trip Loon: Which one is the ballad?

Brett Hellings: Sweet As Flowers and Cut Me Loose. Cut Me Loose is still in production but we debuted Sweet As Flowers at The Roxy, which let me play some geetar myself.

Trip Loon: Wow so more ballads. Tobin, your hillbilly touch really impacted the band.

Tobin Dale: I play guitar the way I play partially because of where I'm from and what I listen to but mostly just because it's what I feel belongs. I look up to guys like Mike Campbell from Tom Petty who always play the right note. A lot of the LA guys are about how many notes or how low can I wear my guitar while I play those notes.

Trip Loon: I guess you’re putting more soul in the Nasty Souls.

Tobin Dale: Haha, they were in no short supply of Nasty.

Trip Loon: Haha, ok let's talk about Bill and Mark. I know that Mark V comes from a 70's soul/funk and 90's hip hop background. And Bill Cutler was a veteran of The Haight Ashbury San Francisco scene. Before that, Bill was a veteran of the Greenwich Village folk scene of New York in the 60's. Did they turn you on to some cool shit?

Tobin Dale: Bill has been everywhere and done everything.

Brett Hellings: Bill has taken a lot of his songwriting talent to help craft our songs. His experience in the industry and talent make it an honor to work with him.

Tobin Dale: Mark has a great ear for us as a band so he makes a great engineer. He understands what we are trying to do.

Trip Loon: What did they turn you on to?

Tobin Dale: Bill just has a way of listening to music from a different perspective. It wasn't so much that he played something I’d never heard, but he made me appreciate something about it I had never listened to. Anything from a kick drum pattern or a bass tone or a hesitation somewhere. Minute details you don’t always pick up on right away

Brett Hellings: He brought our focus to the groove in a lot of new songs which has helped us expand musically. Thinking outside the normal rhythms and groove so that a show or a record is more diverse.

Brett Hellings with Bill Cutler

Trip Loon: What new diverse realms did he open you up to?

Brett Hellings: He took what we already had from all our diverse backgrounds and helped us make it cohesive and made it that much better. Going up to San Fran sitting in his car he played a live Petty record and pointed out how backgrounds and grooves improved the songs. J Geils was another one he used as an example a lot.

Trip Loon: Which Tom Petty songs and J Geils songs specifically?

Brett Hellings: A song like Refugee was a good example. With J Geils it was an entire album.

Trip Loon: Brett, I know you as a relentless promo master. A lot of the events you throw is always a full house. If the other bands I know are just as persistent as you are in promo we would have a very prosperous market for our kind of shtick. Tell us your secrets.

Brett Hellings: Persistence without annoyance. Be confident in what you're promoting. Know it's good and people will want to see it. Be as personable as you can. People want to feel like a part of what you're promoting. If you make it like a family affair you start to gain fans.

Trip Loon: How personable do you get?

Brett Hellings: Sometimes I’ll take days to personally message people who have come to shows before. And even more time on people who are our biggest fans. Hanging out with them to make them feel special. Being present. I hate it when a band thinks being good deserves fans. You also have to bust your ass too.

Trip Loon: "I hate when a band thinks being good deserves fans." What do you mean by that?

Brett Hellings: Meaning that the music they’re creating should be enough to draw. Especially in the beginning of a band’s career and they think they can headline The Roxy. It might have been like that back in the day and should be the reason but hard work, believing in your band and great music and straight busting ass and getting yourself out there is a huge factor on whether or not you’re gonna make a living in the music industry.

Trip Loon: How much of it is online and how much of it is on the streets? And how often do you reach out to new outlets?

Brett Hellings: I'm a big believer that people gotta hear your name in a number of facets until they are interested. So a combo of all of them is key with a focus on Internet. But texting, emailing, cool posters, ads in local mags, facebook events, twitter posts, blogs that does the trick by the 4th or 5th time they heard about the show or your name through a different media score. Great designed flyers and merch images are important too. Figure out who you want to be and present it at a pro level and you'll start becoming a pro.

Trip Loon: I hear what you’re saying about busting ass in promo. A lot of bands resent the successful bands in their scenes because they feel a huge a degree of "unfairness". They think that success comes with merit alone. They think that all they have to do is be good with barely any promo then millions of fans, Livenation, Sony BMG and William Morris agency are all gonna magically find out about them and suck their dicks. They think they're above reaching out to anybody and they're above making a logo and they're above staying on the phone with first calls and follow up calls with people who stall them. They think they're above the rejections. They think they're above the invitations. They think they're above all of that. I really respect your persistence in that regard. Because you don't think you're above any of that.

Brett Hellings: No way. I actually I prefer it that way cause it's your vision not theirs. Those big labels aren't always right and some artists either have to bust ass with promo or get lazy with a big label. I mean it would be nice to get a huge label behind you, of course, but only if it's the right one that likes everything you’re doing. Not the ones who go and try to change who you are. Only you know best as the artist, so build up your influence and leverage on your own so you can keep your dignity when you get to the big boys level.

Trip Loon: I'm really inspired - and a little surprised - that you were a rigorous hustler for The Nasty Souls before you even had anything to plug. When I first met you guys, you didn't have an album, you didn't have an EP, you didn't even have a single. You didn't have merch, you didn't have anything. It was only about almost a year and a half later where you met photographers and logo designers and producers and you finally had something to sell. What got you so motivated before having any of that to be that adamant on selling and plugging the band and playing that many shows? What motivated you to overbook yourself everywhere in LA before having something like merch or CDs to sell? Normally bands don't wear themselves out too thin with shows until after they finish the CDs and merch that they're going to sell.

Brett Hellings: Well we did have something to sell, ourselves. How this band came together, the new Nasty Souls, we needed time to develop not only our sound but our stage presence. To find out who we are as a group. The over-gigging in my view was something of a necessity. It definitely made us tight and worked out the material we have now. It was like a mini tour of tinsel town. We got a lot accomplished during that period. And it also gave us time to find the right people to work with who truly believed in the project.

The right people... and we did find them... we are much more selective about when and where we play in Hollywood nowadays. You can't really play too much in anyone’s town before you get burned out, even though I think it just increased our fan-base and awareness in general. But that’s why we’re taking this show on the road. Playing a different city, town and to a different crowd almost every night. It’s really the only way. And we’re ready now.

Trip Loon: Are you bringing CDs and merch to the tour? What's in the box of goodies you're bringing?

Brett Hellings: Oh yeah you know it. Plenty of single CDs. Two types of merch t-shirts, buttons, stickers. We’re all ready to stand at that merch booth and excited to meet everyone wanting to get to know us and sign anything you want us to sign.

Trip Loon: I think the Philadelphia tour date is a very significant one for you. You're from Philly. And you met Eddie Gieda and his Guitar Army scene at The Barbary. I remember you were so stoked to see your hometown thriving with rock n roll after I informed you about them while you were there. Now that you get to play in your own hometown in front of childhood friends and family and the scene you discovered there, I'd like to get a few ceremonious words on the record about how special that show is for you.

Brett Hellings: I can't really express how lucky and excited I am man. These people are my heart and soul. They made me the performer and the man that I am today. I can't wait to show them this group. The group that I went to Hollywood to look for. This is the rock n roll band I've always wanted to front and be a part of. I'm coming back home ready to show off my baby. I’m ready to show some of the most important people in my life, to show the people who believed in me growing up as a little kid, that my dream of bringing rock n roll back is a dream that I’m living. I feel proud.

Trip Loon: And New York?

Brett Hellings: What can you say? We are playing 4 dates on this tour in the greatest city in the world. I’m ready to represent LA to the fullest. I don’t think anyone is gonna be disappointed. Satisfaction guaranteed. We are honored, and we better kill it. You don’t get too many opportunities in life to do a tour like this.

Trip Loon: Well we can't wait until you finally get here boys. Do you have a closing statement?

Brett Hellings: In closing come see what the Nasty Souls are all about. It’s real, it’s raw, it’s everything music is missing today. If you’re looking for some rock n roll check out our tour dates and lets spend the night together. 


Here are the remaining tour dates again: 



High Voltage in Philly is gonna be magic for obvious reasons that Brett made very clear. Not to mention that The High Five and The Tough Shits are on the bill. As for New York, I know they're playing a lot of dates but the best sound and stage and bill in New York for me is gonna be at Tammany Hall with The Nuclears. I'm psyched. 

And now for the money quotes:

"No way. I actually I prefer it that way cause it's your vision not theirs. Those big labels aren't always right and some artists either have to bust ass with promo or get lazy with a big label. I mean it would be nice to get a huge label behind you, of course, but only if it's the right one that likes everything you’re doing. Not the ones who go and try to change who you are. Only you know best as the artist, so build up your influence and leverage on your own so you can keep your dignity when you get to the big boys level."


"Be confident in what your promoting."

I know, that latter one might not sound very earth shattering. I know, it might come off as advice that your mom would tell you. But you gotta understand what Brett is like to really be inspired by it. Brett is a dude that maxed out 5000+ LEGITIMATE followers on his facebook account. He got 6500+ followers on The Nasty Souls fan page with barely any material or music videos released. He consistently headlines and packs The Roxy with his promo efforts. You don't understand the amount of campaigning he puts in selling a show. 

Unlike the other cities, LA is a fucking jungle. You're competing with Tom Morello and Duff McKagen and Slash and Lemmy and God knows who else doing appearances at The Viper Room, House of Blues, Key Club, Whisky ... etc. You're competing with dozens of bands who have 500+ mutual friends with you. 7 bands from those dozens would probably book shows ON THE SAME DATE at different venues splitting that mutual friend base to 7 different factions, which fucks your draw. And that happens on a regular basis over there.

You're dealing with cut throat promoters and venue owners who CHARGE YOU instead of paying you to play at their club. And the money you earn is the tickets that you have to charge and you have to sell to get that back. Rarely anyone ever breaks even.

You're dealing with a city that has a huge surplus of bands and not enough venues to book them. You have to split the money with 5 other bands on the same bill if you ever do get a slot. And you're not allowed to play a decent amount of time on stage because venues close at 2 AM and they have too many bands scheduled in. Some venues have neighborhood policies and they're not allowed to disturb them in late hours which forces them to end the show at 12 AM, forcing all the bands to start way early in the night, consequently fucking them with their draw. 

Basically what I'm trying to say is, it's not easy to consistently pack the fucking Roxy with these challenges. And for them to accomplish that in LESS THAN TWO YEARS with no LP, no EP, no music videos and before their singles and merch was ever available gives you an idea of what kind of hustler Brett Hellings is. 

I was always the guy that felt like it was a drag to invite someone to my events. It's a drag when I see someone invite me and it's an even bigger drag when I have to invite them. It's a drag when I hear anybody plug anything. It just feels slimy to write or hustle promos. It's a fucking joy when people are having a great time at the event but it's always a drag to invite them there.

Then I thought about it, if Keith Richards or Joe Perry or Toni Iommi walked up to me and said: "Hey man you wanna come to my show", I wouldn't think that's a drag at all!

I really needed to hear Brett say: "Be confident in what your promoting", because sometimes I'm not. That guy is living proof in what that can do if you have a great product. And if we all feel that way about our rock n roll and bust our asses for it then we can build our market prosperously on our own terms much faster than we thought possible. 

So for all those who are curious in The East Coast, go to a Nasty Souls show while you still have a chance and see for yourself what gave Brett that kind of confidence. 



**An exclusive interview with The Biters!! Insights on The Atlanta scene!
**Full Interview with New York City Booker & Promoter Ashley Moree


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