Local rock band offers advice to independent musicians

Kaysea Thomas

Sean Barringer is the lead vocalist of the Kent-based band Hate Dies Hard. He took time out of his preparations for the band’s newest CD release to tell us a little about what it’s like to front an independent band in the Kent scene. Catch Hate Dies Hard at the “Attention” CD release at the Outpost Oct. 30.

How is Hate Dies Hard unique from other bands in the scene today?

Myself and the guitarist got together, and we started writing the original material because we had common ground. So through that, actually, our whole first four-song EP we recorded, I did the drums and the vocals, he did the guitar and the bass. And then we used that to find the bass player and drummer to play for the live band. For (guitarist) Steve (Blankenship) and I, the material was coming out faster than we could—we couldn’t focus the energy on finding a drummer and a bass player at that time. So this is still a formula we use today. Because after putting together our first record: Wow! We have a sound! And that’s pretty cool because some bands have five records but they don’t have their own sound. So to me, the most important thing about a piece of art, whether or its music or any art, is that it has its own identity. So you would want somebody to look at your painting or listen to your song and know that artist. So (we have) a non-traditional style of assembling the band. On the new record, Steve (Blankenship) and I still wrote most of the stuff, but the last single we co-wrote with four inputs all at one time and it was probably one of our best songs. So by allowing room for the other people, for the other inputs I should say, it kind of revealed the real essence of what we’ve been writing on all our records. So it’s interesting.

How did you and Steve get started?

Our first record was in 1996. (A) four-song demo, in a bedroom, 4-track recording cassette tape. What was really cool about this is that we spent a long time on the very first song. We spent months on the first song because we were developing the sound of the band through it. So it wasn’t about writing a bunch of songs. I look at each composition as a piece, just like a painting. You wouldn’t just do one good painting and then another ten good paintings to go with the collection like real quick. Same with the songs. Each one is its own painting. My point is that we spent a lot of time focusing on the songs.

How was independently producing your records different than a band who is signed with a label?

First of all, when you sign a contract, you essentially sign away some of your creative control. The biggest difference is, we have to pay for ours and actually, when you’re on a record label the artists have to pay for it too, but it’s set up different. You get money up front but guess what? You have to pay that back. So biggest difference: finances. You have to commit yourself financially. Every record I’ve put out: self-financed. So not only self-produced. Which means if you have a record company, they give you a budget. But they tell you where to spend the budget. So they have all their people who work throughout their industry taken care of too. That means in their recording process, they would have an engineer, a guy that runs the controls; a producer, that’s the guy who helps you form the songs and essentially becomes a part of the band in a way because he’s putting his creative input even in the writing. If you’re independent and doing everything yourself, you have to wear those hats. So in most cases (by independently producing records), you maintain all your creative control. You don’t have another member trying to tell you how to write. In that way it’s great. In the other way, you could sometimes use another person.

How do you promote your music?

Through the Internet, Internet radio and taking advantage of independent radio. And street promotions, engaging people, being a part of the music communities, going to the shows and supporting that and meeting people through that.

You can contact Kaysea Thomas at [email protected].