Everybody wants to know the secret to making it big as an artist. Well here it is: it’s a slow process of developing. Richie Wicander knows that process very well from his time in Fire From The Gods (Rise Records), working in A&R for BMG, and developing bands and pop artists.
In this episode, we talk to Richie about where Fire From The Gods’ unique sound comes from, what artist development looks like, how touring is really networking in disguise, how pop and hip hop influences lead to better rock music, and how the end of the pandemic may re-launch band culture.
KOBY: [00:00:00] How’s it going? Everybody? I’m Koby Nelson And while I was putting together this episode, I realized, I don’t know why I say that every single episode, like I introduced both of us as if people who are listening to this, don’t know who we are, you know, we are.
but I’m going to keep saying anyways,
just in case you’re new, if you’re new, I’m Koby and I’m here with my co-host Jake Mannix. Jake, how have you been, what are you up to?
JAKE: [00:00:24] I’ve been all right. Um, I’m reporting today from a garage in LA the weather is so nice here. It’s like I’m in a fever dream 24 seven. Uh, and that’s about it. That’s about all the updates I got. How about you, man? How are you doing?
KOBY: [00:00:37] Pretty good. been, been working on my business a lot, this past week. I started with the mastermind group that I was talking about a couple of episodes ago. so meetings are going with that and I don’t know, I’m just feeling really pumped up about everything pumped up about 2021.
And, things are
just exciting at the moment. So, it’s good. so for our episode today, for everybody tuning into this, I think you’re going to like this episode that we have lined up, this one’s going to have a little bit of something for everybody because our guest is number one in a very successful band.
Number two, very involved in just the music industry on a, on a more business side of things. And number three in the process of developing an, unsigned artists right now. So we are very excited to welcome to the podcast, Richie Wicander. How’s it going, Richie?
RICHIE: [00:01:34] Hey doing well, thank you so much for having me.
KOBY: [00:01:38] Thanks so much for doing this.
this is going to be really good. I have a lot of things that I want to talk to you about today. and I think we’re going to cover a lot of stuff. That’s going to be really helpful to our audience. So, so before we kind of jump into. the things I want to ask you about, from your experience in a band and also, your experience working with other artists.
Can you just give us a little bit of a background for how you got into music in the first place, how you kind of got started, playing drums and working in studios and stuff like that.
RICHIE: [00:02:11] Definitely.
So I guess my background as, uh, you know, to start off, uh, I grew up in Germany close to Frankfort, so, you know, not a very popping music scene over there. So I kind of always knew. Okay. You know, something’s going to have to, be a little bit more out of the ordinary to kind of get through.
All of the noise and, you know, I’ve been playing in bands since I was about maybe nine or 10. got together with some of my friends back then. And I actually started with guitar. That was my first instrument. I always sang and played. And, um, yeah, so that kind of got me into playing and, and just always wanting to play,
eventually a friend of mine.
Lost interests on his drum kit and, let me borrow it. And then kind of just stayed at my house, uh, for several years, until I finally moved to San Antonio, Texas, uh, about 10 years ago or so, and year after being there, I moved up to Austin and that’s where kind of everything started to flourish and fall into place.
in the musical sense. So I went to the art Institute of Austin for the audio production program that they had,
And, you know, we were really lucky, had a lot of great professors, um, Liz Filestack who used to, uh, She worked with, uh, Snoop dog for a while. And like just, just a lot of really cool people to work with.
Mark’s risky, who’s, he’s worked on some crazy records, um, including Celine Dion. And he was like the head of audio. So, he was always, you know, he kind of saw, the hustle. I booked the studio. Every single slot that was available. I hated being at my tiny apartment. So, you know, I was just kind of gung ho to be in this crazy studio.
And it was a really nice one. We had a great live room, to kind of like ISO rooms and then, uh, a very nice control room with, uh, an SSL duality, all the outboard gear you could. Dream of, uh, you know, nice clocks, great computer, all the bells and whistles, basically. But of course, when you start in that, you’re a little overwhelmed.
KOBY: [00:04:32] sure. I’ve been there.
RICHIE: [00:04:33] for me, I always, you know, I was super into engineering because I, uh, at the age of 14, I did an internship at my best friend’s dad’s studio. And, uh, you know, he, uh, let me kind of just get into it. And, from that point I knew that engineering was something I really wanted to get into because.
Hey, I could save a lot of money by recording my own bands and then be also, you know, possibly have an actual career because. Obviously music is a gamble. It’s like, everyone knows it’s, it’s going to be tough and you gotta work really hard to, achieve what you want to achieve. but yeah, so, you then after a while, uh, once school was done and at, towards the end of that, and just kind of living the cave life for several years straight.
I was missing playing and I started, uh, I did some live sound stuff too through that program, and that was fun, but it really just was never for me. I liked being on stage more than like being the guy that’s getting yelled at when something’s whistling in the room. So, um, I decided, you know, I’m going to get out and play again too, and kind of get that going.
I was playing with, with this one guy. And, he was kind of in that like warp tour scene, he was tour managing a data, remember and like was connected. So I, I saw something there and kind of grabbed onto it. We wrote a bunch of songs, we hit it off and, and that’s really, for me, it was always songwriting first.
And then the engineering and the
that kind of fizzled out with him. And then eventually after a few years of not playing again, then we got back together in a band and that band’s manager was also working with fire from the gods. So both bands at the same time, kind of lost members. So the band I was in hero in me, we totally, it was over.
and then I joined fire from the gods. I was playing guitar and hero and me, and then the band was like, Oh, we’re actually just looking for a drummer. And I was like, well, Hey, I play drums too. I’d love to play drums. So I went in and, you know, sort of, kind of audition. It was, we already kind of hit it off.
So it was a good vibe and, and we just kept practicing from there on out. And then all of a sudden we were like going on the worst. Tourists, you could think of, you know, playing in front of two people, 10 people wherever, but we went, we went out. Yeah. And I think that’s like Dave Grohl always says the tools you have to get out there and play.
It doesn’t matter to how many people, just, if you play in front of 10 people, those 10 people will remember that, that show. And Hey, if half of them go home and, and cop your CD, or, you know, at that time, that sounds old now. Uh, but if they stream you, you know, or check you out or whatever, then that’s an accomplishment that you’re not doing via Facebook ads or.
You know, the other, the other aspects of all of this, this whole industry that you just don’t think about when you’re just like trying to go play. yeah, then another, I I’d say maybe about a year passed and, we got a deal with rise records, and we connected here, uh, at the studio that I’m sitting.
At currently Blackbook sound, with Robert joiner, Robbie joiner, who’ve you’ve met and worked with of course. And, uh, yeah. And then we came to the house aloud and made a record
KOBY: [00:08:16] Yeah. And that’s where, where our paths crossed. So, yeah, I got the privilege of working as an engineer on a, your record narrative, uh, which came out on rise records. since then you’ve put out another record, American Sun, like you said, you’ve done a bunch of touring, much bigger tours.
Now you’re not playing for two people anymore. Um, of course, until, this past year where. Yeah, the whole touring industry kind of fell apart for obvious reasons. so you were talking
about how. Being an artist as like a career can feel like a bit of a gamble. So that’s part of the reason you got into
I mean, you’ve now done both things successfully. So, as far as like band side of things goes and, and doing music as a career, would you say that the biggest lesson that you’ve learned. about how to make that happen is playing shows or do you think there was something else? that was a big lesson
lesson that drove you to where you are.
RICHIE: [00:09:18] for me, it definitely was a big part of it. I can’t say that it works for everyone. you know, I think if you’re really trying to be in a band and also produce or engineer, it can go hand in hand because of the networking power. So on tours, you know, connecting with. Your peers, the other bands that you’re touring with connecting with the industry people.
Okay. You’re playing a show in New York. Hit it hard, you know, and that, honestly, that part led me to, currently my other job, which is, I work in the ANR department at BMG, in publishing. So not the recorded side. But I work with songwriters and lot of really great bands, you know, some bands like kill switch, ghost Mastodon, Maynard, the list is, is very long, but, basically point I’m making is that, that networking that I got out of it that that was so valuable.
And that’s something you just, it’s hard to get when you’re not moving around. All
over the place. you know, the other way to do it is make yourself move, which you totally can. And, uh, you know, even off of tour, I’ve taken trips out to LA taken trips out to wherever somebody is that I want to connect with.
And maybe there’s an opportunity to get into a writing session, or even just to go have lunch with somebody, you know, the next time you meet them, you might be in Nashville and then you’re in a studio. So. Yeah, I think, I think it was, uh, a really big part of, of my network and creating that and creating friendships too with, you know, the guys like in, of my cement and, for Novo sire guys, I just like the volumes guys, just a lot of, a lot of guys that in all these bands that also do what I’m doing and produce, and then, you know, once they’re home, they, they work on other stuff and.
yeah, that’s definitely a thing.
KOBY: [00:11:21] right. Yeah. I think that’s really interesting actually, and something that we haven’t really talked. Much about on this podcast, but it’s a really, really good point. mean, we always talk about touring shows and everything as from
the standpoint of like connecting with fans and like that of course is a huge part of it.
But I think that that idea
connecting with your peers. May even be more important just because that’s the kind of thing that leads to, like you said, other opportunities, other tours that you can go on, other people who have had similar experiences
that you can bounce ideas off of.
It’s kind of like, it becomes more of this, like family of. Idea trading and stuff like that. When it
When it comes to
a business as a band, who do you think has been the biggest influence on the trajectory of the band so far? Is there another band you can point to or a producer
or any industry person,
RICHIE: [00:12:16] um, man, there’s so many influences, I think collectively, we were just really diverse. we take a lot of influences from different areas. Our singer being, you know, part Jamaican grew up half in London, some in Ghana, some in Brooklyn, you know, and, really living in New York for a while.
Now he’s down in Texas with us. you know, he, uh, he has a very diverse background and then I think. With his musical influences, which are, I mean, he’s, he’s definitely a metal head, you know, and he loves to scream and stuff. And I think with w when he joined our band and, and got into it, I love big choruses and I li I love singing.
You know, I love metal too, but my influences kind of come more from the red hot chili peppers, three 11. Rage against the machine. Nirvana was massive. Like my first band was called , which is Nirvana backwards. And guess what we do, we covered only Nirvana songs. You know, I was like 10 years old. That’s you know, w what else would I have done, I guess?
Um, but yeah, I mean, I don’t think there’s one specific influence. And I think that’s kind of what we, we draw influence from diversity. We try to just every track to be different. It’s so hard for us to be like, we’re doing a metal core record or we’re doing. This song or let’s rip on this. It’s kind of like, I remember like one song, uh, composition, for instance, I listened to a Rick Ross song and I was like, man, these keys are dope.
And then I just laid down a progression that was, you know, somewhere in those lanes. And then, you
know, that. The other guy grabs the guitar and starts playing like a, uh, high gain, chorus riff over it. And then you had the song kind of, you know, it’s just like put a hardcore verse. I don’t know why it just happened.
KOBY: [00:14:17] from like a, a business standpoint. Is there any person who has really changed the course of your guys’s career overall?
RICHIE: [00:14:27] I think, I think there are a few, definitely think that coming to you guys back in the day, Ben with as well, you know, being as hard as is, that was for me very beneficial because didn’t take it as like, Oh man. You know, I couldn’t like I couldn’t perform to his standards or whatever. It was just like, You know, damn, I need to sit down and like, get better at all these things that were pointed out.
And that was huge for me, I think, um, same for Robbie, same for the rest of the band, you know, not all of the band was able to be there and that was quite difficult too, but that was big. I think also, The opportunities that came via BMG were really great. So, uh, you know, shout out to, to Emmy whore, Kawa my boss there now.
but you know, she put us together with, with different writers and eventually led us to working with Eric Ron on the second
And we had a really, really good time twos. It was easy. It was like very. Vibey and just a good time out in LA. Totally different than. You know, being out in New York in the cold winter, you know, and, and, uh, it was Christmas and everyone’s not home for Christmas, but working on a record and stressed out because we literally had like a week to prepare for that entire record.
Like we, we, we sat here for seven days and cranked out like 10 instrumentals and had like two or three other full songs. But I remember getting to bend us and presenting those. And he
that he was like,
So, uh, you guys have more than like two or three songs. So, you know, it’s just, that’s kinda how it goes sometimes.
And it’s funny. I feel like we do work really well under pressure as a band because of that and myself personally. Also, I like that pressure. It’s weird. It’s just like, when you know that, okay, here’s the opportunity and you sit yourself down and just say, Hey, okay, I’ve really got to do this now and give it my all in everything that I possibly can.
And then also, you know, if I know, okay, whomever I’m working with? Keep those strong, points that they have, keep those and in mind, because sometimes you can leave those. Up to the next person, you know, if you’re, if you’re writing or being produced, you know, maybe not, don’t worry about the mix while you’re coming up with a, a guitar riff, you know, or like, so,
KOBY: [00:17:02] Yeah. So, and now you’re kind of doing, like you mentioned, you’re, you’re, working at BMG, so you’re kind of doing, the other side of things where you’re not, working as the artist yourself but you’re helping to develop other artists. One interesting thing that I noticed about you guys that I want to just mention really quick before we get into the BMG stuff, is that you guys, for a while, at least at least pre COVID, you were kind of split up over the entire country.
Like you were in New York for a lot of the time. Most of the guys were in. Texas still, and somehow you guys were still able to operate as a band. And I’ve actually noticed this about some of the other bands that we’ve talked to on this podcast too. So for example, a young culture who we talked to pretty recently, uh, in similar kind, both of them have similar situations where they’re like spread out and I’ve been kind of curious about that.
How do you manage to keep a band dynamic going strong over that
that distance? Is it just a lot of travel?
RICHIE: [00:18:02] It is a lot of traveling. but also I think if you’re, you know, cause we really went hard. We were on the road pretty much all the time. So I would be in New York, maybe a month, max.
KOBY: [00:18:14] So it was a home base, but you
but you weren’t like spending a lot of time
RICHIE: [00:18:17] Exactly. Yeah. I was just renting a room, you know, go to the office when I’m there. And when I’m on tour, I’m with the guys and, we’ve, I think spent the time practice, just singing dialing it in, Before. So prior to kind of like when the touring cycles happened, we had that time to kind of really get comfortable with each other.
And then anytime before a tour, I mean, uh, you know, I’d fly in for. Maybe like five days, we have few rehearsals and then go for it. But it also kind of, you know, in a good way, puts pressure on you to practice by yourself. And I think there’s a big difference of practice and rehearsal because you should.
Always practice as a musician, always all the time, every
day, at least pick up the sticks or the pig or whatever, and go for it, play your band songs. And then when you get together, you’re already ready to go, but you just kind of all
KOBY: [00:19:11] all in. Right. I’m so, so glad you said that actually, we, we actually did an episode on that idea. Exactly. Practice versus rehearsal and how important that is. So. You heard it from him, somebody who knows what he’s talking about better than I do, practice rehearsal are different and yeah, that’s, that’s super, super important.
So I’m glad you brought that up. I do want to talk about your. Work, uh, with BMG also. so for our listeners who may not be familiar, BMG is it’s bigger than just a, like a publishing house or a record label. It’s kind of everything. It’s like a global music. Company the, uh, Bertelsmann music group.
so it, yeah, has a publishing company, a record label. They do sinks for film and TV and pretty much anything that has to do with music. They offer it and they also have a huge, huge, huge list. Of some of the biggest artists in the world that they work with, which I’m not even going to begin to start listing.
You already mentioned some of them. but look it up if you, if you haven’t heard of BMG. so that seems like a really cool place to work. Can you tell me a little bit more about your role there? and what
RICHIE: [00:20:21] types of
things? Definitely. So, as I said, uh, I work in the ANR department. so we deal with artists directly. Setting up sessions, you know, connecting the dots.
So to say so it’s, you know, I, I did listen into one episode of yours and I overheard, you know, the importance of, well, how much creative input should a record label versus, the artists or it during a record, how much creative input does one want or need. and. Th that answer that I heard is very true.
It’s, it’s dependent on the artists and how much they can do by themselves. and, and then sometimes they reach out and do want to get connected with different songwriters, you know, to kind of get those different flavors put together. And it can really, it can create music that you would have never, ever thought of creating in that way.
And again, it’s another. Way to connect with your peers. So that’s really a benefit of a publisher is that, you know, if you have a good, good publisher, good ANR that you can connect with and, you know, just be very transparent. Hey, I love this producer sound. I know you guys work with him. Can you get me in with him?
And, and maybe, you know, if you have another few writers in mind, like that’s basically what
So. My day to day is definitely, there’s a lot of hours of Excel spreadsheets and, you know, but that’s, it’s a massive part of it too, I think. And like even in the studio business for myself and the band too, it’s being organized is key.
If you are not organized with what you’re doing, everything can just crumble and fall apart so quickly because you don’t know. What happened when, where, why, you know, and those are the things that if you can open a spreadsheet that tells you all of those answers, like helps. so that’s kind of, you know, a lot of the things that are dealing with, you know, splits and, uh, making sure that, you know, the riders are taken care of and that things are transparent and fair.
but other than that, it’s really setting up sessions and doing a lot of creative work with, uh, sync and licensing as well. especially in the rock world, cause that’s what I deal with. I don’t deal with really like hip hop artists or pop artists, via BMG. It’s really very specific rock.
A lot of, know, metal bands like I was talking about earlier and then rise records is also a part of BMG on the master side of things. So some of those artists, we also work with on the publishing, but not all, you know, so interesting. And it’s really, again, it’s, it’s a way for me to network and I’ve also, you know, benefited, uh, some songwriting sessions and connecting with other writers, connecting with people like Eric, Ron, who’s also BMG writer and producer and, I’ve done some, some sessions with, Keith Wallen.
Who’s a really fantastic writer. He plays guitar now in, uh, breaking Benjamin. So, you know, there, there are a lot of, benefits that come from really have being in that side of it. And. Uh, it’s funny. I, you know, you’re kind of always think of it as like it’s a scary machine, you know, but it’s just a bunch of music lovers that, want to help in organize your, your music and, and make sure that everything’s taken care of, make sure that you can get some opportunities in sync and licensing and get on an ad or something.
And, and in rock, especially, it’s quite hard. it’s not a given most of the time. It’s something like. Oh, well, the producer of the show really loves this band has a poster of
in his office. So he might reach out because simply he just likes it and is thinking, Oh, maybe the scene would be cool to have this, you know, riff or something.
But. Obviously everyone knows most of the ad world and, and movies and trailers. It’s mainly not rock music, so it it’s quite hard, you know, but we go at it and we, we really try and, keep these bands kind of in the sync teams, world and, and in their inboxes and stuff.
And so that’s kind of
JAKE: [00:24:48] So something like this always been a goal of yours, or how did you land yourself in this, in this position at BMG?
RICHIE: [00:24:56] I don’t have a clear answer. I think, honestly, coming back to what I said earlier is the networking. So any time I was in New York, I made it a thing to meet Emmy meet with my boss and, you know, it was like, Hey, we’re have, we have a show. We’d love if you came out and you know, shows.
We’re usually pretty small as well. And it, you know, it wasn’t glamorous or anything, but it was sitting down and having lunch and connecting and talking about what you’re doing. And I think also, I have a very kind of positive mindset with music and it is really everything that I’ve got. I don’t have a plan B, I don’t think there needs to be one.
And I love all the aspects. I think the business is just as important as me setting up this pro tool session, you know, for the podcasts or, picking up the guitar every once in a while to, you know, keep my skills going for the writing of it or getting on my kit and practicing for the tours.
It’s all just as important. I can’t stress that enough that just researching and even educating oneself in the business side of things is super important.
JAKE: [00:26:12] so it sounds like, it
sounds like it wasn’t even a, a thought that, or a decision you had to make. It sounds like it was kind of a natural progression into that spot.
RICHIE: [00:26:20] yeah, to be honest, I, I got a call and, was offered a temp position essentially, and I just, got into it and, and I just did it. I took the opportunity and then, I, you know, worked hard and, and eventually, you know, got the full-time position and stuff and, and balancing being on tour and, and doing this it’s it takes a lot of discipline.
And, even when you’re tired, it’s like 2:00 AM. I just played a gig, tore down my drum kit. I’m probably still sweaty. Maybe didn’t even shower, but I got to crank out these emails, you know, So it’s, it’s a grind, but it’s I love it. It’s part of this whole world, I think is just, if you put in those extra hours, pay off in any way, you know, even the producing, or if you’re writing a song you put in those extra few hours, in the, wee hours of the morning.
And you’re just like, can barely see. And. You don’t even know if anything sounds good anymore, but you still, you know, sitting there putting, changing Mitty notes and eventually you pass out. Yeah. I think it all, it all, it all matters. You know, those extra few hours, they matter.
KOBY: [00:27:35] Yeah. That’s what Jake’s doing right now. He’s out there in LA soaking it all in like putting in
filling in a few extra hours.
RICHIE: [00:27:42] Awesome. I mean,
you know exactly what that’s like to at, at the house allowed. I mean, we would leave and you’re still there several hours and then you’re there before us
KOBY: [00:27:52] us. Yeah. There were definitely some, some long hours.
In, that position, but so, so fun. I had such a good time doing that and, uh, make a record with you guys. So, you really love music, I mean, that’s the thing that I find kind of funny about, like the idea of putting an extra hours is at the end of the day, like, yes, it’s sometimes hard in the moment to do, I don’t know, stuff like that, like, keep going when you are tired and kind of want to go home.
But at the end of the day, like, You love music. That’s why you’re doing what you’re doing. So I don’t look back on any of those times when I
thought like, Oh my
my gosh, this
right now with like a bad feeling. Like I look back on all that stuff has
RICHIE: [00:28:34] the best.
KOBY: [00:28:35] So it’s kind of funny. so one of the big things that you’re doing now, like you said, is working with artists and developing artists, I think this is kind of like right up the alley for pretty much every single one of our listeners who are trying to develop themselves as artists.
Can you give us a bit of a rundown of what that really means to you to, to develop an artist? Like what types of things
into doing that?
RICHIE: [00:29:03] I think the first part is the songwriting and kind of dialing in a sound dialing in something unique. and then it depends, you know, I mean, there’s like a difference of, okay, some artists want to kind of live in the underground world and, but most of what I w work with I. I like the commercial aspect of music.
I like the dissymmetry and, big hooks and, and I am a very big fan of contemporary and modern production and trap music, pop music, Latin, you know, drill, all that stuff. That’s really popping off right now. And I think so, if you’re, you know, going for that, which I always try and push for with any artists comes my way.
it’s, it’s a balance of that and something unique. So it’s like dialing in that sound and then, then comes all the, the not so fun stuff, which is, you know, spending the hours, creating fan base. And creating content that people can attach with. So one of, these artists that, Robbie and I work with, uh, Nate Vickers, he is, uh, a singer here in Houston and it’s, it’s been quite a ride.
Robbie actually found him on YouTube doing covers. And after a while, he got him in and there was a band that was being formed. So then we got him into this band and he has a great voice all around, like from, you know, he can do the gritty stuff, the Lincoln park stuff, the screams, he kind of had like that voice.
And so we were like, okay, cool. And then we did a bunch of songs. The band didn’t really work out. just cause of the members, but he was very, you know, had a strong mindset of like, I want to keep doing this no matter what, if it’s a band or, or not. So then came to Robbie and said, Hey, I want to do a pop song or, you know, a little hip hop, like R and B pop.
So they did a track and, really liked the track. And I said, Hey, you know, why don’t we, uh, do a proper music video? So I connected with, uh, Ryan, what, Tanya B he’s a, film director and, he’s kind of, you know, he’s, he’s touring, he’s doing this things kind of in the same position as all of us, you know, kind of like coming up and really going for it.
so I said, Hey, let’s hit him up. His work’s really great. Let’s get some visuals going. And let’s see where that takes us. So we flew out to LA, I had just played a show in Mexico, so I met him in LA and it comes right back to just, just make yourself go, And, uh, so we went, did
and did that. We got a new tool
and then, uh, it’s been a slow grind with that, trying to figure out.
Where do you even start? I’m like totally like a rock guy that never did anything for, you know, in that kind of pop world in the ways of producing or creating or sort of managing, you know, I wouldn’t call myself any of it at that point. And then. Eventually it turned into. Okay. we did like two more songs and started writing more and that’s where it comes back to just like dialing in the sound.
And it took us a while and spin like all of 20, 20, we stacked up. We just noticed that you really have to keep the content coming. And don’t put too many breaks between because you know, you see it. So, so quickly on Spotify, for instance, you drop a song, you wait two to three months, your monthly listeners can go from 10 K right back down to 400 people and that’s not good, you know?
So you still want it to
it to be
quality it’s not quantity over quality, but it’s. Quality with quantity, I think in this unsigned world that does do the trick in a, in a way. And then with the right marketing, which we’re still dialing it in, you know, it’s. a hard thing to figure out, especially with all the algorithms changing and apps updating, and then, Oh, this feature’s completely gone.
Or Google ads just restructured over the holidays. So now having to figure out how well, how do we pinpoint. your fans and he specifically, he, uh, Nate has a decent following on his Instagram is as you know, think like 20,000 followers now. And, his YouTube is growing a lot. He drops a lot of covers that
get good attention, but you know, the second you drop something original, it’s really, it’s hard to get that into people’s ears and.
So that’s what we’re currently dialing in, but we have, one song coming out every month. And I think that may have been a little bit Russ inspired, because you know, his model, it’s just, you know, he’s, he’s fallen. He’s, he’s been doing it for years and years and years. And, uh, finally started popping off like crazy.
And now he’s. he’s his own guy and I think he recently signed to a label finally, but with certain contingencies and, you know, that’s, I think that’s really cool. It’s really a great example to look at is that kind of Russ model, because he actually did it. Yeah, he’s, he’s making good money he’s and he’s in it for the music and he’s able to do what he’s always wanted to do.
And that’s just awesome. So we’re kind of just like, all right, let’s try it. One song every month we spent a lot of time, the three of us, Robbie, Nate, and myself, creating, producing, writing, you know, it’s, it’s the lyrics to that are super important to connect. Two kids and our age people and people that like this, you know, new wave of music.
And, yeah, dialing in the Spotify, dialing in YouTube and keeping the content coming and us really busting our asses to learn how to mix and master, that style of music to kind of coming from rock. Yeah. No, it’s, it’s a lot cleaner, so it’s, it’s, it’s a lot harder But man, when it sounds good, it hits so nicely, you know?
And so there’s that aspect of it too, on, on our end, as producers is like making sure that we can take it home and don’t again, have to outsource for mixing and mastering when we can just, you know, help him grow and then eventually all benefit from
KOBY: [00:35:47] so it sounds like you guys really have a hand in. Everything for an artist that you’re developing, that’s part of developing your you’re building up every part of their business. I think it’s kind of interesting too. And I’d be curious to see what you think about this Music is such a personal thing to a lot of people like it’s, it really comes from a personal place. How do you think most artists handle that from the development standpoint? I imagine it’s sometimes difficult to sort of steer the ship. If there’s something that you see that could be a really good opportunity.
Is there ever, is there ever times when, when people kind of, bump up against that and push
push back a little bit for creative reasons,
RICHIE: [00:36:31] Honestly, we’ve had just a really smooth ride. We kind of know to trust each other. I think, like I said, you know, there was kind of a history already with him specifically, so there was a lot of trust and, you know, he, He is a good songwriter in the sense of, he knows like what he wants to appeal to and who and how, it’s kind of, we’re all dialing it in together then, you know, and, and I think that’s kind of the job as a producers is to really figure out how to dial it in.
you know, it’s, it’s hard to the spectrum of what a producer is these days. I mean, it goes from making a beat and those guys are producers or. like producing a product and, you know, I guess you could call that executive producing or whatever, but at the end of the day, it’s like, you’re just part of the team to me, you know, and one person can’t do it all.
And that’s why a team is really important. we’re not really managing. It’s just kinda like, Oh, I, researched this and found out that this might work. what do you think? And then kind of getting that, you know, feedback, and he’s not
managed, he self managed, which is cool because he, is able to kind of figure a lot of things out before jumping into a management contract and getting locked in with somebody that might not see that vision or have a different idea while he hasn’t even fully developed his own character in idea and sound.
And I think that’s, really important. It’s kind of like learning your instrument correctly before teaching it, perhaps, you know, or it’s hard to kind of explain, but it’s kind of a slow burn, but it’s cool to see the progress over the years and. You know, where, where he’s come from, where he’s gone and where we’re going with this, because we’re all in this together.
I kind of look at it as like another, like sort of band where, you know, we’re doing this, like I’ll grab the guitar and then, you know, Robbie cooks up some hats and then a homie’s writing some lyrics or the opposite, you know, if everyone’s kinda doing their thing and. it’s cool when it comes together and we’re in the room and it just works.
And then we have a tune and sometimes with that kind of music too, it’s fun because sometimes it goes really fast and you have like three beats in a day. And then next time he comes, we knock out three tunes. And in another day or two on vocals and, you know, with, with rock music, it’s, it’s a lot harder these days because.
The elements aren’t as flashy. you know, the guitar sounds, they’ve kind of all been done. You can pick a new amp, but in context with bang and drums and loud vocals and intense bass, you know, it’s, it’s like the songwriting makes it fresh or production elements, make it fresh.
And with trap music and stuff, it’s, I feel
KOBY: [00:39:36] feel like a
RICHIE: [00:39:37] bit. Easier because I dunno, the kick samples, snare claps snaps, you have so many more options than just your standard drum set and a bass and a guitar. You know,
KOBY: [00:39:51] Right. Yeah. Well, I think like creatively, when it comes to that stuff too, one of the things that you said little bit ago, that I think is really, really important with all of that, especially when you’re working with an artist and trying to make something new that none of you have made before in that way is trust.
Like that’s. in any aspect, any part of your team? I think that’s like the most important thing is trust and it goes back again. I think to what you were talking about earlier with just expanding a network and, building relationships with people. Like that’s kind of the clearest thing, that I would take away from, all of what you guys are doing is that, you’ve built that trust and it takes away Any reason people to butt heads creatively, like you’re all going towards
the same goal and you all know that you’re going towards the same goal. So I think that’s, that’s really key. And I also think is really interesting when it comes to the crossover between genres.
I mean, I remember, back in the hassle loud days, we were driving around somewhere and we were talking about both of our love for pop music and pop. Songwriting and song structure and things like that. Um, can you talk about the parallels at all there between, song structure
elements like the rock and pop.
RICHIE: [00:41:10] Yeah. So the crossover is, it’s definitely something that I personally love and also
important. a lot of like rock music. That just kind of sounds the same. It’s just not as, it’s not as fun, you know, if you hear kind of the same rifts and structures that have been done, I think in music in general, it it becomes a bit, stale.
You know, so I think the crossover is very important and you see it in all genres of music. I think, you know, especially in Latin music currently like trap, and hip hop slash pop, because that kind of is pop music right now. Those cadences and rhythms and melodies they’re showing up in every genre.
Latin, you know, you see bad bunny, like he’s got fat, Latin beat going, but he’s pulling those triplets just like Travis Scott or Quavo or whoever is. And, something that we tried to do in, in fire from the gods is also to cross over those lines and. we have some verses on our new album that have eight Oh eight going on instead of a real base.
And then we have trap hats pretty much over a lot of the courses, which isn’t really new or like it’s, you know, it’s not like I’m trying to say like, we’ve pioneered any of that, but it’s just like freshness of kind of combining these elements, production elements, and then mainly it’s really the vocals that, you know, if, if the vocals kind of fall into the more
modern lines, then.
you’ve done the crossover
KOBY: [00:42:58] Yeah. I think, I think that’s really interesting and something that fire from the gods has done really, really well, where it sounds. Just sounds right. You know, like you don’t, it’s not even something that you necessarily listen to and you say, Oh cool.
Like crossover between genres. It just sounds, it’s just the song. And it sounds right as something that Jake and I have talked about a lot, like Jake with, your songs, just blending of genres and stuff like that. how do you go about doing that
in a fresh way? Where it also feels natural.
Is there any strategy for that or is
or is it just
RICHIE: [00:43:39] I think it’s a combo of trying things and seeing what works, but also. kind of knowing what already works and then adding the other elements. So recently worked with a band from Ohio that they’ve kind of been doing the trap metal
and came to us for a, you know, just to do, do our thing. And basically, you know, Ended up stripping out a lot of the metal elements, but still making these, like for instance, certain verses are like full-on rap verses or trap verses.
it’s like you could, for instance, play a really heavy beat on the drum kit. Okay. And then you just take that and transpose it to, like, DJ mustard kick too, and, uh, uh, cash money, AP snare, or clap number 11. And, and it’s, you know, it doesn’t even matter what sound you choose.
I think the composition, the heaviness that lies in the composition of that rhythm translates no matter what. And then it’s just. forging those sounds and blending them to sonically. Make sense. That’s like the trickier part. But it’s also really fun because, you know, we ended up for instance, doing like some, uh, filtered guitars or some fuzz layers of guitars with the eight Oh eight or, maybe there’s like a, you know, some Omnisphere bell patch playing, kind of like a trap loop.
And then the guitar lead on the chorus ends up playing that with the
with a full
So it’s like, You can definitely find that, crossover and it’s, I think it is a lot of trying. And then, like I said, it’s just like certain things, you know, that are going to work, you know, like, for instance, on our last record, the self-titled, uh, track, uh, American son it’s, uh, Robbie and I were just sitting there listening to you’re like,
this is fat.
I can already hear the guitars. Like, it’s just when
it hits, it’s like, man, I want to head bang. If, you know, just in my weird head, just knowing like, Oh man, if that was a guitar and, and I’m on my kid, just laying into that fat of a beat, maybe that’ll be a little different
we tried it and hits, you know, and it’s, it’s fun live.
Like it’s just sometimes I think you just have to try it. But you already know that Cardi B song slaps. So it’s undeniable that, you know, the tempo works, the snare placement works and then maybe toy around with the kicks and the, obviously you find your own patterns and melodies and stuff. Cause you can’t just rip somebody off completely, but it’s taking that inspiration.
And I do think that. A lot of inspiration, you know, it’s like diversify your inspiration and that will help because sometimes when you get a little too comfy in like your own world and what you listen to, it’s hard to try new things you’re kind of just like I’m. So in love with led Zepplin, I’m going to write led Zeppelin riffs, but they have all been done, you know, it’s, it’s, uh, Yes.
Yeah. Yeah. You know, I’d say, you know, for me like Greta van fleet, for instance, it’s, it’s really cool to see like this revival of classic rock. But to me personally, there is nothing new I can grab. There’s nothing I
nobody sounds like Zeplin. You can’t get those recordings again.
It’s too clean now. It’s too perfect. Now it’s like something may have been punched in and I don’t like that because I like that. Bonam just held it down on the clock, you know, and I like that. There’s some imperfection and harshness is in the vocals, you know, and now you could just slap sooth on it and, you know, take it out with one
just like cleaning things up.
And, and I think that’s the difference is like, If you do find those unique vibes, that’s what, will separate you? And I, I hear it a lot more in, in modern trap music too. It’s like all about the vibe. It’s like these juice world songs. Yeah. Maybe he’s singing like a, you know, a pop punk hook or something, you know, it sounds emo, but there’s still something in the production that separates a completely.
You know, it’s not taking back Sunday, playing the band, playing in the background. It’s, it’s like this hip hop producer that’s really laying in on the vibe and finding that, you know, like max Lord or whatever, whoever was working with him and then juice, just doing his thing over the top of it, that makes
different and unique.
And it creates that wave. And I think, you know, you see it a lot in the pop punk right now, guys like trippy red doing the complete fusion of, pop punk, emo vocals, but his lyrics are still hard. Yeah. You know, it’s like, that’s, that’s that, that’s that shit, you know, it’s like, that’s what separates, I think is like finding the unique twist.
To your, personal interpretation of what you’re influenced by?
KOBY: [00:49:17] Yeah. I
think that’s one of the big things that I see when I see artists who are quote unquote influenced by like one specific artist where you can say, okay, like they are trying to do the. Blank thing. Like that’s one of the things where I just, I just want to like shout at them, like stop, like just open, open
up to other things because you’re not going to be the next to be the next, whatever is not a thing you have to be you.
And you do that by drawing multiple influences, combining influences. What would you say is the biggest mistake that you see artists or bands making in general that you wish you could just yell? Stop that at them, like this
like this will be your chance to, to yell at
RICHIE: [00:50:02] I think exactly what you just said. It’s like trying to be somebody else. And I think that goes, like, it’s like a life philosophy, you know, and shit, man, I don’t know, you know, I’m, I’m young in the game, so to say, and, and you know, I, I don’t know anything, you know, there’s so much more to learn all the time and I think that’s really, it’s like, You just have to like, Be you, you can’t be somebody else, you know, you can envy people or, want certain things. I definitely, you know, sometimes you got to catch yourself and you see, Oh man, this producer is only 23 and he’s like, he’s got all the placements, but at the end of the day, that’s not me.
So then, you know, it’s like, you just can’t stress on that. I think that’s like, What I’ve been learning a lot too for myself. It’s like you get in those mindsets of like, damn man, like this, guy’s just killing it, doing that. Yeah, exactly. And I think all of us, every musician, every producer, mixer editing, it’s all the same.
I mean, even to, anyone that’s at college for accounting or, and, you know, it’s like, you look up to somebody and you’re like, damn, I want to do that. But I think what separates is I want to do that, but I want to do that. With me with who I am and in my way. I think that’s why, like, our band con, it just works because we’re, we, we never sit down and, and, you know, we’re like, okay, we’re going to write like a.
It data remember song or, uh, you know, we really want to be the next inflames or, you know, it just doesn’t work. I don’t know it. I can’t ever get that in my head because the second I do, then it does sound, it ends up sounding like that. And I’ve written tons of songs where at the end of it, I’m like, Man, I can just hear the influences too strong.
You know, there’s something maybe too on the nose and then you take the step back or maybe even trash it, you know, but yeah, it’s just originality. that’s what we’ll
KOBY: [00:52:19] Yeah. I mean, I think one really cool thing
that’s going on right now in the music industry. That contributes to that is collaboration and just the, availability of collaboration across big distances. just has so much potential to, break people out of that kind of thing.
I feel like The single influence copying an artist is kind of a product sometimes of being too isolated. Like your, you have what you listened to. You have what you really like, but if it’s all you. That’s when those things start to come out. And I think that with, with people kind of getting together and even doing like one-off collaborations for a song, like that’s a really cool thing.
for you who, as a person, who’s got kind of like an inside look at a big chunk of the music industry with BMG and stuff like that. where do you see things headed over the next few years? On an industry-wide basis, like what’s changing,
that, that you see going forward?
RICHIE: [00:53:21] Oh man, it’s a, it’s a broad question. Cause everything’s changing right now. I think, you know, knowing that touring is, at a halt, knowing that everything is, really different. The emotions put into music is very different right now, too. And I think, the biggest thing that’s changing or w you know, we’ll keep changing is where to take influence from.
And I think you made a really good point with collaboration that that’s extremely important and valuable because again, it’s yeah, you can’t, just can’t do everything all by yourself. it’s really hard. And there are some guys out there that, that do that really well. I do think that, you know, collaborations are going to be more of a thing, especially with bands, you know, it’s kind of.
I think that’s been going on for a while. You know, back in the day it was like having outside writers was like such a big, no, because you’re like, Oh, I love this band because they’re all like heroes, you know? And like geniuses and yeah. But you know, it’s like, it doesn’t always work like that. there’s no like formula to it.
love handing off the guitar in her writing session, you know, and having somebody lay it down and then just being blown away and having that exciting feeling of music all over again. And I think that’s like a big change that’s going to happen. It’s just like, yeah, without being social, without meeting people without.
Eavesdropping on people’s conversation at the cafe or at a restaurant, you know, or having these social interactions. It’s difficult to, influence sometimes, especially lyrically. I think it’s, it’s hard because you’re not around all these people. You’re just reading what everyone else is.
Reading. You know, or, or watching what everyone else is watching. And I, that’s just what I see, I think emotions and how they translate via the music and lyrics are going to be changing a lot. I don’t know exactly how I don’t think anyone quite has that answer yet. But yeah, I was talking to, um, a film composer the other day, his name’s Luke Richards and he’s scored for like the last born movies, done some the rock movies and stuff like that.
And he was one of Han simmers, uh, he, he worked under him in LA for quite some time. And, I was talking to him cause you know, we, we met through family. So, you know, there’s kind of like a friendship there. That’s. quite nice to catch up every once in a while. And he was also saying, yeah, I got out of London.
Uh, I’m just, I’m hanging out. Um, I’m not as inspired and, but it’s hard, you know, everyone, I think everyone is having kind of a difficult time to find that similar inspiration. So it’s the same inspiration that is lacking for. the bands that can’t tour and feel that stage rattling and, and see people’s immediate reaction of like how the groove is.
Is it making them dance? Is it making them feel something? Is it making them laugh or cry or shout or whatever it is, you know, that’s the hard part. It’s not getting the reaction. I think that’s putting a stump on a lot of people. Other people are totally, you know, fired up and keep it going.
And I mean, for myself, I, I kind of, I guess some people will say you can’t force creativity. I think you can always make something happen. Might not always be the best, but as long as you, Put in those hours and, keep working eventually something cool will come
KOBY: [00:57:09] come out. absolutely. Yeah. mean, everything you said from like a, especially like COVID standpoint, like. I don’t know. It’s, it’s hard for a lot of people still, and I dunno, it looks like things are going to be beginning to get better. Like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m wondering, like, what’s, what’s your biggest hope, I guess, for the music industry going forward post COVID, like, what’s the thing that when we come out on the other end of it, we can look back and say like, okay, we had a hard time for this year and a half or whatever it ends up being, but.
we ended up.
On the other end.
RICHIE: [00:57:48] I think there’s going to be an explosion of live music, Yeah. I think the whole. Band aesthetic and, and band feeling is going to have a big, comeback because, you know, I do think that music kind of, it’s a little bit, a bit more isolated now, you know, it’s like all about the artists or, or the producer and, mainly in the pop and hip hop world, I guess, but, Being in a band, I don’t think is like, as cool as maybe when, when we were kids, you know, like 20, 30 years ago, It was like such an insanely cool thing.
You know, being a bunch of dudes and you’re hanging out and making music and jamming and stuff like that’s the best, you know, to me still, it’s like, that’s the best feeling like even seeing an orchestra, holding it together or a choir, like it’s, it’s just amazing. It’s live it’s happening in the moment.
And it sounds incredible. And that’s something. You just, you don’t get in the studio. You don’t get that from a CD. You just don’t. And I think people miss it. I miss it. I miss watching all these bands on tour every night. I miss seeing the reaction I missed. Everyone’s sweating uncontrollably in a terribly hot room.
And, you know, I miss my arms almost falling off playing a set. You know, those are the things I think humans love that the social aspect of life we’ve been stripped of it. So. When it comes back, I think it’s going to come back really, really hard. And I’m just excited for it. I’m excited to see live music.
I think, you know, even like coming back to, uh, Nate, Vickers, artists that I’m working with, it’s so hard to push your songs and not be able to go play a pop-up show or a showcase in general. You know, it’s like, This kind of organic, ocean that you just don’t get via Facebook ads or a music video or a lyric video or a little like studio. It’s not the same. Yeah. You don’t get to connect with your fans at the merch table. you know, I don’t get to.
KOBY: [01:00:07] the
RICHIE: [01:00:07] Pop out and or text you Coby and say, Hey, we’re in, you know, we’re in your area like next week, like let’s hang out. You know, it’s, it’s not
happening right now. So see
all that coming back times two.
KOBY: [01:00:21] I agree. I, I, that’s my hope also. I also, I’m with you on the hope for bands too, and that, being forced to be separate from people in general will help, musicians kind of rediscover The feeling of being in a band and stuff like that.
Cause I I’m in the same boat. Like that was always the coolest thing. And one of the things I look back on is like the best parts of like my early stages in music and stuff like that. So I’m I’m with you on that. Well, Richie, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule, to talk with us and drop some knowledge on our listeners.
And I’m really
that we got this opportunity to catch up.
long since we talked to each other.
RICHIE: [01:01:04] Yeah, definitely. It’s great to catch up and, so to say talk shop, but yeah, it’s cool to, to hear everyone, you know, I think we’re all in the same boat.
We all want to collab again and, and get out there.
JAKE: [01:01:23] Richie, thanks for coming and doing the podcast brother. We loved having you. And I think the biggest thing that crossed my eardrum was, putting in those extra hours, that really resonated with me.
And I would, I would say that that really separates, the people that really want it from those that don’t,
RICHIE: [01:01:44] Yup. Skip the party, man. Just eyes on the prize and then party, when you get that prize.
KOBY: [01:01:54] and also to all the listeners out there, all the artists who are listening, go check out fire from the gods, to hear a lot of the stuff that we talked about today, a lot of you those influences and things like that. and just think about ways that you can apply that to your own music.
Obviously not. Copying that, but, pulling those influences, and also keep your eyes peeled for more from Nate Vickers, as Richie helps launch him, uh, I’m excited to see, what develops out of that. So, uh, good
with, with everything
going on and
RICHIE: [01:02:25] you so much. Yeah. Vice
KOBY: [01:02:28] Thank you.
And that’s all we’ve got for you on this episode, and
and we’ll catch you on the next episode of self sign artists.