Saigon Kick guitarist jason Bieler has penned real-life cautionary tale of becoming a professional musician based on his experiences with Saigon Kick, Super Transatlantic and his label, Bieler Bros. Records; a must read for every aspiring rock star. An excerpt is available below.
“Here is a gold record & platinum single, now piss off!
My career had come crashing down Hindenburg style with the demise of Saigon Kick. Regardless of intent or content we were branded Hair Metal and went down with that follically cursed ship.
It didn’t matter that we played with The Ramones, Faith No More, or Soundgarden…we were sentenced to death by ‘successful ballad.’ A sentence with no chance of parole and no DNA discovery would overturn the verdict. People on death row are more optimistic about their future than those sent away for ‘ballad violations against humanity.’ It didn’t matter what we did or said or what the music actually was, we were for all intents and purposes a dead language.
After coming to this sobering realization you are faced with some decisions, even as an atheist it was a real ‘come to Jesus moment.’
I was in my late 20’s and could either accept that my 15 minutes came and went like so many before me or I could simply get up and get busy moving forward. You know the whole, ‘it doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get up’ thing.
Starting a new band seemed like the most logical thing to do as my hand modeling career had not yet become the stuff of legend. Fire in the hole! I was armed with what I felt were a very strong group of songs and set out to prove everyone wrong about everything. That is always amazingly strong fuel…the desire to say oh yeah, we’ll see about that bitches! Revenge is mine!
So I started rehearsing, assembling a band and working 24/7 to make it happen…for a second time. Finally, a sign of hope! We wind up getting the opportunity to showcase for Trauma Records who had Bush (at this time, a massive band!) The showcase day comes and we are ready, rehearsed and armed with some solid songs.
Two pretty big-time A&R guys show up and watch our set, which admittedly I felt pretty good about. After we finish, they come up to me and one of them says ‘this reminds me exactly of the first time we saw Bush.’ Ever the optimist I translate that into ‘we are offering you a $1,000,000 non-recoupable advance.’
Sadly, as is often the case, this is soon followed by diminished contact and then radio silence…like watching a distant boat bob on the horizon…not sure if it is coming or going until the light finally goes out.
Fuck em, we’ll move forward…onward and upward! We keep working and finally get the opportunity to showcase for a guy named Hans Haedelt with MCA, who claims to have been a huge Saigon Kick fan and had seen our early shows in NYC. In this climate, I’m not sure if this is actually a good or bad thing.
We cautiously, yet optimistically go to a dinner and meet him. He is warm, super funny and we hit it off right away. He comes to see us at our rehearsal space and seems to really ‘get it!’ He wants his boss to hear the songs but says he ‘wants to do this!’ We are saved…like the Phoenix I’m about to rise from the ashes once again and soar amongst the Stones, The Beatles, and Zep! I will finally get the chance to smirk glibly at all those naysayers and nonbelievers. I really want my Grammy acceptance speech to kill, so I keep making adjustments…struggling to get the balance between heart strings and humility just right. I will also likely become the savior of the once great MCA records and return it to its previous glory!
Things are really taking off and while we had recorded and produced the record ourselves Hans got the legendary Jack Joseph Puig to agree to mix the record and next thing we know we are on our way to LA. We also understood we had to be different than what anybody was expecting, we couldn’t have even the slightest hint of the previous look or vibe…which led me to make a few of the more unfortunate fashion decisions of my life…but fuck it we are about to blow up Gangnam style!
We’re in LA, JJP is convinced the record is brilliant, folks at the label are buzzing and I’m on the verge of one of the most epic comebacks in all of Rock & Roll history! We finish the mixes and head back to South Florida, where the label has scheduled a uber expensive photo shoot with some top fashion photographer on South Beach and we are almost giddy…I mean this is actually happening!
We cap this all off with a label dinner/party at Madonna’s restaurant at the Delano Hotel in South Beach, The Blue Door, where the label drops 3-4k on a decadent dinner to celebrate and toast our impending Zeppelin esque success.
At the same time being an OG hustler, I had been working on starting a label, something I also had a lot of passion for and was on my goal sheet. Years of meetings and discussions seemed to be coming to fruition, a friend brokered an introduction to the great Andy Allen at ADA which was the largest indie distributor at the time. After a few initial emails we set up a final meeting, to dot the I’s and cross the T’s as they say. I was about to become the rock Puff Daddy, a true mogul! Y’all better recognize!
On a personal note, with all these amazing things in motion and publishers starting to swarm around with offers of $200,000 to $300,000 advances. My wife and I just had our first child and she justifiably suggests we move out of the apartment we’d been living in and buy a house. My daughter was nearing 2 years old and we were also illegally raising a golden retriever in the apartment so it was only a matter of time until this came to a SWAT standoff.
Yep, we do it, we buy a house, no more apartment…plus in a few short months I’ll probably buy another house in either LA or an apartment in NY…use the corporate jet to bounce back and forth to catch dance recitals and school events, after all, I want to be an involved father. Things are on fire!
I book my flights for NYC and head to the MCA offices for a walk through, where I assume the label interns and veterans alike will take turns coming out into the hallway to heap praise upon me and tell me how excited they are to be working with me. I also assume they would try to make sure we bond enough so that they can get a hip handshake from me at our sold out MSG appearance, (not yet booked but clearly happening later in the year.) I admire their ability to plan ahead.
Instead, I show up and there is almost no one around, no hallway parade, no conference room party, eerily silent and all the doors are shut, blinds closed. Maybe it’s a surprise party…that’s cool, I’ll play along. I walk into Han’s office but when I enter he looks pale and sullen, almost sick…did the head of MCA die, or did some massive artist on the label expire?
He calmly encourages me to take a seat, which I do where I expect to be regaled with a terrible series of events that had befallen someone else. ‘There is no way to say this other than…you are dropped. A few execs decided that this was not the right fit for MCA’…he goes on to say, ‘this is total bullshit and I will do anything I can to help make this right.’ (Hans did go on to be the best music biz relationship I ever had, but this is for a later chapter).
My head is spinning and I’m trying to process the language…so I respond with ‘But we had dinner at Madonna’s place isn’t that legally binding?’ I’m horrified but remain semi externally chilled…I need to process this. I do the classic self-talk, ‘Look, in an hour you are heading downtown to ADA to sign a huge label deal, focus on that, take the evening to process the MCA news and regroup. You got this!’ So I hug Hans, or did the awkward bro handshake…I’m not really sure but I left the building…”
Read the complete story here.
Source: BraveWords – News