Interview: Black It Out
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music, what would you be doing today?
Lots of things got us into music. Bryan’s dad was into music and played the drums and guitar. My (Shaun) dad played guitar and sang, and my mom played bass. So, both Bryan and I were exposed to rock bands at a young age. It was natural for Bryan and me to start playing the guitar and want to be in bands. Bryan got into Metallica at a young age, and I got into The Misfits, Green Day, and The Offspring early on. In grade school, I also had music classes that taught me how to read music, so it was fated for me. I went to college for music.
I don’t think me, and Bryan even cannot have gotten into music. I think I would lean harder on writing, and Bryan would probably be more into video editing and graphic design if we didn’t get into music.
What do you like to do when you’re not playing music, and how does that influence your creativity?
I like to read, watch YouTube videos on Lolcows, and play video games. I’m not able to play video games as much as I used to, but I watch YouTube. YouTube videos on Karens and how Anndy Negative was treated on TikTok were huge inspirations for our upcoming song, “Live, Laugh, Love,” featuring Anndy Negative.
Bryan loves movies. I know he is fond of the Marvel universe right now. He’s into comics as well. I believe they help him write more profound songs and inspire him on the visual aspect of marketing our music. Bryan knows what he’s doing there.
How long has your band been around?
We’ve been around since 2005. We went by Scarlet’s Sonata until 2009, and after that, we went on an 8-year hiatus while Bryan and I were in other bands during the hiatus. I think as of now; we’ve been around about seventeen years.
Where are you based, and how did that influence your music?
We claim Sacramento, CA, because that’s where we’re from. Bryan and I live far away from each other. So, we’re an internet band. We’re an E-Band, which influences us to write songs remotely and send them to each other. Our creative process is done over the phone and email as we hash things out. Also, since we’re an internet band, we make lots of friends on Instagram. Our scene is the internet, so we find our features there too.
How did you come up with the name of your band, and what does it mean to you.
Our band name came from a lyric from a song demo we made in 2008 or 2009. We finally recorded it in Resurgence. The lyric means people pretend something never happened, or someone never entered their life. More like how reports are requested using the freedom of information act in the United States, the reports on UFOs and UAPs are all blacked out.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
Personally, or with Black It Out? With Black It Out, I’d have to say the time we didn’t know we could even play a show because our drummer was in jail. Everyone else was there but our drummer. He made it to the show at the very last minute, and the show turned out to be pretty good. There was another time when we were on a bill where they put us on last, and the band before us had an extended set. They seriously played way longer than they should have. When we finally got to go on, we were rushed and only got to play two songs. Our bassist quit right before we loaded up for that show, and we had to get a fill-in. It was bizarre. To make things worse, we had fans in the audience who didn’t even get a solid performance from us. They are totally bogus shows. Speaking of bogus shows, we and another band drove to a clothing store where the owner told us we’d be playing a show there that day. The owner completely forgot, and we didn’t get to play the show. It was stupid.
Our best shows as Black It Out had to be when we opened for Mozart Season. The place was packed, and the audience responded well to our songs! We had a great time! Our other great show was our first one. Bryan and I were drilling professionalism to the rest of the band, so we all carried ourselves like seasoned pros. I also ensured everyone in the band was friendly to the other bands. The other bands on that bill thought we were signed. We went on and did amazing. A crowd showed up for us and left after our performance. It was crazy!
My best personal show was with another band I was in with Bryan. We were playing a bar show, and it looked like no one showed up to watch. We started playing our set, and Bryan and I rocked out. When I looked up after we played an old Black It Out song, the place was suddenly packed, and people were cheering. It was insane! I felt terrible for the band after us because the people promptly left. It was bizarre.
My worst show with that band was when we drove hours to San Francisco. They put on as headliners even though we weren’t from that town. I told them not to put us on as headliners, but the venue did it anyhow. So, when we went on to play our set, a handful of people were there to watch. To make it worse, a friend we had come as a feature got into a nasty fight with his girlfriend on the ride home. It was terrible!
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
Man, I loved playing at this place called The Boardwalk. When we were playing shows back in the day, the sound guy was phenomenal, and there were great dudes for security. I enjoyed my time there. Club Retro had a nice stage, and The Underground was excellent too. But, overall, I would have to say, hands down, The Boardwalk.
I think it would be fun to play at Whiskey-A-Go-Go. It would be rad to play the main stage at The Warped Tour RIP. It would be awesome to play any sold-out area too.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
We would love to play with Senses Fail, A Day to Remember, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, and Saosin.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Honestly, I’d tell them to manage their expectations because it’s difficult in rock music these days. You might not get huge, and that’s okay. It’s all about having fun so keep trying. You never know. Appreciate the fans you make because they’re the ones who will actually be listening to you. Don’t go thinking you’re a rockstar because you recorded a track or played a show. That’s not how that works at all. Remember to make music that you want to hear. People respond well to authenticity and not when you make music to make money. Of course, making music to make money can work, but if it doesn’t, it’s not pretty.
Finally, remember to network and make genuine friends with other bands. You never know how you both could help each other in the future!
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
100% network with bands and make friends on social media with bands in your area. Write songs that fit into the scene more, but ensure you still like them. Figure out a way to stand out from the crowd.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
“Reflections” featuring Promise Game means a lot to me. I wrote it about my brother and his awful fiancée. My mom and I haven’t spoken to my brother for years because my brother’s fiancée was mentally and physically abusive to my mother. My brother took the side of his crappy fiancée. It’s an awful situation. Also, Promise Game is fantastic!
Which songs are your favorite to play, and which get requested the most?
One of my favorite songs to play is “Reflections,” featuring Promise Game. Its riffs are fun to play. When we played shows and were getting radio play, “High Heels and Dangerous Streets” was a fan favorite!
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Bryan and I email each other our ideas, and we hash them out. We call and email each other; then rerecord the part with our discussed changes until we have a track we’re happy with.
What inspires us? Our life experiences help us write lyrics. Bryan loves Christmas, so we do Christmas songs almost every year. I also enjoy being funny in our lyrics, so that’s inspirational.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
It depends on the song and whether I feel we need to be serious about the track or if we could make people laugh. In our upcoming track, “Live, Laugh, Love,” featuring Anndy Negative, I wanted to make people chuckle and say, “Yeah! Karens do that!” I also hope that some Karens are inspired to look at themselves and realize that that isn’t who they want to be anymore.
With “The War on Christmas” and “Merry Christmas, Don’t Get Me Anything,” I wanted people to see how ridiculous people’s beliefs could be about something that’s supposed to be fun. I also wanted people to laugh and enjoy themselves. I didn’t want people to take them seriously.
For “Reflections” featuring Promise Game, I wanted people to feel the emotions that I went through and maybe even relate to watching someone they care about being abused, and there’s nothing you could do about it. We need all the support we could get during situations like and knowing we’re not alone makes it a little better.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Bryan and I usually talk about it. We’re civilized human beings, and we’re both easygoing, so disagreements don’t last long.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
“Live, Laugh, Love” featuring Anndy Negative is coming May 2nd, 2022, and it’s about Karens. It’s about those people you watch in freakout compilations on YouTube. You may have encountered a Karen in real life. Our advice is not to engage The Karen. If you wish to film for the laughs, you do so at your own risk. Those people could be nasty! Check out “Live, Laugh, Love” featuring Anndy Negative on Spotify or wherever music is streamed or sold!