They played to empty rooms yet made headline news. Who the fuck are THREATIN?
How did an unheard of young metal band manage to fake a whole fanbase and book a UK headline tour in the process? We go inside the most bizarre story of 2018
It Was tHe strangest story to hit metal in this or perhaps any other year – a tale so unlikely and mindnumbingly convoluted in its execution that it piqued the interest of everyone from the BBC to the New York Times. Threatin, an unknown young metal band from Los Angeles, seemingly managed to fake a fanbase, rack up more than a million suspicious YouTube views and book a UK headline tour that nobody turned up to. Put short: how the fuck did something like this happen?
The story first broke in midNovember when UK media outlets took notice of a post from hallmark London metal venue The Underworld. The 500-cap gig destination has become a heartland venue in the capital’s heavy music scene, with everyone from Cancer Bats and
Amon Amarth to Parkway Drive and Watain headlining there in recent years. So, naturally, eyebrows were raised when a note from the venue was posted on Threatin’s Facebook page, asking: “What happened to the 291 advanced ticket sales your agent said you’d sold?” before adding that only “three people turned up”.
It quickly transpired that The Underworld was not alone. Stories began emerging of similar issues arising across Threatin’s UK dates, with Bristol-based band Kamino claiming that they’d been booked to support Threatin at their hometown’s Exchange venue, only to find that
“the only people there to watch came from ourselves and [other support band] Ghost Of Machines.” It’s alleged that the venue was told 180 tickets had been sold, and yet, once again, it seems no one actually turned up.
as more storIes and anecdotes began to appear, it seemed like the tomfoolery ran deeper than a few empty headline shows. Threatin’s Facebook page – which was hastily deleted in the wake of the shitstorm – boasted more than 38,000 likes, while their video for ‘breakthrough’ single Living Is Dying had racked up more than a million views: practically unheard of for a band that is, erm, practically unheard of, especially given that, at time of going to print, the same song had fewer than 10,000 streams on Spotify. A report by website MetalSucks went on to allege that
Jered Threatin, frontman of the internet’s favourite new phenomenon, also created a fake record label and fake design company to promote his band.
As the legend of Threatin grew and amidst chaotic reports of cancelled shows and bandmembers quitting, Jered finally responded to the tidal wave of controversy and confusion, posting a somewhat cryptic message on social media that read: “What is
“I TURNED AN EMPTY ROOM INTO AN INTERNATIONAL HEADLINE”
fake news? I turned an empty room into an international headline. If you are reading this, you are part of the illusion.” While the statement didn’t do anything to clear up what the hell was going on, it did add fuel to the suspicion coming from some quarters that we had all played victim to an elaborate social experiment. Had Jered spectacularly pulled one over on the media? Was this a vanity project that had got out of control or an amazingly deployed practical joke?
“He seemed OK, to be honest,” says Ed Truscott of Mancunian prog rockers Lute, who had been booked to support Threatin at the Manchester Rebellion. “We stayed and watched them play; they were a decent band and I had another brief chat with him and his backing band afterwards.” While, in a similar story to Kamino, Ed notes that his band ended up playing a set to “the people we had brought”, he wants to stress that beneath all the furore and the hype, there were some much-loved UK venues left confused and, potentially, out of pocket.
“The main message we want to get across is that we need to keep supporting our local bands and venues,” he adds.
It will be interesting to see if the music industry at large will have anything to learn from this most unexpected of situations. In a time where social media wields more influence than ever, perhaps it was only a matter of time before it was used to create the biggest success story that never was. And maybe, just maybe, all the hype off the back of this will see Threatin fill those venues for real the next time they think about coming over. We’ll just have to wait and see…
threatin: on the bright side, there wasn’t a queue for the bar…