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



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…

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