Issue #11 ⛽️ Beauty School Dropout
Web3’s quintessential boy band has arrived
This week in HIGH FREQUENCY we’re getting a healthy dose of head banging with LA-based rock band Beauty School Dropout. Utilizing web3 as a conduit to color their sonic evolution, the band’s Sound “Works of Progress” series gives an intimate look into the band’s early work while their star rises in web2 with the release of their debut album. Integrating web3 with the IRL experience of being a touring act, as well as into their label contract, Beauty School Dropout is paving the way for traditional fanbase growth strategies to translate on-chain.
“WELCOME TO THE DA BSD FAMILY WHERE IT’S ALL LOVE AND PEACE AND FUNNY AND SAFE,” a fan (aka a Dropout) promptly writes when I join Beauty School Dropout’s Discord–The Dropout House.
It’s the morning after the band’s first-ever headliner in San Diego–the second show of their eleven-date run on their first US tour, and they’re riding high. “It was our first time playing San Diego ever and we packed it out,” says the band’s bassist Brent Burdett, better known as Beepus. “There was a mosh pit the whole time we played.”
Beepus is calling in from LA after driving home post-show to get some “real sleep.” The band’s producer and guitarist Bardo hops on, scurrying to export beats in the band’s tour van while his family waits in a nearby San Diego restaurant to celebrate his birthday. “This is our fucking life,” he says playfully, laughing at the chaotic nature of the call. When the band’s lead singer Colie Hutzler joins, his name shows up as “Daddy.” Bardo tries explaining how to change his Zoom settings, but Colie doesn’t seem too concerned. We’re all getting a kick out of it.
“Bardo is a glowing goddess right now,” says Colie. “And Beepus looks like he just got in a fight.”
“I look like a goblin right now,” Beepus agrees, his bed head cascading from the hood of an oversized sweatshirt with DROPOUT across the front in collegiate style font.
“It’s the eye makeup from the night before,” says Bardo.
“Like a rat in New York looking for a slice of pizza,” says Colie.
Less than a minute into the conversation, we’re all laughing. The camaraderie, chemistry, and magnetism is palpable, making it hard to wonder why the Dropout House Discord is full of superfans resposting the band’s IG Stories in real time.
“Immediately we fell in love and became soulmates,” says Colie describing first meeting Beepus. Colie had moved to LA after high school to pursue music and joined a band called Strange Faces where he met BSD’s drummer, Mike (who prefers to stay out of the spotlight). After their meet cute, Colie recruited Beepus to the band. Two years later, fate intervened again to complete the BSD puzzle when Colie and Bardo met during a 2019 event at Winston House in Venice, CA. “We pretty much locked eyes from across the room, slowly gravitated towards each other, had a nice romantic hand graze, like ‘Oh, we need to write music together.’ From there we got in the studio and locked ourselves in a room for about a year straight and then turned into a band,” says Colie.
“We made “dangerous” and then Colie started living at Bardo’s house from there on out,” Beepus chimes in.
Three years later, the band’s star is on the rise. Be it cosmic alignment or the result of hard work, talent, and passionate drive (seems to be a heavy dose of each), BSD signed with Verswire, a new label from rock gods Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy. Now, BSD has recently released their debut album We Made Plans and God Laughed–a rock record, with some added pop sparkle and punk approach, worthy of such legendary co-signs.
Sporting a Billboard premiere of their wildly entertaining video for “Almost Famous” featuring Mark Hoppus (who joined the band on stage in August for his first performance since his battle with lymphoma), a MTV slot, an Apple Music interview with Travis Mills, partnerships and endorsements from Hot Topic, UFC Ultimate Sound, Rockstar Energy, a Coachella guest appearance, over a 100,000 followers across their social media (much more if their individual accounts are included), their first headlining tour, and a recent festival bill announcement for UK’s Download festival with Slipknot and Metallica–BSD is going places, fast.
As the band’s momentum continues to build in web2, they’re utilizing web3 to paint the picture of how they got here. For them, the secret sauce is always in the music. We Made Plans and God Laughed is an incredibly tight body of work, the songs are cohesive, have a strong point of view, and a lot of catchy hooks. A quick listen to a few tracks and the band’s pop punk rocker vibe is clear–striking an impressive balance between influences and originality.
But it wasn’t always like that. There were some kinks and decisions to work out through trial and error, says the band, though the magic was evident from the start. So instead of minting the album, the band is taking fans back to the beginning, inviting them for a front-row seat to the band’s sonic evolution. Their “Works Of Progress” NFT series on Sound–dropping every two weeks–includes early demos starting with a sold out 10 edition drop of “dangerous,” the band’s first-ever demo. “It’s a catapult to show the evolution of our sonic palette,” says Colie. “A lot of these demos are so early and so different from anything that we’re doing now, so I think we want to paint that entire landscape before we continue pushing all the other stuff into web3. And it allows us to funnel music that we’ve been sitting on for three years now.”
Trailblazing in the space as one of the first bands to integrate web3 into the fan experience, BSD is in the process of building “The Dropout World”—using their NFTs as a way for fans to gain VIP access to the band, as well as a way to track and engage with their growing fanbase. “I think when it clicked for me, personally, was when I started thinking about NFTs as this key into the next level of a fanbase. I really have liked that idea,” says Bardo. “It’s like the traditional aspect of fans will just pull up and wait outside venues for hours, right? Fan psychology is very similar to web3 psychology in a lot of cases. I saw that as an opportunity to transfer a lot of this technologic ease into the world of music, and our fans, and what they would be into.” Though their own eagerness for the space continues to grow, the band says they're still cracking the code. “I think what we’ve discovered is they’re open to it, but they don't fully understand it. I think just talking about this kind of stuff as much as possible is really crucial in getting more web2 native people into this world, which I feel like is always an uphill battle in a way.”
Hoping to field questions and create an open dialogue with fans around web3, BSD wants to alleviate the barriers to entry where they can. “We want to do some free drops, we want to do stuff that is super accessible, that’s the long play,” says Beepus. Part of their goal in onboarding more fans is to build stronger longterm fan/artist relationships and incentivize people to invest early. “We want the fans that are showing up to our club show–our first tour ever–they’re the ones we want backstage with us at our stadium shows, cause they've been here from the jump,” says Bardo. “And you can do that with web3 stuff. There’s a log of who was here.”
There also seems to be a genuine level of sentimentality built in. “We love that web3 is so community based, because that’s everything that we stand for in our world separate from web3–community and fans. We call our fans ‘fam,’ because everything we do is for the people that support us and we just want to be there for everyone,” says Beepus.
Especially inspired by their experience at web3-related events at SXSW, BSD believes in the capabilities of the web3 community in the same way that they’ve seen the power of their own community underpin their rising success. “SXSW was our first time going to IRL experiences that were web3 oriented and just seeing the community in full effect and what was possible,” says Beepus.
Wanting to integrate web3-related events in future tours, BSD is a strong proponent of the IRL experience value. “There's so much more value to me in the IRL experience and being able to connect with people face to face and make connections,” says Colie. “Internet stuff is cool, but it’s dry you know, it’s less visceral, there's not as much connection, there's a screen and entire universe dividing you. I love being able to meet people and play shows and shake hands and do the whole thing.”
Whether in web3 or web2–on TikTok, Youtube, Instagram, Discord, Twitter, or IRL–BSD is using every available tool to build for the long-game. “We’re all just neurotically passionate about what we do,” says Colie. “There's always going to be a game, and there’s always going to be a way to play it. It’s ever changing, but it’s gonna take having people who are so passionate, so willing to live and die by that.”
The struggle, unsurprisingly, is bandwidth. Avoiding burn out is key. “We’re pretty deliberate in our decision making process and being involved in every aspect of it,” says Colie regarding the band’s strategy. “The hardest part at the end of the day is not spreading ourselves so thin, especially in moments where we’re in such a high turbulence season of our lives preparing for tour. We also have to worry about all this other stuff that’s on the side.”
Operating as a decentralized, and highly intentional business operation, BSD could be reviving the case for bands, period. Adding web3 to their tool kit only further bolsters their plans for longevity. “Being a band is a huge plus,” says Beepus. “We really do divide and conquer. We always talk about if we were a car: I’m the brakes, Colie’s the steering wheel, and Bardo is the transmission. We all have very defined roles. We all utilize our strengths and recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s a very healthy working relationship and friendship.”
A recipe for success, they make no bones about where they’ve set their sights. “We want to see this become the biggest, most incredible thing that we possibly can, and I don't see anything in the near future of that fuse burning out,” says Colie.
“We have a great team around us and a support system which is hugely helpful,” Beepus says, alluding to the pivotal role their management and label plays in their operations. BSD credits their management and label for encouraging their web3 efforts. Their management is more in the weeds–one of their managers, Alex, is a web3 enthusiast in his own right–while the label takes their lead on blockchain-related projects.
“When we signed to our record label we were able to work in a web3 aspect of it, which I think is really new to any artists that are signed in any capacity,” says Beepus. “We were already very much so involved in web3 pre-signing, and we were with a very forward-thinking label, so we were able to come to an agreement.”
By building web3 into their label contract, BSD is forging the path for other artists to do the same. “That’s the bummer for a lot of major label artists is that they can’t do all this stuff because there are so many people trying to take a piece. I think web3 is cool in allowing independent artists to thrive, so to have both of those worlds work for us–getting a label, but they also support us doing that–is a huge blessing,” says Beepus. “We’re trying to carve a path for other artists that are wanting to take a label route but still do web3 stuff as well.”
At the end of the day, BSD is of the opinion that good music will win out. “I don't think the music industry was ever made to be so saturated. With so much technology and so much access there are 80,000 fucking songs a day coming out on Spotify, like of course it’s unsustainable,” says Colie. “Of those 80,000 people putting songs out, there’s probably 0.01 of them making music quality enough that’s going to hit the masses on its own.” It’s a hot take, but one the band seems committed to owning, at least in their own quality control.
After tour they plan to spend December and January writing new material, bringing their various strengths to the table in a similar way they approach their business: Colie driving as the primary lyricist, Beepus offering melodies as the “riff daddy,” Bardo as the resident production wizard, and Mike as their secret weapon who they call the “heart and soul of the project,” and says is “better at all our instruments than us.”
“We call it the campfire test: If you can play it with an acoustic guitar, sing it, and it sounds good, then it’s a good song,” says Beepus. ”And then we’ll add the bells and whistles and the production and everything.” It’s funny to think of BSD songs as campfire material–considering the chaos that ensues during their LOUD live shows–but the listenability of the music regardless of genre preference and its potential for mass appeal explains so much of the buzz.
Coming off the adrenaline and exhaustion of a successful show, I’m catching the band when they’re feeling it too. They’re on the runway, wheels up–and they’re trying to process it while climbing altitude, fast.
“Last night was special,” says Colie, whose hometown is San Diego. He waves his hand in front of his face, stopping himself from saying much more. “I don't need to get into it.”
“He might start crying,” Beepus clarifies.
It’s all “love and peace and funny and safe,” here, remember? However high BSD climbs, they’re going as a family. And they’re bringing the Dropouts with them.
IRL: Sound XYZ to host LIVE event in Los Angeles on Nov 16 with performances by Iman Europe, The Park, Devin Tracy, and Brandon Banks, The Katalyst Collective, and Abjo. RSVP here.
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