Interview: Bryan Crouch of Six Side Die (ex-Hail the Villain)

Bryan Crouch, lead singer of Six Side Die (and former Hail the Villain frontman) talked with tunelab a bit about his current and former projects. Check it out below:

Starting off, could you take us through who Six Side Die is?

Six Side Die is a band that has been created kinda out of necessity, and kinda because I just couldn’t let music go. After I left Hail the Villain or parted ways with them, and unlike how Hail the Villain was a lot about the branding and the imagery and just the whole comic book scene, this is now all about the music, and that’s purely what we’ve written it for.

If you could describe a specific style or sub-genre… does it fit into one easily that can be described? Or is it just kinda what it is.

It is rock and roll, so it’s hard to put a name on it. There’s some heavy elements to it, there’s some screaming elements to it, and there’s a lot more melodic elements to it that I’ve never done before. There’s a lot more attention paid I guess to big hooks and a big chorus, and something I find a bit easier to listen to than the stuff I did previously.

For people that want to listen, there’s some trailers up of the music now?

Yeah, there will be six trailers, the last will be an interview style thing where we sit down and answer questions.

I had told people from the [tunelab] message board that I was interviewing you and asked if they had anything they wanted me to ask, and one was specifically if you were going to continue the comic book thing, and based on you saying you were moving away from the imagery, was that not necessarily you or your influence?

No, that wasn’t me. I wrote those comic books, and those stories were obviously edited by real professionals, and that was a huge part of me, but was also something that was Hail the Villain. For me to keep going and recreate that I think is just wrong. I think it was something special to that band, and if they wish to continue it, it’s something they can do. We also can’t forget the sheer amount of money it costs to do something like that.

Yeah, anything like that would have to be huge.

The initial quote we got for the original music video was about a million bucks. It ended up being about $70k each for “Take Back the Fear” and “Runaway,” but the initial price we got for just “Take Back the Fear” was $1 million. We had to work around that and really kind of find a company that wanted to be on board for a longer term instead of just one video.

And I’d guess that’d be all recoupable, right?

Haha. Of course! Well when you’re a young band you’re not thinking about recoupable, you’re thinking about holy shit this is gonna be the coolest video anyone’s ever seen. And you learn what recoupable really means when you end up with a total about $1 million. Then you see the state of the music industry and you’re like “what the fuck did we just do?”

And another part of what made Hail the Villain what they were, was you specifically; your style and charisma as a frontman and how insane you were on stage was what defined the band as far as your live show. Was that you? Or was that something you did to “be” Hail the Villain, or ?

That’s an awesome question because when I started with the band they looked at me like I was a total idiot and complete clown. As it went on, it became something everyone kept talking about and the guys eventually embraced it as actually being good for the band. I’ve had full rehearsals with Six Side Die and I just get more intense with each rehearsal we have. I can’t shut that guy off. I think that guy makes me feel comfortable on stage and makes my audience turn around and say “okay, that guys looks like an idiot, I can act like an idiot.” And then we have a whole room full of idiots by the time I’m done.

Some people would say you look possessed and that they’d be shocked initially, but then they thought it was awesome and were really into it.

Well it separates bands who are there to just play and get drunk the night before and get drunk after from the guys who are doing something they just love doing. We’re so into it that we don’t care what you really think of me, this is the show we’re gonna put on. You can’t take that out of me, it’s just who I am.

And before the vocal cord hemmorage, that was also a topic of conversation… you know part of what people described as a bit of your insanity, was the way you screamed and how completely raw it was, and people had said they thought you were gonna blow your throat out. Is that something where you have to dial back that part of you to keep watch and make sure that doesn’t happen again and protect yourself?

That’s something you’ve gotta watch. It is really possible to continue to do that, but the thing is when I do do it, I’m not dialing back. It’s just not as often. You know I’ve had lots of conversations with the doctors about this, and it’s something where for a year where they said you just can’t be doing what you’re doing. It’s just not something singers should ever be doing with their voice. And I kept thinking there had to be another way, because guys from Avenged Sevenfold and Shadows Fall were doing it, but the way I was doing it was loose cannon, and the damage I was doing was too much. It’s not dialing it back, it’s just that I don’t do it very often, and the music doesn’t really suit what that is.

Do you ever think about… don’t take this question seriously, but the consequences of not giving a disclaimer to your fans and then your fans are blowing their own vocals out trying to sing along in their cars or wherever?

Haha, I’d tell them they shouldn’t be doing that. You know what’s funny is the guys in Hail the Villain when they’d be doing their background vocals, just trying to get up where I was, they were hurting themselves. So it’s kind of funny, because we could never do a background or a harmony that was higher than what I was doing, because it was too ridiculous, so it was always an issue for sure.

So back when the hemmorage happened and you had to come off the road, can you take us through that timeline a bit? It almost seemed like rumor at first that you couldn’t sing again, and I know the band went back out on the road with another singer for a while, then they put up a YouTube video that said they tried to do it but they couldn’t do it… that your energy wasn’t there so it wasn’t right. Then for six months there was nothing, until they announced your departure. When they went back out with the other singer, was it with your blessing because you couldn’t go or what?

It was nothing like that. My voice was starting to fall apart for about a year getting worse and worse. What ended up happening was I got to a point where I was spitting blood up. I couldn’t sing, I was cracking. I was seeing all these doctors and we get out to Edmonton, Alberta and I did a show. We got told we were nominated for a Juno, so we were kinda nervous. We were stoked, but I knew it was becoming a massive issue for me. I ended up doing the show and I blew right out. I woke up the next morning spitting blood and had to see a specialist in Alberta the next day. Management flew out to go with me, and [the doctor] said you’re done, you’re toast, there’s nothing more that you can do. So I went back to Toronto and saw another doctor, and she said I needed a year to recover. The band and management gave me two months to get better. I told them after two months I wasn’t getting better, and that I was actually getting worse just from trying to push it and fix it that quickly. I told them I either couldn’t go on tour or we’d run tracks. And I know it’s a horrible thing to actually admit that and say that, but it was the only thing on the table I could do to stay with the band on the road, which is what I really wanted to do. They elected to just tell me I’m being selfish and should just suck it up. They didn’t believe it was as bad as I was saying it was, and they decided to get another singer. I had no idea it was going to happen, and they told me to play it cool in the media and say I supported the decision, but I told them I wouldn’t because I just thought it was wrong. And I guess them coming home was a way to say ‘Bryan, this isn’t going to work without you.’ It was more of a ploy to me in that video you were talking about, because I hadn’t spoken to them. And I had basically said to myself I was done at that point. They got home, we saw a therapist, and I quit the band. So in that period when it went dark, it was dark, because we all knew it was done. That’s me actually shortening the story down. It wasn’t an amicable split, it wasn’t a good split, and I haven’t spoken to any of them in about a year.

So when you decided to get into Six Side Die, was it something where you were just jamming with some guys and decided to do it, or something you wanted to do and went out and found specific musicians to surround yourself with?

Exactly that, the latter. I didn’t want to do it at all to tell you the truth. I tried to just get a job and say this is it. My voice was tacked, I’d done some great things, and I was excited I got a chance and toured the world and had all that. There’s something in people where if you love something enough you just can’t let it go, and as much as I know it’s gonna screw up my life again, I’ve gotta get back into it. I just started writing with a producer who was actually someone I hated and he didn’t like me much either for a really, really long time. And what’s really interesting about it is we had a beer about it, and another beer, and then we decided to make a record together. And I think from that point we organized the band around people I think are incredible players and moreso they’re just awesome people and it’s a lot of fun. We just get in a room and honestly if we didn’t jam for a week it would sound just as good. They’re that good. And honestly I’m really and truly enjoying myself right now.

So is the record done? What stage is it in now?

It’s being mixed right now, and what we’re doing is releasing an EP. The reason is because it’s gonna come out as a top-notch sonically sounding EP. It’ll have six songs on it and the next EP will be paid for with this one, because we have such low overhead the way we did it. But I didn’t want to put out all the songs we wrote when we didn’t have the money to mix them all, because there’s big money involved in it. And that’s truly the honest answer, we wanted to do it all but it was a matter of let’s pimp it out and make them sound as big and huge as possible, and we’ll lead with this and it’ll blend in. Now the live show will incorporate all the other songs we’ve written, but it’s just a digital release and we’ll hopefully sell enough copies right away. And I think the way the turnout’s going, we’ll hopefully have more than enough to do the next EP right away.

And June 6th is the date that first one comes out, right?

Yup, June 6th.

So obviously you’ll have it on Amazon, iTunes, Google Music, and all that, right?

Yeah we hope to have it as accessible as possible. Right now it will be digital only.

Do you have any labels sniffing around yet? Or are they maybe kinda waiting for the EP to come out?

There’s some sniffing and we’ve had some kind of talks about it. I’ve done that route though and I know the benefits of being on a label, but as we’re seeing and I’m sure you’re familiar with our Canadian counterparts Baptized in Blood, but they just got dropped by Roadrunner and Roadrunner overseas went under. It seems like a massive trend where a lot of the majors just can’t give you the money that you need, and if they do then they don’t have the money to market. So I think the main thing here is to put the product out before we sign something and let the disc speak for itself. If the demand is high enough, then they’ll want to sign it for the right amount of money, instead of like a beggar’s fee.

Are there any tour plans in the works? Is there like a local place where people can catch you now or anything?

We’ll be hitting up all the radio markets, and in our country first because it’s the easiest. Rock radio in Canada works a lot differently than in the US. There’s not a lot of options, and it’s mostly mainstream. We’ll be hitting up the 401… the 401 is like your interstate, but it hits all the major markets like Windsor, Hamilton, Toronto, London, Ottawa, and obviously Oshawa where I’m from. We’ll be hitting those markets and play it by ear. We’ve got a good base out of Quebec too so we’ll hit that. The US, it’s funny, I check out the amount of support we have in the US and it’s something I will not neglect as long as we have the money to get down there. Festivals too.

Check out Six Side Die trailers 1-5 here: