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Trolling the World with Jered Threatin (2019 Interview)

The man the internet loves to hate is just warming up…

Threatin

Jered Threatin looks ill. Perched on a chair surrounded by cameras and microphones, the small, pale man who broke the internet a year ago is not in good shape. Despite his reputation as a world-class trickster, Threatin’s facial micro-expressions indicate authentic concern as he outlines his health issues.

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“I have what they call a PAVM [pulmonary arteriovenous malformation], and basically one of the major arteries in my right lung grew irregularly into my heart,” Threatin explains. “It's making blood hemorrhage into my lungs. I’ll be out of breath at times, which doesn't help with my vocals, and I might have to spend 45 minutes coughing up blood before I go onstage.”

“I’ve had a couple surgeries now, but it’s not gotten any better. Every time I go in, they say they're going to cure it, I'm gonna be fine, and it never fixes it. I feel shitty 24/7, and it’s gotten progressively worse, but it is what it is. It’s just part of my reality now.”

It would be easy to dismiss the above as transparent sympathy-seeking, but Threatin’s demeanour changes noticeably during the health-related discussions that bookend our conversation. Jered Eames, the man behind the mask, seems to emerge again when the time comes to wrap things up.

“I had some stuff happen with my legs too, a couple years ago, prior to all of this. I ended up in a wheelchair, and couldn't walk for over a year, so this is not new to me. I tried stem cell therapy, and a whole surgery where they hammered into my hip and took out some bone marrow, then did stem cell injections in my legs, and that's what healed me.”

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“That was the biggest motivation for this from the beginning. It was like okay, I've gotta make my mark quick, because I've only got so much time.”

Trolling the World with Jered Threatin (2019 Interview)

If you were paying even the faintest attention to music news outlets last year, you’ll already know the story behind Threatin’s rise to infamy. After his record Breaking the World failed to live up to its name, Threatin created a set of imaginary companies, summoned a fake social media fanbase, and used the façade to fool 10 European music venues into booking his band. Detailed research would have revealed Superlative Recordings, StageRight Bookings, and Aligned Artist Management to be works of fiction, while the band’s fanbase was inexplicably based in Brazil – but superficial impressions were evidently more than enough to get Threatin onstage at venues like The Underworld, London’s most infamous rock and metal haven.

Crucially, Threatin didn’t aim too high. Music journalists are constantly bombarded with pitches from fakers who take things too far, buying six-figure followings and over-the-top engagement stats while their catalogs consist of nothing more than a few terrible demos. Threatin wasn’t really doing anything new – he just adopted a more detailed strategy.

“If I wanted it to say 10 million followers, I could've done that,” Threatin says. “It needed to look like an up-and-coming band that was realistic for the size of the venues I was aiming at. Otherwise people would ask why this band has 10 million followers, when they've never heard of them.”

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At this point, the story splits in two. Although Threatin did succeed in booking the venues, he still didn’t have any real fans – so he spent most of the tour playing to empty rooms. Acting as his own fake promoter, Threatin convinced each venue that hundreds of tickets had been sold, leaving them in the dark until showtime. Anticipating healthy attendance figures, the venues were staffed and prepared accordingly, which left them out of pocket when no paying customers showed up.

After suspicious bar staff at one British venue started to dig into his band’s backstory, recruiting the internet’s music sleuths in the process, the truth behind Threatin’s plot was quickly revealed and broadcast across the world. Even his own hired backing band had been misled, and they quickly fled before suing him for almost $20,000. Threatin’s tour fell apart, he became a globally humiliated failure, and it could easily have ended there.

That’s the media’s version of the story – but Threatin’s take is very different. If he’s to be believed, this was just part of his master plan, a grand “illusion” that immediately ensnared millions of music fans. The cameras and microphones that surround us during our conversation are being used to record the exchange as part of a Threatin documentary, a project that apparently pre-dates the whole scandal.

“We started filming this before the stunt, nine months in advance,” Threatin states. “This was all prepared. My wife and I were going to film it from the beginning. I had the whole buildup to the stunt, everything from the stunt, the shows, everything was captured. The documentary was the point from the beginning.”

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As for the reportedly successful $20,000 court case, Threatin claims it never happened. “Fake news. It came out the day after I posted my advert for a new guitarist. I already had a new guitarist, so I didn't need one; the advert was just to see if the media would pick it up and run with it, and of course they did. I wanted to see how much the media was still talking about me.”

“I knew they'd send emails to the former members, which they did, and I assume that's where that came from. It's just fake news. I've seen a lot of stuff like that. I became clickbait, so whatever they could attach my name to, they did. I don't mind – it keeps me in the press, so go for it.”

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“Negativity is what sells,” Threatin continues. “I bring it on myself, and that's what I'm looking for. Nobody's going to give a shit about a positive story, but the bigger the chaos, catastrophe, and controversy you create, that's what gets attention, so that's what I'm after.”

“The music industry as a whole is fuckin’ boring. The rock scene is dead, and it fucking needs me. I'm the only entertaining thing going on right now.”

That statement is debatable for a number of reasons, including Threatin’s near-total withdrawal from the public eye following a handful of interviews, a few provocative social media posts, and the announcement of a one-off Underworld show booked for exactly one year after Threatin’s first appearance in London. Rather than capitalize on the attention, maintain his career’s momentum, and keep the entertainment coming, Threatin vanished for most of 2019.

“[Radio silence] felt like it served the story best,” Threatin explains. “I could've done two or three tours in that time, major festivals…I had offers for all kinds of different things, but it didn't serve the story and what I'm trying to do with this documentary. I can do [anything] after this, but that’s why I waited a year.”

“If I was out playing 30 shows straight, I'd be a normal musician. I'd be in everybody's face every night; there'd be no mystery, nothing to talk about. There's a million mundane bands; I'm not after that. Every show I do will be planned, and it’ll be dramatically different.”

“I'm an artist. Everything I do is performance art to some degree, has a concept, a statement, a point. So [the 2019 Underworld] show will be another statement. Another piece of performance art.”

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As our comprehensive live review of that show makes clear, “performance art” is actually an apt choice of words. In front of an audience of 50 people, Threatin launched into a 45-minute set alongside three “fake band” robots and a full group of human session players. Only the humans survived the show; after using a sex doll wearing a “BBC NEWS” t-shirt to give himself a simulated mid-set blowjob, Threatin brought proceedings to a close by destroying everything in sight in a fit of pre-orchestrated rage.

The internet is only beginning to process the fallout of Threatin’s latest spectacle at the time of writing, but Jered himself is happy to let us in on his next set of schemes. Aside from the obvious new album (Infamous, to be released in conjunction with Threatin’s documentary in mid-2020), there may be “a two-film deal with the Gotham Group, the company which did the Maze Runner films,” and another attempt at exploiting the same music industry blind spot that allowed Threatin’s first “stunt” to gain wings.

“I've created 10 more fake bands,” Threatin states proudly, “and I've already begun booking a new tour. It’ll be called the ‘Threatin Incognito Tour’, at least 10 dates, with 10 different fake bands. I’ve already booked shows at two of the venues that I fooled on the last tour, with these new fake bands. One's at the Bristol Exchange, and the other is at The Asylum in Birmingham. Clearly their booking practices have not changed at all.”

“All it takes is the right image, and the right social media numbers, and I can book anything anywhere,” Threatin says. “And I did it again, just to show it could be done. I'm going to show up with this tour, assuming they don't find these things now that I've tipped them off. Maybe they'll cancel it, maybe they won't. Otherwise, it'll be a surprise Threatin show.”

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“Each band has a new name, new backstory, new music, everything you'd need. I created each one in an afternoon, just a couple of minutes, and a couple minutes more to make sure the social media numbers looked right. That's all it takes. All these bands who struggle to get booked and noticed…I don't understand it. They have no clue when it comes to image, I guess. But it takes very little effort to get into the scene.”

Of course, there’s still the question of what happens once people know who you are, and you’re stuck with a bad reputation. How can you keep your identity concealed? For a moment, this writer silently considers Snapchat’s gender-swap filter…

Trolling the World with Jered Threatin (2019 Interview)

What a time to be alive.

“I’m not in the photos,” Threatin clarifies. “These bands look like their own entities. It's not going to be me in disguise, wearing a hat or some shit. It's more a little bit of Photoshop magic, but it shouldn't be that hard for them to identify the fakes.”

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“That's the sad thing. Last time, if any of those venues at any point had clicked a bit further, they would've seen that I had hundreds of zombie accounts, and they weren't even British, although I could've easily made it look like they were. It’s just laziness more than anything.”

Love him or hate him, Jered Threatin clearly isn’t planning on stopping any time soon. His health problems may have forced him to seek accelerated fame by fair means or foul, but how far does he want to go? What’s his ultimate ambition?

“I've already gotten what I wanted,” Threatin replies. “It was just to have my name be known – that was the number one thing. I'm not going to stay in just music; music is just one of the things I do. I'll keep releasing albums and things like that, but this is not the only thing that I do artistically. I'm just an artist altogether. This is only the beginning.”

“In terms of fanfare, that doesn't matter to me at all. I do not care. If there's one kid, and this is the whole point of all of this, there can be no one there. If there's one camera there, you're playing to the millions of people on the internet.”

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“The number of people in a room with you, who showed up, who live in a 30-mile radius of that venue and could come on that particular night, is fucking irrelevant,” Threatin concludes, before we part ways. “If there's one kid holding a camera, you're playing to the entire world, because that's what the internet creates. But I couldn't care less if I'm playing to no one, or 10 million people. It's not about that for me. It's about the piece of art. The fanfare is irrelevant.”

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