Operatic's new website is up and running and their cd is finally for sale.
New Site. http://www.operaticmusic.com/
Buy CD. https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr
Another old article...IT'S IN THE GAMESan Diego rockers get ahead by getting in with video-game nationby Jed Gottlieb Once, a long time ago, life was simple. Green Day was a band you saw at the Casbah for three bucks. Your favorite video game soundtrack was the putt-putt-putt sound effect of Asteroids. And Tony Hawk was just another snot-nosed skate punk. (OK, Hawk was never just another skate punk.) While nostalgia junkies may lament the facts—Green Day banks more money in a weekend than your tax-attorney father will in his lifetime, Asteroids is kinda lame and Tony Hawk’s merchandizing empire would make Donald Trump blush—you can’t stop capitalism. If something’s cool, it’s not going to stay pure for long. It’s going to cross-pollinate and show up in a Mountain Dew commercial. Video games merge with music, music merges with surf/skate/snow culture, and the result is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Here’s an example of how the cross-pollination can play out: Tony Hawk becomes the world’s best skater. He founds a skateboard company. He founds a clothing company. He teams up with Activision in 1999 to create his own video game. From the very beginning Hawk’s Pro Skater (which has now spawned a half-dozen sequels) was celebrated for its soundtrack. Activision and Hawk weren’t the first to woo rock stars—three years prior, Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor composed the soundtrack to Quake and the same year as Pro Skater came Thrasher: Skate and Destroy featuring the old-school hip-hop of Run-DMC, Public Enemy and Afrika Bambaataa. Activision and Hawk just did a better job of nailing the key demographic. With a soundtrack that included Goldfinger, the Dead Kennedys and Primus, Pro Skater had street cred with both skate punks and wannabe skate punks. The follow-ups only buttressed the franchise’s reputation as the game to play if you wanted to hear a blend of the coolest and newest punk, rap and metal. “Tony’s game is one of the games that every band wants to be in,” says Operatic’s Jesse Fritsch. “There’s Tony’s game, John Madden and Grand Theft Auto. It’s basically these three that are at the top, but any skate or snow game is good.” Operatic—one of San Diego’s many up-and-coming punk outfits—landed a spot on Hawk’s latest, Tony Hawk Underground: 2, which was released last October. Fritsch’s band isn’t on a record label, but their song “Interested in Madness” is in heavy rotation alongside The Doors’ “Break on Through,” The Ramones’ “Rock ’n’ Roll High School” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” The serendipity and absurdity of the situation is not lost on Fritsch. When he first started playing the promotional copy of the game, he didn’t know when his song would pop up. After five minutes, “Interested in Madness” came pulsing through his speakers. “It was crazy. I think it was the third song I heard,” he says. “It came up between Metallica and Jimmy Eat World. It’s great to be next to those bands.” Fritsch says the song has “become the closest thing his band has to a hit single.” Operatic has already been approached by major labels (Fritsch won’t say which ones because the band’s still in talks) and is in the process of recording its debut album. The band plans to send some of the results to their new Activison contacts for consideration in future games. But it’s not the industry inroads that Fritsch considers the biggest benefit. Instead, he points to the fact that kids (and a couple million adults) play games for so many hours that soundtracks are permanently etched into their memories. Video game soundtracks (thanks again to the fusion of commerce and D.I.Y. punk) have joined radio and MTV as a legitimate medium in the process of “breaking the band.” And unlike radio and MTV, video games don’t have a stigma of being corporate, even though they are. “Growing up, I never listened to the radio. I listened to the bands that friends told me about and bands in skateboard videos,” says Fritsch. “I would watch a video a thousand times, if not more, and I don’t really know if I liked the bands at first, but because they were associated with something I really liked, I got into them. That’s how I heard of bands like Sonic Youth and fIREHOUSE. Well, now video games are the new skating videos. If a song is in a skating video game, a kid’s going to have a connection with it.” Fritsch credits the soundtrack with quadrupling hits on Operatic’s website. And last week the band—which hasn’t toured much outside of Southern California—got a CD order from Austria. Operatic’s just one of a handful of Southern California bands getting a career boost from gaming. Notable locals Denver Harbor, Unwritten Law, Buckfast Superbee and 3against1 have all used games to raise their profiles. Buckfast Superbee’s two songs on the MLB Slugfest: Loaded soundtrack began a national buzz around the band. “We got a shitload of e-mails from all over the country from that video game alone,” says TJ of Buckfast. “They look up our website, sign our mailing list and order the record. We’ve got new fans in places we’ve never even been to before, places where our record isn’t even in stores. We got 120 e-mails from Arkansas. I don’t know if it was all the same kids, but it’s still crazy. I even got a couple e-mails from Japan.” 3against1’s Arnaud Lemaire attributes much of the band’s recent success to their song on the motocross game MX Unleashed. Since the game’s release a year ago, the unsigned band was named “Best Rock Band” at the 2004 San Diego Music Awards, has licensed its songs for use on MTV and A&E, and beat out more than 1,000 bands to be named the winner of the Zippo Hot Tour. “I market my band very aggressively and I know somebody in the radio industry who knows people looking for music in video games,” says Lemaire. “I just kept bugging her and bugging her and eventually she sent someone to our website. Three days after that we had a contact at [game publisher] THQ.” Increased website traffic and local music awards are great for fostering a fan base, but big record sales are the real litmus test for success. Yet no one really knows what kind of impact having a song in a game has on a band’s album sales, says Steve Schnur, worldwide executive of music for Electronic Arts (EA). “There’s no equation to figure out if being on a game equates to record sales,” he says. If anyone knows how game soundtracks have influenced the music business, it’s Schnur. He started at MTV in the early ’80s and went on to work as a staff producer, A&R man and executive for Electra, Arista and Capital Records. Simultaneously, he worked for film companies producing soundtracks. About four years ago, he was recruited by EA—the biggest independent game publisher with the widest variety of hit titles—to run its music department. Schnur says it was only natural that video game soundtracks evolved from blips and beeps to big-name bands. “It’s like films moving from player pianos to Lil’ Kim, Christina Aguilera, Mya & Pink singing the theme from Moulin Rouge,” he says. “The bottom line is, this is now a mainstream form of entertainment.” While it took film a century to perfect its marriage with the music industry, games have tied the knot in less than a decade. Schnur says it’s because punk, metal and rap artists are also gamers. “Snoop didn’t create the theme song for Need for Speed just because somebody told him it was a good idea,” he says. “Snoop is a video game fanatic, so is Green Day, so is blink. That’s the difference between bands promoting and introducing their songs in video games and licensing a song for something like a Pepsi commercial. These groups love games.” The so-appropriately named, new chart-topping rapper The Game recently told the Washington Post how much prestige artists place on securing a slot in a great game. Even with Dr. Dre producing his debut, The Game told the Post, “It’d be really, really hot to get on Madden.” Next to, or possibly above, Tony Hawk’s franchise is John Madden’s EA published games. Though not the sports icon you most identify with hip-hop or punk, Madden has become synonymous with the best-selling series and the soundtracks it’s spawned. Before “American Idiot” was a hit single, a video or a Grammy nominee, Green Day’s comeback anthem was on Madden NFL 2004. Last year, record labels submitted more than 2,500 songs to compete for the game’s 21 slots, so it’s no surprise that the Madden and Hawk soundtracks read like a playlist of the year’s top singles. “Idiot,” Jimmy Eat World’s “Pain,” Chevelle’s “The Clincher” and Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” were all featured on the soundtracks. As important as it is to secure the Green Days and blink-182s, game publishers always want to stay hip and discover the coolest underground bands before their demographic does. That’s why publishers court unknowns like 3against1, Operatic and Buckfast Superbee. Next up to get the video game Midas touch is Louis XIV. While the San Diego band doesn’t seem to need much help after all the local radio airplay and a new contract with Atlantic, Louis will also featured in EA’s MVP Baseball coming out in March. “We just love this band,” says Schnur. “We want kids from New York to California, from Detroit to Houston to all learn about this band.” And they will. Video games sales are already outpacing Hollywood’s box-office receipts—EA alone took in about $3 billion last year. This indicates that it’s games, not TV or film, that dominate and drive youth culture. “Hey, look, there was no kid asking for a DVD for Christmas this year—it’s all about Play Station,” says Buckfast’s TJ. Yet one thing bands won’t do is get a big paycheck from game publishers for their contributions. Buckfast made about $4,000 off of MLB Slugfest—which is a lot of money for a up-and-comers, but it’s pocket change for Green Day. Operatic didn’t even get paid for their song. The band was just happy to get on the Hawk soundtrack. Yet even if a direct line can’t be drawn between showing up on a game and record sales or paychecks, bands are still swarming to compete for the publicity. They know there’s no end to what positive word-of-mouth can do for jump starting a buzz in their key demographic. “The kids that are buying our records are definitely the same kids that are playing video games,” says Les Borsai, manager of Unwritten Law. “They know the band, they are part of the surf/skate/video game crowd. It’s probably heavily male-driven and anywhere from 12 to 20. That’s right down the sweet spot for us.” How far will the marriage between rock and games go? Maybe so far as to make the two indistinguishable. Not figuratively, but literally. Unwritten Law’s latest video is a piece of animation being made in Germany. “Can you look at that and say could this be a game as well? Absolutely,” says Borsai. “I’d love to take what we’re working on in Germany and see what opportunities exist for these characters we’ve created around the band in a game.”
Who has seen Operatic live?If so, please, indulge the details of how great the show was to the ones who have not seen them live....which would be me. ;)
Old Operatic Interview.
Being a San Diego local, I am always proud when my hometown has some new talented bands that I haven’t heard of. My new obsession is a San Diego band named Operatic. Being one of the most talented unsigned bands that I have ever heard, it’s only a matter of time before they get signed and move on to bigger and better things. Already it looks like Operatic may be moving toward success, including a part in Face to Face’s final tour this August. After the tour the band will be recording a full length CD, which is due out in spring of next year. The CD will be produced by Trevor Keith of Face to Face. Look out for Operatic, as this talented band will be making its mark on the music world in the near future.- Brad Pool and Nat Evatt
Can you tell us a little history about the band?
Jesse: The band, I guess it originally started with a few of us doing these skateboard videos, but the companies were getting sued for music rights in their videos. This was when skateboarding was getting popular. So my friends that skated and my sponsors needed music so they wouldn’t get sued, and they knew that I played music. Josh lived in Florida and we grew up in Pennsylvania together and played in a band together called Epol Mizerve. The way it started was the skate companies needed music, so they would ask us, “We want a song that sounds like Shellac, or The Pixies”, we would try and make that sort of feel for them. But Josh lived in Florida, so I would do half of it here and he would do half of it there. After a while people started to like it and began asking where the music was coming from. They kept calling the skate company Etnies, which was the company we did the whole series for, and people were responding very well to the music that was being played in the commercials and videos. Josh moved out here and we met Freddy, the bass player through Dave Kennedy, the guitarist from Box Car Racer (now Hazing Street), and Freddy played with Ted, and that’s how it started.
Why the name Operatic?
Jesse: It came from a drawing my roommate did, right? Ted and Josh: Yeah.Jesse: There were two drawings; one was ‘endiviche,’ and the other ‘operratic,’ but we didn’t spell it that way, we should have.Ted: Yeah because everyone writes it like ‘operatic.’
I heard you moved to San Diego for a skateboarding sponsorship?
Jesse: Yeah, I mean I got sponsored when Josh and I played in Epol Mizerve, or right after that, and that’s kind of why I left that band and moved to Florida. Once I moved there, Tampa was having a skate competition called the Tampa Amateur and I won that. So the next step seemed to be to move out to California, because that’s where everyone was in skateboarding at the time, and I wanted to see how far I could go.
To help the fans recognize you more what have been some of the bigger shows you’ve played?
All: Rocket from The Crypt, Small Bound Bike, Jealous Sound, Engine Down, an art show we just did with Scarlet Symphony went really well.Josh: Oh, we can’t forget about the show with Bare Naked Ladies in Aspen (all laughing). Jesse: We did play with them but we don’t want to put that in there. Just the singer of Bare Naked Ladies, and that was rotten because it was all acoustic. Those are probably the bigger ones I think.
About record companies, has there been any talk with labels at all?
Jesse: We’ve had a bunch of different companies talk to us, and we are still trying to figure out how to talk back to them, and have someone that sort of does it for us. Yeah, I don’t want to say…Josh: We are not so good at hyping ourselves up; we kind of just do what we do, we don’t promote very well, we’re not like “Hey check us out, we’re great!”, again we just keep doing what we do. People have contacted us, but we can’t sell ourselves.Jesse: It’s hard to be that guy, like if a label calls you and says “I think you need that person”, or “This is why you should sign with these guys”, and we are trying to find that guy that can control all the aspects of dealing with this issue.
So this isn’t a hobby, you are trying to get signed?
Ted: Oh no, we are definitely doing it; it’s a hobby with a goal at the end, to be successful.Josh: There is a goal to get signed, but to be what Ted said “Hopefully have success in doing so.”Jesse: I guess to be able to put out a record, and I think everyone loves to be able to play music and everyone wants to put out a record, and the only way is with money. That’s the problem, none of us have the money to produce one so I guess the goal of it is to get someone to do it for us. Josh: We are obviously not trying to get on TRL or cater to anything like that.
Josh: We want to do musically what we like and if other people like it then that’s cool, but we don’t want to sound like 500 other bands that are already out there just to jump on the bandwagon. We just want to create our own sound and if people like it then that’s an assed bonus. We are not following what is popular; we want our music to represent who we are.
Can you tell us about the trip to Tampa coming up?
(Pause in interview while Counterfit and Operatic talk (which is cool that they practice at the same spot))
Jesse: Sorry about that, Tampa. Fender flew us out there to do a show. There was a skateboard competition, which was the competition I talked about earlier, the Amateur, but they have a pro one too, and this one is the pro contest. This is the largest non-corporate contest, you know you have X-Games and other contests, but this is probably the most respected contest of the year. Also it’s the contest with the biggest party scene, so they have a concert within it all.
(Then a discussion on broken bones and how we broke them, funny)
So getting back, when is the anticipated record coming out?
Jesse: Every time we finish new songs we are sending them out to 91X and the venues around San Diego. Oh, this is Freddy, our bassist (who showed up at the end of the interview) Freddy: How’s it going?!
You have been compared to Jealous Sound and Fugazi; have they influenced you at all musically?
Jesse: I can see the influence, I love Fugazi, and they are one of my favorite bands.Josh: Jesse and I grew up on the East Coast, like 3 hours from D.C., and all of those bands would come through that area because Penn State was there. So, every weekend there was some kind of indie rock show happening, and we’ve been going to those since we were like 12 or so.Jesse: Like Josh said, where we grew up was the D.C. Fugazi Sound, and then Ted and Freddy grew up with the San Diego sound, which I guess is like Jealous Sound and Knapsack. I guess you can see why we have those associations.
Why San Diego? Why not Pennsylvania?
Jesse: You try playing in Pennsylvania (laughing), it’s impossible. There is no “scene.” Josh: Pennsylvania, in a way is cool because every city is like 3 hours apart. Like one weekend you can play in New York, the next weekend in D.C., the next Pittsburgh, but as far as the local scene there is none. So, trying to establish yourself as a band in all these cities where you don’t know anyone and nobody has ever heard of you, it’s hard to get on shows.Jesse: Like here it’s cool, there are so many good bands that are coming out of here like Counterfit; (who just walked in), that I think being in an area like this it helps you become more creative and have more resources to play shows. If you are playing a show in Pennsylvania all the time with just your friend’s bands, just because they have a band, where it is here you have the opportunity to play with good bands who have established themselves. You get excited, if you see an awesome band, which makes you want to play awesome too. It’s like watching the Karate Kid; you want to fight your brother. Josh: And when you’re stuck in a small town and you’re the only band there, it’s like you’re the shit, you know. Everyone is like “you’re the best”, but you are probably not because there is nobody to compare you to.Jesse: My first skate contest, they were like “You’re going to win” (when I went to Florida), and I beat 2 girls. (Everyone laughs)
What can we expect from Operatic in the future?
Jesse: Hopefully in the near future we have a lot of recordings and lots of shows.Josh: The only thing we can guarantee is that we are just going to keep writing songs and doing what we do. And we hope that we still get to do what we love, which is to play music, because it’s what makes us happy.
Are their any last thoughts from you guys?
Jesse: Freddy this one’s all yours. Speak up.Freddy: I’ve been here for 2 minutes. Hmm…first and last thoughts…Josh: First thought is how good Aaron Carter is and how you want to be in his band.Freddy: Who the hell is Aaron Carter?All: That’s our final thought.
--Thank you Operatic for the interview.
This picture is a new one on their Myspace site. One of my favorites.
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ohhhh now this is good times. lovely band. and yet I still have not seen them yet. and that is not good times.-Chrissy
Operatic's first full length album is coming out in late October. No release date, yet. Here's a track listing...1. Interested in Madness2. Fail Dis-Fascination3. Forget + Think + Tell4. Fiona5. Old Time Radio6. The Wall, The Glass, The Ghost7. Killing Us Is EasyI can tell you that Interested in Madness, Forget + Think + Tell, Old Time Radio, and Killing Us is Easy all kick ass. I haven't heard the other ones yet but I'm sure they just as equally as good.
Unfortunately Operatic did not when the award on Monday....that's ok. There's always next year.
Don't forget...today's the day to vote for Operatic!
Please, do so here http://sdmusicawards.com/Ballot2005.shtml
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