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Plain and simple, the music industry is a business. While many musicians may dream of stardom occurring by being in the right place at the right time, the reality is that success in music stems from many grassroots ideals. Organization, education, networking and a hard work ethic are all common traits that you will see in many of today’s top artists and bands — especially Regina success story The Dead South.
For lead vocalist and guitarist Nathaniel Hilts, practice has always made perfect and has solidified the band as one of Regina’s most celebrated live acts locally and abroad. Far from living the rock and roll lifestyle, this success would grow through the band’s unstoppable work acumen and continued desire for personal growth.
“One thing is for sure, you have to play, play, play and play,” notes Hilts. “You have to take every opportunity possible. When we first started, we weren’t very good but eventually we started to get tighter and perform better.”
Celebrating with two sold out upcoming album release shows at The Exchange (with a third recently added and already en route to the same fate), The Dead South’s fire in the gut and spit in the eye approach to their performances would help them reach CIMA Road Gold status in 2015. Road Gold status is a way to recognize a touring band who have surpassed sales of 25,000 tickets in one calendar year. It’s a testament to the dedicated fan base of a local band who have been voted the Best Band in Regina in the past three years and are easily one of our province’s biggest musical exports, signing to Germany’s Devil Duck Records and selling out shows continuously throughout Europe.
Releasing their sophomore full length, Illusion and Doubt in North America on Nov. 18 to critical acclaim, The Dead South have charted in Denmark, been recognized as having one of Canada’s Top 40 albums and are currently crossing the nation with their new tunes in tow.
Those are only a few of several amazing achievements accomplished over a short amount of time by a band who got their start as a way to learn how to play their chosen instruments.
“When we first started, I thought no one would be interested in what we were doing,” states Hilts. “I had actually never even sang in front of people before. It’s been overwhelming but it’s also been really great!”
Noting their successes and understanding that they needed to take care of business, The Dead South would eventually build a brand around their band, A brand that has been crafted through inspiration and a strong awareness to what was going on around them.
Inspired by the on stage excitement and energy of bands they loved (such as Regina’s Despistado) a Dead South show is an experience. New fans young and old instantly fall in love with their onstage choreography and charisma backed by their unique bluegrass folk sound and traditionally inspired attire.
Their style has been so significant that members of their audiences have been known to show up at their shows wearing matching black suspenders, bolo ties and stetson hats with their biggest fans even going so far as to dress up their kids like band members for Halloween. Taking a page out of The Ramones playbook, it has been their attention to even the smallest details that has helped them succeed in a business with an unfortunately small window of success.
While assigning band related tasks to the strongest members (with others lending a hand where needed) has proven to work very well for band, the most successful approach to their careers has also been the easiest and it’s an approach that Hilts can’t stress enough.
“Ask a lot of questions and try to do as much as you can yourself!” states Hilts firmly. “Although we’ve done a lot, we still have so many questions. If you’re willing to put all that time and effort into yourself then you’ll be willing to put that time into your music.”
Article by Taron Cochrane.
Reprinted courtesy of the Leader Post.