Utah “scrap metal” band Charlatan are making quite the name for themselves and were recently signed by Revival Recordings (Shawn Milke of Alesana’s label). They’re talented, they’re kind and they’re as weird as it gets but they reel you in like no other. I had a chance to talk to Austin Heath about their upcoming West Coast tour with Alesana, For the Win, Versus and Vesta Collide, what they have for 2017 and what they stand for as a band. Check out the resulting interview below, along with their newest video for “Bone Dance!”
BearlySinister: Thank you for doing this, can you introduce yourself and your role in the band, please?
Heath: Thank you for having us! This is Heath, and I play guitar for Charlatan.
BearlySinister: Where did you come up with the name “Charlatan?”
Heath: Grey brought the name up after a discussion his seminary teacher had in class back in high school: “Either Joseph Smith was the greatest prophet that ever lived, or he was the greatest charlatan.” To be a charlatan means to be a swindler, or someone falsely claiming to have skills or knowledge that they don’t actually possess. We didn’t know what the hell we were doing when we first started the band back then, so we thought the name fit perfectly.
BearlySinister: You recently signed to Revival Recordings. What about Charlatan drew them to you and how were you approached about being signed to the label?
Heath: I think it was our approach to songwriting, how we present ourselves, and how that is showcased in our new, unreleased material. It’s just straight up catchy, weird, and all over the place haha. We set out to create something that begs for an opinion, and I think we did just that. Revival reached out to us shortly after we sent out a round of demos, and they ended up being the best option for us as a band.
BearlySinister: What about Revival Recordings drew Charlatan to signing and how do you feel about your label mates and what they represent in “Good Music by Good People?”
Heath: The dedication they have to our vision is staggering, and they have been very accommodating to our needs as a band. Being on the more sporadic and “kooky/wacky” side of the spectrum, it’s flattering to have a team like them who are so willing to let us be us and deliver that to the masses. Of the label mates we have met so far (The Funeral Portrait, Famous Last Words, Artwork) the slogan definitely rings true. We can’t wait to get to know them and the rest of the roster better in the coming years.
BearlySinister: Based off of your videos (both covers and originals) Charlatan seems to be made up of some really fun individuals. What goes into creating your videos and why do you think people should check you out?
Heath: Haha, we like to think of ourselves as fun individuals. The core members of the band (me, Grey, and Tyler) are the best of friends, and spend all of our time together either cracking jokes or having all these crazy deep talks about life, music, our society, etc. When you mix that with the complete lack of shame we have, it leads to some pretty interesting video ideas. With our originals videos, we typically start with a concept that compliments the underlying theme of the song, and try to smash in equal parts of thought provoking and absurd. The cover videos are a bit more straightforward and are usually just one giant joke. If you want to be surprised, watch our videos.
BearlySinister: The video for “Bone Dance” was released along with the signing announcement. What’s the story behind this track and can we expect more like it?
Heath: This was one of the first tracks we wrote together as a band, and is a commentary on the desensitization of the youth in our society. We are fortunate enough to have our music producer also be our video producer, so we were able to conceptualize and storyboard the video as we were writing/recording the song. It was one of the most fun and memorable experiences we’ve had writing thus far. It all revolves around the question of “Who is raising your kids?” in a world where sex, alcohol, and violence are glamorized on every screen in everyone’s pocket and living room.
BearlySinister: Charlatan will be heading out on the 10 Frail Years of Vanity and Wax tour next month. What kind of impact did Alesana and On Frail Wings have on you when it was released and what exciting things lie ahead for Charlatan and this tour?
Heath: We actually never listened to that record when we were younger! Being from an isolated rural town, we weren’t exposed to much new music growing up unless it was on the radio or we stumbled upon it on Myspace. It is a great record, though, and I can see why it affected so many kids when it was released. As far as exciting things, we’re just stoked to share the stage with such a great lineup of bands and to share what we love most with all the people we meet along the way.
BearlySinister: Clothing seems to restrict your ability to fully let loose in your performances, don’t you agree? Will Charlatan be performing sans-clothing for the upcoming tour and can we expect some new songs to be in your set?
Heath: We may come out in our tighty whities, suits, dresses, swim trunks, our normal clothes, who knows? You’ll have to come out to the show and see. We will definitely play some new music, though, regardless of wardrobe.
BearlySinister: What goes into picking songs for Charlatan’s set and can we expect a full set of originals or will you throw a cover in there?
Heath: Depending on who we are playing with, we’ll tone down or crank up our set with our softer or heavier material to complement the line up of the show. From there, we decide on the songs we have the most fun with live, and very seldom will play a cover song, unless we toss one in as a joke haha.
BearlySinister: What types of merch will you have available with you on the tour, any tour exclusive items?
Heath: Shirts, dad hats, beanies, and bum scratchers. You know, the essentials.
BearlySinister: Revival Recordings is known for signing bands that have a strong, moral message to spread. Does Charlatan stand for a message and, if so, what is that and why is it important to you?
Heath: If we have any “moral” message, it would be to listen, think, speak, and learn. Morality is such a subjective thing, but knowledge is fixed. People are less prone to making stupid decisions or saying stupid things that negatively affect others if they remove ignorance from the equation. To be told to do good is one thing, but to know why you should do good is a completely different frame of mind.
BearlySinister: What does 2017 hold in store for Charlatan, aside from the West Coast tour with Alesana? Can we expect a new record, more touring, new merch perhaps?
Heath: Yes to all of the above. You’ll just have to wait for the details 😛
BearlySinister: Thank you so much for doing this. Is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans, our readers and the general public?
Heath: Shit is about to get weird. Stay tuned.
“Bone Dance” (Official Music Video)
Grey Sorenson – Vocals
Austin Heath – Guitar, Backing vocals
Tyler Craig – Guitar, Backing vocals