2019 CVMA Trailblazer Award Recipient
By Noe Gutierrez
Arthur Seay is the recipient of the 2019 Coachella Valley Music Award’s Trailblazer Award. Arthur has over 30 years in the music business and has spawned a sound and crusade in the name of the Coachella Valley and heavy Rock and Roll. His mission has been to synthesize the two in synonymous fashion. We at Coachella Valley Weekly salute Seay for being an innovator and representing us all over the world in his bands House of Broken Promises and Unida for so long.
In continuing his pursuit, Seay and Vegas Rock Revolution are presenting SOUNDS OF THE HEAVY festival on Friday, May 24, 2019 at 5 p.m. at Gadi’s Restaurant and Bar in Yucca Valley, CA. The show will feature bands HERE LIES MAN, Seay’s HOUSE OF BROKEN PROMISES, KAISER, SATURNA, GREEN DESERT WATER, OMEGA SUN, THE BATTERY ELECTRIC and DIESEL BOOTS. DJs STREET DRUGS DTLA and ARTY LOVE will be spinning Stoner, Sludge and Doom rock. Tickets are available at eventbrite.com. All backline will be provided by HIWATT.
We spoke with Seay to revisit his past and see where his next aim is.
CVW: Describe how you felt when you were told that you had been chosen as the 2019 recipient of the CVMA Trailblazer Award.
Seay: “I was very surprised and honored. It feels good to know that your hard work and dedication gets noticed and appreciated.”
CVW: You have House of Broken Promises, Death In Pretty Wrapping and Apesh!t in active status. Please give us an update on each project.
House of Broken Promises
“The HOBP record is getting mixed as we speak. I did about half and now handing over the rest to get mixed. I finally found the right person that understands what I’m going for sonically and production-wise. We have been working on a brand new video also for a song called, Under Cover of the Law. We pulled together my good friends on the production side of what I do, Kevin Swank and everyone at CYM Lighting, who let us take over his shop and build a huge set with complete arena production lighting. Brandon Henderson came in for some projection mapping and Edgar Barajas helped me shoot it. HOBP will be touring in Australia this August then just getting ready for a BIG year in 2020 with a new record and world tours!”
Death In Pretty Wrapping
“DiPW has recorded two new covers, Michael Jacksons “Beat It” and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” which I turned into “I Killed a Girl.” I just changed that line in the chorus to ‘killed’. The rest of the lyrics make sense that it’s a serial killer lol. We are also about to shoot a video for it also where I will play the serial killer stalking and killing said victims. I’ve always loved film and I’m finally getting more into the directing and filming side of it. I’m working with Sacrificial Pawn Productions and Stone Mason SFX on this video and will be entering it into Indie horror film festivals. The DiPW full-length record will be out by 2020, if not sooner!”
“ApeSh!t is also in the works. We (Tye Zamora and myself) are busy guys and are doing some planning so we can focus on this and melt your faces! We are just enjoying what’s left of our ‘normal’ life until this hits and blows up! OOH!!”
CVW: You are nominated for several 2019 CVMAs. They include, ‘Best Band’, ‘Best Rock Band’, ‘Best Metal Band’, ‘Best Guitar’ & ‘Best Producer’. Of those awards, which one would mean the most to you if you won?
Seay: “Best Producer actually. I really love producing and taking a band and/or artist and their music to the next level sonically and creatively. It’s one of the reasons why I built my recording studio, to help give back to those who need to record and capture what they hear in their head.”
CVW: According to the dictionary, a trailblazer is a person who “blazes a trail” for others to follow through unsettled country or wilderness. What types of challenges have you faced in your journey?
Seay: “The challenges have been endless! The music business is a horrible business and that’s why I always stress the fact to artists and bands to not to forget it’s called the ‘music business’. We all love playing music and performing but it is way more than that. It’s marketing, promoting, touring and getting yourself out there. It’s retail and you are the product. I’ve done very well and I’ve been screwed over. My biggest challenge mentally and business-wise in my career well here it goes….
I was signed by Rick Rubin to Sony/Columbia Records. We were living the dream, all our hard work paid off. We recorded our album at the legendary Sound City Studio (watch Dave Grohl’s documentary) with the amazing George Drakoulias who had worked with The Black Crowes, Sheryl Crow, Tom Petty and all the early Rick Rubin artists like The Cult. Tom Petty keyboardist Benmont Tench played on our record also.
“We created an amazing record that has stood the test of time. During this time I met Paul Gray of Slipknot and the rest of the band. They came in to record Iowa and Paul and I instantly became close friends. They were all Unida and desert fans it was awesome! This is where the ‘business’ comes in. The record was finished and mixed by multi-Grammy winning producer and engineer Jim Scott. But little did we know, Rick works in four-year deals and right when we were finished, his deal with Sony was up so they went into negotiations to renew his deal so that took eight months of waiting and then Rick left Sony and went back to Island Def Jam Records for millions and then it was another eight months or so of them figuring out how they’re going to do everything with all the bands that were signed to Rick’s American Records. We attempted to use the clause in our contract where if they didn’t meet deadlines we can get out of our contract so we used that clause to get out it. It was either we get a large sum of money or the record. We all said we want the record. We told our management but our management swore up and down and said many times and guaranteed that they can get both so we said OK get the money and the record. But of course, he only got the money and didn’t get the record. We had five other labels willing to put it out instantly. He got the money, took his 20% and completely dropped the ball after that and didn’t lift a finger. And this is a big-time manager who manages Slayer, Mastodon and Ghost. Management sent out rough mixes of the record to all the other labels to shop the record and to be picked up by somebody else. The rough mixes from the studio when the record was already mixed mastered by the biggest names in the industry and sounded amazing but they sent out the rough incomplete mixes to everybody in the industry. That shows you how much they gave a fuck! It was insane.
“So to a point, I’m glad, because it made me wake up and start learning everything that I need to do for myself. I paid attention to every detail and process. From what you do as a recording engineer in mixing and mastering to sitting with the lawyer going through the 80 page Sony contract asking all the questions so I can learn and know what is going on for myself. This is where most bands and artists make mistakes. You have to pay attention. All of these people work for you. You can’t forget that they make money because you’re making them money.
“There is a good ending to that crazy story. I’ve met with Sony and our A&R guy from American Records. Sony wants to release that record out they dug through the vault they found it, the record still stands the test of time so when all our schedules coincide it will get a proper release. I will make sure of that.
“So it’s been a long journey but we’ve carved out a great niche with HOBP and now DiPW and it feels good that we’ve worked hard and we did it ourselves. If you’re smart and you have the drive to do it, that’s what you need to do. There’s a million kids sitting in their bedroom that play amazing but you have to get off your ass and go out there and do it. Promote and market yourself. Make the videos. Make the recordings. Get out there and do what you need to do. Technology has helped a lot with that but on the other side, technology has made it more difficult with so much content out there you have to figure out how to market yourself to rise above all that content.”
CVW: You have this unique and evident personality both on and off stage. With Arthur Seay, it’s either take or leave it and I believe that is why you succeed. What do you feel are your “best” traits?
Seay: “I believe my best trait is that I have a great work ethic. I kill myself to overachieve and accomplish things and sometimes it’s detrimental to my personal life because I’m solely focused on music, band, work and art. But I have learned to stop and take a moment or a day to enjoy it because it’s about the journey and enjoying life. You have to enjoy the journey and life now and not worry about what’s after. And I definitely don’t take anyone’s shit and I guess that’s why people think I’m an asshole but I’m actually a really nice guy, I just don’t put up with bullshit. I don’t put up with drama. Do what you say, say what you do or leave me the fuck alone. I work my ass off to accomplish goals and to help other people achieve their goals and if you’re just fucking around wasting time in your life then leave me the fuck alone!”
CVW: You’ve refined yourself to include the titles of producer and promoter in the last few years. What else would you like to tackle?
Seay: “Director! I’m diving head-first into film and editing! As a producer, I’ve always produced all the music that I’ve ever done whether or not I’ve gotten credit for it or not. I’ve written 98% of all the Unida music. I’ve always had a vision about the production and arrangement of the songs in all aspects and I love that. I love the production side of it. I hear it in my head and I want to get it on tape or hard drive or whatever you wanna call it. It’s another part of the creative process.
“As far as promoting, it’s the same work ethic. If I’m gonna play a show, let’s say locally, I’m gonna make it the best show it can be. I’m gonna make it sound good. I’m gonna make it look good. I’m gonna bring in more audio. I’m gonna bring in lighting if the venue doesn’t have it. This is entertainment! People are paying money to come see you play your music so I want to give them that experience. I want to give them that show that takes them away from their normal boring life or from the drama that they’re going through whether it be at home or at work. I want to give them that experience where they forget about their daily bullshit and negative experiences watching the killer bands that I bring in from out of town, the local bands that I have that are awesome and the music that I play. I want to give them an experience that sounds good, looks good and there’s music everywhere so they can detach from what they’re going through. I know music has always saved my life from whatever I’ve been going through. I’ve recently have gone through the hardest experience in my life and what saved me? MUSIC! Listening to music! Even if it’s just that one song I’ll listen to for a week straight night and day! It gets me through!”
CVW: Paul Gray was one of your best friends. He will have been gone 9 years this May 24th. What do you like to remember most about Paul?
Seay: “He was the best dude ever I mean I have endless stories of what a great guy he is and was. He saved my life, you know, after the whole Rick Rubin/Sony thing. I was definitely fucked up in the head, living my dream and then getting it ripped out from under me by no fault of my own. It was hard and I was at a point where even financially I was not doing well and he brought me out on tour to tech for him and that’s how I started doing the guitar tech gig. It saved me financially, mentally and I got to hang out with one of my best friends every day and tour and see the world. It helped get my head back on straight to where I could get back to work creating music and building something again musically which was House of Broken Promises. It was an honor to have Paul play bass in Unida and tour with us. It was even more of an honor to fill-in for him on bass in Slipknot for two weeks on a tour where we had to put him in rehab. He was a crazy dude but he was the best dude ever. I remember talking to him before the first show that I played with them and he was like, ‘dude, I’m so glad it’s you doing it. I love you to death and thank you for helping me. I know I’m fucking up but I’m going to be better and I’m so proud of you and thankful that you’re going to play bass for me’. I told him, ‘dude, thank you! It’s amazing! You played bass in my band and now I’m playing bass in your band! Your band is a little bit more of a bigger deal but I fucking love you brother!’ Best dude EVER!!”
CVW: Not many of your fans know about your mastery of the alto saxophone. Any chance you’ll pick up the alto sax again?
Seay: “I just bought some reeds actually and gonna def record some sax on some tracks! Sax thru a wah-wah pedal C’mon Now!”
CVW: You’ve teamed up with Vegas Rock Revolution to bring SOUNDS OF THE HEAVY on May 24th to Gadi’s. What would you like to share about the artists and the event?
Seay: “John Gist is doing amazing shows out in Las Vegas. We made it a point to focus on that market and he’s building a scene that’s kicking ass. I support him 100%. I’ve been helping him since the very first show that he did with HOBP and so we decided to put our heads together and do a show out here in the desert before Stoned and Dusted because there’s so many Australian and European fans that want to see HOBP and we were wondering why we weren’t on the bill so I said I’ll throw my own show! So we have four bands from all over Europe! HOBP, Here Lies Man from LA, Diesel Boots also from Los Angeles, DJs playing rock the whole night I’m bringing in more audio more lighting and we’re gonna blow that place up right it’s a really great venue and we’re just trying to keep bringing shows to get you people off your phones and off your couches so come out and support you are the scene there is no scene without you at that show!”
Where does Arty Love go from here?
Seay: “Always upward and onward!”
CVW: Anything else you’d like to add?
Seay: “Come out and support our show Friday May 24th and help make this scene!!
Remember people; be a good human being. C’mon NOW!”
A few of his bandmates shared their take on Seay:
Joe Mora (H.O.B.P. vocalist/bassist)
“What makes Arthur a ‘trailblazer’? Him being an asshole! Just kidding! The truth? His relentless pursuit of perfection! Being able to seize any opportunity that comes his way! Seriously pulling shit out of nowhere to make videos, tours, our shows better than they can be with ingenuity and minimal amounts of money being used. He’s a self-made guy and jack of all trades.”
Mike Cancino (H.O.B.P./Unida drummer)
“Arthur pretty much thinks about everything before everybody. He beats you to the punch. Who is the creative guy that thinks of everything before everybody else does? Arthur! He’s a creative person first before anybody and always has the great idea first. He always brings in the riff and we write great music The Best of Wayne-Gro, Coping With the Urban Coyote…all his.”
Derek Wade Timmons:
My Friend Arthur by Sleazy D
“I don’t know if Arthur deserves a ‘trailblazer’ award so much as he deserves a ‘hardworking, stubborn, never quit, take-no-prisoners, professional musician’ award.
Arthur is the hardest working musician any of us know, hands-down. He and Mike Cancino have taught me so much about professionalism and hard work in a band. And don’t let Arthur’s gruff approach fool you, that hard-ass has a heart of gold. The same guy who tells people the harsh truths straight and plain when they don’t wanna hear ‘em, is your best friend and biggest fan in the studio. Dude can coach an opera tune out of a Mumble rapper. He ain’t half bad on the geetar either.”