By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
According to drummer Wisam Alshaibi, three of the five troublemakers in the Blackout Pact are brothers in mediocrity. Years ago, Alshaibi was dumped by One Dying Wish "for not being good enough at playing drums," he says, while guitarist Joe Ramirez and bassist B.J. Bailey were sacked by the musicians of Yuriko and future members of Elucidarius, respectively, because "they weren't good enough, either." In contrast, lead vocalist Mike Herrera and guitarist Justin Hackl "were always good enough," he notes -- but not so good as to make their less fortunate bandmates feel inferior.
Luckily, this alleged lack of skill hasn't hurt Alshaibi and company. They've received first-rate notices for Hello Sailor, their classically punky CD for Astro Magnetics, a label owned by Thursday's Geoff Rickly, who produced the disc. On top of that, the Pact was chosen to participate in this year's Warped Tour, which Alshaibi concedes is "something I might have thought of in some radical, weird dream." Not that he believes his advice would be of any help to performers with similar fantasies. "Using us as an example of how to do anything is pretty null and void," he maintains, "since it was a set of extraordinary circumstances that got us where we are."
He's not exaggerating. The Blackout boys moved from Denver to New York City after a rep from Machine Shop Recordings, Linkin Park's label, showed interest. Before long, though, the relationship collapsed over unreasonable demands. "They wanted us to get cool haircuts," Alshaibi grumbles, "and they wanted Mike to sing like a girl, and for us to do all this shit we didn't want to do." The players responded by "sitting around and getting wasted and doing drugs for, like, six months." Still, Alshaibi says, "We didn't want to go home like big fucking losers," so they stuck around NYC. Their patience was rewarded when Rickly walked into Crif Dogs, a hot dog joint where Alshaibi worked; a giant wiener emblazoned with the words "Eat Me" hangs over the door. Alshaibi gave Rickly the band's purevolume link, and a week and a half later, the Thursday star returned to Crif with a bona fide offer.
How did Alshaibi feel at that moment? "Imagine you're in the death chair and they're about to pull the switch," he says, "and a second later, the mayor calls, and they take you out -- and all of a sudden there's five naked women massaging you and giving you a million dollars."
Things haven't gone quite that smoothly since then. In May, for instance, Alshaibi was among those busted following a night of boozing at an Indiana motel. "This dude blacked out next to a swimming pool, naked, and a girls' softball team saw him there in the morning -- and then the police came and arrested all of us," he says. "We were so fucked up, we didn't know what was going on." There was an upside to this incident, though. After news of the bust got out, he reveals, "We sold the most records we'd ever sold in three days."
Troublemaking has its privileges.