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Interview: Oliver Baxxter of Broadside Discusses New Single ‘Foolish Believer’ and signing to SharpTone Records

With an unrivaled passion and a deep determination to succeed, Broadside announced last month that they have signed to independent label SharpTone Records. The band also made their label debut with brand new single “Foolish Believer”. We had the chance to talk with vocalist Oliver Baxxter about the signing and new single as well some exciting new things coming from Broadside soon including their third album!

ME: First off, congrats to Broadside on signing with SharpTone Records!

Oliver: Thank you so much!

ME: That was an exciting announcement to hear from Broadside. Can you tell me a little bit about the lead up to signing with SharpTone and what drove that decision for the band?

Oliver: Yeah, of course. So as we were recording our third album we were in the middle of the studio and we started hearing about our old label merging with a giant conglomerate. So they were purchased and everything was transferring over and basically how it lined up was that we were going to become free agents or we could kind of pursue/continue on our relationship. But there really wasn’t a label, so to speak, to stay on anymore. So we kind of were just, you know, we have this album ready, should we try out for a new label, should we try to put it out ourselves? Should we live the American Dream and put out our own music and hope that it does well? Well, we can’t really risk that, you know? It would be a shame to be sitting on all this hard work and because of the algorithms of our modern world, not get it out to the hands that we needed to.

So we decided that we needed to go with a label and our manager, who’s worked with us behind the scenes and in front of the scenes for four or five years now, his name is Sean Keith, actually owns SharpTone Records. And he was like, “look, man, let’s just do a quick deal. You already have the record. We’ll put it out and we can keep the ball rolling. And then you won’t have to do too much downtime.” And we love Sean. We love SharpTone. And so it just kind of, I don’t know, it was one of those things that was like the skies opened up and this makes sense and I personally really value people that are with me and loyal and understanding and willing to put in the hard work and Sean has definitely done that with the growth our band and over the years being our manager. So we were like, yeah, why don’t you step up to be our label owner and we can put out this record. I mean, we’ve worked with him for years. He knows exactly how we work and what we’re trying to get to with our career. So it kind of just happened and it was one of those cool learning moments. 

ME: It sounds like it just kind of all fell into place.

Oliver: Yeah, it’s a bit bizarre when you think about it. It’s one of those things where you’re like “oh, so all those like self-help internet gurus, they might be onto something with that – believe it and you can achieve it.

ME: Haha exactly, I love when little things like that align and it just seems meant to be! So obviously with that big announcement, you guys also dropped your new single ‘Foolish Believer’. Can you talk to me a little bit about that single and kind of this theme of wanting to be remembered that goes along with it?

Oliver: Of course. So we had a single that did really well when we first announced we were a band and it was kind of the energy of where I was at the time. I was twenty five when it came out and just being in my mid 20s, just wanting to lie around with my lover and complain about everything that sucks in the world. And it’s a beautiful moment and captured who I was at the time. But, you know, it did really, really well and I think a lot of people now with the transitioning of coming into our third record and getting older and us not being heavily covered by the the beginning and the end of what’s cool in the music world, you can start to lose sight of bands. You know, you can get swallowed up in all of that. So the whole idea is that I’m not that person anymore in that I feel constantly like I’m being held up to the standard of that single and other songs that did well in the beginning. And I just want to say, well, regardless of what happens now, I just want to be remembered as somebody who tried, somebody who gave it their all and somebody who created art for the sake of art. But you know, undeniably so, I can’t help but admit how media and how people’s affections and people’s attention in this world is probably what started me as a musician in the beginning. And that’s kind of like a confession in a sense of I hope after everything I will be remembered by someone after all of this, because it’s fleeting.

ME: I think you capture that perfectly in the single. Like you said, it does kind of stand in contrast to ‘Coffee Talk’, at least lyrically and it really shows how the band has grown since that came out. As far as kind of taking that pivot with the lyrical content of the single, how have fan reactions been to that so far at least from what you’ve been able to observe?

Oliver: I think they really enjoy it. They understand the growth. It hit at the craziest time because you know, we’re all locked down, and they can kind of sit with it and not just take it in and be like “Cool, what’s next?” I’m not seeing too much like “Cool. Is there an album now?” I mean, there is. But, you know, usually that’s kind of the way that art I think is chomped up and spit back out is “Okay cool, what’s next? Is it going to be better than the next thing?” I feel like people kind of sat with it and enjoyed it. I mean, it’s doing well. I think we just hit the two week mark and we’re over like one hundred and twenty thousand streams now which is decent, especially after being silent for a year and a half and changing members and then putting out a song. That’s a good, good turn around. And I think that people are like, “Okay, I think this is a great icebreaker” again, because now I feel like people are thinking to themselves “okay, cool, let’s see what’s next”. And to me, that’s exciting because I know what’s next and next is powerful, more powerful. So it’s a beautiful thing to have a little bit of comfort knowing the next thing that comes is going to be inticing. I feel like that’s going to be the icing on the cake.

ME: Absolutely, I’m glad that it’s been received well and listeners have had that opportunity to sit with it. It’s so true that “is there an album coming out?” is kind of instantly the question that comes up the second a band releases a new single. I know you said there is an album, have you guys released the date of when the album is coming out or is that something you’re kind of working on and just letting the single sit on it’s own for a while?

Oliver: Yeah, because of everything right now with Covid-19 we’re trying to figure that out. But I can say that we definitely are, probably, absolutely, releasing another single very soon just because everybody is, you know, in their homes and it’s a good time to just give out your art and have people take it the way that it should be and that’s listened to a few times over. So we’re definitely going to get on that. As far as album release, the album is definitely done, but now it’s a matter of when’s the best time to release it considering touring and all that. I would hate to have an album out there and people are like “cool, now, can we see these songs live?” And I’m like, “Yeah… maybe next year”. So we’ll see about that. But another single is absolutely is coming!

ME: Awesome! Yeah, touring is actually something that I also wanted to talk aobut, because you guys were supposed to be on tour right now weren’t you?

Oliver: Yeah, we’re supposed to be in beautiful Europe right now.

ME: Yeah, I know the craziness of the world has thrown so much off and pretty much everyone’s lives have been affected at least on a small scale if not a bigger scale.

Oliver: I know, I agree. I was thinking about that. I was like, man, it’s kind of like a crazy, crazy chain of command. It’s like, you know, people that report on music, people that are in music, people that are crew, people that sell merch, everyone is immediately like “oh, shit…” Like venues are just collecting dust right now!

ME: I know, it’s crazy, I never would have imagined a world where all touring was just abruptly put on hold. I wanted to really just ask how you and the band are doing because I know that that’s such a bummer to have to postpone tours and it’s being felt by everyone obviously. And also what you guys are doing with this time that you now find yourself with when you can’t be out on tour?

Oliver: Yeah, luckily we have a good dialog in our band and we’re all really good friends. So we do a lot of online gaming at night and we’ve been talking a lot of shit to each other, which is, you know, the best way to heal any sort of situation. But yeah, I mean, luckily before this I had just gotten a puppy, so I have been training the entire time. So it’s good. All my attention is there. Except I’m noticing now when I’m like, okay, I’m going to go take a bath and read or something, the puppy’s like, “no, no, no… It’s my time to learn”. And I’m like, “you don’t want to learn, you’re pretending.” So I feel like maybe I’m giving too much attention. We’ll figure it out haha. But yeah, we’re good. I mean, it’s one of those things where you can be upset about missing the tour and missing out on paying rent for a couple of months. But at the same time, everyone’s feeling it. So you can only be mad at the world so much, you know? I’m just hoping that this blows over. And it’s definitely going to make myself and I know my peers included appreciate just doing normal things like going to Target more. You know, stuff like that. Like, I almost miss waiting in the Starbucks line haha.

ME: Yes! Even just being a music fan myself, there were so many spring tours that I was looking forward to and I never, ever would have expected a world where my usual concert or two that I go to every week just aren’t an option anymore. It’s weird.

Oliver: Yeah! I was thinking the other day like, oh man, it’s crazy because you think, okay yeah, tours or all social gatherings are definitely off. But then you start thinking, we’re starting to see major movies being pushed back because it upsets the outcome of the initial numbers, and now records, and even in the video game world, video games are being pushed back because consumers can’t go and purchase the physical item. It shows that we still live in a physical world, even though you know, we do and don’t. It’s a really weird transition for that because, although we’re all streaming and we’re all geeking out on Tiger King, there’s a whole physical world that is just shut down right now that we’re kind of like, oh, I guess we’re not as far along as we thought we were.

ME: Yeah, it’s crazy for sure. It’s weird to think if there was ever a time for this to happen, this is it. I mean, it’s as “good” of a time as ever, I know good is not really the word to use, but with everything being so digital it’s way more comfortable having to socially distance than it would’ve been even 10 years ago and yet we still feel the impacts of this so immediately because we do rely so much on the physical world still. It’s crazy.

But anyway, getting away from Covid-19 talk haha, I also wanted to talk to you a little bit about, I know obviously there are all of these exciting announcements with the band signing to SharpTone and the new single, but you also personally put out a poetry book a couple months ago, right?

Oliver: Oh yeah yeah yeah!

ME: I wanted to ask what the driving factor or the inspiration was behind putting out a poetry book on your own?

Oliver: Yeah, so I’m a big nerd. I think I trick people with like my swoopy hair and I think that they’re like, “oh, this guy probably rides a motorcycle or something.” I don’t, at all. I love reading and I love stories. Stories are like my thing.

I grew up a pretty weird, kept to myself kid so I was really good at creating dialogs for my G.I. Joes and in other elements of my life whether that was like a Buzz Lightyear toy or just in general. And I really appreciate the value of a good story. And that being said, that’s why the lyrical approach that I take things is usually kind of visual because it just helps me create it on the fly. I like to imagine the world that I’m in. So with poetry and short stories in particular, I really appreciate that they’re quick little like fireworks, just like moments. And I love the opportunity to create hundreds of little moments and rapid sessions. And to circle back to what I was saying earlier about how people consume art now, it’s like it’s got to catch, right? So everybody has to approach art with this like, hook. If you go and watch any famous YouTuber, the first 20 seconds is gonna have some explosion that’s gonna keep you like, “oh, I might as well stick to the end”. That’s just the way it is. So me personally, I was enthralled by that.

So I have always written poetry in a sense, whether it be lyrics or just little emo lyrics on my books when I was In high school. So I decided I would like to share more of my personal self, the ball and chain and the weight of the world that I feel like I carry around when I’m not this character, this singer in a band touring and having so much fun, and I thought there’s a lot of power in poetry. I know that it is a dying art at least on the forefront. People don’t really consume it, they kind of have this idea that it’s so “woe is me” and yadda, yadda, yadda. Which in a sense it surely can be, and I think that’s the beauty of it. But I thought to myself, I want to share more of myself with the world and people kind of appreciate my lyrics so naturally, I was like, maybe I’ll just give it a go.

And I appreciate reading other people’s poetry. But then again, there’s also a lot of poetry that I absolutely hate, which, again, intrigued me to write. Because I was like, well, let’s see if I’m any better than what I think is awful. You know, it’s all subjective. So I really enjoy it. And a lot of my favorite poets are on the nose, but they do it in a way that you’re like “Oh… That’s that’s cool”, the way that they described something. And I love when that happens, whether in a movie or a book or a novel or a short story. I really like when there’s a thing that makes you think “oh, wow, that’s really something, isn’t it?” And so that’s kind of what I’m gone for in my writing career, to try to hope for 1. to progress to where I feel comfortable enough calling myself a writer and 2. Get to a point where I feel like I’m creating those little moments for people. It’s been fun so far.

ME: That’s awesome, I know a lot of the poems that I’ve found I connect with a lot of times will have that one line that really just catches you like you were kind of saying. And I think songs can be the same way where they have that one line with a really unique way of saying something or it just catches you in a way that hits a little differently and makes it stick out in your mind.

Oliver: That’s a valid point. It’s funny because I started really getting into poetry the past three years and so when we went and wrote this third record, there were moments where I inserted that that very same idea. Where it’s like that one liner that kind of sums the whole thing up. And I sometimes put it in the middle of the song. So that line won’t hit until after you hear it, and I’m hoping that sticks. Maybe I’m just like the artsy weirdo, but I’m hoping that people are like “Ohhhh!”, so that’s funny that you said that.

ME: That was actually kind of another question that I had which you already kind of answered in that – I know you said that you just kind of started getting into poetry in the last couple of years, but do you think that they kind of feed into one another? With having a background in songwriting, do you think that helped with kind of making it an easy transition into poetry or do you feel like poetry has its own way to navigate writing?

Oliver: I feel personally that they go hand-in-hand. You think of what a hymn is and it’s, you know, it’s a song. You know, there’s poets in the world who will tell you what’s right and wrong. But the way I am, again, because I’m the over imaginative kid and now an older imaginative kid man, I just was like, I’m going to go and then I’ll figure out the rules as I go. So now I’m kind of back pedaling and learning the isms, but I feel like my sense of desire to make something hit and impact in lyrical format really helped with poetry. I feel like with poetry you have one line and each line I treat separately. So if you can get the message in this line, then you can move to the next thing and that’s exciting for the reader and that’s exciting for you. So I I find that it’s very easy to do. And funny enough, a fun thing that I’ve done is in the book that I released, there’s three poems and the subjects that they’re about or even titled are actually titles on the record that people will go back and be like “oh, shit, you said that like five months ago!”

So for me personally, they do tie in to one another. I have a very wild mind, but they do link and anchor to certain things. I’m obsessed with the ocean and I’m obsessed with birds, and then I’m also obsessed with the idea of moments. So like when you’re laying on a couch and there’s a draft underneath the door or like, you look up at a ceiling and you’re noticing shadows that weren’t there before, I’m obsessed with those little moments where you’re able to turn your mind off and just be like, “Whoa!” Look, being alive is really quite strange to be honest, to look out through the eyes that you look out through every day and notice something different I find intriguing. So those types of things in my mind are just anchors and they are just constantly in all the art that I create.

ME: It’s funny that you say that about crossing your poems and songs, just being a music fan in general I love when songwriters also do poetry and the first thing that came to mind for me is Twenty One Pilots when they put out their Blurryface album, Heavy Dirty Soul was a poem that Tyler Joseph did like months back and I saw it on YouTube just by chance and I thought it was a really cool poem. And so when the record came out, I instantly knew the lyrics to the song the first time I heard it because it was that poem. And I thought that was the coolest thing ever to see him turn a poem that he had already put out into a Twenty One Pilots song. I love when artist overlap their art like that and leave little easter eggs for fans who follow them in the various avenues that they produce work in to find. It’s such a cool thing!

Oliver: It’s so cool. It gives so much depth to the person that you’re enjoying. It’s the same thing, right, but different mediums so you feel like there’s two different ways to see it and it kind of blurs that line of what it is. It’s all art. And that’s the beauty of it.

ME: Exactly! So with that project being a little more personal, was that kind of hard for you to put out at all? Because I know, obviously, when you’re part of a band and you put on a song, it’s not so much..

Oliver: Right, just me.

ME: Yeah! It’s not so much like, “hey, this is me”. It’s, “hey, this is us”. Was that hard for you at all or was that just kind of something that you were eager to embrace?

Oliver: It’s kind of nightmarish because I don’t like the idea of being like, “hey, this is my life,” you know. Like, “I’m so important that you should read about MY life”. So, I also try to take the angle of, “hey, I’m not just talking about me, I’m talking about us, like, the children that are formed from growing up with this or the idea that we need to be something more or we should be creating and doing more and sleeping less” and so I kind of tried to take that approach.

But yeah it’s nerve-wracking because I put it out and it did well, you know, by definition “well”. But then I’m thinking to myself, okay, I’m not really getting so many DMs or messages like,” hey, I really liked THIS poem.” So for me as a musician, I’m finding out people are kind of consuming it as an extension of Broadside. Which is totally fine, but they’re not really like “this is written by a person”, they’re like, “this is written by a band guy,” you know? Occasionally people reach out to me, you know, like, yeah, this, this, this and that. And that’s really sweet and touching, but I can’t help but sit back and be like, “oh, my God, all my secrets are out in the world. And nobody even caught on.” I kind of feel like abandoned right now. I’m like oh my god I said all these things about myself and people are just like, “cool, it’s art”, and I’m like, “yeah…” Haha exactly it’s not real, it’s art.

ME: Yeah, I feel like when you’re, in this example, in a band, and you have fans and people that know you as THAT thing, it’s kind of hard to differentiate between the person that you only know of as being part of the band as opposed to just a person that has different interests and different things that are kind of separated.

Oliver: Absolutely, and I get that and it’s unfortunate, but it makes sense. There’s so many people trying to sell or market their thing. So everybody’s like, “I am this and this is what I do”. If you don’t have an “I am this and this is what I do” thing, you know, you kind of get lost in all of that. You can’t just be like, “I am this. And I do this, this, this and this and this” and expect that people are going to remember all the individual isms about you. Which is unfortunate, but that’s why you’ve got to have a tight knit group of friends that just kind of hype you up even when you’re creating absolute garbage.

ME: Haha definitely! It helps having people around you that know all the sides of you for sure. And with that, going back to the Foolish Believer single that you guys put out, I think music has the ability to be so dynamic and have different sides to it as well and one of my favorite things when singles or albums or just any new music in general comes out is the visual aspects that artists put to them. I think it’s interesting to just kind of see what they kind of visualize when they were creating the music. So, you guys obviously dropped the music video for Foolish Believer as well and I wanted to see if you can tell me a little bit about the idea behind the video and kind of the creation process of it.

Oliver: Yeah, absolutely. So there’s a heavy Catholicism reference over it. I mean, none of us are Catholic, but the girl who wrote the treatment for the video, she was brought up Catholic and she had all these visual ideas that went along with that. I mean, it’s visually stunning right? So the idea is that I’m before this altar confessing my sins and the sin of being human, the sin of being regretful and the sin of being needy of people’s attention. So I mean, that’s not in the Bible, I’m saying my own sins haha. So that’s kind of the idea is to have this really dark, you know, kind of glaze of like, oh, this is going on. And the only creative additive I wanted in there that was that candle and that it can guide you through the night, but it eventually will burn out. And that’s kind of the whole concept. And I talk about that subject itself on the record a lot. Every candle burns out eventually. That’s kind of the concept of this, was just this… questioning. The song starts out with just like questioning myself and when I wake up I look up and say, “who am I? What am I doing? Why did I wake up again?” that’s kind of the whole daily routine for my mindset at the time of the song. So there’s no real big secret to it other than that. I mean, I think that the confession of sin is a pretty good over lying of just this idea of what is my purpose. I also like the juxtaposition of the verses are kind of dark and then the chorus sounds bright, but it’s still kind of whiney lyrically but it sounds like it shouldn’t be since it’s kind of poppy.

ME: I love that. And with these kind of themes that you’re talking about with the single as far as ideas of being remembered and the confessions of, you know, just kind of your human-ness – are those themes that are going to be carried out pretty consistently throughout the album as well?

Oliver: Yeah. So the whole the whole album is like a celebration of just young adulthood and a celebration in the sense of admittance to fear of loneliness, of sexual tension and desire and then just the eagerness to fit yourself into a society that you feel kind of that you’ve grown past or grown away from. So the whole thing, it will be swallowed easily in the sense that people will consume it and be like “oh this is a good pop rock album” because that’s the direction that we’re taking now. But lyrically and visually, it’s more of like a searching for yourself in a dark room kind of idea, but really celebrating those moments of life. We have a song on the album called ‘Dancing On The Ceiling’, and it’s just like about being so admittedly admirable, the person that you just want to dance on the ceiling with so that everybody can watch you guys, you know. So it’s really a celebration of the highest highs and then the lowest lows. But not so in a deep and convoluted way. It’s more of like a surface level sadness and surface level happiness. But for the people that want to dove in deeper, there’s those little one liners that stick out. And that’s the approach we wanted to take because I don’t want to be taken as oh we’re too serious or we’re too poppy, I kind of want people to just listen to it and be like this is good. And if they love it they can dive deeper and they like it they can tell a friend. And that’s important for sustainability, you know?

ME: For sure, and that really does make an album kind of dynamic when it allows people to decide what they want out of it.

Oliver: Exactly. Not like, “HEY LISTEN TO ME, I’M BROKEN!”

ME: Haha exactly! We started off talking about this with the contrast between the new single and the single that you guys had that really hit a couple of years ago, you know, you can really tell that a lot of growing up has happened in between the two and it makes me excited to see what the album has in store for fans in keeping with that. And I think that that says a lot about bands when you can kind of watch them progress through life through their music, it doesn’t just stay the same.

Oliver: Exactly. I mean, we had two angles – we could have tried to go back to appease that or we could, and the thing that I’ve always done is, create music that I’m in at the moment. Like that stuff that’s coming out now is a little more poppy than our first. And that’s just because when I moved out to L.A., that’s just the head space I was in and now I’m back on the east coast and I’m 30 and it’s like, okay, time to figure this out again. I think that’s the beauty of it, sometimes it can go wrong, sometimes it can go right. But I never want to be like, “oh, let’s just make this album because this is what people want”. I mean, if I try to listen to people on the internet I go fucking crazy.

ME: Right, it just makes it so much more authentic and much easier for fans to keep connecting with when you allow music to evolve. So I’m sure the album is going to be incredible. To wrap up a little bit, is there anything else that you’d kind of like to make fans or readers aware of either in terms of things that they can look out for that Broadside has planned or just you personally or anything that we didn’t get a chance to touch on?

Oliver: Yeah. So, I mean, we are for the first time in our musical career, we have our own merch store. So we’re going to be constantly creating pieces of merch that we genuinely enjoy and stuff that’s fun, like coffee mugs and skateboard decks, and all these fun things. So that’s the thing that we’re gonna be focusing on, putting out more once, you know, life goes back to normal and people continue collecting a paycheck so nobody feels like we’re just, everybody’s trying to grab for money right now but, you know, that’s not our angle right now. So we’ve got that in the works for us. We’re going to try to figure out touring. The next single will be out very soon, probably this month. And then, yeah, just keep an eye out for that. And you know maybe just the one thing I want people to do is to just search within music. I think it’s important now more than ever to listen to a song and then hear the song. You know what I’m saying? I feel like at least, especially in the alternative scene, let’s give the artist an opportunity to deliver the art to us and not just be like, “this is good or this is bad because I saw it was trending on Twitter”. So, I feel like we should get out of that and at least give it an opportunity to say something to us, because the people that are trying to say something, I think genuinely are trying to say something. And that is so important.

ME: Definitely. And I think now that we have all this time it’s a great time to, especially with any new music coming out, really dive into things and pay attention.

Oliver: Exactly. I mean you’ve got nothing else to do. You’ve walready watched Tiger King twice. So let’s just be honest with ourselves and just roll through it haha.

ME: Haha so true! Well, thank you so much for your time today, I really appreciate it and am looking forward to all that Broadside has planned!

Oliver: Yeah, I appreciate your time. Thank you for chatting and I hope that we all get through this and talk to others and we’ll talk soon!

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