You may already be familiar with the story of Threatin. Last month, a California metalhead named Jered Eames, aka Threatin, achieved a dubious form of notoriety after conning his way into a European tour without any actual fans. He bought Facebook likes, event RSVPs, and YouTube views and comments. He interviewed himself and faked live footage of packed shows in LA. He created websites for a fake record label, a fake PR company, a fake booking agency, and a fake press outlet and posed as nonexistent managers and promoters.
It worked — he booked the tour — but the house of cards came crashing down when the tour actually began, no one showed up, and it quickly became clear that everything about Threatin was a lie. The story got picked up by the media, his hired bandmates quit, and the tour was cancelled after six shows. Apart from one ominous tweet about illusions, Threatin disappeared.
But now, Jered Eames, the man behind it all, has returned to tell his side of the story in a new profile on Rolling Stone. (He made it!) “There was no way that I was going to get enough attention being a rock artist in 2018, unless I did something to get people to pay attention,” Eames says, attempting to frame the story as an elaborate performance. “It’s a publicity stunt, but the music is very real.”
Eames grew up in the small town of Moberly, Missouri, where he played in a death metal band called Saetith with his older brother Scott. But tensions between the brothers were rising. “He was struggling to keep up, and he was the older brother,” Jered says. “I always knew that I was better.” His brother, meanwhile, thought Jered was full of it. “We’d go offstage, I’d go back to being Scott, but he wouldn’t go back to being Jered,” Scott tells Rolling Stone. “He’d show up to family events like he was playing a show — jacket and sunglasses and the walk. It got to the point where most of us were rolling our eyes.”
After a health scare — Eames claims he started coughing one day and suddenly “This sink was filled with blood. I thought, ‘OK, I’m dead'” — he refused medical assistance and instead decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams. He ended up living with his girlfriend in Hesperia, California, about 80 miles inland. He spent over $10,000 to record his debut album Breaking The World, playing every instrument himself and having it mastered by Greg Calbi, an engineer who’s worked with John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen. “I’m not some fucking rich kid,” he says. “All this is, is good money management.”
Eames had the music, but he still wasn’t sure how to break into the industry. “You hear people say it all the time: ‘With the Internet, it’s easy for people to get discovered,'” he says. “It’s actually the opposite.” He says he was “always fascinated with human behavior and marketing and how you can implant an idea in someone’s mind,” and so he came up with the idea of creating a “villain” persona. “If you’re the hero, you’re going to get a quarter of the attention of the bad guy,” he says. “A happy story lasts a day, but a tragedy is going to last a lifetime … Fuck what other people think. I’m willing to do what it takes to try to bring rock back into the spotlight.”
He had the album and the persona, and he decided to fake the rest. “If you think you’re halfway to death, you’ll be like, ‘Let’s get this shit going fast,'” he says. So he created fake companies and fake websites and fake fans. “I’m just trying to manufacture the bandwagon effect,” he explains. “The fact that people look at these numbers that are so easily fictionalized and hold them as any kind of merit — that shows a huge flaw in the music industry as well.” He released the album, went on tour, and, well, the rest is history — and infamy.
All in all, Eames seems pretty pleased with how things went. The only thing he vaguely regrets is how his backing band felt duped. “Do I feel bad that they feel bad?” he says. “Yes, I wish they would’ve looked at this from a media standpoint.” And the other thing he hates, of course, is people mocking his music and comparing him to 80s hair metal. “Maybe I appear somewhat pretty in a way with the long hair and a leather jacket,” he says. “But I’m not wearing fucking spandex, and I’m not singing ‘Girls, Girls, Girls.’”
Still, his estranged brother and old Saetith bandmate isn’t impressed. “I’m like, ‘You got to be kidding me. This isn’t even the same dude,’” Scott says. “He would have laughed at this music back then. We were black-metal guys!” They haven’t spoken in 6 years, and although Scott hopes for a reconciliation and maybe even a Saetith reunion, Jered isn’t having it. “If it served the story and it would be more interesting for there to be a reconciliation, then I’d consider it,” he says. “Other than that, I have no interest.”
Instead, he plans on touring more and releasing a new record, and he also promises more stunts to come: “Fake news is easy to manufacture.” Revisit Threatin’s work below.