How many rock bands do you know who decided their group’s name based off the band’s creator hanging, naked, off the top of a mountain, waiting for God himself to give them the name? One, two, none? Well, we would like to say this is the riveting story of how the electronic rock group Blood Red Boots came up with their intriguing name, but that would be a lie.
What’s Really Up With the Name?
So how exactly did the group come up with the name Blood Red Boots?
The group’s bass player, Cyrus Johnson says, “We were all hanging in a meat factory and we were all wearing boots and we all just agreed to jam sometime.”
As compelling and fascinating as that story is, that is a lie as well.
Being totally honest, there isn’t an impressive story of this impressive name at all. Blood Red Boots said so themselves.
“The short version is there’s not a great story behind the band name,” the group’s singer Keith Patrick joked. “You can lie, go ahead, but I think we need to come up with a better story…we just really liked the name.”
The Formation of Blood Red Boots
Blood Red Boots is a group that popped up on the scene back in January of 2012. That’s when they won WGN’s Breakthrough Band Contest. After appearing on national television for the first time, the band recorded their debut EP. Tracks that first released were featured on hit television shows such as “90210” as they continued to gain national attention. Their hit song “War Paint” has been featured on ESPN, CBS’s television show “Survivor,” television ads during the Grammy’s and The Beatles’ 50 tribute.
The group started off as an idea in Los Angeles when singer, Keith, decided to move back to Chicago. The singer contacted his high school friend, Eric Hays, the band’s pianist, whom he had previously been in a band with years ago. Eric contacted his college buddies Cyrus and guitar player William “Billy” Heschl. Eventually, they established Blood Red Boots.
More of the Back Story
It all sounds so simple right? Wrong. Billy did not have any intention on joining the band. It just happened. After going through a series of guitar players, Cyrus asked Billy to join the band but the guitar player was quite resistant.
“I told Cyrus, ‘Naw I got a lot going on right now,” laughed Billy. “[But] eventually he came to me and said ‘Man you should jam with us.’ And eventually I said ‘Yea, I’ll jam with you but I’m not joining the band; there’s no way I’m joining the band.’”
Billy, however, enjoyed playing with them and after letting go of his initial resistance, decided to become the newest member of Blood Red Boots.
Winning WGN’s Breakthrough Band Contest
The band has been together ever since and the success they have achieved is not a surprise to them.
After entering the contest and beating out over 90 bands throughout the nation, the group confessed that winning was not shocking.
“We were confident, not Kanye West confident but confident,” Keith joked.
So why exactly was the group so confident? Their certainty didn’t come solely from their performance abilities. Blood Red Boots was motivated to win because if they won, Keith promised to run a naked mile.
“The drummer at the time, you may have noticed we don’t have a formal drummer,” said Cyrus. “But at one point we did and he was very negative Nancy about the whole thing and he would say ‘we’re not gonna win this thing. No way we’re gonna win.”’
“So Keith said ‘If we win, I will run a naked mile,”’ continued Cyrus. “It happened, we won’t say where it happened but it happened.”
The Unique Motivation Leads to Victory
The promise of seeing their singer and group creator humiliate himself by running an entire mile naked was extremely motivating. It was a reward that lead Blood Red Boots to a victory that officially started their career, bringing them the resources to record their first album.
That victory gave Blood Red Boots a euphoric feeling.
“We all expected to win, it felt really good to hear,” said Cyrus.
Although Billy agrees that it felt amazing to win, he said the experience was nerve wrecking.
“I remember, like, physically hurting when they were doing the suspense on the television,” admitted Billy. “Because you know when you’re watching it on television as a viewer, like it’s so suspenseful but you don’t realize that [for] the people that are actually on the stage, it’s like a million times worse.”
“It physically hurt waiting to hear,” continued Billy. “The audience doesn’t understand the pain we go through while waiting for the winner to be announced. Oh, and there’s a five-minute commercial break with teasers.”
Parallels Between Blood Red Boots and Other Artists
Ever since their life changing win on WGN, there have been comparisons of Blood Red Boots to the likes of New Politics and Cold Play. However, the band admits that they struggle to agree on comparisons to themselves and other bands.
“Every member of our band listens to drastically different music,” said Keith. “And I think that every member thinks that those influences come through and they do. And that’s why I think there are differing comparisons.”
Red Boots may struggle to agree on parallels between other groups. But, they all agree on different artists they would like to work with.
Blood Red Boots Would Love to Work with…
“I got one right off the top of my head,” said Billy. “I went to high school with him–Saba. He’s not up and coming; he’s worked with Chance.”
Blood Red Boots would like to work Saba, who is a rapper and producer. While Blood Red Boots recognizes Saba as a great producer, they are more interested in collaborating with him as a rapper on future projects. Saba would be a good fit because he is capable of being diverse. He’s someone working in hip-hop and R&B, yet still having the skills to transform those talents to work with rock groups like themselves.
Keith believes it would be great to work with producer Jeff Basker, whom he feels works great with Indie Rock bands. Cyrus ecstatically throws in the artist Muse.
“We would all wet ourselves if we can work with Muse,” joked Cyrus.
Keith believes that it’s hard to say what artist he would like to work with.
Rock Needs More Collaborations
“That’s one of the things I wish rock did, is have more collaborations. There’s not a lot of bands between bands. Like hip hop obviously is such a collaborative genre and pop is too,” said Keith. “A lot of the genres are, but for some reason Indie Rock and bands are pretty self-contained.”
“I think it would be really cool for a band to collaborate; that would be insane,” continued Keith.
Changes the band has experienced
Blood Red Boots says that people sometimes recognize them in public, especially in their home town. But they say groupies and star struck fans harassing them is not a problem yet.
“I wouldn’t say we’re Justin Bieber,” said Keith. “We don’t have those problems.”
“It’s awesome to be where we are,” said Eric. “But it’s not like, ‘Oh my God, the attention!’”
Blood Red Boots says there are always challenges in any endeavor and with success comes problems. But overall, they are happy with where they are and they will continue to just practice and make great music.
“I’ve always been a competitive person,” said Billy. “When you see someone do well, it’s almost like you have that moment of jealousy. I mean you’re happy for them but you’re like, ‘I want that.’ So you practice and you practice.”
The band is excited to continue their journey as an Indie Rock group and plans to continue making the hits their fans expect from them.
“I think the plan is to keep making the best music,” said Cyrus. “I think we made some hit records. We’re just very focused on continuing to make great music.”
Advice to other Indie Rock bands
Blood Red Boots’ overall consensus on advice to other artists is to “Just Do it.”
Eric advises artists “to get out there and play as many shows as possible and don’t be afraid to screw up.”
Billy, who eventually admits to having extreme stage fright, says, “just being up there making mistakes,” pushes you and, he adds “Just keep pushing and pushing yourself to do better.”
Keith says “Practice all the time” because “These songs are gonna carry your career.”