In Puzzling Hoax, He Played Everyone Like a Fiddle
Posted November 30, 2018 4:56 p.m. EST
In April, Jered Threatin began to hold auditions for a backing band. He chose three musicians and told them they would embark on an all-expenses paid European tour with his band, Threatin.
The first stop was The Underworld in London. Someone representing Threatin had paid 780 pounds (roughly $1,010) to book it for the night of Nov. 1 and told Patrice Lovelace, an in-house promoter at the club, that the band had sold 291 tickets for the show.
But when the band went on, there were only three people in the audience.
“It was only on show day when no customer list for the 291 customers was produced that we realized we’d been duped,” Lovelace said. “The show went ahead with only the supports, staff and crew in attendance. The bar made almost zero money, and it was all extremely bizarre. And empty, obviously.”
The next few gigs were similarly barren. After a show at The Exchange in Bristol on Nov. 5, for which a promoter claimed to have sold 182 tickets, staff at the venue decided to investigate the band. After all, someone had paid more than $500 to book the venue.
Nearly everything associated with the band Threatin, it would turn out, was an illusion. Iwan Best, a venue manager at The Exchange, said they found that each of the websites associated with Threatin — the band’s “label” Superlative Music Recordings; its management company, Aligned Artist Management; and the video production company that directed the band’s video — were all registered to the same GoDaddy account. (The pages were built under a parent site seemingly associated with Superlative Music, the fake label.)
Then there was the question of his fan base. Many of Jered Threatin’s hundreds of Facebook friends were apparently from Brazil, and YouTube videos of his concerts never show the band and the crowds at the same time. Other videos from his channel, some of which have since been removed, included clips of interviews of him in which the questioner was not shown, and it seemed possible he was interviewing himself.
Much of this tale was rigorously documented by the unflagging writers at MetalSucks.net. They found that music sites that had conducted interviews with Jered Threatin (and one that gave him an award) had been cooked up on WordPress or Wix, and padded out with content stolen from other outlets.
I’m With the Band?
Members of Jered Threatin’s touring band didn’t find anything about their leader to be out of the ordinary at first. Dane Davis, the band’s drummer, and Joe Prunera, its rhythm guitarist, both Las Vegas-based musicians, told similar stories in interviews with The New York Times.
They had auditioned for the band over the summer after being contacted by a woman who introduced herself as Lisa Golding, who said she had discovered them through their YouTube videos. (Golding said she worked for Aligned, the apparently fake management company. Her Facebook picture is the same as that of a stock photo model.)
Both men found Jered Threatin and the other members of the band easy to get along with, and they quickly bonded over music and games of blackjack and Uno. Davis said that the only unusual thing that happened before the tour that he could recall was that, two days before the band was to fly to England, they were told that the $300 they had been promised would have to cover their food. Also, when they were given an extremely strict tour itinerary with required curfews even on days when the band wasn’t playing.
The curfew, it turned out, was enforced by Jered Threatin’s wife, Kelsey. On the first day in London, Prunera and Davis woke up early and left the rest of the group to get breakfast.
“When we met up later there was a confrontation about going and getting breakfast without letting them know,” Davis said. “Kelsey confronted us and she said, ‘That can’t happen again. If you guys do it again you’re off the tour.'”
Davis, who described himself as conflict-averse, said that the Threatins told the musicians that they had needed official sponsorship to get into Europe. They were told that if they did not check in as a full band with the sponsors, their visas would be revoked.
Prunera said that he had been told that the venues were going to hold between 1,000 and 1,500 fans, something he realized was not true the moment he walked into The Underworld, which holds 500 people at capacity. But then the tour began and it was clear that Jered Threatin’s fan base was not nearly as robust as he had claimed.
“I counted at that first show only seven people in the audience, and most of those people were from the band that went on before us,” Prunera said. “I said, you know what, all right, that’s fine, it’s a stage, I love being on stage, I want to be onstage, it doesn’t matter.”
The same thing happened at venue after venue.
“At no point do I think any of us thought, ‘Oh he’s faking all this,'” Davis said. “The whole impression I had was that the management company and record label were smaller companies that were still trying to get him out there and gain traction. He said that he had hits in Europe, especially in Germany. So it was weird — but nothing where you could say like, ‘Oh maybe everything’s being faked or maybe he’s lying about everything.’ He played it off as being just as confused as we were.”
But an eruption of bad press after the show at The Exchange caused the band to disintegrate. (The venue had posted some of its findings regarding Jered Threatin on Facebook.) Davis said that he first learned of news stories about Threatin’s faltering tour and faked fans after disembarking from the ferry to Belfast, where the band was to play on Nov. 11. Davis, Prunera and the third hired hand, bassist Gavin Carney, began to text among themselves, trying to decide what to do. Davis and Prunera agreed that they would leave the band.
“I couldn’t maintain being a part of a tour with people sort of associating me with Jered, as maybe being someone who’s a part of the lies,” Davis said.
He and Prunera questioned Jered Threatin. But Prunera said “he kept saying that he was being targeted, he was being blamed, he’s the one in the public eye. He was the one that was the victim here. So but in light of all the articles being published at the time, and what everybody was digging up, its hard to know what’s real and not real, so I just took that with a grain of salt.”
Prunera flew home to the United States. He could not afford the flight on his own; an aunt lent him the money. Davis stayed in Ireland where his older brother Sean lives. Both men denied knowing anything about Jered Threatin’s plans.
“I wouldn’t do anything like this to damage my career and damage other peoples careers as well,” Davis said. “That’s not who I am.”
Carney, who Davis said remained with Jered Threatin in Europe, did not respond to text messages.
So Now We Know Everything Except Why
It remains unclear as to why Jered Threatin would spend thousands of dollars on a rock tour without an audience. While the story of his deception has become a modest sensation in the European music press, many online commenters have delighted in the details, comparing Jered Threatin to Tommy Wiseau, who stumbled into shambolic success with his cult movie, “The Room.”
A publicist for Jered Threatin who said her name was Charlotte Haynes responded to an email promising to arrange an interview with the musician. She requested that the interview be conducted by email and did not answer questions about his wife, how long she had represented him, or who her other clients were. The website for her company, Magnified PR, was one of the many sites housed under the Superlative Music site created for the artist’s fake label.
At last, on Wednesday, Jered Threatin, whose real name may or may not be Jered Eames, said that he would make an announcement. In it, he included a quote, by himself, that began: “What is Fake News?” Everyone who had learned about his exploits, he said, was “part of the illusion.”
Lovelace, the promoter at the Underworld venue in London, said that theories have continued to circulate about the musician’s motivations.
“I think he’s just a rich kid who bought himself a tour so he could return to America with evidence of a U.K. tour, cleverly documented to not show the lack of audience, in a bid to get music industry interest at home in America,” Lovelace said.
“Some people think this is some kind of genius level art project or social experiment. Some people think his mum booked the tour, and jokes have been cracked that maybe his parents are tied up in a basement in LA while he’s swanned off with their credit card,” she said. “I still can’t decide if it’s genius or insanity — but it’s probably a bit of both.”