Interview: Heart Attack Man – Eric Egan
Posted: by The Editor
“Mothers Against Heart Attack Man,” “Problematic Icons Heart Attack Man,” “Verified Twitter Users Heart Attack Man” – there’s a plethora of labels, but one man is behind them all: Eric Egan. Known for shredding on stage with his blue Dimebag guitar and his knack for going viral, Egan sat down with me (literally, in the parking lot of the venue) to discuss the way social media has changed and grown his fan base, the perception of their new album Fake Blood, and the way everything came together to create the enigma that is Heart Attack Man.
I asked Eric for a list of some smaller bands he wanted to shout out, ones he thinks are making great music. Some I knew well, some I didn’t know at all. I listened, and picked out some of my personal faves from each band. I also put in my favorite HAM tracks. Check out the playlist while you read our interview below.
First things first, I want to say congrats on the Boston Manor tour.
Egan: Thank you! I’m really stoked on that.
How was All Good Fest?
It was awesome! It was really fun. Columbus is always great and this time was no exception.
I know you guys are from Cleveland, but I don’t really know how close that is to Columbus.
It’s just over two hours from us.
Okay, so, close enough to a hometown show.
Yeah! it was really fun though—pretty wild.
We’ve got to talk about the Hot Mulligan drama.* Who drew the bigger crowd, who had the better crowd?
(*pop punk band Hot Mulligan (13k followers) has yet to be verified on Twitter, while Heart Attack Man (8k followers) has claimed the coveted checkmark)
Definitely us. It didn’t even compare. Like, between you and me, we let them headline the festival because we felt bad and we know they feel really insignificant with not being verified on twitter. But, anyone who was there… they know who the real headliner was.
Can we bring up the famous beanie.
The one that everyone asks about and you’re probably tired of talking about—
No, it’s fine! I talk about it a lot, but I think it’d be good to go on record and set it straight a little bit. I plan on making a documentary, but I just haven’t. A mini documentary, though. I’m not that full of myself.
I’m gonna save some of the nitty gritty for my documentary, but long story short: my plan was, I had two of my friends, my co-conspirators, I texted them and asked if they could help with a stunt I had in mind and they were like yeah, that’d be really funny. Originally, the plan was to, over the course of a few days, for them to bid back and forth in small increments and get the beanie up to maybe a few hundred dollars. Nothing too crazy but enough to be like what the fuck is going on?
Suspension of disbelief and stuff like that.
Exactly. And they were down and we were like this is just gonna be a small thing, a self-contained internet joke, because I like to joke and have fun. The critical error in my plan, though, was that I posted about it, but completely forgot to factor in that other people might jump in and bid on it—either earnest or for the joke. So, immediately it started taking off and it was at like $45,000 in a few hours but this is still hilarious and everyone was like what the fuck! And later that day, we were rehearsing and got contacted by Alternative Press and they wanted to write about it and I was like okay sure. Just.. immediately went way further than I anticipated.
So we just rode it out. From the beginning, I knew that there had been a friend of mine that asked me to bump up their Ebay auction, but I accidently won it, and I was like shit what do I do? And he was like just don’t pay—you have the option to sell to the next highest bidder. The main reason why it took off so much is because people don’t really know how Ebay works. You’re supposed to pay if you win, but you don’t have to. The worst they can do is like suspend or delete your account.
That was a question I had! I was thinking you were probably on some Ebay shitlist somewhere.
I’m fine, actually. Ebay’s fraud and viral auctions department contacted me because there was an ‘imposter’ auction that popped up, probably to hopefully ride on the coattails of mine and scam someone and asked if it was legit. So I told them no, and they said they’d take it down, but I was like… while I have you, am I good? Like just to check with the source. And they were like nah, you’re good, we realize your (original) auctions bidding was out of your control but it’d be worth contacting the highest bidder to see what’s up.
So I looked at their (the highest bidder’s) profile and they were actually legit. Like 5 star review rating, been on the app for a long time, a bunch of activity. But it was $97,500. So I was like are you serious about this bid and they were like no it was an accident. And I was like alright, I think it’s safe to say the joke had come to completion.
So I deleted all the bids, took the auction down… and people actually think I walked away from $97,500 but… I didn’t because it was all a joke. You know what, fuck it, I’m just gonna disclose all the nitty gritty. The only thing I didn’t disclose is what I think is the most epic part of the story that no one really knows.
I’d been on Ebay before that for a while and I have a five star review rating—and you know, I can’t thank the Ebay fraud and viral auctions department enough; they’ve really won me over here—and I use them almost exclusively to sell things online now. Great people. So, they contacted me after saying, you know, we’re really sorry your auction got compromised, but we don’t want you to feel discouraged from using Ebay, so we sent you a $50 Paypal credit. And I was like you don’t have to do that but thank you! So… we got like a ton of publicity from it, a lot of people were talking about it, and a lot of people were hating on me for it, which I thought was hilarious, and I got fifty bucks.
That’s the cool thing—past knowing that you got paid, you gained so many fans—
That’s the thing, I’ve actually met a bunch of kids at our shows that told me they discovered us through that. So, you like found us from an internet meme and now you’re at this show and we’re talking and that’s cool.
A lot of your followers do come from your social media presence—so do you care if people come from that and maybe don’t really listen to the music or is it more of a way to help people find your music?
Anything that I do online, even if it’s just a stupid video or something, I like to think that it all leads back to the music or Heart Attack Man as an entity in some way, shape, or form. It’s all shitposting, but it’s developing either something with the music or persona.
I have a lot of people—and I don’t want this to be super self-absorbed, but I have people telling me “man, you’re like a marketing genius” and that to me, implies that I actually know what I’m doing and have a plan but I’m ultimately having fun. It’s not like I have calculated steps or a binder filled with ‘okay, this week I’m..’. It’s all pretty spontaneous, like the beanie thing. I thought of it that morning and did it. I think that’s something people really like about it, the spontaneity. You get so many brands and companies that try to co-opt meme culture.
It’s like that ‘hello fellow kids’ meme—it’s exactly that. It’s forced and you know they’re trying to sell you something.
If people check us out because of my internet antics, that’s cool! I’m a very self-aware person, and everything we do is something I would be stoked to see a band doing.
It seems like everyone who is a fan of Heart Attack Man is part of a community. You guys all have inside jokes, people meet each other at your shows, and you have people all around the world who want to see Heart Attack Man and that persona you’ve created.
It’s been really fulfilling to see the community that’s spawned up around this because it really reminds me of a lot of the stuff I had growing up, first going to hardcore shows and stuff. But for it to be a little more intimate in a way and centered around specific things—it’s nice because I’m like ‘oh, there are people who actually like us.’ Normally I assume that people just don’t care or think I’m annoying or something.
But, you know, Fake Blood might not have had the same success that it does now if people thought that you were that annoying, so it’s obviously working.
I do want to talk about Fake Blood—
Oh yeah, the music!
It does exist and it’s an important part of why you’re here! One of my favorite parts of the album is that… well, it’s an angry album, but it ends with “The Choking Game,” which is a slow, sleeper track. I wanted to know your thought process behind using that as a closer. Like, why not just cut it off after “Sugar Coated” and go out with a bang, but leave that responsibility to “The Choking Game”
The way that I started writing the album, was when I came up with Fake Blood and I was like, ‘okay, this is the opener’ and “The Choking Game” I was like ‘oh, this is the closer’—that’s just kind of it. There wasn’t a rhyme or reason, it just felt right and like the appropriate ending. It was one of the earlier songs I wrote too, which helped to have a sense of okay, this is the start, this is the end, now we just have to figure out the in-between.
And it’s not just an angry record—it’s cathartic
People might call it aggressive, but I think it’s cathartic. It’s aggressive, but in the way that it encourages people to get rid of all the toxic and manipulative that are making you feel that self-deprecation.
Yeah! I think overall, I’m a firm believer that I don’t want to tell people how to listen to our music or what they should get from it. I’m not going to be like ‘here’s our record, fuckin’ buy it, and here’s what you should learn from it.’ I didn’t go into it thinking ‘alright, time to say some really ugly shit and make people feel like garbage.’ People have made me feel like shit and feel like garbage, and it’s really the catharsis of that. Just… being brutally honest with myself and shitty people in my life.
I think it’s rare that there’s an album that’s over-the-top brutally honest and if there is something that’s really impactful or heavy, it’s shrouded a bit more in metaphors and shit—and there’s a bit of that on the record—but I think it’s pretty direct.
The one track that is really direct and heavy is—
I was just going to go into talking about “Cut My Losses.”
Yeah, “Cut My Losses!” The thing is, with that song, it was the first song that I wrote lyrics to on the album. It just came right out of me, wrote the lyrics in like fifteen minutes or so and I was like well these are kind of intense and might be a bit much for some people and that’s fine but I can’t ignore this. I’m not just not going to release this song because it’s something that someone doesn’t want to hear.
I was reading the description you posted for the acoustic version of the song on YouTube, and you were talking about how you would run into publicists that would straight up be like “no, we’re not running that.”
For some of them it was a little more than they wanted to deal with.
Out of all the songs on the record, what made you want to take that track, that’s arguably the most visceral and aggressive, and record an acoustic version?
I don’t really know! I was just hanging out with my buddy George one day—
He’s hilarious on twitter, I just followed him the other day.
He’s great! Shoutout George! @sketchyarab on twitter!
I was just at his house where he has his home studio set up and we were working on another project. I’ve never really done anything ‘acoustic’—and he hadn’t really done any formal recording so the acoustic “Cut My Losses” was the first thing he could really put his name on. So neither of us had really done it before and I thought an acoustic “Cut My Losses” could be really cool! There are some different harmonies and stuff that I put in there, and slowed it down, and—I didn’t even realize it—but his guitar was tuned half a step up from what we usually play it. I don’t know what it is, but the combination of the new tuning and slowing it down just made it feel totally different. I like it just as much, if not more than the original. We were just messing around and I ended up actually wanting to release it.
You know, it’s always fun to make shit with your friends, especially when it works.
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Olivia Keasling // @ResidentKilljoy