GENRE IS DEAD! Interview: Beauty School Dropout On Working With Their Idols, Bringing People Together, And Living Their Rock And Roll Dreams
Just a few years ago, Los Angeles’ Beauty School Dropout were another young rock band trying to make a name for themselves, releasing music on their own, and playing any and all shows they could. Fast forward and now the band is the face of new label Verswire and being mentored by one of their idols, Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus. But how did they get here? Through hard work, determination, fearlessness, and defiance.
Beauty School Dropout rose from the ashes of singer Cole Hutzler and bassist Brent Burdett’s previous band Strangefaces. When the band dissolved, Hutzler began working on a solo project that would lay the groundwork for Beauty School Dropout. Once guitarist and producer Bardo came on board, the band was ready to be unleashed on the rock scene. They released their debut EP, Boys Do Cry, in 2021 and quickly built a loyal following thanks to their raucous live shows. Their fusion of blend of pop, rock, punk, and electronic along with their honest lyrics and devil-may-care vibe caught the attention of Verswire, the new record label spearheaded by Hoppus, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, and Sherry Saeedi of Veeps. With the help of their musical mentors, a new label backing them, and their fierce debut album, Beauty School Dropout is unstoppable.
Just a day after their sold-out record release show, Cole, Brent, and Bardo sat down with GENRE IS DEAD! to talk about their new album, working with their idols, and cultivating an honest, open, and positive culture in the rock scene.
GENRE IS DEAD!: Just a year ago, you guys were releasing music on your own and now you’re signed to new label Verswire, whose leading team includes Pete Wentz and Mark Hoppus. That’s quite an achievement for a new band! How did you guys come to sign with them?
Cole Hutzler: By saying no a lot. (Laughs) Honestly, I don’t know. Since the inception of this band, we’ve been very tenacious about how we wanted to operate. We saw a lot of deals we were not super stoked on. When it came to the whole inception of Verswire and we got the rundown of how they want to do things and structure their deals and what their goals are as far as actually genuinely favoring the artists, that’s what brought us in immediately. We were so stoked on the idea and the premise and [founder and CEO] Sherry Saeedi’s amazing, so we went with it. It’s been nothing but amazing since then.
GID: So, initially there was some apprehension about signing to a label because you were worried label heads would take away your creative control?
Brent Burdett: Yeah, that’s the biggest thing for us. We’re control freaks and we handle every facet [of the band]. We produce our own music, we do all of our own merch, we design the album art. Everything is us. We didn’t want to lose what’s us and finding Verswire was the perfect match because they were stoked that we did so much internally, and we were stoked that they wanted to facilitate our vision.
GID: You guys are also the first signing to Verswire, so in a way, you’re the faces of the label right now. How does that feel? Does it add any extra pressure on top of being the new band on the block?
Bardo: Yeah, there’s always pressure to perform in anything we do whether we’re on a label or not. I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Because we’re getting cosigns from people we’ve always looked up to and a lot of people look up to, we hope we can be the band that carries that torch and can eventually pass it on to the next band who comes after us. That’s the biggest pressure we put on ourselves. We want to be able to crush it as hard as our mentors have crushed it and live up to the name.
GID: Speaking of working with cool musicians, you guys not only work with Mark Hoppus on the label side of things, but he’s made a cameo in your “Assassin” video, and he has a verse on your new song “Almost Famous.” What’s it been like working with one of the founders of one of rock’s biggest bands?
CH: I think the other boys can take this one!
BB: Mark is literally my idol. He’s the reason why I play bass. Blink-182 is my favorite band of all time, straight up.
B: He can play every Blink song front to back.
BB: I know every song! It’s insane. Having this opportunity, child me and present me still freaks out. I cried last night because he performed with us. I never thought as a kid that would happen. Every kid on earth who grew up playing music, grew up learning songs imagines for that to happen, and I just can’t believe for some reason it was me.
CH: His first show in three years!
BB: Yeah, Mark’s first show in three years!
B: We had this conversation last night after our show that in those moments, one of the weirdest things is thinking why am I not freaking out about this even harder? Because seven-year-old me would be losing it. If I went back in time and told seven-year-old me what we get to do, I’d be freaking out but it’s one of those things where we’ve been working at this for quite some time. Props to us, we’ve been earning it. We’re working with some of our favorite people and the reason they’re asking us to work on stuff with them is because they respect us enough and there’s a mutual respect there. Honestly, that’s the coolest thing for me. We trust each other and I love that aspect of it. Don’t worry we still fangirl all the time!
GID: Let’s talk about the new single, which also dropped yesterday with the new album. The hook is “I’m almost famous and I already hate it.” There’s a lot to unpack there. What’s the inspiration behind the song?
CH: It was right after we signed [with Verswire] when we wrote it. There was this weird pivot in time for us where all of sudden Mark was attached to the project, we were a signed band and we saw a lot of ears trip up. A lot of people who we’d been surrounded by or already known kind of changed their attitude towards us a bit. Whether good or bad, I think it was acknowledging and accepting that there’s gonna be people who aren’t there for you on a personal level but are there for you as a fan or vice versa and just all the crazy ups and downs we go through in this manic period as we’re trying to get our band off the ground, you know?
GID: What is that like when you have that realization that people are treating you differently because now the spotlight’s on you?
BB: I think it’s pretty easy to see when people are authentic because we have so many good people around us that there’s a clear difference between who’s there for you on a real level and who’s there for you because you’re succeeding. So, you try to keep your head straight and your friends and family close. Our circle’s so tight.
CH: Network big, circle small.
BB: Yeah. (laughs)
CH: And we’ve done it long enough that we can see through it. We’ve really been in the mud up until this point.
BB: And we live in LA which is the land of clout chasers.
B: “Almost Famous, already hate it.” It’s easy to misinterpret fame and success on the internet, but we’re still broke. We’re still trying to figure out how to pay rent like everyone else. Success is like a destination. Yeah, we’re succeeding, but we’re still working at our goals, and I think that’s the bigger metaphor in the song. Yeah, it’s cool and we get praise and it’s dope, but we’re all still human. Let’s just all treat each other like that.
GID: It’s especially prominent now with everyone trying to go viral, trying to chase that internet clout. It’s something people think they want but aren’t really prepared for the reality of it. People are trying so hard to chase something they don’t fully understand. How many stories have we heard of people achieving that internet fame and coming to hate it?
CH: It’s definitely a weird landscape to be in because it’s so ever-changing. It’s just a constant rat race of trying to catch up or feeling like you have to catch up to a trend rather than actually being yourself and focusing on what you like. We’re kind of at that point where there’s still a constant flow of new discovery through TikTok and we’re leaning in a lot more towards our stupid, raunchy humor and our live shows more than anything. The energy these kids are bringing is absolutely insane, so also being able to highlight our people because our shows, our fans – it’s all about them. To be able to put a spotlight on that is very special as well and to be able to grow through that is even cooler.
GID: That’s what it should be about, the music, the fans, and the shows. Since we’re talking about your live shows, you guys did a sold-out record release party in LA last night. How did that go?
B: It was an emotional moment. I think we all cried on stage. It was sick. It’s a sold-out show, which means people cared enough about us to spend money on us.
BB: Our first ticketed show too.
B: Our first one! People were there! The phone lights go up, people are screaming out the lyrics to these songs and it’s just like wow. You kind of have to cry in those moments.
BB: I was like holy shit I didn’t know it was like that yet. (Laughs)
CH: It’s incredible.
B: Everything was just perfect last night. It was a perfect evening. So thankful. And Mark was there. First show in three years as we mentioned. It was very surreal, like out of a dream or something.