Resulting from a series of interactions and opportunities, the Artery Foundation was developed in 2004 by Eric Rushing and two former business partners. Despite being born into a musical family, Rushing started out his career as an EMT, but knew his passion was in the music industry and couldn’t stay away. He learned all aspects of the industry as he worked his way up from the bottom, working as a door man and promoter before establishing the Artery Foundation and his club, Ace of Spades.
Today, the Artery Foundation is a full-service management company, which works with some of the hottest names in the music industry. Rushing took time out to talk to LA Music Blog about The Artery Foundation and what it looks for in its artists, as well as Ace of Spades and which acts will soon be gracing its stage.
To start back at the beginning, at what point in your life did you realize that you wanted to have a career in music?
I grew up in a musical family, so I’ve always been very partial to music. Coming out of high school, I went to a tech school to become an EMT, and I did that for five years until about the mid-‘90s. During that time, I was really involved in and supported the local music scene. We had a lot of nationals come up out of this town, which ended up being really big bands. From Telsa to Deftones to Cake, there were a lot of bands that got signed in the ‘90s that came from here, even a bunch of indie bands. My roommates at that time were all heads of security at the local clubs, so that helped me be able to come and go as I wanted.
I got to a point where I was not satisfied by what I was doing in the medical field. I just really wasn’t happy so I took a job at a local club working a backstage room, door, an entrance, and just basically made sure people had credentials. [LAUGHTER] That job made me feel really connected in the music scene, but even that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to work my way up, do whatever I could do and meet as many bands as possible. The local club ended up going out of business, and for about a year, it sat empty—they might have done about one special event a week. I had a bunch of friends in bands so my friend and I had a party there. We each got a band to play, and it was really successful.
From that party, a guy approached us and said, “Hey, I heard you can rent out this club since it’s been sitting empty. You guys should rent it out and do a show.” So my friend that I threw the other party with and I decided to try to promote a local show to see how well it would go. We put together a bill, and it sold out. There were about 500 people. We were stoked because we were like, “Wow, we can make money doing this.” [LAUGHTER] That was basically the start of it. It went from about one night a month, to two, until the point I was a full-time booker.
How did you transition from being a booker to being a band manager?
I was at that club as a booker for a couple of years in the beginning, and I started managing bands at that point as well. A lot of bands wanted us to manage them, but I latched on to one of my best friend’s band and one other young band. I started developing them locally, then getting them out of town into other markets here in Northern California, and then throughout the rest of California. Along with another well-known manager from the Sacramento area we created a new production company that oversaw three different regions: the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and Reno. We would buy a package, and we’d cover those three markets.
From there, you started your own record label. Can you tell us about that?
The other manager we were working with had been managing Papa Roach before they got signed with Dreamworks, and he advised me to start my own label because he said, “People will take you more seriously and kids will think the band’s signed. It’s kind of like an illusion, but you make it look real.” So I started a label called 720 Records, and I ended up putting out around 30 records and developing local bands for the next 5 to 7 years. We had every single major label showcasing our bands. My partner obviously caught a break with Papa Roach, so he went on to manage Hoobastank at the height of their career.
In the early-2000 I got a band signed to an indie label, and things started taking off from there. I always had a roster of bands. Around 2004 or 2005, I signed Drop Dead Gorgeous, then the Devil Wears Prada, A Day To Remember, and Alesana all within a year’s timeframe, and from there it just snowballed. A Day To Remember and the Devil Wears Prada are now some of the biggest bands in the nation. Drop Dead Gorgeous had a really good run. We signed them to a major label at Interscope Geffen. Alesana was at Tragic Hero, then Fearless, and now they have just signed to Epitaph, so we’re kind of on our third generation with them. From there, the rest of the roster just kind of blew up–Attack Attack, Asking Alexandria, Whitechapel, etc.
What initially spawned the idea of The Artery Foundation?
The other colleague that was tied to the Papa Roach camp was a really good friend of mine and a very smart business guy. He came up with the name and said, “Let’s just join forces to do this.” That’s how it started.
What does The Artery Foundation look for in the artists that it works with?
There are a lot of things. Obviously, talent is first and foremost. There are a lot of cliché things that come along with the talent, like looking good for the most part. Being road ready–having a van, trailer, gear, and songs. Geographical location isn’t very important. We’ve signed bands from all of over the world, although international bands pose more of a challenge to break in this market. We’ve had great success breaking Asking Alexandria, but it was very tough. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of money and time. It’s not like taking an American band, developing them, and translating it throughout the world. Primarily it just comes down to talent.
On the opposite end, what do you feel that a band and their team has to do these days to grab the attention of the music industry?
Social networking is probably the number one thing right now. They need to have a presence in social networks to grab our attention, or anyone else’s attention for that matter. Before the slow demise of Myspace started, all bands were getting signed from it. [LAUGHTER] That’s where we found them. Now it’s shifted to Facebook and Twitter, but MySpace still feels very important because it’s still going to be there for people that don’t use Facebook who just want to listen to music. Social networking is one thing that’s going to grab people’s attention more than anything. Having a local following is great, and a lot of bands are hitting the road these days without a label, tour support, an agent, or a manager. Those are all things that are very appealing as well.
You recently signed The Crimson Armada, Revocation, and This Or The Apocalypse. What about those bands specifically grabbed your attention?
All three of those bands were signed by other managers here. I approved it, which is the process for all signings here. The two other managers here loved the way the bands sounded and what they already had going on. Revocation is one of the biggest selling bands on Nuclear Blast. Crimson Armada are very close friends with and toured with other bands that we’ve worked with. This Or The Apocalypse already had a lot going on for themselves.
Chunk! No Captain Chunk is a band I’ve personally signed in the last few months. They’re from Paris, France, and I just fell in love with their music. A colleague of mine sent me the records and said, “I think this is something you’d be really into.” It was spot on. I could not stop listening to it, and I signed the band in the same week.
You own a venue called Ace of Spades. You have the background in booking and whatnot, but was this something you wanted to do from the get go when you started the management company?
It was something I’ve always wanted, even before the management company. I’ve always treated the clubs I’ve worked with as my own club. Eventually the opportunity to move up was presented, so I stepped out in my own venue. Over the course of the last five years, I would rent it out to do bigger shows, but now I own the place. Since they had made it somewhat of a dance club, I went in and did a really nice remodel to make it into a live music venue.
Looking at your concert calendar, you have everyone from Badfish to As I Lay Dying, Acacia Strain to The Glamour Kills Tour. Those are some amazing tours coming through there.
Yes, definitely. I’m very tied in with all the agents, so I was able to take over and start getting some really great, big shows coming in. I’ve got Rob Zombie playing this place, so it’s definitely exciting to have such great acts coming through.
Are there any tours in particular that you’re personally excited about?
Honestly, I’m really excited for Rob Zombie to come through because I feel like he would normally play arenas in the area, so it’s great to be able to get him to do this small underplay. We were very fortunate to get a show like that in there. I’m also really excited about Badfish. I know they have a large, nationwide following right now, and I’ve always wanted to book them in Sacramento.
There are also a lot of other great acts that I’m looking forward to, like As I Lay Dying and Asking Alexandria. The Artery Foundation Across The Nation Tour is coming through. The Dance Gavin Dance reunion tour, Voltbeat with The Damned Things—I’m a big fan of The Damned Things already. I’m really excited, and that’s how I book things. If it’s something I’m not excited about, then it may not end up on the calendar.
For more on Eric Rushing and the Artery Foundation: