Feature Interview: Tim Price (SGC Media/Collision Course/The Faction)

Ever since taking over KYS last June, one of the most frequent names that shows up in my email inbox daily is Queensland-based legend, Tim Price. Pricey is one of my favourite PR individuals to work with and is one of the few people in this industry that I would genuinely consider a friend and not just an acquaintance, colleague, or a peer. While other writers/editors/label peeps and promoters will know exactly who he is, many readers – ours and that of other outlets – most likely will not. As such, Price does publicity through both SGC Media and Collision Course (where most of the heavy bands, tours, releases and the such are sent out through). He has worked with some great bands, both nationally and internationally, in his time; from Dead Letter Circus, Polaris, Twelve Foot Ninja, Belle Haven, Alpha Wolf, Avenged Sevenfold, Steel Panther, to the upcoming STYG/BAAO and Kublai Khan/Acacia Strain Aussie tours and countless more.

One thing I’ve been wanting to do more of lately is more feature interviews, but more so than just those larger chats with bands a la our Aussie Feature series, and after the solid response to our chat with Destroy All Lines promoter/Greyscale Records co-founder/Invasion Fest creator Ash Hull, I knew that more features like that had to happen. And this is where Pricey enters; who was onboard with this interview idea right away. And thus, the following interview took place. Have a read!

First off Tim, in your own words, what would you say best describes your job and position as?

I am a publicist (for Collision Course PR) who happens to now own and run a digital radio station/app called The Faction. My business partner is Stephen Green, who runs SGC Media – both businesses come under the umbrella of the SGC media group. I ensure sure that sites like yourselves are talking about (or at least aware of) the heavy bands that I represent.

For those who don’t know what goes into the role, how many hours per day do you think you put into your work on average? Do you think you need to put more in or maybe even back off the workload at times?

  • I put in a 9-5 Monday to Friday in the SGC Media office but I am on my emails at all waking hours to be across everything I can for my clients. I honestly am always thinking I could be doing more. But I also feel the pull of making sure that I am actually living a life away from this as well; spending time with my wife, going to shows, seeing movies, hanging with friends, playing Xbox games with my nephew or chatting with my folks/family and now most recently, exercising (which is something I have completely neglected my whole life).

A busy lifestyle indeed. What kind of skills have you learned in this role over the years that people might be surprised about? 

To be honest, I think that probably the more interesting thing would be about the skills that I brought to this job from previous careers/jobs. I am a teacher by trade and have taught at a couple of different high schools – an all-boys’ boarding school, State Schools, Catholic Schools, music-focused high school – I reckon I learned skills to manage people and manage situations as well as professionalism in a workplace/office from working in those environments. I went straight from high school to Uni and two part-time jobs and doing work placement for free in schools as a student teacher, straight into teaching IT at a high school at 20 years of age. It was brutal – assignments, work, unpaid teacher work and being a fuckwit 19/20 year old going out and getting ripped drunk on the weekends in Rockhampton and Yeppoon. And I did covers gigs as well. So I learned a little about time management from doing that. Where did I find the time? Anyway, I think more than learning things from this industry, I have brought things to this career from others.

I actually didn’t know that about you, dude. You’ve worked with so many groups over the years. What bands/clients/artists have you been most stoked to work with during your career so far?  

  • I reckon I’d kinda have to go back to Dead Letter Circus here. Not much will ever beat the ecstasy of the moment that doing the business deal I did with Greeny that resulted in us getting the contract to do the PR and the radio plugging together as a combined force for their ‘Aesthesis’ album. From there, it was a bit of a cavalcade of new and broader things – I fought hard to work with Twelve Foot Ninja – as I felt there was no-one more passionate about that band in Australia who would have worked it as hard as me – and it paid off. It’s been really rewarding and awesome to see DLC, TFN and now even sleepmakeswaves all chart and receive ARIA nominations for the albums we have worked with. One thing I am SUPER proud of was working with Polaris on ‘The Guilt & the Grief’ EP. There was a different plan, strategy and timeline initially put forward to me for that release and I am stoked to say that my revised version of that meant that their release was noticed and talked about a lot more and received a TONNE more attention. I was so stoked for them when they signed with Resist Records after that, even though it meant I wouldn’t get to keep working with them. I can’t wish those dudes any more success and big love. I knew there was something special about that band the moment I heard ‘Regress’.

Right on. When you first started doing PR for bands, promoters, labels and the like, what mistakes did you make that you learnt from that have since guided you now in your career? 

  • Oh man, I have made so many mistakes! I am entirely certain that there are media people out there who get sick of seeing my name in their inbox – but I don’t have such hubris to not apologise when I have done something wrong or just straight up admit it’s my fault if I’ve sent the wrong time for a phoner because I didn’t remember Daylight Savings Time (Fuck you, QLD, let’s do DST). In fact, that’s probably the biggest failing that I have is that my passion sometimes gets the better of me and I want to rush something out or I have hassled people a little too hard about getting something over the line. I just honestly want people to know that a ‘no’ about a song or band is ok – I just want to know either way, so I can move on!

Oh man, I’ve told you ‘no’ many times [laughs]. Similarly, how hard was it for you to get into this line of work originally? Was it easier than you thought it would be?

  • No, definitely not easy. My first 2 years were REALLY HARD but also some of the most rewarding – all I had were my passion for the bands I have worked with and an ever-growing list of contacts that I built myself. I went “cold turkey” as such where I left a job at the end of the previous year and went straight into “I have to make my living out of this” – I made a promise to my wife that I would always pay the rent on time, and I haven’t missed it yet. I sometimes look back and think “FUCK, I wish I had the resources and knowledge I have now back when I started, I could have killed it for those early bands”. But I was doing the best I could with what I had and I am still amazed that I did such a lot of things with those bands!

Well, you made it work in the end! Now, you’re one of the most frequent names in my email inbox, but I always find new names cropping up from time and time. And not to disrespect those people at all – many of them represent bands and releases that I really do love – but due to the frequency of such roles in the music industry, do you think it’s even more crucial to hold yourself to an even higher standard?

  • Yes, I try to. I don’t always hit it with everyone though and I can admit that. I try to take on things that I know will find AN audience, not necessarily EVERYONE as an audience. There will be some that do and really cross over or blow up, but I know I am not going to please everyone every time. I am sometimes surprised by who likes or dislikes certain things, but I like to think I can relatively predict people’s tastes.

So what happens when you find bands or when bands approach you and you don’t like their music – do you still just take the work and the money? Or are you a lover of what all your clients do and have done in the past?

  • I don’t take on bands whose music I dislike (as in, the music is just objectively not good or is poorly recorded), but I have definitely taken on bands whose music is not MY cup of tea and sometimes I am given those projects and I don’t have a choice (we have some deals with labels/tour promoters where we cover everything that they do) which is fine. It just means that I need to find the champions for those bands! Again, there are audiences for those bands – I just need to find them.

Fair enough! I do definitely notice the difference in the wording and tone of your emails between the bands/releases/tours that you love and those jobs that you were just given. In terms of that, have you ever done certain gigs pro-bono out of the pure cause or because they’re a mate or something of that nature?

  • Not because they are a mate, but I have done stuff pro-bono as I REALLY want to work with a client long-term, so I am happy to do this project gratis or cheap so that when the next album drops and you have gathered more budget for that, you can hire us at full rate. I do mates solids, for sure – discount here and there, or a social post here and there, but I always have to remember that decisions like that take food off my wife and I’s table.

Good point there – it will always affect the income. Away from the money, does a client’s political beliefs ever impact your work and time with them? Do you think that should matter whether you take them on board or whether you pass? 

  • It hasn’t yet, but I haven’t really been approached by any bands whose political beliefs contradict mine enough that I object to it. I certainly wouldn’t be taking on any bands that are far right wing leaning or racist/homophobic/bigoted or anything like that. I have certainly worked with left-leaning artists and activists who, yes, their approach rubs some people up the wrong way, but I have never felt like what I am sending out/backing by sending it out doesn’t have a positive outcome or message that needs to be heard.

Have you dealt with any crises between your main outlets/media friends and clients in the past and how did you handle them?

  • Not a lot, it’s rare. There have been instances where bands have not particularly been fond of a review or that they didn’t get a premiere or something like that, but my advice with them is that publicly calling out an outlet or having a go at them isn’t really going to serve them going forward. There’s every chance that an outlet may like the band’s next output and be more positive going forward, but there’s not going to be much chance of that if the band gets really salty about someone else’s opinion of their music. As an outlet or the public are going to remember more that you had a public dummy spit than that you got a negative review.

Very true. Do you ever feel like you’re acting as a real manager or a parent of sorts to some bands in terms of building their band and brand, helping their image, giving them skills to handle touring, booking shows, fans, media and so on?

  • Having been a manager, I would have to say yes to this. There’s kind of a bare minimum you need to have inline/organized to be even putting out a record, so my experience with doing all of those things means that I can guide the bands to make sure those things are done. I generally write a band’s press release in an hour or two, based on the content I have plus I take bits and pieces from their bio and mould that, and then grab quotes from the band and then we draft until we are all happy. I like being challenged on my writing – it’s sometimes easy to get formulaic for sure – so when I go through drafts galore with a client (Chris O’Brien, the GM at Destroy All Lines is great, as he’s so brutal on me – “Not exciting enough!” or something to that extent) – what it means is that I get determined to excite HIM with the words, so I go hard on re-writing. Which means that the outlets will have a better presser to build from and the punter gets a more hyped up announcement!

That does sound like Chris [laughs]. One thing I’ve always loved and really respected about you is that you don’t get salty nor do you lose your shit when I or another person puts out a negative review of one of your bands work or if I outright tell you ‘fuck no’ (which I’ve literally done before) when you’ve offered us certain premieres that we really didn’t like or believe in. How difficult do you think that kind of relationship is – when your work is about getting bands promoted and their name/work out there but maybe myself or another says no or slams them in a review or just won’t push them, for whatever reason? 

  • There’s no point in getting salty about it – there’s something tomorrow, next week, next month that I will need to pitch to you. They are opinions. I am not going to change your mind about a band by telling you you’re wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I fight for my artists – but I try to fight the right fights. In the rare times when I have got desperate for a result with an outlet and tried to argue a case for them and gone back after getting a ‘no’, I have only served to make myself look stupid, so I have learned from that. A ‘no’ is a ‘no’ and there’s always going to be another champion for my clients. I just have to find them.

Well said. You’re also incredibly approachable and easy to work too, and of course, that’s a major part of this job, yes?

  • Yep! I definitely think that you attract more flies with honey than vinegar, but it all comes from a genuine place, not some artifice that I am a “nice guy” and “approachable”. I think definitely growing up regionally in Rockhampton has meant that I am actually genuinely stoked that I am here and doing what I am doing and who I am working with. I remember that one of the first moments I had where I realized that I wanted to be in the music industry was at a local arts-org/local government sponsored industry get-together in 2005 where The Butterfly Effect, their management and their publicity team (Clint Boge, Dave Leonard and Stephen Green) were there to talk to the local bands and interested people ahead of a show they were playing that night at the Music Bowl. I saw them play that night and was genuinely blown away by them and the local bands playing. Fast forward 11 years, Stephen Green (now my business partner/good friend) and I, in partnership with TBE and MGM Distribution re-released their old albums on double gatefold vinyl. It’s that realising and remembering where I came from and the steps I have made to progress my career, means that I am just seriously stoked to be here and to sometimes be the public-facing voice for some of the bands I grew up listening to. Man, that’s just mind-blowing to me. I feel like if I am genuinely stoked to be here and grateful to be given the opportunities I have been afforded and keep growing and building, I can’t NOT be approachable and easy to work with.

That’s great, man, truly. Now, while I imagine not, have you ever hated me or another writer for something we’ve written – whether it was a review, a one-off comment online or a certain interview question? 

  • No, not hated. Never. I have been let down big time by some writers and outlets who have dropped interviews with international touring bands that I have only VERY little precious time with ahead of their tour that I won’t get again that an outlet now misses out on, for sure. But no – no hate for putting an opinion out there – I can’t squash free speech! I am sure some bands I have worked with have been bitterly disappointed with some reviews they have received at maybe KYS or at other outlets, but I have talked them down from that anger to move forward and live and let live.

[Laughs] good man! I was having this discussion with Kel Burch from Depth Mag about this the other day and wanted your take on it. Do you find it disheartening or even tiring when you see websites that literally just copy your press releases – even the pull quotes from other sites about said tour/band/release? And look, I do understand why it’s done – it’s quick and so much easier to get out.

  • Look, no, I get it too – a lot of these outlets who do that (and I do it sometimes to help out other publicists – I sometimes post pressers/news from other publicists on pricewarmusic.com.au) are not being paid to do their site and they are either doing it for the love of it or even during the breaks at their day job! So no, I am not going to hang them out to dry about that – I am grateful for the support. I guess and hope they know though, as much as I do, that it’s unlikely that THEIR article is going to be the one shared by the band if its a copy paste job. I know mine won’t be shared by the bands that I post about at Pricewar Music, but I know I can help as I have a reasonable but small audience on Facebook and I am just trying to help where I can!
True, hence why I often try to be more personal and open in my posts – higher chance people will actually read it/care about it/share it/etc. Away from the publicist side of things now, how has The Faction been going for you as a new endeavour since you started it a few months back?
The Faction is kicking arse, to be honest! Loving programming the playlists every day, getting podcasts/interviews from Browny [Paul Brown of Wall Of Sound] and picking the Feature albums. Already since we have started, we have featured albums and EPs from Caligula’s Horse, Cursed Earth, King Parrot, Scalphunter, August Burns Red, Bodyjar, Life Pilot, Ecca Vandal, The Used, Polaris and Statues. I love trying to make sure that we are featuring mostly Australian stuff, a mix of independent vs label content, that we are featuring a balance of genders, but all while making sure it’s kick-ass and in that spectrum of what is “heavy”. The New Music Hour each day is sick to program as well – I love that segment because it’s really multi-genre, I can premiere stuff in that hour, it doesn’t have to be music that stays forever in the library as it’s just to highlight new music. And if it sounds like shit that day, I can remove it after then or after its been given a couple of spins. We will have a big presence of advertising at Unify Gathering in January. If people are going, you can expect to see our signage and our branding all around the camp and the arena and on the big screens!
Finally, Tim, how has your mental health been working this role in an industry that crushes all of our mental health from time to time?
To be frank, I have always been a super positive guy (a guy I was in my first band with back in high school used to call me Captain Keen – always looking to the positive and going for everything). Only very rarely do I experience that crush. Even losing a LOT of money on a festival that I worked on a week before my wedding didn’t beat me down too hard. However, I DID experience my very first panic attack. Weirdly, the day before Big Sound this year. It was a very very odd experience and I honestly didn’t know what was going on. It’s just not something I have experienced before and looking back, I can’t even remember what it was about. So it wasn’t that bad. More than anything, one thing that I feel like I can do with the fact that I am positive most of the time is to help others. I have definitely over the years been an ear and a shoulder for artists I’ve managed and people I have worked with and I have spent time with and talked with people and brought them out of dark times. It’s not something that I am bragging about – but I honestly feel like if I have shone some light on dark moments for some people and extended a hand to them when they needed it, then I have contributed positively to the industry.

Check out The Faction Radio’s hitlist Spotify playlist below!

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