LLOYD TALKS ABOUT PILLBUSTER, HIS FAMILY, HIS CANCER, AND THE IMPORTANCE OF TREATING YOUR ART LIKE IT’S WORTH A DAMN!
article by Thomas Duerig
photo by Ashley Hill
Perhaps it’s his experience as a salesman, or maybe he simply possesses a natural-born charisma and confidence, but Brett Lloyd, front man of the hard rock band Pillbuster, has a way of making you like him. It has taken him and his band farther than most local musicians and it may be, next to his actual voice and work-ethic, the most powerful tool in his arsenal.
For a long time, Brett has had a passion for singing. One of his earliest musical experiences occurred while he was six years old. His father, manager of the car dealership Brett still works at, had a real love for guitar playing and bought a karaoke machine so the two of them could play Bruce Springsteen songs together. “We must have played ‘Born In The USA’ a million times,” he tells me at the storage space Pillbuster uses to rehearse and write together in. The space has been modified with wall-pads and a dozen-or-so throw carpets to improve the acoustics. While the space is now filled with only sound of our own voices, the two towering guitar rigs that stand in the corners remind that this band means business and that this room can get loud.
During his high school years, Brett performed in the band Down Again, his father always at shows supporting him. At eighteen, however, he gave up on music to pursue a career at his father’s car dealership. It was a decision he’d later come to regret when he was diagnosed, four years ago, with testicular cancer. Faced with the real threat of his mortality, Brett resolved to make the most of his time and join another band. “I looked at my life and thought about the things that were really important to me, that I still hadn’t done, and I regretted not putting more effort into that band.” It was then that he met guitarist Joe Festa on Craigslist and within 45 minutes of jamming together, Pillbuster was born.
The talent of the duo was obvious and it wasn’t long before they formed a full band and were playing out original music. Meanwhile, Brett underwent his cancer treatment. Some nights the two would overlap, and he’d perform still sick from the iodine used in his cancer treatment (he’s allergic to it).
Despite the discomfort, Brett was grateful for the emotional release he could find nowhere else but on stage. He has since won his battle with cancer, but he has a firm opinion that there’s still a battle for musicians to fight. “Are you with me? Let’s start a war!” he exclaims. “The pay-to-play bullshit needs to stop! And bands need to stop buying into it.” He refers to the way in which venues try to promote shows by making bands sell hundreds of dollars’ worth of advance tickets and give the bands pittance in return, often forcing the bands to pay back the difference if they can’t sell all of their tickets. “Negotiate,” he insists. “If Pillbuster is selling tickets… you better believe we’re getting 80% of that.”
It’s that feeling of self-worth that motivates him to make sure what Pillbuster does is done right, and the feeling is infectious. “I guarantee you that nobody can do what you do the way you do it,” he beams with confidence. When it came time to release Pillbuster’s debut, they made sure to make it as big an event as they could and garnered support from FM99 to help spread the word and sponsor the show. According to Brett, there was no special trick involved with making that happen. “We just sent them our music and asked.”
Brett is sure of many things, and one of those things is that, while Pillbuster may not sound much like Springsteen, he knows that what he’s doing as an artist would make his father proud. Despite his father having passed away seven years ago, he still finds himself looking out into the crowd for him.
Pillbuster has just received the master of their new EP, Brothel, which promises to have a much rawer sound than their debut and was mastered at Kitchen in North Carolina. Brett has also written a collection of poetry, titled Deception of Change, and is in the process of getting it published.
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