Jon Halperin’s pitch for his first management client in nearly 20 years is pretty simple — just watch the video.
“I asked my friends and colleagues to watch at least the first minute of the video,” says Halperin, who says people either get Dregg’s wild video “Return of the Dregg” — which features guys making out, the burning of a children’s bible and an abused Chunk mask from the 1985 classic Goonies — or they are are appalled and ask questions like “Jon, is this a joke?”
Halperin is a longtime music industry veteran who books the Glasshouse in Pomona, California, and programs a number of festivals including Music Tastes Good in Long Beach. Halperin first saw Dregg play at Big Sound, a South by Southwest style festival in Brisbane, Australia. After connecting with the band and learning the group didn’t have a manager, Halperin recruited longtime friend Adam La Rue, a veteran manager, label exec and music business adjunct professor at UCLA to co-manage the group.
“They have one hell of a creative vision and very defined views on what they wanted to do,” says LaRue of the five-person band from Melbourne the operates largely independently without a label or booking agent.
Dregg’s sound lies somewhere between hardcore and nu metal — one review site called them “Madball meets Mr Bungle in perfect harmony.” Lead singer Christopher Mackertich’s favorite artist is Eminem and while the band has some rap elements and rapid fire lyrical delivery, Dregg’s sound is closer to groups like Slipknot or System of a Down with more freewheeling guitar transitions, tighter drumming and screamo hooks and harmonies.
Mackertich identifies as a bisexual and seems most comfortable pushing boundaries — their videos are chock-full of discordant imagery and absurdist themes. Some of the band’s videos are a bit disturbing, most aim to shock and nearly all of them are super weird.
Halperin and LaRue hope to find a way to bring the group to the U.S. in 2020, either playing festivals or serving as an opener for a metal or hardcore band.
“There’s a culture with the band that they want to build upon,” LaRue explains. “They want to create comic books and develop a persona for themselves that’s unlike anything else that’s happening in music right now.”
Halperin said the biggest reaction he’s gotten from his friends in the music business has been surprise.
“People know me by my musical tastes and record collection, which doesn’t exactly match with Dregg,” he said. “But once I get them to see the video, most are like, ‘Holy crap, what did I just watch?'”