Act of the Month: Black Suit Karma

1. When Did you start the band/act?

Late April / Early May 2008

2. Who are the band/act members (first and last names please!!!)

Norman Wilkerson (lead vocals), Tommy Johnson (guitars), James “Rus” Russell (bass and backing vocals), Jeremy Parker (drums)

3. Who are you influences?

Soundgarden, Tool, Alice In Chains, Black Sabbath (the list is HUGE, but these were the ones at least 2 of us said individually)

4. What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a band/act? (break ups, lossing members, ETC.)

Balancing our “adult” lives (wives, kids, college, jobs, bills, etc…) against meeting the needs of the band.

5. Favorite part of being in the band/act.

The camaraderie and brotherhood. Plus, as Jeremy said “The awesomeness of being able to say ‘I’m in the band”

6. Albums, Shows, or Works that are upcoming.

Lots of shows in AR, TX, MO, and OK plus more being added all the time. The next CD is in planning stages and we’ve got some material written for it, but we’re not in any rush to do it. We want to take our time and make sure the songs are done right and are ready to be presented.

7. What are your favorite songs/skits to perform at shows?

They each have their own appeal… Norm claims Agony of Solitude and Omega Horse as his favorites, while Jeremy’s favorite is A Hole Inside.

8. Funniest thing to happen to the band/act at a show.

When Tommy went to turn on his Electro Harmonix Small Clone pedal for a particular part of a song and the push-button got stuck in the tread of his Doc Martin boots. We had this 6’7″ dude hopping around on one foot, waving his other leg around in the air trying to get it unstuck and yanking all the wiring in his effect chain loose in the process.

9. Goals for 2009.

Shift our music careers into the next phase where the music becomes our primary source of income rather than having to slug it out on day jobs. If a deal comes along that is beneficial, then great; but we’ve got our business built in such a way that it may be hard for many labels to offer us much.

10. Your thoughts on the local scene.

Tommy – That’s the problem, it’s a “scene” – Once upon a time it was a community with bands helping each other. But that sense of community largely faded away back in the mid-90’s.

11. Does the band have any good luck charms or traditions that you do before a show (like drinking a beer before going on stage, not wearing underwear, ETC.)

Rus carries a “buckeye” and bandana that belonged to his late grandfather with him at all times to remind him that perseverance and hard work pay off if you keep at it. Jeremy just takes his shirt off.

12. What do you do to prepare for a show? (when do you rent the venue, when do ask other bands or acts to join in on the show, how do you raise the money for the venue, how do you determine the price of the show?)

Tommy, Norm, & Jeremy – “We ask Rus.”

Rus – I base it on the venue. I generally contact the venue or promoter 3-4 months in advance just to ask what kind of time frame they work on and to see if our style of music is one they are interested in having. From there I work with them to make sure everyone involved benefits, doing anything from basic promo (fliers, etc) all the way to lining up all the acts on the show.

13. Any advice for smaller acts/bands?

Tommy – Forget scales and theory, if it sounds good run with it. Work your ass off and take any gig you can get, even if it’s no pay. Get ready to sleep in vehicles and on people’s floors.

Jeremy – Have a good balance between business / fun / chemistry / trust among the band.
Norm – Build a band with trust and honor. Be real and open with your ideas. Never give up – stay with it. It’s not an overnight thing, it takes bleeding and work to have it.
Rus – Realize there is no such thing as a “smaller” band. Black Sabbath, Led Zepplin, Metallica, and others all started out being unknown. NO ONE is going to do it for you – if you don’t take charge of your own career, no one will.

14. How can our readers contact you or learn more about you?

Check out!

15. Anything else?

Trust no one until they prove they can be trusted, listen to everyone because you never know where the answer you need may come from, leave your ego in the toilet, and never forget that the worst night of playing music is still better than the best day of flipping burgers.

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One thought on “Act of the Month: Black Suit Karma”

  1. Norman Wilkerson is one of the coolest guys I know.Tommy Johnson(my dad) is the best dad ever.Jeremy rocks.

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