Before Justin Warfield teamed up with neighborhood pal Adam Bravin (aka Adam 12) to form She Wants Revenge, the Los Angeles native was working on his hip-hop career with the release of 1993's My Field Trip To Planet 9.
Two years later, he dropped The Justin Warfield Supernaut, then moved to London where he worked with The Chemical Brothers and Cornershop, to name a few. Warfield's days in the U.K. found him touring a bit through Europe with the short-lived band One Inch Punch.
But it wasn't until he hooked up with producer and club DJ Bravin that the Ian Curtis-like baritone discovered the true meaning of life on the road.
Now, the dark, '80s-sounding electro dance-rock duo are seasoned pros, selling out nights at Los Angeles' Wiltern LG and The Grove of Anaheim in SoCal.
"This is the first major touring thing I've been involved with," Warfield told Pollstar. "We've been back and forth across the U.S. about four or five times now."
Before She Wants Revenge's self-titled debut was released in January, the duo was already on the road supporting bands like Bloc Party and The Kills. Instead of having a label-assembled backup band for shows, the duo gathered a few local friends, got a van and headed out.
"Even though our record wasn't out, we wanted people to know about us," Warfield explained. "We made sure we were always playing and always active."
To accomplish that, Warfield and Bravin enlisted The Agency Group's Dave Kaplan because they liked his roster and considered him a "no bullshit kinda guy."
"He wasn't the typical agent who was trying to woo us, telling us how great we are," Warfield said. "We were like, 'We want to tour and tour and tour. And these are the types of bands we'd like to tour with.'"
The duo handed Kaplan two lists of bands: a short list and a dream list. On top of the dream list was Depeche Mode, which She Wants Revenge opened for in the spring.
"Things happened pretty quickly," Kaplan told Pollstar. "Basically, once the single ("Tear You Apart") broke on radio, things worked really well for them."
Manager Tom Sarig who already knew Warfield from his former A&R days at MCA Records immediately decided to work with She Wants Revenge after listening to the duo's demo and being taken back to his high school days of listening to New Order and Depeche Mode.
"It reminded me a bit of the feeling I got from that sort of stuff really amazing songwriting with passionate, direct lyrics," Sarig told Pollstar.
Sarig heard the demo while he was on a business trip with Cake at last year's Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City. Instead of flying back home to New York City, he headed straight to Los Angeles and signed the duo to his Esther Creative Group management company.
"This is a band that played its first-ever show at (Los Angeles') CineSpace about 12 months ago," the manager said. "Now, we're doing at least 1,000-seaters everywhere."
Part of the band's success could be attributed to the fact that Warfield and Bravin grew up in the same neighborhood and have stayed in touch for the past 15 years.
As the years passed, the pair of thirtysomethings was always aware of what the other was doing musically. But it wasn't until a house party in 2003 that a mutual friend strongly urged the duo to collaborate.
"She said, 'Why don't you guys work on music together?' And we said, 'Yeah, we will one day.' And she said, 'No, what are you doing after the party? Why don't you just hang out and try making music together?'" Warfield said. "So we went to my house and started programming some beats, and have been working together ever since."
The duo has approached the project in a gradual, step-by-step process, starting in clubs like L.A.'s Silverlake Lounge and Spaceland to The Troubadour, El Rey Theatre and beyond.
"Some bands have some success in radio and touring, then they immediately want to move into the bigger venues," Warfield said. "We don't take gigs on how much it's offering."
Warfield may have learned a few lessons about the industry from his father, Maurice Warfield - a 30-year urban music promotions executive who worked with artists like Barry White, Michael Jackson and Luther Vandross.
Although he was excited to discover his son was interested in pursuing a career in the music biz, the former major-label exec was a bit hesitant.
"He knew how rough the industry could be," Warfield said. "But once he saw it was something I loved, he knew there was no way I was going to do anything else."