Dropout Kings are no strangers to collaborating with other artists.
The Phoenix-based trap-metal band teamed with former Of Mice & Men vocalist Shayley Bourget’s new band Dayshell in 2019 and upped its exposure in music. Helmed by Cactus High School graduate singer Adam Ramey, Dropout Kings wrote “Kombat” with Dayshell.
Once the two finished their lyrics, they turned their words over to Dropout Kings’ rapper and Phoenix resident Eddie Wellz to put his personal touch on the song. Wellz seems to relish not only in the opportunity to express himself but to meet new musicians.
“Getting the opportunity to work with different artists who have a different style is nice because it meshes well with our style,” Wellz says.
“It’s just nice to keep getting more chances to keep collaborating with more bands and more people.”
While it is easier to do features than pure collaborations, both provide great opportunities for bands to shed light on their favorite up-and-coming acts.
“I think the easier way to do it is if there’s an idea of what the artist wants the direction of the collaboration to be,” Wellz says. “But when there are situations where artists want a song created from scratch, those are always fun.”
Their true collaborations did not end with Dayshell, as they were able to connect with the budding Oklahoma-based metal band Outline in Color and hardcore artist/engineer Blupill on the song “BottleRat.”
The song served as their most collaborative project to date, as it not only deviated from their conventional sound but showed how three artists of differing sounds are able to display their talents on one track.
Their latest collaboration with the U.K. rap/metal band Hacktivist is their most ambitious crossover to date.
The song, “I Ain’t Depressed,” serves as a “hype song for being depressed,” as described by both Ramey and Wellz.
“The lyrics were about how everybody feels depressed at one point or another, but at some point, you have to hype yourself up even if you have to lie to yourself to change your mindset or your surroundings,” Ramey says.
From its horror-inspired intro to Ramey’s screaming chorus, the song helps listeners escape negative headspace and dark emotions.
“When you are depressed and you feel that darkness and dread over you and you’re ready to release that energy, that song gives you that punch in the mouth needed to release that energy,” Wellz says.
“I Ain’t Depressed” proved to be challenging due to the pandemic and the distance that separates the bands.
From having to send lyrics back and forth with Hacktivist vocalist Jot Maxi to recording a music video, the project was a learning experience and a testament to modern music technology.
Dropout Kings launched an exclusive merchandise line to promote the collaboration.
While working with higher-profile acts is exciting, platforms like Featured X, a social platform where artists can reach out to one another to create music, have made it easier for bands like Dropout Kings to work with their idols.
The fact of the matter is that “we are really collaborating with a lot of people we are friends with,” Ramey says.
“We’re also always listening to people on all levels from local to megastars like Drake. As much as we make music, that is how we’re able to stay creative and have fun,” Wellz adds.
A prime example of this is their work with the local metal group Bury the Darkness, to whom Ramey was introduced through his digital marketing company, Push Digital Marketing.
The two bands wrote “Gone But Not Forgotten,” which discusses the struggles of coping with loss.
Bury the Darkness wrote most of the song and approached Ramey and Wellz for a feature.
The pandemic changed the music industry and forced artists to become increasingly more creative with ways to promote themselves and make a living.
“Now more than ever, a lot of artists are missing out on their biggest stream of income, which is touring,” Ramey says. “There is a cost involved, but it’s an investment. It’s always surprising what good things can happen when you put yourself out there.”
Ramey says the worst thing an artist can say is “no” when asked to collaborate on a song.
Dropout Kings have been signed to Atilla frontman Chris Fronzak’s label Stay Sick Records since 2019. The sextet is shopping for a new label and have several songs in the works.
They are also hopeful to make a return to the stage this summer and play festivals in Europe as well as Rebel Rock Festival in Florida.
While they have no timetable for release on their latest songs, they do plan to continue to treat fans to new releases every two to three months.
“Overall, we’re staying busy and trying to keep our brains busy during this crazy time,” Ramey says.