BACKSTAGE BLENDS – INTERVIEW
Conducted by Julia Hartley-Barnes
We are so proud to bring you this exclusive interview with Dan Chandler, lead singer of Evans Blue, a hugely successful alt-rock band, and co-founder of Backstage Blends, a premium e liquid label formed by Chandler and Justin Price. This is the first interview Dan has given to the vape community. Enjoy this in-depth discussion, and don’t forget to check out the Spinfuel e Liquid Team Review for the entire Backstage Blend lineup. – John Manzione/Publisher.
SPINFUEL: Hi Dan, I’m Julia and welcome to the pages of Spinfuel. I’ve been looking forward to talking to you, about your marvelous brand of e liquid, and maybe a little about your music. Would you like to formally introduce yourself to our many readers?
Backstage Blends: Sure. My name is Dan Chandler. I am co-owner of Backstage Blends and I sing for rock outfits Evans Blue and Fight or Flight.
SPINFUEL: Yes you do, yes you certainly do. Big fan here by the way. We have lots of questions about Backstage Blends, but if I didn’t ask you a couple of questions about Evans Blue I would never forgive myself. Your new album, Letters from the Dead just dropped on April 15th, can I ask how it’s doing? I know it’s only been a couple of weeks, but Kiera, my wife, and I are such huge fans, and the new LP is as strong as anything in your catalog, even Graveyard of Empires, our all-time favorite album, so I guess I’m hoping the new album is doing great.
Backstage Blends: That is so awesome to hear! We are so grateful to have such supportive fans. The new album debuted #23 on the Billboard hard rock album charts, and it appears the fans have really embraced it!
SPINFUEL: That’s great news! I know K and I have ‘embraced’ it for sure. How about your super group, Fight or Flight, can we expect anything new at some point? It’s been just about 3 years since ‘A Life by Design’… time to get the band together, no?
Backstage Blends: Disturbed is on tour supporting their album, and now with the Evans Blue release, scheduling can get a bit tricky to say the least. I’m sure we will get our heads together at some point in the future to create something new. Just too hard to give a timeline in this unique scenario. Let’s just go with, “yes something new at some point.”
SPINFUEL: Fantastic, and I do apologize for bringing up the music when we’re supposed to be talking about Backstage Blends, I just had to acknowledge that you’re talking to someone that is truly a big fan of both.
So, about Backstage Blends; How closely are you involved in the actual business end of Backstage Blends? As I understand it, you didn’t simply sign off on a brand, but in fact you are directly involved in developing the flavors, the marketing, and everything else. This is a big part of your life right now, is that true?
Backstage Blends:“Directly Involved” is a very real assumption. We all are in constant communication and have our weekly meetings at the local pub, where we knock out our aggressive agenda and then aggressively knock out a bunch of alcohol!!…. Yeah ummm.. Not so much. We all have toddlers and we are in bed by 10pm.
SPINFUEL: You can’t party your whole life, oh wait, I guess some do, like Keith Richards, LOL. You know, you probably have lots of vape gear considering that you are deeply involved in Backstage Blends and you are an avid vaper, do you have any mods or tanks that you are particularly fond of?
Backstage Blends: For the longest time it was my ProVari Zombie with a Nautilus Tank but recently the Fuchai 200W and a Herakles Tank has been my go to setup, Metal Milk at 80 – 100W with a .6 coil is my perfect all day vape.
SPINFUEL: Good choices! In fact, later this month I’m reviewing the new Procyon by ProVape. I’m looking forward to that. But before Backstage Blends, what e liquid brands were you most fond of?
Backstage Blends: Five Pawns and Boosted
SPINFUEL: Ah. With a successful and time consuming career in music, why did you want to develop an e liquid brand?
Backstage Blends: A lot of people don’t realize I quit smoking cigarettes about 4 years ago when a friend hooked me up with a vape and I loved it, it helped in so many ways for me and I ‘caught the buzz’ you can say, and really was super into this new burgeoning industry.
A friend, Justin Price, (co-founder of Backstage Blends) had opened a shop in my hometown and I was going in there and we started going back and forth with ideas and ultimately created “Serum” the 1st flavor we made together, and Backstage Blends was kind of born!
After talking a lot and really bouncing the idea around we decided to create the line together and four more flavors were born. The highlight has really been “Metal Milk” as it has been the definitive flavor for me and it has made me not even think about smoking. It’s my “brand of smokes” if you will. When you have a go to pack of smokes, I now have a go to the juice that keeps me from smoking and that is amazing.
SPINFUEL: I love that analogy! With so many flavors out there it isn’t easy to come up with one that could be your “brand of smokes”. It’s an idea worth thinking about. So, you are directly involved in developing the flavors for your line then.
Backstage Blends: Justin and I work very closely together and our ideas, through lots of focused testing and research, ultimately become the finished product. We have a team that handles ‘day to days’ along with us but for flavors it can happen anywhere inspiration can strike.
SPINFUEL: Sounds like you’ve worked it out nicely. Who makes the decision on the ingredients used in your brand?
Backstage Blends: We all make that decision together in the development process as things can change when nailing a final flavor down, but in the end we make that decision together.
SPINFUEL: As it should be. Backstage Blends just received ISO Certification, congratulations. Can you explain the process involved in getting certified?
Backstage Blends: Certification was great, we had a team come in who had prepared and built multiple labs in the area for some impressive names and we trusted them to build ours. After that was complete the testing process was rigorous and we were very pleased when we passed and received the certification.
SPINFUEL: I bet you were. ISO Certification takes the brand to an even higher level. Changing the subject, sort of, can your e liquids be purchased online, or in retails shops, or both? If they are available in vape shops, can you tell us a couple of names and locations?
Backstage Blends: You can go to www.backstageblends.com and we can ship most anywhere. We initially launched out of The Vape Room Discount Vapor Lounge in Oakville MO and the response was amazing. We knew we wanted to go national but we wanted to do it right, so we were patient. Now we have perfected the process and worked really hard to get all the tools needed to serve our wholesale customers really well! You can find the line now though in many states including California at Frosted Vapors in Sonora, Vape Affliction in Roy Utah and Boise Idaho, The Vape Shop in Knoxville Tennesse, Vi E-Cig and Vapor Lounge in Sioux City Iowa and Omaha Nebraska. We hope to develop many more ‘great’ relationships and get into all 50 states someday!
SPINFUEL: I’m sure that will happen fairly quickly. Vape shops are always looking for great brands with a built in customer base. Backstage Blends fits the bill nicely. Tell me, is your e liquid line available to buy at your concerts? And do you notice many people vaping in the audience while you perform?
Backstage Blends: We haven’t added it to ‘merch’ yet but I do see a ton of people vaping at shows and just everywhere in general, vaping is the future and the future is now.
SPINFUEL: Well we certainly believe that. Let’s talk a little about the people that vape Backstage Blends. Do you have a specific audience in mind for your eLiquids? I know the names of your e liquid flavors are all alt- rock music themed, but will they appeal to a wider audience as well? Would, for instance, Michael Buble, or Neil Diamond fans enjoy your e juice? J
Backstage Blends: The style is based off our lifestyles and what we thought would look best, we love the label art and the feedback says the same. Our main goal/purpose has been to make the most dependable flavors for people to use to stop smoking but we also wanted to create unique and respectful packaging to appeal to the industry. I think Michael Buble and Neil Diamond would love the flavors as well as the art!
SPINFUEL: Ha ha. I bet they would. J What types of hardware do you use when testing your liquids and for your personal vaping? Is there any specific hardware that provides the best ‘vape’ for your eLiquids?
Backstage Blends: Pretty much any decent setup would do fine. But like I said, for me it’s my Fuchai 200W and a Herakles Tank, they have been my go-to setup, but everyone is different, and we realize that when we create our e liquid. For me it’s Metal Milk at 80 – 100W with a .6 coil, my perfect all day vape.
SPINFUEL: You mentioned Backstage Blends having a wholesale program, how would vendors contact you to inquire about selling your brand in their shop or website?
Backstage Blends: If shops or distributors are interested in wholesale they can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
SPINFUEL: Have you attended many vape expos or conventions yet? Will you have a booth in any events this year (2016)?
Backstage Blends: Expos are a lot of fun and we were able to “walk” quite a few, and we have some really big plans for the future. Combing the vape culture with music in an intimate way is something we are really excited about bringing the expo experience.
SPINFUEL: Kiera and I will definitely be on the lookout for your official Backstage Blends booth at an upcoming event. Wherever it is, we’ll be there!
In your opinion, what makes a good all-day-vape eLiquid? Which flavors, other than Metal Milk of course, would you consider all-day-vapes?
Backstage Blends: Balance is what we feel is most important, there is a certain “texture” that every vaper is looking for and that to us is the key. We want our flavors to be dependable in sense that you don’t have to jump from flavor to flavor and chase something to keep from smoking. I like trying new flavors but I always end up craving Metal Milk and have to get it back in my tank! Balance, texture and lots of clean flavor are what makes an all-day-vape, and Metal Milk is that for me.
SPINFUEL: It is clearly evident that you are a very experienced vaper, and you know the e liquid market. Can you tell our readers about vaping among today’s musicians? I understand vaping has helped your voice, tell us about that.
Backstage Blends: Smoking killed my vocal chords and as soon as I started vaping I felt a lot better. I hated stinking like cigs and after a long show and smoking all day and night I would wake up feeling like crap, and it was the tobacco! It is awesome to see so many friends and family in and out of the music industry quit smoking with vape.
SPINFUEL: I know what you mean. As we reach the end of our time together, let me be a bit blunt; with several hundred brands of e liquid on the market right now, why should our readers try Backstage Blends?
Backstage Blends: We are really proud of what we have put together and we are excited to bring it to you. We provide a top notch product at great prices and we hope we can earn your business!
SPINFUEL: After spending time with your flavors I have a feeling a lot of people are going to try out your brand. We enjoyed all the flavors, and we sort of get an inclination during our review period if a brand is going to appeal to a wide audience or a niche audience. Backstage Blends is certainly marketed as a rock culture brand, but I am hoping that with our review, and this interview, people that might shy away from this particular marketing will make an exception and give the e liquid in the bottles a try. You don’t have to be ‘young and hip’ to like Backstage Blends, you just have to like good flavors.
Which brings me to my next question; Are you working on any new flavors right now? Do you have an idea on the ideal number of flavors for your brand, or is it like you said, it’s a matter of being inspired to create a new flavor?
Backstage Blends: We are finalizing and excited to launch, the final flavor on the line “Sonora Frost” a shout out to the first shop to carry the line nationally “Frosted Vapor” this will be a standout flavor that will be dead on for Frosted Corn Cereal!
SPINFUEL: Now that sounds scrumptious! Most cereal flavors try to do a fruity pebbles or fruit loops kind of thing; but a frost corn flakes sounds incredible. I can’t wait to try it out.
Well, to wrap it up, is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers while you have their complete attention?
Backstage Blends: We just want to thank everyone for the love, as the feedback and reception has been stellar! We are so excited to bring something new and fresh to the industry and the experience is going to be incredible! Check out www.backstageblends.com and tell your favorite shop about us and ask them to check us out for wholesale!
SPINFUEL: I’m sure our readers will be exploring your website and bugging their local shop about your brand. I want to personally thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with Spinfuel. It has been fun. I wish you much success with Backstage Blends, and I’ll definitely keep my ears out for more fantastic music from Evans Blue. Thank you Dan, for the music, and the e juice!
Julia Hartley-Barnes and Dan Chandler – May 2016