New York City is where Sellan wanted to be when he was beginning to play drums during his adolescence. While he was pursuing percussive endeavors in his home county of Malaysia, he was also paying attention to the music from the UK and America. He loved the melodies of songs by artists like Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey while at the same time being excited by the drumming and musicianship of bands like Mr. Big and Iron Maiden. Honing his skills at church gave him a keen insight into melodies. Gerald recalls, “I always listened to what the singers were singing as well as what they were saying. I learned a lot from them about supporting the vocal melody. I learned to respect the melody and to connect with it on an emotional level.” In the years that Gerald was learning to become a great drummer, his older brother Stewart founded BTS. Recognizing his younger brother’s talent, Stewart asked Gerald to audition for BTS when the drum chair fortuitously became open. The musical connection was as well…two siblings. Before long, Gerald was both drummer and bandleader for BTS.
Although Sellan had reached out to numerous labels and management companies in the US, the one he least expected to respond was Diana Meltzer (A&R, Chief Executive Officer) of Monster Hits Music (formerly of Wind Up Records). Meltzer was instrumental in discovering Creed, Evanescence, Alter Bridge, Drowning Pool, and many other bands; bands that Gerald had been a fan of and inspired by. Meltzer had received “Shine” and in her own words, “It was a good song but not a great song. I felt that there was something deeper going on with this band and I wanted them to find it.” Sellan understood that being vetted by a serious music industry player like Meltzer could establish BTS in a quick way. In their first phone conversation, Gerald doubled down his bet and promised Diana ten newly written, produced, and demoed songs with one month. Realizing that he had bitten off quite a bit, he enlisted songwriter Adrian Puan (whom had previously been associated with the band) to compose as well. The ten completed songs impressed Meltzer enough that she flew to Malaysia to spend a month with the band and see in person what was going on. Her experience set her resolve that the band had loads of talent and inspiration but not that everyone had the same vision. The outcome saw Gerald Sellan, Stewart Sellan, and Adrian Puan travelling to NYC as the members of BTS…ready to fulfill their dreams but without a singer.
New York City can be an intimidating place for anyone. It’s exciting but you have to really hustle to make your own success there. There are great musicians everywhere, so imagine how precarious it feels if you have just moved from the other side of the planet to NYC with a dream and one hand tied behind your back! If you are a band with great songs and musicians but no singer, that is a fairly appropriate analogy. Still, Gerald Sellan is one of the most optimistic people you could ever meet. He felt that something was sure to happen. Singer after singer was auditioned. Gerald comments, “There were so many great singers but no one really fit.” Hearkening back to his early days working with singers in the church and what he learned he states, “When we finally met May and played through the songs with her, I knew it was perfect. It’s one thing to be a great singer but it takes a real pro to connect with the songs emotionally. It makes me play better as a drummer.”