Longstanding US speed metal/death metal band Deceased has completed work on its upcoming two-disc album of covers, Cadaver Traditions, which will be coming out on Hells Headbangers Records this summer.
Cadaver Traditions will include 53 tracks in total, with two of those being brand-new recently written Deceased songs which had previously been released on vinyl. Judging from the wide range of influences on this disc, it will not only be fun for Deceased fans but for metal historians looking for the roots of early death metal.
53 tracks in all 2 cd set… look for it this summer on hells headbagers ‘cadaver traditions’. cover song mania and the 2 newest deceased songs finally on cd. up til now it was only vinyl.
- Black Metal (Venom Cover)
- Deathrider (Anthrax Cover)
- Corporate Death Burger (MDC Cover)
- Dis-Organ-Ized (Impetigo Cover)
- Right Brigade (Bad Brains Cover)
- VoiVod (VoiVod Cover)
- Doomed By The Living Dead (Mercyful Fate Cover)
- California Uber Alles (Dead Kennedys Cover)
- Wrathchild (Iron Maiden Cover)
- Here To Stay (Sheer Terror Cover)
- Headhunter (Krokus Cover)
- SATO (Ozzy Osbourne Cover)
- Do Or Die (Znöwhite Cover)
- Violent World (45 Grave Cover)
- World Peace (Cro-Mags Cover)
- Eliminator (Agnostic Front Cover)
- Die By The Sword (Slayer Cover)
- Witching Metal (Sodom Cover)
- Social Security (Excel Cover)
- Violence And Force (Exciter Cover)
- The KKK Took My Baby Away (Ramones Cover)
- No Compromise (Xentrix cover)
- Chemical Warfare (Slayer Cover)
- Bodies (Sex Pistols Cover)
- Not To Touch The Earth (The Doors Cover)
- Reaganomics (D.R.I. Cover)
- Torn apart by werewolves (Deceased )
- Mad Man (D.R.I. Cover)
- Fire In The Sky (Saxon Cover)
- 2 Minutes To Midnight (Iron Maiden Cover)
- Die Hard (Venom Cover)
- V.A. Rocks Your Liver (Verbal Abuse Cover)
- Blower (Voivod Cover)
- Wiped Out (Raven Cover)
- Stay Clean (Motörhead Cover)
- Tormentor (Kreator Cover)
- Nuns Have No Fun (Mercyful Fate Cover)
- Agents Of Steel (Agent Steel Cover)
- State Oppression (Raw Power Cover)
- Bombs Of Death (Hirax Cover)
- New Age Of Total Warfare (Warfare Cover)
- Metal Church (Metal Church Cover)
- Subliminal (Suicidal Tendencies cover)
- Zombie Attack (Tankard Cover)
- You Stupid Jerk (Angry Samoans Cover)
- I’m Not Jesus (Ramones Cover)
- Nothing (Plasmatics Cover)
- Iron Heads (Running Wild Cover)
- Stand Up And Shout (Dio Cover)
- False Profit (English Dogs Cover)
- Ultra Violent (N.O.T.A. Cover)
- The Ballad of Harry Warden (My Bloody Valentine soundtrack cover)
- Luck of the corpse (Deceased)
As the internet dies a slow death from both information overload and undue concentration (and thus agenda enforced) in sites like Wikipedia and Metal-Archives, many metalheads are returning to zines. Zine editors choose what to focus on and tend to specialize in certain levels of quality and types of metal, so if you find one you like, it becomes a combination learning experience and shopping guide.
Noticing a void of information on Texas specifically, JH (his lawyers insist that no identifying details are used) has started the process of bringing Under the Sign of the Lone Star to print. As part of the new wave of underground metal zines, this Texas-centric zine will focus on that which the mainstream media and internet chatter alike ignore.
We were lucky enough to get a few minutes with JH as he was loading suspiciously heavy blue barrels into a panel truck outside Lubbock…
When did this idea hit you, and what was your intent? What sorts of zines do you admire?
I’ve written on-and-off for years, and about two years ago I had the idea to put my thoughts to print instead of in a digital medium. Life got in the way and since I didn’t have any real focus other than “bands I liked”, the idea fell by the wayside. Fast-forward to the tail-end of 2014 and I found myself staring at a magazine rack full of “metal” magazines with, surprise surprise, no actual metal (or at least, with the actual metal de-emphasized in favor of flavor-of-the-month trash). I found myself compelled to write again as a reaction against those publications and began writing the zine as soon as I realized the concept.
I like my zines the way I like my metal demo covers: black-and-white, fairly minimal layout/presentation, and without pulling any punches if that makes sense. Some of my favorite (and most influential) metal releases are underground demos and I feel as the final result of UtSotLS is a printed equivalent of a tape demo (not that I’m comparing it to something as good as “Evil Metal”, of course). Also I’m not a talented writer in the technical sense, but I do feel a passion for putting thoughts to pen. I see it as similar to older releases that lacked by-the-book musicianship but had a near-tangible fire in their recordings.
Zines that get my support: Codex Obscurum, Slaves (#2 has killer interviews from Lust, Amputator, and more), Trident Nation, Chips & Beer, Zombie Danz, and Serpentscope which gets an A+ for original concept. And Slayer was killer, obviously.
What is the topic of the zine, and what will it cover, and will there be enough material?
The topic of the zine is bands from Texas that people should know about. Lots of reviews (including a few live ones), some interviews, and additional content that will hopefully open a few eyes to the metal that rules in this state.
As for whether there will be enough material; that will be for the readers to decide. Personally I prefer to keep things short and to-the-point rather than drag things out longer than necessary. I’d rather read a 20-page zine with interesting content than an 80-page behemoth with maybe four good articles. I’m finalizing the layout at the moment but it will be over thirty pages which works for me.
What is the Texas scene like? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
The Texas metal scene could probably be summed up in three adjectives: loud, aggressive, and hot. Admittedly I would say that it is fairer to split each city into its own scene rather than Texas as a whole for reasons elaborated on below, but just about every city has killer bands in their own right.
Strengths: The bands. That should speak for itself, but also the abundance of shows. There’s always something going on in at least one city (although you may have to drive for a while, see below). Also a lot of awesome bands from other states or countries play here often. Destroying Texas Fest XI with Blood Storm, Nocturnus A.D., Hades Archer, and Force of Darkness is an example of one that will crush.
Weaknesses: The state itself is gigantic. It’s pretty common to find yourself driving for hours to see a show in another city that would be the distance between states up North, or even countries in Europe. Also the summers are pretty brutal. Any time you’re in a venue and the AC is busted it’s borderline unbearable. But it’s always worth it in the end. Live for metal, get heat stroke for metal.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to get involved with metal? Are there other staff?
I’m a mid-twenties bassist who drinks black coffee and plays faster than he should. I am also a native Texan, if anyone cared. I started with Metallica at age 14 and the first “gaze into the abyss” was Slayer. Progressed through classic metal (Sabbath, Motorhead), then thrash (Sepultura, Exhorder, Hirax), then death/thrash (Voor, Slaughter (Can.)), then death (Obituary, Morbid Angel), then black (Averse Sefira, Emperor), and so on and so forth (this is a rough timeline and far from in-depth). Started consistently going to local underground shows in 2010 with a Hexlust/Birth A.D. show and haven’t stopped since, tinnitus and neckaches be damned.
No staff other than my girlfriend who drew the cover, provided some layout assistance, and took the photo of myself for the author section. UtSotLS is a personal project at the end of the day and I prefer there to be a consistent voice throughout the whole issue.
Why do you advertise as “anti-clickbait”? What does this mean in your own lexicon?
I wouldn’t necessarily call the above an advertisement since it was just a personal statement on my own Facebook page, but I do see it as a relevant approach. “Clickbait” refers to online publications that post eye-grabbing headlines or articles (often misleading) with the intention of bringing a lot of traffic to their site to make money off advertisement revenue (this doesn’t refer to the DMU obviously, haha). I write out of passion for writing and for the music that means more to me than any worldly possessions, not out of the need to fill my bank account. As a reflection of this, no band solicited a single review and there is not one advertisement in “Under the Sign of the Lone Star”: the content is there because I wanted to write about it, 100%.
The full statement “ANTI-CLICKBAIT RAG” was a tribute to Rok from Sadistik Exekution writing “ANTI-NORWAY SHIT” on his chest ages ago and I always love to cite SadEx (and Bathory, for that matter).
If someone wanted to know what bands/zines from Texas that they MUST know, who would you list?
– Older: Necrovore, Hellpreacher, Blood Spill, Divine Eve, Dolmen, Absu, Averse Sefira, Rigor Mortis, Imprecation, Obeisance, dead horse, D.R.I, Devastation
– Newer: Hod, Hexlust, Birth A.D., Blaspherian, Morbus 666, Spectral Manifest, War Master, The Blood Royale, Church of Disgust (They’re split between TX and Florida, but that’s good enough for me), Funeral Ash, Whore of Bethlehem, Maiestas, Oath of Cruelty (who have members that are now in Morbosidad who get 666% support), Nexul/Hellvetron/Nyogthaeblisz, Termination Force, Skan, Id, Cleric, and Sigil. I’m just going to stop here since I can’t possibly list everyone – read issue #1 for plenty of examples!
Feral Noise was a killer one, as is Underworld Zine which I believe is based out of Houston if I’m not mistaken.
I understand you’re involved with the Metal Enema radio show. What’s that like? Do you consider yourself a ‘metal activist’?
Metalenema is no-holds barred insanity. I’m somewhat amazed that I haven’t been driven mad over my three-year tenure on the show, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. In all seriousness it’s a blast and one of the key ways that I myself find out about newer music from Undertaker’s contributions to our mixes (otherwise I would probably hole up in my cave listening to nothing but the same four Celtic Frost songs over and over again). We are proud to wave the flag of extreme metal over the airwaves and hopefully enlighten listeners to the way of death/black/thrash.
In all honesty I wouldn’t use the term “activist” to describe the way I live since it makes me think of stereotypical naïve teenagers with well-meaning-but-misguided political affiliations, but I do live for this music that burns inside of my soul. I enjoy plenty of other music, but metal is what set me free. Ad Majorem Metallum Gloriam : To the Death.
Many thanks to DMU for the interview! For the interested, a preview of the zine with a few interview scans is available at the link below:No Comments
Regular DMU readers may have noticed that Puerto Rico has been on this site’s radar since Brett Stevens interviewed José “Chewy” Correa of Organic last year, and for good reason. The “Island of Enchantment” is more than just beaches, bikinis and piña coladas; it’s also home to one of the most active and diverse metal scenes that you’ve probably never heard of.
So what’s going on in this little-known metal outpost in the Caribbean? More and more international bands play here every year. Local bands are touring and inking deals overseas. There’s an online metal radio station broadcasting live shows every week. An international academic conference on heavy metal will be held at the University of Puerto Rico in March. We even have a biannual metal flea market where metaleros from all corners of the island gather to buy, sell and trade metal merch while local bands provide the live soundtrack. And this is only a short list; there’s a lot more happening here.
Cultural idiosyncrasies aside, all national and regional metal scenes are built with the same three human components: the bands, the fans and the people who have the initiative to organize and execute the business and logistics of the scene, otherwise known as “the people who make things happen.” These men and women of action don’t often get the recognition they deserve, yet they continue to work behind the scenes to bring your favorite bands to a venue near you. (Kreator didn’t play their first show in PR last year just because people “liked” their Facebook page; someone had to organize and execute a plan and all the logistics involved.)
Some of these men of action, such as Ray López of Thrash Corner Records, have also managed to actually make a living in the metal music world — not to mention help build and shape Puerto Rico’s metal scene — while balancing the responsibilities of a dedicated family man. (In fact, I didn’t know that Thrash Corner was his livelihood until I asked him what his day job was in a followup email.) So is he lucky that he’s living a “metalhead’s dream” or is it his work ethic that makes things happen?
Ray López was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to answer some questions about his label, Puerto Rico’s metal scene and his most ambitious project to date, the first Metal Expo Convention of Puerto Rico.
You’ve been active in metal for over 20 years, so let’s start with your label, Thrash Corner Records. What motivated you to start your own label?
I’ve been a metalhead since 1980, and my label has 20+ years in business. The story is kind of weird. One day I just got up and said, “I’m tired of going to the store (never finding what I wanted) and ordering by mail (waiting sometimes up to two months to get my goodies).” An idea came to my mind. What if I call a distributor (those days it was Caroline Records and RED Distribution) and tell them that I opened a store and want to buy wholesale? So I just got the numbers and decided to call, and to my surprise they just opened an account for me and I started buying from those companies.
I said to myself, “that was very easy,” then another idea came to my mind. Let’s say I call Relapse Records, Century Media, Metal Blade and many others. Can they sell to me direct? But then I had to remind myself that I was in Puerto Rico and most of the people in the mainland don’t know the status of what we are. Most of them don’t know we are a territory of the US, so I took advantage of that and also started buying direct from them. Then I got deeper and deeper into the underground and saw how things were moving with the small labels (everything was about trading productions between each other), so I just jumped on the wagon and Thrash Corner Records was born.
What were some the most significant challenges in those first few years?
To be honest, everything was happening so fast that I was surprised with what I had accomplished in just the first year. If I have to mention something, the first thing that comes to my mind was trading with the other labels outside the US. Back then with no Internet, setting up a trade sometimes took up to 4 months (all the communication was via letters).
What are some of the highlights and gratifying milestones up to this point?
Those are many and I don’t want to bore you with that, so I will just mention a few:
Traveling to different places, meeting with bands, hanging out with them and sometimes becoming friends (the ultimate metalhead dream come true).
As a label, signing bands from other countries, getting distribution across the US and other countries (and that is more gratifying knowing that you were the first one to do that and in some cases the only one to accomplish that).
I understand that Thrash Corner has had distribution deals with US bands such as Hirax and Deceased. What are some of the other bands on your roster, and are there any upcoming releases we should be looking forward to?
Yes, Deceased released one album with us called As the Weird Travel On, considered by many an underground masterpiece. With Hirax there is a licensing deal and we did their complete catalog (the only title we don’t have will be the new one, SPV is the one releasing it). Now that Hirax signed with SPV, we feel very proud because we worked very hard with them as a team to get the attention they deserve and finally it pays. We also worked with both Asesino re-issues (Corridos de Muerte and Cristo Satánico). Those were out of print for many years, but now you can find them. Right now we are working with the death/thrash band from Florida, Solstice, doing our own version of the album The Dust (their 2009 full length). We decided to do that one because it had a limited distribution and we want all the fans to own this piece of art.
From our chat prior to this interview, I got an unequivocal impression that you’re a firm believer in the old saying: if you want something done right, do it yourself. Is Thrash Corner Records a one-man operation? If so, how important is it to have total control of your business and freedom to do things your way?
You are totally right: Thrash Corner Records is just one guy doing everything. It is hard work but it is worth it. You control everything and you make the decisions, right or wrong (no one to blame, just myself, but I can live with that, hahaha!!!).
I can say without conceit that I work in metal 100% and I’m the only one making a living from it here. It hasn’t been easy, but if you strive for your goals you can achieve them. My normal job is the label, selling retail and wholesale on eBay, my website and Amazon!!!
During that chat you also mentioned that you were born in the US and that English was your first language. How old were you, and were you a metal fan already when you moved to PR?
Yes, I was born in New York, but moved to PR when I was 5 years old. I wish a was metalhead at the time, but the concept of heavy metal was not invented yet, hahahaha!!
The good, the bad, and the ugly: Can you tell us what the overall situation was like for independent record distros, promoters and bands in PR back when you started Thrash Corner? How does it compare to the situation today?
Back in the old days of my label and distro, it was hard in some aspects and easy with others. Right now there are a few more distros and labels, but back then I was the only one. As for promoters, I was involved in 90% of the shows here, one way or the other. Now there are more promoters and they found the formula to do shows without my help. I don’t mean that in bad way, back then I had a lot of contacts because of the distro and the label and I was the only bridge that they had. Now with modern technology you can find bands with the click of a button. And about the bands, basically most of them are in the same situation now as they were back then (let me make a BIG NOTE: we had a few bands doing things the right way, but I can say we have more now than back in the days).
How did the idea for the Metal Expo come about? Did you formulate it and then presented a plan to people who could help you make it a reality, or did you discuss the idea and sketched it out over time with input from friends and associates?
I was crafting this idea for a while (let’s say the main concept is mine), but now that we have a team everybody is bringing ideas to the table!!! That’s why we had to change it to two days (in the beginning it was going to be a one-day event).
Was an event like the Metal Expo imaginable 20, 10 or even 5 years ago? What are the “pieces of the puzzle,” as you put it, that make this event possible today?
20 years ago – impossible.
10 years ago – maybe.
5 years ago – yes (but some pieces were missing).
About the pieces of the puzzle, I prefer to keep them to myself (this topic is too sensitive, so I prefer to make no comments)!!
There are quite a few underground metal promoters here in PR (some might say an unusually high number for such a small place). Why did you choose to join forces with your co-organizer, Paul Martínez of Bloodstained World Entertainment? Can you tell us a bit more about him?
For me this is the biggest thing that I’ve ever assembled. I needed a person that I can trust 100%. We have a perfect communication and we have known each other for more than 30 years. When I started Thrash Corner, he was one of the first people to give me a hand. (The story is too long, we leave that for another day!!) Paul has been into metal his whole life, so he was perfect for the job. I know that if he was the one with the idea for the Expo, I would be the first one to be invited to participate!!!
As co-organizers, what exactly are your responsibilities in the Expo, and what is Paul’s role?
This is a 50%-50% responsibility, that means that we are sharing everything, we both brought ideas and we are working together with the other part of the team!!!
Can you tell us about the other local promoters involved and what their roles are in the Expo?
The Shownet Group just joined us over a month ago. We are very happy that they joined us. Now it is a three-way split of responsibilities!!!
You were going to start announcing one confirmed artist per day at some point back in December. Why did you choose such an evil way to build suspense?
Initially that was the idea, but some information leaked and we had to announce what we had earlier than planned. For now we have:
- Band seminar by Rafael Bracero of Khaosmaster Productions / Puerto Rico Metal Alliance.
- Trailer premiere of the documentary on Puerto Rican Metal and discussion panel with Prof. Nelson Varas and the crew of Puerto Rico Heavy Metal Studies.
- Guitar clinic by Ramón Ortiz (Ortiz, Puya, Ankla).
- Drum clinic by Alex Marquez (Solstice, Thrash or Die, ex-Malevolent Creation).
- Plus trivia, competitions, meet and greet, exhibitors and vendors.
- Anger as Art
- Thrash or Die
- Blood Feast
- Six Feet Under
Is the bill already full or is there still room for interested bands to sign up? What about exhibitors and vendors?
The bill is done for live acts. We are negotiating with the exhibitors and vendors. If you want to know everything, all the information will be announced on the official website. Visit us and click “like” to get all the updates.
One of your stated goals for the Expo is to bring worldwide attention to Puerto Rico’s metal scene. Why not do the typical two-day metal fest with just music instead? Should metal festivals offer more than just music?
If we do a festival we will never get the attention (they will see it like a big show). With the Expo you can add so many different things to get more attention. Just say the name of the event, “METAL EXPO CONVENTION” and tell me if you’re not curious and want to know what it’s all about???
The Metal Expo follows hot on the heels of another important event: the academic conference dealing with the topic of heavy metal music as a communal experience. Do you think it’s a positive thing that scholars have decided to study heavy metal, not only as a music genre, but as a cultural phenomenon? Some see that as “infiltration from outsiders.” What’s your take on the issue?
I think it is a positive thing that they decided to study heavy metal as cultural thing (metal has been around for nearly 40 years). That kind of exposure for us is perfect, specially in Puerto Rico. It will help our scene in many ways!!! We have the privilege that the person who is studying our scene is also a metalhead (Prof. Nelson Varas and the crew of Puerto Rico Heavy Metal Studies), so we have an ally. I was just investigating and I noticed that most of the professors of the International Society of Metal Music Studies are into heavy metal music, so there is no infiltration or outsiders. They are part of us and they just found a way to contribute to our movement with their profession.
At first I thought that the Expo would be held at a stadium or convention center, but it will be held at La Respuesta, which is the venue where most of the visiting underground metal acts play. Was that venue choice a conservative decision to keep things manageable? Tell us about the venue and the setup for the Expo.
La Respuesta opened their doors to heavy metal a few years ago, and it’s the official venue for most of the metal shows in Puerto Rico. We wanted to keep the Expo there for a few reasons: most of the metalheads know the venue and feel comfortable there, it has perfect spacing for this event (we’ve been running the Metal Market there five times and it runs smoothly) and we prefer to spend the money on the bands and not on a big venue. We want to give the fans the best experience they can get.
The island’s metal fans are expected to show in full force at the Expo, but in addition to them, do you expect to draw international visitors?
The response of the scene here has been great and we already started working with the promotion and invitation for visitors from outside PR!!! With this interview and some other notes that came out in other websites it will draw some attention to visitors from outside.
Internationally speaking, do you think that the island’s metal has flown under the radar? Are we at a flash point where Puerto Rican metal will conquer foreign shores? What bands do you think will lead this charge?
Yes, the island is getting some attention. These last few years we had so many more international acts here than we had in the last 20 years. Those bands are spreading the word when they go back to their countries, and all the promoters are getting more messages from international acts that want to play here. Years ago Puerto Rico had attention with bands like Puya, Cardinal Sin and Ankla, then there was a gap and now we have a few bands making some noise outside: Dantesco, Pit Fight Demolition, Zafakon and Severe Mutilation.
From what I’ve heard so far, most of the major metal genres are represented by various underground bands in PR. What do you think makes Puerto Rican bands different from other international scenes? Is it a combination of our mixed ethnic traditions, our socio-political situation, and the simultaneous identity pull/friction of being both a Latin American country and a US territory?
Like other countries, we have most metal sub-genres represented. The difference here is that our bands don’t sound alike, even if they are from the same metal sub-genre. Take two local black metal bands, like Argyle and Humanist. They are the same sub-genre, but they don’t sound alike. In other countries, bands within a sub-genre tend to sound alike and sometimes you can tell what country they are from just by listening.
Why is this? In my opinion, it is a little of everything you mention in the question, but in the end it’s hard to tell.
Ray, I know you’re a very busy man, so I want to thank you for your time. I’ll let you have the last word to all of our readers around the world.
One of the first bands to combine high-energy grindcore like Terrorizer with simplified death metal like second album Entombed, Exhumed created an audience for their unique and gore-splattered approach. After years apart, they have returned and are embarking on a European Takeover to support their latest release, a song called “The Beginning After the End” on the Patlapse Tribute Compilation, a tribute to Relapse staffer Pat Egan.
Vocalist Matt Harvey said, “We’re psyched to be back in the olde world for the Summer, exploring every available nook and cranny of Europe and subsequently filling them with empty beer cans, barf, and a hellish racket. We’re here to spread the word about our upcoming record that’s coming out in August, play some killer underground festivals, and enjoy some more flavorful beer for a change. It’s also killer to finally be in Europe with our ever-present staff physician, Dr. Philthy, which will allow us to do our full stage show in Europe for the first time, so it should be a good time for all in attendance. We’re here for quite a while, so we may even accidentally acquire a little class and culture. But probably not. See you all in the front!”
Exhumed will release a follow-up to 2011’s All Guts, No Glory as a full-length set for release via Relapse Records later this summer. The album was recorded at Arcane Digital Recording in Chandler, Arizona with Ryan Butler (Misery Index, Landmine Marathon, Phobia). All drums were tracked at Trench Studios in Corona, California with John Haddad (Hirax, Abysmal Dawn, Intronaut). Commented Harvey: “‘The Beginning After The End’ is something we did during the latest recording sessions, so it will give folks some idea of the sound and vibe of the new record.
EXHUMED European Takeover 2013
- 5/08/2013 The Exchange – Bristol, United Kingdom
- 5/09/2013 Star And Garter – Manchester, United Kingdom
- 5/10/2013 Franceed Zepplins – Cork, Ireland
- 5/11/2013 The Pint – Dublin, Ireland
- 5/12/2013 Voodoo – Belgiumfast, United Kingdom
- 5/13/2013 Audio – Glasgow, United Kingdom
- 5/14/2013 Trillians – Newcastle, United Kingdom
- 5/15/2013 The Hairy Dog – Derby, United Kingdom
- 5/16/2013 The Garage Upstairs – London, United Kingdom
- 5/17/2013 May Day Mosh Day – Stockholm, Sweden
- 5/23/2013 Dna – Brussels, Belgium
- 5/24/2013 K19 – Kassel, Germany
- 5/25/2013 Extreme Fest – Hünxe, Germany
- 6/01/2013 Kulturfabrik – Lyss, Switzerland
- 6/02/2013 Korigan – Luynes, France
- 6/03/2013 Le Saint Des Seins – Toulouse, France
- 6/04/2013 Estraperlo Club – Badalona, Spain
- 6/05/2013 Tba – Zaragoza, Spain
- 6/06/2013 Sala Barracudas – Madrid, Spain
- 6/07/2013 Tba – Valencia, Spain
- 6/08/2013 Sala La Trinchera – Malaga, Spain
- 6/09/2013 Open Air Areeiro – Areeiro, Portugal
- 6/10/2013 Tba – Ponferrada, Spain
- 6/11/2013 The Class – Gijon, Spain
- 6/12/2013 Tba – Donosti, Spain
- 6/14/2013 Tba – Paris, France
- 6/15/2013 Tavernu Du Theatre – La Louvière, Belgium
- 6/17/2013 Jc Cerberus Hengelo – Hengelo, Netherlands
- 6/18/2013 Hafenklang – Hamburg, Germany
- 6/22/2013 Metal Fest Open Air Poland – Jaworzno, Poland
- 6/23/2013 Kilkim Zaibu – Varniai, Lithuania
- 7/05/2013 In Flammen Open Air – Torgau, Germany
- 7/06/2013 Obscene Extreme Afterparty – Trutnov, Czech Republic
- 7/17/2013 Vlamrock – As, Belgium
- 7/23/2013 Metal Days – Tolmin, Slovenia
- 7/24/2013 Garage – Munich, Germany
- 7/25/2013 Eisenwahn – Obersinn, Germany
We are fortunate to have Ian Christe, metal journalist and Bazillion Points editor/publisher, to join us for an interview. He has authored literally hundreds of articles on heavy metal music and several books, covering topics from death metal to Van Halen. Much of his writing studies emerging technology and underground cultures, which makes him a fit for the interviewers as well. We were lucky to catch him at the Chatsubo bar in Chiba City, Japan, for a few words about metal and the state of journalism about it.
You’ve been involved in metal and music in multiple ways for some time. How did you get into metal, and how have you been involved — books, zines, bands — with the genre?
I was thinking about this recently — I’m only moderately old now, but because I got into metal when I was extremely young I remember all this truly ancient history. During junior high school, I lived with my mom in Germany, and when I was 11-12 years old I was using my lunch money to buy Iron Maiden singles, Accept, Motorhead, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath records. To put it in perspective, when I bought Scorpions’ Virgin Killer, with the kinky pedo cover, the high school aged girl in the photo seemed way older than me. We came back to the States in 1983, when I was 13, and I started doing radio shows at WEOS in Geneva, NY, playing Venom, Anvil, Mercyful Fate, Slayer, Voivod, and lots of lost obscure bands like Thrust, Armed Forces, and Witchkiller. That’s way upstate, but Manowar hails from there, and Metallica and Anthrax had just recorded their debut albums in that area. It was definitely a metal hotbed. I got plugged into the underground through that, bought some Nasty Savage and Hirax demos, and advertised my show in ‘zines like the great Kick*Ass Monthly.
We moved to Indiana in 1985, and it was culture shock. I had long hair, wore a bullet belt, and listened to Destruction, and suddenly I was surrounded by kids unaware of anything beyond Motley Crue and Aerosmith. So out of necessity I got into tape trading, and got into intense bands like Voor, Cryptic Slaughter, Genocide/Repulsion, and of course Death. I skipped school in the spring of 1986 to go see Metallica opening for Ozzy Osbourne, the big moment for underground metal going mainstream, and ended up spending the afternoon goofing around with Cliff, Kirk, and James from Metallica, and also everybody in Samhain except Glenn Danzig. Those two factions were a mutual admiration society, and I was supercharged to be in the middle of it all. I was inspired to start a fanzine after that, IAN Mag, which I titled after myself so I could cash the checks. That lasted through 1988.
I don’t mean to ramble on about all this archaic stuff, but everything I’m talking about is the basis for what I’m still doing as a mature, respectable, gone-legit headbanger. I was basically on a metal mission for the entire 1980s. In the 1990s, I got into different things, learned about the world, and developed as a writer by working in DC, New York, and freelancing for magazines like Wired, Spin, and so on. When it came time to write Sound of the Beast, I fused the professional side to the passion for metal. In fact, I remember my proposal for the book came with a stack of clips that started with the New York Times and ended with an old letter from Dave Mustaine.
As far as music goes, I’ve had a string of very fulfilling projects of every kind ranging from bluegrass to Glenn Branca’s guitar army. I’ve toured Europe and South America performing a kind of musique concrete with a modern dance company. So all of that came together in the crazy Dark Noerd the Beholder dark technology metal project — which sounded pretty bizarre and extreme in 1996.
What prompted your move to self-publication with Bazillion points?
Frustration in two forms. Selfishly, after working with two giant publishing houses, I was very discouraged with the corporate approach to making books. You know, it takes three months to get approval for a tiny text change on the cover, and there’s just no sensitivity for how to customize any aspect of production. With Sound of the Beast, at least I was very lucky to have an editor who was only too happy to put me in touch with the art department or promotions. He got the work off his desk, and I got to have some input, which is rare for an author. Then secondly, it’s frustrating that people like Daniel Ekeroth, Jon “Metalion” Kristiansen, or Jeff Wagner, all hugely respected in their areas of expertise, could never have a hope in hell of getting a mainstream book deal. Well, I realized I could stop complaining and do something about it. Viva Bazillion Points!
Would a DIY book publishing house such as yours have been possible 10-15 years ago?
I don’t know, I definitely wasn’t capable of figuring that out. I have to say it was possible, based on the inspiring successes in the early 90s of classic punk imprints like Henry Rollins’ 2.13.61 and Adam Parfrey’s Feral House Books. But I didn’t have the experience. And the rich earth of unpublished metal books needed time to ferment, too!
What segment of the metal audience or population in general have you seen as the most excited to read the types of books you are publishing?
I can’t answer that yet — a wider audience than you’d expect has responded to Daniel’s Swedish Death Metal book. Though the bands are pretty obscure, the experience of getting caught up in a movement he describes is universal. I couldn’t believe that Publishers Weekly gave Swedish Death Metal a starred review, and made the book its web pick of the week. In three months, Andy McCoy’s book will be out, and then I can tell you how death metal books fare compared to gypsy vagabond rock guitarist memoirs. I think the common trait of Bazillion Points books is that while they’re each very specific, they’re also very good, which is pretty exciting in itself.
Do you find metalheads to be an especially literate segment of the general population?
I don’t think metalheads consider themselves bookish, but yes I think out of necessity metalheads are rabid readers. It’s always been that way, because printed media, email, and web sites are the main lines of communication. There’s very little radio and no television exposure for metal, so metalheads end up reading countless pages of text every day to stay in touch. And metalheads can be very curious creatures — if Ulver makes a record based on John Milton’s Paradise Lost, a lot of fans will go read the book. So the end result is yes, so far Bazillion Points is succeeding because metalheads are thoughtful, thorough readers who appreciate high-quality books about things they care about that they can’t get anywhere else.
If there is in fact, a heaven and a hell, all we know for sure is that hell will be a viciously overcrowded version of Phoenix — a clean well lighted place full of sunshine and bromides and fast cars where almost everybody seems vaguely happy, except those who know in their hearts what is missing… And being driven slowly and quietly into the kind of terminal craziness that comes with finally understanding that the one thing you want is not there.
– Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo Papers, Vol. 2: Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80s (1988)
The rock biography, as it is most commonly understood, is given more to sensationalism rather than “analysis” or sometimes anything even remotely musical. You’ve taken on these types of bios with Bazillion Points, including the Van Halen book and the upcoming one featuring Hanoi Rocks. Do you feel what you are presenting differs from this description, if it even matters? Is your viewpoint more coherent with how metal music views itself, or in your eyes should be viewed?
With Van Halen I was mostly interested in deconstructing the personalities and breaking down the key events of the band’s story into manageable, human-sized events. If Van Halen in their prime in 1984 seems impossibly gigantic, I wanted to show all the tiny steps and late nights of practicing that led up to that. It’s meant to humanize guys like David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen who are usually viewed on a pedestal. Andy McCoy’s book is different because he wrote it himself, and so you get to see life through his eyes. Very entertaining. And yes, I’d say my viewpoint is pretty consistent with metal’s values at least — honesty above all, fearlessness right behind.
What makes a specific musical personality even worthy of biographical depiction in the first place?
Public fascination — but that’s a chicken or egg answer, isn’t it?
Rock music is generally written about by insiders and ignored by cultural historians, and so tends to have an insular viewpoint. Since metal came from rock, it is analyzed by the same template. How does this work to describe a genre like metal that seems to want to break away from mainstream rock?
I try to have an inside-outside approach. Writing about the nitty-gritty details from the trenches, reaching out to an audience that doesn’t even realize there’s a war going on. I believe metal has universal appeal — it’s not for everybody, but within every family, clan, or social group in the world I guarantee there are people predisposed to be drawn to the flame. It’s a kind of universal elite, I guess.
You have on several occasions lambasted the use of genre-descriptive terms. However, when we speak of genres like death metal and black metal, we could be describing artistic movements that share among themselves values and methods that differ from similar “sounding” genres. Do these subgenre terms have validity in your view, and what are the limits of this validity?
I don’t think genres should be taken too seriously, and I don’t respect bands who strive to be total slaves to a pre-existing genre and its rules. But yes, the genre descriptions themselves are extremely helpful, and I’m proud that metal has spawned and cultivated so many variants over the decades. And for instance on my Sirius Radio show Bloody Roots, I’ve been picking apart different genres every week for almost five years now, so genres are very much a part of how I think about metal. But I’ll also say that with most so-called subgenres, you’re usually talking about attempts to mimic the music of one or two extraordinary bands. Like with black metal, Bathory. With thrash, Exodus. And so on.
Like rock, metal can be insular. Does it have validity as an artistic movement, and what does it contribute to culture at large? Do you view it as counter-cultural, sub-cultural or counter-counter-cultural, or some mix of the above?
Well, that’s a subject for a book in itself. It’s a form of revolution that’s widely available for a few bucks at every Wal*Mart. It’s distrustful of change, but willing to take huge risks. Metal’s fascinating still. I guess I’d consider it a vast subculture, but not really a counter-culture. Like I said in Sound of the Beast, it’s “a quest for truth in a storm of folly.”
In Sound of the Beast you took on the arduous task of compiling nearly 40 years of worldwide music history into a comprehensive volume. How much have you been itching to revisit and update it since then, and what would you like to change?
I started writing in 1999, so I’d like to thicken the 1990s years tremendously, and then explore the rebirth of metal in the 2000s. I’ve also interviewed Ronnie Dio, Rob Halford, Tony Iommi, and the Scorpions about the 1950s and 1960s, and I’d like to get some of that material out. The book is still timely, and not many of my opinions have changed. But there’s so much more ground to cover now.
Was “objectivity” a concern when you were writing Sound of the Beast, or any of your other books for that matter?
Sound of the Beast was very much a work of advocacy, to grab and secure heavy metal’s place on bookstore shelves. I was very conscious of giving a voice to the millions of fans who had supported tens of thousands of bands over dozens of years. Without losing a critical edge, it was very important to me to state the case for why metal matters, and I’m humbled and honored to say that I think the book succeeded in all those aims.
The contemporary American may have failed, like his predecessors, to establish any sort of common life, but the integrating tendencies of modern industrial society have at the same time undermined his ‘isolation.’ Having surrendered most of his technical skills to the corporation, he can no longer provide for his material needs. As the family loses not only its productive functions but many of its reproductive functions as well, men and women no longer manage even to raise their children without the help of certified experts. The atrophy of older traditions of self-help has eroded everyday competence, in one area after another, and has made the individual dependent on the state, the corporation, and other bureaucracies.
Narcissism represents the psychological dimension of this dependence. Notwithstanding his occasional illusions of omnipotence, the narcissist depends on other to validate his self-esteem. He cannot live without an admiring audience, His apparent freedom from family ties and institutional constraints does not free him to stand alone or to glory in his individuality. On the contrary, it contributes to his insecurity, which he can overcome only by seeing his ‘grandiose self’ relfected in the attentions of others, or by attaching himself tot those who radiate celebrity, power and charisma. For the narcissist, the world is a mirror, whereas the rugged individualist saw it as an empty wilderness to be shaped to his own design.
– Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism (1979)
What has been the most common criticism of your writing to date, and to what degree do you take such criticism into account?
The most common criticism of Sound of the Beast is definitely that there’s too Metallica. I needed a central character for the non-initiated readers, and as the biggest metal band ever by far, they became the common thread. But it pisses me off when people falsely claim that Metallica gets a polish job in the book — their missteps are savagely underlined, and I think about halfway through it’s plainly stated that in the 1990s they were no longer a metal band, but a rock band. Plus the one single negative reaction I got from anybody covered in Sound of the Beast was an angry phone call from Jason Newsted, so I guess he wasn’t thrilled with his moment in the sun. Some critics said the book was too positive about metal, but I sure don’t care what metal haters want to see in a metal book.
What is your opinion on the books on metal (and conclusions drawn in them) written by academics/outsiders, particularly sociologists like Deena Weinstein (Heavy Metal: The Music and Its Culture) and Natalie Purcell (Death Metal Music: The Politics and Passion of a Subculture)?
I appreciate the process and legitimacy of Deena Weinstein’s book, but it’s impossible to create a sociological overview of heavy metal as a phenomenon. Heavy metal fans reflect their surroundings, wherever you go. In a blue collar area, you get blue collar fans. In Queens, NY, you get Asians, Latinos, and blacks at shows. In Dubai, you get rich kids. I like what Katherine Ludwig says in Sound of the Beast about these generalizations: how can you classify metalhead teens as cola-chugging NASCAR fans when that basically sounds like a description of the majority of Americans? So I say the function of metal varies by country, region, and many other factors.
You recently appeared in Time Out New York and received a pretty favorable portrayal. How much have you seen metal crossing over into the indie/art scene over the years?
In recent years, I think the indie scene has been completely infected by metal. If Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth is still any kind of bellweather, he’s lately been singing the praises of Beherit — and Daniel’s Swedish Death Metal book! Fair enough, Sonic Youth influenced Napalm Death and Entombed, after all. But yeah, that Time Out profile is extremely favorable. Another humbling indication that Bazillion Points was a good idea.
What does the common characterization of metal as “violent entertainment” (akin to comic books, horror/gore movies, and true crime novels) mean to you? Are there similarities between these genres, and does this point to artistic motivations in common?
As somebody who watches an extremely violent movie pretty much every day, I think there’s a small but important difference. Metal is fascinated with war, murder, nuclear bombs, rabid dogs, and she-demons because these are all things that no society or moral code can fully explain. So all these great metal songs are small meditations on the thrills and fears of the unknown. Movies tend to take those fears and use them against you! Again — this question is another small book in itself, and I’ve already been blabbering for an hour.
How should publishers (rather than authors) be treated where controversial or questionable works are disseminated?
Only as a publisher, I’ve come to fully appreciate how much the United States protects and values freedom of the press. I know the situation is a lot different in Britain and Germany, not to mention Iran — although my friend Mahyar Dean has written books about Death and Testament in Farsi. But so far I’m happy to say I don’t have any experience with controversy. Books with giant upsidedown crosses on the cover filled with stories of underage drinking, mayhem, and teen suicide? No problems here!
You seem to have some intimate experience with New York death metal from back in the day. Have you considered writing a book on that scene similar in scope to the Daniel Ekeroth book you recently released?
No, it’s not true, I moved to New York in 1992 and for the first couple years was more interested in seeing avant garde music like Swans, Naked City, Borbetomagus, Boredoms, Sun City Girls, and Caroliner. But starting in 1994, when metal went back underground, I saw hundreds of amazing shows in New York in tiny venues, some of my best mindblowing experiences. Still, I’ll leave the epic NYDM history for Will Rahmer to write — but I’ll definitely publish it!
The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others- the living – are those who pushed their luck as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still Out there. Or maybe it’s In. The association of motorcycles with LSD is no accident of publicity. They are both a means to an end, to the place of definitions.
– Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels (1966)
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