Wednesday, December 08, 2010

How much money do metal bands make, really? [BLOG POST]



Question: Dig- Since your very open and honest about the "business" of the music biz- can you just help set it straight on what the bands make as their "pay" JUST from album sales/downloads and what is Earache responsible for? This may help shed light on how music sales influence tours and what promoters are willing to pay, etc,etc,etc. Tie it together for everyone Dig!! From: slipskak@gmail.com


Answer: Wow - what kind of a question is that? Its impossible to answer, the phrase "How long is a piece of string?" comes to mind. In short, bands generally make between $1- $2 per CD album from a record label, and the same amount again is earned by the songwriters. Bands can make $3 per T-shirt when sold on the road. If signed to a label then the band don't have to risk any of their own money to do this, because the label will invest in the recording, manufacture and distribution of the record, print the shirts , aswell as pay the huge costs of advertising, marketing and especially touring to boost that bands career. Some DIY bands do choose to undertake all this work themselves,often financed by a wealthy parent or whatever, but its quite a risky enterprise as its a proven fact that 9 out of 10 bands eventually fail and split.

In terms of income levels in the scene, it is massively polarised. Most bands earn way less than you think, I mean barely on the breadline, but a select few artists at the top of the game earn way more than you can ever imagine, a handful are extremely wealthy individuals. Some people in the industry estimate that the total number of musicians actually living from their music is just 30,000. That's in all rock type genres. See report. On MySpace approx 10 million artists/bands signed up, but only 100,000 of them have ever gained a significant number of views/plays, and a mere 10,000 bands on MySpace are what you could call pro or semi-pro bands. Thats a measly 0.1%.

Disregarding the classic, household name rock/metal legends of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and ignoring the bands from the nu metal explosion, the basic truth is very few modern bands - maybe a few dozen tops - are living the champagne lifestyle from playing modern Metal music, and the number of new bands/musicians who have recently become millionaires in the UK/Euro metal scene - well you could count them on one hand. I'm betting that Dani (Cradle of Filth) would be one, and Matt Tuck (Bullet For My Valentine) is probably the newest member to join this exclusive club (see pic), with Michael Akerfeldt (Opeth) and Oli Sykes (BMTH) waiting in the wings to join them soon.

The harsh truth is- nearly every band that you see trekking around the metal/rock club circuit up and down the country every weekend is dirt poor- 95% are not making much money- if they were into that, they'd be playing indie or pop/RnB instead. To be honest its a rare metal band indeed which can operate on a full-time professional basis, ie all the members make their living exclusively from their music. It might seem weird to outsiders, but this is a business where earning a standard level wage from music is actually considered as "making it".

In the modern era where fans download music for free, the main income for bands on this circuit comes from selling T-shirts at gigs and the fees they can command from clubs and promotors to perform. What can appear to be pretty lucrative topline income is often swallowed up by the immense bottom-line costs of touring- tourbus, backline, crew etc- which can be eye-wateringly huge. Even with biggish fanbases, most bands are barely breaking even on the road. Its only when bands can attract paying audiences of 1000+ that serious, big money gets earned. Bands supplement their incomes with part-time jobs or having understanding girlfriends, and getting more common these days is giving music instruction lessons to newcomers, which can be very lucrative.



One thing the successful bands have in common is- they are headed by super-smart,tough, ambitious and driven individuals who have worked unbelievably hard at their craft,often toiling away unseen for years before 'breaking big'- so what can appear like overnight success is nothing of the sort. Often powerful management or media companies have helped orchestrate their success from behind the scenes aswell.In the case of Bullet For My Valentine the label 20/20 appears on the back of their early releases, bizarrely, this a spin off label from TV company Endemol which was responsible for the Big Brother brand of reality TV shows. BFMV's management team Raw Power are connected to Iron Maiden also. With heavy industry hitters like these backing them, their success was assured from the outset.

I always advise our bands to read the biographies of say AC/DC and KISS - the opening chapters are not stories about glamourous parties and recording sessions in luxurious surroundings- its stories of enduring hardship while criss-crossing Australia or USA in a station wagon, playing to small crowds but building up their fanbase and honing their stage craft which has since seen them go on to become two of the highest earning rock bands ever. All the superstar bands worked their balls off to become so.

On rare occasions bands can and do make their fortunes from a pure lucky break though. In the mid 90's London's cyber-industrial act Cubanate (who once toured with Carcass) were an outfit struggling to make their name, just like a million others. By chance their new USA label TVT was involved in putting music together for a new driving game called Gran Turismo due to come out on a new console called PlayStation. To pad out the number of songs available on the game soundtrack 4 Cubanate songs -out of only 10 total- were added. On release the game immediately caused a sensation and became a PlayStation must-have game, selling 6 Million copies very quickly. The first royalty cheque Cubanate received was for a lottery-winning amount.After this amazing slice of luck, the mainman retired from the biz a rich man, but his band had never at any point sold a significant number of CDs.

Nowadays video game companies know the power of their platform and treat the music they place in the game with zero respect- they pay very little for music these days. We have several acts appear in Grand Theft Auto offshoot 'Lost and the Damned'- and were paid a token £1000 max for each.

Topspin CEO Ian Rogers recounts how the chances of making a living from music are very slim -simply because so many others are striving for the same thing, the odds are stacked against you by the intense competition:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Let's call a truce in the CD 'Loudness War' [BLOG POST]


Question: Hi Dig,
in your previous blog you talked about the audio expectations of younger metal fans. I was wondering if you've read Alan Wilder's open letter about audio and how it coincides with the decline of the music industry.

Does he talk some sense? From: neworder2006@hotmail.com

Answer: Alan Wilder speaks a lot of sense in that article. The CD 'Loudness war' has been raging for over a decade, and is basically the fault of labels, producers and mastering engineers but mostly its the fault of the artists themselves who became seduced by the idea that maximising the loudness of their CD should be the primary concern, in order to compete with rival acts in their genre.

As home recording software became commonplace,it placed powerful audio EQ, compression and limiting tools into the hands of relatively inexperienced people. DIY musicians took on the role of audio engineer- and so during the late 90's and throughout the 00's digital compression of the audio at the mastering stage became a crude way to 'improve' the audio experience of the listener, by simply making the music sound louder, sacrificing any punch or dynamics the music may have had previously.

To the human ear, louder sounds grab the listeners attention quickly, and louder does sound better on first listen- so for many years this was ALL that mattered to the people involved in any project. I'm glad to report that is not the case anymore.

Heres a great video explaining the 'loudness war':



If loudness was all that mattered to fans then the audience at live metal concerts would surely congregate in front of the speaker stacks at the sides of the stage- plainly that doesn't happen because it would be ridiculous.

As more fans start to collect vinyl again, there has been a gradual realisation that newer CDs somehow aren't as satisfying to listen to as the same album on an old analogue LP. This is because at some stage in the 90s/00s the Cd was re-issued, compressed and re-mastered to give maximum volume. It seems the people that have been arguing for years that vinyl is sonically best, were actually right all along.

To be honest the loudness war is over mainly because people don't consume their music on CDs anymore-- sites like iTunes, YouTube and Spotify as well as the iPod in shuffle mode all come with automatic volume equalisation as standard - this is so that listeners receive tracks at a constant volume level and can enjoy the experience better. Nobody wants to get sued because of a blast of volume in the headphones from an overly loud track causing hearing damage. This pretty much negates the whole point of making the CD louder in the first place.

Earache succumbed to the loudness war itself with many of our Cds released during the late 90's being maximised to insane loudness levels- nowadays this is called 'brickwalling' meaning the waveform has no dynamics visible at all- its a sheer wall of sound. The albums this applied to were mostly of the Industrial/Gabba variety like say Ultraviolence and The Berzerker where the music was created digitally in the first place.

Shocker by Johnny Violent is mastered at a ear-shattering level of +5 dB when the recommended standard for Cd is -2 dB. I remember the artist actually asking the mastering engineer to make it so. Listening to the track now reveals the only shocking thing is the complete lack of dynamics-the gabba drums hit like cotton-wool and even incidental noises are as loud as the overall track, every sound is competing to become the 'lead instrument'. It's an audio nightmare.



Even major rock bands have even succumbed- when Metallica's Death Magnetic came out a whole host of fans complained about the audio clipping and being un-necessarily loud. This was evident when the Guitar Hero version came out, and the files used were the un-compressed originals. The Guitar hero version is more lively, punchy and dynamic and a better listening experience over time.





Nowadays Earache is totally in favour of campaigns like TURN ME UP which aim to bring back the dynamics into music. Earache goes as far as making two mastering sessions for each album now- one where the music is preserved so that it is highly dynamic and specifically made for the vinyl LP release, and another separate one with a tad of compression to make the CD edition.

As the Turn Me Up campaign says- if you want it louder, simply turn it up! Remember, the volume knob is in your hands! (ooer).

Monday, November 08, 2010

Why exactly do labels re-issue albums with extra stuff ?


Question: Just want to say thanks for all the tremendous reissues you've put out lately - the first two Brutal Truth albums and Godflesh's 'Streetcleaner', to name but a few. Will Napalm Death's 'From Enslavement...' be remastered and reissued in the near future? This is one classic that more than deserves the re-release treatment. Thanks. From: atzerodt@hotmail.com


Answer: Glad you appreciate them, and yes there are vague plans afoot to re-issue FETO at some stage in the future, we haven't yet worked out what extras to include with this classic yet.

Even though you are in favour of our re-issues, the question has prompted me to blog instead about the reasons why labels like us actually bother to do them, because for every fan like yourself, there is, sadly, a chorus of disapproving folk who actively dislike them. The complaints can be see pouring onto the artists forum or facebook whenever the news of a dreaded re-issue is announced.

Generally the criticism is that they are unnecessary for the genuine fan of the band, who will already have the album in question probably in its original format. Therefore re-issues, in their view, are simply a means to force the genuine fan into buying the same product again,for the extra stuff, which is in their view milking their support of the band. Some fans go as far as to state its a borderline rip off tactic by labels.


I understand this frustration, hence Earache always try to pack a bonus disc or bonus DVD into the package to offer value for money, as well as things like guitar picks, patches and sticker sheets, and we started to refer to them as 'Redux' editions to highlight that they come with many added extras. Evile's redux edition also comes with a chance to win one of Matt Drake's guitars!

The truth is that re-issues offer labels a quick and relatively risk-free boost to their income. They do pretty good business, and we don't really know why- maybe its because the casual fan always wants great value before they spend their hard earned money, which is fair enough. In our experience, the diehard fan buys it for the music, the casual fan waits for a 2xCD great value package to appear. Over the course of an album's release cycle, we try to cater to both.

Actually there are 2 distinct types of re-issues on Earache, and the motivation to do them is different in each case. 1) Numerous old 'classic' bands from Earache's early period have reformed recently - Sleep, Brutal Truth, Godflesh, Carcass, At The Gates etc - mostly they have reactivated themselves as headliners to take advantage of the lucrative modern-day touring circuit which rewards bands now much more than when the bands split up.Consequently their back catalog deserves an audio spring clean and EQ boost to suit the tastes of the modern metal audiences for whom every extreme metal band nowadays must boast a crushingly loud production to be taken seriously and 2) upcoming bands - say Evile, Municipal Waste- who simply need a boost of sales to give their career a shot in the arm.

In the case of newer bands, most of the music business still ranks and rates bands on the number of CDs sold via ye olde recorde shoppes, known in the USA as Soundscan. A cleverly-timed re-issue (say round a highly visible tour supporting a major act) can give a newbie band a much needed spike in Soundscan numbers. The aim is to persuade fans to make a purchase, this will make agents, promotors and festival organisers take notice of a new act.



Earache has many 'classic' albums by bands which are now considered festival headliner status in the scene. Sadly, most were released 20+ years ago, but despite the legendary status of the recording, sonically, the albums themselves are showing their age. Recorded and mastered back in the early 90s, it was an analogue world back then and most of the titles sound terribly quiet, and in some cases actually weak. Grindcore & Death Metal is not supposed to sound weak. Modern-day grind and Death metal acts have had the benefit of pro-tooled, digital recordings which are pristine and crushing in comparison to the old schoolers efforts. The re-issues allow us to bring them up to scratch.

One of the main reasons we do them is because we noticed fans have originally picked up on the old Earache bands via traded files, or rips from friends and cannot obtain the album, because the originals go for silly money on Ebay. The Re-issue gets the release back into general circulation again, and the bonus content gives fans the impetus to finally make a purchase on CD to add to their metal collection.



The attitude of the buyers at the high street retail chains is the main problem that all 20+ year old releases suffer from. They deem those albums as ancient back catalog stock and if it makes it into a store at all, the CD will be tucked away in a dark corner at the back. Bizarrely their attitude changes towards a new edition- the exact same album that was ignored for years, the redux version will suddenly now feature on the front line in record shops, and this extra visibility in stores has a massive effect on sales.

The bottom line is- its thanks to fans like yourself who look out for these releases that Earache can sell 10,000 copies each time we do a re-issue - which is a significant number during the current slow-down and recession. Thank you for your business, dude!

Heres reactivated At The Gates headlining Wacken 2008:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Napalm Death in Kobe Bryant Adidas commercial?


Question: Hi Dig!

One of the most unexpected things that happened to Earache has to be "Suffer the Children" in ADIDAS commercial. It seems almost unbelievable today to have that kind music in a sports ware advertisement. Can you shed some light how this cooperation become possible? Was it ADIDAS's idea? Has any other company asked you about using some of Earache's bands music? Also, concerning Napalm Death's suppose anti-corporation message, how come they allowed one of their songs to be in a commercial for one of the biggest clothing corporation in the world? It seems like a huge hypocrisy. Thanks a lot! From: pletnia@gmail.com


Answer: Short answer is that Earache did not give permission for the use of Napalm Death 'Suffer the Children' in the Adidas TV commercial, but the band's management did.

Here's the clip, filmed in 1995 when Kobe Bryant was a rookie player but was expected to become a huge star of the NBA. In 2010 as part of the LA Lakers team,he's reputed to earn in excess of $40,000,000 so you could say the prediction came true.



Heres Napalm Death:



Yes you could call it hypocritical if you want (I take it you don't wear Adidas trainers yourself, then?) given Napalm Death's proclamations before and since, but the band at the time of the mid-90's were needing cash urgently as the sales of their albums were declining rapidly. The problem was the band's manager (who looked after their affairs from 1989-1999) had committed to pay the members each a monthly salary and the money was running out.

Out of the blue came a letter from a leading London Advertising agency regarding the use of Suffer The Children for use in an Adidas commercial. This was unexpected but I don't recall myself and the manager ever discussing the 'hypocrisy' of working with Adidas- its hardly McDonalds, just a maker of cool clothes and trainers- and it seemed a nice windfall and bonus to the band and label coffers.

I decided that if Earache was to 'sell out' it should be for a substantial amount of money and we received advice about how much money to ask for the use of Earache's music in a global TV campaign for a leading brand. Over $50,000 is typical so that is the amount we requested, which did not go down too well.

Adidas rejected the request and instead commissioned a music recreation company to re-play the music- these are companies that can hire musicians to re-create any song with the specific purpose of avoiding payment to the original copyright holder. Almost unbeleievably, the version of the song in the advert is not by Napalm Death (!!) but by a bunch of hired musicians and consequently neither Adidas nor the Ad Agency had to pay Earache anything. You can tell the difference if you listen closely.

I was gobsmacked because I'd never even heard of such companies. They are one of the most secretive parts of the music industry and hated by all - but I hear those companies do good business for dance labels who need to remove or recreate samples from hit records.

The publisher of that particular song is Napalm Death themselves so the management on behalf of Napalm Death must have done some kind of deal to allow the song to he used. NOTE- the song ownership (ie the writers) is different from the recording ownership (which is what Earache owns).

Later we found out that the TV advert was destined for airing only on Canadian TV so it turned out our request for such a large payment spooked off Adidas, because we were mistakenly told it was for use in a global TV campaign.

Earache has never been approached about using music in TV adverts ever since, but its definately something we'd welcome, and would consider on a case by case basis.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Occult Doom- the missing link between Doom and NWOTHM ?



Question: Since you've recently signed hour of 13, I have to ask what do you think of the new wave of occult doom metal? Being as HO13 and rise above's Ghost as well as Portrait, It could be argued that Jex Thorth and The Devil's Blood also fit into this category, bands that are doing their own thing independently however when viewed together you can see the attachment bands who have obviously listened to Coven, Merciful Fate and Candlemass as well as your usual nwobhm bands. Do you see this being as a sub thing to the nwothm or possibly becoming its own thing? From:


Answer: This is a great question and I really think you have hit upon an amazing revelation, namely that Doom and NWOTHM are closer bedfellows than anyone might have imagined. They draw from the same source material, after all. I'm into all the bands you mention.

First some history-the originators of the Doom scene as we know it - Saint Vitus, Trouble, Candlemass and Pentagram etc - more or less played a sludgier Black Sabbath style so its no surprise that the soul of Sabbath has always been bubbling under the surface in many of the modern-day Doom bands.

For some time Doom was stuck in a vortex of snail-paced Brontosaurus riffs a la Electric Wizard, but lately the shackles have come off- and a new breed of Doom bands are now revelling in the sounds of the 70s -Psychedelia, Acid Rock, and NWOBHM influences are coming to the fore and fans are loving them for it.

Though these bands you mention are independent of each other, often from different continents, what they have in common is they really seem to enjoy playing with a new-found freedom to experiment within the Doomy framework, and actually to 'rock out' big time. This does make them pretty similar to the NWOTHM bands which have sprung up in the last couple of years.In fact The Devil's Blood is mostly made up of former members of Dutch NWOTHM act Powervice (who appeared on Earache's Heavy Metal Killers compilation) so the connection is totally obvious. There's definately a few parallels with the NWOTHM bands, and even with the Death Metal scene. Ghost is made up of members from Repugnant, and also Adam Zars of Enforcer also plays in Tribulation. As you can see, many of the musicians in these new bands, do have a history in the Swedish Death metal scene.

Doom fans know that record labels like Lee Dorrian's Rise Above, Greg Anderson's Southern Lord and even prime tosspot Rich Militia's Miskatonic have long been the purveyors of quality Doom in all its forms. Rise Above were responsible for the career of Grand Magus, and its that band which I think should take credit for taking the giant step and expanding the Doom palette into more NWOBHM-influenced realms.This started with 2008's Iron Will album.

Over the course of 4 consistently great albums Grand Magus came to define what a heavy metal-oriented Doom band was all about and eventually scored a record deal with Roadrunner into the bargain. You could also bring London's Orange Goblin into the equation too I suppose -again a Rise Above band- even though they were known as more of a Stoner band.

Check em both out:

Grand Magus (Swe)



Orange Goblin (UK)



As for the subject of your question- Hour of 13.Yes they are a new signing for Earache and could best be described as Occult-themed, Doom-laden Heavy Metal - yeah, err that just about covers all bases doesn't it? Ha Ha. Vocalist Phil Swanson previously sang for SEAMOUNT which was a more Traditional Doom project band with plentiful rockin' moments- we had our eye on them for some time but never made an approach.

To many people hearing HOUR OF 13 the first thing they mention is the noticeable 'Blizzard of Ozz' era Ozzy or early Judas Priest vocal style, and its Phil's powerful yet melancholic croon which attracted us to HOUR OF 13.

To get a feel for what I'm talking about- just listen to 'Naked Star' from the forthcoming re-release of 'The Ritualist' due out in January on Earache. Its fair to say the band exist right at the nexus of this Down-tempo/ NWOBHM-influenced scene, if indeed such a scene exists. Time will tell.

Hour of 13 - Naked Star

HOUR OF 13 - Naked Star by digearache

Heres some songs by the leading Occult Doom bands that you mention in the question. All are fast making waves with critics and fans.

Ghost (Swe) :



Hour of 13 (USA)



The Devil's Blood (NL)



Jex Thoth (USA)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Did Earache & ANAL CUNT encounter any censorship issues?


Question:
My name is John Saunders and I am writing a project about censorship, and AC particularly.What was it like when Anal Cunt were on the Earache label, and did you encounter any censorship because of their lyrics and name? I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing your answer on the askearache blog.
Thank you in advance.

John From: john.saunders777@gmail.com


Answer: In short, the only censorship the band received was from us, the label. It was a sort of mild 'self-censorship' because we both wanted the band to succeed and sell lots of records and so band and label agreed to tone down the more obnoxious elements of the band to try to acheive this aim. By obnoxious, I mean obnoxious to the general public, because actually the offensive and attcking style of the band was to me, and the rest of their underground fans, its main appeal.

ANAL CUNT recorded 5 albums for Earache in the 90s, from their debut full-length 'Everyone Should Be Killed' in 1994 to their final album for the label, 1999's 'It Just Gets Worse'. Unlike nowadays with the internet, back in the dim dark age of the mid-90s the only way of distributing a bands music and albums in any quantities above a couple of thousand or so (which is about the limit of DIY mail-order or selling at gigs) was by a physical release distributed via the high street retail CD chains. Earache really thought AC could sell a significant amount of records, maybe tens of thousands, as we'd done exactly that with similar grindcore acts a few years beforehand.

The head buyers at the 90s era record store chains held all the power and made all the decisions regarding the type and style of music they would stock in their chain of stores, which was fair enough, since they owned their stores they could decide what to stock in them after all. Because of this- America had probably a couple of dozen, UK about 4, often anonymous "buyers"- one from each chain- who were tasked with deciding which if any new records were going to be made available in the record racks for fans to purchase each week, and if they didn't think your band would sell, you were toast.

It was far from automatic that any new metal punk or indie band would get selected to be racked in the stores, and metal labels like Earache and the like would routinely have to go the extra mile to pitch each new release to the buyers.All they cared about was filling the store with the fast selling Pop mega-sellers of the day and so bizarrely the buyer would often not even be a rock fan, sometimes it would be the classical or country buyer who was roped in for the tricky task of selecting the right metal releases for the chains group of stores in the coming weeks. It was a joke, but one we had to put up with.

If you look at the album sleeves they all refer to the band as A.C. instead of ANAL CUNT and thats an example of the label self-censoring the act in order to appease the buyers at the chains. ANAL CUNT would have been instantly rejected as an inappropriate name for racking in a family-oriented store in the mall or high street.

I'd been in contact with Seth from the very early days of the band from their late 80s inception when I helped distro their classic 88 song debut 7inch EP in the UK. Seth impressed me with his wit and creativity and single-minded pursuit of extremity probably best highlighted by their stunning and record breaking 5643 Song 7 inch EP, which remains a world-record to this day.

I was a big fan of the band and watched them develop from afar while Earache itself exploded. By the time of the early 90s the original grindcore scensters had come to regard AC as a sort of quaint joke, because they hadn't incorporated metal into the grindcore mix like the Earache bands did, and so hadn't become a huge selling band like many of their grindcore contemporaries. Earache did eventually come to its senses and sign the band in 1994 - but only after their demo for us 'Morbid Florist' was picked up and released by Relapse. I signed them mainly because they were one of the only "true grind" originators left, and Earache wanted to support that.



Back then, AC had no lyrics to speak of and no song titles- just calling them "some songs" or "hardcore song" or "more songs" and the such like.After signing with Earache we kinda persuaded them to 'play the game' a little bit by actually adopting song titles. This was so they could appear to fit in with the expectations of the record Biz at the time- we explained to the band how record retailers simply would not take an album seriously without song titles, so the band reluctantly agreed. Hence for the first time in their career actual song titles appeared on the debut album.


In the early days, AC song titles were side-splittingly funny, accurate, and clever observations of the music scene in general like, "MTV is My Source For New Music" or the grindcore scene in particular "Extreme Noise Terror are Afraid Of US" and "I Liked Earache Better When Dig Answered The Phone". Loads of fans- including me- loved the band because of theses witty and mildly confrontational song-titles.

Likewise a ton of people got into the band through their gloriously ramshackle renditions of cover songs like Bee Gees' "Stayin Alive", "Unbelievable" and " Theme From The A-team " etc.

They even took a break from their noisy output to flip the other side of the coin and release the acoustic 'Picnic of Love' 7inch, defying all conventions and taking the piss in a magnificent way.



During the course of 5 albums on Earache the band explored every taboo subject and slowly but surely upped the ante with each release, coming up with titles that were even more obnoxious and confrontational.By the final album we even had to censor titles because of concerns about being sued for libel.Eventually AC hit on the subject that I personally can not stomach and which sets off alarm bells in the record biz, namely Hitler.



The bands proposal for album 6 was all about Hitler (even though I don't believe the band are actually Nazis) which to me was simply beyond the pale so we decided not to work with them anymore.

In reality the bands charm with fans was on the wane aswell and their CD sales were down a lot and so we parted ways and dropped the band. This did not phase them in the slightest, and they promptly reverted back to being a DIY outfit.



About 6 years after parting from Earache I heard reports online that Seth had suffered a drugs overdose and subsequent coma- but luckily he survived and eventually recovered enough to take AC back on the road, still being obnoxious and causing trouble wherever they go, just like the good old days.

Theres even a new album due soon on new label PATAC of Cock Rock ballads called "Fuckin' A".

Friday, October 15, 2010

Should labels drop the price of CD to £1 ?


Question: Hi Dig,

I just read this article on BBC News, where Rob Dickins (ex-Warner Music UK) has been suggesting that hard-copy albums should now be priced at around £1 to beat piracy, suggesting that the major releases would sell something in the region of 200 million units. Here's the link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-11547279

I just wondered, from your perspective as the head of a well-known independent label, if that sort of pricing strategy for your CD releases makes sense?

From my own perspective, I used to spend anything from £30 to £70 a month on music, and was never really into illegal downloading of music. But since Spotify have been improving in leaps and bounds, I've been a premium member for nearly a year, and now consume practically all of my music via their client on my laptop when I'm at home (can stream through my Airport Express too), and on my iPhone via their app when I'm out walking or driving. When that's on offer for £10 a month, and I know the artists are hopefully seeing something of that money, it makes sense for me as a consumer and music fan.

I don't think I've bought a CD in nearly a year. Do you think this idea of a £1 price plan is going to change things, or should the labels perhaps be more publicly involved in trying to get people to stream their artists via Spotify, and trying to get more people behind the idea of paid subscription?
Cheers
Andrew, Glasgow From: genetic.noose@googlemail.com

Answer: Hi Andrew, well it seems your recent change in music-buying experience echoes that of a whole load of people, including myself. I agree that Spotify is a brilliant service for music fans, its selection is huge, the connection through 3G networks is almost flawless and I am gladly paying the £10 for the monthly premium membership.

Just today I dragged and dropped about 10 new albums like Dimmu Borgir, Spiritual Beggars, The Sword and more into a playlist, and then synched the list to my iPhone. Voila- in about 5 minutes I had an instant new music collection to take with me on the move.



Word is that Spotify (600,000 premium accounts) will link up with Microsoft and be embedded in the IE9 browser placing it into millions of desktops.This will mount a significant challenge to Apple iTunes (with 160 Million accounts) which is expected to counter by launching its own Cloud based streaming service, having acquired start up LaLa in 2009. Google is expected to get into the act as well and launch its own streaming on demand music service- even tho it does this very well currently with You Tube/Vevo anyway. So pretty soon 3 of the biggest tech companies in the world will battle it out to become the dominant music delivery service, most probably incorporating some social networking element into the mix for good measure, hence Apple's launch of Ping in September 2010.

Major Record companies are not the dumb slouches the tech-blogs make them out to be, and their digital strategies have come a long way since taking a battering from the likes of Napster and the file-sharing sites a few years back -when their only strategy was to sue them into legal oblivion. To show their intent, EMI hired a top level Google exec to helm their digital rollout. Pundits predict that record company revenues from digital sales - especially in the future when music is mostly consumed on mobile phones- will actually dwarf the previous physical format-era sale revenues.

The presumption is that the millions of music fans who are currently using File sharing and Torrents to consume billion of music files per day will instead turn to the legal streaming sites on their phone where most of the entire worlds collection of music will reside in the 'cloud' and can be played for free (with adverts) or, for a small monthly fee minus the ads.



Ye Olde Compacte Diske is showing its age. Those shiny discs are 80's era technology which is coming to the end of its life as a medium for music. Though Music Biz analysts think CDs will not die out completely, and could remain as a mainstream format for decades to come, still selling millions of units per year.

People who use Spotify, like yourself, have made the culturally significant transition from the old download & ownership model to listening to music streaming from the "Cloud". This is an important distinction. Many of my friends still insist on owning something, be it the Vinyl LP, CD or even Mp3 files on a hard drive. If its not firmly in their possession, showed off in their collection, then they don't really feel like a proper music fan. Personally, my Cd & LP collection just collects dust now.

Recently I had a shock because my Spotify premium account ran out after the first year, and the original credit card used on the account had expired, which meant it didn't renew properly so the account was closed. I was horrified by this- even though the music was in the cloud,and plainly not "mine"- it still felt like ownership to me.The idea that my lovingly created playlists might be lost forever made me pretty despondent. Luckily on signing up again they were all preserved just fine, so kudos to Spotify for that failsafe feature.

As for the £1 Cds- I understand what Rob Dickens is saying, and in theory he is right, if you lower the price of something enough then sales should soar as fans lose the inhibition to buy. But the costs involved with the manufacture, wherehousing, transportation and retail distribution of physical formats are so high, and with CD being a petroleum product, plus factoring in the fuel for transport, it seems to me that selling at £1 is simply is too low to make financial sense. Earache experimented this year with several new releases like BONDED BY BLOOD selling for around £4.99 at retail price in the shops, and while they have been good sellers, it wasn't a runaway success either. The Fopp chain always has a selection of CDs at £3 and £5 but its mostly deep, old back catalogue which have already recouped their costs years beforehand, very rarely the new releases from superstar acts.

Thinking about it, I reckon CDs will become more of bespoke format, kind of like Vinyl LPs are now, with lavish packaging and designed with the collector in mind, fetching high prices, not low price. If you want a physical format to show off in your collection, you'll have to pay a lot more for it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why are ANNIHILATOR's re-issues only for sale in Europe?


Question: Hello Gentlemen. As a Canadian thrash-addict who only recently discovered the greatness of Annihilator, I have this question for you. Why is it that your recent re-issues of Annihilator albums are Euro-only? Since Annihilator is culturally significant in every way, I think it's unfair that us Canadians can't get a copy, considering the originals are hard to find these days. Are you trying to break my heart? From: kkoivisto11@gmail.com


Answer: Simple answer to your question is that the license deal we have struck for re-issues of 6 selected titles from ANNIHILATOR's back catalog, plus the new studio album 'ANNIHILATOR' is strictly for Europe ONLY, so we regret that we are unable to fulfill orders for the Cd and the multi-coloured vinyl editions from countries outside the EU.



I agree that its unfortunate that Canadian and USA fans are forced to purchase the re-issues at hugely inflated import prices from third party European vendors like say Nuclear Blast mailorder (unlike Earache, they have no restrictions who they can sell to) but that's just the way it is.

We believe Jeff Waters is working on striking deals to make the albums available domestically on physical formats, but for now the only official channel is iTunes.

We get constant emails from ANNIHILATOR fans back in their home country of Canada feeling hard done by, but on the flipside, European fans are getting a rare treat.



The new ANNIHILATOR self titled CD marked a real return to form for the thrash veterans and fans responded in great numbers, propelling the CD to enter the German Top 50 National Charts back in July.This has led to renewed interest in the band from concert promotors and fans alike.



This interest has culminated in a full-scale EU touring stint which kicks off next week in Paris. Any self-respecting Thrash fan should come out to a show to see how the maestro Jeff Waters and his band perform countless thrash classics in a live setting. See dates to the right.

Meanwhile worldwide fans of the band can grab a FREE Downloadable compilation of 14 songs from the re-issued albums.This comp is available from http://www.earache.com/totalannihilation Just enter a valid email address and the album can be yours.



As another treat Earache will soon make available for FREE a sturdy bookshelf box which is suitable for housing all 6 of the CD reissues. It comes with a personal message from Jeff Waters and is signed.Any ANNIHILATOR fan will need this to make their CD collection complete, and its completely free. Details on how to obtain it will be revealed in the CDs themselves and on our website soon. Heres a mock up of how it looks.

Finally heres Jeff with message to European fans to come out to a show on the tour- see you there! Come out and Thrash!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fat Mike talks about Fat Wreck Chords & the Music industry.


Question: I came across this interview with fat mike of nofx and fat wreck chords owner, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdjzC-Is9F0 . In it he talks about the value of ringtones in respect of labels. In regard to earache having ringtones being a valuble way of making extra money now cd sales are down? From:


Answer: Thanks for the link- I've never actually met Fat Mike but I have seen his band a few times and was thoroughly entertained. Overall I think he's a savvy business-man because to run a record label for over 20 years is no mean feat, you gotta take your hat off to him. For quite a while before Earache started I was partial to some melodic hardcore -bands such as Descendents and Dag Nasty and maybe Bad Religion too, so I have an idea where his label is coming from. It might sound crazy but during the mid 90's Earache flirted with signing a melodic hardcore band called Alligator Gun, sadly Milwaukee was not a hotbed of hardcore at the time- if they were Californians they would have been huge.

There are quite a few parallels with Earache and Fat Wreck - we're both staunchly independent, and have put out a similar number of releases over the years. Unlike Mike, I don't have the talent to write songs and sing for a well known band.I don't get to travel the world on tour, so I'm stuck in the damn office.

Most of his comments about the Biz are spot-on accurate- yes, ringtones in 2007 absolutely were a big money-spinner for labels because cellphones back then weren't customisable as todays are. I remember hearing from a good source that Nickelback were selling $35,000 worth of ringtones per month, which is insane. Earache even had a deal going with a ringtone company at that period and sales - at $3 per time- were decent but nothing like Mike mentions.

Nowadays its totally different and I don't think ringtones even get sold anymore. I know its damn hard to even get a ringtone onto an iphone for instance. Maybe they are just deemed old fashioned by kids nowadays.

His comment of working maybe 8 hours a week on the label shows how relaxed about he is about his work, and about the biz in general.His lfestyle is vastly different to mine at Earache though - I still show up to work in the office every day. I blogged about my typical day last year.

Overall, watching his interview, you can't help but warm to the fella- except when he mentions golf, I'm not a fan.

Part 1 Fat Mike Interview:



part 2

Evile tracks now playable on ROCK BAND NETWORK, Bonded by Blood, Morbid Angel to follow.


Question: I've noticed you guys made the Evile tracks for the Rock Band series.

I was wondering if you guys will make more tracks for other bands on the label, such as Bonded By Blood and Morbid Angel? Would appreciate it! From: morbidjared@gmail.com

Answer:Thanks for noticing that there are currently about 7 EVILE songs for sale and play on the Rock Band network. RBN is different from the Rock Band game site-because any band can encode and upload their own music.

Eventually there will be the complete EVILE Infected Nations album on RBN, 9 songs complete with bonus track. Earache is using the talents of Evile guitarist Ol Drake to do the encoding, its a slow laborious process but hopefully the fans will enjoy the results.

As for new material- yeah Earache is a big fan of the game and wants to support it- so we intend to encode and upload many more songs. You must have read our mind because the next uploads will actually be BONDED BY BLOOD Prototype Death machine and also a Morbid Angel track, along with probably WHITE WIZZARD Over The Top.

The Morbid Angel song is complicated to encode because the original audio instrument masters (multi-tracks reels) are pretty vintage now, about 20+ years old, and need a special 2 inch tape machine to play them back on.The machines still exist but are rare and difficult to source. We are in the process of doing this for Blessed Are The Sick, but haven't yet decided which song from that album to release on RBN. Feel free to make a suggestion in the comments for any tracks from Earache you want to play on RBN.

Meanwhile here is BONDED BY BLOOD- coming soon to RBN.



and WHITE WIZZARD- coming soon to RBN.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's not where you're from- it's where you're at that counts.


Question: Hi guys I´m reading your blog on regular basis. My question is. Is it true that the place from where is coming the band has big impact on if they get signed or any attention from labels?I know there was a question about big vs small cities bands here already. But I´m speaking internationaly. For example we just recorded EP with well known UK producer (John Mitchell) and recorded it with Roland Grapow BUT we are from far EAST (Slovakia) where is literally no musicbiz. So I´m starting to think if this is one of the disadvantages or reasons why labels are scared to risk sign a band which is basically based in "no scene/no biz territory" compared to west Europe

Thanks
Filip
www.myspace.com/madcult


Answer: Earache as a rule signs bands first and foremost because we like them musically, location is not that important so long as the songs are killer, and the band is willing to travel & tour.
In the 90's we signed bands from Sweden (Entombed) & Poland (Vader) when it was highly unusual to do so, because since almost the beginning of the rock/metal scene there has been an in-built Anglo-American bias. This is mainly due to the fact that the music industry which surrounds the scene is extremely well developed and organised in US & UK. Its been estimated there are over 300 labels just based in New York City, and about 100,000 people in London make their living from the music industry (recording/publishing/concert/touring/venues etc) alone.For some reason, signing bands from our home countries makes them easier to work with, I guess they are just more familiar to those people in the biz.

On the other side of the coin, Earache has also worked with a higher than normal proportion of bands from our home town of Nottingham, UK- its only a smallish town in the midlands of England, but bands like Iron Monkey, Heresy, Fudge Tunnel and Pitch Shifter were all released and promoted by the label. It's almost a requirement of a local label which is doing well to help out its local bands.

Nowadays in the era of home recording and the internet, I don't think it matters too much where a band is based, - we have in recent years worked with bands from Russia (Forest Stream) and Australia (The Berzerker) and we do find that bands from countries with a less developed Biz do need way more career guidance and instruction on how to build a career than US or UK bands. It's not instinctive to them. Sometimes they think being signed is the pinnacle of their career, and stardom will surely follow, when the reality is its just the beginning, the first step on the ladder. Inking a contract instantly raises the stakes and pressure on the band to succeed and this fact mystifies many bands.

The story of Brasil's SEPULTURA is one of the best examples of a metal band coming out of a country with a less developed Music Biz, and by some lucky breaks they broke out of the country to relocate to USA and became huge stars. Roadrunner took a huge chance on that band and deserve all the credit for their incredible insight.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Peter Hook's £600 edition of his 'Hacienda' book + Ltd 10 inch


Question: Hi Dig
As a follow on from the new underground metal fan, what's your opinion on heritage acts seemingly milking their audience dry. For example, Peter Hook has been flogging basses made from the Hacienda dance floor and has recently compiled a 10 inch with his book and is asking for £600. http://foruli.co.uk/music
Is this justified because of the downturn in legally bought music or is it musicians sticking their arm in? From: neworder2006@hotmail.com


Answer: I really don't think Peter Hook has to justify his actions to you or me, or to anyone for that matter. Don't forget that for the £600 you get some amazing original artifacts from the original Hacienda thrown in- a piece of the wooden dancefloor and a piece of the granite bar top, this is genuine gold for fans and collectors alike, and I reckon the bits from a genuinely historical UK music site make it a bloody bargain.Peter Hook himself in the liner notes says it might appear to be a gouging of fans, but the time and effort put into the project and its rarity value makes the high price justifiable.

I've never met the fella nor did I ever visit the Hacienda club when it was going but after witnessing a really early Joy Division show in Derby Ajanta with Ian Curtis doing his trademark whirling dervish dance, it was obvious they were destined to become pretty huge. Curtis' tragic suicide and the subsequent rise of New Order on the musical map led to them-rightly- becoming global superstars.Hooky and his band(s) literally changed the whole landscape of music in the UK for over 20 years. The club is famous because it ushered in "Dance Music" to the UK masses for the very first time.
I really can't fault him for trading on his past as a nostalgia trip for the collectors market.Special editions in limited quantities are the only things selling these day-especially, as you say, nobody buys regular CDs anymore, you can download it or get a legal free stream on Spotify anyway.

His book about the club- The Hacienda- How Not To Run A Club is a genuine must-read for anyone remotely interested in music history. It's brilliant, and after reading it you can't help but admire the bloke. Most bands who sell millions of records typically spend their money on big houses or flash cars, but New Order wanted to build a club and do something for the local friends and early fans instead.

Hooky tells in alarmingly frank detail how the band were so wealthy from record sales that it seemed a wheeze to set up a brand new club in Manchester, more or less on a whim, just so they could have a drink and a laugh with their mates in cool, contemporary surroundings, while listening to the latest house music imported from Chicago.

I never bothered treking up to the North West to see it, because the local Nottingham punk/post-punk club The Garage had DJ Graeme Park- he was among the first to start to play House music in the UK, so what was once a cool hangout to hear decent post-punk switched to this new style House almost overnight. I disliked the scene and the music, it was just 'disco' to my ears, so I stopped going. The Hacienda website has great interviews with Graeme Park and more of the original DJ's. By co-incidence, some of the earliest grindcore shows by Napalm Death and Heresy took place at the same 'Garage' club later in the decade. Nowadays its a late night cocktail bar called `Lizard Lounge'.

Back to the Hacienda - unwittingly the New Order co-owners blew millions on the project because high profile club-running is a seriously cut-throat business.For a few years the club and its policy of flying in DJ's from the early Chicago house scene was achingly hip and fashionable, which led to its worldwide fame and success. On the flipside that fame led to extremely violent gangland/ drug dealer type characters gradually infesting the club. The club didn't keep pace with the rapidly evolving dance music scene either, sticking with an 80s House groove while ignoring the 90's UK jungle or German trance/techno scenes. This along with the regular outbreaks of violence eventually caused its slow downward spiral to bankruptcy.

Hey- if you really have cash to splash on a nostalgia trip, for about £50 you can also watch Hooky and his band playing the entire Unknown Pleasures album at the Vintage event at Goodwood racetrack next weekend August 14th.



Watch Peter Hook explain the clubs demise on BBC TV interview

And re-live that Hacienda late 80's boom period by checking the Stakker clip below.It was the period when straight up Chicago House music spawned the more radical UK Acid House scene.A new breed of young UK producers sped up the house beat and added squelchy Roland 303 "acid" noises to create 'Acid House'. Stakker defined the sound.

Stakker- Humanoid

Friday, August 06, 2010

The changing face of the underground metal fan in the MySpace/Facebook era.


Question: Hi Dig,

I'm a regular reader of the blog and I would be interested to know what your view is of the state of the live music scene today in underground metal. I attend a lot of small shows and it seems to me that low turnouts, hostile venues and general apathy is the norm nowdays despite some great bands and lineups on gigs across the country, but I remember gigs 10-15 years ago being a different matter altogether. I recall always turning up early to catch all the support bands for shows incase I should uncover something great - now I often see supports play to crowds that consist solely of their girlfriends and the other bands. I know huge festivals and arena metal bands are doing better than ever, but do you think its the case that for todays 'quick-fix' Myspace crowd the small scale gig has lost its lustre, or am I just having a case of rose tinted glasses?
Cheers
Luke From: evilluke@rock.com

Answer: This is Reanimator Luke asking yeah? Hiya and welcome to the blog.I know exactly where you are coming from dude- apathy has always been there, but there's a new kind of problem at the smaller underground gigs where younger type metal bands play.I've seen the exact same thing as you many times - where a band takes the stage during a multi-band bill, they play a set only to their smattering of friends and girlfriends who go nuts to the band, then they quickly leave the club en masse, almost to show their active dislike of the next act. Meanwhile the next band take the stage, their friends and girlfriends take to the floor and the process repeats. All 'scene unity' as we used to know it is gone from the younger crowd. Teenage bands treat gigs as one big 'battle of the bands' now.

Its sickening for me to see, and the root cause is undoubtedly the massive rise and scale of the social networks in the last 5 years.Myspace/Facebook/YouTube have given instant power and information to anyones fingertips.Between them, they have actually changed the way millions of people go about their daily lives, and their cultural impact on the entire music scene is only just unfolding.It's altered what being a 'fan' actually means - clicking the LIKE button on Facebook is the new 'bought it on the day it came out'.

Back in the recent past, say up to 2006, there was still a cohesive scene where fans felt a belonging to a style of music. A fan felt a natural affinity to a whole scene and pretty much embraced most of the bands within that scene. Not anymore- the new crowd go to a show to see one single band only. Things are getting fragmented to the point of absurdity. Its worth pointing out that in my experience its mostly the new teenage Deathcore bands who seem to act like this- young Thrashers and the new young HM fans do thankfully seem to embrace the whole of the scene, not just one fave band.

Social Networks have also had the the opposite effect aswell- turning people more sheep like in their tastes. People are too lazy to make up their own mind, its just simpler to follow the crowd. The popularity of acts like Lady Gaga is unprecedented and keeps soaring- with 10 Million Facebook friends she is already the biggest Pop Star on the planet and will only get bigger- I think 50 Million is quite possible.The already big bands will keep getting huger, and the outdoor festivals will keep posting record attendance figures. Meanwhile the smaller bands on the circuit suffer from a fragmenting, niche-like fanbase.


The best example yet of this Facebook effect was the 'Rage Against the Machine campaign' for Xmas chart number 1 which was started by a husband and wife team in a suburban house, as a bit of a gimmick. This was so effective that 500,000 people bought the download, including me, and to the horror of Simon Cowell, the campaign placed Rage at the top spot of the charts -with a decades old song. It all seemed so effortless.

That campaign was a glimpse into the future and it changed everything. I honestly do not think the Uk charts will ever have a predictable Xmas number one again.For years to come, you can bet that a succession of faddish viral campaigns will be vying for the attention of the casual music buyers, and will fight it out come Christmas time.

Monday, July 12, 2010

GENOCIDE ASSOCIATION demo 'Sonik Lobotomy' 105 tracks, 1983.


Question: Is that true that back in the days, even before starting Earache, you had a "band" who consisted in you shouting over Crude S.S., Raw Power, B.G.K. loops from their songs that was called Genocide Association? From: larshaarman@hotmail.com

Answer: Yes that was my "band" in the early 80's, I arranged and assembled a collection of riffs looped from other HC punk bands' demos, and then myself and my buddy Dave from local punk hopefuls Verbal Warning would shout - mostly short quickfire slogans- over the songs. The idea was to create our own multi-song demo because we were in awe of bands like say Mob 47 or DRI's first seven inchers with dozens of tracks on them, and I wanted to join in the fun, and do something similar but with a whopping 100+ songs.Lack of money or skill on an instrument thwarted our attempts to form a real band, so I resorted to what the early hip hoppers were doing with turnables, 'scratching' and so creating new music by sampling/looping others. The story was explained on the Shit-Fi website a few years back.

Nowadays you'd call it sampling, but afforable samplers did'nt exist back then! It was done on home hifi equipment, using a cassette tape-to-tape machine, the songs were crafted and stitched together, riff by riff, play/record/pause, change tape, repeat. It was a real labour of love, the process took months, then when the instrumentals were finally done, we'd roll the completed tape for a final time, with a mic plugged into the hi fi, and shouted lyrics over the top, live, to make the demo complete.

The bands looped were at the very cutting edge of the best hardcore punk, which was a seriously underground pursuit at the time, and include faves like Terveet K├Ądet, Crude SS, Urban Waste,BGK, Raw Power, Kansan Uutiset, Impact Unit, Riistetyt- if you were tape trading with me at the time, these were the bands I was massively into.I think even Minor Threat got sampled/looped into the mix aswell, they were the nearest to a huge band in that early 80s punk scene. I recall adding them to make it plain that this was a spoof demo, but even with recognisable, mega-famous riffage included, not many people at the time figured out how it was created. It remained a mysterious demo and band, and thats the way we preferred it.


Genocide Association did break cover and actually played one show though- supporting Black Flag no less,- the line up was Myself and Dave (Verbal Warning) on shouts, Kalv (Heresy) bass, Tim (Skum Dribbluurz) Guitars and a drummer i cant recall. We just played random noise. Note the long set list on the mic stand ha ha!

The first person to get a copy of the final demo tape with sleeve etc was a mate called Johnny Barry who was running a local fanzine at the time- we figured he'd be taken in by the spoof and sure enough he proclaimed it the best, fastest demo of the issue, and that really was as far as we had hoped to take it, we found a bit of fame in our local scene, and that was good enough for us. Interestingly, Johnny ended up becoming label manager for a time at my label Earache in the early 90's.

Looking back, the whole idea and concept behind the band's music- was pretty much a precursor to the Earache label I would form a few years later.

Heres a few tracks :
GENOCIDE ASSOCIATION demo 1983 by digearache

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Music videos made in the 90's were damn expensive.


Question: Hello,
I was reading your blog and saw that the Cathedral video for witchfinder general cost 25 grand to produce.
That must have been quite a large cheque for Earache to sign off in the early 90's. How did you decide to go with that song, from Cathedral? Also, what was the plan for making that kind of money back as 25 grand is allot of money for an indie label to spend on a song which would never sell the number of singles needed to recoup that cost (I assume anyway). From: williampellett@gmail.com

Answer: Yes I agree, the label spending approx £25,000 for that Cathedral video to be made was total madness, but that was the standard, reasonable, mid-size budget for a decent metal video at that time. Everything about the scene was different in the early 90s, death metal and grindcore was hip and new, and the bands were regularly selling 100,000+ copies in America alone. MTV actually still played videos, even on occasion death metal videos, so MTV was the reason these kind of videos were made in the first place, because back then, even a handful of spins on MTV/ Headbangers Ball could launch or seriously boost a bands career.

It was a heady time for the death metal/grind scene- big money was spent, all with the expectation that the Earache bands would form the next wave of Platinum Rock acts. This was Earache's intention, but sadly things didn't quite pan out that way. Its worth noting that labels rarely get artists calling a halt to the stupidity of spending vast sums of money on videos for them- apart from Bolt Thrower who hated videos, I've yet to come across it- mainly because vanity takes precedence over financial common sense a lot of the time.

Earache for a while had 7 bands licensed to major companies, Cathedral was one of them, they were licensed to Sony/Columbia in USA between 93-95, so luckily the major bankrolled a lot of these costs, making it easier for Earache, as a genuine Indie, to swallow. Bands nowadays can make clips suitable for MTV on budgets of £3000 or significantly less, easily.

What you have to remember is that film technology in the early 90s was analogue, bulky, expensive and basically crap. Filming took place on actual reels of film, all editing equipment was hardware, not software. Nowadays my iPhone can shoot HD video - anyone with a creative imagination can make a decent music clip for $300 now, but as ever its the creative vision of the director which is of the most premium value to any clip.

I remember a famous Michael Jackson video at the time reportedly cost over $1,000,000 and this cost was mostly due to the buying of scarce computer time to render a sequence where his image shatters into a million pieces across the screen. Nowadays this effect come as a free preset on even the most basic video editing software.That's how much technology has leveled the playing field.

The Cathedral clip features footage from the Vincent Price movie aswell, which I think was a bargain to acquire from the copyright holders, maybe £1000 tops. Then the cost of the studio hire, lighting, stage set and decoration, wardrobe, plus the hire of actors and actresses appearing alongside the band. Did you see a horse in the clip? that's definately not easy or cheap to hire! Plus the director fee on top, it all adds up.By far the most expensive part of the clip would have been the film camera hire and film stock, and the costs of tape transfers and subsequent editing time at a film editing suite, though.

Hope this explains the thinking behind the costs of the clip.

While we are talking about clips, here's UNKLE : Rabbit in The Headlights, which is widely regarded as one of the best music clips ever made.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Florida's 90s Hardcore scene, was not as famous as the local Death Metal scene.


Question: I had to ask this since morning again (pictured) are reforming and earache has your demise on the books. When you were looking at the death metal bands from tampa in the 90s did you pay any attention to the heavy hardcore scene that was going on in florida at the same time? by that i mean the bands such as culture, shai hulud, morning again, poison the well, remembering never etc, im curious that there were two very heavy music scenes going on in the same state but they never seemed to interact. From:

Answer: Glad you appreciate Your Demise, its a straight-up heavy Hardcore band which is making waves right now- the album also has thunderous Drum n Bass interludes which actually the band are dropping we think, as it was the idea of old singer George. The CD was issued by Earache in the USA under license from Visible Noise.

But back in the 90s, yes you are right, it wasn't common for Death Metal kids to mix at all with Hardcore kids back then, in fact they were two seperate scenes, with different cultures and "rules". Ha ha its funny that a scene which declares it abides by "no rules" sure had a LOT of them- like how you dress, what music you play, even - this is the vegan hardcore and straight edge hardcore scenes I'm talking about- the food and drink you choose to enjoy. Luckily things are more relaxed these days in Hardcore.

But by far most heinous crime for a Hardcore band at the time was to play metal - that was a total no no and indicated a willingness to 'sell-out' which marked you down as a traitor to the very values of hardcore.Notable HC Bands of the 80s like Gang Green, DYS and SSD all started playing a sort of streetwise rock/metal and within a few years their fanbase had evaporated and the bands split up.

To answer your question, I visited Florida tons of times during the explosive rise of Death Metal 89-94 and I was vaguely aware of a coming HC scene in Florida during those years, but the bands you mention really formed and hit their stride a good few years later in mid-90's, so most of them signed with pure-play HC labels like Revelation or Good Life in Europe. To be honest the scene was tiny and didn't really compare in size to the Death Metal scene, which was also fresher sounding to my ears.

I do remember coming across EARTH CRISIS - Scott Burns of Morrisound gave me the demo tape he'd recorded by the band and I did like the band, the militant straight edge stance of the band was cool. I assumed they were a local Florida band, and so kept an eye out for their later activities- but never made an offer to sign them.

If you want the lowdown on the Florida 90's HC scene bands try this great blog xSTUCKINTHEPASTx

Heres Earth Crisis 10 year Documentary:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BLOG POST: What's the beef between Holy Grail and White Wizzard all about?


Question: Hi, I have been a fan of White Wizzard from the High Speed GTO video, which contains original singer Luna, and i also personally like the new White Wizzard clip Over The Top aswell, which is even better. I know Luna is now in Holy Grail and he has a beef against White Wizzard. I would like to know what happened to cause the war of words between Holy Grail and White Wizzard?

Answer: It's just local band rivalry really, sparked by the spotlight which is slowly coming on both bands, in fact both bands just played Download festival in UK, and the bad blood was evident, even though both bands were backstage at the famous Donington - home of the Monsters of Rock in the 80's, I don't think the bands spoke much.


White Wizzard's mainman and chief songwriter has always been bassist Jon Leon, and his search for the perfect musicians to give voice to his vision of playing Classic-era Heavy Metal has led him through 3 different band line-ups so far.


But first a quick history lesson- Jon Leon and James Luna's roots go back to Los Angeles Hard Rock band Jetfuel, which was a fairly average band but were notable for their mutual love of playing classic- era Hard Rock, as opposed to the deathy-inspired modern metal which has prevailed since the turn of the 90s.

Heres a young Jon and Luna in the clip for Beat Paradise (2007)



Jetfuel disbanded, soon regrouping with Jon around the moniker White Wizzard. Jon also shifted the songwriting to be more straight up early Heavy Metal influenced, and the band quickly recorded a 7 song EP, which they self-released in 2007 as 50 hand burnt CDRs, complete with specially commissioned Derek Riggs artwork, with the intention of hoping to attract the attention of labels.

Jon Leon explains the transition:

"Jet Fuel was an LA band and I actually joined them in Los Angeles and that band was near it's end, because of a beef between Luna and the founder (guitar player in beat parasite video named Chris Naab). He had a bunch of issues with Luna and the band split because of those issues right after that video was shot.
      I was already working on some songs for what would become WW, and I contacted James and Tyler to come listen to some demos a couple months after that band split, because we got on well back then and I thought James had alot of talent and I felt it could be a good fit.
   They listened to them, liked them and I hunted for a guitar player....and I found James Larue on craigslist and auditioned him 1 on 1 a couple times.
    Then through some rehearsals I set up, line up 1 was born and we recorded the songs 2 months later of which became high speed GTO"



Unhappily for the band, no labels were interested,so they could hardly score any gigs, and for the 2007-8 period, White Wizzard languished in the doldrums. With no outside interest the band looked destined to follow the fate of most young hopefuls - ie a short career, before disbanding back into obscurity.

That was until Earache happened across the band in mid 2008, during our search for up and coming Heavy Metal acts to showcase on a new compilation we were planning, which led to the song High Speed GTO being a last minute addition to Various Artists :'Heavy Metal Killers' in Jan 2009.It was so last minute, it didn't even make it onto the advance promotional copies of that album.

During the discussions for the sampler, we learned the unhappy news- Luna replied that White Wizzard had recently dissolved and he was soon to begin working with some of the ex-members on an as yet unnamed new project - this became known as Sorceror a few months later.

Earache held talks with Luna and Jon at the same time, and I strongly suggested they reform the band back to the High Speed GTO line up and carry on with label backing. The pair of them had become too estranged by that point, and had developed very different visions about their future musical paths. We quickly formed the opinion that we'd sign Jon Leon as he was the chief songwriter and visionary, and indeed was holding the White Wizzard name and rights. Plus, Jon convinced us that he could easily pick up the pieces and recruit a new singer and guitarist, recruiting rookie screamer Wyatt Anderson from Florida and Erik Klieber from Detroit (ex-Overloaded) on guitar in record time, and even demoed 3 brand new songs to prove his intent.

This led to Earache signing White Wizzard to a long-term recording deal.We most probably would have signed James Luna's outfit too, but because he had no music or even band name, it seemed better to wait.When he found out we had decided to sign White Wizzard, Luna flipped out- he tried to sabotage the pending White Wizzard deal by sending me scandalous emails full of misinformation about Jon, which was pretty dumb.

Because he was the more web-savvy member, Luna held the log in details for their official website. After the split, Luna refused to hand over the domain registration info for the site whitewizzard.com, instead using it to promote his new outfit .To this day it displays a holding page dedicated to his band HOLY GRAIL.

This is the origin of the bad blood.



Within 6 months Luna had changed Sorceror to Holy Grail and then scored a deal themselves with LA's Prosthetic label. Holy Grail music is a more thrashy style of modern metal, with HM touches,its quite removed from where White Wizzard is at, musically.

White Wizzard Mk 3 was born after Wyatt and Erik - who played on the Over The Top album -both left to persue different paths, leaving Jon to recruit new members once again. In June 2010 it was announced that ex-Cellador (Metal Blade Power Metal act 2005-7) screamer Mike Gremio and rookie guitarist Lewis Stephans had come into the fold, they performed their first show at Download festival 2010.



Heres new White Wizzard line up, June 2010.