*edited 18/9/14: An apology has been issued by the author of the Manifesto Militia PDF and can be read over here. Accordingly, his name is removed from this article and I hope to have an amended PDF up at some point with the author’s name removed. But the article stays. I figure it will only be a matter of time before someone pulls a similar stunt again. BTW, anyone wanting to join a dinky-di metal gang should go get in touch with NYDM. Why reinvent the wheel? 🙂
In San Francisco in the mid-1800s, a man named Edward Norton declared himself Emperor Norton I of the United States. He wrote a proclamation and sent it out to all the newspapers. It stated that at the pre-emptory request of the citizenry he proclaimed himself Emperor and by the virtue of the authority thereby vested in him, duly directed the representatives of the States of the Union to assemble so that they may amend existing laws and ameliorate the evils under which the country was laboring. When the editor of the San Francisco Bulletin received his copy, an underling reportedly asked what he planned to do with this drivel.
“Why, I’m going to publish it” was the editor’s reply.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Manifesto Militia PDF of one <name redacted>:
As soon as I heard there was an elitist document being sent to selected members of the Australian Metal industry, I pledged to upload this for everyone to have a look at. And I must admit that before I even read it, I also pledged to take a huge dump all over the content and the character behind it.
This is for a few reasons, the main one being that I’m thirty-nine years old and have a sense of history. It seems that every three or four years, another little emperor arises and tries to create a heavy metal organization based on character and deeds with a hint of denim “for the elite”, and without fail they achieve fuck-all then dissolve into a pile of infighting and bitchiness. I’ve seen this over and over and over again everywhere I’ve lived. Each scene has that guy.
In the last two decades in the entire world, I believe there have only been two groups in metal who managed any semblance of organization and reaped any sort of reward from it: those raging fucking retards in the Norwegian black metal scene, and the NYDM organization. The black metallers won the world’s attention through murdering each other and going to jail en-masse. NYDM provided distro for bands who didn’t stand a chance in hell of getting their CDs in stores back when that shit mattered, and they launched their organization in the only country willing and able to support such a venture: America.
Anyway I got my hands on this here Manifesto and read it. I don’t know what to say. I don’t really know where to start. Is this perhaps a subtle trolling job? I know there’s always that guy, but never have I seen someone take their madness to such breathtaking scope. This dude is talking about creating shopping centres, business partners, national chapter houses and so on. He talks about being all you can be, creating bonds of fraternity and respect, bringing success to everyone he associates with, working smart, and changing the status quo. I’m totally down with all of this. So why does this document rub me the wrong way?
This is like trying to pick out which bit of dust you hate the most in a tornado. Let me just start by dissecting the document sentence by sentence for a bit, then I’ll get the broad brushstrokes happening. From the top:
“To influence social/political policy to increase exposure of hard rock/heavy metal music, through mainstream media in Australia…to promote Heavy Metal in all areas of life, to make it a competitive genre in the pop charts”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: no self-respecting metal musician wants anything to do with traditional mainstream media. Want the respect of Kyle Sandilands? Red Foo? Neil Mitchell? Bitch, please. People hate and fear our music and when you dig down to it, that’s the way a lot of us like it thankyou-very-much. And I’ll believe that political policy can actually be swayed in metal’s favour when Indonesia’s new metalhead President Jokowi enacts legislation that manages to assist the industry over there. I’m not holding my breath.
And I’ve just quickly got to explode the myth that were it but for some mainstream exposure, metal bands would be the dominant musical force. We sing like angry throaty dogs and often play above 260bpm. Our lyrics are about eating people, war, and devil worship. Unless you change that and the whole aesthetic of metal, there’s only a small percentage who actually want to listen to that kind of shit in the first place. Gold 104FM could pump Origin 24/7 and most people would still stay the hell away.
“…without bowing the knee to conservative record labels/producers who only present music to the public, with one intention to make money first before quality and substance…”
We are in the year 2014. Record labels and producers still have their place but they no longer call the shots. It is now possible to be a successful artist without having any contact with either. Labels are – for better or worse- no longer the gateway guardians to participating in the music industry.
“To educate the general public that the Heavy Metal genre facilitates expansion of intelligence, wisdom and creates social awareness on real issues in society such as injustice, corruption, discrimination, moral ethics and philosophy“
In the next paragraph the author notes that members invited to join this club/militia/whatever will “dominantly be white heterosexual males”. But don’t worry, they may make exceptions. These are the guys who will educate the public via Heavy Metal on intelligence and social awareness. Yup.
(under Core Values) “Candidates with mental illness and criminal records will not be tolerated…Members caught doing drugs including ecstasy, shrooms, cocaine, heroin, ice, marijuana etc, will be given the ultimatum either to resign or go to rehab…”
Well, we’ve basically ruled out every single person in metal in Australia. Again, people want their metal musicians to be maniacs. If I want a sober law-abiding artist I’ll sit down to some Taylor Swift and listen to her emote. But I want my bands to be freaks and loose-cannons. The reason they play metal in the first place is because they’re fucked in the head or hammered on drugs, or both.
Some other choice quotes:
“In the advent of confidential information being discussed through club meetings, to never divulge said information to people outside the club.”
aka, the first rule about Fight Club…
“Members will be encouraged to not talk about political, religious or secular affiliations as it might cause unnecessary arguments.”
This would rule out the likes of Napalm Death, Slayer, Cattle Decapitation, and Deicide from becoming members, just to name a few.
“The club and future organization could potentially take the place of record labels as it will give Manifesto and other bands signed to the new label fair deals and decent financial cuts to sustain their business“
Record labels aren’t going out of business so that new entities posing as record labels can take their place. They’re going out of business because the world has moved beyond the label-offers-band-a-deal-and-gives-them-success model, and no-one has figured out what will be replacing them yet.
“It is an exclusive because members will become the elite commandoes fighting for the Manifesto cause! (See Vision & Mission Statement p.3).”
“The industry in Australia is in a poor state as mediocrity, ignorance, lack of vision and lack of motivation to bring change and improvement is the norm. This is why Australia’s local music scene is in decline, as people have had bad experiences and then refuse to participate in the scene.”
This has been said about the Australian industry since the mid-90s. Newsflash, there’s fucking Soundwave on now – a hard rock and metal festival that’s so big, it’s replacing Big Day Out. More international bands are touring than before, and more Australian bands are playing overseas than ever. When Australian metal is reported overseas, things have gone from “you won’t believe that AUSTRALIA has a metal scene!!!” to “here’s the latest bunch of awesome bands out of Australia”. I cannot see how metal over here is worse than ten or twenty years ago.
“Like a piece of iron melted into molten metal then transformed into a formidable broadsword, change can be painful. It requires a lot of will power and determination. Metaphorically as the blacksmith forges the metal into indestructible steel, this is my hope for every each one of you.”
Manowar, meet Tony Robbins.
So at this point, you’re probably thinking what do I get if I’m lucky enough to pass the character tests , pay the membership (“$100’s each per year”) and join this Militia? Well, glad you asked. The benefits can be summed up as:
– promote your band amongst members
– receive a denim vest with patches
– opportunities to find business partners
– access to knowledge from professionals in the entertainment industry
– be informed on the latest music trends
…in other words, A BUNCH OF STUFF YOU CAN ALREADY DO YOURSELF.
Seriously, it’s like this dude doesn’t realize the internet exists. I can promote my band online to an audience far bigger than some bunch of Neanderthal metal Freemasons. I can design patches – even entire shirts – on photoshop, order that shit up in China, and have it on my doorstep the next week. I can find business partners by going to facebook and linkedin. I can be informed on music trends by reading blogs and magazines. I like to think I can do these things because I’m a talented little snowflake, but I’m not. Anyone can.
And most importantly, everyone has access to professionals in the entertainment industry. It’s the internet fucking age. Send these people a polite fucking email for god’s sake, and ask any questions that occur to you. I’ve received brilliant advice from Maric Media by sending emails whenever I’ve got a question. Want to speak to one of Australia’s best drummers from a leading band with international contacts and experience? Dave Haley is doing drum clinics around the country. Go book the dude and make some bloody conversation during your lesson for ball’s sake. Thinking of booking bands and want a word of advice? Send one of the guys from Soundworks a respectful email. Got a question about radio? Hunt down the Haugs. Want to make venue management contacts or meet band managers, or even just lots of other musicians? Offer to volunteer at Soundwave or ARMI (Australian Rock and Metal Institute). There are dozens of people walking around this country with a wealth of knowledge, contacts, and experience, and they’re almost ALL COOL. You don’t need to join some wannabe bikies and their ‘chapters’ to learn what you want to know and get to where you want to be. Sheesh.
But I guess the last thing that gets on my tits is that the document skirts around one fact, and that is that this entire idea for a club is to enable <name redacted> to have a number people play in his band and provide services and support and fly him around the country….AND PAY HIM FOR THE PRIVILEGE. The balls! The enormous balls!
Hey, I’m not against the idea in principle. Berzerker charged support bands buy-on amounts, and if I could have found a way to make band members and booking agents pay us for the pleasure, we probably would have done that too. The difference being, we had something to offer them. Here were the following guarantees: We would take you on tour. Your face would appear in magazines. You would play at festivals, and whether you wanted to or not you would meet large bands, tour managers, labels, and agents. Your muso CV would read “from Berzerker, Earache Records”. In the last few years before I left, we were even paying each other. And we weren’t just telling people this what they’d get from playing with us, people could look at our track record and see that we were actually doing all those things. The lesson took a while to learn but we learned it: if you want people to do something substantial for you, you better have something substantial to offer them in return.
All <name redacted> has to offer his current associates at the moment is 14 pages of unintentional comedy. Until he has something more concrete than a bunch of demos and this PDF, he will continue to be nothing more than laughingstock.
We may hear from him again, and I kind of hope we do. Never count out the dreamers.