Category Archives: Industry

Someone Is Making The Money

I shouldn’t be writing an article right now. I’m at work, I’m wrapping up a job, I’m moving house to a new job and new flat 700km away, I’m halfway through having the new Senseless album mixed, I’m negotiating new contracts and redundancies and all that shit, but GODDAMMIT I’ve seen some stuff that I simply must pass comment on.

Yesterday, I saw this:

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That isn’t some kid on his way to a show. That is fashion designer Avalone premiering their new Fall/Winter collection of sportswear, and what you’re seeing is a model on a catwalk sporting a shirt that has blatantly ripped off the Mortician logo.

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for comparison

Roger from Mortician has an excellent article about it on his wonderful blog, and I read it and thought my usual thoughts about it being interesting and all that. Then today, just as I was getting a coffee into myself, I saw THIS:

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To make it totally clear, that is deadmau5 opening his set to a gazillion people by playing a Psycroptic track. At first I thought someone had merely dubbed some Psycroptic concert audio over a deadmau5 set, but then I saw some people headbanging in time, and the sound dopplers a bit when the phone is moved around. Then I saw all the comments from people who were at the set, half thinking it was fantastic and hilarious, the other half thinking WTF WAS THAT?!

My first reactions to things are usually the stock-standard death metal reactions. Sue them! Get the lawyers! Beat the shit out of them! Etc, etc. My next thought was, Avalone’s got some fucking stones. Do you really want to mess with the artistic copyright of someone like Will Rahmer? Mr.Jailed-in-Poland-for-a-Machete-Freakout Rahmer? Have you fucking seen Will Rahmer?!

will

And I do my little turn on the catwalk, yeah on the catwalk

And then I had a bunch of other thoughts percolate, and they went like this:

When both a fashion designer and the world’s largest electronic dance music are referencing death metal, this should be telling you all something.

And I believe that something is this: that the music and its imagery are more popular than people make it out to be. A large reason why death metal is on the bottom earning rung is because the majority of the artists believe they are underground, and actively reject any form of popularity. My ears are resounding with the sound of the entire metal scene going “DUH”, but think about it. I did an article only the other week that touched on the fact that metal bands are giving up because of money issues left right and centre, and that some bands are resorting to patronage (or what some people call ‘begging’) in order to keep functioning.

Folks, death metal appears in movies, ads, shows, and the sets of the biggest and most untalented DJs in the world. Metal imagery and shirts are referenced by the biggest outlets in the world. Even ‘Lords of Chaos’, the book about the most underground possible bit of an already underground scene is getting turned into a movie. Death metal clings to this pre-pubescent notion of unpopularity as if that’s the only way to define its image. This is utterly outdated, and totally unhealthy to the scene.

The scene operates in a context defined some thirty years ago, with booking agents, venues, managers, and labels all living in a past that doesn’t recognise the fact that the world has moved on. Want to know why people are turning up in droves to these shows with shitty music? Just look at the deadmau5 clip. This dude climbs onto a stage with a backdrop in the shape of a mouse’s head playing swirling images of LAVA, then when he starts his set proper he fires off enough lasers to bring down the fucking moon. Want to know why your gig in Melbourne the other week only had fifty people, but five thousand drove off into the bush for a show? Probably because it looked like this.

I love death metal. I love Mortician’s “Chainsaw Dismemberment”, I love the crazy bastards in the band, I love the fact that every member of Psycroptic is a better musician than I could be in a hundred lifetimes, but if I’m faced with seeing another gig of four guys in black tshirts on the same stage setup with a backdrop in some stinky old venue with a crowd of bonged out smelly boys, I’ll choose the hours of lasers with the crazy PA and art installations and flocks of gorgeous hippy chicks. Death metal, this is your competition.

All these DJs with their shit music and these designers with their shit clothes and lack of talent have all found success, renown, and income. They do that because they assume popularity, and they choose to work in a context of popularity. They assume everyone in the world can potentially like and buy their stuff, and that’s how they operate. There will always be room for the underground, and there will always be a place for those who are so developmentally impaired that they carry an identity of “nobody likes me so I’m going to be unpopular” all the way out of high school and into adult life. There will always be a place for art that is so dark and cutting edge that the mainstream sensibility shrinks from it. But Slayer and Metallica have Grammies, bullet belts are now modern couture, and Gaahl runs a fashion label.

Death Metal, you’re not as unpopular as you think you are. Someone is making the money.
It might as well be you.

UPDATE 3/3/17: Some scrappy publication known as the NY Times influenced by/inspired by/steals Carcass artwork.

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Ne Obliviscablovarblarbulus Ask For Money

I first became aware of Australian band Ne Obliviscaris asking for funding through campaigns via this delicately worded post on the facebook group”Heavy Metal Clüb” :

neo-ob

I read this post, the band’s press-release, and all related comments, and realised that what I had here was something the military term a “target-rich environment”. Melbourne progressive metal band Ne Obliviscaris are running a pledge campaign to achieve a minimum wage (by Australian standards), and to help pay off debts incurred from touring so far. When Matt from Berzerker/Akercocke/Antichrist messaged me to encourage me to rant, that was the final nudge I needed. So I say this!….

GOOD ON THEM.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fan of their music. I’m not a fan of them. I hate almost all metal that wasn’t made in the 90s, or made by me. I don’t think this funding suggestion of theirs is good value. I’m not sure if this campaign will be successful. I think if they want to be a viable band then they probably need to kick out two of their members. I think their career is starting to rest a bit heavily on crowdfunding. I think flamenco can get the fuck out of metal (except when I do it). But am I going to begrudge them putting a mechanism in place to deliver them a wage? Absolutely fuck no, good luck to them, and I don’t see why all the metalheads are getting their panties in such a sookie-bub bunch over them trying. But don’t worry, I’m going to whip around and give everyone a flog by the end of this article. I shall be harsh but fair.

 Let’s look at their press release first. The first line pisses me right off: “From the minute they first stepped onto the Aussie music scene, Ne Obliviscaris knew that it was always going to be hard for a progressive extreme metal band with a violin player to make money“. My Dying Bride, bitches? If there was a dole queue for metal bands with violin players, Ne Ob would be holding a ticket saying “#1000,056,741”. By the way, I HATE writing ‘Ne Ob’ but I hate having to write out their full name even more.

They talk about the trials of making money in a “broken system”. They are 100% right. Does anyone doubt that the music industry is broken as fuck, particularly for metal bands? ALMOST EVERY MONTH you’ll get another wordy pompous press release from someone in some band I don’t care about announcing how they’re quitting music because of financial pressures. Everyone knows music sales barely make money, if at all. Everyone knows that touring is high-risk hard work with diminishing financial returns. Didn’t we all see that article from Behemoth’s bassist the other day talking about the outrageous percentage venues are now claiming from merch sales? In my day it was zero percent. There would maybe be one or two venues on a thirty day US tour who would charge twenty percent, but that was it. Now it’s FORTY percent in some places, with percentage takings turning into the norm at venues. So anyone telling me that a band can solve its money problems by getting in the van and selling some t-shirts can suck a dick. I credit Ne Ob for not immediately saying “we’re quitting for financial issues” like a million metal musicians before them, but for trying everything to fix that situation. The system which delivered money from CD sales and touring no longer delivers on CD sales, and the takings from touring are diminishing every day.

They speak about the funding being not only for themselves, but for families and mortgages. For anyone reading this and starting off in a metal band, forget families and mortgages. Music is a steamroller that will crush anything excess in your life, from relationships to finances to responsibilities. If you want to have any semblance of a normal life, stay at home, record music, and stay the fuck off the road. If you want to go on the road and live the dream then go for it, but you are leaving the normal world and its comforts behind, and you only get to return to it when you quit or if you win the lottery ticket called ‘success’. And make no mistake, it is a lottery ticket. You not only have to be relentlessly hard-working, but extremely ridiculously lucky. So a kick in the balls to them for this. I’d be cool keeping them from starving, paying rent for some place, and able to buy a train ticket to the airport so they can go fly somewhere and play the fiddle at someone, but if they want a life and a house? This has never been the deal for anyone ever. I can number the extreme metal bands who can use their career to own their own place and have a family life on both my hands.

THIS LINE: “The fact that one of Australia’s biggest metal experts must resort to charity to keep their careers afloat is a mark of how screwed up today’s music industry has become.” OK, I don’t give a fuck how many times their PR dude trots this line out, they are NOT one of Australia’s biggest metal experts (or even exports, as I’m sure they meant to say). I’ve been on three international labels with three separate bands, toured extensively domestically and internationally (300+ shows), headlined in UK and Europe, will release my eighth album this year, never needed to resort to crowdfunding to do any of it and actually made some money, and I wouldn’t even call myself one of Australia’s biggest metal experts. I fucking hate lazy PR. Besides, the guy on their promo video sounds American and they’ve got a French guitarist. Newsflash: you are now an international band, not the Little Aussie Band That Could. Start pitching yourselves as an international act, it sounds better. “Australian progressive violin flamenco metal” sounds as awkward as “Swedish gangsta rap”.

And besides, they’re not having to resort to charity. They’re choosing to resort to charity. Small difference, but important. What’s their option otherwise? Become a recording outfit. Scale back touring as an activity that is done on breaks from a day job. My god that sucks as it means a life with no real holidays, but there it is. Focus on markets where you do make money on tours, and explore the others either with one-off festivals or mini-tours. Sack half your band for touring, or use that massive surplus of manpower to do the jobs that you’re currently paying other people to do: merch table, driver, sound, roadie, etc. Cut every corner…..EVERY corner. Paying onto a package so you can be on a nightliner bus? Fuck you, hire a motorhome and drive it yourselves for half the cost. Manage yourselves. Book yourselves. Don’t rent entire backlines, borrow what you can. Anyone going “yeah, right, impossible” should know that the only reasons I make these suggestions is because they are things my bands have done and we made money. In the pledge page, there is an acknowledgement that this is an option. My opinion is, make it work on the cheap first and build up to more expenses on tour before you decide what’s possible or impossible, or what income you do or don’t need.

There’s talk of market forces in a lot of the commentary. This is a tricky and complex subject which I’ll try and sum up as clearly as possible. The general idea is of supply and demand: if there is a sufficient demand for Ne Ob’s music and shows then the market will keep them funded in baby booties and cribs. If the demand isn’t there, then no-one likes them and that’s why they’re not making money and they should pack all their stringed instruments away and fuck off.

In the case of metal though, the market is distorted (just like the music). Markets normally express themselves by reflecting fluctuations of success with fluctuations of income. But in metal the market can’t correctly express itself through music sales; metal as a demographic has a higher percentage of downloaders than others (16-25 years old/male/white/assholes), and most stores have stopped carrying metal CDs, streaming sites pay fuck-all. And the market is struggling to express itself through touring income. Labels have 360 degree deals where they take the merchandise and show income. Booking agents now run packages where you have backline and transport and everything taken care of, but for excessive costs. And as mentioned, venues are now getting in on the act and taking a slice of band’s traditional touring income too. A band can have many fans, everyone can have their album, and their shows can be well attended, but with this busted-ass market none of their money will make it to the band itself. The market doesn’t reflect with income the success a band’s experiencing – the market is distorted.

On the one hand, I think there’s too many metal bands out there and too many metal bands doing the same old boring thing. You could listen to a new metal album every hour every day for the next ten years and barely dent the amount of releases out there. I think the market reflects that. That’s part the reason why barely anyone buys metal anymore,  and that’s why the metal market flips out and goes wild for anything even minutely different, like BabyMetal…..whose success I despise and blame entirely on Metal Hammer, bunch of fucking paedos*. On the other hand if a fanbase is consuming product and paying cash for it and that money is getting lost in the absolute car-crash that is the modern music industry before it reaches the band, then that isn’t reflecting that the market doesn’t want the band or that the band should stop. It reflects simply that the market is broken. Fan funding is a possible answer to that and in this instance, is perhaps the most accurate reflection of whether the market wants you around or not.

I admire Ne Ob’s balls….

look

those farkin balls!

…and hats off to them for trying a very traditional way to make a living from this. Something a lot of people don’t realise is that your Renaissance artists, your painters, your composers and musicians through the majority of history were funded by patronage. They’d have a couple of rich guys who would pay for them to do their thing, sometimes even a small group of people doing the funding. Ne Ob are no Da Vinci, but they are basically reviving the same long grand tradition of patronage in a modern way. This is not new ground for the industry, this is an old form of funding that is re-emerging into a vastly different world.

I do think that Ne Ob need to be careful in three areas: transparency, goodwill, and viability. Most money you make, you can do whatever the fuck with it you want. If someone is pledging you a living wage, they’re probably going to want to know what your costs are. The money isn’t quite as no-strings-attached as money can be, even with an explanation that the band merely wants a minimum wage, even with the variety of pledge rewards. A degree of transparency is required. Fans are happy to pay for new leads, food, gas money, seed money for a merch run. They mightn’t be happy to pay for your kid’s tuition, the latest $5000 amplifier, or new curtains in your pad back home.

When asking for funding you’re also asking for goodwill. Ne Ob have been massively successful with campaigns in the past, but how many times can they draw water from that particular well? Goodwill is fickle and finite. Which brings me to viability – unless they are planning on being professional minimum wage pledge musos for the rest of their life, they need a plan to get away from the crowdfunding. Any of the traditional problems they’ve encountered so far that ALL bands encounter, they’ve dealt with by throwing crowdfunding at it. At some point, they need to increase traditional income somehow or cut their operating costs and I haven’t seen anything (admittedly, from a distance) that indicates they’ve got the ability to slash those costs. Otherwise, they’ve got minimum wage to look forward to until even that is no longer viable. They’re trying the ‘fake-it-til-you-make-it’ route. That is a ticking clock, whether on your own dime or someone else’s and I suspect that these days, that particular route leads to a dead end. I’m having trouble thinking of the last band who were successful with that approach.

And now to address some of the comments the general public made on this pledge campaign. Naturally they’re all idiotic, because metal fans are halfwits.

  • Don’t support these entitled douchebags, use your hard earned to give some actual hard working bands with talent a break.” I’m no fan of Ne Ob, but if touring internationally ten months out of the year isn’t hard working, I don’t know what the fuck is. Making snide comments about bands on social media, perhaps?
  • Market forces haven’t changed in hundreds of years and are unlikely to any time soon” Actually, it’s because market forces HAVE changed drastically in recent times that bands are resorting to crowdfunding. Heard of this “internet” thing?
  • I don’t understand why they’re asking to achieve minimum wage while they tour the world?I mean I just genuinely don’t understand it. Wouldn’t it make more sense to stick to Australian/Asian tours for the time being? I mean they only have 2 albums...” Because they need to eat, fool. As for sticking to Australian/Asian tours, your career as a professional band only BEGINS once you have played that first overseas tour. Your time in Australia and the region counts for fuck-all. No-one on the planet cares how many times you played the Bendigo Hotel or Newcastle fucking RSL. Your career goes nowhere. NO-ONE CARES. And the number of bands that played internationally on the back of their first album is a massive list. We were one. Fear Factory’s another. Most Aussie bands don’t do that, because they are stupid. The ones who do it and find a way to keep doing it tend to be the successful ones. Ultimately, that’s the crux of the debate – can Ne Ob keep doing what they want to do cashing in on goodwill?
  • Regardless of what you think about Ne’O, they are actually one of THE MOST SUCCESSFUL HEAVY METAL BANDS IN AUSTRALIA” Not making any money? Finishing up in debt whenever you try to do anything? Sorry, but that is the opposite of successful. Then again, if success can be measured as a proportion of the spluttering knucklehead fury directed at you on social media (the Sam Bean Success Equation TM), they ARE pretty damn successful.

 

tramp

“Loan me a Grammy”

I ripped on the band’s PR earlier for laziness, but realised just now that all the discussion about this campaign has created another wave of attention for them. Sneaky bastards. Fuck, I’ve written over 2500 words on it. And they’re around halfway to their pledge amount already. If they pull this off, that’s quite a coup. What the hell do I know. Want to pledge? Head to: http://www.patreon.com/neobliviscaris

* Metal Hammer are totally not paedos. Love you guys! Hugs xx

pedo

Pictured: one totally normal Metal Hammer staffer

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Still alive

I just read an absolutely smashing piece on creating value with your music called “Why Your Music Is Worthless“. With a title like that, you can probably see how it really speaks to me. The dude writes like I wish I did. If you want to get on my good side, tell me that the article reminds you of something I wrote.

Speaking of writing articles, you’ve probably noticed I’ve written fuck-all this year. Even writing this little piece is like pulling teeth. This is for no reason in particular. I seem to have lost the need to turn everything in my life into a narrative, which reduces the urge to lay every thought of mine down into print. If there was any particular reason for this, it probably came down to a few events.

A niece of mine died around this time last year. For the first time ever, I found myself dropping everything and travelling to be with my family and having to think of other people. This is pretty unusual for me. Serious amounts of shit needs to be done when someone passes away, and if the death happens to be traumatic then the job only really starts once the funeral is over. This death was, unfortunately, rather traumatic. And in the midst of all that, whenever I started thinking about writing articles or music, it all just seemed rather indulgent. People close to me were dealing with some heavy stuff, and I was going to do what? Write another article about pushing girls from moving buses, or record a song about getting drunk? Fuck off.

Earlier in the year, I stopped writing for Heavy magazine. Until then it felt like writing actual articles for actual magazines was the logical progression for the effort I was putting in blogging. Heavy was the third publication I’ve written for and I was thinking, heck, journalism could even become a hobby! When that fell apart (and how that happened will be an upcoming article) I just could not be bothered writing anymore.

Then there was the Antichrist Imperium. Let me explain. For the last however many years with the Senseless, I’ve struggled with releasing albums, getting exposure, and trying to get any attention whatsoever from the music industry. I sent out endless submissions to record labels, and barely received a reply. I imagine a lot of that just comes down to the fact that I look like a happy well-fed accountant, and unlike someone like Cloudkicker my job is not interesting enough to create a ‘break through’ narrative. People buy the trappings of personality, whether that is clothes, food, music, or whatever. Want the audience your amazing tunes don’t seem to generate on their own? Shave off half your hair, then get trepanated. Talk about how you write music by ramming your finger in the hole and wiggling it.

I digress. I do my Senseless stuff for a small appreciative band of awesome people and by gum, it will stay that way. Then at the start of this year, I ended up signed to a record label. Not for the Senseless though – for the Antichrist Imperium. When I was in London last year, I caught up with them and did an evening’s vocal recording. This went onto their album which was picked up by Apocalyptic Witchcraft, the new label from the team at Candlelight. Suddenly, boom! Signed. And it seemed that I had casually fallen in with London’s metal ‘It Boys’: Sam Loynes and David Gray. I’d include Matt Wilcock in that, but Australia has claimed him back. After hundreds of hours of banging away at the Senseless, I was suddenly on an album signed to a label, getting great reviews from a rapturous metal media – and I had done about five hours of effort.

It has been a confusing year.

The new Senseless album has been mixed for the last two months. It may still take another two weeks, two months, a year. Who knows? It’s coming. It’ll be here when it’s ready. You can’t rush good pizza. Articles on this blog? There will be more of them, and soon.

Calling Carcass the ‘C’ word

I checked my mobile phone and I had a voicemail message from Nick Lord, editor of HEAVY Music Magazine. I dialed it up and listened to the message.

Nick sounded breathless and troubled.
“OK I asked it. It wasn’t good. It sooo wasn’t good. Oh dude. I can’t believe I asked it. Give me a call.”

 Let me back up and explain.

 I’ve been friends with Nick for years. Interestingly enough, we met through a bunch of house-music friends despite us both being metalheads. I developed skills in playing really fast music, screaming, mainframe support, fine dining, and writing. Nick developed skills in djent guitar, running magazines, chess, and speaking Russian and Spanish. I ended up returning to Australia to a job that affords me ridiculous amounts of spare time. Nick is editor of Australia’s premier – and only – heavy music magazine, HEAVY.

Nick contacted me one day, wanting to know if I could write an article on short notice. The topic was ‘Bass playing in black metal’. I was like sure but what happened to your usual columnist? The guy, ex-Superheist bassist Drew Dedman, had not only failed to submit a column by deadline but hadn’t responded to calls, emails, or texts for a few weeks. So I pumped out the article overnight and it went to print four weeks later. When it hit the newsstands, Drew finally responded to all the attempts to contact him with a message to the publisher, asking if he’d been fired*.

Nick asked me if I wanted to take over the bass column, and I said yes. I found the fact that I was writing authoritative print columns on bass-playing hilarious as I hadn’t touched mine in a few years. Occasionally, I’d wake in a cold sweat, afraid that someone like Alarum’s Mark Palfreyman was reading some of my dribble, but I did a few more columns over the next months and all was well.

One night I was again contacted by Nick who asked another favor: there was a Carcass interview coming up and the journalist he’d organized to do it had bailed out on him with a few days to spare. Nick was going to do the interview himself at super short notice and, knowing I’m a longtime Carcass fan, asked if I had any interesting questions.

“Who are you interviewing?” I asked.
“Jeff Walker.”

 

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Pictured: Carcass. Jeff is second from the left.

 

I’m a huge fan of bands from the late 80s/early 90s death metal scene and know almost every single thing there is to know about them, especially the old Earache ones. I have enormous respect for all those bands. For those who don’t know them, Carcass were making a comeback after being defunct for many years. They’d just released a kickass album and were now playing every big festival around the globe. Even more heartwarmingly, they took along their previous drummer Ken who could no longer play drums due to a stroke he had a few years back. ‘Necroticism’ was one of my all-time favourite albums, and Ken wrote a few songs on there.

I needed to explain all that, because the questions I fed Nick went all the way from ‘hot’ to ‘extra crispy’. I was drunk when I wrote them, and the few times I’ve been around Jeff before, he was a bastard. Charmingly so, but nevertheless.

Here are the questions I presented with no omissions:

***

1: Why are you such a cunt?

2: Is it true that Jeff spent his non-Carcass years working in the passport office? Or was it the post office?

3: Which one does he hate worse: Columbia Records, or Earache Records? (their previous labels)

4: He recently went on record as saying that bassists are failed guitarists. In which case, what are failed bassists? (needless to say, Jeff is a bassist)

5: ‘Surgical Steel’ came out and blew everyone away. Is it too early to ask about a new album?

6: Does Bill Steer really like playing death metal still? Or does he just have an uncanny talent for writing good tunes, and his heart still rests with Firebird and wah pedals and the harmonica, and does Carcass for shits and giggles?

7: Tempted to do a ‘doom’ album with Ken on drums? As that’s the only speed he can play after the stroke?

8: What does he prefer now – tours and fest slots with big paydays, or the early days when he had dreadlocks and was neck-deep in the burgeoning grind movement?

9: Who were his most hated labelmates, back when he was on Earache?

10: When are you going to apologise to Sam Bean from Berzerker about releasing ‘Swansong’? I mean, fucking really

11: Ken composed some top shit, like ‘Symposium of Sickness’ on Necroticism. Seeing as though Jason Becker can compose symphonies using only a straw in his mouth, is Ken going to return to the composition process at all?

12: Ken, Ken, Ken, Ken, Ken?

13: Was this comeback ever meant to be this comprehensive – new album and world touring? Or was it just going to be a few festivals? Why’d they change their minds?

14: When you were at the peak of your career and Britpop was possessing every human soul on the British Isles, did you ever stare at yourself in the mirror in the dead of night and go “who….am….I”

15: When are you going to admit that the real reason Colin Richardson finished work on ‘Surgical Steel’ early was because you’re insufferable pricks and he couldn’t bear to work with you any more?

16: Which would prefer to set on fire: Dig Pearson, or Nottingham Rock City?

17: Why no more Michael Amott? Really, like the real reason, not that “he’s too busy with Arch Enemy” nonsense you keep trotting out

18: Ever tempted to get drunk and go back into the studio and belt out a new album with the sound and skill and performance of ‘Reek of Putrefaction’? It’d be ace, you could be super hammered and wouldn’t even have to rehearse. You wouldn’t even need a producer

19: The facebook announcements from the Carcass page are sarcy as fuck. It’s you writing that stuff, isn’t it Jeff ?

20: If you received a penny from every track that has been released by every metal band ever that has either ripped off your music or lyrical approach, what would you do with the tsunami of bling?

***

And we laughed and laughed and laughed.

Of course a lot of those questions weren’t serious, I explained. Use your discretion. But Jeff is a cunt, and he totally knows it. Everyone knows it. If you ask him that question, every musician and record label he’s every worked will probably be queuing to high-five you the next day. Totes. Digby Pearson will probably buy you a box of chocolates to thank you for being the one to finally say it. But they’ll be cut-price chocolates cause Dig’s a cunt too**.

It was all a good laugh, the kind you have with a mate and you both get in touch with your immature side and milk it for all it’s worth. I left it there and kind of forgot about it until I received the voicemail message from Nick.

I called him straight back.

“You did WHAT?!”

God I wish I could paraphrase what Nick said. I nearly had a prolapse I was laughing so hard.

The gist of it was that Jeff was on the interview circuit for Australia and they were all phoners (phone interviews). Nick was first up, and the call was at some ungodly hour. There was a bit of fluff chat between them before they got going, where Jeff was having a genial whinge about how hard it was for everyone to do these interviews at this time of day, and how it’d be OK if the interviewers didn’t all ask the same questions over and over again. I mean, Jeff had said, it’s as if no one’s even heard of Google.

The seed I had planted in Nick’s mind caught the sunlight and pushed out of the soil.

Nick explained to me that he felt Jeff was throwing down the gauntlet, and that if he didn’t rise to the occasion then he’d get just another interview filled with the usual press-release scraps. It was only when the question was halfway out his mouth, that he realized how badly it was going to go. But it was too late to turn back:

“Well, there are plenty of questions I could ask that I’m pretty sure haven’t been asked before” he said, pausing, “like ‘Why are you such a cunt?’”

When Nick told me that, I was so overwhelmed by joy and wonder that my facial expression was the same as the 6 year-old girl meeting the unicorn in this picture:

 

 

unicorn

 

“And then there was silence,” Nick said. “Just SI-LENCE.”

I can’t even begin to fathom what must have been going through Jeff Walker’s head at that moment. Here he was, on the phone at ridiculous o’clock, being called a ‘cunt’ straight off the bat by an Australian from the same bastard convict country that stole his band’s backdrop the last time they were out here.

I know what was going through Nick’s head though, because he told me: “He said nothing. NOTHING. And I was shitting myself like, oh no, I’ve lost the interview. He’s going to hang up any second, and I’ve got no idea what I’m going to run… and it’s a goddamn cover story and we print in three days! Fuuuuuuuuck.”

But Jeff didn’t hang up. To his credit, he came back with something like, “Well, you could ask that and you might think you’re trying to be funny but maybe you wouldn’t be as funny as you think you’re being, now would you?”

From there, Jeff actually opened right up and Nick managed to retrieve an absolute killer interview. Jeff was right, of course – most interviews in metal are conducted by halfwits and student writers who don’t do any research, are disastrously under-qualified to handle the interview and appear entirely unaware of how the internet might help them to write better interviews. They ask bands the same boring questions over and over without even realizing that it’s the exact same material that appeared in Terrorizer last month, Kerrang the week before that and some Spanish blog the week before that – all of which they’d know if they’d just googled ‘Carcass interview’.

Despite Nick’s obvious chutzpah, I’d like to think I had some part in bringing this interview to life. With that almighty opening question, Jeff was allowed to give his famously-sarcastic wit full reign and although he was justifiably sharp in places, the interview was exceptionally candid. Nick managed to goad Jeff into giving figures, money figures, for how much their label was investing in their latest album and how much they’d made from their latest record so far. Jeff had swatted at the topic laconically with, “My mother told me it’s rude to talk about money” before opening up and declaring that the band had made around $250,000 so far from the Surgical Steel release and the related tour. Amazing. BANDS NEVER EVER GIVE THOSE FIGURES.

Nick didn’t get everything I wanted out of Jeff, who didn’t apologize for ‘Swansong’, for example, but I didn’t care. I was stunned at the information Nick did manage to get. The resulting article was a triumph. Not only did Jeff not terminate the call after that tricky start but he also spoke for an extra ten minutes over the allowed timeframe.

 

But that’s not all.

 

Remember how I said earlier that Nick wasn’t supposed to be doing the interview and how he’d been dumped in the shit at the last minute because the writer he wanted had backed out on him? Well, it turns out that Nick found out that the journo in question interviewed Carcass anyway… for a rival publication. This came out when Nick saw the interview schedules for Carcass – “Nick from Heavy” was listed first and the journo who’d pulled out because of blah-blah-blah was on straight after him… writing for someone else.

After the interviews, Nick emailed the journo to slam him… only to discover someone had beaten him to it. The writer didn’t care that he’d been busted pulling out to do the interview for another mag but he did care that his interview with Jeff went so badly that he didn’t actually have a story. Apparently he’d opened with a question about whether their old guitarist Michael Amott might work with them again in the future and Jeff had exploded: “HE’S NOT IN THE BAND! HE WASN’T ON THE ALBUM! WE’RE NOT PLAYING WITH HIM! HE’S NOT COMING BACK!!! EVER!!!!”

Then Jeff slammed the phone down. 

***

*Here’s the full Drew Dedman deadline deal. I can’t help laughing every time I read it. It’s a transcript of the editor frantically trying to get this dude to submit his piece. This is what it’s like trying to get anything done with the metalheads in this country, in a nutshell:

Jan 2 – briefed in writing (email) after a personal phone call to every columnist to get them to OK the brief and deadline. They all said OK, no problem.

Jan 9 (to all columnists) – “Columns must be in by tomorrow morning”

Jan 14 – “Drew, I really need that Strings and Skins piece. It’s well overdue, mate. How’s it going? Nick “

Jan 16 – “Drew, your article is now one full week overdue. I’ve sent texts and emails and have called you but all to no avail. Can you please tell me when we’re going to receive it? This is now an urgent matter. Nick “

Jan 21 – Still no response. Email to Publisher – “I’ve found a replacement for Drew Dedman, who is still avoiding all contact. I’d like to switch over immediately. Are you cool with this?”

Publisher: “Go for gold”

Feb 10 – still no contact. Drew Dedman removed from the Facebook magazine contributor group.

With the magazine on the stands for four weeks, Drew finally got in touch with the publisher and asked why he’d been removed from the Heavy contributors group on Facebook. It was the first time he’d contacted the mag since he’d been replaced and it was two months past his original deadline to the day.

 

** Just kidding. Both Jeff and Dig are lovely people. The full interview with Jeff appears in HEAVY magazine issue 10.

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the Infamous Manifesto Militia PDF

*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>:

<link removed>

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).”

<sigh>

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!

look

look at my farkin 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.

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how I like to independently release material

A friend called Pip – hi Pip! – is just nigh on completing his new album with his freakcore band aAnd? This post started as a personal letter to Pip, but it has information which I get asked for a bit so I figured I’ll slap it up here for people to refer to.

For some strange reason Pip asked me for advice on how to independently release a metal CD. Why he asked me for advice, I’ll never know. I cocked up aspects of the release of ‘The Floating World’ as my previous post described and I’m far from the model of success as an independent artist. Nevertheless, I love giving advice and pretending that I know things so here we go.

aAnd? are at the following stage: they have an album’s worth of recorded material, a bucketload of promo shots, great artwork and logo, sexy skintight morph suits that they wear when they play live, and some top industry contacts. So all they need is to get their music out cheaply and professionally, make sure it’s promoted (with the aim of selling as much of their music as possible), and avoid getting torrented into nothingness. Simples.

Getting a CD made

Once the music and artwork is done, this tends to be the simplest part. I use a bunch of dudes out in Asia called Mobineko. They are cheap and horrifyingly efficient. Go to the quote machine on their page and check it out. I tend to go for the  12cm standard CDs with the 10mm jewel case, and my last CD had an 8pp stapled booklet with double-sided rear tray. But go with whatever floats your boat. It is entirely possible that there is a CD production place in your vicinity that can do you a better deal but if you can’t be arsed searching for them, Mobineko are pretty sweet.

If you’re wondering how to get your spunky fab artwork onto the CD and into the booklet, then you’ll find there’s a section of the website that has photoshop PSD templates that you can download. Most online CD manufacturers have templates on their website to use but if they don’t, the ones on the Mobineko website are perfect. May I suggest that you download the templates before creating your album artwork? Even though I thought my dimensions were perfect, I had to redo everything once I tried fitting stuff onto the template. I’ll assume Lewis (reader note: Metal Hammer art editor) is doing your artwork so I don’t have to remind him to do the work in CMYK. And if I can give one awesome bit of advice for the artwork then it’s this: once you’ve done it, take it to a local printer and get him to print proofs. Make sure that your fonts and colours actually work when they are printed out onto paper and cardboard. This may cost between 10-20 quid, but it’s the best insurance you’ll ever have. You don’t want to be getting a box of CDs from the factory after spending hundreds and be bricking yourself wondering how they’re going to look.

Something you need to be aware of: if you intend to actually distribute your CDs through retailers, a barcode needs to be on the artwork. Don’t ask me any more questions about this, because I totally skipped it. After the experience I had with retail on my first Senseless album, I’m happy never to do retail again. It’s an ego boost, but nothing more. You probably won’t get any retail distro as an independent anyway, unless you cosy up to one of your PHD guys. Once distributors and the outlet take their percentage of your sale, you get very little return back. And half the time, your stock doesn’t get displayed on the shelves. Then after a few months, the stock is returned to you and you are charged for it being returned thus obliterating any profit you made from retail in the first place. Having said that, Australia’s JB HIFI is a fair mainstream retailer to get stocked at if you can find who does their metal ordering and you want to shift some units. I can’t speak for any other country though.

How many CDs and promos to print? Oh jeez, I don’t know. I’d suggest getting at least 50 promos done, and no more than 100 CDs at this point. This is on the assumption that you’ll be playing live monthly and running a merch desk at shows, as well as selling CDs online. If you don’t intend to play live and don’t want to set up a webstore, then make it 50 CDs and 50 promos. If you guys are actually going to go balls-and-all with the promos and foist them onto all the nobs that you know then print 100 of them.

Selling the music

What do you need if you’re going to sell music? You need an entity for people to give money to. In this day and age, this means PayPal. So open a PayPal account if you haven’t already. If you haven’t got a PayPal account open, then you have a decision to make: you can either register a business and open a business PayPal account which you can all access, or you can just nominate the most trustworthy bandmember and use their PayPal account. The problem here is that you’re all English which means that one of you will probably try and steal all the money, or ‘borrow’ large chunks of it with false promises of “I’ll pay you guys back, honest”. You all seriously need to invade another country and drop all your scum off there. NOT ‘STRAYA, WE’RE FULL (of bogans).

The pro’s of using a business account is that this is the most fair and transparent way of sharing and keeping band earnings. The problem with this method though is you’ll need to register a business, open a business bank account, declare earnings and submit tax. Knowing and loving England as I do, this will be difficult and expensive. The best halfway point is to create a PayPal account using a joint band email address you all have access to, and nominate the most trustworthy bandmember’s bank account. So if he rips you all off, at least you can log into PayPal and confirm that the money is indeed gone.

Selling music in an electronic format is easy: go to CDBaby, open an account, pay a small one-off fee, upload music and artwork, update profile, DONE </Gordon Ramsay>. This now puts you onto Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Pandora, and all the millions of other online retailers selling music. You can also link your Facebook page to your CDBaby account so anyone visiting your Facebook page can click a button and buy your album.

CDBaby doesn’t put your music onto bandcamp however. I recommend you create a bandcamp profile and upload music there as well, because a lot of people actually buy their music from that site. I didn’t create a profile there when I released the last Senseless CD, and it was the first site a lot of Europeans and Scandinavians went to when they wanted to purchase an electronic copy. It sells high-quality files like wavs or flacs, and you can nominate your prices and even sell merch from there. You can also have your entire album stream from there, and I find it’s useful to have the one location that streams your music also making it available for purchase. There is no upfront fee, they will just keep the profits from 1 out of every 10 sales for themselves.

Selling physical CDs online is slightly harder, but you are capable chaps and I’m sure you can nut it out if you put your mind to it. What I did was this:  I created a website (domain name and hosting from fasthosts.co.uk ). Then I created paypal BUY buttons – you do this by heading to paypal, logging into your account, looking up how to create paypal BUY buttons, and following the instructions. This generates some HTML code for you. Then I created a sales page for my website and stuck the HTML code for those buttons in it. BOOM! People can now visit my website and order a CD just by pushing a button. I get an email (which I’ve linked to my phone alerts so I get a funky ‘ping’ whenever someone buys my shit), and the email has the name and the address of the person to send the CD to. At that point, the money is already in my paypal account.

The other way of selling CDs online is to use consignment services – I know CDBaby offer one. The problems here are quantity. You either have to get them to hold a LOT of stock, or (in the case of CDBaby) they can only hold around 5 CDs at a time maximum….again, until you start shifting big figures. CDBaby also have a service where they can print CDs for you and ship on your behalf….I’m not sure, but it might be a service where they print on request (in other words whenever they receive a CD sale). This keeps them from having to warehouse large amounts of stock. This may be worth looking into. It wasn’t an attractive option back when I released ‘The Floating World’ but they are updating their service all the time, so it might be a good option now.

Can’t work out how much to sell your CD for? Okay, work out maximum postage for a CD (I recommend sending it as a ‘gift’ on the customs form so that your customer never has to pay customs or import taxes when they receive it). Now get the number of CDs you printed, work out what 80% of that is. Get the total cost of CD printing, divide that 80% figure into it. The result plus the cost of maximum postage equals your minimum price. If you’re looking at adding more onto that, I recommend doubling the result of the CD printing cost divided by the 80% of CDs produced: this means that costs for your next production run are taken care of once you sell out of the current run. And if you’re wondering why I nominated 80% of CDs produced instead of 100%, it’s because you will lose, damage, or give away around 20% of your CDs.

Promoting your music

I talked in my previous blog post about mistakes I made promoting my last release, so it might be worthwhile to check that out as an example of the “don’ts”. In a nutshell, you need to create the most amount of noise possible about your release in a short space of time and you need to create that noise for two months before and two months after your release. I can confirm that doing a ‘slow burn’ release where it is promoted in various ways spread out over a year does not work. And there are many traditional areas of media where you won’t be covered unless a good percentage of their peers are already talking about you.

Have you guys got a bio in PDF format that you can either send out, or print and mail? I believe I may have said one or two words on this topic previously. When you’re reviewed, people will want to know your label status and where they can buy your material so make sure that information is included.

Media needs to be courted. The old school radio and print media like news, and you will notice it’s called ‘news’ and not ‘olds’. If they don’t get the drop on all the blogs and websites then they tend not to give a fuck. By this point you should have your website up, your Facebook page and bio completed, and your CDs sitting in the house. It’s no use courting the press with jagermeister at the Crowbar and Big Red if you don’t have music and websites to immediately point them at. They tend not to wait for bands to get all their materials assembled.

I recommend getting online and putting together a list of at least 50 media outlets and high profile blogs, and mailing a physical promo and press sheet to each one. If you know anything about who you’re sending the press pack to then tailor it for them to increase the chances of them actually paying attention to it. Try and give the print media around three weeks advantage over online media. Once the press packs are sent, wait a fortnight and then start contacting the recipients to make sure they’ve received them. If they haven’t, keep hassling or resending promo until they either confirm they’ve received it, or tell you to go away. The majority of media – if left to their own devices – will not review the materials they receive unless given a nudge. And don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because you know the person you’ve sent material to, or people at that company, that they’ll do you a favour and review you. Even friends will forget about the CD you’ve given them unless you give them a few gentle reminders. And I also recommend hand-numbering the CDs – again, so that it creates the impression that they’re special or limited, and also to imply that they’re watermarked to discourage uploading.

YouTube is the most popular place for people to hear new songs, so pick the top two or three tracks and get a YouTube vid up there. If you can actually do a music video, then ace! Otherwise just do what every other shmuck does and stick a band pic or album cover to the song and upload it. Don’t put the entire album there, for god’s sake. You want to get people interested enough to buy it.

For doing PR online, use Haulix. This is what all the big boys use: you create an online digital promo so that reviewers who want to listen to your album can listen but can’t download, or the download is watermarked so you can find out who leaked. Don’t provide your mp3s out of a dropbox willy-nilly, as you will get torrented into a living death and your sales will immediately stop. I’m totally not kidding. Once the eastern Europeans get a hold of your mp3s then it’s game over and your online sales will cease.

I’ve mentioned before, but I believe the quality of your press is better than the quantity when it comes to online sales. The temptation may be to scattergun press releases and mp3s to every single blog, facebook review page, and website in the hope that you get a large difficult-to-avoid online presence. I find however that small blogs and review pages usually offer crap reviews, don’t help sales, and offer a high torrent risk. Give me two or three large magazine or website reviews over ten small blogs any day.

I had an idea – or I heard or read it somewhere else, I forget – but that idea is to pirate your own stuff first. Upload your entire album, but tweak each mp3 file so that the music fades out halfway through each track for thirty seconds and there is a big voiceover sales pitch telling people where your website is and where they can buy the music. If you get at least five up with different naming conventions and spread them across file-sharing and torrent networks then this can make life inconvenient for the casual pirate looking to rip off your stuff. You may get whiney little pin-dicked nerds whinging about how stupid it is to ruin your own tracks that way, but fuck them – they’re not going to buy your album anyway. They’re just going to pirate your work, write about how it sucks, then give it away to everyone for free before getting back to being spanked by Luke Berzerker in GT6 online. Congratulations on making a style of music whose demographic perfectly matches that of the people who understand how torrents work!

I’m seriously all out of advice.

**********

A thanks to Leon Macey for some of the advice that appeared above. The Final Torrent Solution initially appeared during a conversation with Pip….except we discussed distributing a virus instead of sales pitch/music files.  Finally, if you wish to check out aAnd? then head on over to their facialbook page.

20 inches of aAnd

aAnd? : Destined for greatness

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Gloria Cavalera’s Blog

Check it out at:

http://www.gloriacavalera.com/

For anyone unaware, Gloria is Max Cavalera’s wife and managed Sepultura and Sacred Reich during their glory days.

I first read this last year, and the impression I received was this was someone with some amazing stories to tell and knowledge to share but the writing let it down. It felt like a series of afterthoughts instead of entries or articles.

I had occasion to read back through it today and it’s much, much better. The writing and pics take you right to Ground Zero of metal in a very special time and place, and the industry knowledge she imparts is still relevant today.

…and before I forget, it’s best to read her blog from oldest to most recent posts.

update 1/10/14 : ah crap….a recent read of her blog indicates that it is going the way of 9/11 conspiracy theories with a good dollop of vaguebooking tendencies. “Ground Zero of metal” indeed. Reader beware.

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“Worst Promoter EVER” blog

I relish juicy tales of delicious misery, and after reading a few stories at Worst Promoter EVER I find myself rubbing my belly, smacking my lips, and declaring I couldn’t possibly fit anymore in.

Now in posting this link, I’m NOT saying that all promoters are bastards. I just like a good story is all, and….

…wait, am I validating myself?

Bollocks. Go enjoy.

http://worstpromoterever.blogspot.co.uk/

The World’s Worst Roadie

** update 29/12/2012 : I have been contacted by the subject of this article, who understandably was not enamoured with this story. He wanted me to take it down, or remove his identity. Anyone who has read this story would imagine that my response would be Get Bent….however, he DID ask around Christmas and I’ve a soft-spot for doing favours at this time of year. The article has been updated to obscure the subject’s identity.

I am a frustrated, shallow, shrivelled man of thwarted ambitions, and my greatest feat of creativity has been the internal monologue of victimisation that allows me to justify having enormous chips on both my shoulders. Naturally it follows that the only way I can make myself feel good is by stomping on others. So it goes that today I am taking great pleasure in smearing someone else’s reputation other than my own…a man who made the ghastly mistake of offering me help :

Behold, the World’s Worst Roadie…henceforth known as WWR.

 

 

* picture obscured to protect the identity of the useless

* picture obscured to protect the identity of the useless

 

 

‘Man’ might be pushing it too far. The dude was a child. We first crossed paths when Berzerker was looking for a drummer for a UK tour. Which tour and which year, I can’t remember. They’ve all blurred into one noisy, cold, miserable experience.  I was living in Bournemouth, England at the time and a friend mentioned that he knew a kid who could drum pretty fast. He gave me WWR’S details and seeing as though WWR was going to university in Bournemouth, I immediately caught up with him and checked him out.

As promised, he could drum pretty fast. I was impressed. Berzerker material is a whole other level of insane though, so I gave him three songs and asked him to learn them and show me his progress a week later. A week went by, and I didn’t hear from him. Then two weeks. Then three. The start of tour was only a few months away and no drummer had been finalised, so I wasn’t particularly enjoying the uncertainty. Then I got a text from WWR saying the following:

I think it’s time I said what’s on my mind, I don’t think I can do the tour and learn the material. Let me know if you can’t find anyone else though and I’ll see if I can help

I scratched my head over the message once or twice, showed it to Luke, laughed, then quickly forgot about it. We eventually decided on using David Gray again seeing as though he’d toured with us before and already knew the set. Additionally he and Matt (long-time Berzerker guitarist) both played in Akercocke together and so we kind of got a “package grind-unit” out of the two of them, and they could rehearse the set together outside of our once-weekly Berzerker rehearsals at Dave’s studio in Hounslow.

So I forgot about WWR until I got another message a few weeks out from tour. He contacted me out of the blue and wondered if I knew of any work going around Bournemouth as uni had finished for the year and he had time to kill. I asked if he wanted to come and roadie for us on the UK tour – we couldn’t pay him, but we could offer him a place to sleep and meals each day. He said yes.

A lot of people would read the above paragraph and think what kind of tightarses are you? You want a roadie but you won’t pay for him? What kind of a deal is that? So let me explain. We had two bands buy-on to this tour. They were Nekkrosis from the UK and Miksha from Norway. When a band buys-on to a tour, they or their label pay us one or two thousand pounds to ensure their band is supporting the headliner for the entire tour. There are numerous benefits to this, the obvious being that they have an audience to try and win over each night that is larger than if they were playing by themselves. Their press kit then gets to throw in “supported Berzerker around the UK” and there’ll usually be a line or two about their show in all the reviews and mentions of the tour.

There are additional benefits above and beyond those mentioned. When you’re a buy-on band, this is what you do: you impress everyone on tour, you meet promoters and try and set up gigs, you meet club owners and try and set up gigs, you meet booking agents and try and set up tours of your own or festival appearances. You meet the press, win them over, get emails and phone numbers, you push for interviews, reviews, and features. You meet labels, buy them a drink, angle either for a deal now or down the track, or to work with one of their bands. You meet managers, and see if they’ll manage you. You meet all the fanzines and blog writers who are out there to cover the main band, shake some hands, and win them over to your cause. And you thought tours were just tits and jagermeister.

 

Life-blood

On the other hand, IV’s and jagermeister comprise 92% of touring

 

I see these additional benefits as the ones which really count. The object of any band is to get straight from a money-losing status (the support band) to a money-making status (the headline band) as soon as possible. If you have a firm handshake and the ability to make friends then all you need is to buy on to one of these tours and off you go.

WWR played in a couple of bands, and I’d heard he had just replaced the drummer for UK death metallers Corpsing. He was coming onto tour in exchange for a couple of hours work each night. Nekkrosis and Miksha had paid over a thousand pounds for those additional benefits I mentioned above. He was getting them for free. I made that clear to him pre-tour and he was excited. As I say, it’s an opportunity. Go on tour as a roadie for two weeks with a backpack full of press packs and promo, and fucking well go for it if you have the band’s blessing. At the end of those two weeks you can now do your own national tour and have reasonable coverage for it and maybe even reach the Holy Grail – get paid for it. That was the idea anyway.

Berzerker normally doesn’t use roadies and I would not have invited WWR onboard to do anything, but he was actually getting me out of a fix. Dave and Matt, as well as asking for performance fees, were demanding a roadie for the tour. It was a reasonable demand, they’re professional musicians and they have roadies for Akercocke. It’s one of the first things most bands get before they’re even signed, a roadie to make sure their gig goes as well as possible and all onstage fuck-ups are unfucked as quick as possible. But as I said, we weren’t a normal band. We were complete bastards and didn’t trust anyone, even each other. I think our one lone previous experience of using a roadie ended up with our mixer and sampler getting exploded in Canberra. Luke was loath to let anyone near our equipment since then. Sometimes we were so tightarse we didn’t even hire a soundman. Luke would stand up near the mixing desk for the first song with a remote mic, get the mix as good as possible, and do the rest of the show from the stage. We never used roadies.

I asked Dave and Matt how much their Akercocke roadies charged and I think it may have been something like 50-70 pounds for a show? I forget the exact number but Luke and I were like, fuck that. We could hire another musician for that amount of money. So we said we’d get back to them and figure something out. But as it got closer to tour Dave and Matt both really got on my case about it. This wasn’t a problem for Luke because he was back in Australia, but I was in England rehearsing with the guys and had to hear their complaints in person. Dave especially is a hard person to say ‘no’ to.

I must explain Dave Gray from Akercocke. To me, the man is evidence that droit du seigneur is alive and well in England. You could surmise from his bearing that he is the love child of a royal tryst and Christopher Lee. The fella is proper and friendly and reliable, but you always have the feeling that one step wrong and you’ll be sent to the Tower of London to think shit through. I remember before our  first tour together we had worked out his performance per show fee, then totted that up into a total for the tour. A week or two out from tour a couple of shows were dropped, so I tried to adjust his total tour fee down accordingly. Dave laughed in contempt at my attempted negotiation and in a My-Will-Be-Done voice simply said “NO“. You know how in some novels, a minor character is revealed to be a descendant of the King, and he suddenly speaks with the righteousness of a major dynastical line that resonates with a thousand years of ruling? Yeah, that. Just a simple controlled “No” but it actually had me waking up in cold sweats for a few years.

“Sorry I’m a bit tired today…had that dream where Dave said ‘No’ to me ”

DAVID

“…and don’t make me say it again”

Other drummers, I would have told them to quit being rockstars and fucking well roadie their own shit especially if they were getting a show fee. But these guys were from a band on the same level as ours, from the same record label, with their shit sorted better than us, and we were on their home turf. And I didn’t want to be on the receiving end of a “No” from the ancients again, so when WWR offered his half-hearted services I jumped at the chance of bringing him onboard. I didn’t care that he’d failed the biggest character test – reliability – the first time I’d met him. I could tell Matt and Dave that they had a roadie and performance fees, and know they’d be happy.

So the tour started in Brighton in the middle of a hurricane. I remember the bus and trailer were almost getting pushed uphill by the force of the wind. There was force-10 blasting going on inside the venue too. We smashed out our show. WWR arrived halfway through the gig and stood up the back of the crowd. He had been at a festival and was late. That was understandable, things are always a bit up in the air at the first show of tour. Hell, even bands are usually late to the first show of the tour, so I could forgive him that. He apologised and said he’d be on the ball from the next show. I said no problem. I advised him that he had to be side-stage or onstage ready to go each night, to plug leads in, pick microphones up, fetch water, and help in any way possible and he needed to be armed with gaffer tape, a knife, and a towel all of which we provided. I told him he also had to help with load-in, and packing up and loading out. I introduced him to our hopeless tour manager Nobby “I Owe Sam Bean 4000 pounds” Styles, then I sent him upstairs to get some food.

Luke was the first to ask. “Who’s your little ginger mate?”
“That” I said, “is our roadie WWR.”

I noticed the same expression creep across everyone’s face when I said that. Roadies are normally very grizzled matter-of-fact down-to-earth guys who are quick to introduce themselves and get on with making themselves useful. WWR just kind of crept around and didn’t introduce himself to anyone. You get what you pay for, I guess. He looked like we’d abducted a schoolkid and brought him on tour, and he didn’t talk. He had his dinner and found himself a berth on the Skyliner bus we were travelling on and went to sleep. All three bands on the tour were travelling on the bus and there wasn’t enough space for everyone, so a few of the guys from the support bands slept in the lounge up the back and downstairs.

*Note: I just had my usual call with Luke where I verify story details with him. All he had to offer was: “I do not remember this guy at all”

So the next day, we’re at the Nexus in Southampton for our gig. I had a blistering hangover from the night before. Load-in into the venue was happening. I went to help but the lovely dudes from Miksha and Nekkrosis stopped me: “Don’t worry about it, we’ve got this”. They loaded the entire backline up onto stage. I saw someone help Dave with his drums. I looked for WWR. He’d missed load-in. My girlfriend at the time and myself got the merch stand up. WWR sidled in. I had a go at him for missing load-in, and he made some excuse about not realising it was happening. I introduced him to Dave, and told Dave that WWR would help him roadie his kit. I explained to him that WWR was drumming for Corpsing in an attempt to lend this waif some credibility. I remember Dave looking directly at WWR and saying in a The-Fate-of-the-Kingdom-Is-In-Your-Hands voice “Corpsing, eh? Those are some big shoes to fill. Very big shoes”. I left them to it.

So we played our Nexus gig. It went fairly seamlessly until the end of the set just before the encore. My bass strap broke during the last song, and I had to finish the song standing on one leg Masai-style with the bass balanced on the other leg while I did vocals. I peeped out of the corner of my eyes. Neither WWR nor tour manager Nobby, who were both standing right next to me, noticed or did anything.  At the end of the song, I kicked Nobby and screamed for gaffer tape. He went and grabbed some. I needed to cut old tape off my bass before reattaching the strap and I asked WWR if he had a knife. He said yes. I asked for it. He said it was on the bus. The bus of course was locked during gigs.

I was dumbstruck for a minute before saying “Well it’s not much good there, is it?”
I ended up just trying to tape the entire bass to myself to make it through the encore.

WWR disappeared for load-out, and again the opening bands did everything for us. One or two of them asked who that friend of mine was, the quiet ginger kid who stood around, ate our food, and slept on the bus? I explained he was our roadie, but I was starting to feel self-concious. Tours are lean machines and every single space on the bus is for people earning their place. My girlfriend was a small chick, and she was setting up our merch stand and looking after that every night and pulling her weight. The opening bands were roadying for us, and this was on top of looking after all their own shit, providing backline, and paying to be on tour. This grown boy WWR was loafing, had barely introduced himself to anyone on tour, and was simply not helping. He was becoming an embarrasment.

Next gig, Exeter at the Cavern Club. WWR went missing again for load-in and load-out. Didn’t help with the merch stand. I think I’d left him in charge of it, came back half an hour later and he’d wandered off. Just left it unmanned. I spotted him during the show right up the back where he could be of no possible use whatsoever. When I confronted him after the gig he said there wasn’t enough space on stage to wait. This was despite all the other bands having people just at the doorway at the side of stage, standing there ready to help. And we had seen sights on the road such as Skinless’ soundman onstage with a mixer held in his lap crouched between an amp and a wall while the rest of the venue tore itself apart, so we knew what was and wasn’t possible. Luke and I had already had a conversation between us earlier that night, angry that WWR was taking up bus space and offering nothing for it. Most of the guys on tour hadn’t spoken to him, and he definitely wasn’t making inroads with any promoters or club owners to further his own cause. We had taken dudes on tour who turned out to be legends who did us proud. This guy was not one of them. Even Matt was picking up on it, and he normally noticed nothing other than beer and his guitar for entire tour lengths.

“So who’s that little friend of yours, Sam?” snickered Matt. “Who’s your mate?”
He’s not my fucking friend!” I snapped.

Later that night, I spoke to WWR and told him he was on his last chance. He had to load-in and load-out. He had to be on stage when we were playing. He had to help Dave set up and  break down his drum kit. Tour was for working and getting shit done, not for standing around watching other people do things. WWR apologised, said he still didn’t have his head on straight, said he’d make more of an effort.

Although the tour went for another week and a half, the next show was in Derby. That was WWR’s last day on tour.

He missed load-in again. All set up happened without him. I was not happy. He stood in the middle of the floor during soundcheck and critiqued the mix. I reminded him we were already sorted for soundmen and he needed to be doing the job we were not-paying him for. I spoke to him again before the gig reminding him to be side-stage for the show. The dude just nodded and said OK, but I’m not sure if he understood. His eyes just had this vacant look you get from goldfish who have been fed a little too much fish-food. During our set we were in the middle of ‘Burnt‘ and my microphone fell off its stand halfway through my vocals. I looked sidestage. WWR was not there. Later during the same song there’s a techno break where I don’t have to play bass and I refastened the microphone. I looked out into the crowd. WWR was right in the middle of the crowd, talking to some blonde chick. That did it. When the song ended, I announced into the microphone:

WWR, YOU ARE OFF THE TOUR. GET YOUR SHIT AND FUCK OFF”

Despite being addressed over a PA cranked to death-metal volumes, he didn’t seem to notice he was being spoken to. It goes without saying that he wasn’t around to help break down or load out after the show. He had disappeared. I was packing things up and fuming.

“Sam”, Dave said to me in a Give-Unto-Each-Villager-An-Oxen-And-Three-Chickens voice “…I think it’s time to let WWR go”.

“No fucking kidding” I snarled. I was pissed.

We loaded out, packed up, and grabbed showers. Then Luke and I hunted for WWR so we could make sure he knew he was sacked. One of the opening bands told us he was already in the bus. We marched on. I found him asleep on one of the top-front chairs which doubled as a bed. I was momentarily stuck for what to do.

“Oh. He’s asleep” I told Luke.

“Not for long”, Luke replied. He went back to his bunk, pulled out a five foot long red bag weighted down with bottles of Jack Daniels, dragged it back to us, and dropped it right on WWR’s head. He woke up.

“Sorry about that, didn’t see you there” said Luke, and left me to it.

I forget exactly what I said to WWR, but it was pretty rough. I told him he was an embarrassment, that I’d never seen anyone so slack in the industry, that I was ashamed to be known as the guy that brought him on tour. I took him through his transgressions one-by-one. It took me about five minutes of monologue and every time WWR tried to defend himself, I’d rip into him harder. He’d been given warnings, he’d been told what was expected of him. I was told by some eavesdroppers afterwards that I sounded scarier and more serious than when I was actually doing a gig. At the end of the talk I told him to get off the bus and make his own way back to London. Now. It was midnight and during winter so it was pretty cold out there. He packed his stuff and got off the bus. No trains were running at that time of night and he didn’t have any money. I didn’t care. I told the other bands there were now a few spare berths up the front then went to bed.

After I went to sleep, Nobby the tour-manager let WWR back on the bus to wait out the night in the downstairs lounge and then gave him twenty pounds for a train home. I ripped into Nobby when I found out. I felt that WWR was cheated of the valuable life experience of finding his way home from a distant location with no money. This may be why Nobby short-changed me around four-thousand pounds at the end of tour. When I chased him for the money he told me a story about his wife going to hospital. Then he took a job in Europe, stopped answering his phone, and just disappeared. I never heard from him again.

I bumped into WWR a year or so later in a pub in Bournemouth. He seemed happy to see me and wanted to tell me about his band who had just recorded in Poland. I didn’t want to speak to him. I’d had a conversation not long before with a known figure amongst London bands who had relayed the following to me:

“You know WWR, yeah? The kid you took on tour? He doesn’t like you guys. You kicked him off one of your tours, yeah? He’s been going around telling everyone all of Berzerker hated him because he was pulling girls every night and you weren’t. So you got jealous and kicked him off the tour.”

 

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Blue balls make you brutal

postscript:

I realise that I talk about ‘offenses’ committed by this guy on tour as if they were grievous. If you haven’t been on tour then you probably don’t realise that it’s a very different environment culturally, and the work-ethic is a very big part of the environment. If you’re in the headlining band then you’ve got a bit of leeway to be slack. If you’re anyone else, you work and if you don’t work then you better have one charming goddamn personality or you will stick out like dog’s balls. Therefore, here’s a list of the minimum of what’s expected of you if you go on tour with a band. I’m aware that shit changes totally with professional tours, and that roadies have contracts and that responsibilities are strictly delineated between crew…so this is for everyone else below that ‘pro’ level:

  • Load-in and load-out. At the very least, do that for your band. Most people do it for all bands on the tour
  • Help set up the merchandise stand and help man it sometimes (if there’s a dedicated merch guy, ask if he/she needs help)
  • Work out what the deal is for food (PD’s, or if it’s being served) and if possible relay it to the rest of the band. You should not have to be told this from the band itself. They are not there to help make things easier for you
  • Work out what the schedule for the show is. You should not have to be told this by the band either
  • If there’s nothing to do, find something to do. If there’s still nothing to do, ask someone if they need help. If there’s still nothing to do and you want to go away and do something, let people know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. You never just disappear
  • When the gig happens you are on the side of stage, behind the stage, or in a pinch, minding the merch table. If a cymbal stand falls, you are there to catch it. If a lead falls out, you plug it back in.
  • if you’re a legend on tour, it reflects well on you. But if you’re lazy, it reflects badly on your band
  • Be resourceful and helpful. Start of tour and all the merch boxes don’t fit into the trailer? Go buy garbage bags, load the merch into them, and squeeze them into the trailer. Promoter orders general food when all the opening bands have finished and the headliners are about to go on? Go and put some of the food aside for the headliners and stash it somewhere where it won’t get nabbed. Be helpful and resourceful

Lastly, the best dude we over took on the road? To my mind it was Pete Theobalds, the ex-Akercocke bassist. He came on tour out of the blue for no money, just to help out Dave and Matt on our third UK tour. He worked nonstop above and beyond the call of duty, and was a joy to be around during an exceptionally stressful tour. One of these days I will write an entire article about wonderful people and Pete will probably be a big part of that. But today, I just wanted to hate on people and it was WWR’s turn to shine.

Tagged , , ,

Publish And Be Damned

Subtle

Subtle

I believe I may have caught a record label trying to thieve money from me the other day. But first, a caveat:


When I started this blog I was determined to write about anything I wanted without being encumbered by industry politics or possible ramifications to me or my bandmates. So many things happened during both my time with The Berzerker and during the first release of The Senseless that I felt should be put on public record for everyone to know, namely how various industry figures conduct business. I believed that one of the upsides of The Senseless being unsigned was that I could now report or talk about whatever I wanted without worrying about sinking my own non-existent career, or taking any friends down with me. This time, I thought, I could name and shame any industry figures without a care in the world.


I still feel that way to a degree. For instance, I have an article about a well-known Norwegian band that has been in draft status for the last month entitled “The Biggest Dickheads In Metal”, with a list of their considerable transgressions. But a recent incident has occurred which has made me think twice about my ‘publish, and be damned’ approach.


This rethink is because the incident not only involves me and an entity with whom I have considerable history, but also three friends. While I mightn’t care about my future in music – indeed, I think making music works better with such a mindset – I’m sure they all care for theirs, so I’m writing this with as much tact as I can muster. Additionally, although I’m 99.9999% sure of what happened I will allow myself a tiny bit of doubt as to whether the interlopers in this tale are as venal as I feel they are. Therefore I will to present this tale without my usual eye for hyperbole, and merely try to represent what I found out and the ensuing communications with as little bias as possible. Fortunately, the mail I opened proceedings with is colorful enough to carry this story.


Enough caveats. Lets do this.


For those who aren’t already aware, The Senseless is an independent band. We are not on any label. We do not have management or any sort of representation. The ‘We’ I’m talking about are myself and Leon Macey, who drummed on the latest release ‘The Floating World’. My debut release ‘In the Realm of the Senseless’ was released by Anticulture Records in 2007, and I ended my contract with them by 2010 (which is another great story which will have to wait for another time). Since then, the band has been completely unaffiliated. Even the mixing and mastering of the latest release ‘The Floating World’ was done by Leon. The only outsiders who had anything to do with us were Ol Drake and Matt Wilcock, who traded off lightning guitar solos on one song : ‘Far From Over’. Ol Drake is from the band Evile on Earache Records. Matt was originally with Berzerker, moved on to Akercocke – both of them were Earache bands – and is currently with Ted Maul. So these guys constitute about twenty seconds of non-independence on one track on a thirty-something minute album.


Around the 25th of July, I was made aware that Earache Records were attempting to collect MCPS royalties for the Senseless track ‘In Our Hearts’. They had registered themselves as the Publisher of the track, and listed the composers as myself, Leon Macey, Ol Drake, and Matt Wilcock. MCPS is publishing, so they were trying to collect publishing royalties on a track I had composed and performed. I had received no communication on this. I contacted Leon Macey and Ol Drake. They had not been contacted about this either. I didn’t bother contacting Matt. I knew that he would have sent me a text if he’d known anything about this, probably indignant that anyone could possibly think my hack songwriting and guitar playing had come from him.


Earache had my email address. They had talked to me back in the days when I was in Berzerker and was on Earache Records. Why had they registered themselves as Publisher for one of my songs but didn’t tell me? Or any of the other composers? It was my band after all, isn’t that the done thing? They didn’t have a mailing address for me or bank account details, so how were they going to disburse royalties to me once collected? And could such an egregious error be innocently made? I checked everywhere online, and in no location anywhere was it stated – even by an erroneous website – that the composers and performers were anyone other than myself and Leon.


I went into a fit of rage lasting a few days, completely out of proportion to the small amount of publishing that was no doubt being claimed. On July 27th, I posted the following on my Facebook wall:


I have been alerted to quite possibly the most underhand act by a record label ever involving one of my bands, and I’ve seen some amazing ones in my time. Stay tuned.”


Naturally, some clarification from Earache was required. I don’t always send the smartest emails when I’m sizzling with fury, so I sent three prototype mails to Leon and asked him which one I should send. The first email was a heaving string of abuse (closing line: “I’m on the next plane over to beat the shit of your entire office. Not even Dan Hardy can save you, you inflatable cocks”). The second mail was a pisstake. The third mail was a serious one requesting that they amend the MCPS publishing details ASAP. Leon responded that the second mail would be best, with a dash of the third. I sent Dan Tobin at Earache Records the following mail:


“Subject: A chat about publishing
 

G’day, Sam Bean from Berzerker and the Senseless here. I’d like to congratulate you on licensing the latest Senseless album “The Floating World”!

That is why Earache is currently collecting MCPS for it, yes?

I decided it was finally time to start registering tracks with MCPS, and saw that you’re kind enough to be collecting for the song ‘In Our Hearts’ on behalf of Bean/Macey/Wilcock/Drake. This is despite the fact that the entire album is composed and performed purely by Bean/Macey, and the only appearance by Wilcock/Drake is guest solos ONLY ON THE TRACK ‘FAR FROM OVER’, which total to about twenty seconds of playing. To rephrase it, all guitar performances over thirty-something minutes that you hear – solos, rhythm, weird noises, etc – are mine, Samuel Robert John Bean’s. Except for a 20 second burst, generously donated with kind permission from the artists involved and their management.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I saw that Earache had taken the initiative and listed yourselves as Publisher! Obviously when you heard how utterly blastastic the album is, and how it reduces all modern metal to molten rubble, you knew that you just Had To Have It. And showing how proactive you are with publishing was a way of getting my attention! Shucks guys. You don’t have to try so hard. You know I’d love to work with you again.

Therefore, I am taking Earache listing themselves as Publisher of my independent track by my independent band featuring no performers currently on the label roster as your expressed desire to license The Senseless ‘The Floating World’ for an initial pressing of minimum 1000 copies. Please email me the licensing agreement ASAP so we can sign it and formalise this business arrangement which you have instigated. Then we can talk about press and promotion, further publishing opportunities, and me claiming mechanicals on that initial pressing.

yours faithfully,
Sam Bean

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 PS: OK, seriously now:- The Senseless “The Floating World” is fully composed and performed by Sam Bean and Leon Macey
– there is a 20 second contribution of duelling guitar solos from Matt Wilcock (not currently on Earache’s roster) and Ol Drake on the track “Far From Over”
– Earache have listed themselves as publisher with MCPS for the track ‘In Our Hearts’, and have listed the composers of the track as Macey/Bean/Drake/Wilcock
– Earache are not the publisher for the track ‘In Our Hearts’ and the composers for the track are Macey/Bean
– Earache need to remove themselves as publisher for the track, and remove Ol Drake and Matt Wilcock as composers
Can you sort that for me? Please let me know when that’s done. Ta”


Dan was out of the office for a few days so couldn’t instantly get back to me. When he did, he referred me instantly to their accounts guy Ashley. Ashley came back with this:


From: Ashley
To: Dan Tobin ; sam bean
Cc: Ol Drake
Sent: Thursday, 2 August 2012, 1:58
Subject: Re: a chat about publishing
Hi,
Earache were informed that Ol Drake performed on this recording and had an equal share with the three others in writing the music for the track as well. As Ol’s exclusive publisher we registered his share in the writing of the music for the track (12.5%) with MCPS when the work came up in our account with them suggesting that we might have an interest in it since our exclusive publishee was listed as a writer . . .
I’ve copied Ol on this email so he can confirm that he didn’t in fact write 1/4 of the music and then we’ll gladly withdraw or amend our claim.
Hope that clears up any confusion.
Ashley”


It didn’t clear up my confusion. Now I was even more confused. Who informed Earache as to the composers of my song? Was it actually anyone? Does that mean if one of the many voices in my head tells me that I composed Napalm Death’s back catalogue I can launch a publishing claim for it? And why was Ashley withdrawing the claim dependant on Ol confirming that he didn’t take a part in that track? Isn’t the onus on Earache to prove – despite all the evidence being to the contrary – that one of their artists was a composer on the track? Wouldn’t they at least establish contact with him to confirm whether or not he had? He is one of their biggest artists, after all. The music industry confuses me sometimes. Ol sent back this delightfully to-the-point mail:


” From: Ol Drake
To: Ashley ; Dan Tobin ; Sam Bean
Sent: Thursday, 2 August 2012, 3:03
Subject: Re: a chat about publishing

Hey all – I had no part in the writing of the record.
Ol Drake”


Case closed! Ol added another mail to me saying he never knew about it and would have requested the publishing change himself if he had known. I sent the following back to Earache:


” Sweet.
If you can also remove Matt Wilcock as a composer, that’d be tip-top. Let me know if you need contact details for him.
Thanks for the quick response guys, I appreciate it.
– Sam”


Well, that should have wrapped it up there. I even managed to be moderately polite about it. There was one last communication though, from Ashley:


“No problem . . .

once we remove our interest in the work there’s nothing more to do . .  I need to stress again that it wasn’t us that set the song up on MCPS’s system, we didn’t add anyone in the first place, we just got contacted by MCPS saying “One of ytour (sic) writers is on this work, are you claiming his share?” . .
will do what we can from here to withdraw our claim”


I had the full email trail open. I saw two sentences from Ashley and my eyes kept going from one to the other:


“we didn’t add anyone in the first place, we just got contacted by MCPS”…
“As Ol’s exclusive publisher we registered his share in the writing of the music for the track”…
“we didn’t add anyone in the first place”….
“we registered his share in the writing of the music for the track”…
“we didn’t add anyone”…
“we registered his share”….
“we didn’t add”…
“we registered”…


At this point, I gave up. I have a cool girlfriend I wanted to chat with, it was a rare sunny winters day, and there’s better things to do in life. I wrote this blog down and went outside and enjoyed myself instead. Is there a moral to this story? Not really. Maybe check publishing for your band if you’re independent. If you’re not claiming it, someone else might be. I could even say something pithy about this being the state of the music industry these days but nah. It has always been like this, as far as I know. That’s why I’m happy to be working outside of the industry, relying on the real world for an income. One of many reasons, anyway.


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