Metal Yoga With André Foisy #5

By: Posted in: featured, videos On: Monday, October 6th, 2014


André Foisy plays guitar in Locrian and is a certified yoga instructor who teaches in Chicago, including a monthly candlelit yoga event set to dark ambient metal. You can find his yoga teaching schedule and more information about him on his website, Facebook page, and you can find past instructional videos on his YouTube channel. In this post, he talks to Brittany McConnell (Wolvserpent) about her yoga teaching, her practice and what she listens to while doing yoga. You can find out more about her yoga practice on her website.

André: What led you to developing a yoga practice?

Brittany: I started practicing yoga because of a back injury as a teenager. I was working on a farm and threw my back out. A friend suggested I try yoga, that it might help. I started on my own with books and a few classes. Soon, I found a good class with a knowledgeable teacher and began going once a week for instruction. I saw improvement with my injury so I became more regular with my own practice at home.

André: Has your yoga practice changed the way that you think about and play music? If so, how?

Brittany: Over the years, playing music has come to feel like one of the yoga practices. Music, like yoga, operates on many levels – the physical, mental, emotional, instinctual, intellectual, energetic, etc. So, the practices have been very helpful in a practical sense – the physical practices tend to my body so that I am healthy and can play more efficiently with less pain or injury. The other practices tend to the other layers of existence. They have helped me to grow more sensitive to the way that music affects me. Practicing yoga has also made me more aware of my aim in playing music. Music has become, like yoga, a tool for gathering my fragmented, scattered attention and consolidating it so that I can direct that attention to what I will – in this case, a creative endeavor. Practicing yoga also reminds me of the need for community – for like-minded people to be together and feel free to express themselves. This has changed how I experience the music community as well.

André: Do you have any suggestions for Decibel readers who are interested in developing a yoga practice?

Brittany: Yes, do it! If anyone has that urge to investigate a yoga practice and what it might do for them, follow that urge. Find a good teacher, read some books, talk with friends who practice and ask to practice together. One of the best things to do is start by learning a few basic poses and incorporate them into your daily life. Develop a consistent practice for best results.

André: Do you think it’s important to find a good teacher?

Brittany: It is important to find a guide, someone who has been through some of the difficulties that comes with practice. A good teacher can help bypass some of the pitfalls of practice like injury, breakdowns, discouragement, etc. This person should be trustworthy so that you can confidently progress in practice.

André: Do you have any suggestions on how to find a good teacher?

Brittany: Sure, I would suggest to first ask around. If you know people who go to yoga classes, ask them about it – what they like/dislike about class. A good recommendation can be really helpful in finding a teacher that fits your needs. It might also be helpful to consider what you are looking for in a yoga practice. Make a list of why you want to try yoga (stress reduction, strengthening, flexibility, spiritual practice, self-inquiry, healing an injury, stamina, etc.). Or, you may not have a clear idea of why you want to try yoga and that’s okay. A sense of curiosity is very helpful in finding what you are looking. Search for yoga studios in your area. Browse websites – see how their presentation, language and mission statements fit with your views of the world and what you are looking for. Call the studio and ask questions. Tell them you are new to yoga and wanting to try it out. Most places will be so happy to talk to you and help you find a class that is appropriate. Many studios have classes specifically for beginners to introduce students to the practice with little or no previous experience.

And be brave – go try some classes. Grab a friend, if you can find a willing accomplice, and head to a class. Try a few teachers to see what different people have to offer. It’s helpful to attend class with the same teacher several times – they may be having an “off day” and it might be a different experience another time. A lot of finding a teacher is intangible. It’s like other relationships, in my experience. A lot of what makes things “click” cannot be spoken. There is a sort of rapport or there is not. You know when you have found your teacher.

André: How would you describe your teaching style?

Brittany: My teaching is anchored in the lineage of studentship, supported by intelligent alignment and offered up with humor and humility. I utilize both form and flow in my teaching: held poses, core work and vinyasa (moving from one pose to the next in succession). My teaching is rooted in a Yogic philosophy of intrinsic goodness which holds that the physical body is a vehicle for transformation, devotion, creativity, expression and service. I aim to honor each student and their needs – to meet each person where they are and see how these practices can serve them most effectively. I place an emphasis on the practice as sanctuary to create a safe and supportive space. This includes an emphasis on “good company” to build a sustainable community for practice.

André: Can people passing through Boise take a class with you? How can they find out about it?

Brittany: Yes! Please come to class whenever you are in Boise.

André: What are your top heavy albums to listen to while practicing yoga lately?

Brittany: I have not been listening to music when I practice lately. But, here are some albums I’ve enjoyed practicing with in the past:

Mammifer – Mare Decendrii
Yob – Atma
Jex Thoth – Jex Thoth
Budhist Monks of Maitri Vihar Monastery – 7 Hundred Years of Music In Tibet – Mantras & Chants of the Dalai Lama
Menace Ruine – Alight in Ashes
Black Boned Angel – Bliss and Void Inseparable
Asva – Futurist’s Against The Ocean
Om – Advaitic Songs
(in no particular order)

Here’s a yoga pose for everyone to work on to keep your neck strong and loose:

I suggest that you stay in this pose for about as long as the first track, “Threshold Gateway,” on the most recent Wolvserpent album available here.

KILLING IS MY BUSINESS: Music Publishing 101 with Century Media & BMG Chrysalis

By: Etan Rosenbloom Posted in: featured, killing is my business On: Monday, October 6th, 2014


When you write a song, by default you become that song’s music publisher – the entity that decides how it’s used, and gets paid when it is. Ideally, every time someone buys your album, streams your song on Spotify or hears it in a TV show or movie, you get paid as that song’s publisher. Managing all those income streams can be a lot of work for a single person, which is why many successful bands and songwriters sign deals with professional music publishing companies. For the Killing Is My Business column in Decibel issue #121 (At the Gates cover), I spoke with Branden Linnell of Magic Arts (the publishing arm of Century Media Records) and Emi Horikawa of BMG Chrysalis, two music publishers with tons of experience in the metal world. They revealed that there’s a lot more to music publishing than licensing that Bathory song for a toothpaste commercial and collecting royalties when it airs. 


What are some of the metal-leaning acts that BMG Chrysalis publishes?

Emi Horikawa: Some of the bands I have a pleasure of working with are Mastodon, Ghost B.C., The Dillinger Escape Plan, Pop Evil, Royal Thunder, Stephen Brodsky (Mutoid Man), Cave In, Geno Lenardo (Device/Filter), Finch and MonstrO. As a company we also publish Bring Me the Horizon, Scorpions, Bullet for My Valentine, Mushroomhead, Escape the Fate, Nothing More and others.

What are the major sources of your company’s publishing income?

Branden Linnell:  The major sources are:

1) Mechanical income – through licensing rights to use our compositions on recordings that appear on CDs, vinyl and legal downloads.

2) Performance income – through ASCAP/BMI/SESAC [see “Performing Rights Organizations,” issue 110], and the foreign performing rights societies that we are members of. This is income collected by these societies for performances of our compositions on radio, internet streaming, live concerts, etc.

3) Synchronization licensing [see “A/V Licensing,” issue #111] – where we license our compositions for film, TV, advertising or video games.

4) Print licensing – where we license the written music notation to songbooks or tablature websites.

EH: Publishers see the most income these days from mechanicals and performance [royalties]. Those are the biggest earners even though record sales and terrestrial radio’s value is decreasing. After that would be synch licensing.

Century Media is different from a traditional publisher in that many of the acts you publish are signed to the label. What’s the difference between the rights you represent as a publisher, vs. the rights that CM represents as a label?

BL: The rights that Century Media represents as a label are related to the master recordings. That is: the tangible CD (or vinyl if you’re really cool!) that you hold in your hand, the MP3 that you have on your computer/iPhone, or the master that you stream on Spotify.

The rights that our publishing companies (we have a few, but let’s use Magic Arts Publishing as the main one) represent relate to the intangible composition itself. That’s a bit of an abstract concept but it is the song as an idea itself, the composition of the song, what you have when the new Fozzy song “Lights Go Out” gets stuck in your head, and not the tangible form of the master recording of that song.

Here is a way to help illustrate: CM released an Iced Earth song called “Stormrider” on the studio album called Night of the Stormrider in 1992. CM later released a live concert recording of that song on the album Alive in Athens in 1999. CM (the record label) now has two sound recording copyrights. But as it is the same song (without major changes), Magic Arts (the publisher) still only has one composition copyright.

BMG used to be a major record label, but now it’s largely known as a music publisher. Can you briefly explain the difference between who/what you represent, as distinguished from who/what a label represents?

EH: The new BMG was formed in 2008 with a very different approach to traditional music companies. Historically music publishing rights and recording rights (masters) have been very separate businesses. The music publisher represented the publishing rights and the record label represented the masters. BMG, on the other hand, takes the approach of managing both rights on behalf of writers and artists all within one company. In just over five years since our launch, we represent around 2 million song rights, including 1.6 million publishing rights and more than 300,000 recording rights. People still think of us as a music publisher, but our records business is a big focus for us and will continue to grow.

Branden Linnell discussing the terms of a publishing deal

Branden Linnell discussing the terms of a publishing deal

What are the main administrative tasks that you handle as a publisher?

BL: The publishing business model is based on acquiring composition rights, and then monetizing/collecting on those rights wherever possible. So it all starts with getting our “house in order” on each composition by registering our copyrights with the Library of Congress (needed for standing to bring legal action against any infringement) and registering our compositions with our worldwide network of performing rights societies and foreign mechanical collection societies to collect performance/mechanical income worldwide.

We have offices in the UK and Germany to share in these duties on a global scale and we cooperate with sub-publishers in all other territories. We also make sure to supply new song data to any of our direct licensing deals like YouTube, so they can also use and pay out on new songs that are being monetized. On top of that we pursue any and all income streams that we can find, anything from submitting metadata to participating in a class action lawsuit to pitching songs for film, TV, advertising and video game projects. Finally, we need to collect on all those income streams and compose detailed royalty statements/payments for our writers. That is a big administrative task all by itself.

Since we are in-house with the label we are able to share in its resources like A&R, press and marketing, and it makes a more cohesive strategy. But it also means we do a lot of label-related admin work as well, like [processing] SoundExchange data and mechanical royalty statements.

EH: As a publisher, it is our main responsibility to protect and promote our writers’ copyrights. First and foremost are proper registrations with the PROs. That’s where every deal starts. We register the songs locally with either ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, and then register them globally to ensure proper performance (public performance via broadcast or live, etc.) collections are flowing. If writers are not members of any society, we’ll help them choose one and get set up. If the writer is also an artist or their songs have been released commercially in some form, we’ll license the songs to the record label to collect mechanicals.

In terms of synch, we handle all licensing requests. If a film or TV show wants to use one of our writer’s songs, we will negotiate and issue licenses/contracts on their behalf. Then either quarterly or semi-annually we will process all the money we’ve collected from all the various income streams (which there can be a lot of!) and then issue statements and royalties to our writers. There are other facets of the business as well, but those are the basics.

Do you interact directly with the acts that you represent? Why or why not does that make a difference?

EH: Yes, I have relationships with all of the artists and writers I work with. Some more so than others. I think it’s important to not just know their music but also them personally. It not only gives me a better understanding of their music, but also what they might be open to in terms of outside opportunities. It’s also a trust factor. I want them to know who I am, and that I’m part of their support team.

What creative tasks are part of your job?

BL: The job is a ton of admin work. There is creativity involved in negotiating publishing and licensing deals to find win-win compromises. But the pitching is definitely the most creative aspect, and that involves networking at conferences and industry gatherings like SXSW as well. My favorite pitching scenario is when I get a detailed music brief on what sort of music they are searching for, with descriptive terms on mood, subject matter and tempo, etc., or an actual song that they are looking to replace. Then I get to search through our own catalog and find the best fitting song(s) to pitch. I really enjoy doing this. It is not often enough that they are looking for extreme music, but if I can work any angle where it makes sense to pitch the extreme songs I will. I do have a few contacts that will always come directly to me when they need something extreme, or just some good old-fashioned metal. It’s great to be the “go-to” guy for that stuff. We’ve had some very heavy songs used in several primetime network TV shows, studio films and trailers, dozens of video games, and even a Volkswagen commercial.

EH: When people think of A&R, they always think about signing/scouting artists and writers. That’s definitely part of the job, but once we sign the deal we focus on giving them the best possible service we can. For each artist/writer that means different things.

I’m always looking for opportunities for my clients. As we all know metal is not generally used in film or TV, so I have to think outside the box. Part of it is “metal education” which is getting people to realize metal comes in all shapes and sizes, and there is no one sound. All of my artists produce different music and could work in a multitude of scenarios.

Also with some of my writers, they have aspirations outside of their current artist/band projects. It’s my job to help realize those projects, whether its co-writing songs, connecting people to work on a score, or helping one of my clients get to realize their dream of writing a song with one of their musical idols.

Emi Horikawa parties with BMG Chrysalis's newest signing at Noah's Park Retreat in Goshen, NY

Emi Horikawa parties with BMG Chrysalis’s newest signing at Noah’s Park Retreat in Goshen, NY

In the pop world, part of a publisher’s job is to put a client together with other songwriters – or pitch songs you represent to other artists. Does that ever happen with your clients?

EH: Absolutely! People would probably be surprised by how many metal dudes would love to write a pop song or two. I think as creative people they love writing and being in metal projects, that’s where their heart is, but like most people they have other interests as well. It can be really interesting and surprising the musical range these guys have.

Sometimes someone will write a song with a certain artist in mind, or we might take a song that they never released and try and pitch that to a different artist. They might not write the next Rihanna hit, but you never know. I work with a couple of guys who probably could! Co-writing is not just for the pop world though. I’ve set up co-writes for people working on solo records, or for a film project, etc.

Geno Lenardo and Stephen Brodsky both do a lot of co-writing/collaborating. Geno was originally in Filter, but recently he worked on the Device project with David Draiman (Disturbed) and the I, Frankenstein soundtrack with Daniel Davies (Year Long Disaster). Geno also ended up collaborating with [The Dillinger Escape Plan’s] Ben Weinman a bit on I, Frankenstein. He’s someone who loves rock, but is really open to working on all kinds of projects. Geno recently did some tracks with an up and coming rapper from Austin named Zeale, which came out really cool. He’s now working on a new soundtrack project that has an M83/electronic sound and worked on a cover with MLNY from Royal Thunder, so he really has a wide range as a writer and artist.

On Steve Brodsky’s end, if you’ve ever listened to his full catalog of music from Cave In to Mutoid Man and all of his solo records, you know he’s capable of writing a lot of different sounds. Steve’s music can rip your face off and then take you to this really beautiful, acoustic, atmospheric place. Since working together we’ve been exploring that some more, seeing what else he might be really great at writing. It’s only been a couple of months, but he’s already written a couple of new songs that I’ve really fallen in love with.

When a band signs a record label deal with Century Media, is a publishing deal with Magic Arts usually tied into it? Or are they two separate negotiations? 

BL: We keep them separate. There is a preliminary deal memo with general terms and it will include publishing if that is part of the overall signing terms. But after that the recording artist contract is negotiated by Century Media’s business affairs team and the publishing contact is negotiated by Magic Arts’ business affairs team. We also do have a few bands or writers in other bands who are signed to Magic Arts Publishing, but their recording contract is with another label. Sometimes a band will go to another label for whatever reason, but we will still have their publishing with Magic Arts.

We’ve also acquired sub-publishing rights in different territories from foreign publishers. For years, Magic Arts handled the Spinefarm publishing rights in the US, which included bands like Children of Bodom and Nightwish, until the publishing was purchased by Warner[/Chappell].

When you’re looking to sign a new band to a publishing deal, what kinds of statistics/financial benchmarks do you pay attention to? 

EH: If we’re just talking about financials, then the first place I’ll generally look is record sales history. While record sales are obviously decreasing, it’s still a relatively consistent revenue stream. In general, metal has a pretty devoted fan base. I’ll also take into consideration any [public] performance potential (mostly radio spins). Synch history can be very difficult to quantify. Just because one record might have received a bunch of synchs doesn’t mean the next one will. You can’t rely on synch income, so in general I don’t factor that in. The creative value of a deal is something else entirely.

Every deal is going to be different – but is there a standard way that you structure your deals? And are publishing advances ever tied into your deals?

BL: We have a few templates that we will start with and then tailor them to the specifics of negotiation. Publishing advances are almost always tied into our deals, but are always based on past earnings and future expectations.

EH: In publishing there are two main types of deals, admin (administration) or co-pub (co-publishing). Some publishers favor one over the other, but at BMG we will do either. Admin usually means a smaller advance is involved as the commission rate is smaller and the copyright retention is less, and with a co-pub we can advance more money up front as our splits (commission) are greater and our retention rights are longer. We do advances of all sizes. Just like each artist/writer is different, the specs for each deal are different as well.

Accepting a publishing deal means that a band gives up a percentage of its potential earnings. What can you do as a publisher that a band might not be able to do by itself?

BL: As said, having your publishing house in order worldwide is a ton of admin work. Learning to navigate different laws and collecting society rules in different countries as well as develop successful relationships takes a lot of time and effort. A band can learn it and do it, but it takes a lot of precious time. Bands can also self-manage, book their own tours, drive their own tour buses, and do their own taxes. But what is their time better spent doing? I think it is usually a mistake for a band to take on its own publishing as they will often not find the time required, resulting in money left on the table; or they will spend precious time and resources to make sure they get this piece of the pie, but that time could be better spent writing, touring, promoting and growing the entire pie instead.

I know that bands who sign to CM and also to Magic Arts most always benefit. CM really pushes airplay and will invest even more if the band is signed to Magic Arts as well. Label and publisher work together to get better tours and more live money in for the bands. It also allows us more flexibility and speed to get synch licenses and we actively look for those deals with greater success when we have both master and publishing rights to offer one-stop licensing. So even though the bands give up a small piece of the pie here, it allows us to grow the pie. They usually see more money and better careers in the end.

Also, I don’t believe individual writers can even get a direct deal with YouTube. I think they’d have to have a publisher or join a third-party aggregator to cover that growing income stream.

EH: Publishers don’t get paid until they collect money for their writers and, as is only right, the vast majority of the proceeds go to the writer. In return for our fee – effectively a commission – we are responsible for ensuring we maximize writers’ income from their songs. It’s our responsibility to make sure that all writer income sources (mechanical, performance, broadcast, synch, digital, print, etc.) are set up and payments are being tracked globally.

We have employees that specialize in royalties, income tracking, copyright, mechanicals, synch and licensing in all global markets. BMG Chrysalis and its affiliates are members of PROs all over the world, covering all major markets. While your manager, business manager and attorney might have some experience and knowledge in those areas, we have staff whose sole responsibility is to focus on being experts at that.

For example, it’s not uncommon for us to receive a synch request directly from one of our clients for their song to be used in a film or TV project. They tell us they’ve agreed to a certain fee. After we take a look at terms, we realize they’ve agreed to let a production use their song for the world (territory), in perpetuity (term), in all medias (media type) for a couple hundred dollars. As a publisher we can let our client know how much the license should be properly valued, let them know if we’ve licensed anything already for that production and what the fee was, or at least negotiate the terms or fee to a level that would be appropriate. Then we will have our client approve, issue the license/contract, and make sure it’s paid in a timely fashion. This can be difficult if you don’t have knowledge and experience in the synch licensing world, as it is easy to unintentionally agree to unfavorable terms.

What are the most reliable sources of income for metal bands specifically? Has that changed over the time you’ve worked in the biz?

EH: Mechanicals are still the largest [publishing] income stream for metal bands. That’s why it’s important when negotiating a record deal to pay attention to the mechanical rate your record label will pay you. Many record labels (both majors and indies) will try to negotiate a reduced rate royalty rate either to ¾ or cap it at a number of songs (i.e. 10 songs or less). That means instead of paying the 9.1 cents for songs that are five minutes or less [see “Covering Your Ass,” issue 113], you’re getting an even smaller payout. That could be a significant difference in the long run if your record has 15 songs on it and [the label is] only paying ¾ of the rate on 10 of them.

BL: I’ve been at Century Media/Magic Arts for 12 years now. I used to think that metal was somewhat immune to the music industry problems, since metalheads are such avid collectors who love the artwork and liner notes and take pride in displaying their collections. But I’ve watched as downloads increased while physical sales decreased. And now I’m watching as streaming increases and downloads have started to slip. So far it doesn’t seem like the streaming income is making up for the slip in sales. So it is getting harder for bands to recoup their advances and record royalties from sales may be a less reliable long-term income source.

Performance income can be reliable if songs are popular enough to garner enough airplay. That doesn’t happen much with the extreme stuff. But extreme bands tend to play live more, so with performing rights organization royalties on live concerts getting better, it can help with bands that continuously tour.

Synch income can be huge at any given point or it could be nothing forever. So that is completely unreliable. If a big synch deal happens it could increase sales and give a song more airplay.

But I think the most reliable source of income for metal bands has always been touring and merch sales. Especially since the majority of that income goes directly to the bands themselves. Having a label and publisher helps with marketing and gets bands better tours. Better tours help sell records and build a band’s following, so it’s all related. But as that happens, bands can rely more on touring and merch sales as steady income. They just have to keep their expenses low enough on the road to keep it profitable.

More and more people are listening to music via streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, etc. Has the growth of streaming made a difference in the publishing money you see coming through?

BL: Publishing royalties for non-interactive streaming [see “Like an Everflowing Stream,” issue #117] are paid by the performing rights organizations. I have not seen major increases in our performing rights statements. It is definitely not enough to make up for less mechanical income from slipping record sales. But the non-interactive streaming services are only required to pay about 5% of their revenue for publishing performances (as opposed to 50 to 70% that they pay to SoundExchange for master recording performances). I think mass adoption by consumers to pay for interactive subscriptions could make a big difference, but that hasn’t happened yet.

EH: Streaming is a complicated issue at the moment. So far, streaming services like Pandora are only required to pay [writers and] publishers 1.85% of their annual revenue while paying record labels a higher rate. If you spread 1.85% across every writer who wrote every song that’s available on Pandora, you’re not looking at a lot of income. Last year David Lowery (from Camper Van Beethoven & Cracker) posted his Pandora statement. His song was played over a million times on Pandora, but he only received $16.89 in publishing royalties. The NMPA (National Music Publishers Association) is presenting a case to the Department of Justice to change consent decrees to allow PROs to be able to negotiate a fair market rate for digital performance. In the current market it is difficult for songwriters to make money off of streaming services. If we’re able to change the common practice among streaming services, as we hope to do, then it might become a legitimate replacement for the drop in record sales.

What’s unique about publishing “extreme” bands?

BL: There are not a ton of song pitching opportunities rolling in for extreme music. But it certainly is fun when it happens. If a music supervisor happens to be looking for a song with over 300 beats per minute, I’d have several songs I could offer. Not many other publishers could do that. Extreme bands also tend to write all of their own music and do not work with co-writers or producers that get a writer percentage, so I can usually offer a one-stop shop for licensing.

I think most extreme bands are just writing songs that they feel compelled to write, and they are not really thinking about the market potential of that song or if it has any chance at getting used in a film or TV show. So when it happens, they are elated. I feel like extreme bands are more down to earth with their income expectations in general, and more grateful for what we can get them. It also allows me to offer reasonable pricing so we won’t get undermined by a cheap cover band or canned music library.

The Magic Arts catalog is unique in its history of genre defining metal titles, with early ‘90s death metal albums from Grave, Tiamat and Asphyx to the gothic metal styling of Moonspell, The Gathering and Lacuna Coil and recent deathcore titans Suicide Silence. I recently licensed some songs to a documentary about the sludge metal underground scene in New Orleans and realized that documentary absolutely has to have our Eyehategod songs in order to be legit. That is pretty unique!

At what point in a band’s career does it make sense to start looking for a music publisher?

EH: Music publishers can add value at any stage of a band’s career. You really just need great songs for a publisher to get involved. We work with some artists who have only self-released an EP or just put up some DIY videos and we’ll sign them at that stage because we see a lot of potential. We can help develop them as an artist and songwriter even further by connecting them with more experienced writers, helping them find a record deal, get their song licensed in a commercial, etc. We could also come in after a band has already signed a record deal but they haven’t been administering their copyrights. Some established artists might do a pub deal because they want help breaking into a whole different genre. Maybe they are secret country fans and want someone to help them get into the Nashville co-writing scene, or love EDM and want to co-write the next Avicii hit. There are a lot of different motivators.

I think the most important thing when considering a deal at any stage is to make sure you want to work with the people you are doing a deal with. Make sure you have someone at that company who really believes in your music and who is going to fight for you where it counts. It can be easy to just follow the promise of a check, but make sure you realize what kind of rights you are potentially giving away and know that they are going to be working in your best interest and not just the company’s. It is possible to do both!

Let’s say that a band doesn’t have a publisher or label behind it. What are some steps every band should take to make sure it’s maximizing its publishing income?

BL: As songwriters they should become a member of a performing rights organization like ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, and if they are recording and distributing their music they should register with SoundExchange. That way they can collect on any public performances they may get. Without a label there may not be sales, but if record or digital sales are happening, they should make sure to understand the distribution contract and know how mechanical royalties are being paid for the compositions. Focus tends to be only on the bigger royalty for the master recording, but there has to be something in the contract regarding mechanical royalties as well. It could be that both royalties are rolled into one payment but just make sure that is the case and nothing is being left on the table.


Visit BMG Chrysalis online at

Visit Magic Arts online at

Casey Orr (Rigor Mortis) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, October 6th, 2014


** Texas-based thrashers Rigor Mortis have returned. Sadly, minus guitarist Mike Scaccia, who died with his boots on while performing on stage in 2012. The Mortis aren’t letting their legacy (their self-titled debut is in the Hall of Fame) die lightly. They’re about to issue new album, Slaves to the Grave, through crowd-funded IndieGoGo and are on a blitz to make sure the metal community knows about it. So much so they honored Decibel with a song premiere of the killer track “Poltergeist”. Now, we’ve cornered bassist Casey Orr for a quick Q&A about Slaves to the Grave and remembering Scaccia.

First of all, it must be surreal to have Slaves to the Grave coming out after Mike’s passing. What’s that like for you and the other guys?
Casey Orr: It is incredibly surreal. It feels like a cruel joke. The guy who should be finally getting his due is not here to enjoy it. Our brother is not here to celebrate with us. We’re happy that the record is getting a lot of attention and being so well received, but at the same time, it’s so final. This should have been a new beginning for Rigor Mortis, not our swan song.

How did you guys cope with Mike’s untimely death?
Casey Orr: It was not easy. There were a lot of tears. But, there was lot of support from our friends and family. The DFW [Dallas-Fort Worth] metal scene is a pretty tight family, and I guess we all kinda hold each other up when we have to. When someone was that close and important in your life, you tend to still feel their presence with you. Sometimes I feel like he’s prodding me on to do as much as I can before my time is up, and sometimes I feel like he’s fucking with me and laughing his head off! For instance, we offered a Scaccia tribute shirt for the fundraiser and record release show, and when I got them in the day before the show, I found that the print was off on half of them. And they were all off in different ways, like an inch over to the right on one, 2 inches to the left on another, crooked on another. I looked up at a picture I have of Mike on the wall and said “you fucker!” Laughs] I could just picture him jostling the screen print somehow and laughing. A “Mike Scaccia” shirt is something he would have never allowed in life. He was far too humble for that. We love him and we miss him and we try to honor Mike’s legacy in any way we can in everything we do.

What’s it like to have Rigor Mortis’ final product, a physical product, in your hands?
Casey Orr: It’s bittersweet, of course, but it also feels fantastic to have seen it through and be able to give it to the fans. For me it’s a relief. I actually took on responsibility for putting the record out; everything detail that the record label would do, I had to figure out and get done. It was a ridiculous amount of work, and I’m still not done. But, of course it feels so good to finally hold it in your hand and know that all of our hard work was not in vain.

Rewinding a little bit, at what point did the band decided to permanently re-band?
Casey Orr: I think that after we did the reunion shows in ’05-’06, and had so much fun playing together again, we knew we were going to continue. But Ministry and GWAR pulled Mike and I away here and there, so it took a while to carve out the time to devote to doing Rigor Mortis. Hell, between the recording of Slaves and Mike’s, he and I even managed to do a huge tour with Ministry. I think that with the release of this record, Rigor would have become our main focus and we would be talking tour and next record right now.

Was the reformation at all like the early days of the band? Different times, ages, and perspectives taken into account, of course.
Casey Orr: Absolutely! We were joking and goofing around like always, and were having a great time playing together again. There was a good balance of “just like the old days” and the experience of being older and (slightly) wiser.

Describe what it was like on Capitol Records. Dave Mustaine didn’t have high remarks for the label, historically speaking.
Casey Orr: It was bizarre to say the least. We were practically bumpkins in the big city, under the clever disguise of Heavy Metal Berserkers from Texas. We didn’t know what the fuck we were doing, we just wanted to play. Rachel Matthews signed us to Capitol and remains a dear friend to this day, but the label clearly had no idea what to do with us. They actually put out a split 8×10 promo photo of Rigor Mortis and Poison! It was no wonder that after Rachel left, our relationship with Capitol basically dried up and blew away. They focused all of their attention on The Beastie Boys that year as well, and we certainly didn’t fit that mold. But we spent a shit load of their money on equipment and got a classic record out of the deal, so we never held a grudge, we just moved on like we always do. I doubt there’s a single person at Capitol who even knows we were ever on the label.

The cover is killer. Was the cover specifically created for Rigor Mortis?
Casey Orr: I actually designed the cover. I found a very small black and white picture online, of a man in silhouette throwing a shovelful of dirt into an open grave, from the perspective of someone down in the grave. From there I started messing around drawing it and eventually painting a couple of different versions. I showed them to the band and the other guys liked the concept, so I continued playing around with it. In the end I decided that I just wasn’t good enough to execute the vision I had in my head, and we got Michael Broom to do it. I told him exactly what I wanted and he nailed it! The photos in the booklet were all shots I took in a graveyard in New Zealand. Our drummer Harden’s brother, Troy Harrison, did the layout. I love Harden and Bruce for more or less trusting me enough to let me run with it. It really meant a lot to me to get to do it. It really was a lot of work, but it feels good to look at the end result and it’s just as I envisioned it.

You went around the usual label paradigm with IndieGoGo. Were you intimidated by the uncertainty of having to do most of the administrative work yourselves?
Casey Orr: We didn’t have a choice. We weren’t getting any label interest and damned if we were going to just let it sit on a shelf. We investigated the crowdfunding thing and decided to take a chance with IndieGoGo. I had faith in our fans, and they did not disappoint! I used to work at a cd distribution place, and we already had connections for manufacturing and distribution, so I figured it can’t be that hard, right? All we need is financing right? Everything else takes care of itself, right? [Laughs] I used to wonder how a typo could get by without getting caught, or how a release could be delayed or whatever. Now I know!

Would you recommend the IndieGoGo/crowdfunding path to other bands? If so, why?
Casey Orr: Yeah, I would. You really don’t have anything to lose. We couldn’t have done it without something like IndieGoGo.

Could you describe the pitfalls of IndieGoGo/crowdfunding specific to your experience with it?
Casey Orr: The hardest part is keeping up with and fulfilling all the perk bundles. We offered some pretty sweet deals in exchange for contributions, and all of that merch and shipping is taking a big chunk out of the money we raised. I offered original paintings for the highest price bundles. I now have to create 10 original paintings. What was I thinking? [Laughs]

What do you make of the reception Slaves to the Grave has received? Surprised at all?
Casey Orr: It’s been tremendous! I guess I am a little surprised that it’s all been so overwhelmingly positive. I know we thought it was good, but you never know what other people are going to think. We’ve never really worried about what the critics say; we don’t make music for them, we do it for ourselves and our fans, but it does feel good to know that people are digging it. It’s pretty awesome knowing something we started 30 years ago is still relevant and still has a following.

Is Wizards of Gore an active outfit? Any chance of original material or a full-blown tour?
Casey Orr: We’re not sure. I’d like to think so. We’re playing a couple of events, Housecore Horror Film Fest, Oct 24th with VoiVod, and Halloween night here in Dallas, but as for the future, it’s kinda up in the air. If we did continue, there would absolutely have to be original material. We don’t want to feel like a cover band of our own band! And if there was enough interest and the situation made sense, I think we would be open to the possibility of playing in support of this record, at least.

What’s next for the members of Rigor Mortis?
Casey Orr: We are all busy with various projects and day jobs, etc. Bruce and I are in Warbeast (also at HHFF Oct. 26th with Danzig/Samhain), and we’re hoping to record a new record early next year. My old punk band, The Hellions, is going to get back together and do some stuff. Harden’s band Hint Of Death has a record coming out soon, and Mike Taylor (Wizards of Gore) has a band called Rabid Flesh Eaters who are working on their debut record, which was being produced by Mike Scaccia before he died. And of course we’ll be doing what we can to promote Slaves to the Grave. We have vinyl coming soon, and there’s a limited edition blood-splattered version as well. Next year I’d like to officially re-issue Freaks and Vs The Earth on CD, and maybe offer some cool limited vinyl versions of the first three records. We’d like to keep Mike’s legacy and the name Rigor Mortis alive, in whatever way possible.

** Rigor Mortis’ new album, Slaves to the Grave, is out soon, self-released through pledges on Indiegogo. You can order a copy HERE. Get your shovel now and help Rigor Mortis exhume to consume!

STREAMING: Bethlehem “Verbracht in Plastiknacht”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Friday, October 3rd, 2014


Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. Say that once. Hell, don’t even say it once. The tongue-twister simply means the fear of the number 666. U.S. presidents have feared the number 666, so it’s fair to say some others will as well. The Number of the Beast has affected untold millions since it was written in some stupid book ages ago, its true origins obscured by time and dust.

If you didn’t know, Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia, is the title of German dark metal legends Bethlehem. It, like the albums before it, is complicated. It’s at once true to Bethlehem’s foundation, but also true to the band’s ability to color well outside established lines. There’s no doubt Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia is dark metal, but those that venture deeper will find a German outfit at awesome heights (if open-mindedness is a personal trait, of course), transforming, blending, and fusing black metal, gothic rock, industrial, and even a little new wave. Truly, Bethlehem in 2014 are untouchable!

“I wrote this song ’cause musically it reflects self-destruction and doubts of a once split personality haunted by visions. Lyrically it gives the impression of been buried alive in this private hell,” says Bethlehem braintrust Jürgen Bartsch to Decibel.

If curious as to what Bartsch is talking about, the upcoming issue of Decibel (#122) provides hints.

Alright, time to spend Friday in plastic! Bring on “Verbracht in Plastiknacht”!

** Bethlehem’s Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia is out October 10th on Prophecy Productions. It’s available HERE for pre-order, unless you fear 666. In that case, double down on your most spiritual of fears and get the 10-LP limited edition Hau Ab boxset, HERE. If you don’t know what “hau ab” means, click the link. That’s a German language lesson for the day.

Old Blood Pours From Cold Blue Mountain

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, listen On: Friday, October 3rd, 2014


Earlier this week, we suggested that you nod out to the power-pretty sounds of New Zealanders Jakob.  Maybe you were into it.  Maybe that wasn’t angry enough or sludgy enough or vocalized enough for you (there were, in fact, no vocals).

Fine.  Let’s throw the malcontents a bone now with a full stream of the new album from California sludgesters Cold Blue Mountain.  This set of five long songs, called Old Blood, is the band’s second full-length and blends expansive instrumental contemplation with Brandon Squyres’s acid-drenched screams for a journey through the story the band wanted to tell this time around.  Says drummer Daniel Taylor:

“Lyrically, Old Blood tells a story. But musically it tells a story too. It tells the story of how we as a band took the different all the different styles we dabbled in on our first record – doom, sludge, post rock, fucked up ’90s grunge – and made them all gel into a cohesive, heavy melodic sound.  The album is about a group of people whose homeland was taken over by an opposing force some years ago, and most of the inhabitants have just grown complacent with their lives under the rule of this foreign body. So much so to the point that they have almost forgotten who they were. I was doing a lot of research on cultural history mainly American Indians but I made the story and lyrics somewhat ambiguous so as to let people derive their own idea of settings and time frame. There’s a common theme throughout history of things expanding and taking over others and erasing almost all traces of the original inhabitants be it through military force or natural selection. Nothing wants to be forgotten and most things don’t have a choice, this story represents a select few who chose to try and take back what was rightfully theirs.”

The album drops from Halo of Flies Records next week (October 7), but you can hear it all right now at the Deciblog before you pre-order it here.  Inject yourself with some Old Blood!

King Diamond Likes to have FunFunFun: An Interview with FunFunFunFest’s Graham Williams (Part I)

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: exclusive, featured, interviews, king fucking diamond On: Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

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The 7th, 8th and 9th of next month sees the ninth edition of FunFunFunFest, a ginormous three-day mixture of all sorts of extreme music, indie rock, electronica, hip-hop, comedians, extreme sports and air cannons that fire tacos into a crowd of thousands, take over the city of Austin, TX. Last year, I introduced you to Graham Williams, the dude who essentially books this whole she-bang here. This year, we decided another chat with Graham was in order because one of the big coups FunFunFunFest landed was nailing down King Diamond to perform at this year’s edition with the full European stage show in tow. When this rare appearance on North American soil was originally brought to the public eye, it was before the tour that King Diamond starts next week was announced and, as explained, the tour itself basically exists because of their being booked into play at FFFF on November 8th. Hell, it almost happened last year, we learned to our surprise.

Below is part one of a long-ass interview I conducted with Williams about the doings and transpirings as they pertain to FFFF 2014. This part covers booking logistics, the Sick of it All anniversary sets (in which they’ll be playing material exclusively from Blood, Sweat and No Tears and Scratch the Surface) and, of course, King Diamond, not to mention an inadvertent preview of his upcoming tour. Part two is going to see Williams whip out his good sport hat and directly respond to some of the bitching, whining and complaining about the fest that’s turned up on the FFFF Facebook page. Look for that in the coming days before the fest.

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Maybe it’s my skewed perception, but the early bird tickets seem to go on sale earlier every year. When early bird tickets are announced, how much of the line-up is set in stone and how long in advance are you working on this before that announcement?
As far as the early bird tickets, it varies. We could have two bands booked, we could have twenty. Early bird is just a special option we do for the die-hard fans, to give them an option to get a cheaper ticket. They’re the kind of folks who trust us enough that they know we’re going to book something they like and they’re going to get their tickets no matter what. It’s a limited run and we do that at various times of the year, a few months out. It gets people talking and excited and I don’t know, I guess it’s something to do, but it’s not so much around booking. As far as how far ahead we book, that’s getting earlier and earlier every year. Festivals in general are booking more and more every year and it’s crazy just how far out people are starting to do stuff. In Europe, I hear they have festivals booked for 2016 right now, which is kind of mind blowing. I think it’s bands trying to plan out what they’re going to do in advance; a lot of bands plan out around festivals now, which is a really weird way of thinking, but it is what it is. Basically, festivals pay a little more, exposure’s a bit better, you get on a festival there’s a lot more press around it when compared to regular shows. So agents, managers, labels and bands themselves would like to get on as many cool festivals as possible, so they’ll start routing that out in advance and agents will start contacting us, particularly if there’s a reunion-type band who hasn’t done anything in a long time; they want to plan out in advance to make sure it’s worth it so they can maximize a year’s worth of shows. It’s interesting, and it’s the way things have been sort of shifting so you gotta keep up with that. If you don’t start working on it pretty far in advance, you run the risk of missing out on an act who locked into something else further out because everyone else is looking further out.

Does that make things easier for you because you have all these agents and people coming to you with pitches that much earlier?
Yes and no. It’s easier than it was in the old days in that bands are more interested in playing and people know what FunFunFun is so we don’t have to convince anyone of something the haven’t heard of. The flipside of that is that there are so many more festivals and promoters all pushing for the same thing that there’s more competition. And underground music, whether it’s punk or metal or indie rock or hip-hop, wasn’t that popular when we started doing this; only we liked it and now more mainstream festivals are starting to be interested in acts they’ve never heard of before and that the bookers don’t even listen to, but the tickets sell. This year I got outbid for the Replacements, a band you never would have seen on certain events, but with the popularity of different genres, a lot of these artists are starting to have more choices and options and a lot of people are looking for the same acts. That doesn’t happen across the board; there’s still a lot of stuff we’re doing that no one else is doing and that’s what sets us apart, but there are definitely some acts that end up on other festivals and shows that are happening around the same time as we are and the band can only play so many shows.

OK, so King Diamond. I know for a fact that a lot of other North American festivals have been trying to get him to play forever, but the sticking point has been the size of his stage show and money. How did it come to be that you nailed him for FunFunFun? Do you think it might have something to do with his having a heart attack a couple years back and his realising that none of us are getting any younger and he’d basically better do this while he can?
I don’t know so much on the personal motivation side, but I know there were some health issues and he held off from touring for a little while before. As far as I know, his booking agent is someone I work with a lot. I just started booking him a couple years ago; we do a lot of bands through him and he’s a good guy. Whenever you get a booking agent or manager or someone who gets what you do in your corner, it’s great because they can convince or explain to an artist why they should do this over something else. But he was actually almost confirmed last year. They were planning a U.S. tour and it routed perfectly, but it fell through. The cost of them touring is expensive because they bring a full-on, massive stage show. There are so many places you would think they could play, but they can’t play due to the stage show. Long story short, there are two shows on this tour that are in seated theatres – like how weird is it to see King Diamond in seats? – because those are the only places with the stage height and depth to hold their ‘Black Metal Broadway’ show. There’s a castle with a fucking iron gate in front of it, multiple actors and witches getting burned alive; it’s a giant show. Outside of arena rock shows, this is going to be much bigger than what people are used to and most places, like House of Blues that have big stages and stuff, still can’t fit the production and they don’t want to scale back their show. They’ve been doing it in Europe like this for so long and they want to keep it as is, so they’re flying all that stuff over. I’ve been told it was a complicated tour to route because it was very venue specific, production-wise. As far as us, I think they liked it, I think they’ve liked what we’ve done before. King Diamond lives in Dallas, so he probably knows a little about FunFunFun because we’ve been in Texas for a while and we promote heavily in all these other cities. He probably also knows some of the bands on the bill and his agent seemed really into doing it, especially after cancelling last year. I think maybe they were like, ‘let’s do FunFunFun next year and route a tour around it.’ I think it’s done really well; I heard almost all of the dates have sold out, which is crazy, and it’s exceeded everyone’s expectations. It’s been so long; he hasn’t played the states in forever and it was hard to gauge what the reaction was going to be, but I think everyone has been really happy with it. I booked him at Emo’s probably around 15-16 years ago – way, way, way back and that club was a dump then, the PA was horrible, the stage was small. They literally walked in, he looked at the stage and they got back on their bus and drove off. And there was a line of people outside! That’s what happened the last time I booked King Diamond [laughs]. The opening bands still played, but even they didn’t want to get on the stage.

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There seems to be a pretty solid reunion or nostalgia vibe on the Black stage this year with the Blood Brothers, Gorilla Biscuits, Glassjaw, Death from Above 1979, Rocket from the Crypt and so on. Is this in part because of these bands coming to you wanting to play and get the most bang for they’re buck because they’re not doing their respective bands full-time?
Yeah…but it’s hard to say. Death from Above has a new record out and they’re touring. Judas Priest has a new record and are touring, but there are bands you mentioned who play every once in a while or who are doing a string of reunion shows. But yeah, once you get past the head liners, there seems to be a lot of more newer stuff that’s happening right now like Deafheaven, Ice Age, Pissed Jeans and Pallbearer… all kinds of bands that are currently on the road and have records out. But it seems like, especially with the Black stage, there are a lot of older acts that have been around and have some legendary status. Whereas with the more indie rock and DJ stuff, fans seem really excited about whatever the newest, hottest acts are, even though we do have some older acts this year like Modest Mouse and Dinosaur Jr. It seems like in punk and metal, there are new bands people are excited about but usually it takes a while those acts to find their way into our musical selections or radars, so the bands people tend to be most excited about are the bands they’ve been listening to forever, but maybe have never gotten the chance to see and that determines the top of the bill. Like that new Pallbearer record is amazing, but they’re not going to be a bigger draw than King Diamond or the focus band on a festival like this. Ultimately, we want the festival to be different than any night of the week. You can see a band any night of the week, but hopefully at the festival you’ll see some bands that you’ve never seen before or bands you’ll never see again and when we can, we try and make something special happen, like the Sick of it All thing…

…Which is something I was going to ask you about. How much of a role did FunFunFun have in that because they do have a new record out and will be touring it around that time?
Well, it’s the 25th and 20th anniversaries of their first and third albums, Blood, Sweat and No Tears and Scratch the Surface, so they’re doing a special set of songs from those albums and that’s something they’re only doing for the festival. So, how it happened was that some kid posted on Facebook that it was going to be the 20th anniversary of Scratch the Surface and that we should try and get them to do that. So when I went to double check that, I also noticed it was the 25th anniversary of Blood, Sweat and No Tears, so I pitched it to them. The band were a little unsure about doing it because they do have a new record coming out and they’re not a novelty band coming back to do an old record and cash in. They’re still a working band. My point was that this is a festival and there’s only one 25th anniversary of a record. So, they’re going to be touring the new record and I think we might be doing a Night show with them where they do a regular set with the hits and new songs, but just for that 45 minutes or so they’ll celebrate those old records that got the band started. They seemed into the idea of doing something special just for the festival.

Logistically, what do you feel you learned from last year to make this year’s better?
We take detailed notes and have meetings over the couple weeks after we wrap up about what worked and what didn’t. Usually, it’s more about production stuff, there are always a few bands that didn’t hit home or do well or put on a great show and you have to think about that kind of stuff. Most times it’s day-to-day stuff. This year the layout of the park is different and our concern has been production-wise and making sure all the bands have the right stage sizes, that the audience is going to be happy and there isn’t going to be too much sound bleed because we’re having to do a different set-up. That sort of stuff concerns us second most; first most, of course, is selling tickets to make sure we can cover everything. Beyond that, it’s about what we do on-site and making sure it’s fun and interesting and making sure that people will want to come back. We’ve always prided ourselves on not being a typical festival, so we always try to think of what fun unique things we can do on-site that stand out in addition to the bands.

Is there anything brand new going on this year?
Nothing I can tell you off the top of my head, but we are doing a few things differently with art and the layout’s going to be very different, so that’s going to add to things being different. The VIP and back stage section are going to be set up differently and we’re going to have a bunch of funny things and surprises that we’re going to throw in later. Previously, the park we used at Auditorium Shores was along the water. This year we’re only using a portion of that park and we’re having to use the park across the street and close off the street because the area we’ve always done it in is under construction right now and they’re going to be planting all new grass. That’ll be great in the future because it won’t be dusty, but in the meantime our mainstage area is fenced off and covered in sod right now.

For all your ticketing, scheduling and line-up announcements, go to

Encrotchment With Eddie Gobbo From Jar’d Loose: Week 4

By: Eddie Gobbo Posted in: encrotchment, featured, nfl 2014 On: Thursday, October 2nd, 2014


Here’s 10 bucks. Bring me the hair of Ariana Grande.

Three Gigs, a Gaze and a Cheese Place

This past weekend, Jar’d Loose did a string of shows with Oakland, CA’s Lecherous Gaze, an amazing, sleazy, ’70s-influenced rock ‘n’ roll juggernaut featuring former members of west coast thrash rockers Annihilation Time. Now, I knew these dudes were from Oakland, and was salivating at the thought of me interviewing them about the Raiders. The Oakland Raiders always have had the most badass music dudes as fans: Scott Kelly, Robb Flynn, Easy E. Also, how has somebody not thought to put Kerry King’s face in the Raider logo yet? That’d be a kickass shirt and/or Facebook profile pic.  Lecherous Gaze rolled through Chicago on Thursday night for a show with us and the great White Mystery. I don’t like playing shows on Thursday nights because it interferes with me watching Thursday Night Football, but yeah, I was there.

On Friday night, we played Milwaukee. On the way up from Chicago, Jar’d hit the Mars Cheese Castle, a huge castle that sells cheese off I-94 in Wisconsin. My band cannot pass it without stopping and getting lost for an hour trying to find it, even though it’s literally right off the highway. While at the Mars Cheese Castle, I found a knife. I noticed a dude in an Aaron Rodgers jersey sitting at the bar having a Molson and eating a block of cheese the size of a car battery. I asked Jar’d’s guitarist, Nate Madden, if he could take a picture of me creeping up behind the Packer fan at the bar with the knife in my hands. A big Bears/Packers division game was looming on Sunday (which I had tickets for), and I thought it would make for a funny picture for my column. He said his phone was having trouble getting reception, which actually makes no sense because I was only asking him to take a picture, not upload anything. My guess is he just didn’t want to get wrapped up in the whole “ me sneaking up behind a stranger with a knife” thing.

In Milwaukee, I saw Jon Liedtke from Toby Wong (who we played with that night). He also played bass for Sexual Atrocities, theremin for Inter Arma, and is a Packers fan (two out of three ain’t bad). We began reminiscing about the Bears/Packers NFC Championship game from 2010. He and a few friends had come up from Milwaukee in full Pack gear and had snowballs thrown at them after the Pack pulled out the victory, eventually leading to a Super Bowl championship. Talking with Jon reminded me of something Mike Ditka said on the Waddle & Silvy (a local ESPN radio show) this week: “The Bears/Packers rivalry, above anything, is based on a mutual respect.”

Saturday we were in DeKalb, IL for our third and final show with the Lecherous boys; it was the day we were going to have our epic Raiders conversation. If you haven’t been to DeKalb before, it’s the perfect place for a football roundtable: a college town filled with drinkers, hellraisers, juggalos, pizza pros and dudes in weird football gear, which explains the dude at our show who wore a Brian Griese Broncos jersey. Side note: I’m in the process of making a shitty ex-quarterback jersey scavenger hunt game.  I’m ranking all the shitty ex-quarterbacks of the last 15 years on a scale from 1-10 (1 being Chad Pennington shitty; 10 JaMarcus Russell shittiest). If you run into a person wearing a jersey of one of the QBs on the list, take a picture with him. Most points at the end of the season wins.

Right before the show began, I saw the Lecherous Gaze dudes sitting together. Now was the time for our big talk. I went up to them and asked them, “So dudes, you guys like football?” Their response, in unison:

 “Naw, man. We’re from Oakland. The Raiders suck.”

What a swerve.

As if Lecherous Gaze willed it, the Raiders got blasted by the mediocre-at-best Miami Dolphins on Sunday, reaffirming that they do, in fact, suck. You know what sucky management of sucky teams do when their sucky team sucks more than usual? They fire their sucky head coach. The Raiders did that on Monday when GM Reggie McKenzie fired head coach Dennis Allen after this season’s 0-4 start. It was the second head coach fired by McKenzie in two seasons. Ideally, in a two-year span, you fire no head coaches. But yeah, the Raiders do things differently out in Oakland. “[We have] a roster that could win,” said McKenzie in response to Allen’s lack of wins as a HC.  Former Dolphin head coach and current Raider assistant head coach Tony Sparano has taken over the role.

Within the next five years, the two best teams in the AFC West, San Diego and Denver, will be in rebuilding modes. The Raiders HAVE to have their shit together by then. Enough is enough! It sucks because the Raiders have tried to do this, but have had an amazing sIew of bad luck over the last decade. Absolutely nothing has panned out for them. The obvious bust is Russell, but what about first round wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey, who they reached for in the 2009 draft over dudes like Clay Matthews, Brian Orakpo and Brian Cushing. Or Rolando McClain, the linebacker drafted eighth overall in 2010 over Jason Pierre-Paul, Maurkice Pouncey and DEZ F’N BRYANT!  Dude was supposed to be their defensive leader for years to come. He was released two seasons into his Raider career (more about McClain in the Dallas section below). So yeah, it’s serious plan time for the Raiders now, and here it is:

1) Find your new head coach from college

The last sort-of-proper hire by the Raiders was USC’s Lane Kiffin in 2007. The whole JaMarcus mess really put a damper on what could have been great tenure (Al Davis fired him after one season). Also, Kiffin’s sort of a puss. He ran back to college and jumped at the first chance to become Nick Saban’s bitch. The Raiders need a traditional, smart, non-progressive college coach who wants to be in the pros for the long haul. He also must stress discipline and fundamentals, recognizing teams are up a creek without said qualities. As tempting as it may be to hire Sparano if he pulls out some wins, or a guy like Rex Ryan once the inevitable happens [fuck you: ed], The Raiders need a man looking to carve a NFL legacy, not live in one he’s already created. My choice would be Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops.

2) Find a franchise QB in the draft in the next three seasons

The Raiders will have high draft picks these next two years. They need a QB out of those. I wouldn’t draft a QB in the 2015 draft. Marcus Mariota is an overrated, a poor man’s Colin Kaepernick who game may not translate. Florida State’s Jameis Winston, though talented, is a disciple problem that a team like the Raiders will not be able to change. No one else is franchise-worthy.

3) Draft/pick up long-term, non-QB leaders on both sides of the ball

Even mediocre NFL teams have notable leaders in production on both sides of the ball. Can you name the number one Raider offensive weapon this year? Can you name the Raiders’ most productive defensive player this year? Can you name said players for 20 other teams, like I can? Therein lies the problem.

4) Maybe move back to L.A., if they want you there.

You want to stop playing on a baseball diamond, or no?

5) On the eve of home games, have Lecherous Gaze take the opposing team out and get them wasted, so they’re hung over and/or don’t make the game.

Check out this track from Lecherous Gaze’s new album, Zeta Reticuli Blues, out now on Tee Pee. They’re on tour in Europe from October 9 through November 2.  Amazing dudes.  Amazing live band.

Boys Better?

I’ve never seen a team enter a season with the deck stacked against them and persevere to play such well-rounded, fundamental, game-winning football like this year’s Dallas Cowboys. Experts not only predicted them to have the worst defense in football this year, but potentially one of the worst defenses in NFL history. Remember that guy the Raiders dropped who I mentioned in the last section, Rolando McClain? Well, he’s currently leading an overachieving defense in tackles. His career may be revitalized. Who do we attribute this to? I’d say new Cowboy’s defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.  If you’ve followed Marinelli during his career, most notably in Tampa and Chicago, he’s a player’s coach that stresses fundamentals and scheme execution; both things Dallas was horrible at executing last year under DC Monte Kiffin. Then there’s the Boys’ offense. It’s old-school and balanced. DeMarco Murray could have an MVP-type season. The run opens up the pass for Dez Bryant, and emerging legit number two receiver Terrance Williams, who had an amazing game against the  Saints on Sunday. Then there’s the — get this — mistake-free Tony Romo. Week 1 against the Niners sucked for Romo. But in his last three games, he has six TDs and only one pick. His passer rating was 137.4 this past week. Who is this guy? Who is this team? Where I am? What year is it?

Are You There ESPN Monday Night Football Commercial-Makers? It’s Me, God.

Why the hell did you guys make the soft-ass Kansas City Chiefs look like hardasses in the MNF commercial this week? You’re lucky they opened up a can on New England or else you would have looked like idiots, and I wouldn’t have bailed you out this time. Don’t pull that shit again, goddamn you.

I’m an Old Man. I’m Confused.

OK, I’m getting sick of the Baltimore Ravens’ Steve Smith constantly saying how old he is since he joined the Ravens. First off, he officially changed his name to Steve Smith, Sr. He said it’s because his son, Steve Smith, Jr. was born in July, but come on! We all know it’s because you want to seem older so it looks cooler when you burn a 20-year-old cornerback. He did light up his old team from Tarheelia this weekend with 139 yards and two touchdowns. But did he have to say in the postgame press conference, “I’m 35 years old and I ran around those boys like they were schoolyard kids”? What’s next, a cane?

Shouldn’t You Be Wearing the Bucket?

I don’t really have much to say about the Bears/Packers game I went to this weekend. The one where Aaron Rodgers torched the Bears’ secondary for 302 yards and four touchdowns while Jay Cutler threw two interceptions. The whole thing is sort of a blur. I will say this though, I’m DONE with the kids outside the stadium that bang on buckets with drumsticks. Any novice drummer can do what they do. It’s not a special talent. Also, banging a hollowed-out plastic tub is not sonically pleasing at all. Do not tip these kids. This needs to end!

The Friendly Rivalry From Hell

So, the aforementioned Bears/Packers “Friendly Rivalry” reared its friendly face after the game as I was leaving the stadium with thousands of depressed Bears fans and a few happy-faced Packers fans. As we were walking back to our respective vehicles, a Packers fan wearing a camouflage Clay Matthews jersey (nuff said) and his drunken girlfriend were gloating about the victory. He couldn’t resist dragging me in to the mix of his drunken gloating. He directed his attention to me and said, “Look at this guy. You don’t look like a sports fan.” At the time I was wearing a Bears jersey, a jean jacket, and yes, I happen to have long hair. So yeah, no way I’m a sports fan, let alone a guy who writes a weekly sports column.

Now the initial comeback that ran through my head was, “Well, I assumed you we’re straight until I saw your boyfriend” (pretty creative, both attacks his manhood that he loves so much and his girlfriend’s looks). But, in a stroke of genius, I came up with the perfect comeback on the spot to smoke that guy that you are all now free to use in your personal lives when you see fit: I looked a him in a grossed-out fashion and said, “Dude, you have something on your face,” and proceeded to walk away grossed out. In horror, he ran to his girlfriend (who was digging through her purse for a tampon at the time) and said, “Hey, whats on my face? What’s on my face?!” She looked baffled and said, “What?! Nothing’s on your face.” Now further down the path, I locked eyes with him. He realized he had been swindled. I smiled and waved. This comeback will work on any douche in any setting. As much as they want to start shit for no reason, they cannot live with the idea of having something on their face that may potentially embarrass them in front of the clan of supermodels they are certain to run into any minute now. They’ll sprint to a bathroom or any place to check their face, and feel violated when they realized they were played.

By the way, if you’re reading this, Clay Matthews fan with camouflage jersey, even though I already conquered you once, this isn’t over. I plan on finding you on Wisconsin soil and beating the shit out of you. Then I’m going to steal your girlfriend, take her on a romantic weekend getaway to Afghanistan, throw her passport in a river, and leave her there. Just thought I’d let you know.

Pick of the Week

New England -2 ½ over Cincy



Decibrity Playlist: Winterfylleth (Part 2)

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, October 2nd, 2014


Last week, we brought you the first part of Chris Naughton’s landscape themed playlist. While his first six picks covered some well traveled territory–Drudkh, Bathory and Ulver to name a few–the rest dive a little deeper underground. According to Winterfylleth‘s guitarist/vocalist, however, all “capture the very essence of their environment and their history through the music they make and the imagery they portray.” If you haven’t already, pre-order a copy of his band’s fantastic fourth LP, The Divination of Antiquity, here (out Tuesday).

Saor’s “Roots” (from 2013′s Roots)
Our friend Andy Marshall (formally of Falloch) stepped out on his own, initially as Arsaidh but then rebranded himself as Saor and produced a fantastic debut album in Roots (which he’s recently followed up on new album Aura). I chose the title track because it shows a great link between the vast expansive riffs he writes but also the more delicate and inherently Scottish elements he puts into the music as well. If you’ve not heard this band before I encourage you to dig a little deeper.

Cnoc An Tursa’s “Winter – A Dirge” (from 2013′s The Giants Of Auld)
Sort of like a black metal Iron Maiden, our other Scottish pals in Cnoc An Tursa (which translates into modern English as “Hill of Sorrow”) are real unsung heroes of the UK metal fraternity in my opinion. Their music invokes strong feelings of ancient Alba as well as incorporating traditional Scottish melodies and poetry into metal music. I know what you’re thinking, this could be cheesy, but it actually sits on the right side of the line in a powerful and emotive way in the context of their songs. The track I have chosen is from their spirited and passionate debut album. Let’s hope it’s not long ’til they follow it up.

Wodensthrone’s “The Name Of The Wind” (from 2012′s Curse)
It wouldn’t be right to do this kind of playlist without mentioning our brothers in arms, Wodensthrone. We came out around the same time and forged a close link between our bands in that we are like minded souls who were singing about the same types of issues. They have released two albums to date and have really come into their own in helping to define what British black metal sounds like and should be. The song I have chosen is one of their slower, more expansive moments which I love, but don’t let that fool you–they are a force to be reckoned with. Go check out “Black Moss” or “Those That Crush the Roots of Blood” if you don’t believe me. Essential stuff!

Falloch’s “We Are Gathering Dust” (from 2011′s Where Distant Spirits Remain)
Another great bunch of guys who are also from Scotland. What is it about Scotland and bands singing about nature, the environment and their surroundings? Anyone would think they have beautiful highland landscapes all around them, not too far from the cities! Falloch is a fantastic band and walk a fine line between black metal and post rock in many ways, although definitely make a sound all of their own. The track I have chosen shows this unusual but powerful link between genres in action and is what drew me to these guys in the first place. They have recently finished a new album called This Island, Our Funeral, which is out soon and well worth hearing.

Ashes’ “Stone Spiral” (from 2014′s Hrēow)
If we are talking about unsung heroes from the British scene, Ashes has to be the most unsung. Still remaining years later in the realms of underground obscurity, I’m sure many a British band would call him (as it’s just one guy, D. Lumsden) an influence to some degree. Residing more towards the depressive, suicidal end of black metal these days, Ashes has returned with an introspective new album on Hrēow to remind us all he’s never gone away and remains relevant in 2014. If you’re into the more “necro” end of black metal, this is the one for you.

From The Bogs Of Aughiska’s “Aos Si” (from 2010′s From The Bogs Of Aughiska)
The final track is from a great Irish band, From The Bogs Of Aughiska. I was lucky enough to have the chance to release this album on my own Lone Vigil imprint a few years ago and they’ve gone from strength to strength ever since, releasing a second album to great critical success last year. Somewhere between dark ambient and black metal, they have a great and expansive sound. Also the link between that and their local and national history on this song is great. Interviewing old Irish folks about banshees and local history then setting that to synth driven dark ambient is an odd prospect but a work of genius. I think you’ll agree!

*Photo by Ester Segarra

**Order a copy of Winterfylleth’s The Divination of Antiquity here.

***For past Decibrity entries, click here

The Proselyte: The Deciblog Interview and Full Album Stream

By: Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, tours On: Wednesday, October 1st, 2014


Back in the day there were shiny things called songs. Albums were filled with good songs rather than two or three wankfests. Now, in the hands of the right band long songs can be potent (see: Sleep and YOB). But heavy songs that are infectious with less real estate are also a very good thing.

One band doing songs right is The Proselyte from Cambridge, who mix pop with Decibel approved influences like Floor, My Bloody Valentine and Converge. We liked their recent album Our Vessel’s In Need so much we tracked down guitarist/vocalist Nicholas Wolf for an afternoon conversation. We’re also streaming the full record below. If you need even more proof you can see them this month when they tour with The Atlas Moth.

How would you describe your music to someone who isn’t familiar with it?

We’re black sheep in everything we do. We’ve toured with crust bands and bands that do classic 70s riffs. We want to write dirgy music that’s difficult to digest but put so much pop sensibility on it that you have to like it. We want to make it indigestible but with a sweet aftertaste.

My understanding is that these songs were written in a blizzard?

Our drummer Alec (Rodriguez) works at New Alliance Studio in Cambridge. It’s been a staple in the Boston music community for a long time. Nick (Zampiello) did all the Isis and Pelican stuff and has been a go-to guy in heavy music. When we book we do it on a friend schedule – we just have to make sure they don’t lose money. We booked time way ahead and then the giant blizzard happened. We had a discussion whether or not we do this because the governor (Deval Patrick) was thinking about declaring a state of emergency and telling everyone to stay put. We just decided to say fuck it. We had a film crew there and they suddenly thought it would be more interesting. There were three of them stuck with us in a windowless building.

That environment can’t help but bleed into your music.

The ideas were already together and we knew what we were going for. But the circumstances surrounding the recording can definitely be heard. Not everyone goes to make a record and ends up sleeping on the control room floor because it’s illegal to drive. We tried to open the door at one point and the drifts broke the top door hinge off. We screwed the hinge back in and cabin fever set in. You can hear it on the record.

Floor was a big influence, correct?

No one is going to deny that Floor is heavy as fuck. But it’s essentially just detuned pop music. You can throw it on when it’s nice out and in the winter it also shines. I’m not going to say we’ve reached that but it’s definitely what we aspire to do. I like to make music that makes sense to the listener. Alec and I have been harmonizing for so long that it comes easy. We come with some notes on our iPhones and put together lyrics that work and turn them into melodies. So we’re definitely melody based.

Brad (Macomber, bass) and I grew up surrounded by talented people. When I got to the age I’d go to local shows. I’d see bands like Converge and Cave In at VFWs and gyms in the suburbs. The bar was set very high very young. Cave In was only about five year older. I was taught that if you want to go for it you need to practice, keep doing it, get better.

You must have seen Converge in their formative years?

I saw them several times pre Jane Doe when it was an entirely different style. That record changed the game not just for them but for everyone. To get to see a band like that in their younger years taught me if you aren’t bleeding, somehow injured, out of breath or dehydrated at the end of a set you don’t deserve fans (laughs).

How do you feel about the comparisons that you are heavier version of 90s music? Do you have things in common with Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden?

There’s a stigma to that music so when the comparisons do come they can be a deterrent. But I’m 31 and grew up with that stuff and you can’t take away what you listened to. I learned to play guitar from Superunknown and it does affect how I write a guitar lead. I only worry that there is a stigma in that I don’t want people to think it sucks (laughs).

The same people would make that criticism probably haven’t sat down with Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop. That’s a really good record.

Well, we don’t have a sound we’re going for. We’re a sonic based band. There’s a lot of diversity and tone on the record. If I want to have an inaudible squall I have a box for it. So I can listen to stuff that I liked growing up and add those effects to my arsenal.

How do you think people will perceive the band?

I think we translate well in a recording. I think seeing us live will put it in perspective. We are an aggressive band but the recordings have sheen to them. We won’t make vocals sound like crap. Some people really like it and some people really hate it. No one thinks it’s o.k. It’s always a yes or no and never a maybe.

An intense like or hatred is better than middle of the road.

I thrive on knowing you either really like it or don’t care for it at all.

The cover of the record reminded me of Edward Gorey.

The artist (Bill Crisafi) gets that comparison all the time. He’s very interested in all things Gorey and New England. It came from this house that was recurring in a dream I had for the better part of my life. It was new England colonial house. I feel like I’m going to drive past it in Salem or somewhere else in Massachusetts. I described it to him and the shifty idea of what it looked like. Without any edits it was perfect.

Why the single light in the window?

It’s an SOS. You need to let anyone viewing it know what it might be in shambles but someone is living there. There’s still light but it’s struggling.

What’s the song “An Irish Goodbye” about?

In Boston, an Irish goodbye is when you get so drunk you just disappear without saying goodbye to anyone (laughs). The next morning you are like “did I just disappear?” I seem to notice more people pulling the Irish goodbye more than in the past. I’ve definitely pulled my share in the past but now I write songs about it.

We put Floor in our Hall Of Fame and got some grief from purists about it. Was it the right call?

Absolutely. They’re an integral part of extreme music.

See The Proselyte:

10/04 Columbus, OH (no Atlas Moth)
10/06 Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews
10/08 Denver, CO – Moon Room
10/09 Salt Lake City, UT – Shred Shed
10/10 Boise, ID – The Shredder
10/11 Spokane, WA – The Hop
10/12 Seattle, WA – The Highline
10/14 San Francisco, The Hemlock
10/15 Los Angeles, CA – The Complex
10/19 El Paso, TX – The Sandbox
10/20 Austin, TX – Mohawk
10/21 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s
10/22 Oklahoma City, OK – The Conservatory
10/23 Kansas City, MO – Czar Bar
10/24 Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen

Nader Sadek and Decibel Join Forces for “Malefic”

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs On: Wednesday, October 1st, 2014


Is there any heavy metal story more heroic and heartening than that of Nader Sadek?

Seriously. Here is a serious connoisseur of extreme music and culture — not to mention an extraordinary visual artist — who came up in a time and place — that would be Egypt in the eighties — where his interests were neither appreciated nor sanctioned; a man who made his way out into the world, mixed it up in the New York City art scene, got a gig as a stage artist for fucking Mayhem before serving as artistic director of his own eponymous death metal monolith manned by current and former members of Cryptopsy, Morbid Angel, Ava Inferi, Cattle Decapitation, Mayhem, Death, Sepultura, and Behemoth.

Ponder that insane journey for a moment.

Now, we’ll never be able to give Sadek the horns-up ticker-tape parade down Broadway he deserves, but Decibel is offering him — and you! — perhaps the next best thing: His band’s upcoming leveller of a four song EP The Malefic: Chapter III will be released as a free CD insert in our December issue (#122). Subscribe here.

We recently caught up with Sadek for a brief chat on Malefic, the inner workings of his musical outlet, and why he chose distribution via Decibel


So In the Flesh was an excellent release, but The Malefic: Chapter III definitely feels like some next level shit.