METAL LABEL FROM USA
1. Can you introduce your label?
R: Nero One Records was started as a vessel to release good bands that needed to be heard out there to the masses of the underground. Our goal is to put out top quality music and to get this music out there to the people that crave it as much as we do.
2. What led you to start a label? Were you influenced by other labels around you, or did it slowly evolve from another underground activity, such as a distro, perhaps a fanzine or something?
R: It was decided to start the label since there was a genuine passion on my part to discover new and great bands, as well as put out bands that deserved to be heard. I come from the 1980s tape trading/fanzine days. I was inspired by the classic labels that made a mark during that era, Earache, Peaceville, Nuclear Blast and even the smaller labels like Thrash, Seraphic Decay, Drowned Productions, Adipocere, Wild Rags and so on. Our main goal is to put out bands and release of stuff that we would buy and support!
3. Why did you choose this label name, and what does it mean for you?
R: Nero One
was the nick name or street name of my brother Douglas, who tragically
passed away during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Doug was in
the military and died serving his country. Naming the label after
him was a logical tribute to do in my eyes as he was also right
there with me in the 1980s as we obsessed over the music underground.
The name of our label is a constant reminder of Doug and what he
meant to us. He is missed and it is our honor to pay tribute to
him and to see the Nero One name and logo spread all over the world
now! RIP DOUG!!!!!!
4. Which releases from your catalog are you the most satisfied with? Some releases don't happen how you imagined it to, and some finally look better than expected... Some bands aren't too exciting to work/ communicate with while some have a lot of things to say... Finally satisfaction can appear at various levels !)
R: We have been very lucky to work with a diverse and amazing number of bands so far in our short career as a label. Starting with the soon to be legendary demo that kicked this label off, RUIN "Spread Plague Hell". Being able to help the band create their vision of the release, complete with the creepy noose bags holding the tape and extras together, was exciting. The SHAMBLES LP is a total classic in our eyes, as is the THY FEEBLE SAVIOUR demo. Moving on to future classics by the likes of MORGUE SUPPLIER and GOAHOLOCAUST (who we were able to co-release with our great friend from up in Canada John at Von Frost Records). On to the mighty split LPs that we did with VASTATION/MUTABO and CHAOSBRINGER/RUINAS (these were in conjunction with our great friends over in Russia, Neanderthal Stench Records.) Von Frost also helped us to put out the crushing debut full length by RUIN called "Drown in Blood". And now we just did the massive split cassette tape with WITCHAVEN and MAZE OF TERROR. We can honestly say that we are totally satisfied with ALL of these releases and these awesome bands/artists.
5. Do you generally do everything yourself, or you cooperate with other metallers for the layout, some promotion or other activities?
R: We have a whole network of family and friends that are able to help us get our information spread out there and get our activities done and our goals achieved. This includes our entire Nero One Familia as well as our extended family in the Ruin Cult. Everyone helps in one way or another. If someone is busy with life and can't do their duty, someone else will help to pick up the slack in that area. We leave no stone in-turned in this instance.
6. The fact of starting a label can initially come from dreams, something great you have in mind and you'd like to finally materialize... Even if it's quite private, and I know some labels don't like to talk about it too much, you can perhaps tell us about the craziest dreams you would have in mind for a label... For a couple of minutes we can forget about the material/ financial problems and imagine we are in 2005, everything can be possible and you can talk about it now! AhAh
R: It would
to keep putting out quality releases and not have to worry about
the financial issues that are associated with doing this on top
of a day job and the usual life/family stuff that comes up and can
often delay production of things. Being able to help organize a
festival with the bands on the label would be amazing. Getting major
distribution help would be awesome. Just small things that would
fall into place that would allow the label and the bands/artists
on the label to get out there to more people. I honestly think that
we have far surpassed expectations of where we thought we would
be at this point in our life span as a label. We dreamt big, but
even those dreams have been surpassed. It is time to dream even
bigger and achieve even more and go further!
7. What's the best way to distribute a release in your opinion? Is it about online sales, trades, sales during gigs, or do you use the services or an official distributor perhaps?
R: ALL OF THE ABOVE! Everything that you listed there is crucial to getting the product out there. Partnerships formed with distros is a great way to make connections. We actually walk into our local record stores and get the Nero One release into those stores. So far, we haven't been able to find a larger scale official distributor. But we have worked with the smaller underground distros and been able to get small amounts of product over to Hell's Headbangers and Dark Descent for their online stores. Selling at gigs is very hit and miss, but it's always worth bringing a merch set up to the shows. There is always that one die hard that is going to freak out and spend $100 on some things.
8. Are you releases generally limited to a small amount of copies, or you try to push things a bit further? Sometimes it can take quite some time to distribute more than 200 copies of a tape... But if you limit a release to 50-100 copies it's very few and we can wonder about the use and efficiency of "100 copies only" (Some copies sleep eternally in some distros, some copies are never listened to... So how many copies from the 100 are really listened to?)
R: I guess we are in the middle. Initially, we wanted to do smaller runs of our releases. Keep it 50-100. But the response for the music that we posted up out there was impressive. That told us to re-think things a little and move up to between 100-300. Take a band like SHAMBLES. They are one of the best bands around right now. Few can come close to how great they are, yet few have even heard of them. They are over in Thailand. Not one of the "trendy hot beds" of metal scenes. So they get lost in the shuffle. Their LP we put out was literally called "the best album of 2016 that no one heard". It's sad in a way, yet this won't be the case for long. SHAMBLES will rise up and be heard by more of the world. We were proud to take a chance and work with them. Nothing else mattered! When we heard that album, we were completely blown away. We HAD to put it out and get them spread out there. We try to have a formula. Like RUIN, we know they have a following and will sell very well. So we will press more copies of their releases. Maybe a more unknown band, that is awesome, yet few know about them, or they are new, we will make a smaller press. As far as we know/have been told, we are very lucky in the fact that none of our releases are just sitting there at a distro. Our releases have sold and been spread around. THAT is all that matters.
9. Do you believe it's important to support and release bands from your area/ and or country?
R: Yes and
no. Although "homegrown" talent is great and there are
always great bands in our own backyard to work with, there are also
amazing bands from all over the world. We don't want to ignore the
awesome locals from here in our environs. But we also don't want
to limit our abilities to reach people from all over the world by
working with killer bands from far off countries. Take OMEN FILTH
for instance. VERY obscure and few have heard of them. They are
from The Philippines, not a known place for extreme music. But OMEN
FILTH slay some of the best black metal that we have heard in years!
No joke!! Just because they aren't from our own area/scene or they
aren't from Norway or South America, doesn't mean they aren't just
as bad ass as bands from those countries. We have been able to work
with a diverse array of bands from different states in the U.S.
as well as different countries too. From Chicago and Texas, to Thailand
and Russia. From L.A. and Portland, to Serbia, Belgium, Peru and
Argentina. For us, it is important to work with quality bands and
quality people. The releases will speak for themselves.
R: So far, it is just the label. The Nero One Distro will be up and running shortly. There will also be gigs and events organized by Nero One too, in the future. Our dream is too have a full functioning venue with a record store in there as well. But one step at a time, "baby steps". The label is a HUGE reason and way to communicate. If we don't communicate, how will we get our product out there. At some point, we would like to be in league with the successful labels that have a built in following that buys everything the label puts out! haha. But even then, growing and making new connections through communication is key. Building solid relationships, maintaining them, NOT burning bridges, honest business ethics and tactics. THIS is how one succeeds. In the end, I think we all want a label that basically runs itself.
11. I know some peoples are making a living from selling underground metal CDs... sometimes it's even small underground labels ran by only one guy. In the current situation where it's harder than ever to sell CDs, considering all the compromises one would have to deal with to make a living from running a small label, do you think we can honestly say these guys are still underground? Isn't there too much of compromises and need-for-cash to use the word "UNDERGROUND" anymore? (Underground in the initial meaning of the word, not the modern Nuclear blast/ Century media version...)
R: People that become successful tend to work very hard (for the most part) and with that hard work, comes success. As the brand of the label grows, the status of that label changes and it is difficult to remain "underground". As an owner of a company, we strive to become successful at it, just as the bands try and reach as many people as possible on their end. YES the underground is the best and the grass roots of anything is usually the "purest". Everyone starting off has a hunger to get known and establish themselves. As people change, even age and go through life, tastes and outlooks change. This can effect the product that they put out. The classic era of a lot of these labels has come and gone. When one is the "hot new thing" everyone wants a part and a piece of that, so with that and even some luck, a label can have a string of amazing releases that really put them on the map. With more people becoming aware of the label, then that label might start to grow out of the underground. More sales can mean less hunger and in some, money and success does indeed change them and their outlook and the way that they run the label (the bands they work with as well!) Regardless, anyone that can make a living out of doing an underground extreme music label has to have legendary discipline and really know how to manage money and put it back to where it needs to go. But to answer the main part of this question, NO they are NOT "UNDERGROUND" anymore. IF we can experience that type of success, being able to live off of running a record label, that would be amazing! BUT if it doesn't happen like this, then so be it, we will still do what we do regardless. The true happiness comes from watching bands like RUIN, THY FEEBLE SAVIOUR and SHAMBLES move on to larger labels and getting to spread their music all over the world. THAT is very satisfying to us, as we were able to play a small part in that success.
12. To dig deeper in the underground, do you believe "Do it yourself" releases still have a future? Once again I'm using a word in its initial meaning, and I see fewer labels release and produce tapes all by themselves (Dubbing tapes, printing and cutting covers), as almost everyone seems to choose the pro tape format (Sometimes it's not better than carefully made DIY tapes), and the old CDr release seems to be bashed by many, while it's not that bad sometimes...
R: As much
as I would love to sit there and cut and paste and tape layouts
together and everything from scratch with my own hands, I just don't
have the time to do it or even the crafty sensibility to make that
shit look good! haha. Leave it to the pros! With the RUIN "Spread
Plague Hell" demo, we all learned the hard way as to just how
labor intensive as well as expensive things could be with making
everything needed with that release. We had friends and family helping
with that one too. It was still very intense and came down to the
wire with making sure that we got everything on time. It was all
very worth the effort and we will explore super cool and very limited
hand made releases in the future. But with what we wanted to accomplish
and put out there, it just didn't make good business sense at this
time. Bottom line is that we want to put out a quality product.
Regardless if we do it ourselves and hand make everything. Or we
take it to a professional shop and get it made there. We want to
make sure that our brand is known for top notch packaging. The DIY
way is very much alive. It's always special to have something in
your hand that was hand made and you can see the time and effort
that was put into the craft.
14. Vynil, vynil, but is it so good to release vynil? Personally I prefer to stick to tapes and pro CDs, because vynil is more expensive to ship (I even don't want to imagine the postage for trades lol) and this would create too much stress around the monetary problem, so the state of mind would be less relaxed and not too underground anymore... (You know, money, money, money...)
R: Vinyl is king and seems to be staying king for a while. It is the best format (in our opinion) and it's the most popular and sought after format. Everyone wants records, bands all want to release records. So regardless, it's necessary. Tapes are great since they are cheap to make and have recently made a comeback. CDs are always easy to use and can store the most music out of the traditional formats. Plus since no one wants them anymore, they are cheap to make, haha. But vinyl is king. Totally outrageous as to just how expensive it is to make, manufacture and ship. Yet we need to make records and ship them to get them out there to the masses. So it's just one of those things that need to get done. It's is VERY stressful at times. When one sees the bill from a vinyl manufacturing plant, it can take your breath away! haha. Shipping costs have gone through the roof, in ALL countries. One just needs to "grin and bare it" as they say! A necessary evil perhaps?!?!?
15. Do you send promos for reviews? Due to smaller incomes, labels rarely do physical promos anymore, and there are more and more digital mp3 promos... But most of the time digital promos aren't reviewed (When it's about small labels that release unknown bands... Most of peoples will naturally choose what they know, or what seems quite "in"...) So what should we do?
R: We will send out promos and we have. But also, we are small at this point in time. We also run this ourselves, so money is tight. It's a case by case basis. We have some solid friends that we do indeed send out promos too. Most level headed people understand that in this day and age, with the costs of everything being so high on all ends, going to the online sites(in our case the BandCamp) and grabbing what they need digitally from there is easiest. It's up to each individual editor of whatever zine or site, that wants to cover the music, to decide how they want to receive it. Then it is up to us to decide if we will send off actual physical copies. One also has to be careful due to fakes and rip offs out there. Wasting time, money, copies, postage on these fucks will enrage us and THAT is the type of stress that we don't want. It goes along with the avenues of communication on each end to decide what is the best course of action. Everyone is different. Some are easy to work with, some are hard to work with. You scratch our backs, we will scratch yours. The best and easiest as far as actual physical copies being sent out is someone who runs a fanzine/webzine and also does an online/mailorder distro. More bang for the buck so to speak. Even trades are always the best.
16. Which bands/ albums/ demos did you listen to the most the last months? Are you only into metal, or also dig other genres of music?
R: Doing the label gives us the opportunity to discover a lot of great music out there. Regardless if we hunt them down, they ask us to work with them or a friend recommends them to us. Obviously, the releases that we have put out are always in constant rotation. And some future releases that are coming out shortly also get constant plays in the dungeon. From recent memories, here is a quick playlist of bands/artists we have been blasting: DISEMBOWELMENT, IMPALED NAZARENE, MERCILESS, TRANSGRESSOR, PARADISE LOST, DEMOLITION, SLAUGHTER, NEUROSIS, GRAVE, NICK CAVE, GODFLESH, JOHNNY CASH, ENTOMBED, BLOOD, IMPETIGO, JOHN ZORN, HOLOCAUSTO, BOLT THROWER, SKULLFLOWER, RIGHTEOUS PIGS, NAUSEA, SEPTIC DEATH, SACRILEGE, THE DARK, ANGELCORPSE, DEATHHAMMER, CARCASS, AXEGRINDER, DR. SHRINKER, CREMATORY, BEHERIT, TRAUMATIC, OLD COVEN, CHURCH OF DISGUST, R.L. BURNSIDE, EXCRUCIATING TERROR, HELLWITCH, UNDERGANG, CARNIVORE, SONIC YOUTH, AGGRESSION, ENCOFFINIZED, FETID and many, many others!!!! Metal is deep in our blood, but we listen to all kinds of madness as long as it's good. Everything from old school 80s and 90s hip-hop to old Blues to Outlaw Country, to dark wave post punk to movie soundtracks to hardcore punk to space rock and all kinds of other stuff. If it's GOOD MUSIC, then it's meant to be heard.
R: We try to have a solid plan of attack as to what we are doing in the future. Things can get a little out of hand with the amount of releases that come up, that we want to put out there. Our main goal is to reach as many distributors that we can while we establish our brand. This goes for both the big ones and the smaller ones. At some point maybe we won't have to worry about things as much, as far as getting our releases out there. Our next few releases will be some of our best for sure. Including the OMEN FILTH full length LP, cassette tapes by VOMIT CONJURER, SWINE INFECTION, CAULDRON BURIAL, BLOOD RED FLAG, CULTUS PROFANO, CHAOSBRINGER and re-releases of some classic demos by GASP and DEAD CONSPIRACY. Also a split 7 inch vinyl of CARDIAC ARREST and SURGIKILL as well as the latest CD by Hell Paso, Texas miscreants OBEISANCE! This will get us through 2019 and we are in talks with RUIN on doing both the tape and the vinyl for their next full length album "Rituals of Human Annihilation". It is going to be a busy next couple of years, but we wouldn't have it any other way!
18. This is the last question, feel free to add what you want, and conclude with underground power! :-)
R: Thank you for this awesome interview. It is an honor to do this and is much appreciated. The true underground horde know that the underground power and spirit will NEVER die! We always must keep this flame alive. Please go to our site and check out the label and spread word about it, purchase some stuff, it will keep your soul healthy and your karma clean! haha. Keep an eye and an ear out for our future releases, as well as our current releases(if you haven't yet!) Cheers, Beers and HAIL THE HORNED ONE!!!!!!!
Web page: https://neroonerecords.bandcamp.com