DOOM/ DEATH/ BLACK/ THRASH RECORD LABEL.
Hail G! Well, to say I’m fine would be a lie, but I guess one gets what one deserves…Feels good to participate in your zine though! I Hate is a Swedish-based underground Metal label that is run by me, Ola Blomkvist, and my partner in crime, Peter Lidén.
2. When did you create your label and what motivated you to run something like this?
We’ve been around since 2000, releasing purely underground (and mostly) old school Black, Thrash, Death and Doom metal. Peter and I have different tastes in Metal, I live for Doom Metal while Peter is completely dedicated to the more aggressive side of things. We both stand on common ground though, in the sense that we both look upon the current development of the so called “Metal scene”, at least in the eyes of commercial media, as a joke. It’s the underground that harbours the true artists and that’s the reason why we started up the label, to give a voice to those who truly deserve to be heard through the cacophony of polished, commercial crap.
Did you consciously decide to create a label, or did it occur as a matter of facts? (As you might have been doing a zine and began a distro little by little... as you received more and more stuffs in trade...)
Both I and Peter have a past as contributors to fanzines. Peter even have a journalist education and have been interviewing Metal bands for our local news paper while I used to have a fanzine of my own called Gargoyle Magazine back in 96-99. We both also contribute to Punishment zine on an irregular basis (children are born and raised between each issue…that’s how slow things work at the Punishment HQ, he he). Anyway, our journalist dabbling never involved any kind of distro activities so it wasn’t a case of gradual growth that made us start I Hate, but a conscious choice.
3. What was the first band you released? Did you choose them or was it the contrary? Was it hard to convince them to work with you, as you were a very new label with no release?
The first band we worked with was Sargatanas Reign, a Death Metal band in the vein of Morbid Angel etc. It was not hard to convince them to work with us since we knew them from before. We learned a lot from this initial signing, among other things to be very careful working with people you’re friends with. It can get really messy at times.
4. I think it's currently much easier for you to convince a band to work with you! But is it always so easy? Maybe some have too big expectations or something like that... How does it work most of the time? Is there a contract to be signed with the bands, or is it simply a mutual agreement?
We have very rarely experienced any difficulties in convincing acts to work with us since most of them are down to earth kind of people by nature, otherwise they wouldn’t be playing underground Metal. We are honest towards our bands and always tell them beforehand what we can do and what limitations in terms of budget etc we have. If there’s an album deal we set up a contract with the band, but if there’s a 7” or MLP we usually go for a mutual agreement. It’s all about trust in the end.
5. How do you choose a band you'll work with? Do you care only about the musical aspect, or are the motivation for promotion and the setting of gigs important?
Well, first of all both Peter and I must agree on working with a band and since we have different preferences this means that we need to “sell” the band to each other, so to speak. This makes for a sort of quality seal in the sense that if Peter is convinced about the greatness of a Doom band, being an old school Thraser himself, this must mean that the band in question have something really special, right? This also works the other way around, of course. Then we look at the kind of drive a band has. Are they motivated? Do they have any knowledge about/contacts in the underground? Are they within their sound minds so that a co-operation is possible?
Much more numerous are the bands who do a lot of promotion online (spamming and blabbing the boards, always building a newer website) but play few gigs and finally do few promotional work (I mean: the real one! Lots of trades, lots of flyers, lots of promotional items sent everywhere!) Would you work with this kind of bands? Would you share my opinion when I say focusing the promotions on a website is quite illusionary as many guys who visit a website are there by hazard and don't give a shit about the music?!
I think that I, to some extent, have answered this question in my previous answer, but let me just say that we fully realize the value of touring/gigging, and that this is a department we need to improve in. We need to get the bands out to play for people and up till now we have been dependant on our under ground contacts to make this happen (hail Danny Angus, Jochen Fopp, Frederic Cauré and Marko Rune!), and I guess we’ll continue to be so. It is of course a big advantage if a band has the right contacts so that they can set up gigs on their own and help out in promoting a release by sending out promotional material/provide us with addresses so we can send it out (we usually give the band a certain amount of material to share with their contacts). The internet is great in many ways, but spam is a plague that I believe to some extent put people off rather than promote a release. We have a news list which we send to the ones that has been in touch + we do b/w flyers that we send out high, low and center and it works for us. And yes, you are so right, to just depend on an internet site to do the promotional work for you is illusory indeed, especially the number of hits a page can have is misleading to say the least…
6. Do you like merchandising (tshirts, patches...) and the fast or releasing the same album under various formats? (CD, classic Lp, picture Lp). If so, does it take a lot of time and energy to work on all this shit? Do you consider it as a real plus, or simply a little extra?
Sure, we like shirts, we’ve done a few, and it’s all part of a release. Although the bands usually like to take care of this part them selves so they can get some merchandise money in when gigging. Patches we haven’t done up till now, don’t know why, really. Would be cool to do some day. LP versions of albums we have done and it’s really cool, although it’s almost impossible to go break even on such releases since the printing cost/postage is so high (we hate the Swedish postal system even more than the x-tian church – fuck these vampires!). It does take a lot of time doing LP designs, and designs in general, and it’s me who does them, at least when the band request it. It’s fun though, and one part of the label work that I enjoy a lot.
7. If your label has a main line of integrity, valours, and principles, tell us about it!
Underground metal above all!
Or maybe you're rather free to do whatever feels right?
We are free to do what we feel is right, we are small but independent and we love the stuff we release, simple as that.
8. Do you
think too numerous (sometimes illusionary) positive feedbacks and
too long extensive tours might influence a talented band in the
decrease of its musical quality?
I think that overtly positive feed back can pump up the ego of anyone, really, affecting the talent in a negative way. I think that to be an underdog is always the most fruitful state for anyone to come up with something heart felt and honest. If you are celebrated and well-fed you get sated and lazy. One needs a hunger and desperation, one needs to bleed for what, hopefully, is ones passion. There’s no co-incidence that Metal always has been connected to the working class in general. At least that’s the case in all genres except for Black metal that seem to be a middle class phenomenon…but let’s not get too entangled in the politics of, and social structures within, metal now… Regarding tours I don’t see the same problem. Tours and even single gigs make you grow as a band, at least in most cases, at least that’s my opinion.
9. On the other hand, musicians with a quite good potential might never compose the really great thing they might be able to in the future... if all the cock-suckers already hailz them to death once they're only playing average music! Some musicians might conveniently stay in their musical averageness and get the benefits from the no-effort-status... Why would they shake their minds to compose something great, emotionally deep or outstanding since they're already considered as gods?? ;-)
If a band is only in it for good reviews then they are a confused bunch of morons. It’s all about passion, really, no matter what the press has to say about it.
10. Since a lot of metallers really seem to confuse "talent" and "know-how" (Many bands who have know-how and passion are often considered as "talented" while it's far from being the case! They only like what they do, and they do it well.) give us your definition of these two words, and give few exemples of bands that would fit well for each. Do you think a talented band is necessarily innovative?
I think that you do not need to be extremely talented to make good music, although it undoubtedly helps a bit. What I firmly believe though (simply because I have to believe it, otherwise I might as well just lay down and die), is that will and determination wins over pure talent in 99 cases of 100, and that goes for anything, really, not just music. Ok, you can not be completely tone deaf if you want to create Metal music, but with only a minimum of talent (such as knowing what’s up and what’s down on your instrument) and “know how” (meaning you have an understanding of the spirit of the music you want to express) you can really go places, hell, you could even end up with your band signed to I Hate! He he he… As for naming bands in this context, and without being too cocky: what comes closest to mind is my own band, The Doomsday Cult, as well as Peter’s (my I Hate college) Terrorama. None of us are exactly musical geniuses, rather the opposite, we started playing our respective instruments as grown men a few years ago and still it seems people within our respective scenes get into our music. Peter has his Terrorama debut LP out through Nuclear War Now and we in The Doomsday Cult have had the honour of playing at Doom Shall rise II in Germany, the worlds number 1 all DOOM METAL festival.
the best way to find a new band you might work with? Do you listen
to all the demos you receive? Do you search on the web? Do you prefer
to see some new bands live?
The best way to find a new band is to have your eyes and ears open to the scene that you feel part of, in my case that would be the Doom Metal scene, in Peter’s case the old school Black/Thrash/Death scene’s. If your tentacles and antennas are active and tuned in chances are you get to hear rumours about bands worthy of your interest, in other words: recommendations from people you have respect for is really important. Also, if you are crushed by a band in the live setting, like The Plague of Gentlemen flattened my skull at DSR II, it needless to say helps a lot as well. I very rarely search the net for new talent, at least not actively. We do listen to all the stuff we receive and we try to get back to everyone that send us stuff, however writing long, or short, reviews is time consuming and it might take a while for us to respond. I personally feel that if a band makes the trouble of sending their demo/promo with a personal letter attached it would be arrogant of us to not get back to the band/person in question. And as I’ve said before, it’s under ground you find the jewels…
12. Is the current situation of labels so hard and painful? Many owners of these full-time job of a label complain a lot about the bad sales of CDs and the fact it's not good to download mp3s... But on the other hand some of these who like to complain never answer when you ask them their list of wholesale prices, some happen to have higher wholesale-prices than consumer-prices (Incredible...but true! And it's a label from my suburb...), some labels don't stress that much their bands when they do not answer interviews, and some even don't hesitate to close the office and go on vacations for 1 month! (If the situation was so hard, there would be no room for vacations! For sure that would be: Work hard and keep it alive!!). I have doubts about all the situation, especially since the sales in my "rotten tapes and CDr" distro are OK, so give us your opinion!
To run a label is nothing I would recommend if you want to get rich, that’s for sure, and naturally that was never our aim, or we would have started a multi media company or something. I can’t speak of the economy of label’s bigger than I Hate (both me and Peter have “real” full time jobs beside the label) but I can tell you that if you want to make things go break even, and with a minimum of profit you have to work your arse off! We have not had more than a maximum of one week off since we started the label 5 years ago. If you have the ambition to go for it full time I can only try to imagine the workload. And I don’t think it’s fair to compare a proper, tax paying label with a distro since the premises becomes completely different once the state is involved, craving their share of the money.
13. What did you have to do to adapt your label to the current metal situation? Did you have to focus on given styles of metal? To be more selective with traders? To work much more on the web?
We have not adapted to the current metal situation, and this is actually the main idea of our label, to put out records that stand like rocks against the tide of trendy shit that flushes over us these days. We concentrate on timeless Metal music and in doing so we need to be selective with trades, yes. We can not take in and sell just anything since first of all it would feel wrong selling nu-metal crap or third generation power metal, for example. Secondly we’d loose face in the eyes of our customers, people that turn to us to get underground quality Metal. Again it’s all about trust.
14. Do you or did you play in a band? Do you think it's helpful when you run a label? In a way it could help you to see easily when a band uses void-filling riffs or isn't as serious and motivated as they claim...
Well, I think I have unintentionally answered this question already. I don’t think playing in band makes you more fit to judge whether a band is worthy of your label’s support or not, there are lot’s of examples through out Metal history that proves this point. However it might be helpful being in a band while running a label since one can easily put oneself in the bands situation and have a better communication on an artistic level.
How many copies of your own releases do you sell each month? Do you sell or trade most of it?
Hard to answer really, if we have a new item out it usually sells a lot the first month and then the sales decrease by each passing month. This is why we try to keep up a steady schedule so that we have something coming all the time, to keep the money flow pumping steadily, and this takes some planning ahead. To be able to release albums with some continuity we, as a small label, need to ensure that each release covers the cost of the release to come before we can start production. We trade a lot, that’s for sure, however as our net of regular distributors grow our whole sale’s increase. We definitely sell more than we trade, otherwise we would’ve gone bankrupt years ago.
How many distro-items do you sell each month, and how many orders do you receive each month?
Impossible to answer, really, as it depends on a lot of different factors. Sales increase by each month though, and that is the main thing.
15. What would be the perfect band you secretly dream to release something of?
I think in Peter’s case it would be to release some unreleased Bathory treasure or something. As for myself I believe I have already been given the opportunity to release a dream item in the form of the Pagan Altar – The Time Lord MLP. I have a hard time thinking of anything that could please me more as Pagan Altar to me is the best band ever!
Did you ever release something you had been dreaming of the intense way? So what was it?
16. What's your opinion about tapes releases? Apart from the fact it takes time to copy all of this... do you like it, or do you think it's over and from the past? What's your opinion about "labels" who release only tapes and/ or CDr?
I think tapes are really cool and not a part of the past! I definitely prefer MC before CD-R! I’m a bit mystified by the, sometimes, really professional CD-R releases I see some people are putting out, I mean why bother doing a pro-printed CD-R when you might as well print a real CD for almost the same price? OK, it might be easier to do smaller print runs this way, but still…In the near future it is most likely that I Hate will put out tapes as well, pro-printed sleeves and print on tape, of course.
17. Is there a kind of metal labels you hate? Maybe you're able to give us few names?
Any label diving into the sewers in pursuit of the next big –nu-gay-metal band have a place in my private poser purgatory for sure…
18. Since the Internet is becoming always bigger and bigger, I think some strange kind of cybernetic "labels" will take more importance: some websites offering musical downloads (sometimes for free) of stuffs you won't find another way (no CDs, no Lps...)... What are your feelings about it? Do you think this currently microscopic phenomenon will take much more importance in the future?
I think this is a growing phenomenon, unfortunately. However I don’t think it will be as big in so- called Metal circuits as within the pop/rock community (if one can speak of a community in this case). I still believe there will always be people that want to own the item, people that want to be able to browse through a real, printed booklet while enjoying the music, people that love the smell of fresh vinyl and to view a huge LP cover artwork that no down loaded picture printed on laser or inkjet can match. However this said I fear for the future since all values goes down the drain ass the young of today are increasingly drawn into the vicious circle of mass consumption.
19. Few years ago, when the Internet was even not a dream in the heads of most metallers, many labels of all kinds and sizes used to send promos everywhere to many fanzines... But what about now? Do you send a lot of promotional items to receive reviews? Do you focus on some websites? (maybe the biggest or the most regularly updated?) Do you still happen to send CDs to paper zines?
20. What's a good review in your opinion? Does it need to be totally objective, subjective, or a mix of both? Do you think the reviewer has to bring some personal opinions or deliriums? Do you make a difference when you're the metaller reading reviews of the label-boss reading reviews? The difference of opinion could be very different. ;-)
Naturally I prefer an honest review before an ass-licking one. Even if the criticism might be harsh it’s also all right as long as the reviewer can motivate his/her views while displaying knowledge of the music he/she is set to review. I hate to read reviews from a 16 year old that don’t have any knowledge of the rots of Metal whatsoever, and in this case it doesn’t matter whether it’s a positive or negative review from our perspective. In short, don’t set pen to paper/fingers to keyboard until you have gained the proper knowledge! When reading reviews on our releases it’s of course impossible to not see the review from a “label boss perspective”. When reading reviews of other releases I guess one is naturally not as tense and sensitive, if it’s not ones favourite band that takes a verbal beating from 16 year old that is…
21. What's your opinion about paper zines? Do you still happen to read some, and maybe you have some for sale in your distro? Are there some good current paper zines you could advice us?
I love paper zine’s! I love to be able to take a zine with me to the toilet while taking a serious dump as it’s the only place I can feel fully relaxed. I have a policy of buying all paper zine’s that is presented to me, total support for the die hard’s that still insist! Desecration Of Virgin is great! Unfortunately there’s very few printed Doom zine’s around these days but one that has my full approval is Pariah Child run by the incredibly dedicated doomster Danny Angus (hail brother, I owe!)! It would be nice if Reflections Of Doom would come out with a new issue as well, I need it!
22. How do you detect in few minutes if a zine would please or not your needs for alcoholic metal, objectivity and opinions? Do you rather have a look at the bands they interviewed, the notes given to the albums? ....Or the guestbook? Lol
I think I go for the interviewed bands, really. Also, it’s important that the layout of the page is inviting and not too messy with windows blinking and flashing etc. If it loads quickly is also a bonus, of course, cause otherwise you might not even come to judging whether a zine is objective or enough alcohol infested before you just leave the site. The phenomenon of internet guest books is something that I don’t bother with…
23. Do you think somekind of competition between labels is something good? To which extant do you think that should remain? Did you already have problems with other labels who were too greedy or "visionary"? (If so what were the stronger menaces?lol).
I don’t think we have experienced that much competition from other label’s similar to ours, perhaps since there aren’t that many that has our mixture of true DOOM and BLACK/THRASH/DEATH, I don’t know. I feel that label’s on our level are not that focused on competing with their colleges, instead we tend to help each other with distribution through trading etc.
24. Did you already read my webzine? If so tell us honestly what's your opinion about it (positive and negative points) as well as what I should change or not to please your tastes!
Sure, I’ve been too your site and I like it as it displays a nice mixture of UG bands and a smaller amount of more established acts. Who want’s to read another Arch Enemy interview anyway? Also I found a cool interview with Comecon on the site, not too common to read about them these days, made me nostalgic! I really like when old, almost forgotten heroes are featured. And you had the good taste of featuring Evoken as well, one of the best Death/Doom acts ever! Antithesis of light is soo monumental! Anyway, what I also like is that you cover more or less the whole UG spectrum with well written interviews with labels, fanzine’s and web zines. And as a bonus the site is free from annoying flash graphics, pop up’s etc, and it loads quickly! What I would like to see more of though is, naturally, more Doom metal interviews. I think there’s a huge lack of Doom metal interviews in general, on the net, and in paper zine’s, we need more DOOM!
25. What were the last 10 albums you listened to?
Asunder – A
clarion call CD
26. What are the last very good or killer bands you discovered? What will be your next releases?
Heathendom: from Hellas blew me away with their promo 2005 a while back and I still listen to it frequently. Classic Epic Doom in the Sorcerer/Solitude Aeternus vein that mixes more up tempo passages with slow dirges. Fantastic vocals and really well composed songs! Not due for a release just yet though.
Garden of worm – The witch comes alive! Demo: Finnish doom in the Pentagram/Reverend Bizarre vein, super great!
Fall Of The Idols: from Finland are awesome, (if not new to me since I’ve been following their development for a while now) and we will release their debut album in spring -06. Really depressive, cold true Doom Metal!
Morbid Insulter – A very young, Swedish Black/Thrash act that will kick arse with their second demo, I’m sure!
Also due for release in -05 is a split 7” with Brazil’s legendary Vulcano and Swedens equally legendary Nifelheim. Will feature newly composed and previously unreleased tracks from both acts…Will sell out quickly I believe…
Later on we will release a MLP with Italy’s horror Doom masters Abysmal Grief. It’ll be a conceptual piece touching upon the subject of spiritism and will contain a life time supply of dark and mystical atmospheres.
The spring of 06 will see album releases from The Gates Of Slumber (U.S) ( true Doom mixing Saint Vitus with Celtic Frost in a unique way), Burning Saviours (second effort from these vintage Pentagram/Roky Erikson/Hendrix disciples) and Isole (also second album, but of majestic, Epic Doom). There will also be a Black Angel/Grave Desecrator split LP out, probably during the winter 05/06 and we are currently negotiating with some other very interesting and really brutal bands. So lot’s of stuff in the pipe line, really.
This interview is over, you can conclude and say whatever needed to convince more metallers to support you! Thanx for the answers. Greetz!
Thank you G for your support and for allowing me to boast in public through your zine! Everyone who’s looking for high quality underground metal regardless of genre is welcome to visit: www.ihaterecords.cjb.net DOOM ON!