1. Introduce your zine! When and why did you create it?
First of all hello to all your readers, I'm Nuno Santos the director of the Portuguese zine Ancient Ceremonies. Well the zine was created back in '95 and to tell the truth there wasn't a specific reason to create Ancient Ceremonies! I guess there were a group of factors that resulted in the zine. I was already a fan of metal for around 10 years and perhaps the passion for the music was the main thing, but also other factors like checking other zines and thinking that I could do better and stuff like that.
2. Did the highlines of your zine evolve thought the years, and if so which were the reasons?
Yes of course! I'm the type of guy which tends to get bored quite easily and I guess that if things were simply a plain line I had already get bored with it. I'm always looking for the new grounds to explore, new things to do! I guess this is why Ancient Ceremonies is still alive after all these years! I mean who gets interested in a zine that issue after issue is simply the same thing? Thatís probably why most new editors see their projects falling apart!
3. How would you convince a metalhead to order a copy of your zine? How would you convince a distro to order 5-10 copies of it?
I guess that people above all are interested in quality and Ancient Ceremonies has it! I don't want to sound too much convinced but what can I say! Usually metalheads have already seen Ancient Ceremonies through a friend or have heard about it. They visit our site and get interested! As for distributors, itís a different story. I usually get in touch with them and ask them if they would consider distributing it and I can also send them sample pages through email or by post. Itís basically like that!
4. 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?
A good review... is there something like that?! People need to have in mind that it's always a personal view! Of course there are points which can be stated like the quality of the musicians, the production and so on which are objective things, but for me a review is a subjective piece of text. I always like to focus on some things, for instance if we are talking about a new band its always good to compare it with other bands for the reader to have an idea of what we are talking about, I also like to talk about the production, if the band is original or not. I believe that is better to hear something first before buying!
5. How many times do you need to listen to a release to be able to decently review it? How do you know when you've really overviewed the realistic qualities and bad points of a release: is there a special feeling or something?
Thatís a hard one... it really depends, there are stuff that after a few songs I know is crap and there are albums that need to have space to grow in you. I usually have a good vision of an album after 2, 3 listenings. Still the best option is if you sit in front of the computer trying to review something and you don't know what to say itís probably an indication that you need to hear it one more time!
6. Do you think a zine maker can be really objective when he has to deal with a lot of music? He hasn't the same point of view than the fans who have access to really few music and who have to pay to own the real release... What's your opinion about it?
I know where
you are trying to reach with this question, probably a guy who hears
2, 3 new albums daily was a sharper hearing than a guy who hears
the same album the whole week. Probably the fan that hears just
a few albums a month is more open to new bands, but what he doesn't
know is that the band that he thinks is super is a copy of another
band or something like that. Thatís probably the main difference
between a zine editor and a fan. Still isn't the job of an editor
7. How would you define objectivity? In my opinion it needs a decent knowledge of the kind of music (The reviewer has to know quite well the kind of music he deals with and to be into it for several years), as well as taking distance from several years of experience and personal feelings, so this objectivity isn't really objective ;-) So do you think objectivity really exists concerning the reviews of music?
Objectivity is a very restrictive word as I have already said! I believe itís impossible for a reviewer to take fully aside feelings, experiences when reviewing something! I do believe that a person who is into a style of music for several years knows more about what he is saying than someone who only hears it for two or three years, I think that its obvious! But will he be objective in the true sense of the word; could he take aside those years when writing a story? Probably not!
8. Do you think there's an objectivity being conditioned by the pressures of labels and good-thinking fans?
We are talking about zines; I don't think labels pressure too much zines as they know zines don't have the same exposure as big magazines. In that circuit pressure may exist, just buy a few different magazines of the same month and check in how many magazines there is the same mainstream band! That's probably an indication of pressure, but itís understandable since itís those labels who buy advertising space on those magazines which is not very cheap! But I believe all editors need to be honest to their readers!
9. Do you or did you play in a band? Do you think it's helpfull when you have to review some music? In a way it could help you to see easily when a band uses void-filling riffs or didn't finish its songs well...
No I don't have any experience in bands! It may or may not be helpful. Are people interested in reading technical terms in a review that they simply don't understand or do they need to read an opinion from another fan? I would opt for the second choice if you ask me! I guess when a guy hears music for around 20 years it has all the necessary experience to write about music, which is my case! Still I need to agree with you that it may be a positive thing to have some musician background!
10. What's your opinion about the guys who say "If you can't do better, more technical, or anything... Shut the fuck up!" It's a quite too easy argument! A guy shouldn't bother being a skilled musician to have an opinion on music, since it's mostly a fan and listener's point of view! Do you think those who say so are rather frustrated musicians who spent years working on the technicality of their guitar playing, or rather fans of technial music who like it very cerebral?
That's an opinion of a fool if you ask me! Just check the "list" of cult albums and tell me how many are real technical gems? Music is not about technical skills, music is about feeling, is about what a band can transmit to a listener either in a live environment or at home! Thatís my opinion, and not how many different riffs a guitar player uses or how many blast beats a drummer can play in a song! Usually people tend to talk too much and do nothing... itís our human nature!
11. How many promos do you receive each week? each month?
It really depends on the particular time of the year! Usually per week I don't get less than 10 promos, but there are situations when in one day I get 20, 30 promos! It really depends!
12. Did you voluntary contact many labels so that they send you their promotional stuffs, or did the promotional stuffs came little by little in your mailbox, without any request, as you kept doing your zine, mostly reviewing stuffs from your collection?
When we started back in 95 we had to contact many labels! Back in that period Metal was still into a tremendous black metal fever and we had a decent share of responses from that kind of labels, which resulted in a very black metal oriented first issue! Nowadays most of the metal labels (around 80% or so) are aware of us and there isn't much to be made, except contacting new labels that may appear!
13. Are you in contact with some societies who work for the promotion of several labels and usually send the zines many albums? Needless to say some of these "companies" aren't well targeted and happen to send the zines some stuffs that has nothing to do with its highlines! (It's sometimes quite hard to stop them in their promotional mailbombings! They've got many enjeweled arguments too keep the zines working for them...And they don't easily understand if someone do not want it! lol). Did you meet this kind of troubles? If you receive some albums that has nothing to do with your zine, do you review it anyway?
Yes we are in contact with some companies that their main business is promoting labels! I don't have that much that sort of problems because the magazine is not directed to a particular style of music, like just Black metal, or Death Metal! Ancient Ceremonies is a metal zine interested in all sub-genres! If itís metal you can be sure it will get exposure! Otherwise I simply do not include in its pages, Ancient Ceremonies itís not a charity institution (laughs)!
14. Do you think it remains useful to receive promos? After all it's easy to download many Mp3s and one could run his zine reviewing mostly stuffs he enjoy... and not bother listening 15 times stuffs he would have never paid interest to... In my opinion a zine being run almost without any promo would really turn into a FANzine! Only the best stuffs would gain promotion, while the less interesting ones would remain unnoticed: It would be a NATURAL selection! Do you think it's utopian and I should stop drinking strawberry-milk or what...?
That looks more like fan club (laughs)! If you don't listen to other stuff how would you know what you like and dislike? I usually don't stumble in a band on the street (laughs)! If you want to create a publication with the aim to inform people about what is the best or not you need to hear everything! Otherwise it just looks like the fan club of person "x" or "y".
15. What's the best way to run a zine in your opinion: To remain quite distant from the whole underground and say what you have to say (anonymously or not) without taking care of other peoples reactions, or to be in touch with many bands, activists and to offer something less personal but much more informative?
I don't have a secret formula; everyone just runs a zine the best way he or she knows! I believe that a zine is the mirror of the editor's personality! I base Ancient Ceremonies on honesty, hard working, always trying to do better next time and above all not passing over others! As for how should anyone interact with others... I have a very low-profile attitude, I really don't give a fuck about what others say or do and I'm not the type of guy that hears here and tells there, you know!
16. Do you think a zine has to be very specific to a given kind of music to be efficient (exemple: Old school death, Technical death or Raw black metal), or are anykind of more or less metallic musics welcome?
All words should be accepted to express a certain kind of music. Imagination should only be the limit!
17. Many paper fanzines died and most of the zines are now on the Internet under the form of webzines. It's cool because it's free and the gain of informations is faster... But on the other hands most of the webzines don't have the personality many paper zines had! The Internet metal press becomes really homogenous and selfless while a bunch of paper zines where very personal in their way of writing/ reviewing the stuffs, in the artworks, and highlines (some were very much specialised). Do you think this situation will improve in few years (eventhough Internet is more or less commonly used since 4-5 years) or would an improvement be really difficult when taking in account how things work on the web?
For me the
only advantage on the internet is the fast access to information
like you have said, however I'm not the type of guy who sits in
front of a computer to read interviews or reviews! Nowadays everyone
has its own private webzine, quantity doesn't mean quality and that
is probably what is happening with webzines... there are way too
18. Do you happen to read other zines? Do you take inspiration from some or do you simply read their writings as a metaller?
At the moment I don't read many zines, just the ones I review for Ancient Ceremonies! I try to keep away from others' work in order to not be influenced in any way.
19. 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 simply like to have a good reading, there are zines that I don't like much their selections of bands but they do know how to keep the reader interested in their texts, like Kogaionon for instance (too bad it has some things on the layout I do not like). Others have good bands with weak texts! What I truly do not like is zines with the typical what's your fave album kind of questions!
20. Are you more or less demanding concerning the quality of demos? In my opinion demos aren't totally finished stuffs, it's something like a "try" and we shouldn't be as demanding towards demos! But the problems appear when some bands release their demos as professional MCDs or full-lengths... some labels even release and promote some demo-recordings (both for the production and the musical side) as real killer full-lengths! It's a bit confusing, don't you think so?
give the same attention to demos as to any other kind of release;
still it depends on what the band wants with that particular recording.
Demos originate record deals and if you have a weak demo you can
be sure that no record label will give any credit to the band!
21. In the history of your zine where there some staff changes? Did you fire some contributors because they didn't fit anymore to the zine? If so would you tell us why they where fired?
Yes during the years I have seen some people coming and going. Some were simply not interested enough, others simply didn't had enough experience to write and the worst were the ones who talked more than actually made. On the other hand I had my share of one or two contributors who were good pieces on the puzzle which leaved, but that's life!
22. Do you think somekind of competition between zines is something good? To which extant do you think that should remain? Did you already have problems with other zines? (If so what were the stronger menaces?lol).
I wouldn't say competition... I mean I simply try to do the best I can for my zine. If you call this attitude competition than its okay for me! That is as far as I go, simply doing harder each time, trying to improve and don't bothering about what others do. Thatís my attitude as editor and in daily life! Sorry no menaces episodes to tell, but I'm sure that there are many people with envy of what and how big Ancient Ceremonies reached...
23. Do you read my webzine? If so tell us honestly what's your opinion about it as well as what I should change or not!
To tell the truth I didn't know about Nihilistic Holocaust until you contacted me. I just checked it and it looks okay! In my humble opinion the design could be better also some images need a bit time to load. What truly lacks it's a personality, something that everybody would state as been from N.H.; I mean its looking too much like dozen of others! This is my honest opinion!
24. The final countdown has reached the last numbers! Tell us about your future plans with the zine, and feel free to conclude! Thanx for the answer!
First of all
I would like to thank you for the opportunity. Regarding future
plans, for the ones still not aware we are running also an online
shop which has more than 6000 articles available.