Yes, its another horrible Armchair interview today! And I am pleased and honoured to introduce my friend Jared Moran, who was kind enough to devote some time for my lame questions…enjoy!
Once you see the zine with the title like this one, you know you want to read it. And as a fellow zine-creator, I feel more than a sympathy to a fellow man doing this stuff, so it’s not a rocket science that – obviously – I want to know more about it.
Therefore, I had to ask Ed some obnoxious questions…and the answers will be your punishment, ha!
Hey, bro, how are you doing?! First and foremost, thanks a lot for your time doing this interview!
All good, man, cheers! Right now, as I’m writing, I’m catching up on listening to some sick new stuff I received in the mail. There’s always something making its way to me, it’s hard to keep up haha. Thanks for the interview, happy to oblige.
Well, let’s jump straight into the questions, shall we? So… what has urged you to start doing a zine in the first place? Have you had any previous experience doing an underground publication? Is/Was there any particular publication you might consider an inspiration for your publishing efforts?
Choppin’ Headz is my contribution to the extreme music underground. I’ve been a fan of the whole spectrum of brutal music for years, but unlike many people who are into heavy shit, I’ve never been able to give back by making my own noise. I do attempt to play drums, but it’s really just a distraction; I’m nowhere near competent enough to play in a band. I had a go at screen printing, since I’ve also made my own shirt designs in the past (using a stencil!), but I found that to be an art I couldn’t get along with. The theory is simple, the execution is not! Shout-out to all the printers making killer merch, you guys rule. So, I decided, instead of doing something I don’t know much about, I should do what I know, which is writing and print layouts.
Now, I’m by no means an expert at either of those, but it’s something I’m familiar with from work, so it made sense. The first lockdown was the catalyst for pushing me to actually do the zine. That shit fucked with my head pretty bad, and I needed something to focus on – something that was my own and that would be its own reward. So, the zine was catharsis for me and also allowed me to put creative energy into something I care a lot about.
As I mentioned, I have some experience in print layouts, but nothing in the style of a zine. The cool thing about zines is that you have total freedom to make it what you want. There aren’t many times in life you can say that! Plus, anyone with the basic idea of what a zine is can put one together.
In terms of inspiration, there’s nothing exactly that shaped the look and the style of Choppin’ Headz. Most of the zines I’d been exposed to prior to starting were real-deal, grimy DIY cut-and-paste efforts, which to me is the quintessential style. Choppin Headz’ has a little of that flavor, but it also has a more formal, magazine style. One thing I will say about a lot of zines I had read in the past, is that they weren’t really that well written. I mean, to the point where they sometimes didn’t make proper sense or didn’t really say anything. Once again, I will say that I am by no means an expert writer, and I admire anyone who takes time to put the ridiculous amount of effort it takes to put a zine together! But I wanted to make sure the writing in Choppin’ Headz was something I put a lot of effort into, not just bashed out in a hurry.
You’ll notice that the reviews never mention other bands, and the ‘For fans of…’ sections are tongue in cheek – this is intentional. I never liked the idea of forming of an opinion of a band in the context of another band, of someone else’s creative output. I think it’s an insult to the band in question, like their efforts are only valid when they’re linked to someone else’s. I take the work as it is, and write about its qualities in isolation. Sure, there’s a good chance that a given band has been heavily influenced by another one, and it might be glaringly obvious, but you still have to look at their output for its own sake – it has its own value, regardless of influences.
I considered including all of the noisy genres I’m a fan of, but decided this would spread it too thin. So I decided to stick with grindcore, death metal and noisecore. Death and grind are like conjoined twins, and sometimes it’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins. Noisecore is not to everyone’s taste, but to me it’s the ultimate realization of the fuck-the-world punk attitude that’s found in grindcore.
Finally, I simply had to include horror movies. I’ve been watching them for over thirty years and I won’t be stopping any time soon!
With the state of the printed press nowadays – “thanks” to the always rising postage, especially to/from abroad – have you had any doubts before starting your operation…you know, like….will I be able to sell all the copies? Wouldn’t the postage kill the whole idea…you know, that kind of stuff…
Publishing in print was always going to be a challenge, but I think it’s totally worth the pain! I have personally never got used to reading on a backlit screen – it hurts my eyes and kills my interest. Plus, I have a deep-seated love of physical books. I grew up reading all sorts of horror novels, and I loved admiring the cover art ‘in person’ so the speak. There’s something about reading from the printed page that’s natural. It just feels right!
But you’re absolutely right, it’s goddamn expensive. The Choppin’ Headz motto is ‘for the scene, not the green’. I’m pretty sure I would suck at being a businessman even if I was aiming to make a profit from the zine, but the reality is I barely break even, if at all. But, like the motto says, that’s not the point. The point is contributing to the scene I love so much. It’s its own reward. I do limited runs of all issues, around 50 copies, which is not very economical. But so far that’s worked out OK. I’ve done the occasional reprint too, so that’s always an option if I run out.
Shipping (or ‘postage’ as we English prefer to call in), is a big factor. It’s a rip-off right now and doesn’t look like it’s going to improve any time soon. That said, I have sent zines to a lot of places around the world, and it’s cool to see people in diverse nations getting into it.
So far, you’ve done 4 issues…for those who don’t know, how often do you publish the zine? Do you keep any periodical schedule, or, as it’s mostly the case with many zines, when you have all the content you need to fill the pages?
I started out thinking I would put out an issue every couple of months, about 6 a year, since they’re relatively short at 50-odd pages, but it became clear quite early on that that was too ambitions haha. Hours and hours and hours go into those meagre 50 or 60 pages, and I have to fit it around my day job, so it’s a slog. That said, when I’m gifted with amazing artwork to dedicate a handful of pages to, and really insightful interviews, it makes it a lot easier. But, then again, that can sometimes slow you down, since everyone works to their own schedule – they have lives to live too, so you can’t expect too much of them and be pushy with getting stuff out of them. I am eternally grateful for all of the contributors and, really, that’s the gold in each issue – not my rambling crap!
The other thing that I had no idea would take so long is the actual printing. I’m not sure if this is the case with all companies, but with the outfit I use it can take up to three weeks from sending the files to getting the finished copies. I tend to forget this, and I’m psyched that I have an issue roughly on time, as promised, and then I’m like – shit, it has to be printed, dummy! But these things can’t be rushed, just like everything in the metal underground.
What would you say are the reactions to your publishing efforts so far? I have no doubt you will have a lot of positive appraisal, however, have you encountered any negative ones? If so, what would people complain about?
I’m pretty amazed that the reception of Choppin’ Headz has been entirely positive (at least to my knowledge!). As I said earlier, the zine is for the scene, so it means a great deal to me that it’s appreciated by all the maniacs out there. It seems like the extreme underground is mostly a place where everyone sees the effort and passion behind what’s being put out, even if it’s not to your personal taste, and is willing to support it in some way or another. To see the zine in distros in legit operations like Me Saco Un Ojo, Grindfather Productions, Maggot Death, Caligari Records and Blast Addict is an immense source of pride for me. Shout-out to all you guys, you fucking rule!
I’ve also been lucky enough to have some exposure on two absolutely badass YouTube channels: Vital Vinyl Vlog, presented by Adam Schnellenbach in the US, and Liam, who does The Death Doom Metal Head in the UK. Both these guys are incredible at what they do and are an invaluable source of inspiration when it comes to seeking out the sickest new releases. To see the zine being talked about favourably by those guys is really exciting.
I imagine some people might find the fact that there are quite a few reviews, versus having mostly interviews, kind of a shame. Interviews are timeless, and can be read years later after they were conducted, but reviews have an expiry date to a certain degree. You might have already bought the record I’m talking about, in which case the review might be less helpful or interesting. But I love thinking about how to describe the noise I’m hearing – it’s always pretty challenging – so I’ll always include them. You can’t please everyone, so it’s pointless to try!
As mentioned above, print-publishing is not easy. On the one hand, it’s easier to do a pro-printed publication, on the other hand, postage costs make print publishing quite prohibitive. But the print is not dead yet! Do you keep tracks on other existing zines? Would you consider them a competition of sorts? Obviously, every publisher considers their work the best (well, I did! 🙂 ), however, if you can name a few…what are your favourite underground publications, both defunct and still running?
I love the fact that there are other zines emerging right now! It’s really cool to see how different people approach the challenge. Sometimes, I’m like, ‘OK, I wouldn’t have done that’ or ‘Damn, that’s a wicked idea!’. It’s inspiring to know that other people are going through the agony of getting a zine over the finish line. It seems like every one out there at the moment is pretty unique, which makes sense, since it’s such a subjective endeavour – especially if you’re a one-person operation like Choppin’ Headz.
I always try to pick up a zine when I spot one in distro, but in terms of ones that have really caught my attention, there are a few. How can I not mention the supremely esteemed publication known as Rubber Axe Webzine? Seriously though, your efforts are incredible, not least because you’re clearly a glutton for punishment, sitting through all of those truly awful horror movies and then writing about them! You’re a better man than I. For printed zines, I have to shout-out fellow UK-based ziner Charred Magazine (created by the very talented artist and musician @charred_vulture). This publication is crafted amazingly well and has a ton of hand-drawn illustration, which is the mark of a real-deal zine. Another from the UK is Mercenary press zine (@mercenarypress), which is as strong and true as the slaying heavy metal that is featured in its pages. From the US, I love Frozen Screams (@frozen_screams_imprint). John is clearly a master graphic artist and has a passion for the VHS-era horror aesthetic. The bands on his label are also sick as fuck. And, of course, how can you not love the Headsplit newsletter? Cut-n-paste supremacy, the old way. Plus, the writing is great. Finally, my dude King Ink, the evil mastermind behind Exhale the Ash zine (@exhale_the_ash_magazine). If you’re lucky enough to have any of those in your collection, you’re doing OK.
Let me guess…you’re working on a new issue, right? If we can have a sneak peek under the hood…what goodies do you prepare for your readers in it?
Haha, of course, the new issue is in progress! (Though I’m off to a slow start this year.) I often give away some of the stuff that’s coming in the next issue at the end of my reviews, mostly so I don’t forget what I wanted to include! So, for example, in the next Sick Samples section, which looks at audio samples (usually from movies) used by a given band, I’m going to cover the Aussie goregrind project Meatal Ulcer. Goregrind and garish, gargling sound effects are often inseparable – it seems like it’s a tradition in the genre. The dude behind this outfit is clearly a horror-film obsessive. He uses very intense-sounding samples that adds to the already brain-scrambling intensity of the ‘music’ that’s assaulting your ears. For example, one of his tracks features a bit from the scene in The Exorcist III, where a possessed Brad Dourif is raving in a demonic fit. It’s scary as shit in the film, and when coupled with the pulverising force that is Meatal Ulcer, you’re in for a fucked-up time. The number of obscure films I’ve identified from an audio sample I’ve loved the sound of is ridiculous. When a movie sample is isolated, without the accompanying visuals, it takes on a whole other level of effectiveness. It impresses the imagination more intensely.
I’m going to be reviewing death metal from Greece. I like to focus on what are possibly lesser-known areas of the world when it comes to death metal. As a rule, the Europeans seem to have a more idiosyncratic approach to the genre, which makes for a more interesting and challenging listening experience. That said, in response to the fact that a lot of people who cop the zine are in America, I’m going to introduce a new section called Altered States, which will focus in US bands. I’ve resisted this so far, since I think there are zines out there that are doing it better than I could, and US death metal and grind gets so much coverage already, it really doesn’t need any more! That said, I will be seeking out the weirder stuff, to make it worthwhile.
The movie review for this next issue pushes the boundaries of the bad movie experience – it’s Beyond the Seventh Door, which features a bewildering performance by the unforgettable Lazar Rockwood. Itb was released on Intervision Picture Corp, which is a goldmine, if you’re mining for fossilized movie turds.
I like to mix new features in where I can, so the rest will hopefully come to me soon!
I consider doing interviews is probably most interesting aspect of doing a zine…working on inties, is there any artist you would want to interview, considering it – maybe a sort of – a pinnacle of your writing career? While talking about interviews, which one are you so far proud of the most? And let’s milk this topic to the full (haha)…what do you hate the most regarding the interviews, if there is anything you hate about them?
Absolutely – as I said, interviews don’t age like reviews, so they’re essential and possibly the most valuable aspect of a zine. It’s funny, because I think I’d rather interview people who are making a splash in the scene at the time of writing, rather than getting an interview from a ‘classic’ band. In death metal especially, people worship the old gods obsessively. I mean, there’s an argument to say that, for example, nineties death metal was the pinnacle of the genre, and so to have an interview from a band from that era would be the sickest, but I want to represent the future classics, the torch-carriers of today.
My favourite interviews I’ve been granted so far are from Ryan, the drummer from UK tech-death titans, Cryptic Shift, and the insanely talented and highly original artist Karina Monzon, who most people will know from the album art of Cerebral Rot’s LPs. Ryan gave such detailed and insightful answers, and even though it was essentially ‘drum talk’, it has a wider relevance and gives a really cool picture of the band. I was really surprised at the chilled-out and humble approach Karina has to her work. Cerebral Rot’s ‘Excretion of Mortality’ was one of the biggest death metal records of 2021, and the cover is unmistakable. But Karina was like, yeah, I just did it for my buddies, no big deal. Her tattoos are also crazily distinctive and I’d be proud to be inked by her!
The absolute worst thing about interviews, for someone putting them together for a zine, is one-word answers. Are you on crack, motherfucker?! Have you ever actually read an interview?! The whole point is that they’re informative and entertaining – the word ‘yes’ does not contain these qualities, nerd. Then again, maybe too much of an answer is just as bad… I’ve probably written too much here. Guess I’m a crack nerd too haha
What would be your message to anyone thinking of publishing a zine? And while we are at that, what would you say positives/negatives of underground publishing – particularly, in you case – are?
If you’re thinking of putting a zine out, be prepared for just how long it takes to put it all together, and don’t bother if you’re hoping to make a business out of it. Other than that, do it any way you can. The Headsplit newsletter is just a handful of pages, but the quality and detail in those pages makes it one of the best out there. You don’t need to use a pro printer, you don’t need to be the best writer – people will appreciate your effort, especially if you make it unique. That’s probably the biggest part of it – make it special, and make it weird!
The biggest drawback is having to limit the runs your do, creating a frustrating scarcity. But it’s a Cacth-22 – you probably can’t afford to do a huge run, not least because you don’t want to be storing mountains of issues in your tiny flat haha, but it’s always a bummer to have to say that something has sold out. It’s a fine balance that I guess you get better at with time.
And coming to the end of this nice chat…any last word to the readers?
Thanks, firstly, to Rubber Axe Zine for dedicating space on the virtual page to my nonsense. I hope I’ve made it worthwhile for your readers! Secondly, thanks to anyone who supports the efforts of ziners around the world by spending their hard-earned cash and precious time on their output. I’m willing to bet that 99.9% of people who are involved in putting zines out there are doing it purely to share their passion for audio destruction, and your support is priceless. Lastly – protect ya neck, motherfuckers! (PS – yeah, I stole the zine’s tag line from Wu-Tang. Fits perfectly, not sorry.)
Cheers! Evil Ed
That Indonesian goregrind/brutal death metal/slamming BDM scene is massive, there’s no doubt about it. Neither is a surprise that other genres not only exist there, but they produce some of the best music! I am not kidding, and today I want to introduce you to a project you should keep your eyes (and ears) on.
Dusk in Silence are just waiting to release their debut album “Beneath The Great Sky Of Solitude” (out on April 20th, 2021), but you can already have a taste of it’s greatness with two free songs on project’s Bandcamp. And I am sure you’ll agree with me – it’s amazing.
I guess it goes without saying I couldn’t resist to get in touch with the man responsible and wrestle some answers to my pressing questions from him 🙂
My greetings go to Blitar, East Java, in Indonesia! Salam, H., how are you doing these days? I am pretty sure you can’t wait till April for the release of debut album of your project Dusk In Silence, am I right?
Hii.. I’m fine, how about you? For sure, I can’t wait for my debut album to be released. I waited for this moment for about 2 years. I am very excited .. By the way, thank you for your support for the scene in my country.
Before going further with this one, let’s do a proper introduction, as I am pretty sure not many people outside Indonesia will know you (which is shame indeed, however, I hope to correct this problem with this interview 🙂 )…So, what can you tell our readers about yourself?
Before I tell you any else, I want to introduce myself. I come from Blitar – East Java. Tugurejo – wates is the name of my village.. far from civilization and access to the crowds from the city. Through the music I can interact and connect with many friends from different cities and countries.
I started my music project around 2007, I played so many genres at that time and so on until I come to black metal scene. On 2008 I make black metal band, it called KRANDA MAYAT, PENGACARA IBLIS I was a drummer on it until it changed to ARWAH GENTAYANGAN. Around two years after that, my bassist and I started to play death metal. He changed to be a guitarist, I was still the drummer and we were helped by additional players in live gigs. We named this band by HATRED CREATION and it soon canged to INVERTED. The band mambers are still complate until now. And I also have another different band, but some I can’t remember it clearly.. yeah thats all my music journey until now.
Correct me, if I am mistaken…information available state your musical career started with Inverted, playing brutal death metal. That’s quite unexpected, considering your current project, Dusk In Silence, is described as “atmospheric/melancholic postblack metal”…have you been playing also in the Inverted’s precedessor, Hatred Creation? What can you tell us about the band itself and its music?
I formed it with my friend and before becoming INVERTED, this band is called HATRED CREATION it played death metal in general with the concept of lyrics talk about life, death, the dark side and social issues.
Inverted has released 2 EPs only, the last one – “Origins of the Unseen” – in 2016. That’s quite a long period of silence now…is Inverted still active as a band? Are you preparing any new material fans of BDM should look forward to? And while discussing this band, considering the massive amount of BDM bands in Indonesia, how would you describe Inverted’s position on the local scene?
INVERTED is still active today, we are preparing new material for the full length album. Of course, there are so many great Brutal/death metal bands here, we don’t expect much.. We just want to stay on this way and make some music.
Playing in Inverted was evidently not enough for you, because, as my info says, you’ve also joined guys in Balas Dendam, the grindcore band from Malang (East Java). How did you end up playing grindcore and what can you tell us about your involvement with Balas Dendam? How long have you been with the band and was there any particular reason you’ve left the band?
I forgot.. yes, I’ve become the drummer in that band, but it was not for long. Beside BALAS DENDAM I also played in GOROK, MURDER PERCEPTION and some another bands that i can’t remember names of. When I worked in Malang, my friend asked me to make grindcore band with him. So I just play what I like.
Your next musical step was to create your first (if I am correct) solo project Corpsified. The genre remains the same – brutal death metal – but lyrical side of things changed, and you went from fairly social themes of life, death and religion of Inverted towards gore lyrics in Corpsified. Have you been tired of social critique? And while discussing this aspect, how important are the lyrics for you in your songwriting?
In 2014 I made my first brutal death metal solo project CORPSIFIED. Brought the gore theme on lyrics, might be came a new chapter for me to write songs and lyrics. Here I explore more in terms of music and lyrics to be outcome of anger itself. Lyrics take the important role in a song, because it is the main point that we want to convey in the song.
Corpsified has only produced one short demo back in 2014, what reviews did it receive? Do you plan to continue to work with this project in some near future?
I really did not expect that the response of friends in the scene was very good with this demo that was released by Dismembered Records – Indonesia. And it made me more excited to continue with new CORPSIFIED material, because at that time there were some obstacles the project was finally on hiatus until now. Sure, I’ll continue it someday, wait for me to finish it.
There is not much info about Faakk!, but being dilligent in my search, I have found a short demo of it. So, grindcore again! Here I need to depend on you for any relevant information, so…what can you tell us about Faakk!? Is it still active?
FAAKK!!! It was my grindcore project with Risky Inverted as a guitarist, assisted by my friend, Apip on drums and myself on vocal. We’ve performed at several gigs and finished a few songs and also the recording process. But it hasn’t been released yet until now. It’s disbanded or on hold, I am so confused about that.
Now moving to a different direction, and no less interesting! Can you reveal why did you move from the blastbeats and gutturals of your brutal death metal and grindcore bands/project to post-black/blackgaze and atmospheric black metal, as witnessed with your projects As Bright As The Stars (ABATS) and Dusk in Silence?
As I said before, I entered this way because my first band project was black metal. But at that time there were not much information about it, it because of my place is far from the city where everything are better there. it was stuck, so I made the BDM project. Along with the better technology, so I could listen to a lot of bands from various genres. That made me interested to play black metal again with other musical elements such as postrock / shoegaze / ambient/ etc.
As ABATS came first (I suppose), let’s talk a bit about it first too. What is it you want to achieve with this project, what was your vision?
DUSK IN SILENCE first.. but it doesn’t matter. I just want to produce music, certainly I want ABATS to release a full album and maybe someday I want to be able to tour everywhere to meet and interact with new friends.
ABATS indeed shares a lot of similarities with Dusk In Silence, nevertheless, I’d say it’s more emotional (which is a quality I really, really like). The only material released (if I discount the demo single “Lost”, which is included on a subseqent material) is the split with Januaryo Hardy’s project Lament. What can you tell me about the origin of this split, whose idea of making it was it?
The previous material is a bit similar to DIS, but for the next album it will be more different.. just wait. The split album was made after I’ve agreed to a proposal from Januaryo’s LAMENT, which had the initial idea with ABATS.
It’s a shame such a nice album is out of the reach…being sold out already. I suspect Twilight Rain Records (which officially released the split in 2019) is somewhat connected either with you or Januaryo 🙂 … but I might be wrong, of course. Anyway, any chance for a repress of this album?
Yes, Twilight Rain Records are owned by Januaryo. This album has been reissued by Pest Productions – China. For more information, please contact the label or directly to the band.
As for some new material of ABATS…anything at works?
Sure, I’ll say YES! Wait for the new material!
Now it’s time to have a look at your latest creation – Dusk In Silence. I have to admit, I was completely enthralled by those two available songs. So, obviously, the question is – how (and when) did the project start and what was the initial impulse for it? How would you describe it to our readers – musically and lyrically?
I started the project around 2014, but only had 1 untitled song. In 2016 I’ve thought about it again and wanted to continue it, finally I’ve got an idea for the name (DIS) to compose a few songs and contact Ryo Oscarysm to create a logo. Because the constraints of my job, the project was again put on a back-burner, until 2018, when I’ve started to feel it must be continued again. Made some further material and finally met one of the best local labels, Hitam Kelam Records (Boedi leksono) who wants to release DIS debut album. Time has passed with a sad story, he passed away due to illness before the album release. After that DIS has tried to find a new label. Eventually, Flowing Downward and DIS will finally release the debut album, on April 20th, 2021. For the music itself, i think it depends to the listeners to what the interpretation they want to, its all theirs. The main think that I play black metal music, the DIS way. Dark, melodic, melancholic, and there is a power of taste on it. The lyrics on this album are more personal to life, please read it in full later when it’s released.
Don’t miss it..April 20th 2021 Dusk In Silence full length debut will be released via Flowing Downward – Italy.
Some artists claim no influences from any other artists, what would be your response when asked about bands/projects/artists influencing your work in Dusk In Silence?
I have listened to many bands of various genres, VALLENDUSK is one of them that influnced me a lot, they also inspired me to return and play on this path and also work with DIS.
Your work is going to be released by the Flowing Downward label from Italy. What can you tell us about this co-operation? What do you expect from it? I’d say, the better distribution in Europe is definitely an absolute advantage, seeing the postage rates from Indonesia gone mental during the pandemic…
Until now we have worked well together, Flowing Downward is one of the best labels too, so they are definitely will be doing well. And I hope that my music can be heard over the world, at least for distribution in Europe and beyond it. Maybe someday we can tour over the countries.. I don’t know, hopefully it will be happen.
You know that my country is far away.. So that distribution will be very difficult, shipping costs are also very expensive. Especially in this pandemic that affects all aspects of life.
What about playing live? With one-man projects that’s something quite impossible, however, do you consider having other musicians for playing some live gigs?
If I play live later, I will use additional players, yes.
Nearing slowly to the end of this interview…what are the plans for the time after Dusk In Silence’s debut is released? Are you working on any new material at the moment?
For now, I will be focused on DIS debut album, other surprises will follow later.
Any final words or message to our readers?
Thanks to you, Rudolf, you have supported the Indonesian scene a lot, thank you very much. And for all the readers, keep up your health, be kind to animals and don’t litter. Peace love for everyone..Best regards, H.
An interview with Vox Mortis should set back the trend of mine to interview artists I’ve either reviewed or simply liked. And because those guys have released a really strong debut album, one can’t but give this promising new band a stage so they can proclaim their message. I’m glad to report Rubber Axe webzine is one of those stages.
Therefore, without any further ado, let’s see what’s new on the Indonesian scene.
Selamat pagi, guys and thanks for your time doing this interview! First of all…the album is out roughly for 2 weeks, what responses have you got for it so far? I am pretty sure the reviews are only positive!
Selamat pagi! We would thank anyone for such immense support and appreciation, especially to metalheads all over the world. We are obviously nothing without you. It’s a truth that perhaps, we are different from any death metal band breath in this world to talk about animals. But, here we are. Talk the talk, walk the walk. We believe it gives us a spotlight since we emerged until the album has been released. Thank you for putting your attention to our issue. We are truly honored!
Obviously, not many people around the world will know you, can you briefly introduce yourselves to our readers, please?
Vox Mortis formed along with our concern about animal welfare, especially in Indonesia. The member of the band mostly started as animal rescue and want to speak about the issue through extreme music as the medium. The band originally consists of Doni Herdaru (vocals), Achmad Mustaid (drums), Donirro Hayashi (bass), and soon completed with the joining of Rsharsh (guitars) and Suakarya TGN (guitars) from Infitar. Vox Mortis released its very first single “Primata Durjana” and “Forever No To Dog Meat” in 2020. Both are coming with music videos and now can be watched on YouTube.
Although the band is fairly a new one, starting in 2020, you are not novices on the scene, you either were or still are active in bands like Funeral Inception, Vomitology, After All Over, Delirium Tremens or Kerangkenk…what was the reason you’ve felt compelled to start this new band and what vision do you want to pursue with its music?
We want something more communicative and influential, one of its vision to raise awareness about animal welfare amongst Metal community so we can push a change to animal’s lives to be better. We choose Metal as a medium because it’s related to rebellion against normative ideas and shackles of conservative themes. We rebelled over the injustice of these animals!
When I was younger, many times we’ve bought albums solely on the strength of the cover art. I have no problem to admit the cover for “Avignam Jagat Samagram” has caught my eye almost immediately and that’s one half of the success in the avalanche of albums coming our way every day! So, can you tell us what is the message of the cover art and who’s the artist behind this amazing artwork?
First of all, we want to say thank you to Adi Dechristianize Art for his talented hand and amazing works in our album. He such a great artist and everyone should recognize his works. That’s why we only want him who executes our cover art.
About the album cover, we represent ourselves as a ton of anger that shown in the form of a dog. A monstrous dog who wants revenge on all ignorant bastards who still torturing animals for pleasure. You can see it on the center spot of the album and is surrounded by burned forest. This visual is based on a true event when the largest tropical forest of Indonesia burned down and kills thousand of forest ecosystems and animals living inside it. It’s terrifying but it also real. We want to warn everyone that mother earth is dying because of our own actions, so, let’s fix this!
You feel very strongly about animal rights. It’s not that usual for death metal bands to devote their material to such a cause, as it’s usually the domain of grindcore bands, but that’s definitely something we need to explore a little further. Can you tell us why such a concern for animals and what’s the situation in Indonesia regarding animals and animal cruelty?
Struggling for animal rights in Indonesia is quite though and need more channel to spread the words. This effort must be heard to public whatever it costs. We take a persuasive method every single day, now we need its repressive method to do its part. So, music is the answer. We fight fire with fire! We believe that the issue we spoke about is more universal than the music itself.
Indonesia’s Animal protection law is a goddamn low so it’s causing many animal abuse cases. Our presence is to speak about it.
You hail from Jakarta. It’s useless to ask about the local extreme music scene there, as a simple search on Encyclopaedia Metallum returns 300 bands from Jakarta…do you keep in touch with any other bands from your area and beyond? Which ones would you recommend to me and our readers to check? Also, anything worth knowing from any other genre, say, rock or similar?
Of course, Indonesia has the biggest Metal scene in Southeast Asia and we are connected to each other. We command you to check the latest release by Carnivored, Death Vomit, Exhumation, AK//47, and not to forget these Indonesian metal giants Siksakubur, DeadSquad, Burgerkill as well as their wondrous release. On the other side, we recommend you to listen to this amazing shoegaze band called Sunlotus.
As a webzine writer, I am always interested in written material – what good publications, be it magazines, zines, webzines…from Indonesia would you recommend to explore?
As the biggest underground scene, Indonesia marks their movement of independent publications such “Aktuil” from the late ’70s (this magazine believed as the first publications in Indonesia that feature metal artists and underground culture). Since then, underground publications have been rampant to this day and rebuild their forms into webzines. You may check these amazing works started from Penahitam Zine, EJM Zine, Borneo Pride Zine, and some online media such as Wastedrocker, Blackandzine, and Dapurletter.
The situation for playing live is not that good since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Have you had a chance to play live yet? If so, what can you tell us about the concerts in Indonesia? With so many bands around, how hard it is to organize a gig? What about the attendance, how many people usually attend those local gigs?
As you guys can see since the pandemic started to spread all over the countries, we haven’t had that opportunity, and we don’t want it before we can play on tour outside. There’s so many music festival in Indonesia had to be postponed, one of ’em is the biggest metal event in Southeast Asia, Hammersonic Festival. They were gonna bring a spectacular lineup such as Slipknot, Trivium, Sinister, Testament, Black Flag etc. The situation is now turned and the festival must be postponed until next year.
We can’t answer it precisely because Indonesia has its own underground scene in each region. So, we took a sample in Jakarta as the city we are based in. It can up to 500-2.000 audiences in mid-scale gigs, and up to 10.000 in big-scale events.
Let’s get back to the album…it was released on February 26th, 2021 in Indonesia, but I’ve also got some info it should be also released in the USA and Europe. Will those releases be any different from the Indonesian original?
We’ll release it in Deluxe version for the worldwide market outside Indonesia through Necropsy Records (Brazil) still in CD format. This version will include a bonus track, taken from our live rehearsal. Stay tuned!
Although mail service at the moment is expensive beyond belief, what merchandise do you offer to your fans? I’ve seen a t-shirt on your Bandcamp page, do you plan to make any other stuff to offer?
Unfortunately, our merch is now out of stock. We’ll restock it soon but we want to make it more efficient for anyone who wants to have it while it helps spread our campaign of animal welfare get wider attention. We think we would give a license to anyone who wants to reproduce our merch and sell it freely, as long as we watching on the production and the distribution. The profits will go out to local animal shelters anywhere the merch is sold.
It’s probably too early to talk about it, but anyway…what are the plans for the future? Any initial steps to start writing new material for a second album?
Something big is coming. We planned to make a trilogy for the upcoming release and it’s in the process of writing. Watch out! Terima kasih banyak!
Bodysnatch is a brutal death/extreme slam band from…Switzerland and Russia! This two-man missile launcher is ready to blow the world up.
To me, it’s amazing music. It is something beyond me as a black metal rock-and-roller, this kind of metal… it is fascinating and mindblowing!
Their new album “Instigate the Lunatics” will be out in March on Morbid Generation and the single “Merciless Extirpation” can be found on Youtube here:
So now that you understand what you’re in for, I asked them some questions.
Bodysnatch started as a one-man project. What prompted Livio to put together a full line-up?
Livio: Well, my very first band was Secret Mutilation, NYDM inspired death metal. But due to lack of finding members the band were on hold several times, we didn‘t get ahead really. You know, growing up in a small village with no other Death Metal fans isn‘t helpful haha…I played drums and did the vocals.
Then I jumped in as drummer for a melodic death metal band named Corpus Domini before the band split up maybe 3 years later. My wish was always to have my own brutal death metal band….and since I can‘t play guitar or bass I started to get a line up together with friends of other local death metal bands. They weren‘t really into brutal death metal but were willing to help me out, so it remained a project.
The band is heavily influenced by the NYDM scene. Since back in my day, before internet, tape trading and sending out for demos – usually based on magazine advertisements in the seedy back sections of metal zines – was the normal way of getting into music from around the world, I’m curious… how did two guys from Switzerland and Russia begin getting into NYDM anyway?
Livio: We had a pretty cool CD shop in my later hometown with plenty of metal stuff. Me and a friend were there every week to buy another pile of CDs lol…
As kid, I started with bands like Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Slayer, Venom or Metallica to name a few. The usual „metal started pack“ that time so to speak haha. Somewhen I discovered Death Metal (also Black Metal) and immediately switched my focus on bands like Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Obituary, Morbid Angel and so on.
We already knew Suffocation but one day that said friend found Internal Bleeding‘s „Voracious Contempt“ in the shop. We were both highly impressed by their style and tried to find records of any band that were mentioned in their thanks list, lots of NYDM of course.
Back in the days I was also very active writing letters to bands. Especially Eric (RIP) of Deeds Of Flesh was very helpful and sent me tapes or CDs together with a bunch of flyers in each letter. It was quite easy going from there to get records from bands like Repudilation, Dehumanized, Devourment, Disgorge or Disordered. Not only NYDM – but that scene‘s style was always my favourite till today.
Dmitry: Speaking of the beginning, I had a similar story, except there wasn’t a lot of options to get real tapes/CDs. I grew up during the “mp3 player era”, so when a friend showed me some ROCK MUSIC – that’s what he called it at the time – I fell in love right away. There were those “starter pack” bands that Livio mentioned above, some punk, mostly Russian bands, but there was also Pantera, which made a great impact on me I guess. Unfortunately, there were no more metalheads at a small town where I lived, so I was there learning how to play guitar and tried writing some basic primitive riffs. Got into deathcore, NYHC, beatdown, enjoying the groove of it. Tried starting a couple of bands to play this kind of music but it never worked out. After that the actual death metal discovery happened, and especially the slam got into my life. So, that’s why I love bands like Dying Fetus, Suffocation, Internal Bleeding, etc. They combine the brutality and the groove, so you can headbang away, you know, you feel the music flow.
What was the first band that made you think “I want to play this type of music?”
Livio: If you mean Slam/Brutal Death Metal basicly, it’s Internal Bleeding.
Dmitry: I had this moment when I heard Dying Fetus first. And speaking of choosing the 8 string guitar, that was The Acacia Strain.
Reading your bio, I see alot about recording, but nothing about live performances. Has there ever been a Bodysnatch gig? Any plans in the future?
Livio: That‘s true. We never played any gigs because it was a studio project from the beginning. I don‘t think Bodysnatch will ever play a live show. That‘s not part of the plan at all.
Dmitry joined Bodysnatch in 2019, while spending time in Excoriation (see the interview here). I was surprised to see he left Excoriation in 2021 as I’d been awaiting the new full-length album, so I have to ask: What prompted Dmitry to concentrate on Bodysnatch (and his other band Ethology) full time?
Dmitry: Oh well, the short answer is that the pandemic happened. To be more specific, I had a lot of personal stuff happening in 2020, that was a tough year financially and morally, lost a job. Then we stopped rehearsing for a while cause of the lockdown, and I simply didn’t want to do it again. The rehearsals renewed for a bit though, but now I think that it should’ve stopped at that time, earlier, cause the band lost more time. I thought that I didn’t want to rehearse because of the financial situation, but honestly I just didn’t feel it anymore, the band practice stopped making me happy. Honestly, I really don’t want to ruin the fun for everyone else in the band.
I told this whole thing to Cyril and Daniil and they understood. I still wish only the best for the Excoriation guys and will continue to support them!
Now, about the studio bands. I can write, record and practice at home. I don’t need to spend time and/or money on roadtrips, practice space, whatever there is. I can spend time with my family more. There you go, it’s a win-win. It might sound selfish to those who don’t know me, but try to get what I’m saying here: I just don’t feel like traveling for 2 hours one way to play music anymore, if I can do it behind my desk and have the same, if not better, emotions and results. No live shows, that’s the downside, but you never know what the future brings! For now I’ll concentrate on Bodysnatch and Ethology. And I’m always open for projects, I’m one message away on Facebook.
Livio is not just the vocalist for a few other bands (Awaken the Misogynist, Secret Mutilation, Slamentation) but also the drummer/drum programmer in these bands AND Bodysnatch. Do you prefer real drums or programmed drums (and why?)
Livio: In the end – Real drums for sure! I mean, as a drummer it was not my first intention to start programming drums. Well fact is, I was never a good drummer lol, also after the split up of Corpus Domini I lost my practice room but wanted to keep Bodysnatch going. Gion (the former bassist) told me about those drum software so I decided to try it….and stick to it till today.
Drum software became better and better over the years. Indeed, you can‘t replace or re-create the feeling which a real drummer gives into a record, period! BUT in the age where music gets kinda computerized with quantizations/replacements and use of so many different plug ins during the mixing process anyways, I don‘t care that much anymore. Let’s say – As long as the music is intense and have a good vibe, I enjoy it, programmed or real drums.
Dmitry: Real drums are more natural so better of course… Says a guy who’s studio projects have computerized drums, haha! There is always a compromise. Either find a good drummer, record his kit, pay for the studio, pay for the editing, the list goes on, or have samples. The drum libraries nowadays give you the handful of possibilities to tweak your sound as you want it to be. Then, imagine, for example, right before the mastering process you decide to change a part (not sure why would you, but shit happens). Good luck trying to place the mics and record the same way as you did some time ago, no perfectionist in the world can do it I think. Anyways, computerized drums, real drums… as long as the music makes you want to move or gives you goosebumps, does it really matter that much?
The new Bodysnatch album “Instigate the Lunatics” will be out in March on Morbid Generation. How long did it take to record this album? Who wrote the majority of the songs?
Livio: During the pandemic we had plenty of time. I think the whole recording process took us about 10 months. We wrote all songs together. I made the structures of each song with drum tracks including tempo changes etc as a basis. Then we went from there, changed or added things if needed, discussed some of the riffs.
Dmitry: Right, we exchanged ideas during the whole creative process, I recorded the riffs using the drum tracks made by Livio, we checked it out, did some tweaking and if both were happy we moved on to the next track.
How did you two meet and what’s the recording process like, with one man in Switzerland and one man in Russia? Were you fans of each other’s music before you collaborated?
Livio: See answer above – In general, the recording process is sending files to each other and work things out.
Yes, I was already fan of Excoriation actually. Dmitry seemed a very cool guy and I liked how he writes riffs. I was in search of a new guitar and bass player so I contacted him on Facebook. The rest is history and I‘m really happy that he joined. We‘re a very good team!
Dmitry: I simply just got a message from Livio, he told me the situation and that he needed a guitar player, so I agreed pretty much right away. I knew his projects and enjoyed the way he writes music so that was an easy decision to collaborate. So yeah, the technical part of the writing process is like any remote work nowadays, pretty similar, send a file, get a yes (or get a “wtf is this redo asap” haha) and that’s it. I like our creative process and Livio is a cool dude!
We haven’t met in real life yet, but I hope the virus goes away and let’s us meet at some festival already!
The artwork for the new album is completely hellish looking. Who came up with the idea for the album cover, and most importantly, who is the artist?
Livio: Glad you like it! Daemorph did the cover. Yeah it came out super sick and we‘re very happy with it. I came up with the concept after I played the video game named Outlast. That was the main influence behind it.
Dmitry: By the way, shout out to “Slamming Brutal Death Community” on VK and Facebook, there was somebody in the comments under the album cover who totally guessed that Outlast was the inspiration for it haha!
How has the band’s sound changed since Dmitry joined?
Livio: A lot haha…but it was also completely intended to be clear. After many years of having an experimental touch in Bodysnatch‘s music I wanted to keep it more raw. More blast beats, higher tempo all in all. Dmitry was perfect to bring this to shine.
Dmitry: I quite dig the previous material by Bodysnatch, but it was more of experimental death metal. The new release is as much slamming brutal death as it can be, and hope you all enjoy what you hear!
Sometimes I have asked metal bands this question and they balk (everyone seems to want to uphold an image) but sometimes people have interesting answers, so here goes…and I want you two to know that I’m asking this because I can hear old school and other influences in the music:
What bands, or artists, do you guys listen to OUTSIDE OF the realm of brutal death and slam?
Livio: Hahaha the forbidden question then huh?….well, I do listen to many different styles of music. In my younger years, especially as a teenager I was a die hard death metal fan. Other music than that was not allowed haha. But somewhen I discovered different genres. My apprenticeship as music and movie retailer helped a lot to dig deeper into the world of music. Besides Metal I really like Blues, Jazz, Punk, Punk, Funk etc…even Hip Hop and electronic music like Drum N Bass or Chillout. Plus I‘m a little nerd when it comes to Post-Black Metal with Shoegaze elements….
Even tho most of the time I wear my Metal merch because it’s what I like most…you can be a Metal maniac and still try out other genres, try it…it won‘t kill you…
Dmitry: I always have this kind of flows, sometimes I listen to different genres of metal, then post-punk, then it could be some retro wave, then maybe black metal, ambient or some lo-fi beats when I work. I also find the real dubstep to be pretty cool, not the radio-dancehall kind of dubstep, but the actual dark and slow music with lots of low frequencies. I’d say check out a genre if you never heard of it, might be impressed. Or hate it, at least you tried.
Oh, same thing for me with merch though, I think that’s what we can’t cure haha, but I’m trying to get more blank clothes instead nowadays. Trying. Doesn’t work yet.
Why did you choose Morbid Generation to release the new CD?
Livio: I already worked with him for all Slamentation releases so I knew how he works. Great label!
Dmitry: Totally agree, just wanna add that I really enjoyed the greeting process from the owners, that was super cool and friendly, they seem like they really enjoy their business and promoting heavy music! And they have dogs at their office, isn’t that great?
Frank Rini (of Internal Bleeding fame) and Clayton Meade (from Condemned!) both make appearances on the album. How did you get them to appear? Make a phone call? Write a letter? What was it like to have a chance to work with these two?
Livio: I wrote them via Facebook, pretty simple. I know both, Frank and Clayton, since years. Dmitry and me brain stormed what would be great guest vocalists. Dmitry immediately came up with Clayton and my wish was Frank. It‘s always cool to work with such outstanding musicians! They‘re both super professional and we couldn‘t be any happier how their vocals turned out.
Dmitry: Yes, it’s great that they both agreed and it worked out great! The recording process went really smooth and I really enjoy the results!
Livio, what’s next for your other bands? Any new material planned? Where can fans get any past music?
Livio: Our EP for Awaken The Misogynist was just released via Rotten Music a few days ago. We‘re working on the full length. Also there will be a split with Slamentation together with Devour The Unborn, Defleshed and Gutted and Inhuman Atrocities via Vicious Instinct Records somewhen this year.
Next to that an EP release is set to April for a new project named Swag Fight via Rotten Music. It‘s somewhat of a mix of slam, death metal and beatdown hardcore. We’re already working on our second EP.
Plus we planned to do new tunes for Secret Mutilation sooner or later….
You‘ll find most music on Youtube if you want to check us out before trying to get your hands on physicals. Some of these releases are on several common digital platforms as well.
The expected follow-up to the last question is obviously…Dmitry! Will you being doing new Ethology stuff?
Dmitry: We slowly started writing the new material. First there will be a single release sometime this year, doing it completely DIY, 2 versions, CDr, Russian and Indonesian. We want to do a new track and a cover. Will keep posted on our Facebook. Then the 2nd full length is planned, but not to ruin anybody’s expectations that probably won’t happen before 2022. I hope it’s earlier, but better be positively surprised than negatively! And don’t forget to check out our vocalist Riry’s other bands, he plays guitar in Venomed, for example.
Suppose you were being shipped to a deserted island prison, but were allowed to bring a portable CD player and 2 CDs to listen to. Which CDs would they be…and why?
Livio: Oh, this is a tough one! I guess I‘ll go with IB‘s Voracious Contempt and mmmh…maybe…fuck, I have no clue, way too many options…next question please….
Dmitry: Okay, where do I find more batteries? Dying Fetus – Reign Supreme, The Acacia Strain – Wormwood. But if I had to pick, I’d rather took a guitar instead of CDs…
Hehe, next question…there isn’t one! That’s all, folks. I can’t recommend the projects of these guys enough. If you like brutal metal you can not go wrong with any of the projects mentioned, especially Bodysnatch.
Obšar has come to my attention quite unexpectedly and by a sheer coincidence. A friend of mine has sent me a link to their latest video and what a surprise, his brother was a drum player in this band! Funny thing is, I remember him being like 5-6 year old years ago, so it’s quite interesting how time flies.
Ayway, the music and the fact Obšar sings in the Ruthenian (Rusyn) language, the ethnic minority dialect from Eastern Slovakia (which I am proud to confess it’s a part of my heritage also) was enough to give the guys a shout and to do this interview.
Let’s go, then, to the dense forests of Carpatian mountains …and enjoy the walk with Obšar!
Hello, guys, I am really happy to do this interview, as to promote a Ruthenian/Rusyn cultural heritage is definitely a noble goal! But let’s start nicely in a traditional way…so, what actually “Obšar“ means? And what can you tell us about the band itself and its members?
Hi, thank you very much for your interest! “Obšar” is a name of a hill nearby Nižny Komarnik. We chose this name as it’s a symbol of freedom and strength as well for us. Fierce battles took place on in in 1944 during the Carpathian-Dukelian operation (Karpatsko-Dukelská operácia) after which followed liberation of our home town Svidnik and after leaving of army also to liberation from domination of Nazi Germany of whole state.
The word obšar means in Ukrainian language “outlook” as we found out later.
What was the reason to form the band? Are there any influences you can mention, which have had a hand in this process? When and why the decision to sing in Ruthenian (Rusyn) language was made?
We were all involved in other bands playing variation of genres before, few of us even in the same for some time. The first idea to make it came out some time ago. First ideas were put together by guitarist and bassist. Later joined drummer and singer and we worked on the music together, everyone on his part. As we live quiet far away from each other it’s a distance work but works ok for us. Specially in these days. Our Influences are from a wide spectrum of music and music genres so I guess to mention some bands would be insignificant. And why Rusyn language? We are all Rusyns and we would lie to keep this language and culture alive this way. Main rason is to remind that there is an ethnicum in Slovakia that is often forgotten. We want bring closer the way of life and way of thinking of Rusyns – of us. FOr sure not forgetting about the traditions and habits.
In 2019 you released your first – and to-date the only – album R.U.N.E. What does this abbreviation stands for? Where did you record it and from today’s point of view, what do you think…did it stand the test of time (I am pretty sure it did, at least for me).
R.U.N.E. Rusinske Umiňa Novoj Ery (Ruthenian Art of New Era). Was recorded on diferent places (Drums in Svidnik, Guitars in Bratislava, Bass in Prague andvocals on a cottage in woods).
Every musician finds with listening stuff which he could do diferent. But we had a concept that it has to be straight not too technical and melodic in way as it is. We are OK with it as it expresses all what we wanted to forward with it.
What about the reviews of the album? I am convinced there must have been a lot of positive reviews… do you recall any negative ones, though? What can you tell us about the promotion of the album?
We cant say if we saw all reviews but those which we read were ok. We did it as best as we were able (distance regime) and we are glad that also some people liked it. The Rusyn culture found its way a little bit more with our music.
In September 2020 you released a single “Dovhŷ tyni”, which announces an upcoming album “Počornily horŷ, počornily lisŷ”. Obviously, I can but be curious about it…will it continue in the steps of the first one, or you preparing any surprises? When can we expect its release?
All instrumental parts are done for few months. We have to do the vocals , do some sound work and will be done. Hard to say when exactly as the situation is as is but we hope it will be soon. The album will be also whole in Rusyn language. We are also working slowly on some new ideas, some might be darker some not. We´ll see.
As I’ve noticed a few times, it’s not that typical for black metal bands to do live gigs (many do, some never do), what’s the situation with Obšar? Have you played any gigs so far, and if so, what can you tell about them?
For now no shows coming. We are opened to do sometimes some live performances, we already received several offers but had to reject them. As I mentioned, we live far away from each other so some rehearsals are out of range for now. For sure nowdays situation is really not helping it. In case that we will decide to make some shows, for sure the forst one will be on our home soil.
I admit I am not that familiar with the Slovak scene anymore, since I left the country 16 years ago, so, can you tell our readers something about your local scene? Any interesting bands to check from Svidnik area and Slovakia as a whole?
As everywhere there are old bands, new bands , good bands and bad bands in every country. Im not in position to rate if its good or bad. We can talk about lots of bands personally 🙂 Some bands have great musicians but lame ideas, some vice versa and some just have this something what works. For me personally (B) its now Krolok. Cant get enough of their record “Flying above ancient ruins” and can’t wait for the new one.
It’s interesting to note that, for example, Darkthrone is now considered a sort of a part of a Norwegian cultural heritage…do you think Obšar can achieve the same within the Rusyn cultural community?
Never really thought about it this way. The Rusyn heritage is more connected to folklore etc. but who knows. Maybe some more open minded will appreciate also our way of interpretation.We have to keep in mind that Norway is far away in everything from Slovakia : )
Finishing this little interview…what are the plans for Obšar for the post-Covid age?
Finishing the work which is still in progress with “Počornily horŷ, počornily lisŷ”, work on new stuff. Will be for sure again some limited edition and maybe even some limited edtition of merch as some maniacs keep asking for it.
Any final words/message to our readers?
Thank you for your interest in Obšar! We really appreciate spreading that there are still some Rusyns in the world and that they are loud. That’s the spirit of our idea. Feel free to contact us if interested. Cheers to al Rusyns and Non-Rusyns in the world!
I am not really sure how I’ve end up getting the distro update from Akné Productions, but one day the e-mail had landed in my inbox. Then I’ve discovered this small label/distro is actually from my home country of Slovakia so, that was one more reason to check it.
Well, you know how it goes (usually, lol). Not long after that and to Slovakia went my money for a first order. Pleased with the service, I’ve decided to give Wayne a shout and to give him a chance to introduce his label and distro to the readers of the Rubber Axe webzine. So, here we go!
First things first (and as a former zine editor you know how it goes), so, what can you tell us about yourself?
How does it go?! I should have some experience with it, however, paradoxically, I really have no idea what to say about me. I don’t want to drag my private life and my family into here and there’s nothing else I can boast of!
What were your beginnings into the world of metal music, which bands have introduced you to the metal as such, and when did you start to discover the proper underground?
Looking back to the past, as far as I remember, I’ve started to notice the music – the metal one, of course – when being about 12 years old, approximately in 1986. First contacts have been with stuff available – Tublatanka, Citron’s [album] „Radegast“ – the bigger and more known, and therefore more readily available bands in the former Czechoslovakia. You certainly remember that time as well, there were only two camps – you were either a metalhead, or a Depeche Mode fan. I’ve belonged to the first one. Of course, later on we’ve gradually started to get – in addition to the recordings from our home scene – prohibited stuff from Hungary or Czech Republic. Tapes have been dubbed from friend to friend. You know, you can imagine the sound quality of the God knows what generation of copy of King Diamond being played from the mono-speaker of a tape player or a walkman through those tiny speakers (so we can listen to it together with buddies). And still we’ve been happy and so into it – it’s something today’s generation can’t even imagine!It’s began with classics, such as Iron Maiden, Helloween, Judas Priest, Accept, later on Metallica, Slayer, Kreator, Assassin, Protector, Destruction, Sodom, Sepultura and so forth. I’ve started to attend a high school in 1990 where I’d met even more crazy guys and we’ve got into death metal . If I discount Sepultura and their “Schizophrenia”, my first death metal tape was Entombed – “Left Hand Path”, and from that moment it’s started to snowball. The beginning of 1990s marked the gigantic boom of death metal – and extreme metal in general. I guess it went hand-to-hand with the atmosphere in Slovakia, the regime’s change.I think people were literally hungry for extreme music.I was no exception, I’v started to collect and trade recordings – still, of course, as a consumer and a fan. I took everything with a distorted guitar!
There’s the thing in the underground, after a while one might get inspired by others and looks to start his own thing, whether it’s a zine, a distro or own label. You’ve done all three, so let’s talk a little about those activities. You’ve done a long running zine Podsvetie (The Underworld), written in Slovak language, which ran in 24 issues (which is pretty awesome, if you ask me). What was the inspiration behind starting a zine? I remember quite a few great zines from Slovakia, which one has inspired you (if any) the most?
Gradually I’ve been swallowed by music to such an extent that I’d started to feel I wanted something more.In 1995 I’ve started to get first fanzines, they were already being produced, and I’ve started to entertain the idea of publishing my own zine. The first issue was released about the beginning of 1997 and looking at it now, I have to laugh, but back then it was simply the way to do it.I loved it – to learn what’s new with the bands, to have the first hand info, so to speak…I would be lying to claim I haven’t been inspired by any particular zine. It went exactly according to that scenario. Before starting my zine I’ve got Death Thrash Info, Immortal Souls, Metaliště, but the real impulse came with Loss of Sanity,issue #2/3…
To publish a zine is a great thing to do, but also quite a difficult one, especially when talking about printed zine. What would you consider the most positive (and also most negative) aspect of publishing your own publication? What about the reviews of Podsvetie in Slovak and world underground scene?
Well, from the beginning I’ve thought it wouldn’t be that demanding. It was such a time – I haven’t thought much about it and thought I was gonna make it somehow. Only after some time you’re gonna realize it’s not without problems! The positive aspect of it – by all means – is me becoming a part of the underground and – I will allow myself this claim – being accepted in part. It was great, you’ve come somewhere and instantly have a bunch of friends being on the same bandwagon.The negatives? Of course, after some time your eyes opened up and you realize it’s not that simple things to do.First, you have to collect the material, then to put it in some form and in the end to pay for the publishing, and you’ll never see that money back.At least in my case I’ve never seen the money back.But I’ve been such a maniac that I’ve taken up a temp jobs so I could pay for xerox, later on the print (issues 6, 7 and 8 were pro-printed). Reviews were varied, some people have supported and valued your work, but there were also those others! To be honest, I’ve never cared and just go my own way. I haven’t supported the “big” bands. It has always been a fanzine, and later on a distro/label, for total underground!!! Those familiar with me can certainly confirm that!
I guess it’s safe to say Podsvetie has finished its course with the final issue #24. What was the reason behind stopping the publication?
Podsvetie was published since 1997 till 2015 (with minor breaks). Those breaks in publishing were from 2005/6 do 2008 – my son has been born and I haven’t that much time to continue with it. Gradually the time has been available again, therefore Podsvetie continued from 2008 to 2015. After that it was finished. Not enough interest, new, modern age, Facebook – I am simply old and I don’t understand the youth.I was different! Really, I can’t understand this young generation and the fact is I am working with them! With the final issue, only my peers of 40+ of age have showed any interest, and they even sent more money for a copy than requested!The rest of them? Hardly worth the mention! The distro is still running and I still have that minimal contact with the underground…I guess such a “maintenance” contact suits me for now – and I’ve stopped publishing Podsvetie. But to finish on the positive note, there still might be a time for another issue.
Looking back over your shoulder, can you tell us which interview you’ve consider the best one you’ve done, and, on the contrary, which one has disappointed you? Which issue you’d say was the best one from your own perspective?
Hmm…that’s a question to think about. The best interview…I have no idea, really! There were some I’ve done live with a recorder, then the classic method – by letter, later on via e-mail. Don’t know, every one was interesting for me. However, I do remember one time getting ready to interview Kadath (Belgium) – stress, preparation etc…in the end I haven’t gone there!Or with Agathocles, again, the same routine – stress, preparations etc…I’ve come to the meeting, them haven’tin their place there were, for example, Dead Infection, but they were so fucked up so my friend has ended up doing the interview for me, I was just stupidly smiling!There were a few more such “cases”! The worse ones? …well, I haven’t been satisfied with short answers…but there’s nothing you can do about it…
I’d guess you’ve started the distro along doing the zine, right? Again – as it’s not the easiest thing to do – what has motivated you to do so? And for those interested to, maybe, start their own, how would you describe the operation of distro, how much time and money have you invested in building it?
To be completely true, it went like that – first, I’ve started the fanzine, however, of course, I’ve been trading tapes, but not as a distro. Some time in 1997/8 I’ve met the band called Angel´s Decay, whom I’ve started to help with the promotion. Back then, when you wanted to be known, you had to have a demo and push it everywhere possible, or to do gigs (gig-for-gig). And because guys haven’t had their demo yet, we’ve started to do Akné Fests. Great gigs from the start, good reviews, and even after that, when we’ve gone little bigger – from the club to the city culture-hall.That was really pricey though, and it’s happened we’ve lost a lot of money sometimes. Then, in 1999, guys finally recorded their demo and we’ve made a deal that I could release it under my own label, and that’s how AKNÉ Productions has started. I’ve released their demo on a profi tape with a profi black-and-white cover. There was a problem to print the first batch of 600 covers, nobody wanted to print them because of the cover image – such was that time period! First 300 pro-tapes with them. When they were done and I’ve started to do the promotion, I was called for a mandatory army service and all things have been halted for almost a year!!! After being released from the army I’ve done another release, APOPLEXY. I’ve met M. Dugi, their guitarist – while been in the army service. They were among the first bands in Slovakia to release their stuff on CD – it was 1995. After the army service, in 2000 I’ve released their last album on pro-tapes (500 pro-tapes with full colour cover). Then came Craniotomy, after that another batch of Angel’s Decay and Craniotomy in the press of 1000 copies. Something unbelievable today, considering what quantities bands releasing their material nowadays! With me, it always went like that – all the money I’ve earned selling tapes, later on with the distro – for I’ve traded my releases with other people and sold those in my distro – I’ve invested in the label. Of course, running the label was financially more and more demanding, but it being – and still is – my hobby, I didn’t care. I’ve got a job (still do), so I’ve put the money I’ve earned into the label. Of course, there certainly were distros with some profits in Slovakia. I wanted to run a distro to be at least on break even, but it has never happened!
CDs versus tapes versus vinyl…what is your preferable weapon of choice when it comes to music listening?
Those who are familiar with me know me being always a tape maniac! Therefore, tapes forever!!!! Even now, always. Yes, when driving, I listen to CDs, because I don’t have a tape player in the car.
Back in the day there was quite common practice for a distro to get a master tape (back then) with a xeroxed covers and selling them, this practice continues with the spreading of CD-R discs. For one, I absolutely don’t mind getting a DIY CD-R release, what’s your opinion about it? Many fans probably shun this, preferring the standard issued CDs…
Not only in the past.It’s still done this way, due to the hight post rates. And yes, I’ve done it as well.Nowadays not as much – first, the post contact is quite restricted due to Covid, and I am not that keen on that, for dubbing tapes or CD-Rs takes too much time. I’m trying to get ready made products in the distro, so I don’t need to make copies of them. Some stuff from the past I have to, though. As for my label, all the CD-Rs I’ve released recently have been made using a company as a profi releases, or I’ve paid someone for its DIY style and dubbing, so I haven’t had to do it and save my time.
Yes, you’re right. Generally speaking, there is a problem with CD-R releases, for people still prefer pressed discs. Sometimes I don’t get it, because some CD-R releases are done such in a professional way that they look better than pressed discs – but yeah, there might be a durability factor in it – pressed CDs should last about 100 years, CD-Rs only half of it!!! Maybe there’s something different! Don’t know, don’t care. I don’t have a problem with CD-Rs. I don’t have a problem with anything!
I have to commend Akné distro for good selection of stuff and fair prices, although the most troublesome part of the trade is ever-growing postage. And, of course, the growing online presence of many releases. How do you view the future of physical releases? Especially as connected to the underground?
I started the distro in 2000 and since then there have been loads of stuff in there.Did you see the current distrolist? It’s about a half of what is has been. About 2 years ago you wouldn’t believe it.About 2 years go about the half of the distro was sold to one guy, and about 6 months ago about 30% of the distro material was sold to a guy from Italy for a very fair price. See, when I have the opportunity, I am getting rid of stuff in distro. I’m not counting people ordering now and then. I’ve used to go with distro to gigs, but even there people are not buying as before and, especially, when you’re an underground-oriented distro. People wanted Slayer, Kreator, simply the bigger bands. The future of physical releases? Speaking for me, I’m limiting it to a minimum. Shame, for there’s nothing better than to have a physical copy in your hand. But this current generation has probably a different opinion and that’s why it is how it is!
The next step for you has been to start your own label, Akné Productions. First, why such a name? I’ve thought it’s some punk/crust/grind distro at first, haha. Why did you start the label and how do you recall its beginnings?
As I’ve said, it went differently. Yes, first the fanzine, but after that the label and then, in the label framework, a distro. About the name? I am sure it has its origin with some gig with guys from Angel´s Decay. The label name looks like a punk distro name…don’t know, I don’t care. I liked it back then and I like it now. I am sure it has some connection to acne pimples on a face – but not because I had them! I was always a handsome boy with a beautiful skin!The beginnings…I’ve mentioned some above. The first issue of pro-tapes, then first pro-CD of Angel´s Decay, later on another batch of those, but on pressed discs, first LP (12” vinyl), other pressed CDs, even later on pro-CD-Rs, DIY CD-Rs, always some tapes, either pro-done or in DIY style. The latest, that was 2 x 7”EP (vinyl) by Grium, then again, some pro-CD-Rs…
You’ve released quite a few releases, currently, if I am not mistaken, about 79 different titles, right? Which one was the best-seller? Is there any release you’ve not satisfied with?
Let me correct you a little. In total, I’ve released 76 releases. The most successful was, by all means, ANGEL´S DECAY CD. First, I’ve released it in 2003 as a profi CD-R release (profi CD-R, profi booklet), later on, in 2005 another batch as a pressed CD, in 2017, again, as a profi CD-R. Even later I’ve done a tape release of the same title. Speaking about tapes, again, ANGEL´S DECAY. Their album “Victims of Belief” was distributed as 600 pro-tapes (pro-printed) and 1600 pro-printed covers + about 250 promo tapes with a xeroxed cover. All releases I’ve done were done because I liked them – I’ve never released something just because, because someone – other than me – wanted it!
What genre(s) you are most comfortable with as a record label owner? Which one you won’t even consider to release?
Death metal is my style absolutely. If you have a look at my releases, death metal is dominant there.
Slowly moving towards to the end of the interview, what’s in the store for Akné Productions for 2021 and beyond? How badly, do you think, will the future of the underground trading/distribution be affected by the Coronavirus’ aftermath?
For 2021 I plan to release a DIY split – I’m not sure about the format, either a tape or CD-R. Should be a 5-way split…I don’t want to say more, as I don’t want to talk about it before it’s done. Covid has halted my activities in a very serious way. It’s true that in those last few years I haven’t been that active in releasing, concentrating more on the distribution and spreading of my releases over the world and to other distros in Slovakia. People have stopped ordering, completely! Before Covid, there were some orders now and then, now there’s basically almost none, or very little! Thankfully, I can say I will survive, for I am not doing it for money, but to enjoy it. Akné Productions it’s not my job, it’s my hobby and I treat it as such..
As for those interested in Slovak scene, what good zines and distros from our beautiful country worth checking would you recommend to our readers? Any bands worth checking?
Surviving, or better to say, resuming their activities, there are only those being here before. I have no idea about anything new. Worthy of mention are the classics: Metal Age Productions, Hexencave Production, Slovak Metal Army/Immortal Soul Production, Hirax Records, Mor Ho Productions! Fanzines? From the top of my head I don’t even know if there’s anything being published at the moment – Immortal Souls, ocassionally – Juro Haríň from Immortal Souls published a free newspaper (they were available for free in rock clubs in Slovakia and Czech Republic) – but it’s publishing has been halted by Covid. I’m thinking of some names, but I know those zines are finished too, so I’m not gonna name them.What’s being published are probably just pro-magazines like Pařát, or licenced Rock Hard published by Metal Age.
And the last one – obligatory – question…Any final words/message to our readers?
Thanks, Rudolf, for this interview and the interest. I owe you, man! Maniacs, support the underground distros/labels/zines. All the best to all of you, let’s see this COVID madness is finished and life’s getting back to normal.
Many thanks for your time doing this intie, bro!!!! Stay brutal!
Contact (ask for a distrolist): email@example.com