Raising the New Dark Ages (interview with William Zimmerman)

The music scene as a whole is great and a fantastic place not only to find out new artists and new music, but also things which might not be as visible, but are important nevertheless. Just think about it – magazine/fanzine publishers, webzines/portals admins and writers, music venues managers…and last but definitely not the least, PR agencies.
And today I have the opportunity to bring to you my interview with one such individual, the owner and CEO of New Dark Ages PR, William Zimmerman. Here we go!

Hello, William, thanks for your time in replying to my questions! First thing first, can you tell us something about you and introduce us to New Dark Ages PR?

Hello and thank you for the interest. Not really sure what to say about me, especially since I don’t really like to talk about myself too much. I can tell you that I’m a life-long music fan and have a pretty extensive history in the business. That includes experience in being an artist and writer. I started this PR business maybe about a year and a half ago after I had already been working for another PR agency. The name “New Dark Ages” comes from the title of a song by Leaether Strip. With regard to my business, I have to be my own boss so that’s why I started it. Call it being a control freak” but I enjoy being the one responsible. I do have an assistant who helps a lot with Facebook promotion though.

I’m always interested in hearing about that initial impulse, that particular track or album, which changes one’s life forever…so, how did you formed your life for music? Any favorite stuff you can point your finger on and say – that’s the one?

Without question, “the one” would be SERENADE FOR THE DEAD by Leaether Strip. It’s like nothing Claus Larsen has ever done other than SERENADE Pt. II. It’s an instrumental release, very cinematic and takes listeners into another world. It’s just an amazing piece of work by a guy who has changed the landscape of electronic music. As I mentioned, I take the business name from one of the tracks on the album.
While I listen to a number of different kinds of music, I often listen to black or death metal as well as dark ambient and 80s new wave. There were metal bands like Entombed, Motley Crue and Over Kill who changed my life when I first heard them. So many to mention in those genres.

But there’s music and then, there’s music. To elaborate, I guess, because from the look at the rooster of your clients it is clear you’re into industrial//goth/rock/metal/electronic music. How did you start to develop the taste for less conventional music genres?

That’s a very good question. I’ve always looked for music and artists who are extreme or “underground.” One of my favorite things is finding an obscure or new recording that opens my ears more. Take the noise/experimental arenas for example. Extremities and dynamics are such a part of these subgenres. Sutcliffe Jugend’s “We Spit On Their Graves” and Merzbow started my interest in noise. Then there is a guy called Rudolf Eb.er who is an absolute master of using minimalism to create uncomfortable textures and scenes. He is also a performance artist who pushes boundaries. I suppose you could say “boundaries, extremes and dynamics” are three of the things that have attracted me to such genres of music.
If I had to pin-point where my interest in this music started, I could go back to 1991 when I saw a local industrial band called Voice of God who have since broken up. I distinctly remember walking in the venue after hearing a “buzz” about this band, wondering why there was no drum set or percussionist. That band introduced me to industrial music and the acceptability of using backing tracks while the bands work out other parts of the performance.

For those of us, who can’t imagine the work behind the scenes, can you briefly paint us a picture of the daily routine of music PR agent?

It really depends on the stage at which the campaign is because there are different activities at different points in time in a 2 to 4 week PR campaign. We could be working on a press release, doing social media promotion, doing email follow-ups which include review and interview solicitation. When we do campaigns, we create a spreadsheet that we share with the artists. We could be documenting all our activities on there. We just finished working a tour PR campaign for Mortiis. So there was a lot of corresponding with local press to do reviews and interviews in their respective cities. One thing to keep in mind (especially if one has another day job) is that this business basically has no set hours. I could get texts in the middle of the night while Christian Death is in Europe and a zine owner or blogger wants to review a show or interview the band. Given the time difference, I might have to send a quick text to the band or document something on the spreadsheet. In a way, there is a lot of “on-call” time unless you want to get behind on work which I dislike. I like to stay ahead of the work.

But running New Dark Ages PR is not your only work/hobby/leisure, call it whatever you please (Well, I hope it’s combination of work and hobby :)) You also work as an author for various publications, both online and printed. Can you introduce our readers to this part of your creative outlets?

I’ve been writing for a long time in one way or another. A little over 2 years ago I started a blog at noisebeneaththesnow.com. After I started doing PR work, I wanted to establish relationships with some of the more popular entities in the scene. It just so happens that I ended up working with them as well. That includes Peek-A-Boo in Belgium and ReGen, Chain DLK and MadnessToCreation in the states. Having a creative outlet like writing is part of what keeps me sane.
I think one of the reasons I try to write on occasion is to keep the perspective of the writers, journalists and site owners that help people like me. It’s always nice to see the “other side” of things as it helps us serve clients better. I know what it’s like to get flooded with promo emails and press releases. We understand this and try to be respectful of people’s time.

Although it will probably be difficult to answer, I shall ask anyway – how do you view the progress of your PR agency from its inception to the current state of affairs… and how satisfied are you with this progress?

In some ways, I’m never happy with how things “are.” Rather, I always want them to be “better.” I constantly am obsessed with progress, making today more productive than yesterday. It’s depressing if I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished what I wanted. But I’ve been known to set the “bar” to high sometimes. But I’m not happy unless my clients are happy. That’s just the way I work.
On the other hand, two of my most known clients came very early in the days of the company; those being Christian Death and Mortiis. So I was lucky in that regard. And I’ve come quite a ways even in the last couple of years. Keep in mind also that I worked for about a year and a half with another PR agency before starting my own.

Now, as a webzine editor/administrator and everything-in-between, I know how precious the time is – how do you manage to engage in all your activities and still have a personal life?

Well, indeed there is a lot of sacrifice including some sacrifice of time with family. Fortunately I am blessed with a patient wife. My mother is a retired teacher who assists with my son’s homework so that helps as it allows me to work on advancing the business.
It’s all really about balance and doing the best I can to keep that balance. In the worst case scenario, I have to stretch a PR campaign out to make sure I put in the work people have paid for. Value is extremely important to me as is people feeling like they got their money’s worth.

Although we’re entering a second quarter of 2019, there is still a lot of time for some professional goals…anything interesting you’re set to accomplish and (if it’s not a secret) you can share with our readers?

Global domination. Hah. Just kidding. In all seriousness, I’m a huge fan of progress. I view goals as already being a part of the “self.” I think that “goals” as people traditionally see them are just points in time. But I’m shooting for things like more contacts, better relationships, enhanced services and capabilities. I love challenges so I’m hoping for a few of those as well.

What services do you offer to your clients, and what genres do you prefer to engage with? If there is some interesting party reading this, what should they do to get in touch with you?

We mostly do publicity campaigns for albums, EPs and videos. In some cases we also do PR campaigns for tours. Release and tour campaigns are in many ways very different. In the case of Mortiis’s US tour, we worked a video campaign and handled local press for the cities. That includes getting writers and photographers to the shows for reviews and interviews. The upcoming Christian Death tour is going to encompass not just tour PR but also mixed-in album and video campaigns. A LOT of hours will go into that one.
It’s not really a matter of preference, but we have the best grasp on the genres of ebm/industrial as well as metal and hard rock. Those genres are the ones we can best serve.
We can be found at newdarkagespr.com. We’re on Facebook as well. Those are the best ways to get in touch with us.

And finally, the last questions – any final message to our readers?

We appreciate everyone’s time and interest. It’s really about the R (Relations) in PR. We know what it’s like to be on the other end of service. So we treat artists and their time the way we would want to be treated. And if an artist sees an opportunity or room for improvement, we listen and act or provide recommendations.

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