Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Clash of the titans

To promote Holy Monsters!, the forthcoming marriage of convenience between BSM and Holy Roar, Alex (Mr Holy Roar) and I decided to interview one another. As expected, it was a fairly dramatic affair, often descending into name calling and stereotype lauding, but you might be able to pick some interesting information out of it somewhere.

Click here to read my answers to Alex's questions. Read on for his angry answers to mine...

1. Holy Roar; what sort of crap name is that? Is it true that you wanted to call your label Big Scary Monsters but when you checked on you realised it was already taken? You also noticed that Sony had been nabbed.

...Or maybe we named our label after a Torche song, who are possiblity one of the best bands around in the world at the moment. Oh sorry, what's that Kev? You don't own last years seminal 'Meanderthal' album by Torche? I'm not surprised. To be fair though sometimes people have been like "Wholly Raw?", which is pretty annoying/our own fault.

2. Name three bands you tried, and failed, to sign. At least one has to make us go "oh wow" with surprise and/or digust.

Now this is something Holy Roar has been damn good at! We were due to put out the Fuck Buttons record before ATP came along offering Mogwai tours, working with Shellac members and endless ATP Festival appearances worldwide, which we would never have been able to offer. I offered to put out the House of Brothers record but Andy said that he "wasn't looking to release anything right now" and then signed to you a week later. We were also due to release material by Narcosis and November Coming Fire but they both split up. We were interested in Grammatics too, but again DTTR just was a better offer by far i guess.....

3. Does it frustrate you when lazy people write your label off as being 'metalcore' or something else equally misguided? There's this bald lad in London who continuously jokes about BSM being full of finger-tapping indie kids. I don't know where he gets it from. He also runs a record label, but his is full of brutally loud bands and he believes that 'Take Your Daughter To The Slaughter' is actually a love song.

Whilst I know you're trying to bait me, we don't get called a metalcore label ever. Dazed and Confused magazine called us a grindcore label, which was hilarious as we have released 6 minutes of grindcore (Ergon Carousel) within our 34 or so releases. A surprising number of outlets have called us things like the "thinking mans heavy label" or a "prorgressive hardcore label" and sometimes its just "that cool noisy label". I don't really care - Youves play dancey post-punk, Throats play really harsh hardcore, but both bands have played gigs together because they share an attitude, an aesthetic and are incredible live.....this is just one example and is a thread which I believe runs throughout Holy Roar.

4. What's your favourite pit move: two-stepping or head walking?

Head-walking. What's your problem? Step up. See you down the front?

5. ...was the name of a great band. Who's your all-time favourite band? I bet they're fucking hardcore.

It's probably Soundgarden or something. MOSH?

6. Everyone keeps banging on about CDs being dead. Personally, I think it's nonsense. Yes, the mass-audience has turned their back on them in favour of a more convenient format but, in three or four years, when we all have streaming music services on our mobile phones and free broadband covers cities rather than just homes, they'll also give up on buying MP3s. I don't care if you agree or disagree with this view, my question is thus: who will disappear first: Holy Roar or iPods? And, as a side-question: How badly do you feel your business has been affected by the decline of CD sales? Personally, we've felt a small drop but this seems to have been balanced out by a gradual raising of profile of our bands, and a sharp increase in digital sales over the past 12 months. Financially, I actually feel slightly safer now than I did two years ago. Is this the same for you, or am I being stupidly naive?

It's difficult to say - like you, digital sales have increased generally, but physically we seem to have so many different methods of releasing stuff that it's hard to say if there has been an actual decline for us. I would like to have another Rolo Tomassi or Danananaykroyd cd, but at the same time they were alot of stress, and Throats aren't far behind saleswise, for considerably less stress as we expected alot less of them. Generally I think we are still growing, but I don't know whether that is just down to having more of a back catalogue now or what.....Holy Roar or Ipods is an funny question though! I'm sure Ipods will be redundant technology before I disappear ;)

7. Over the past 18 months you have begun to manage three bands, do you see this playing a big part in the future of Holy Roar? Or is simply an extra-curricular activity?

Initially I only ever started co-managing Rolo Tomassi to see if I could help them achieve everything I think they the deserve. It's grown out of there. But as my label is perhaps slightly less commercially viable than yours (!?!) and I have less of a back catalogue due to having been around for only 3 years, its starting to prove to be helpful when it comes to not maxing out my overdraft.

8. When do you foresee yourself having to grow up and get a real job? A couple of years back I set myself a deadline of 25 years old and said that when I reached that, if I was still struggling, I would trim the label down and get a normal day job. Tomorrow I turn 26 and have released more music over the past 12 months than in any previous year. However, I still eat Tesco Value food. Does my decision to ignore my deadline make me stupid and a future financial cripple, or a hopeful romantic with a bright future ahead? And can the same be said of you?

I've certainly never set myself any 'age deadline' haha. I see it as getting away with doing exactly what I want, and the longer I can keep up the facade the better! I have no care for financially 'planning for the future' really, as any one of us could be dead tomorrow. I'm sure my viewpoint will change if I ever (heaven forbid) have children or something, but until then......Don't get me wrong though i'd love to be rich!

9. Someone recently said to me: "I follow that Alex from Holy Roar on Twitter and he seems like a very angry young man." Would you say that's a fair assumption?

He is probably quite right. I do have alot of fun in my life, alot of friends and good times, I love doing the label and being involved with music all the time, I love playing in a band and everything that involves, I love where I live now, my family are nice and we get along and they are healthy, I don't have money to go buy random junk that I want, but I dont have much to complain about really. However there's fucking piles of shit music out done by idiotic twats, the music industry is full of wankers who I hate and I find the way it operates hugely unfair - it's all about who you know, or who your manager is etc etc, I hate schmoozing and basically cant do it, I find the decisions alot of people make in life and the way they live to be horrendous and I havent been in any real kind of relationship for a while now and can only assume i'm ugly/dull/crap at all that stuff. I cant control or even hope to have any control over much of this at all, so why it angers me I have no idea, and I really need to learn to let it go....
You were probably hoping for a witty light-hearted retort to this question. Unlucky.

10. I was watching TV whilst eating my lunch earlier and, for the 50 millionth day in a row, was astounded by the unbelievably poor adverts, many of which advertising products or companies I just cannot see a place for. For example, how many dickheads must there be in the world spending £x on ringtones everyday for these companies to be able to afford ads across hundreds of cable channels all day everyday?! If you had a budget of £100,000 to market your label and all of your releases for one year, how would you spend it?

If I had £100,000 to spend purely on marketing etc, it would obviously be very easy to spunk it up the wall. I could bang out page adverts in NME, kerrang, do big videos and then its all gone in like a week or two. I would be much more interested in seeing what that kind of money could do for me on a technological level - so a combination of online and viral pr, perhaps looking at people Trent Reznor worked with. I might do a couple of print adverts, but my presence in the physical world would change little. To be honest I havent really thought all the above through really properly in terms of execution etc (why would I need to? No one is giving me £100k!) but I think, off the top of my head, this would be a good starting point.....

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