Been reading Brian Slagel’s book the past few days. If you don’t know, he’s the guy who started Metal Blade Records and essentially is the reason you’ve ever even heard of Metallica, Slayer, Armored Saint and a slew of others. We’re in this weird phase that basically ANYBODY who did anything remotely of note in the 80’s or 90’s gets a book deal. Sometimes there’s some fascinating insights into what things were REALLY like (Chris Connelly’s book is a good example), others essentially make a spectacle of the author (Lita Ford’s book basically screams “I’m a mentally unstable person, here’s all the shit I did as a result”). I’m about into the early 90’s of the book (in typical bio fashion it basically tells the Metal Blade story chronologically). It’s equal parts enthusiastic because you get a sense of what kind of passion it’d take from a guy like Brian to be able to do what he did just from a mental standpoint. But on the other, there’s a bit of a sad side because you realize how a record label like Metal Blade simply could not be started today. Its roots lay in a network of tape traders and people genuinely enthusiastic about a genre (the Capital Records tape swaps would have been amazing to go to in 80-81). It doesn’t matter now that a guy like Brian was willing to spend 20 hours a day 7 days a week devoted to his label, promoting shows, recording artists etc…there simply isn’t a support network now that would facilitate something like that (at least that I can see). As great as the reach is through things like Bandcamp and Facebook, it’s not the same as a bunch of people attending swaps, or shows. All this by the way of saying it’s probably good reading for anybody under the age of 30 interested in heavier stuff just to get a sense of what the world was like in the 80’s for metal.
Good read though. Brian comes off as a pretty pragmatic person with a serious passion for the art he curates. I am really fascinated by the number of units that were moving. Maybe my 90’s upbringing messed my sense of what indie records were selling (my Wax Trax friends left me with the impression that the virtue of being on a label with any credibility in a given genre meant you were guaranteed to move 10k units unless you were absolutely tragic). Brian was saying moving 3k was a reasonable success and selling 30k of Haunting the Chapel was an epic windfall. In other words, it wasn’t much different in the 80’s for an indie than it is now…other than getting the resources together in the first place.
Brian’s Book on Amazon
Picked up Elevate yesterday. My stereo 2 buss usually has a 670 style compressor at the top just barely kissing the mix (for the most part, I’ve been a little more heavy handed lately) with a tape sat very lightly touching the mix followed by an optic comp with about 1db of gain reduction and then whatever (if any) EQ needs followed by a Brickwall limiter. This setup gives me a fair bit of control over the dynamics and overall balance of the mix but pushing any one of those things and it’s been a bit middling. I’ve seen a lot of talk about how awesome Elevate is in preserving transients and keeping an overall natural sound without sounding too, I dunno? Fizzy? when you push it. Specifically for the next .Sys Machine and Derision Cult projects I want a pretty aggressive sound. As it happens there’s a sale going on through tomorrow on this bundled with Equivocate (I don’t have any burning graphic eq holes but hey why not). I played around a bit yesterday with it and other than the fact I’m reaching peak-plugin capacity with my rig I’m pretty impressed. No doubt you can get a lot more volume out of the mix with that deeper control over the transients across the spectrum. I’ve got a ways to go in understanding this beast, but I see it essentially replacing everything on my 2 buss save for the 670 and tape sat. Should be a net positive.
Elevate Bundle from Eventide
Today’s ear worm. Otis isn’t really widely known outside the trance blues scene which is a travesty although he shows up in a lot of soundtracks. I finally got to catch one of his shows this summer. Most excellent
Lee and Arnez on Youtube
Hey all, after much playing around on Facebook and attempting to use that as sort of a forum for all things music, it’s become obvious I need a better platform for what I’m up to (the www version of FB won’t even let you upload videos which is a huge problem as I’m actually a video snappin’ fool all evidence to the contary). Plus given all the outlets now it’s pretty hard to treat any one social platform as a central repository. So now this! Nothing fancy…I was thinking of going full on with the purchase links and all that but like, babysteps!
Work proceeds on all fronts with projects. I’ve got about 6 things ready to roll for Derision Cult, 10 for Jeff Dust, 8 for Hell’s Own Drag etc that all need vocals etc. The next thing likely you’ll hear from me is this next .Sys Machine project. It’s been a pretty arduous undertaking as I really pulled out a lot of 90’s sounds and techniques to get to this. I chased a lot of dead ends (in the “Oh this will totally work…shit no it won’t”) much of which will never see the light of day to the mercy of mankind. It’ll be 5-6 tracks, all with vocals (first for .Sys Machine). I’m still casting about for the central theme to these tracks (they actually tie together pretty well musically). I’ll start posting clips here pretty soon.
.Sys Machine has always been a funny animal for me because it never gets ANY traction on my usual haunts like Bandcamp but I’ll check in on my Spotify stats and it’s by far and away the most listened to of any of my projects. To the point that it generates a bit of dependable revenue (mind you nothing that you could like, live on, but enough to pay for the wine of the month club). I’m not sure how well received this next set of tunes will be to that crowd because it’s a pretty hard left turn even if it is still electronic. Not that these things dictate my creative decisions but it will be interesting nonetheless (That’s the great part of not depending on money from music–you can essentially do whatever the fuck you want and let the chips fall where they may without worrying if your fanbase will continue to support you).
Sys Machine Bandcamp Page