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I have known Daniel Ferguson and his label Abyss Records for quite some time now and I thought and interview was long overdue with this man and his labels o here is the interview and here is his story:
MC: Tell me readers who you are and a little about yourself.
DF: My name is Daniel Ferguson, owner & operator of Abyss Records since 1993 and been involved in the underground since 1990. Metal is my life & passion!!!!!
MC: Have you always lived in Indiana? What sort of boy were you growing up? Did you come from a small or big family?
DF: Yes, adventurous but stayed out of trouble or guess never got caught… hahaha I didn’t come from big family, divorced parents at young age and one son of my mother. Dad had two other kids with step mother. Most family is all into God and I could care less about that shit….. So I stay to myself anyway.
MC: Were you into music even at a young age? What were some of things you were into when you were a boy?
DF: I like playing little instruments and stuff in school I guess, just hated the dumb songs they have you sing, ect…. I pretty much found music on my own, then with little extra guide through trading to find out about newer bands. Then I got deep into writing people snail mails style.
MC; What were you like as a teenager and at what point did you discover rock n roll and metal? What did you think of the music when you 1st heard it?
DF: I kept to myself for the most part and never tried to follow and certain trend or group always chose my own path which lead me to start my own business pretty much….. I first heard early Iron Maiden and W.A.S.P. then I was hooked for live. The addiction had already taken over my soul!!!! LOL
MC: At the time were there any cool record stores you could go find music or a good local radio station that played at least decent music?
DF: Yeah, there used to be some cool local stores, now we are down to one Indie store in Indianapolis area that sells metal. Also use to have local high School Radio station that support local bands as well other metal acts like early Metallica, Slayer, ect…… WBDG 90.9
MC: At what point did you discover the wonderful world of the underground metal scene? Do you remember the 1st band or couple bands that you heard?
DF: As far back as I can remember hearing Dead Horse, Skeletal Earth, F.U.C.T., Slayer, Phlegm, Macabre, D.R.I., Drop Dead, Radiation Sickness, Anal Cunt, Mentors, Napalm Death, Carcass, Morbid Angel, Pungent Stench……
MC: Were you like me and after you heard a few bands it was like a drug that you wanted more of? What were some of the early bands that you heard and got into?
DF: Swedish Death Metal changes my live forever…… Entombed “Left Hand Path”!!!!
MC: At any point did you discover the world of fanzines, tape trading and demo tapes? If so what zines did you read back in the day and did you do much tape trading and stuff?
DF: It was like late ’87-’88 I think when I started tape trading or being feed some the early Thrash / Grindcore / Death metal bands.
MC: What were some early concerts that you saw and what was your favorite band back then and are they still one of your favorites now?
1990 - Obituary, Sepultura & Sadus in Chicago, IL, W.A.S.P. Live 1996, Iron Maiden for the 1st time & Pungent Stench Live 2006.
MC: Did you ever do any writing or did you ever do any record label work before you started Abyss Records?
DF: I use to do “A View Into The Abyss” fanzine…. Done 6 cult issues back in the day with some the first Burzum, Mayhem, In Flames, Macabre and other bands interviews!!!! (shit I completely forgot that great zine-chris).
MC: What got you the idea to start up a label? How long did it take you before you thought about it till it actually became reality? Looking back was starting up and getting the label established harder than you thought it was going to be?
DF: I just needed to do something outside the basic mail-order as at the time everyone was trying to start doing it, just like EBay…. Plus I stop using them after they wanted to start shit over selling Black Metal artist and was tired of them taking every dime they could just to sell a CD for $2-$3 profit.
MC: Take me through the steps of starting the label. Did you have an idea what you were doing and who did you ask for advice when you were starting it up? At the time was it just you doing the label?
DF: I just said fuck it one day and went for it, then picked up couple other great local artist Christ Behead (IN) and Bulletwolf (IN), Die Hard (Swe), F.U.C.T., then Torture Division came it really made me pleased to be working with them as I grew up listening to the members other bands.
MC: Was it hard at the start trying to find the right band to sign off as your 1st release? Do you draw up contracts and stuff with the bands you sign? Are they for one release at a time?
DF: No…. things just started falling into place it seemed in time….
MC: What was the 1st band that you signed and what was it about them that made you want to sign them?
DF: HORDES OF NEBULAH (IN), just friends I wanted to help get there stuff out to the world and think they well deserve it. Just wait for their new album, the CD I released is pretty raw but still good for older Demo material compilation pretty much.
MC: What advice would you give to somebody who is thinking about starting up a label these days?
DF: Good luck and unless you really are into for the music and fans, then get out !!!!
MC: How many releases have you put out to date and how long has the label been around? Did you think when you started doing this that the label would still be around? Are there any bands you regret signing and was there any bands that you missed out on and had a chance to sign that you kinda regret now not working with them?
DF: I am up to number 29-30 now and more to come…. It has grown very well and the respect I’m getting in Europe is amazing. I didn’t think I would take things this far but again I’ve been working with amazing bands and want to offer people a classic style cult label like it used to be. I don’t sign stuff just because I can sell something, or is trendy….. No my taste
MC: When you listen to a new band or a band that sends you music hoping to get signed, what do you listen for? What advice would you have for a band that is trying to get signed? Do you feel there is way too many bands in the scene nowadays and that most all sound the same?
DF: Something that just hits me right and doesn’t get boring from listening to it, something you can listen from start to finish. Also something I that makes me wanna keep going back to it and listen to it more and more, stuff I that’s influenced by what I grew up listening too from the start.
MC: What formats do you release your music on? Are all your releases still available? Have you or would you release a bands old stuff like old demos and stuff or are you just into signing new bands?
DF: Compact Disc and Vinyl (only done Dead Horse – Boil(ing) 12” LP so far), more to come….. I will release only what I’m personal into and support 100%. I will do re-issues of classics as well new bands with amazing talent.
MC: I assume the label is a full time thing? How many people work at the label and how much time in a given day or week is spent doing label related stuff? How much mail do you send out and how much mail is incoming on any given day?
DF: Just me mainly, then Mike McCoy helps with online promotion, sales sheets & flyers. Also Dan Jones helps me keep track of inventory, selling at shows, flyers, ect….. Odd and end things !!!! Sometimes I get only a few orders and other days I get a lot all at once…. Very odd patterns most the time !!!!
MC: Obviously the underground has changed big time over the years. Where do you see the underground music scene in 5 years and what has been the biggest change that you have seen that has surprised you and do you think the underground scene has kinda reached its peak and will pretty much stay where it is at these days?
DF: I can’t stand the whole MP3 shitty quality and the whole downloading community of people who think that have 2 TB of music on a hard drive they are a collector or supporter in the scene. Checking it out and then buying what you like is one thing, but doing nothing but FREE downloading is pretty lame and a real enemy of the music business. I just think more people in metal actual still buy and support more than other genres, which struggle more. However, it’s still a problem in the metal community !!!! (i agree 100% with ya-chris).
MC: Are you at all surprised that the underground is still around and do you think it will ever die out?
DF: I knew it would still be around and think it’s going through another phase now again, fading out some the more trendy bands as well showing which of the older bands have fallen into that boring formula of a big label release (which seems to happen when labels push bands on time limits, ect….). Plus now doing a complete 360 degree turn back to where vinyl is more popular now these days too.
MC: Do you do a lot of trading with other labels and stuff? When a new release comes out how do you go about in promoting it? About how many releases do you do in any given year? About how much does it cost you in releasing a new cd for a band?
DF: I do as much as possible, but it can get expensive with extra shipping cost, ect…. Plus have to turn over what stuff you trade just as much sell your own product. As for what it cost it could vary in price from $1100-$3000 for 1000 copies on CD, depending on packaging DIGI CD or jewel and how many page booklet, ect…..
MC: Do you go to many shows these days and do you ever set up booths at any shows or shows like the Maryland Deathfest and sell stuff? Do you ever have any people come to your house direct and buy things ha ha?
DF: I go to less shows now I have a 3 year old and most the time I have to travel to Chicago, IL, Louisville, KY and once in a while Cincinati, Ohio. As for a festival like Maryland Deathfest it’s to many days for one and could cut out over half the bands most every year, to make it the perfect festival (I did go in 2006 which was a great year, but only 2 days still). I did vend CIM 2011 last year and had my artist Maax play live, which this year I will return to vend as well, have Abyss artist Radiation Sickness playing this years Central Illinois Metalfest 2012.
MC: What are some things you like to do when you are not doing label stuff? Is there any non-metal music you like and if so what style and what bands?
DF: Well it seems outside my family (wife & son), I don’t have much free time here or there to be honest as it takes a lot running the label my myself. Although I have a great PR team Clawhammer PR (Scott & Ryan) and a few friends who help me on the side doing certain task which frees up little extra time to focus on label and keeping up on orders, ect….. It’s a lot of fucking hard work for sure….
MC: How long do you see the label being around for? How did you come up with the name for it?
DF: I started the label around August 2008 full force, but original released some other stuff under Abyss Productions like Crimson Moon “To Embrace The Vampyric Blood” CD, Darkness Enshroud Demo, Extreme Hardcore Holocaust Compilation 1990 !!! (Classic). I just kept the name Abyss Records from after I opened a store front several years ago and named it Abyss Records after the whole Abyss Productions thing.
MC: Plug any websites you have.
ABYSS RECORDS Official Label & Online Music Store:
ABYSS RECORDS Official My Space:
ABYSS RECORDS Official FaceBook:
ABYSS RECORDS Official ReverbNation:
ABYSS RECORDS Official Last FM:
ABYSS RECORDS Official You Tube:
MC: Dan horns up for the interview and any last words.
DF: Hails to all the Abyss Records supporters over the years and fans, also to you Chris for this interview and support too !!!! Keep the flame forever burning and support the Underground Labels, Stores, bands, Fanzines/Magazines, ect….. Cheers… Dan
8063 S. Madison Ave. #360
Indianapolis, IN 46227