Exclusive Interviews Only Found Here at MetalCore!
Heaven and Hell Records
Heaven and Hell Records is a cool upcoming label and I sent owner Jeremy Golden some questions to answer and here is what he said to them and this is a very cool interview:
MC: How old are you and how you discover music? Did you come from a big family or a small family and where did you grow up?
JG: Well I am 35 if I’m not mistaken and I come from a moderate size family I suppose. Well it is kind of a complicating background really...
I cannot really explain how I “discovered” music or pin-point a specific moment. I guess I could say my earliest memory of a song that grabbed me was when I was really young my grandmother had a Peter, Paul and Mary ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ record that I listen to every chance I could when at her house. I suppose I was about 3 or 4 years old then. So I guess from an early age I liked songs about dragons, Dio was destined to be in my future. Of course when I got older I learned that ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ was not really about a dragon.
I remember listening to a lot of 45s like Waylon Jennings and Glenn Campbell. I grew up around a lot of country music but I also had MTV, I remember seeing the premier when the rocket launched. Videos from Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, and Van Halen just pulled me further into a world of music. And when I was really young my mom would tell me about all these different artist and bands like Adam Ant and rumored stories of obscene things Wendy O Williams supposedly did with microphones. Why my mom was telling a kid such stories is beyond me but it just added to my musical growth if you will. But the greatest gift she ever gave me was Uriah Heep and King Crimson; not the albums but she told me about these bands and I would remember these names until I finally would come across the albums several years later.
MC: Do you remember the first metal group you ever heard? If you can remember what did you think of the band at that time and did it lead you to want more?
JG: If KISS is considered “heavy metal” then I could say they were the first I can remember hearing. It was a concert on television and all I remember is that it was really noisy.
As a kid I watched wrestling and their was a tag team called the Legion of Doom (The Road Warriors) who would run down the isle towards the ring while the heaviest riff I had ever heard would provide a soundtrack. The pair would dive into the ring as a voice would cry out “I am Iron Man”. The two giants would clash with their opponents and to the pounding of the first few beats of the song the Warriors would beat their victims to submission. The pounding was so heavy and powerful that you could not help but to feel the effect, and before the match began it was over.
I did not know at that time the song was by Black Sabbath until and friend would later have a copy of Ozzy’s “Speak of the Devil” which I actually got from him by trading him a soda. Interestingly enough I had seen this album before in a store when I asked my mom “who is that girl” and she replied “it’s Ozzy Osbourne”. Later I would hear ‘Bark at the Moon’ on a road trip with my aunt still before ever discovering ‘Iron Man”.
MC: What was the first concert that you saw and what were some early metal bands that you got into?
JG: My first concert was Whitesnake on the ‘Slip of the Tongue’ tour, Bad English opened. I was really into Whitesnake back then, well still am.
As for early metal bands I got into it was probably the usual suspects; Maiden, Dio, Sabbath, W.A.S.P, Grim Reaper. I really liked Grim Reaper that band was everything that metal was suppose to be. They were not the cheesiest band out there but neither were they overly serious and they sung about hell how metal is that.
MC: Where you were based out of, what it is to find metal and was there any local clubs or arenas that bands played at that you could go see live?
JG: There was a time when it was not difficult at all to find metal college radio stations aired popular metal shows, there was Headbanger’s Ball, record store heavily stocked metal, and the news racks were filled with metal magazines. In the 80s everyone listened to hard rock and heavy metal it seemed. Big tours like Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister hit all the coliseums around but I was not going to concerts at that time. By 1988 to 1990 I went to a couple of bigger concerts but at 15 I started going to clubs. I had just met this guy who since has become one of my dearest friends, he introduced me to so much metal and took me to my first club show to see Confessor. A whole new world opened up and through the 1990s I saw many metal bands touring the club circuits. It was mostly thrash bands back then, Nuclear Assault, Exodus, Sacred Reich and a lot of punk bands.
MC: Now what led you the idea to start up a record label? Prior to starting Heaven and Hell Records did you do any writing for any mags, websites? Also prior to starting up the label did you work at any record labels before?
JG: I never wrote for any magazines, websites or worked for another label. I only had a background of playing in bands, djing at a college radio station, and some small show promoting.
I never had actually planned out starting a label it just kind of happened. I was just starting my mail order and I knew a guy about to release an album himself. Well I had a few connections and one thing led to another and then The Reticent became the first release on Heaven and Hell Records. It was not heavy metal, not even rock but I liked it and that was all that mattered to me. I knew two other bands (Praetorius and Hellrazor) who were about to do the same thing and release their own albums and I started working with them and interest picked up even more. Then the Twisted Tower Dire reissues were released and the label’s exposure was doubled. Those two releases greatly helped gain the label attention. Now we had five releases and there was no turning back.
MC: Take me through the steps of what it took you to actually make the label a reality? Looking back now, was getting the label off the ground and up and running harder or easier than you thought it was going to be?
JG:I did not start with any map, game plan or formula, again it just happened. I still have no set way off doing things but somehow I seem to find some sort of order in my chaos.
Early own I took a lot of advice and strategy from my good friend Matt Rudzinski who owns the hardcore label Tribunal and a really nice re-issue label Divebomb Records. He was the closest connection I had to labels way back. I knew Matt from the time he started his label so I guess I took and learned a lot from him. However I was working with metal so it was a little bit more difficult than the hardcore scene in many respects.Five years in now I’m not sure if it has gotten any easier. Sometimes it makes me really bitter dealing with the difficulties and politics in this “biz” but I march on. I just do what I can on my terms and hopefully that turns out to be something the bands and fans will appreciate, fuck what anyone else might think.
MC: How long has the label been around and how many releases do you have out?
JG: Five years I believe. We don’t have that many releases but the focus has never been to pump out countless releases of pointless drivel. I’ll leave that for some other label to do. Current there is fourteen releases including the Lost Relics series. And there is a few more planned for this year.
MC: How many people work at the label and is it a full time job for you and any of the other people at the label?
JG: I have had several people work with me over the years but most never took it seriously as if it was something that could never work or just a hobby. No one seemed to have the heart for it. So basically it has been me and my long time girlfriend Jamie. But I am the only one that does this full time and still that is not enough.
Currently I have a couple of friends helping me out and hopefully that will develop into something, I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
MC: How did you end up coming up with the name? Were any other names considered and does the band Black Sabbath know that your label is named after one of their classic releases?
JG: First of all Black Sabbath should have never had to change that name, the name Black Sabbath is Tony Iommi, fuck Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. As for the band knowing about my label’s names I don’t know. I doubt I am even on their radar. But I actually did have the name before Sabbath changed to Heaven and Hell. And really that is a band and I’m an indie record label so it is two different things.
Yes the name was inspired by the Black Sabbath album, I love that album so much it is tattooed on my arm. But there was another inspiration for the moniker and that is based on my fascination with religion. I wanted a nice balance too that gave me room to do anything. In the beginning a lot of people thought H&H Records was a Christian record label which always struck me odd. I am not oppose to Christian rock/metal and would even work with it maybe, but Christian this label is not. And I think the Demontuary album cover put any of those questions to rest.
MC: What are some short term and long term goals you have for the label?
JG: Short term I want to get to the next release. In the long term well some times it is difficult to look far into the future, I will just keep going until I can’t any longer... that will probably be due to me losing my sanity.
I know I would love to one day do something with Manilla Road and Steve Grimmet, that would have made it all worth it.
MC: How do you go about signing bands? Can say an unsigned band email you a promo pack? What style of bands is off limits as far as the label goes and what are the styles of music the label is looking for?
JG: I come across bands all kinds of different ways. I must admit that I have not found many who just randomly email me saying “hey check out my band”, that actually gets annoying. But when bands do send stuff they should really have something that looks good because I’m going to give it as much priority as they did. If a band just sends me a link to a poorly recorded song on MySpace then they are just wasting my time and theirs. And there are those bands that mail me a CDr with a name scrambled on it, can barely read the name and there is no contact information so why even bother. Bands that do stuff like this should just give it up because they are already proving they don’t have what it takes and that is a good work ethic and intelligence.
As for styles or genres I am open to anything. I listen to a lot of different rock and heavy metal. I listen to a lot of different music actually. Grindcore is not my favourite but every now and then some Lawnmower Death isn’t to bad. But it is obvious what I specialize with and that is tradition heavy metal and it will probably always be like that.
MC: Have you, or would you ever re-release anything say out of print on your label with the blessing of the band, not like say a bootleg? What are your thoughts on bootlegs?
JG: All the bands or the representative of that band in the Lost Relics series is aware of those releases. I work closely with those guys on these to make them the best product they can be. Currently I’m working closely with David Smith on the Blacksmith re-issue that has or rather is turning into a project that well surpasses my expectations.
My thoughts on bootlegs are very mixed. I own a lot of albums and some of those are bootlegs because I cannot get the release any other way for whatever reason. I have spent a lot of money on a CD before but after a while why am I doing this? Some jackass record label will not re-release the album or give the rights back to the band so I only have two choices either buy a boot or pay outrageous prices in a secondary market, to hell with that I’ll take a really well done bootleg. I’m not one of those guys out there who care if there is a whole in the UPC or what edition it is, personally I think that is pretty stupid so I can deal with a bootleg of a album I can’t get any other way.
See people do not understand that bootleggers are just answering a demand for a product. If that album being bootlegged was re-issued by the label or band then it would cut down the bootlegging. It is not that damn difficult to figure out.
Another thing that bootlegging does is it keeps some band’s names alive. The Overlord I released I heard them from a bootleg first. Ion Britton has a pretty strong cult following in Europe and the fact that their EP was bootlegged helped to build that following in turn it breathed some air back into that band. The Blacksmith H&H is reissuing includes the bands first EP, I first heard that from a bootleg eight years ago, if not for the boot I may have not heard it until now.
So in short I have no problem with bootlegs, if labels and bands have issue then I suggest to labels and bands to take some initiative and start re-issuing the material people want or someone else is going to.
MC: Have you ever released anything on vinyl and do you see CDs going the way of cassettes in the future and everything just going on the internet and Ipods?
JG: Strangely enough there are some labels that still put out cassettes. I really don’t understand it myself I think it is some kind of pretensions underground ground thing I guess.
I have not yet put out any vinyl though I have looked into it but not yet fully convinced. I know collectors are really into it and I myself am even getting back into it. Still I’m not sure if a part of vinyl’s “resurgence” is not just a passing fade for hipsters, I guess we’ll see.
I am a CD collector myself and have thousands of CDs. I think they sound good and they are more convent than vinyl or cassette and still be a tangible product oppose to a digital download. I think other people feel the same way and for that reason I think CDs will be around for a while. But sure the digital age is cutting some CD sells and of course that leads to CD production; but this is because younger generations are discovering music who never knew any other format besides digital. It is sad really. Just the other day I spoke with a 15 year old kid who works at a local coffee shop and he has never listened to a CD, record, or cassette all he knows is digital. The boy had never been in or even seen a record store. I was really taken back by this, sure I knew kids were more digital now but to be confronted like that is kind of surreal I suppose.
Our target audience is typically around 35 to 50 years of age and these guys grew up with hard copies, album covers and liner notes and they will always want something to hold. It just seems to be more personal when it is in your hands. Don’t ask me to explain that but for anyone who has ever owned a record they know what I’m saying.
I remember when I was about 13-14 getting stone with my buddy David listening to Uriah Heep ‘Demons and Wizards’ and just studying that Roger Dean cover, I don’t think it would be the same with an Ipod in my hand.
MC: When a new release comes out, how do you go about promoting it? Do you feel there is too many bad bands out there and lots of labels that just sign a bunch of junk and signing good quality bands?
JG: I promote anyway I possibly can. I have tried a lot of things from newsletters, forums, sampler CDs, magazine ads, paying ad agencies (that was a waste of money). Should have trusted my gut feeling about banner ads, hell I don’t pay attention to them so why would I think others would. But I have tried many things and have yet to find any perfect formula. The best thing is word of mouth and the newsletters do fine.
There is often set backs though; recently I was setting up a giveaway with an online ‘zine that has a pretty good profile but it is starting to look like I just wasted my time and lost a lot of product dealing with these people and of course that equals losing money. This particular situation has been going on since last November but all you can do is move on.
There are certainly a lot of bands out there and a lot of “labels”. To address the idea of them signing crap well one man’s crap is another man’s treasure I guess. Personally I don’t care for those overly processed bands like Kamalot that the only way you can tell them apart is the singers and sometimes that is even difficult, but obviously someone likes it and that is fine. There are enough rock and metal listeners out there for all these bands.
MC: What is the url of your website and what can fans find when they log on it?
JG: The label site is www.heaveandhellrecords.com and you well find good bands who are keeping it real. Also our e-store is www.soundsofpurgatory.com. We are on Facebook to at www.facebook.heavenandhellrecords
MC: What are your thoughts on people just downloading music for free and not paying for it? Don't you feel this hurts the artist as well as the label?
JG: I don’t think it is as big of a deal as some people do. Tape trading was the same concept and I grew up in that era. I discovered many bands that way and it just so happens that I own their albums today.
I don’t particular like the idea but it is not for reasons that it will hurt bands or labels. There will always be those who want a real product in their hands as I mentioned earlier.
Besides it is not going away so why not learn to adapt to it and work with it.
MC: What are your thoughts on sites like Facebook and MySpace and does the label have a Facebook and MySpace page?
JG: Good in theory and I think bands and labels should certainly use every avenue at their disposal, yet they should never rely solely on these social networks because after all these social networks are mainly there to cater to one’s narcissism.
We have basically left MySpace behind in ruins in the vast wasteland that is now MySpace. It became to ridicules, people on there did not give a damn about bands they only wanted to post stupid pictures on people’s pages. But we do have a Facebook page you can find it by going to www.facebook/heavenandhellrecords and there is www.facebook/soundsofpurgatory
MC: In your eyes and ears, what makes a great band and song?
JG: I believe if I am ever able to answer that question then I will cease to hear it.
Anybody can be made to sound good but that does not make them a great band. There is just something in some bands that cannot be explained in words but when you hear you just know “that” is what makes them great. It’s like magic and it was there the first time you heard Zeppelin, Bowie or Thin Lizzy. Sure we all like many bands but when you hear greatness you just know it.
As for a great song for me it has to capture a moment in time and some kind of personal feeling. I don’t give a damn how technical and musically correct a song is, if it can’t move you emotionally then it is not great it’s just simply a song.
When I was a kid I found it difficult to get past the stigma that comes along with Lynyrd Skynyrd and ‘Freebird”; as I got older I came to realize why that is a great song. Not only is the song an epic anthem but feeling in it is just so intense. And even though it is like a cliché today (well in America) there is a reason that everyone knows it. ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is the same; people can say what they will but when that solo kicks in everyone one will turn it up. There is just a magic feeling there.
MC: If you could sign any 5 bands, who would they be and why?
JG: I’m not sure what the question here is, I’m guessing you are asking me fantasize. Well then I would say Black Sabbath obviously because then I would have had part of starting it all. Thin Lizzy because I love that band. Velvet Underground because they would probably have the best drugs. The Runaways (need I explain). And KISS because they would have made me enough money for me to sign good bands.
Realistically I would love to one day do something with Steve Grimmett and put out a Manilla Road album. I have been a Grimmett fan for years and think Manilla Road is on of the greatest metal bands ever.
MC: When you’re not doing label related stuff, what do you do in your spare time, if there is any spare time?
JG: There is not much spare time. Seriously this consumes a lot of time. However, if I do get some spare time I’m sleeping or watching cartoons. Luckily I get to work with what I enjoy and enjoy what I work with...most of the time.
Honestly I do need a much overdue break and take up a hobby.
MC: Any places you would like to visit one day?
JG: Sure there are lots of places. The first to come to mind is Xanadu; roller-skating with Olivia Newton John to the sweet soundtrack of Electric Light Orchestra how cool would that be? She and I could rekindle after all she was most first love.
I have been invited to many places I just never get the time to go but it will happen eventually provided I don’t visit the grave first. I would however like to travel the young kingdoms to understand why they see my people the way they do. Well I guess in this case we are the young one. (Reference there, some should pick up on it)
MC: Are webzines and magazines in your eyes still an important part of the underground?
JG: Certainly they are important. However I do believe there are a lot out there who seem to kind of clog up the “scene”. Some like the one I mentioned earlier just waste label’s and band’s time. But still the press is extremely important.
MC: Are any of your releases in stores, or is the best way to find your stuff is to visit your label website?
JG: There are various stores worldwide that carry them but we mostly focus on mail-order because that is where most metal releases are bought. Our releases can be found worldwide; Rock Stakk (Japan), Underground Power (Germany), No Remorse (Greece), The End and Century Media (U.S.), Record Heaven (Sweden) and many others.
Of course people can always come directly to the label.
MC: If somebody wanted to start up a label, what advice would you give them? Also do you need a nice chunk of money to start up a label?
JG: I would say to be pretty damn sure you know you want to do it. It is extremely difficult, frustrating, and time consuming. But if you are dedicated and passionate then it just might work at least I’m hoping it will. As for a “big chunk of money” well it couldn’t hurt. I did not have it but I don’t suggest one tries it the way I did.
MC: Where do you get your CDs pressed at and do you always use the same company?
JG: I have used different places in the past. Currently I use AtoZ Media who does a pretty good job.
MC: Plug any websites you have.
JG: As mentioned above; www.heavenandhellrecords.com, www.soundsofpurgatory.com, both are also on Facebook and Reverbnation. Also check out Pitchforkvisuals at http://www.youtube.com/user/PitchforkVisuals
MC: Horns up for the interview and any last words...thanks for doing this interview.
JG: Thank you for the opportunity and my apologies for it taking so long.
I'd just like to thank the readers for taking the time to read my rambles and ask that they check out the bands on the label. HAILS!