Exclusive Interviews Only Found Here at MetalCore!
Metal on Metal Records
Metal on Metal Records is a very cool record label from Italy and I sent an interview to Jowita Kaminska-Peruzzi who runs the label along with her husband and they have some really killer stuff they have released so far and read the interview and buy some stuff from them:
MC: How old are you and did how you discover music? Did you come from a big family or a small family and where did you grow up?
JKP: I'm 35 now and have been a metalhead since the age of 12. Before I really got into metal, some hard rock and heavy metal bands I saw video clips of on TV caught my attention - W.A.S.P., Europe, Bon Jovi... Then in 1988 I asked an older friend to recommend some good metal bands to me and he gave me a compilation tape with songs of Slayer, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Helloween and Anthrax. The very first tape I bought was "Show No Mercy" though, followed soon by "Kill'Em All", "Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part 1", "Terrible Certainty", "So Far, So Good... So What" and many others. I can say that it had the biggest influence on my musical taste, because even though I listened to some death and black metal in the '90s, I've stayed faithful to thrash metal throughout all those years.
Anyway, I was the only daughter, but have had a cousin, one year younger than me, who was into metal as well. He lived far away though, but I started spreading the metal disease among some friends from my class.
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?
JKP: Like I already mentioned, there were several at the same time. But before I started collecting cassettes, I remember I saw W.A.S.P. "Wild Child" video clip and got really fascinated with the music and the image. They were quite over the top and their music so much cooler than of the lighter bands I heard before. And yeah, of course it did make me want to discover more metal!
MC: What was the first concert that you saw and what were some early metal bands that you got into?
JKP: The first ever show I attended was a traveling festival called Monsters Of Rock. It was in 1991 and it took me a lot of convincing for my parents to let me go there... I was 15 then and at that time we were on vacations at the seaside, in the north of Poland, while the show was right across the country, in the very south. But fortunately they bought me a train ticket and let me go - much thanks to the fact that we've had family in the nearby city there where I could stay. I have to say it was an unforgettable experience! The bands on the bill included Queensryche, Metallica and AC/DC. Well, I've never liked AC/DC and at that time I had not discovered Queensryche yet, but Metallica was still my top fave band then, so it was a dream come true for that kid (soon after they released the "black album" and were instantly dethroned by King Diamond in my books though).
Some of the earliest bands I got into... Well, except those I mentioned before (Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, Helloween and Iron Maiden), there was Megadeth, Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, Testament, Flotsam & Jetsam, Overkill, Exodus, Death Angel, Venom, Celtic Frost, SDI, Death...
MC: Where you were based out of, what was is to find metal and were there any local clubs or arenas that bands played at that you could go to see live?
JKP: I was born and lived most of my life in Warsaw. In spite of it being the capital city, the metal clubs weren't so many there. I remember about 3 clubs in the early '90s and I think 2 of them are still there. Meanwhile several smaller venues opened and closed - nowadays there are a couple of new ones again, from what I heard. I went to some shows in the '90s, but I have never been into local scene and into Polish bands much (with very few exceptions) and there weren't many bands from abroad coming to play then. Whenever there was a show of a band I liked, I was going to see them of course, also traveling to other cities, but that was nothing comparing to the number of bands I see every year ever since I started going to German festivals in 2004.
MC: Now what led you the idea to start up a record label? Prior to starting Metal on Metal 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?
JKP: Several years ago I was doing some freelance work for Polish pro 'zine "Heavy Metal Pages" - just a few interviews and then from time to time I was giving them photos of bands I shot at concerts and sometimes promo shots as well. No time anymore for doing interviews unfortunately. Anyway, no, I haven't worked at or for any record labels except for Metal On Metal.
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?
JKP: It was my husband's idea. Simone started talking about creating a record label in the summer of 2007. I was very reluctant initially, well, as an artist; I never thought I could run any kind of business, I was skeptical to say the least. It took him quite some time to convince me and it was his promise that he'd take care of all the mundane stuff like accounting that finally did it for me 'cause that's something I would for sure not be able to take care of. He also does all layouts for our releases. Anyway, if not for him, the label would have never come to being. But the fact that I had lots of contacts in the "true" metal scene (among bands, but also the press people) made our start quite easy - and it was also one of the arguments that Simone used to convince me to his idea.
I didn't have specific expectations, but looking back, I think we were really lucky and have had a really smooth start. I contacted some friends and acquaintances from bands that I had been a big fan of and they agreed to work with us. Those included Heathendom, Metal Law, Catch 22, Battlerage, Fallen Angels and Nomad Son, a band just formed by my long time friend Albert Bell of Forsaken, Maltese doom metal veterans. The last band that joined our roster was Skelator that we had seen live at Swordbrothers festival in December 2007. By February 2008 we had got 7 contracts signed and the release plan ready (we've been working with annual schedules since then).
MC: How long has the label been around and how many releases do you have out?
JKP: Like I already mentioned, we started working on the label in late 2007, but the first releases were in April 2008. Since then, as of November 2011 we've got 29 CD releases, 3 vinyl releases, 2 digital only releases and 1 book published. The "Keep It True Festival History Book" was actually our first release (published for the 10th edition of this great underground metal festival) alongside the first compilation (the only one released as a promo in cardboard sleeves) and a double CD of Catch 22 "Soulreaper: Evilution/Devilution".
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?
JKP: It's just me and my husband, Simone. For me it has become nearly a full-time job, but we wouldn't be able to pay our bills from the label's activity, obviously. It's been taking most of my time, so that I don't have much time left for what is my profession (I'm an artist, with Warsaw's Academy Of Fine Arts diploma). From time to time I still paint cover arts for bands, design logos for festivals and do similar commissioned works for people in the metal scene. Well, I also paint for a lot of our releases, IF the bands want me to, but in this case I can't charge what I would normally charge for my work. Fortunately Simone has quite a lot of work as a freelance graphic designer - he does layouts for board games (books, cards, boxes). So we can somehow make the ends meet and I can focus on the work for the label which is my real passion.
MC: How did you end up coming up with the name? Were any other names considered and does the band Anvil know that your label is named after one of their classic releases?
JKP: Well, the funny thing is that we had this domain name registered about a year before Simone came up with the idea of the label. He was doing the layout for the first album of Metal Law and he wanted to put his contact in the booklet, but he thought it would look more professional to have an e-mail address that is not from some common free provider. So when we decided to start the label, we already had this domain. Of course we're Anvil fans, so yes, this name comes from their 2nd album and well, it just sounded right, especially considering the old school metal styles we're into and we planned to release through our label.
MC: What are some short term and long term goals you have for the label?
JKP: The short term goal is to finalize the release schedule for 2012, ideally by the end of December this year. Long term goals, hmm... probably to survive in these hard times in spite of all the odds and continuous drop of CD sales - and to be able to keep on giving support and push to the bands that in our opinion deserve this. We're not going to give up easily for sure!
MC: How do you go about signing bands? Can say an unsigned band email you a promo pack? What style of bands are off limits as far as the label goes and what are the styles of music the label is looking for?
JKP: In general yes, bands can send us their songs, promo packs etc. of course. But to cut down on the number of unsolicited CDs that would otherwise flood our mail box, in majority really uselessly, considering how many bands are not able to read or understand what kinds of music we're absolutely not into - we don't give out our physical address publicly (fortunately in Italy you are not forced to have "Impressum" on every website, something German law enforces). Well, as we wrote on our website and MySpace page, any bands that play nu "metal", hardcore, deathcore, mallcore, screamo, emo, grind (or any "core" for that matter), goth, industrial, alternative, ambient, drone, sludge, glam, grunge, funk are definitely "off limits", to put it mildly. In spite of being quite explicit stating this on our contact page, we keep on receiving loads of e-mails from bands playing those styles asking if we'd sign them, which is really annoying. We also don't like happy Euro power metal (so the kind for boys, not for men), death metal (unless it's solid classic stuff like Death, Unleashed, Asphyx, Master, Morgoth and a few other bands), symphonic black metal and overly grim and necro black metal (we only love the first wave of black metal and bands that still play in the vein of Venom, Hellhammer, old Celtic Frost and Bathory). We're only into real metal styles, what could be described by the generic "old school metal" term, and in particular into: classic heavy, US power, thrash, speed, traditional and epic doom, some NWOBHM, some prog/power (as long as it has enough of power), some '70s hard rock influenced metal and this special '80s mix of black, thrash and/or doom and death.
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?
JKP: No, we've never re-released any out of print album and are not really interested in this (but never say never). There are many other labels to do this - we prefer to support active bands that still care, play live and are willing to participate in promotion of their albums. The only time we released something old, it was previously unreleased studio material of BITTER END from 1991/1992 - and while discussing the release, the band decided to get back together. Anyway, as for bootleg releases: we are absolutely against this shit (the only acceptable bootlegs are live ones, but they should be spread for free among the die-hard fans, not sold). In the past we were not even aware of this phenomenon (I was only familiar with the awful Russian pirate CDs and the only bootlegs I knew about were live ones), so unfortunately we have some of this crap in our collection. Quality matters aside (not only of the booklets, but oftentimes of audio too, as they must be rips from vinyls in most cases), if you buy bootleg CDs, you don't support the band, but a crooked individual that wants to make some cash in an illegal way, of course often dressing it up in pretty words about the love for metal and whatnot. The fact still remains a fact: if you don't obtain the rights for a release from the copyright holders, either a band or a label, you don't have ANY right for releasing an album. If their intentions were so pure, they would be giving the files for free, which is not OK either, but at least less of a crime. Let's call spade a spade: they are thieves.
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?
JKP: Even though our main focus is the CD format, we have released 3 albums on vinyl: Nomad Son "First Light" and "The Eternal Return" (both in co-operation with Emanes Metal from France) and Heathendom "Heathendom" (in co-operation with Pariah Child from Ireland) - this one was a vinyl-only release, while the first 2 had been released by us on CD before. Actually we have also released a very limited cassette (20 hand-made and numbered copies) - a compilation of Outrage demo songs from the '80s, just for the most die-hard fans (available only together with their new CD). And we are thinking about releasing some more tapes, pro-tapes limited to 100 copies, perhaps for Skelator and Battlerage. As for CDs, well, just about a week ago I read an article stating that in 2012 major labels will quit producing CDs. For me it sounds very unlikely, because they still sell CDs in decent numbers - we're talking here about real major labels, for all kinds of music, not just metal. Of course the CD sales are on constant decline, so sooner or later labels will give up on this format - at least in the current form. Perhaps in the coming years they will produce CDs only for selected bands on their rosters and will do some limited editions only for collectors - with special packaging and extra stuff like patches, T-shirts and whatnot. This will probably happen for labels on the level of Nuclear Blast. In the deeper underground, I believe that the CD format will survive for a longer time, as there are also more collectors into the more underground stuff (who continue buying vinyls and tapes too). I personally need to have a thing to hold, a physical release with booklet, something I can put on a shelf, to be able to say I have it in my collection... Files are too "abstract". I know there are still many people thinking like I do and as long as they exist physical releases will not disappear.
MC: When a new release comes out, how do you go about promoting it? Do you feel there are too many bad bands out there and lots of labels that just sign a bunch of junk and signing good quality bands?
JKP: Yeah, there's a sea of mediocre bands and lots of just plain crappy bands out there of course. Labels should serve as a filter, so that only the best bands get signed, but we all know it's often not the case.
As for promotion, we send newsletter to hundreds of webzines, magazines and radios addresses with info about our new releases, send out CDs to print magazines and fanzines and service the webzines with digital promos. Apart from giving the new album for reviewing, we give selections of songs to radio shows and DJs. From time to time we also place advertisements in magazines. This is the basic promotion every band/release gets - and then, depending on the band and release, we do extra promotion (sometimes through internet, sometimes by designing and helping in production of merchandising).
MC: What is the url of your website and what can fans find when they log on it?
JKP: Our website's address is: www.metal-on-metal.com. You can find there the most complete info about our label, releases and bands (each of them has a page with promo and live photos, biography, discography and more info) and about our activity in general. From the player on our website you can listen to 2 songs from every release and you can purchase the CDs, LPs and T-shirts directly from us (we've got quite a lot of bundle offers in our web shop).
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?
JKP: Of course it does hurt both the bands and the labels. The people who do it? Well, some of them perhaps don't realize they're hurting the bands which they claim to be fans of, but that's the minority - I don't believe most of those who get music in an illegal way don't have the conscience that what they're doing is wrong. But it seems like they just don't care. It's a paradox, because instead of supporting the bands whose music they enjoy, they act against them - and in effect contribute to the demise of some of them, so well, they won't be able to download any new music from them anymore. If this tendency continues and grows, it will be surely a more and more common case. I could write an essay on the plague of illegal sharing, but I'll try to keep it short. Of course if we're talking about young and unknown bands you can view it as a sort of advertising, helping to spread the name... However this doesn't change the fact that it is a form of stealing (of intellectual property), because you take something that is not given away for free by the copyright holders, in this case bands and labels. But aapparently this doesn't bother millions of up- and downloaders. The only case I can think of which is acceptable is if you do it to check out new albums for possible purchasing and not to keep the mp3s on your computer as substitutes. But before you download another album try to put yourselves in the shoes of a band or a label who put their blood, sweat and tears (and yes, lots of money) into creating something you enjoy, but refuse to pay for. Music has value, even if it's just 0s and 1s that you can put on your computer or iPod. Taking it for granted and for free without the approval of those who contributed to the process of its creation is showing the total lack of respect instead of support.
But the real problem - and the real thieves - are mostly from Russia and Ukraine. On their websites they pretend they sell legally (well, it's indeed legal in their countries where "copyright law" is no law). It's easy to recognize such sites (even though they are usually in English by default, to trick more potential customers into thinking they're legit): first of all the mp3s will be dirt cheap, then you will not see the record label name there and finally, when you click on contact or rather legal notice or whatever other copyright info on the page (also in FAQ), there will be mention about the Russian Federation copyright "law", licensing and lots of bullshit like this - in fact none of the civilized countries co-operate with them on music distribution, at least as far as I know. And there's nothing you can really do against it as a label or a band. So I can only appeal: NEVER buy any music from those Russian or Ukrainian sites - if you have any doubts 'cause the site is in English, always check the contact and statement about copyrights, because if you buy mp3s there, you'll be putting money in the pockets of the thieves and helping them to rip off more artists and labels.
MC: What are your thoughts on sites like Facebook and MySpace and does the label have a Facebook and MySpace page?
JKP: Yes, we've got MySpace page since the end of 2008 and Facebook page since the beginning of 2010. Personally I favor MySpace in spite of all the changes (that actually weren't all bad, contrary to the popular opinion) and glitches. We're continuously using MySpace checking bands and keep our page up to date with lots of info and photos. I've been really against Facebook and I've always refused to have a personal profile there, but for the label we finally had to create one. It would be simply stupid not to use this easy promotional tool, no matter how boring, uniformed and plain the Facebook pages are. Unfortunately, as everybody knows, MySpace lost a lot of ground, while Facebook became THE social network page, so we use it like most bands and labels do. But we believe that MySpace is far from being over and it's still THE page for music. If you want to quickly check the music of a band, you don't look for a band's Facebook page (even though some bands put an external player there, well, one of the players is actually a MS app for FB) - you go to MySpace first (actually first to the Metal Archives, for the links, at least in our case). That's what we do daily, for fun, for possible new discoveries, for checking bands before festivals. And that's why bands should put in order and not abandon their MySpace pages - ESPECIALLY if they don't have an official website (updated website!). While MySpace failed as a social networking page, it's still a perfect place to show the fans all they would like to know about your band - songs, biography, photos and news in the blogs. And have it personalized with the most easy to use customizing tool that MySpace introduced about a year ago. Basic customizing (colours, styles, arrangement) has never been easier on MySpace and with the instant preview (finally!) it's a pleasure to use. Apart from it, bands can have great layouts, fitting their style and current release. I've seen many greatly designed pages and have designed layouts for 3 of our bands: for Meliah Rage (www.myspace.com/meliahrage), Bitter End (www.myspace.com/bitterendthrash) and Outrage (www.myspace.com/outragepforzheim). So I encourage all bands to keep and update their MySpace pages - and if any band needs a professional, personalized layout, I can take care of it for a very fair price.
MC: In your eyes and ears, what makes a great band and song?
JKP: Well, it will be our personal point of view, not an attempt to come up with a universal definition of course. Maybe it's easier to say what doesn't necessarily make a great band or song: originality and great production. Of course both are welcome, but it depends a lot on the style a band plays. As you already noticed, we are quite closed-minded when it comes to defining what metal is and what it isn't, so we appreciate many more bands that may be far from original but are genuine old school metal fans themselves, contrary to those who constantly experiment almost making it their goal to play music like nobody else does instead of just having fun playing music. Well, no problem, experiment as much as you wish (and have fun with it), just don't call it metal when it isn't. You can still have a lot of personality within the boundaries of all the traditional metal styles. This plus great songwriting skills that make songs memorable or catchy is what makes a difference between an "OK band" and an "outstanding band". And if the band has the right attitude and transmits it through their music, it's only an added value.
As for the production values, most often we prefer much more earthy, "not perfect" sounding albums, especially when it comes to black and thrash metal (well, we can't stand symphonic black metal for that matter, while we're really into the first wave of black metal and bands that continue playing this style) to albums with too clear production. We especially dislike all the fake and plastic sounding shit (typically the happy Euro "power" metal where keyboards are as important as, if not more important than guitars) or the modern production with triggered drums and over compressed, clipped sound that kills the dynamic range and spoils the experience.
MC: If you could sign any 5 bands, who would they be and why?
JKP: This is really too difficult to answer, sorry! There are several great bands that we'd love to work with, but obviously some of them are way too big for our label. We also wouldn't really like to drop any more underground names here for various reasons (one of them is because some of those bands are signed to other labels).
MC: When you're not doing label related stuff, what do you do in your spare time, if there is any spare time?
JKP: Hardly any! Well, I spend way too much time at the computer, surfing around, almost always music related pages, so a lot of it can't be really separated from the actual work. Also our travels are 90% music related - it's what we call metaltourism: we go to a lot of festivals (mostly in Germany and Greece, but from time to time also to Malta or UK) and when we do that we like to stay for a few additional days to explore the surroundings. At festivals and shows I practically always have a photo pass, but since I don't work for any magazine and don't get paid for it, I call it a hobby, even though it's related to my real artistic profession. Actually, like I already mentioned, when I don't work directly for our label, I still do artworks if I have some commissions (never just for myself), but not as many as before 2008. Well, I enjoy roller skating a lot too and should be going out much more often, even for the health reason. As for Simone, he's a lot into movies (indie horror stuff most of all), reading books and collecting comic books. He's also a gamer, into role playing and board games.
MC: Any places you would like to visit one day?
JKP: Actually I'd really like to do visit USA for a coast-to-coast tour. I've never been to the States yet (Simone was already 6 times). We've got many friends and acquaintances there from many bands (including the bands from our roster), so it would be awesome to meet up and hang out, perhaps see some gigs too. And surely see some great places like Death Valley, Colorado, Yellowstone or Sequoia National Park. Maybe it will be possible next year or in 2013. We've been to many places in Europe, but of course there are still so many we'd like to see. Well, I miss Morocco too - I was there once with a group of geologists, it was a rough'n'raw road trip in a mini-bus loaded with equipment for digging and crushing rocks and on the way back very heavy with all the stones we were bringing with us. I'd really like to go to more of those kind of trips with geologists. I collect minerals and I love digging for some beautiful stones myself, by the way of being in some of natures' most amazing places.
MC: Are webzines and magazines that in your eyes are still an important part of the underground?
JKP: There are quite a few which I like in particular... Let's see... From the webzines, some of our favourites include: Voices From The Dark Side, Metal Rules, Metal Crypt, Metal To Infinity, Lords Of Metal, Doommantia, Chaos Vault, Metal Temple, Metal Review, Metal Express, Pest, Jukebox Metal and so on. And from the printed magazines and fanzines, in our opinion the best ones are German "Heavy" magazine (too bad we can't speak German!), Polish (but in English language) "Oldschool Metal Maniac" pro-fanzine (really great contents and layout!), Italian "Classix Metal" magazine (100% old school!), Polish "Heavy Metal Pages" pro-fanzine (some of the most content-packed pages with many interviews with real metal bands - but only for those who speak Polish), then Dutch "Headbangers" fanzine (by Marco "Patchman", formerly of "Violent Moshground"), Portugese "Metal Horde" fanzine, German "Thrash Attack" fanzine, Spanish "Hell Bent For Metal" (all 4 in English)... There are a lot of other fanzines from Germany and other countries that are surely cool, but if I don't know the language, it's hard to judge.
MC: Are any of your releases in stores, or the best way to find your stuff is to visit your label website?
JKP: Yes, they're available in stores in several countries, mostly Germany, Sweden, Greece, Belgium, USA and UK. Our UK distributor (Code 7/PHD) also have a non-exclusive right to export, so they spread our CDs in many other countries, including many mailorders, Amazon being the biggest of them. However if you want to buy our releases directly from us, you're welcome to do it of course - like I already mentioned, in our web store you can find several bundle offers too. Well, for American customers we recommend CD Baby and Century Media Distro though, because the shipping costs from Italy are quite high.
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?
JKP: If you're thinking about it seriously, yes, you do need some money to invest it in this activity first and then if you want to survive, you need to pay attention to every buck you spend. Then, if you're running your business wisely, the label should generate enough of income for you not to need to put external money into it. But it all depends on what your goals are. You can also run a label as your hobby, like many do in the underground, but then when the money is over, you can't release new CDs. We work with annual plans and a budget and we take responsibility towards the bands for what we're doing... I mean, we won't tell our band, "sorry, but you know, we run out of money, so we can't release your album, like we were supposed to". If we started losing money on the label activity, we'd have to quit it. Not that we really earn money on it either, definitely not to pay our bills - what we earn is put into the next releases and promotion and whatever is left is not proportional to the time and work spend on it. So you definitely also need a huge passion and drive to run a label, because times when you could get rich running this business are long time over (only those who started the companies in the '80s, maybe early '90s and got a certain level of success then, can still live off it). We made a move in the very beginning that proved to be very good for us and not only fueled our label with extra money, but paid off in big interest from the journalists and many new personal contacts in the metal world already at the very start of our activity: we published the "Keep It True Festival History Book" in April 2008 for the 10th edition of this respected German festival.
MC: Where do you get your CDs pressed at and do you always use the same company?
JKP: Since our 4th release in 2008 we've been using the same company in South Germany (digiCon). Only 3 titles since then had to be pressed elsewhere because they wouldn't have managed to manufacture the CDs in time for the festivals we were going to, but in general we're very satisfied with them. There are cheaper pressing plants around, but we care about the quality of our releases a lot and the high quality is what they always deliver.
MC: Plug any websites you have.
JKP: First and foremost our website:
My Space Page: www.myspace.com/metalonmetalrecords
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/metalonmetalrecords.
Since a few months we've got a YouTube channel as well:
There are a few promo clips created by us and playlists with selections of live and promo clips of almost all of our bands. Well, I also have my personal website "Artworks & Metal" (www.jowita-kaminska.com) where you can see all of my cover arts, some logos, caricatures, photography and artworks from the time I studied at the Academy Of Fine Arts. There's a section with photos from shows too, but I haven't been updating this part of my website since 2007. The artworks section is updated regularly though.
MC: Horns up for the interview and any last words... thanks for doing this interview.
JKP: Thank you very much for your support and for giving me the opportunity to talk about my work and passion. Your questions were really interesting and I wrote so much that I don't think I have anything to add. To everybody who read it: thanks for your time and keep metal alive! Keep on supporting your favourite bands, as without it they may not stay out there for a long time! Horns up!