interview from the true metal label, Pure Steel Records. Andreas and Markus answered
our questions straightforward. You can get a feeling of the concept of PSR, furthermore
tips for demos and unsigned bands and their views on today’s metal industry
1) Pure Steel Records was founded for one simple reason, to support
and to spread the true and independent Heavy Metal Sound of the glorious 80ies.
Can you expand a bit on this?
Andreas: Oh yes, of course. We
are all a little bit older; it was 1982 when this “virus” hit me. My first
album was “Heaven and Hell” of Black Sabbath with the unbelievable Ronny James
Dio on vocals. Of course I love those bands, which set the standards in this
time. It doesn’t matter if you take Iron Maiden, Saxon or MetalChurch,
these are the 80ies roots of today’s Heavy Metal in all its shades. After the
NWoBHM ebbed away a little bit there was another and even bigger force which
attracted me, the classical US-Metal. I think of bands like Leatherwolf,
Vicious Rumours etc.. The harder playing together with the unconventional, very
great melodies (without any children’s song melody-lines) and professional
musicians got an unequaled magic. In my opinion this is a quality which only
very few new acts can reach. And so the monthly high-class promises of bands,
labels and journalists are mostly useless, when they say this or this is
“brilliant” now. A lot of this stuff is only boring for our ears or even more
badly not listenable. Pure Steel Records was founded by maniacs, which all got
this opinion. But luckily we all have different likings in metal, which we
share only partially. In the beginning we were scared to “weave those likings”
into the labels work.But in the
meantime I think it is nonsense. We want to have a commercial success, which
allows us to act beside of any opinion-makers. That means to find newcomers,
support them and doing promotion for their albums. The final goal is that we
are able to exist beside the “trend-hunting” major labels, their
distribution-mafia and indoctrinating journalists. Easily said, it’s just a
question of very good songs. And these can sound old-school. Maybe that’s a
stupid example, but in the jazz-sector you hear a lot of songs, that are played
old school. And many people like that. In our metal-sector we got the tendency
that everything must sound new and innovative. WHY? Take this Pop and Hip Hop
shit. These guys are making nothing else than to take one old successful song,
put it into a “new, innovative” sound and market it as the music of the new
century. Honestly said, before I’ll listen to such a shit one second, I prefer
to grab me the worst produced 80ies metal-demo. But I should keep to point; we
were talking about our likings and the adjustment of PSR. Well, we will change
that a little bit, that means we want to be more open. I am for instance also a
prog-freak. I like everything from old Marillion to Dream Theater, it just
shouldn’t be too modern, hahaha. Volker is more involved into the whole
Epic-stuff (this fits to your site ;-)) and my brother also likes Death and
Markus: Old-School Death
2)What’s your view about today’s
heavy metal industry?
Andreas: Well, partially I answered this above. Of
course there is great music (in general) and very great Heavy Metal (in
special) existing today. But you will find this only (ok 99%) beside of the
media-featured stuff. Tell me, who needs a band like Metallica today? This band
forgot its roots a long time ago and “delighted” us with some of the most
useless albums ever. I prefer to listen to the vocals of my drunken neighbour,
haha. Another example is Metalcore. Sorry, I’m not able to get the musical
depth of it. Take bands like Atheist or Watchtower as a contrast. This stuff is
so much better than this dull Metalcore-shit. But honestly said I think such
“music” is only an effect. The cause of it (also in many other musical styles)
lies in the attitude of the bands, labels and consumers: bigger, faster,
higher. Always and everywhere you have to change something, make it “better”,
more costly or anything else. But that’s a problem of the society. Permanence
is a virtue, which is often felt as a backward step. But it is permanence,
which gives you safety. We definitively don’t want to be a part of this
madness. For Heavy Metal it’s sad that it changed from a youth-subculture (no
future etc.) into commercial machinery, which got nothing to do with their
former ideals anymore. It only produces bullshit for the masses; this is valid
at least for 90% of the major labels. The underground tries to counteract these
tendencies with all its power. It’s an unequal fight, because the media takes
part in this nasty game. But I think they have no choice, because the
advertisements especially of the bigger labels ensure the survival of the
zines. Easily said, it’s a fight between David and Goliath. On the other side
there are zines like yours coming out of the underground, which are
transporting the ideals and thoughts of the 70ies and 80ies into the new century.
I can only recommend to any true metal fan out there to support the releases of
labels like Karthago, Shadow Kingdom, High Roller Records and many else. You
won’t regret it
3)What tips do you have for
bands which are recording a demo, what steps are you advising them to do?
Andreas: Hehe, you have to write good songs, good
songs and good songs. Leave out all electronic gadgets. A good Heavy Metal band
consists of a great singer, one or two guitarists, which deserve this name and
a bassist and a drummer which provide the whole background. A keyboarder is
acceptable if he plays for the band and the song. No pasting, no children’s
song melodies but the rough song is decisive. And one further note, don’t put
too much money into a producer. These guys normally don’t know which sound a
good song needs.
Markus: One thing I want to
add. Don’t become a member in one of those copyright institutions like the
German GEMA. It has absolutely no use for you, unless you are playing 100-150
concerts in one year. Don’t fear about your copyright, you are automatically
protected by law in most countries.
4)What criteria a band must meet in order to be
considered by pure steel records?
Andreas: Not too
modern, no Core (even no influences, if we hear that the demo will be thrown
away immediately), no Black, no excessive blast parts, no drum computer, no
sampling, only the rough and pure Heavy Metal, haha. Old school, good melodies,
and we prefer Heavy, Power, Speed, Thrash and Progressive Metal. And if you
wrote a second Omen “Battle Cry”, well a contract is guaranteed.
5)Any future releases coming up
Markus: Of course, the next
releases in August will be Crom “Vengeance” and Angband “Rising from Apadana”.
We have additionally contracts for several other CD’s and LP’s, which are going
to be released later this year or in 2009.
6)Any new developments in the company?
Andreas: We are going to
improve our own independent Mailorder and we will use the internet as our main
distribution, publication and marketing channel. Apart from that we will
continue our way. We are free from dept and we will not change that to
guarantee our independence.
7)What are your
opinions on the new bands in metal?
Andreas: Well, that depends of
which bands you are talking. I’ve said enough about some tendencies above.
Currently there is a trend back to traditional Metal, especially Thrash. The
Majors are signing bands in this sector now, which they wouldn’t even have
looked at for 1 second 2 years ago. This is dishonesty and characteristic for the
hunt after the next trend and the BIG trend. Actually you should feel sorry for
them because this is very hard. Hmm, what shall I say about new bands
furthermore. Of course I like the releases of Crom, Angband, Steelraiser,
Enchanter, Icy Steel and our other releases. Otherwise they would not have been
signed by us. But concerning Angband I must add something. The guys recorded
their album not under the best conditions in Iran and this is real Metal. The
quality of the album is just amazing, if you include that. I salute the guys.
My brother and I were born in the G.D.R. We got communism with
self-made metal shirts, ridiculous prices for cassettes and LPs in a currency
which was nothing worth and officials, which luckily didn’t had much
presentiments of Heavy Metal and its liberal ideals. But our brothers in the
above mentioned country are chased, Metal is an offence but regardless of that
they do it. Anyone who ever lived under a restrictive government knows what it
is able to do. As far as that goes I put the album of Angband on a higher level
as our other ones. I salute you again Angband and all other metal heads in Iran.
8) What were the
best moments in puresteel-records?
Andreas: Hmm, a difficult
question, because I really like all our releases. Currently as a diehard my
spearheads are Enchanter, Icy Steel and Emerald. Of course also Ivory Tower,
their new album is a real delicacy for fans of progressive metal. The albums of
Sencirow, Steelraiser, Crystal Tears and Gorgons Eyes are also rotating in my
cd-player. And not to forget Fatal Embrace, which we sadly released 1 year
before the current thrash hype.
9) Whats your
opinion on the greek metal scene? Which bands do you know from Greece ?
Andreas: Well, the Greek scene
is musically very close to us and with Crystal Tears we have also signed a
fantastic Greek band. The Greeks are real metal heads and we also have friendly
terms with Greek labels (Eat Metal, Sonic Age etc.)
biggest problem in the metal industry today (what do you hate the most)?
Andreas: Most definitively, the
increasing pure commercialism and the “spider like” connections of
distributors, labels and the media.
11) What do
you like the most in todays metal music industry?
Andreas: Through the internet,
especially myspace, a lot of things are more uncontrollable again. That’s an
invaluable advantage for bands.
your opinion on illegal downloading and the effect on internet on the metal
Markus: Well, it has positive and negative aspects. Positive
is the additional promotion which a band or a label will get. To be true we
also use this sometimes to listen first before we are buying especially “big”
bands, because there were a lot of disappointments in the past years. The
negative side is that we and our bands simply loose money. And this money is
missing f. i. when there is new album to be recorded, flights have to paid etc.
So anyone should really think of it, because if this downloading increases the small
labels will disappear first and not the commercial major labels. AND there is
one thing that I want to say. I take it as a real cheek that some reviewers got
nothing better to do than to upload the albums before writing one word. I use
the album of Icy Steel as example. It took exactly 4 days after we sent out the
promos to find it on several download platforms. I know underground albums of
which you will find more torrents and other download links than reviews or
possibilities to buy it on the first 40-50 Google pages. I don’t think that
this is the “support” that the corresponding band and/or label needs.