Music business today is not by any means easy, especially if one is specializing in underground music. However, in an ocean of record labels, very few actually live up to the demands of the game, which requires a lot of dedication, countless working hours with little pay, possibly a lot of complaining from the public, and every now and then actually putting out a record that sells. I’ve met Tomas through promoting my own band, and now having two releases out with his label, I had some questions for this dedicated man.
Hello Tomas! How has the autumn begun for you in Philadelphia?
Hot and heavy, well maybe not so much seasonally speaking but I am staying very well occupied. Leaves are falling steadily as we speak, but the temperatures are still quite mild.
You’ve been into the underground for many years. How did it all start for you, and were there a lot of likeminded people in your area? Were you into Metal since a kid?
I don’t think there are a lot of like minded people in any place to be honest, I’ve always been a loner and although I’ve learned to take or leave people much easier over the years I still only hold a very few close friendships. I was never really a “Metal Head” but enjoyed bands like Wasp, Slayer & Metallica at an early age, having heard them from an older sibling, who also got me in touch with some extreme metal comps that became the catalyst for what was to come.
How do you see the underground scenes in the States. Are they connected or does for example each state have it’s own scene which helps each other out? Are you active in your area?
Scenes to me are a joke, but to answer your question as best I can, It looks to me that its just people jerking each other off, in some pipe dream that it will drawl more people to the shows, when in reality, their self centeredness just overwhelms anything positive that could become as a result. I don’t support any local scene or scene’s, my connection with Black Metal is through the spirit of the individual, not anything that could be attained or desired by exploitation of being.
You have ran the label for many years, having a lot of releases, which each must have been a large project on it’s own. Have you ever thought about stopping? I know people who are in the record-selling business keep complaining all the time about competition and sales, but you seem to have a more healthy approach to it all?
No I have not really thought about stopping the label but anything is possible at any time, but FPR will most likely exist for quite some time longer. The reason I started the label is because I thought that there was a lot of incompetence and hence forth the bands were paying for that. Then I often get the feeling that there are a lot of Sheep masquerading as the Beast (666), and I get a sense of duty that I may do something about all that by creating an entity that opposes these unseen forces that make me nauseous and disgusted so here you have FPR. I don’t mind competition and sales are a necessary evil of running a record label/business but I won’t cry or complain about things I can’t control, but focus on the things that keep us growing until we feel that is no longer necessary.
How do you see the sales in the States compared to Europe, is it the same or are there for example more people buying tapes perhaps in the States?
Well we sell more in the states but probably not by a huge margin. U.S. recently rose the prices of shipping overseas and I see a lot of complaints by European/overseas buyers due to these changes. The U.S. currency is pretty weak but I guess the shipping costs are too great, especially considering most orders are quite small (2-3 CDs max on average). People who want tapes buy tapes, it seems to be more of a choice for certain people, of course there are exceptions but I am not sure if there is a difference between the U.S. and abroad.
In these times when records don’t sell much, but labels nevertheless press albums quite a lot, do you think it’s normal for most labels to take quite large pressings and use albums as promotional and trading currency?
I guess it depends on the distributor because some labels have told me they sell lots of vinyl, but not so sure I’d call that a validation that the format is a big seller. Labels generally take what they feel they can sell and of course that varies from vendor to vendor, the catch is most only want to trade, even if they can in fact sell the title, which to me is baffling, but I’m sure there is a reason behind it.
On what grounds do you usually choose a band on your label? Does it have to offer something unique (yet traditional) musically, or is the attitude of the members more important?
I must feel something special being delivered from the artist/band. Looking back on our roster this has been quite a vast variety of choices used in the final selection. I prefer the most dedicated to traditional black metal but have stepped outside that boundary on quite a few occasions. In all honesty there just aren’t that many bands going this direction these days that aren’t just another waste of existence. I must admit attitude to me seems much more important than the music, but they both must coexist as one. Sheep in Wolves clothes infest this genre in these strange days and I have no patience for imposters or pretenders who do not belong here.
Dealing in controversial and powerful music styles such as Black Metal must have it’s problems, in the form of outside critique. As I know you to be a man who acknowledges the various politically-incorrect sides of Black Metal being part of the culture, you must be used to responding to possible negative feedback?
Black metal IS controversy. If anyone cannot tolerate that, why the fuck are they here? Just another typical hypocrite human who we would love to see extinguished.
You also play drums (very well I must say) in the band Blood Storm. Do you have problems in finding time for anything else besides the musical activities and the label?
Lets just say I keep a fully packed schedule.
How do you see the future of Black Metal and Death Metal. In Black Metal, we have seen in the last years a clear trend in all things Spiritual, Occult and Religious, as well as Bestial and Brutal, and perhaps a return to the early nineties in Death Metal. Do you have a vision of the next trends at this point?
I hate trends, I’ve seen every band create their Xasthur-clone 10 years ago, now everyone wants to sound like some Incantation hybrid, fuck all that shit. As far as what will be big next I think its quite obvious that between the two genres mentioned that Black Metal will come back in some form since Death Metal is the dominating genre at the moment, w/ Bestial being a close second. I’ll be here like I always am, relishing in hatred, listening to “In The Glare Of Burning Churches”, ignoring all this weak shit they call Black Metal nowadays.
Thanks for this interview Tomas! Any future plans you care to reveal at this point?
I’ll never ask anyone to support us and I certainly won’t beg anyone, fuck that. But I appreciate all those who “truly” support Forever Plagued Records on their own and don’t need to be force fed every fucking step of the way. With that said everyone who has made the conscious effort to “join us” on this journey through this cesspool knows where to find any future plans FPR has to offer.