Here’s an article I put together for NuMetalMessiah.net
The Nu Metal Revival has definitely picked up steam in 2016. Nu Metal Music has risen!
I have written this article to help students AND teachers overcome stage fright, pre-show jitters, nervousness, “butterflies”, etc. These simple, easy to understand tips can help anyone relax and have a good show!
Here is my interview with Anders Nystrom from Katatonia – featured in Hails And Horns Magazine Issue #27:
Katatonia, the Swedish kings of Doom and Gloom, have made a triumphant return in 2012 with the release of their highly anticipated ninth studio album, ‘Dead End Kings’! Released on August 27, 2012 in Europe and August 28, 2012 in the US, the album has been receiving rave reviews from fans and critics alike. I had a chance to catch up with guitarist, Anders “Blakkheim” Nystrom, during Katatonia’s transit from Europe to America for their latest tour; the Epic Kings and Idols tour with The Devin Townsend Project and Paradise Lost. The Swedish Axe-slinger had plenty to share about the recording process, touring, and all things Katatonia…
>How was the writing process for Dead End Kings? Do you write together as a full band? Do you write while on the road? How does that process work for Katatonia?
Never have been writing as a full band, just not our thing as we never rehearse/jam other than in front of touring anyhow, not even before recordings. All songs are born from individual ideas created on our own because we need a certain state of mind, in a private comfort zone, and needless to say, this doesn’t work very well on the road. There’s nowhere to escape to obtain the peace of mind to write music for Katatonia while touring. But going back to the way it works, I guess it was early January when we finally locked ourselves up in our head quarters and focused solely on getting all the songs completed and arranged and we kept on writing even as we started recording, so the two processes were kinda integrated. We came out of the studio at the end of May. In the more recent years Jonas has become one of our main songwriters, but that doesn’t mean I no longer participate and entirely stopped writing. I just happened to have my worst creative
dropout after ‘The Great Cold Distancecame out, so ‘Night Is The New Daybecame mostly a Jonas effort. I had the songs ‘Forsakerand ‘Idle Bloodgoing, but not much more. However, this time I got to step up as I managed to find my way back to the flow and delivered both on the musical and lyrical fronts and actually had to stop writing because we were getting too many songs going. Now we had Jonas writing songs on his own, me writing songs on my own and we also got to collaborate on a few as well, the perfect scenario for a new Katatonia album to come together. Another related and very important and functional role with myself and Jonas producing the album was that we could allow ourselves to have this big overview and analyze all the songs down to the core regardless who wrote it. We put a lot of time “pimpingall the songs to bring out that little finesse that in the end makes the big difference.
>The response to the new album has been great overall…What can you tell us about the overall mood and/or sound of this latest effort, Dead End Kings?
Everything we do needs to pass a criteria level where we’ve applied our so called “Katatonia filter” and I think that’s why we’re very comfortable producing ourselves. No compromises. Just a clear vision, our vision, leading the way for the songs to become the album; and style wise it continues where the last album left us… but we’ve once again tried to sharpen our sword in terms of performances and sound. The rest is up to our listeners to discover and absorb!
>In the beginning Katatonia’s sound was much darker. Your sound could have only been described as black/doom or death/gloom. How has the overall sound and mood of the band progressed over time?
I wouldn’t go so far as saying it was darker, because what we’re doing now is to me still just as dark, just coming from a another angle with a different delivery, but for sure, back then our sound, attitude and outlook was however more extreme and aggressive and that’s what appealed to us when we started out. We were extreme metal fans trying to form a band, so it was the natural next step to take. With time, you evolve musically and gain experience in how to interpret your ambitions, so we just fine tuned our concept to fit in with where we are in time both as musicians and as people. It’s crucial to us. We’re comfortable with the trademark we represent.
>I find myself listening to the band on a constant basis, especially with my woman… What do you say to people who classify your music as being sexy and/or romantic?
Well, i rather see it’s Katatonia than Fabio delivering the goods! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpqzGhGPCuk (In reference to the sadly out of print compilation CD: Fabio After Dark, which included soliloquies on Fabio’s philosophy of love.)
>A lot of the music that comes from Sweden seems to have an ominous, dark, gloomy tone? Can you explain what might be behind this correlation between where you are from and the sound of your music?
I think it comes subconsciously to us. We have many months of dark and cold weather up here, we don’t get much summer, even in summer it mostly rains. I think melancholia is something rooted deeply within our heritage and it’s brought on genetically by artist to artist through generations. The dark imagery appeals to a lot of people around the world though, I think it’s a global phenomenon for certain kind of people.
>What do you guys do outside of the band? Does anybody have any interesting jobs or hobbies we should know about?
All in the band are currently employed by Katatonia, as our touring and recording schedules conflict with any kind of day time jobs and wouldn’t make it possible persuing both. Before we went full-time self-employed, Jonas and I worked at a local post office, Daniel worked as a bookbinder, Sodo worked as some sort of industrial assembler and Nille was a local postman. In our formative years Jonas played handball and I played badminton, we were also doing graffiti and getting into trouble, but I think our hobbies died a long time ago except one, that turned into our profession.
>Where is the majority of your fan base? Do you get a better response in some countries versus others? How is your response in America?
Finland is one of the places we get the best reception and best places to play! Germany is always great, but I guess that goes for every band and music in general. I can see a slow but steady rise in the UK. We’ve always had a real good following with South European countries and also Latin countries. America is getting a lot better, but we still have a long way to go there as we neglected touring the states more than half of our career.
>Do you enjoy touring or do you feel it’s just something you have to do to keep the band progressing? What is your favorite thing about touring?What is the worst thing about touring?
When you just released a brand new album and you’re off on a tour promoting it with some great bands that all get along and have their space, crew is getting along and have no problem to step it up when needed, the shows are well attended and even packed, the venues have hot showers and a proper backstage, the vehicle you travel in is a real and clean nightliner and not a bumpy and dirty van, the tour is reasonably routed so there’s a constant flow, and last but not least there’s a daily wifi connection – touring is nothing but absolutely wonderful! When you start to take away the things I just mentioned one after another it becomes a drag and potentially even a nightmare and you end up laying in your bunk wondering why you’re doing this over and over again.
>Do you guys have any crazy tour experiences that you will never forget? Anything crazy happen on the road?
Well, a really cool thing that happened going back home from a tour was when we had just boarded a flight. Once airborne, an air hostess came up to us and said “The captain would like to speak to you, can you come up front?”. We all go like “Hmm, okay, well… sure.” Then looking at each other murmuring “Who fucked up now and what did you do?” Once outside the cockpit the air hostess opened the door and the captain and co-pilot turned in their chairs towards us and introduced themselves and then comes the shocker, the captain proved to be a Katatonia fan! The stress turned into relief and then into excitement over the lapse of a second I tell you! He upgraded us to first class and brought us a wine bottle each and chit chatted through the entire flight about metal and the scene and you could never have imagined any of this because the look of a pilot is not something you affiliate with metal by a long shot. It dawned on me he probably wasn’t even much
older than I was, after all. Then when we were supposed to go down for landing he invited Daniel and Sodo to stay inside the cockpit and see it from first row, they were giggling like kids! When we had touched ground the loudspeakers came on and the captain welcomed everybody to Stockholm and also that it has been an absolute honor to fly Katatonia home and insisted everyone to give the band a round of applause and that the rest of the passengers should “rock on” (ha-ha), a confused round of applause was heard, but probably while wondering “kata-what? kata-who?”. The most cool flight I’ve ever boarded and probably ever will.
>Do you have any pre-show rituals? Anything you do right before a show?
Well, things are either pretty causal or busy just up until 60 minutes before a show where you might be still on the bus or down the venue or doing interviews or being out eating or whatever, but 60 minutes to showtime we try to all gather backstage and change to stage clothes, get your in ears wired and enter live mode, enter the zone. Jonas usually starts to sing up a little. Sodo is probably playing a guitar. Daniel might be taking a power nap or he’s going through the songs in silence. Nille is probably pouring himself another beer and telling bad jokes and I’m probably having problems closing my laptop to accept I have to go offline. Just minutes before the show we take a small shot of Jäger together, line up behind the stage and as we hear the intro rolling we do the daps and off we go!
>Can you list some of your influences as a band?
There’s so many elements being and turning into an influence. It’s constant and everywhere. Musically, we have our root influences in many different genres. In metal we formed the band much due to the influence by Metallica, Bathory, Paradise Lost, Candlemass. We also drew influences early on from The Cure, Slowdive, Fields Of The Nephilim, Red House Painters and Tori Amos. Then later Porcupine Tree, Tool and A Perfect Circle and there’s probably been tons more since then, but on top of that there’s all the movies, the books, the scenery, the moods, the emotions caused by life and death… It’s vast and never runs dry!
>Are there any newer styles of music or bands that you have gotten into lately?
I don’t know man, I really try to give everything a chance as I’m really open minded and my motto is that a good song is a good song regardless genre, age, sex, race or anything else that might hold narrowminded people back from digging into it, but when i browse through my iTunes library or Spotify I usually end up going back to the classics I always loved and need in my life, but I’m all ears for recommendations and a good tip from a friend or a fan is still something I value a lot.
>Are you excited about your upcoming tour of the states? What can you tell us about it?
I’m always excited to tour North America. We haven’t had one single bad run there. This time the package is very diverse, but still unified by great music courtesy of Devin Townsend Project and Paradise Lost and us. It was Andy Farrow, our manager who put the package together as all three bands on the bill are actually under the same management. I think the bill is amazing! I know a lot of people who would have killed for this line-up to come to Europe as well, so all you Americans should consider yourselves lucky. I know I do!
>Your albums Night Is The New Day and The Great Cold Distance have recieved widespread acceptance and critical acclaim. Do you feel those are your best albums to date?
I never judge which album is the best one, but when we write we have the focus and goal of making the best stuff we’ve ever done, but I would never talk negatively on our older stuff just so it would cast a positive light on the new songs. I see tons of band who do this all the time as an attempt of hyping their latest shit, but it’s a big shallow fail. When a band goes “oh the new album is our best yet, forget about our old stuff cause the new stuff pisses on it, it’s nothing compared this new album” the first thing that strikes me is to tell ’em “then you better stop playing those songs live as well if they suck so much, just play the new album”. I rather have the freedom of picking the “best” songs instead of the “best” album as it will also make it easier to get a good setlist going.
>The band started around ’91. How does it feel to know that you are still around and relevant and still have a healthy fan base all this time later?
I’m proud of the endurance and hard work that got us here, but also very grateful that we have such a loyal following. It’s been a long time coming and we’ve still not reached our mountain top. Still climbing, wiping the sweat, enjoying the view and loving it!
>What does the future hold for Katatonia?
Ha-ha well you tell me! What I already know and don’t have to predict is that there’s gonna be a lot more touring around the world going back to familiar places, but we’ll also try to cover some new territories, so just that cycle will probably last for up til 3 years ahead from now. We’re also gonna release a quite experimental 5.1 version of the album next year where the focus is targeted to remove it of all the heaviness, drums, distortion, basically all “metal”, so it will be more emphasis on atmosphere and the vocal layers for a more cinematic and singer-songwriter approach. Done in a 5.1 this will give the songs a different light and show that we have no boundaries in songwriting and sound. Then If we’re still kings of the dead end by the end of this album’s cycle remains to see, we might have dug a hole under it and escaped on the other side of the wall.
From Mountain Rythym/Dream Cymbals website
Noah Edward Lee Robertson (born July 28th, 1983)
Noah Robertson is the energetic, drumming power-house behind the eccentric Dallas, Texas based metal band Surrealism. His technical prowess and raw aggression have earned him the name, “The Shark”, and like the instinctively predatory shark, every ounce of his mind and body is dedicated to a single objective – only in Robertson’s case it’s not stalking prey – but making music. He states, “I have always had an intense fascination and admiration for these creatures, as far back as I can remember. The look in a shark’s eye when it’s in hunt mode, so focused on it’s target…It just reminds me of when I’m up there on stage, feeling the music. When I’m really in the zone and there’s nothing that can distract me or pull me away from that moment.” It’s these moments he describes that are drawing attention to himself and his drumming, which brings a level of intelligence and creativity to the music that is unparalleled by many of his peers, all while constantly pushing metal drumming’s trifecta of power, precision, and speed to new levels.
Born in Oregon, but raised in Texas, his love for everything rhythmic and musical was present early in life. “I can’t explain it, it’s like I was born to do this! Music has always been a huge part of my entire life and I’ve just always had a deep connection with music.” He goes on to explain, “My mother claims she held a tape player to her stomach every night and she would play Beethoven and Mozart and stuff like that. She believed that it stimulated your child’s brain and made them smarter. I think I might have to try that with my kids!” He began harnessing his percussive powers in the sixth grade by joining the school band in his hometown of Lampasas, Texas. It would seem he was doomed from the start, however, when the band director informed Noah’s mother that he should consider an alternative extracurricular activity, because he would never progress in the school music program. He recollects, ” The school band director told my mother that I wouldn’t ever be any good, because while everyone else was memorizing the music he assigned, I would always be doing my own thing.
I guess I’ve just always been that way, I’ve always wanted to put my own stamp on music, you know? ” His rebellious nature would prove to be a conflict many teachers thereafter, would learn to accept. Also, unlike many of his young classmates who seemed to find comfort in a primary instrument, Noah’s hunger for musical exploration would lead him to experiment with a wide variety of instruments including orchestral drums, marching drums; marimba, xylophone, and various other mallet instruments, auxiliary percussion; piano, keyboard, guitar, bass and the list goes on. He remained in the school music program through high school, where he eventually joined marching band and was introduced to the instrument that would become the corner-stone of his style and technique on the drum-set; the tenor drums, or most commonly referred to as quads. Unlike the marching bass-drum and marching snare-drum, which both seemed to have limited melodic capabilities, Noah was drawn to the tenors because they featured four different drums of varying size and pitch; and therefore possessed far more rhythmic “voice”. He remarks, ” I went to a high school football game and saw the drum-line having a blast bashing away on these huge drums strapped to harnesses which allowed them to move around and play the drums. I loved how all the different parts weaved together to create cadences and grooves. It inspired me a lot! I practiced and practiced playing on four books spread out on the floor in front of me, trying to simulate the quads. Eventually I was good enough to try out.” He marched the quads for three years, honing his rudimental chops, and eventually became the Drum-line Captain and Tenor Section-Leader. During this time, Noah was notorious for altering and re-writing the drum and percussion parts assigned to the drum section, without the band director even knowing. He comments, “Sometimes the director would hand us the most boring drum parts. Everyone on the drum-line would just look around at each other, so I’d make the parts way more interesting and complex.”
It was also around this time that he purchased his first drum set from a friend who was quitting a small garage metal band, and desperately needed a replacement. “My first kit was this thrashed, silver CB-700 kit I bought for 300 dollars…it had duck-tape on it and drumheads that looked like they hadn’t been
changed in years and broken cymbals! Me and my buddies, we called ourselves Pendulum. We had a few originals and played some shows in the local bars and school talent show and we just thought we were going to be the next Pantera!” Noah dove head-first into the heavy metal and rock realms of drumming and never looked back – absorbing drumming influences from many different artists from all different styles of music – from the infectious and powerful grooves of Vinnie Paul of Pantera and Igor Cavalera of Sepultura – to the intelligent and progressive stylings of Josh Freese of A Perfect Circle and Danny Carey of Tool.
Noah continued his music education onto college receiving a music education scholarship to McLennan Community College in Waco, TX where he studied percussion and drumset under Jonathan Kutz and later received a music education scholarship to Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. It was there that Noah met the core unit of musicians that would eventually drop out of music college together to pursue their musical ambitions and relocate to the bigger and more opportune Dallas, Texas. He recalls, “We all felt we needed to get away from the small town, conservative way of thinking we grew up
surrounded by. Just take a risk and go and make this happen! We literally gave up everything!” Surrealism – or sometimes Srlsm – have been unleashing their distinctive blend of “Trip-Metal” upon the masses since late 2005 and are rapidly gaining fans and garnering attention from the music and entertainment industry.
When “The Shark” isn’t attacking drums on stage with the ferocity of a Great White, he can be found teaching private lessons to students of all ages or running his concert promotions and booking company, Swimming with Sharks Entertainment – which started as a live radio show he created in college. Noah plays Dream Cymbals, Tama Drums, Aquarian and Evans Drumheads, and Pro-Mark Sticks.
Phoenix, Arizona’s LACONIC has inked a deal with Swimming With Sharks Records. The band’s new album, “For The Life Of One”, was recorded by notable producer Ben Schigel (CHIMAIRA, DROWNING POOL, BREAKING BENJAMIN). Fans of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, AS I LAY DYING, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH and ALL THAT REMAINS will immediately identify with LACONIC‘s melodic metal approach.
Commented LACONIC frontman Danny Brian: “We are beyond excited for what the future brings with our partnership with Swimming With Sharks Records. The label owner, Noah Robertson, is an extremely hard-working and passionate individual, and that is hard to find in the industry these days. Our fans and us know that this has been a long time coming. We’ve been waiting for the right move and to work with the right people before we just settled. We couldn’t be happier to be part of the Swimming With Sharks family, and we look forward to seeing everyone out on the road and beyond!”
Added Swimming With Sharks Records founder Noah “Shark” Robertson: “LACONIC is truly an amazing band and their music deserves to be heard by the masses. From the moment I discovered this band, I haven’t been able to stop listening. We couldn’t be happier to add such a talented band to our artist roster. Soon, the world will know the name LACONIC!”
LACONIC stormed onto the underground metal scene with its release “Visions” in 2009, receiving rave reviews from fans and critics alike. Since then, the band has built a name for themselves through word-of-mouth on-line and persistent gigging and touring.
LACONIC will release a video for the song “Bridge Burner” very soon and has a number of live performances lined up, including a direct support slot for THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA on June 27 at Top Deck in Farmington, New Mexico.
Read more at http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/laconic-signs-with-swimming-with-sharks-records/#h72mjWFQvTxE7ljY.99
1. Make Good Music. Write Good Songs. Record them well.So often do bands wonder, “How come nobody will sign us?”. There are so many different answers to this question. Sometimes it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes it’s who you know. But the easiest and best way to get signed to a record label, is to write good music. Simple as that. That’s not saying that there aren’t bands that write horrible music that are signed. But obviously somebody out there liked it enough for them to be signed to a label. Focus on perfecting your craft and writing great material and the rest will fall into place. There are several definitions of what “good” is though. Good can range from simple arrangements with memorable melodies and hooks to extremely talented musicians with complex song structures and interesting song arrangements. Good can also mean being completely original and inventive. It all depends whose listening and interpreting the sounds they are hearing. After you write some good songs, make sure that you make a good recording as well. You could be the most talented musicians in the world and have the most amazing songs ever written, but if the quality of your recordings is poor nobody will want to listen to them. It is possible to get signed to a label with low quality recordings, but it is rare.Recording technology has come a long way and has become more readily available than ever, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find a way to produce decent sounding recordings on a low-budget. A lot of bands nowadays are self-producing major label quality recordings on their own that end up getting released as-is with little to no additional mixing or mastering after they get signed. Having great sounding demos will ensure that your music gets heard by fans and labels alike.2. Be Marketable.There are several ways to make your band marketable. For some bands they rely heavily on their image or physical appearance for marketability. This means going to the gym and/or coordinating a wardrobe or overall style for the entire band. Some bands have a shtick or a gimmick they rely on for mass appeal, such as wearing masks or costumes on stage or having a big stage production or theatrical aspect to their live show. Other ways you can be marketable include focusing on filling a specific niche in the music market. Sometimes a specific style of music or type of band will become wildly popular and labels will begin scooping up anything that remotely resembles it. Another way to be marketable is to set yourself apart from everything else and be completely different. There are many ways to judge what is marketable and what is not, however it usually boils down to looking professional, interesting, or appealing.
3. Practice. Rehearse. Repeat.
It’s one thing to be able to “write” good music and look good – It’s a whole other story pulling it off live and actually sounding like the recording. Nobody likes paying money to see their favorite band and being completely disappointed by how horrible they performed or how awful they sounded. You must be able to play your instruments well and do the recorded songs justice live. Sometimes, because of the evolution of technology and the increase in availability of computers and software, a band will program parts on the recording that cannot be fully achieved by the actual band members. The musicians in the band should be talented enough to perform their parts correctly, as they appear on the recording, and put on a good show while doing so. This is the easiest and fastest way to gain fans and get exposure. People will talk about a great show they went to if the band sounded great and performed their parts well; and the next time you play that venue they will bring their friends and so on and so forth. Another reason to rehearse and practice as much as possible is, if and when a label decides they want to sign your band, they are more than likely going to want to see you perform live. If you can’t pull of a good show, then you won’t get signed.
4. Get your name out. Gain exposure. Work Hard.
A label wants to see that you are willing to do whatever it takes to become a successful band. They aren’t going to do all the work for you. Many bands and artists are under the impression that the instant you get signed you start making lots of money, get really famous, and go on huge tours with huge bands. The truth is, a lot of bands end up doing the same exact thing they were doing before they got signed, after they get signed to a label. The only difference is, after you get signed, you will be more accessible and your music will be more readily available to the public. Play as many shows as possible and build a local fan base. Play shows regionally and book your own tours even. Advertise on social networking sites. Design and print merchandise and sell it at shows. Press your own albums and cds and sell them online and at your concerts. Pass out flyers and free samples of your music. Get a manager to help represent your band and get you more gigs. Get professional photos taken. Make your own music videos or pay somebody to do it for you. Open up for touring bands and national acts. Do anything and everything you can to get your band noticed. Make your presence known!
5. Save your money. Spend it wisely.
Being in a band can be very expensive. You need gas money to get to shows. Money to print flyers and cds. You’ll need to purchase good equipment and reliable transportation. The amount of things you’ll need to spend money on, to make your band successful, can really add up; with little or no return in the beginning. So many bands waste their money on things they don’t need, when they could be investing in their music and their future. Get a job or find a way to make some money and spend it on necessities for the band, instead of wasting it on things like alcohol and drugs. There are so many bands that party like rock stars, way before any actual success has been achieved; and a lot of bands have horrible equipment and instruments because they would rather waste their money on other, less important things. Get your priorities straight, and get serious about your goals as a musician and a band. You can celebrate all you want AFTER you get a record deal and achieve some sort of commercial success.
6. Be a good person. Be Professional.
It’s amazing but so many musicians and bands overlook this one. The golden rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. So many people in the music industry are mean, selfish, shady, rude, and dismissive – in the long run, it comes back to haunt them. Don’t be one of those people. Having a professional demeanor, a positive outlook, showing up on time, making friends with other bands, being good to your fans; it will all pay off in the end. A club owner or show promoter will be more likely to remember you. Fans will be more likely to like your band and spread the word about your project. There are too many bands that try and act above all this and react to fans and other bands with arrogance and indifference. This will get you nowhere fast in the music business. It’s all about networking and building relationships that will last your entire career. People want to work with and be around people they like. It’s a universal truth that can’t be ignored.
7. Don’t give up. Do it because you love it.
This is the most important piece of advice for any musician, band, or artist out there trying to “make it”. So many bands never end up getting anywhere because they were too easily discouraged, were too impatient, or simply couldn’t handle the pressure and the competitiveness of the music industry. Often success will not be achieved overnight. Most of the time it takes years and years of hard work and dedication to make it anywhere in this business. Do not be easily discouraged by bad comments or negative feedback, because there will always be haters and critics out there just waiting for an opportunity to voice their opinion or bring you down. Instead, focus on the positive reactions you get and the constructive criticism you receive. For every person out there that hates you or your music, there will be five more that will be fans of what you do or what you create. Do it because you love it. You should be creating art and making music because you love to do it and because it is fulfilling to you; because in all actuality there are thousands and thousands of people trying to reach the same places as you and achieve the same goals as you. Unfortunately most of them will never see their dreams come to fruition because they weren’t sincere in their efforts and were doing it for the wrong reasons or they just simply didn’t want it enough. ”It’s a long road to the top, if you wanna rock and roll.” Have fun and good luck!
Article by: Noah “Shark” Robertson