Sunday, July 26, 2015

Deth Leppard's Guide to Becoming a DIY Metal Legend

Deth Leppard is a seasoned expert in the subject of DIY metal music, having seen quite a few DIY acts in his time .

If countless hours spent perusing the Metal Archives of Encyclopedia Metallum has taught this guy anything, it's that there are a tragic lack of underground Death Metal bands out there. The quantity of bedroom black metal acts is becoming even more finite! With metal being the least lucrative form of expression in today's music industry, bands are calling it quits faster than they're getting started. If you can't sell records, then you can't tour. If you can't tour, then you can't sell records. Quite the conundrum for anybody trying to break into the metal scene. It's almost as if in order to be a successful touring musician of any kind in the first place, you have to be some spoiled art school douche with the parental monetary support to buy gear, go on tour, and record music without any kind of full time job or your own rent to pay. Almost.

We are living in a tumultuous time for the music industry. Right now, it is the absolute best time in the world to be a listener. Consequently, it is the absolute worst time to be a musician. Financially speaking, anyway. The age of streaming has stripped all music of its inherent worth. Why pay for something you can hear for free on Spotify or YouTube with just a few quick mouse clicks? Nobody is buying music anymore. Metal labels aren't making anymore money. Therefore, the artists are making even less money. Getting signed is a game you can't play anymore, because the game is over. It's been that way for years. Even the bands that do get signed, do so because they just don't know any better. What little money they would have personally made selling their own records. either goes to a new set of tits for some record exec's bitch wife, or to cover the label's overblown recording budget.

FACT: You will make more dough strumming chords acoustically on a street corner in a single afternoon, then you will ever make as a signed AAA Death Metal act from your total record sales royalties.

Hence this guy.
So what option is there for someone such as yourself, who has this burning desire to share your message of metal mayhem to the masses? As a metal musician, now more than ever you need to cut out the record label middle men and Do It Yourself.

Step 1: Get Money

Gear. Recording. Gas. Merch. You think that shit falls out of the sky? It's like the old saying goes, fellas. You gotta spend money to make money. But... wait okay... how do you spend money you don't have because you didn't make any... because you couldn't spend any money to... make any...?

It's a confusing question with a very simple answer: mommy and daddy. 

How badly do you want to be a poseur slaying champion of the true metal underground? Only as hard as you are willing to swallow your pride and beg your old man for cash. The best thing about taking out a loan from the Bank of Dad is that there is no credit check, no interest, and you won't have to pay him back in anyway until he needs to be put in a nursing home. And even then you'll probably still use his own money to do it because unlike you, he comes from a generation of fiscal responsibility and he'll save for that shit; knowing full well you're gonna always be a nobody. Fuck him, he's fine, he doesn't have dreams to worry about like you do.

Keep going, old man. I'll tell you when it's enough.

But what do you do if you're not privileged, suburban. white, or loved enough to get the parental hook up for your band stuff? If your inner city black trailer park addict parents don't love you, then you're gonna have to get a job, junior. Slinging burgers, landscaping, bagging groceries, driving fork lifts. Whatever you can get, because even second hand Peavey 6505 and Metal Zone pedals aren't cheap. Whatever sort of work you find yourself doing to support your band life, just make sure it follows these two crucial guidelines:

1. It doesn't matter if you look like shit.
2. It's part time.

How do you expect to look metal as fuck at a full time office job with benefits? You think kids are gonna get into it if you're slam metalling up there on stage in your tie and khakis? Get a clue, Bank Clerk Bill. No one's gonna take your shit seriously if you look professional enough for a real 9-5 gig. No, what you need is warehouse work or manual labor. To be put in a place where upper management doesn't have to see you, customers don't have to deal with you, or you're at a low-paying enough shit job that it doesn't matter either way. That way, you can keep up appearances where it really counts.

Never forget that metal is your real job. Your other job's only purpose is to fund your craft, nothing else. Utilities, loans, rent or mortgage payments; these things are all irrelevant since you'll be living with your parents until you're in your 40's and they've either finally had enough of you or died. Also, keep in mind you will lose these jobs you land every single time you go on tour. No place of employment is gonna be cool with you peacing out several months at a time to go get shit-faced in a van cross-country. If you care about keeping your job then stop reading this, poseur. Go compare mortgage rates and lease a Toyota like the corporate shill you are, sell out.  

Step 2: Come Up with a Name

You got the cash to buy your gear, so let's get to Guitar Center right? Slow your role. fucko. Who even are you? What even are you? What's the point of you doing what you're doing if you don't even know what to call it? It may seem like coming up with a band name is one of the least critical parts of starting a band, because you're a poseur, and you're wrong. Your band name is everything. Without one, you're not a band. You're just some guy with a guitar like the rest of the phonies on YouTube.  Your name needs to be an esoteric reference to something. Anything, brutal or not, so long as most people won't get it, and those that do, will have extra appreciation for it. Additional points if it sounds foreign, as Europe is infinitely better than America. If you're already from Europe, feel free to skip step one because you don't need any money to live in Europe. If you think you can get away with some sentence-long bullshit for a band name without me coming to your show and giving your drummer a Stone Cold Stunner right in the middle of your set, you are sadly mistaken. I will climb right up there, break his sticks, put his clean-cut jazz playing punk ass in a headlock over my right shoulder, and snap his scrawny neck with a 90's-era professional wrestling move right in front of everybody while you watch helplessly. Since there are only like 20 drummers that play metal at any given moment, your careers will be over before someone could even finish reading your stupid band name out loud. If you use a William Faulkner title, I will hurricanrana your bass player off the edge of the stage. I am not playing. That tone deaf putz doesn't need the additional brain damage, so take note.

Your band's title should be one word. Two words maybe, at the max, and that's still pushing it. If you find out your band's name is taken, whatever, take it anyway. Metal bands are too broke to afford lawyers, even the top tier ones. I mean, how long has S.A Slayer gone unchecked? There's more shitty metal bands out there then there are words, so it's impossible to come up with something totally original. The point that Slayer actually threatened S.A Slayer with real deal legal action is besides the point. The point is fuck Slayer. S.A Slayer is the real Slayer and you're a pop punk ska kid white belt pussy if you think otherwise:

So figure out your band name, download some generic black metal/jagged 80's metal font for free, (cause if you're not gonna make thrash or black metal, then fuck off) overlay your freshly made band logo over some random black and white photo and put that shit on a t-shirt:

Nailed it.

Step 3. Put that Shit on a T-shirt.

People don't buy music, but they do buy t-shirts. That's why it's critical that before you purchase any instruments, recording equipment, or even think about writing your first note of music or learning guitar even, you need to order some t-shirts for your band. The more you order, the cheaper it is for each shirt, so a bulk order of several thousand is probably your best bet. Metal fans are all young men that do everything within their power to scare potential friends and women away, so wearing obscure band t-shirts is a must for them. If your band shirt is brutal or kvlt looking enough, fans will buy that shit first and ask questions later. The key is not whether they are familiar with your music, its whether anyone else is familiar with your music. That's what's most important to a metal fan. How much any one of them will like you is directly proportional to how few people are familiar with you. And hey, what better way to remain obscure in the music scene if you don't have any music to listen to? This might be your final step, as t-shirt sales are literally the singular means to a metal band's success. However, if you really are intent on producing something for people to listen to, then proceed onward. 

4. Start a Facebook Page/Twitter/Bandcamp/Last FM/Tumblr/Myspace Account for Your Band

Playing Black Metal for 20 years and only 5K facebook followers to show for it? Now that's KVLT.

Just because you don't have any music to upload yet doesn't mean you can't lock that shit down before some other dweebs start putting out shitty music under your band name. The only thing that feels worse than getting a bad reputation for making awful music is when someone else builds you a bad reputation with their own crap that isn't yours. Again, completely ignore whether or not another band already exists with the name that you want. It doesn't matter if they're signed, copyrighted, whatever, if they're a metal band, chances are they already broke up anyway. Do you think "Attack Attack!" didn't know that a band called "Attack! Attack!" already existed before they started ruining music for everyone? Hell yeah, they knew. That's why they removed a single exclamation point so they could get away with it. If punctuation is the only difference you need to call your band whatever you want while avoiding a lawsuit, then "Slayer" (in quotations) is totally on the table. I'm not exactly sure how some of these music sites work, but if you need to upload some music in order to open an account, then just upload some files of S.A Slayer's music in the mean time. Turns out they have a shitty legal team and you'll get away with it. 

5. Get the Gear

Dislcaimer: You will never look this cool.
You figured out a sick ass band name, you currently have 50 boxes of 100 t-shirts sitting in your parent's garage, and you have flooded social media with your presence. Now, and only now, are you ready to set yourself up with some musical equipment. There's a lot of options out there for guitars and amps, but all that you need to know is that your guitar looks pointy, your head is a Peavey 6505, your cabinet has speakers, and your entire pedal board consists of a single Boss Metal Zone.  If you can't get a 6505, get a Line 6 Spyder, because it comes with a metal button, and that's what you're here to play. If it's not, then promptly kill yourself.

If you can't find some buzzcut jazz student to play drums for you, then you might have to get your own and like everything else here, do it yourself. Just like your guitar, the drums don't really matter, just make sure you don't have toms on them like some kind of pusscake.

"Aw, but Deth what do I record all this stuff with?" I hear you ask. "This angry cat lady on YouTube seems to make a really big deal out of how you should go about recording your metal music with thousands upon thousands of dollars of professional grade equipment and the help of an experienced audio engineer!"

"Two weeks since you changed your bass strings?!?!? PFFFRP PFFFFFRRRRRRP PRRPFFFRRRPPPPP"

Look, you got two options here. You could take your recording advice from a menopausal witch person, who thinks screaming is an argument, and spend the same amount of dough you would need for a new yacht on a fucking grindcore album; or you could be metal. 

Billion of dollars are wasted every year in the pursuit of "good tone". Fuck tone. If you want to give someone tens of thousands to tell you how drum samples are worthless turd deposits compared to a real live drummer in the studio; and then have that same spergy engineer spend countless expensive studio hours fine-tuning your real live drum tracks so they sound exactly like drum samples, be my big retarded guest. What's the fucking point of death metal if you want it to sound clean? Fenriz from Dark Throne explained this sort of overproduced horse fuckery as "plastic sound". Plastic, just like that record exec's wife's tits. No thanks. We like it au naturel over here at TNM. If her pits and puss ain't hairy, I can't even get hard.

Take it from this guy who won't respect you otherwise. If you want respect in the underground metal scene, you have to sound necro, primitive and raw. Listen to how impossibly awesome this Vondur song is. You think a single second of this was carefully produced with cautious, certified hands? No way, punk. These guys gave such a little amount of shit, they put copyrighted major motion picture characters right on their album cover. No computer music nerd hacker could get your sound this raw and full blown brutal in their DAW (Dumb Ass Worsener-of-music) program:

Allow me to guide you towards the most necro sound possible with these two pieces of crucial advice.

This is your studio:

This is your interface:

Now let's make some fucking magic.

Step 5. Make some Music 

I can't begin to stress enough that despite what most people believe, this is the absolute least crucial step in the process. Don't dwell too much on this part, just record something. Anything. It doesn't have to be good. Just make sure that it's:

  • brutal
  • grim 
  • raw
  • frostbitten
  • necro
  • KVLT
  • primitive
  • not plastic
and most importantly,
  • true

Don't take too much time on the creative process of writing music, just make some of it to record ASAP. The sooner you get a demo ready, the sooner you can bring said demo to a concert promoter. He can listen to it, think "yep, sounds like shit" and get you opening for all the top tier metal acts that don't really sound all that much different to him, regardless of their well-paid polish. Maryland Deathfest here we come!

Step 666. Get the Gig

A lot of people who give advice to touring musicians tell them they have to put in their time; play shitty dive bars, open for nobodies, just go out there and play as many places as possible for absolute beans just to get their name out there. A lot of people who will tell you this have never seen a single opening act for a metal show. Opening acts are all terrible. You could share a stage with the big names right off the bat, because this is metal we're talking about. There are no big names. Do you like Testament? Fuck it, open up for Testament, why not? Nobody cares. They're there to see Testament, the 20 minute mess that goes on before the band that goes on before Testament is irrelevant. It could be a bunch of babies with down syndrome given a drum kit, or it could be Obscura. Nobody will clap, cheer or give a shit regardless. I once honest to god went to a show where Anthrax opened for Judas Priest. Everyone stood around stone faced not giving a shit about Anthrax. It doesn't matter who opens, no ones there for you and they're not going to waste their precious concert energy showing enthusiasm for your performance.

I'm not saying any of this to discourage you. Quite the opposite. What I'm saying is no matter how god awful you are as a metal band, you will be booked. As I said earlier, concert promoters think all metal sounds like ass from best to worst, so you are guaranteed to fit right in regardless of your quality. Keep playing, go on tour, almost starve, and most importantly, have fun!

Step 7. You are Lucifer Now

My god, what have you done? How could this have happened? You flew too close to the sun, got noticed by a record label, and have been strictly advised regarding what sort of easy, digestible music you should make in order to maximize your profits. You have thousands of fans worldwide with generic, McDonald's taste in cookie cutter vest metal, and you know it. The embarrassment is too much for you to bear, so you end your own life, leaving behind not only your loved ones, but a legacy of humiliation and shame. Return to step one, repeat all steps, but make sure to skip this step in order to proceed directly to step 8 and ensure the survival of both your band and the metal genre as we know it.

Step 8 (Conclusion). Sell your T-Shirts.

This is it, my friend. You have finally arrived. It took hard work and dedication, but you are now among the living legends of true metal mayhem. You're at your gig, you performed your musical masterworks to a capacity crowd of 26 drunk early birds waiting for the better show. So now you get a booth to rent, and you can finally sell these puppies to make your millions. Don't worry about producing CD's of your album, only an apetard would still buy that that obsolete crap. Vinyl? PFFT. Are you a metal musician or are you in the kitschy novelty knick-knack business? If you feel as though the latter resonates with you, then I suggest ditching records altogether and go for offering far more interesting conversation pieces. Like pewter dragons. Or wizards. Or pewter wizard dragons.

That feel when it's two years after everyone stops giving a shit about vinyl. Again.
Don't produce any music outside of the digital realm. Upload your scratchy noise to bandcamp and be done with it. Any 17-year-old on Facebook will be glad to explain to you, being the broke musician that you are, that he doesn't need to buy your album. After all, you're making all your stacks of cash off of selling t-shirts and concert tickets, right? So if this is the attitude of the general public, why make an album for them at all, let alone pay to produce one in a physical format? Fuck them. As a metal musician, if your only expected source of income is going to be coming from t-shirt sales, then why put any effort or focus on anything else you're doing besides t-shirt production?

"I guess that makes sense Deth, but people won't buy my t-shirt if I don't make music they like!" Oh, you don't think so? If that were true, then how does Burzum manage all its t-shirt sales? The hard fact of the matter is this: 8% of people who wear Burzum shirts do so because they own, listen to, and genuinely enjoy Burzum music. The other 92% of people wear Burzum shirts to pose in for their Tumblr selfies. I'm not just talking young ladies either, so don't take this opportunity to be another smug, sexist cunt. Everyone who posts black metal stuff on tumblr is a transqueer bi genderfluid self-identified sans-orientation individual with or without sperm with a preferred set of pronouns. So gender has nothing to do with it. Don't be an asshole. 

People buy Burzum t-shirts because Varg Vikernes was a church-burning, bandmate murdering psycho. He brought black metal to life with his batshit. Much in the same way nobody would give a shit about Nirvana if Kurt Cobain didn't blow his own brains out, nobody would give a shit about Burzum if Vikernes didn't stab his friend's brains out. It's not about the music to a lot of metal fans, it's about the controversy. If you want to sell yourself in the underground, there's no better way than to go around being a bad person. Take Absurd for instance. They're your typical run-of-the-mill black metal band. There isn't really anything to set them too far apart from anyone else in the genre, until you take into account that they're murderers and Neo-Nazis. I'm not saying murder anybody, or have extreme political views, but it wouldn't hurt to get your name out there by acting like kind of an asshole a la Seth Putnam. 

So in short:

1. Figure out a band name.
2. Print some t-shirts.
3. ???
4. Profit. 

- Deth Leppard 

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