Like Fan Like Band: How Fanbase Can Affect Artist Reputation

How many times have you written off a band or an artist because of their fans? I’m sure many of us are either unwilling to admit it or simply have not realized this subconscious process of ruling out, but it happens all the time.

Regardless of the quality of the music, it is very easy for potential new listeners to be deterred because of the reputation created by a band’s fanbase. For example, what comes to mind when I mention the name Slipknot? For many of you—especially those who are not very familiar with them—my guess is that you thought of the types of people you might associate with that band; mean, dumb, meathead psychos (Sorry, Maggots. No offense!). However, while this may be true for some of their fans, this doesn’t mean you should curse the band all together. The problem is that too many people apply this stigma to the band, assuming the music is unsophisticated, dumb, mindless, or perhaps untalented. However, those who are familiar with and open to the idea of Slipknot, fan or not, know that they are a very hardworking group of extremely talented musicians. It might not be your cup of tea, but at least give them that.

Okay, so maybe the guys in Slipknot bring it upon themselves with their terrifying masks and generally offensive demeanor, but how about Tool? They have a similar demographic as Slipknot, but many listeners might find their sound to be a little “easier to swallow.” However, they often get lumped in with the same sort of crowd that makes outsiders assume the music is terrible, while in fact, tool has written some of the most interesting, progressive, and influential songs in nu metal.

Too often do people overlook a band just because of the fanbase they seem to attract. Of course, that’s not totally unreasonable. If you do not like or do not relate to a certain type of person, and that type of person likes a certain type of music, then by the transitive property, it seems safe to assume that you will probably dislike that type of music too. However, this isn’t always the case. We all have “guilty pleasures,” but why are they guilty? Because we’re embarrassed to admit when we like something outside of our own self-ascribed reputation? Are we that proud of our “taste?” (more…)

Metal Monday: Katatonia's Dead End Kings

In Katatonia‘s 21 year career, they’ve managed to avoid putting out a single subpar album; even with a slowly rotating cast of members ” vocalist Jonas Renske and guitarist Anders Nystrí¶m seem to be the only permanent members. On their new Dead End Kings, they’ve even played without Fredrik and Mattias Norrman (yes, they’re brothers) for the first time in about 13 years. It would appear that the supporting cast for Renske and Nystrí¶m isn’t of much consequence, as they haven’t skipped a beat with their followup to 2009’s Night Is The New Day.

On recent albums, Katatonia developed a truly unique sound, a perfect blend of sulking heaviness and shimmering beauty. Combining the thick, heavy riffs and chords of Nystrí¶m with the clear, haunting vocals of Renske, Katatonia create deeply emotional soundscapes on just about every track of Dead End Kings. Frank Default contributes a lot to the atmospheres and textures that coat many sections of the album, adding some sparse percussion, keyboards, and strings. As on Night Is The New Day, producer David Castillo aptly handles the mixing and production of the album, and the overall sound is second to none.

Perhaps the biggest difference for Katatonia on this record is the songwriting. While the album is not at all a sonic departure, many of the songs on Dead End Kings feature elements that Katatonia have shied away from on their last few releases. The most obvious changes, as heard on the lead single “Dead Letters,” are the inclusion of more groovy riffs (likely to the extreme pleasure of Tool fans). But it’s not just heavier, groovier parts they’ve added, either (granted, it doesn’t get much more heavy and groovy than “Forsaker“). Songs such as “The Racing Heart” and “Leech” show us that Katatonia are also quite capable of moody, somber passages.

Ultimately, Katatonia aren’t adding anything particularly new to the mix, but rather are refining and perfecting what they’d already achieved on Night Is The New Day and The Great Cold Distance. In 21 years, they’ve managed to very slowly evolve into something uniquely their own in all the right ways. When you’re so far ahead of the curve, does it really matter if you’re not constantly making massively different music? I’m not so sure it does. I’ll be happy if Katatonia keep making only slight tweaks to their current formula, as they’re already in a league of their own. One listen to Dead End Kings further drives this point home.

Dead End Kings comes out at the end of August worldwide. You can grab your copy from Peaceville Records’ online shop. Get a taste of the new album below with the lead single from the album, “Dead Letters.”

Metal Monday: Bassists Are Important Too!

Before you say anything about the title of this post, hear me out. I know it’s weird to give that much credit to bassists, but they’re pretty important”and I’m not just talking about the Geddy Lees, Les Claypools and Cliff Burtons of the world, either. When a guitarist is off wandering around his fretboard during a solo, who do you think is holding down the fort? Yeah, okay, probably a rhythm guitarist too, but the answer I’m going with is the bassist. Many things go into being a really great bassist. Sometimes it’s an unprecedented technical proficiency with the bass (as illustrated by Stephan Fimmers on Necrophagist’s “Stabwound”), or the ability to sink a great feel into numerous different grooves (as evidenced by Geezer Butler in pretty much every Black Sabbath song ever written). Maybe you’re like Justin Chancellor or Paul D’Amour and help shape the very sound and identity of your band. Unfortunately, it’s not always so obvious when a bassist is really holding it down, but we’re here to help rectify the situation. We’ve collected eight really solid bass performances from the deepest reaches of the OurStage Metal Channel” you just have to listen along and maybe slappa da bass right along with them.

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Metal Monday: Intronaut Q&A

How many bands can you name that would be a perfect opener for Tool? Was Intronaut on your list? Well, they should be (if they weren’t, shame on you). Intronaut has been plugging away on tour since their release of Valley of Smoke in 2010, and now they’re about to head out on the road to open for Tool on the first leg of their 2012 North American tour. The band has some plans in the works immediately following the tour, so we got in touch with Sacha Dunable to find out more.

OS: Intronaut has toured with some serious bands since releasing Valley of Smoke, and you’re about to tour with Tool for the first leg of their upcoming tour. How would you describe things in Intronaut since Valley of Smoke?

SD: Obviously a lot of cool things have happened to us. I think that has been the same throughout our existence, it has sort of been like that where things come up and it gets cooler and cool. And that definitely motivates us too keep moving. Keeps morale high.
OS: What sort of things do you think will be the biggest takeaways from this short tour with Tool, especially since you’ve not really done many dates of this size/caliber before?

SD: We pretty much never have. I think that obviously one part of it is that it’s opening for a band that we’re totally into. I mean, opening for Tool is something you never expect to have happen when you start a band, so just on a personal level, I think that’s a pretty cool accomplishment. Then obviously playing in front of a bunch of people, hopefully maybe some of them like your band and you gain some new fans that way. I think we’re really just looking to go out and enjoy the whole experience. I can’t really see anything negative coming from it. All of the positive things that happen are just an added bonus.

OS: What of your stuff that you plan on playing do you think of will go over best with people who might not know Intronaut?

SD: We’re just picking a set that we think represents us best. Sort of a general representation, so we’re playing a lot of stuff from Valley of Smoke since that’s the most current release, as well as a few old songs. Songs that probably won’t get drowned out in a big arena, and songs we just like personally.

OS: In an interview with Lambgoat from December 23, you mentioned that after this tour with Tool that you’re going to take time to write the new album. What has your progress been so far in coming up with material for this album?

SD: There’s like five or six sort of rough drafts of songs where we have some ideas and some riffs put together as a song that we will get together in a room and refine and polish and iron out. So that’s where we’re at. We’ve got some ground work laid definitely, but there’s still plenty of work to do so we probably won’t be recording until after the summer I think.

OS: Could you tell us a bit about how Intronaut’s writing process usually works, both as a band and you personally?

SD: It happens a variety of ways. It can either come from us jamming in a room and having some ideas to work with, or one person’s little idea to build or sometimes going so far as demoing all of the semi-complete songs for the whole band to build on. So, it’s collaboration either way¦

OS: Where does the band’s heavy world music influence stem from?

SD: Everybody in the band is just into all kinds of music. Dave and Joe especially have some education, or have at least immersed themselves in, certain other types of, I guess, world music; Indian Classical stuff, and a lot of African stuff. So that will just come out and it’s fun to just try to integrate that stuff into a hard rock or heavy metal environment.

OS: Similarly, where did the ideas for “The Reptilian Brain” / “Valley of Smoke” come from?

SD: Before Dave even joined the band, he had been studying tabla for a few years so¦we were definitely like “We should have that in our music somewhere”. So yeah, The Reptilian Brain that was Dave and Joe, at least the beginning. The first part of that song was them, they wrote that together. All the percussive stuff that you’re hearing, especially the polyrhythmic stuff, that’s definitely a lot of Dave’s influence on the band.

OS: What are the chances of Intronaut including more stuff like that with the new material?

SD: Probably pretty good. I don’t really think there’s anything like that written yet, but it always finds its way in there.

OS: Who writes most of the lyrics for Intronaut, and where does the lyrical or thematic influence from?

SD: Most recently it’s been Dave. For the last record, all the songs are about a different historical tidbit or fact or event about Los Angeles, which is where we’re from. He and I researched some stuff that we would write the songs on. It’s sort of a loose concept album, but really more of a themed album. There’s no consistent story going through the whole thing. We just researched some pretty deep shit about LA, and I tried to go for things that people, even if they’re from here, wouldn’t really know about. We picked different topics for each song, and he sort of shrouded it in metaphors and whatnot, and made it into heavy metal songs lyrics.

OS: How about an example of what one of these songs is about?

SD: Sure, the song Above is about”I can’t say exactly when it happened, I think some time during World War II, shortly after Pearl Harbor”a military airplane deployment into the sky above LA to shoot down some mysterious something-or-other¦they didn’t know if it was Japanese planes¦or if was some UFO. There was also some speculation that it was some sort of weather balloon”but there was definitely some air combat going on over LA that sort of never got talked about, but it was in some papers and got swept under the rug.

The song Elegy is about when they were building one of the oil refineries down in Carson I think, which is south LA County, they dug up a mass grave that [had] probably like 100 people [in it], which was probably some tribe from like hundreds of years ago that were just demolished by something. Obviously we don’t know because it was a few hundred years ago, but people were just broken in half and shit and just thrown into a bit pit and buried, then uncovered a few hundred years later. So, you know, things like that, fun little happy events about LA.

Catch Intronaut on tour, buy their albums, all that jazz. At the very least, enjoy the video for “Elegy” below:

 

Metal Monday: Looking Forward to 2012

Last week we covered the things we want most from the metal world in the coming year, some of which were things we already know are going to happen”we just hope it’s not for the worst (except Axl Rose, poor guy). Outside of the metal Christmas list, there are some happenings in the coming year that we’re especially amped for, and now we’re going to tell you all about them so you can be excited too!

First, the whale-loving Francophones Gojira will be releasing their follow-up to The Way Of All Flesh”one of our absolute favorite metal records of 2008. Over the last decade Gojira have steadily built a fanbase with their unique brand of rhythmic and forceful metal. The band really got their big break opening for Metallica a few years ago, and just recently signed to Roadrunner Records. If you didn’t already know who Gojira were, you certainly will now. There is a good chance this record will see itself in a lot of top album lists for 2012 if the band’s previous sucess is any indication of things to come.

Obviously, Gojira aren’t the only band releasing a highly-anticipated album in 2012. Perhaps the most anticipated metal album of 2012 is the upcoming Black Sabbath album. We briefly covered this in last week’s metal Christmas list, but let’s think a bit more about it.  Ozzy Osbourne released an album called Scream in 2010, which was okay. More importantly, Ozzy didn’t sound like total garbage on the recordings and this gives fans hope for the upcoming album. Now, can you remember the last album that the other 3/4 of Sabbath put out? Under the moniker Heaven & Hell, the Dio version of Black Sabbath released an album called The Devil You Know and it was fantastic. Who knows if they’ll be able to play well at live shows at this point, but there’s reason to believe that the album the band records will be at least “pretty good.”

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Metal Monday: Paul D'Amour Returns With A Fearsome Engine

Where does one draw the line for what is or is not considered metal? Can music be metal by association?  The line seems incredibly wide and blurry so these questions may never have official answers. Still, one band that’s always straddled this line rather precariously is Tool, especially since the days after í†nima when Paul D’Amour parted ways with the band. Just recently Paul entered the grey area between prog rock and prog metal with his latest project, Feersum Ennjin, who released their self-titled album on November 22nd via Dissociated Press Records.

While the album doesn’t bare a striking resemblance to Tool directly out of the gate, it’s quite apparent once you hear the second song, “Fishing Grounds”, which begins with the unmistakably Tool-esque bass lick and drum pattern (even the tone is nearly spot-on). Thankfully Tool is a pretty unique and fantastic band, otherwise the influence spilling over onto this new project may appear stale and out dated. Of course, it seems not only natural, but somewhat expected that the two projects would be stylistically linked due to D’Amour’s prominence in both. Interestingly enough, however, “The Fourth” (the one track that features Danny Carey, Paul’s former Tool bandmate) doesn’t sound anything like what Tool has done musically.

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