Recently Hellbound photographer and web wizard Adam Wills had the chance to chat with underground metal phenomenon, Axeslasher. The man behind the band, Professor Pizza, reflects on self promotion, the Denver Black Sky Festival and recording in the Converse studio…
Going back to when I originally heard about the band through social media and pushing the “Pizzagram”. You had a big push publicizing the band before there was any music available. Just curious about that strategy, how it developed, how it worked…
Well, it’s that whole strategy is pretty simple, really. There’s nothing worse than busting your ass to cut an album and then releasing it to no one. I was amped on the music I was making which bleed into everything I was doing at the time and wanted to make damn sure someone heard the mother fucker. So I started being bombastic on social media and putting out artwork that would give people an idea of what this music was going to sound like
But that also ended up backfiring a bit…
I commissioned the pizzagram design from one of my best friends, Tim Cochran and used it pretty heavily in early promotion of the band in my mind, a band with no music wasn’t going to get much attention. But the artwork did. And boy did it. The next thing I knew all sorts of cocksuckers and assholes were printing it on tshirts and selling it on ebay, etc. I had to move on merch production much earlier than I wanted just to combat all the biters.
I want to be clear too that I only get bent out of shape by people using our pizzagram or tracing our pizzagram. I could give a fuck if you draw your own and sell it, just don’t sell ours!
But anyway, that controversy attracted more people to the band, and before the album was ready release I actually had a decent sized audience of people paying attention to my fuckery.
Any advice for other bands starting out in terms of putting together a social media launch campaign? Do’s and don’ts?
The biggest mistake bands make is trying to use a voice other than their own. Small businesses do this bullshit all the time too. They try to hide behind what they think sounds like professional language but really its a bunch of vapid horse shit. Be yourself, and don’t deny it. If you’re ballsy, then be ballsy.
In short, ignore all consequences and embrace the chaos. The internet is a rough place for everyone. Don’t be afraid of that. Laugh it off and do you, boo.
In terms of technical advice… Monitor your stats and change your strategy based on what’s working and what your goals are. If your goals are to sell more merch then maybe all those tweets about your dog farting aren’t helping. However, if your dog fart tweets are so damn hilarious that people buy more of your merch every time you tweet, then up the amount of fart tweets.
Your first release, Anthology of Terror Vol. 1. Was that a 100% digital release?
It was, but that was not the intention. Originally we were on board with Antithetic Records to release it on vinyl as well, but unfortunately the label called it quits before our record went to press. No hard feelings there, it’s just a reality that running a label is hard and thankless, and sometimes they have to end.
But that brings me a point I haven’t revealed anywhere: there will be a CD release of Anthology of Terror, Vol 1.
We’re currently working with HORROR PAIN GORE DEATH productions to release Anthology of Terror Vol 1 & 2. Right now we’re planning on remixing and remastering Vol. 1 so that both can appear on the same disc.
It’s an anthology of anthologies. Lawd help us all.
What can we expect from Vol. 2?
More thrashing. More smashing. More tits and gore.
Will you have a different lineup playing on Vol. 2?
The Axeslasher lineup is ever-evolving. Everyone involved in the project thus far has their own bands to tend to as well (Speedwolf, Call of the Void, Crypticus etc). Axeslasher is largely my doing — I write and record all of the music and then work with the guys to put their spin on it and capture their performances.
I’m slowly upgrading my home studio with the goal of incorporating a live capture room so we can get the whole band together in one room and experiment with some Murphy’s Law style live recording practices.
Or fuck it, maybe we’ll all just get high and groove until something bad ass happens.
Back to Vol. 1…. it ends with a cover of Gucci Gucci… an interesting choice for a cover song, especially for a band that’s all about horror and pizza.
I thought so too. I’m actually a fan of Kreayshawn and here’s why: her mother was a fucking punk icon and she directs all of her videos herself. She went to film school and actually works hard. Also, I have a soft spot for skinny bay-area women and really awful rap. Anyway, I wanted to pay homage and poke fun at the same time. It’s one of those covers that’s so far out in left field the original material is unrecognizable.
Surprisingly we have not caught shit for that cover.
On the topic of recording, you guys won a day to record in the Converse studio. What was that experience like?
We were actually the first extreme metal band to do anything there, funny enough. I pre-tracked the guitars, bass, and vocals and brought the raw captures in to be mixed. I enlisted Sherwood Webber from Skinless to drum on the track because we’re close from working on Denver Black Sky and playing in bands together. We spent half of the day tracking Sherwood’s drums, and then the other half of the day mixing with Hector Castillo. Now, Hector is great, he’s worked with David Bowie for fucks sake, but homeboy isn’t the most metal literate of people so the mix he came up with wasn’t totally hitting my aggression threshold. So we took the output to producer Patrick Bruss for final mix and master.
But the best part of the day was sneaking way to smoke weed and then being the only people in Duff’s on a Monday night.
Huge thanks to Vince and Axl from Metalsucks for that. It was a great time.
Also, there’s a dude that works there named Jersey Tony and he’s secretly truing top record a black metal project. I really want to hear new jersey black metal.
The song that came out of the Converse session, “The Drifter’s Warning” ended up as Axeslasher’s first video… how did that come about?
That was a really cool partnership with HiveMind films. They’re a young up and coming group of filmmakers out here in LA and basically they were down to partner with us haha. After a few short meetings they got to work. We shared the footage and I cut it together with live footage of our own and I loved the way it came out. I’ve always been a fan of music videos that have different meanings from the songs they represent.
The live footage was from your gig at Denver Black Sky, featuring the dude hanging from the rafters…
By his skin! When you play a festival like that and you’re an unknown band going on before the sun goes down, you’ve got to do something interesting. There was a suspension group from New Mexico that wanted to be involved with the fest, and claimed they had a guy that could hang for a really long time. I was down — “Lets strap this mother fucker to the lighting rig and he can dangle over the pit!” and that’s exactly what he did. I think people were apprehensive to mosh at first because they were afraid the skin on his back would give out and he’d fall on their heads. I think everyone loosened up once I sprayed him with blood and he started spinning — everyone got brave and started thrashing. we don’t gig much so the ones we do have to be bangers.
You have a hand in putting the fest together, right?
I’m actually one of the founders of the fest. Sherwood Webber is a big shot production manager for AEG in Denver, and wanted to do something to give back to the community. He called me and Cassie BeGay (who also plays in ANNUL with us) and told us his idea. We communicate several times a week now about who should play, who shouldn’t play, what kind of stunts we’re doing this year, and who bought the best merch.
Basically we make a huge wish list of bands and then the AEG bookers and Sherwood roll up their sleeves and get to work once the lineup is set, I’ve got a huge hand in the online and print promotion as well as the art for whatever promo items we’re doing – 7″ covers, posters, whatever merch makes sense at the time.
When show time rolls around I’ll float around to wherever I’m needed but my ultimate goal is to enjoy the fruits of our labor and bask in the party.
You just recently had the second edition of the festival… how did that go?
It went well! We went bigger and badder this year expanding to 2 days and welcoming a more diverse lineup including Brutal Truth, Municipal Waste, Nails, and more. It was a little stressful as two bands I really love dropped off a the last minute, but Cattle Decapitation and Invidiosus were able to jump on and fill some big shoes. Overall it was a great success and I can’t wait to do the next one.
Any plans for Axeslasher playing any live gigs?
Of course, but like I said… we only come out when the planets align and the sky goes red with freshly splattered blood. I’m currently working on some California dates that we’ll announce closer to show time… But if you want the ‘slasher in your area there’s a really simple thing you can do – go to the facebook pages for Speedwolf and Call of the Void and tell them to bring AXESLASHER to your town!
Top 5 albums you’ve been listening to lately?
Cross Examination’s “Dawn of the Dude” has been ruling my life lately. Cannabis Corpse’s “From Wisdom to Baked” is getting a lot of play from me lately too. I’ve also been surprisingly into Young and in the Way’s “When Life Comes Death.” I hate black metal unless it sounds truly hateful, and these dudes sound like they’re made of hatred. Also finally getting around to listening to “STILL” by Weekend Nachos. Those guys rule and anyone that has anything bad to say about them can fucking fight me.
Anything else you want to add/plug/praise/shit on?
I want to shit on the police. I know ‘fuck the police’ is a common viewpoint held by musicians, but really man, fuck the fucking police. Our dipshit american politicians couldn’t give two shits about the people they represent, and that is readily apparent in the way the budgets for local po-dunk police forces like Ferguson, Missouri allow them to outfit their officers better than most marines currently in the thick of the shit in combat. That’s not right. All cops are assholes.
Also, I want to praise Ice T and the new Body Count. That record kicks ten tons of shit and if you don’t like it you’re not into fun
I remember seeing those guys back at the Milwaukee Metalfest around 2003… they were a blast live.
They’re back with a vengeance man. That album totally rules. It’s solid. I mean sure Ice T is mad at vegans and people that mooch off him, but who hasn’t been annoyed by a vegan or taken advantage of at some point?