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Periphery’s Misha Mansoor on Band’s Success: “I Feel Like We’ve Hit Our Ceiling”

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Over the winter, Periphery mastermind Misha Mansoor gave a very candid interview in which he talked about the importance of diversified income streams for metal musicians, even at Periphery’s level, in today’s tough music industry economic climate. Elaborating on a topic he’s spoken about openly in the past, the guitarist/producer revealed that Periphery itself is hardly the money-making behemoth most imagine it to be, and it’s other income streams — gear endorsements, new ventures, lessons, etc. — that keep the band’s members afloat financially.

Haunted/Feared guitarist and YouTube Ola Englund recently hosted Misha for an interview on his channel (embed below), and while the two chatted about that topic at length, among others, I’d like to focus on what Misha had to say about Periphery’s career arc and level of success. I absolutely loved reading this interview, because it is SO FUCKING RARE you see musicians talk so honestly about their level of success and where that might max out. Usually it’s all about keeping up illusions, pushing forward, striving for the next level, or evenbeing in denial about any kind of downward swing. Not so for Mr. Misha, who — as usual — is spot on with his assessment of the industry and his own band’s place in it [transcription via Ultimate Guitar]:

Ola: Did you ever have a regular day job? Because I think that people have a hard time understanding the amount of work that needs to be put in to even have some sort of chance to get out there. And obviously, I’m a big believer in the work ethic, that’s something I’ve brought with me from my job – I was working as an accountant, so my desk job, 9-to-5. When I quit my job to solely work on YouTube and music, I tried to bring that in, it gives you so much more advantage than everyone else. That’s what I think is very admirable, to see Periphery is that everyone works their hardest and you work your asses off to make this product that is just amazing; you put out albums and tour, it’s really refreshing to see you’re a band that’s growing rather than band that’s kind of just keeping afloat.

Misha: “I feel like we’ve hit our ceiling, if I’m honest, yeah, probably. It’s metal, you know, I think there’s maybe a little bit more, you know. We’ll see what happens with this one [the new album Hail Stan], I have no expectations, honestly.

“I think we’ve seen the majority of our growth. Maybe I’m wrong, but I also like where we are. It’s fun, we get to play fun shows. If we grow more, it will be great, but if we don’t, it’s kind of at the point now where I’m not relying on Periphery in any financial way.

“It can really just be a passion project, and I love that, man. I’m sure now you have that relationship with music now that, like, I’d say your YouTube career and your guitars are probably your main focuses and your main sources of income.

“The music industry just be, like, ‘Yeah, I like to do it,’ and that’s why we started, right? When we started, I was, like, ‘Oh, man, this is a cool thing I can do. Look I made a song.’ It was never about, ‘Oh, let me show it off to people,’ or, ‘Let me worry about this album cycle and fulfilling this date’ and blah blah blah.

“It’s just, like, ‘Oh, that’s how I felt when I first started writing music,’ and it was just because I could. Now I’m doing it with my friends.”

Again: how refreshing is it to see a metal musician — a very successful one, but not one who’s reached the heights of Metallica or Slipknot, or even Slayer, Machine Head, etc. — so openly admit he thinks the band’s popularity might be maxed out? I don’t know whether that’s the case or not — certainly could be, given Periphery’s niche — but just seeing this issue discussed publicly at all is a huge goddamn breath of fresh air. He is, of course, also right that not relying on the band for income frees the creative reins of what they can do. It’s an issue I’ve written about at length in the past when it comes to established bands being afraid to take musical risks.

It’s also still mind-blowing to me that Misha doesn’t rely on Periphery “in any financial way,” like not even a little. What an industry we’re in.

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