TODAY IS THE DAY’S STEVE AUSTIN: THE LONGEST METALSUCKS INTERVIEW EVER
This past spring, the opportunity presented itself for me to do a phoner with Steve Austin, mastermind for Today is the Day. Since I a) think Today is the Day is brilliant and b) knew that Austin had recently started his own label, Supernova Records, I jumped at the chance. And when I called him, I thought I was gonna get the usual ten to fifteen minute chat full of the usual B.S.
Boy was I wrong. Not only did Austin stay on the phone with me for close to an hour, but he answered every question with a level bridge-burning honesty not usually found by even the most hardcore of the most hardcore. It should go without saying that Steve’s opinions are his own and not necessarily those of MetalSucks, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find the dude fascinating. After the jump, read his thoughts on pretty much any and every topic under the sun.
And, uh, oh yeah: this is easily the longest interview we’ve ever done. Fair warning.
Hey Steve, it’s Axl from MetalSucks.
Hey how’re you doing there dude?
I’m good, how’re you?
Oh, I’m doing good, just talking with this crazy French guy about trying to make sure that everything is set for our tour. It starts this weekend.
You’re going to Europe this weekend?
Yeah. I’m actually leaving Wednesday to start a tour on Friday in Amsterdam.
Yeah, I’m super excited about it man. We just completed like a 53 day tour of the United States that was super rocking and then now I’m going to take off on this for about 46 shows I think. So it should be pretty good.
When’s the last time you guys played Europe?
I think about 2 years ago . . . 2 1/2 years ago for a bunch of festivals during summertime.
So it’s been awhile.
Yeah it’s been a little while, so first time back since Supernova Records got started.
And how did the US tour you just finished go?
That was fucking amazing. I had a great time. We rocked a ton of people. Supernova Records spread its message throughout the land and I could not be more happy with the end result.
Now you had something kind of interesting going on there. You had like a rotating lineup of support bands. Is that right?
Yeah, in the United States we had Mouth of the Architect, and Lair of the Minotaur in the East Coast. And then we had Fuck the Facts in Canada, and then back in the United States we had At All Cost on the West Coast and then we finished the tour with RWAKE and S.W.W.A.A.T.S. on the end of the tour.
Now is that just a convenience thing having all those different bands on the road?
That was the smart thing, each one of those bands draw big in the areas that they were chosen to play in. So they are kind of regionally strong, and artistically cool.
How involved are you in choosing your support bands?
Not a lot unless it’s somebody I like. I mean, obviously we won’t take anybody we don’t dig what they’re doing or whatever.
It’s a collaborative effort between me, our booking agent, and our promo guy. We all three kind of banged our heads together about who would be appropriate to do the touring, you know.
Got it. And this tour, you were also breaking in a new drummer, is that right?
Well I guess you could say a new old drummer. Mike Rosswog’s been a friend, and he played on Kiss the Pig and right after he cut that album and did some live shows with us, he started a web company and got involved in it where he couldn’t really do touring and stuff. So we ended up playing with another cat or two since then. When we got ready to go back out on the road this last fall, we asked Mike to do it again because his band Complete Failure was going to do the tour with us too, and Mike’s the webmaster for all of our and friends. So for the most part he’s playing drums with me and Today is the Day and did quite an amazing job.
Is he going to do the European tour also?
Yeah, he is. He’s going to be sharing double time with Today is the Day and Complete Failure and Jucifer is in the middle… in a sandwich between us and them.
That’s a pretty sweet lineup.
You know, I’m really proud of it, man. I mean, I hate to call it this, but in my opinion, this is the more DIY tour. This is the last stand for the underground in the United States of America. And I say that because, you see, all of these shit tours going on sponsored by energy drinks, all kinds of people, and they have all kinds of shit bands on them, and they don’t really stand for anything. It’s like “We’re a big corporate mockup of how to make money.” And that’s not what we’re all about, but we still want to have the tours exposed and be able to be heard and seen by as many people as possible. So doing it on our own terms, with our own non-corporate background, I don’t know of any other record label or bands that have been doing what we’ve been doing over the last two tours of the United States and the ones that we’re doing over there, because all of this shit is 100% DIY and not controlled by the man and absolutely not corporate in any kind of way. But yet, we have the same power as Slayer in the sense of putting records in Best Buy and Circuit City and blah blah blah, in the sense of getting sponsors for the tour like Guitar World, Revolver, friggin’ MEINL Cymbals, friggin’ PRS, Mesa Boogie. And I think that it’s really special what’s going on right now, because the underground is very different place than it used to be a long time ago. Even a band just being able to get into a van and do a tour period is a miracle these days, let alone have the kind of support that we have from all the different folks and music and what not.
And I assume that’s a big part of the reason why you started Supernova in the first place?
Yeah, I just got fucking sick and fed up of seeing record labels take advantage of bands, take advantage of people’s lives and careers for long periods of time, and never ever giving anything back to the bands that make their money, never ever really focusing on the main endeavor, meaning to try to push individual acts and artists, not necessarily a label. And, you know, we looked around at other opportunities that we had thrown our way, the shitty major label record deals thrown our way, and I said “Fuck this, man. I’m not doing that. We can start our own artist cooperative called Supernova Records where there’s 100% artist transparency with everything that everyone does.” The artist has 100% creative control on our label. The label wants to have nothing to do with the art part of what records are made on our label. We sign bands because we believe in them, and we trust in the things that they make and they do, and we don’t give a fuck if Sony doesn’t like it, if whoever doesn’t like it. We’re standing behind it, and we’re putting through. Whether it’s a good thing or it’s a bad thing, I don’t know of any other label that’s run by someone such as myself, who has the musical taste that I have where I don’t have to answer to some corporate suit fuckhead about what’s going on. I can truly choose and pick who we really think is good and doing something brand new and has a message, and they can get exposed and not have to adhere to the same restrictions as being on a corporate or big business type label.
Have you personally experienced that kind of pressure from the corporate world, where they come to you and they want you to do things in a certain way, or did you get that feeling just from seeing your friends’ bands go through that kind of stuff?
No, I’ve experienced it first hand about 10,000 times. The first label I was on was an excellent label that was called Amphetamine Reptile Records. It was owned by Tom Hazelmyer who has discovered Helmut and all kinds of other good shit like Jesus Lizard, The Melvins. That guy and me are best friends to this day, and we totally have good times and talk about the old days. He’s proud of me, and I’m proud of him. But on the dark side of the coin, we signed to a little old label called Relapse Records about ten years ago, and since then, I have seen every form of corporate craziness go down from people trying to hold albums hostage, threatening to have different people master them if you don’t do what someone says, they fucking recently remastered [some of] their albums with Scott Hall because they didn’t want them to do it with me. They used money as an example of why [they didn’t want to work with me], and then I told them I would do the mastering session for free, and then they threatened to not pay the studio bill for Jucifer at the place they recorded the album at, which had nothing to do with either me or Scott Hull. I have had my career floating for about four years at one time where I couldn’t put out records because I was contractually bound to Relapse. We’ve never gotten paid a royalty from Relapse even though we’ve sold over 100,000 albums for them. Then Soilent Green sued Relapse and won for a settlement for royalties that were never given to them.
The previous owner of Relapse – he still is the owner but is now he’s a silent partner – Bill Yurkiewicz, he made it clear to me after he left that there’s a “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” at Relapse Records about money and royalties. Meaning that there’s tons and tons of bands that have been through the Relapse cycle that have put out one album or two albums and then break up, and basically if they don’t call up and ask about royalties to get them, those guys don’t give [the royalties] to them. They take advantage of young bands. They offer record deals to people who don’t have very much money, who are poor, or have nothing at all, and in trade they offer exposure. The only thing they don’t really explain is that you’ll get exposed and you’ll sell a shit load of stuff and you’ll never ever see a dime from any of it. So, needless to say, I don’t really fucking like Relapse Records as an entity, and I especially don’t like this fucking homo named Gordon Conrad, that’s the one who ruined it for Relapse Records in the first place. Relapse Records, from the people who work in mail order and the people who work in the other departments, all those people are good dudes. They’re underground dudes and just dudes trying to enjoy some music, trying to enjoy some metal, trying to do something with their heart behind it. Unfortunately, all it takes is one corporate fuckhead and then it can ruin the whole thing, and that one corporate fuck head was the guy that I just mentioned.
You don’t expect that kind of pressure to come from an independent label like Relapse. You expect it to come from the bigger places like Sony.
But they’ve been disguising themselves and acting like a major label since I’ve known them. Because they’ve always had the money to be able to buy full page ads and blah blah blah, it kind of gives them the profile or the presence of a major label a bit. That’s kind of what caused the split in the label originally with that the guy that started it, Bill Yurkiewicz. His vision was to do what I’m doing: have an underground label, have it be as huge as possible, but yet not suck dicks and not conform to corporate bullshit. But the number three man in control, Gordon… He basically… he used to work at Earache Records, and when he quit Earache he started working for Relapse Records, then when he got offered a better deal by MIA, he sold Relapse out immediately and quit and told them “Sorry Charlie, see you later.” Then MIA folded up shop and went Chapter 13, it went bankrupt, then Gordon came back to Relapse with his tail between his legs and a new plan. That began the corporatization of Relapse Records and that also began the outing of Bill Yurkiewicz. He didn’t want to have anything to do it with it anymore. Those guys got together and talked about a new plan, a new Relapse that would be a more corporate Relapse, and [Yurkiewicz] didn’t want to have anything to do with it. And frankly, ever since he left and I left, I’ve seen everything go that direction to the point that those fucking guys can’t even have a message board for people shit talking their own label. They basically shut it down. Now you can’t even go on their message board anymore because they don’t want people on there fucking saying shit.
The sad thing is, the label still has artists that are of quality. Like Baroness is a good band, High on Fire is cool, Rwake’s cool. There’s all kinds of fucking bands that are cool, and I’m leaving to go on a tour this week with Jucifer, who are on Relapse, as main support. Someone asked me, they were like “Jesus Christ, after they fucked you so bad, how come you’re willing to work with Relapse Records?” It’s not working with Relapse Records, it’s working with the band Jucifer, and unfortunately, they don’t really have much of a choice over the fact that they signed a record deal and they are stuck on that label for the time being. So they’ve got to do the best they can.
Funny enough about [Jucifer], Relapse wouldn’t even pay for their fucking plane tickets or anything to go to Europe and told me that basically they felt like they would never get their money back, that they don’t make their money on Jucifer. So, they have a hallow existence, man, and basically if you appear to be making money for them, or have a buzz going on or something cool, then you can get some doors open and you can get some shit done and it’s great. If you are not doing that or whatever, if you have any kind of difficulty with whatever, I can guarantee that your ass will get passed up faster than a fucking I don’t know what…
Because they’re not loyal about anything. I was told by the guy that owns Relapse Records that kids are fucking stupid and that they only care about what’s brand new, that they don’t care about quality. That they care about two different things: brand new shit and volume of shit, meaning the amount of shit that comes out every month. And I said “You know, that’s kind of fucking crazy. So you’re trying to tell me that a band being good at what they do is not as important as the next trendy or hip band that comes down the block.” And he said “Yeah, that’s right.” So I’m like “Wow that’s a nice little formula on how to ruin a fucking record company.” Meaning that I will never ever do that. There’s this shit called honesty, and you have to have it going across the board. Some people are going to sell a million albums, some people are going to sell five albums. If you choose to take their time up by signing them to some kind of business agreement, you should really go about trying to help them… the idea of a label is to set the trend, to create the trend, to make shit that’s something brand new that people follow. Not to just get in line and fucking like turn out a bunch of shit that’s shit that’s going on right now or whatever. I don’t really have too much to say about them. I tried to commit suicide twice during the time I was on Relapse Records because my career was being held hostage and I was not able to be myself and do what I do. So I’m extreme case of this shit. I really fucking hate them, and I don’t hold anything back. I’ve created a world, and if you notice in all the interviews and all the shit that I’ve done, there has never been one retort of anything about anything I’ve ever said.
So how does a smaller label like Supernova compete with labels that have that kind of money and that kind of thinking behind them?
Well, that’s the amazing thing about working your butt off. See, I got four people total: me, a promo guy, a graphics dude, and a lab dude… well I really have five people, ’cause there’s a shipping and receiving person. So we don’t have that many people, but the people we do have are amazing. For instance, Curran Reynolds, our promo and publicity dude, he worked for Earache. He actually took Gordon Conrad’s job after Gordon left [Earache]. He worked for the The Haunted, Deicide, all kinds of bands, and he really helped expose and make all those bands’ careers. So a few years ago when I was starting my record label, I was trying to figure out, you know, “How are we go about doing this? Are we going to be like all these other fuckheads who think like ‘Oh wow check it out, I can buy a domain. I can hire a webmaster. Holy shit, I’m a record label, check me out. I can do online sales.’” And then really it’s like some kid in his bedroom hocking some albums. And I have no problem with that because I think bedroom labels are important in exposing underground music, but for u,s I just felt like we could probably do a lot better and not only compete with labels like Relapse Records, but fucking kick their ass.
So the first thing I did was I hired Curran Reynolds, the guy who took my former shitty promo guy’s job, who does an amazing promo job, and right off the bat, me and him started talking about future, direction, vision, and we got on it. We started contacting all the right people about distribution to get the right deal. We signed the number one distribution deal in Europe which is with Cargo Records. We signed the number one distribution deal in Canada which is with FAB, and in the United States it took like a year, and it seemed like it was going to fucking take forever, but finally we got a distribution deal with Sony MRI Red, which is distribution that’s just as big or bigger than Relapse Records.
So then the next part was money. How the fuck can you compete with a bunch of money grubbing capitalists who have been doing this shit for a long time and ripping bands off since the early 90s? Well, we got to fucking come up with a way to do it. So, fortunately for me, I’ve been recording since like 1995 and have produced bands like Lamb of God, Converge, and Fade, and all kinds of shit like that, and so I saved my money and I bought a gun collection. I had a gun collection that was valued close to $200,000. So little by little, one after another, I liquidated my gun collection down to about $50,000 worth of guns. The other $150,000 was liquidated into buying me a home in Nashville, buying me a building to put the record company in, and fucking paying for stock that we had to have on the shelves. But this is the best bite that really sticks a big dick up, say, like, my former label’s asses – we have a fucking deal where our manufacturing is not even paid for by us, it’s paid for by fucking Sony
So, translation: I have no limitations. I can fucking put record after record out, and as long as that shit is good shit and it’s making it out there and it’s hitting and sticking, then everything’s cool. And so far, after doing it with Sony and them for a year, they are totally fucking thrilled and psyched right now. So, the little guy can do it. It ain’t that easy, and it definitely takes a long time, and it definitely takes getting the exact right people because if I didn’t have Curran Reynolds and if I didn’t have Missy Collazo and Sony MRI Red, it would be impossible to do what we do. But with those people on our side, it’s like having the same people that put out Slipknot albums or Ministry or whatever, putting the same stuff out for us, and all we have to do is be professional and get the job done well. And so far, again, I mean, the results have definitely been there.
Now I assume there’s some provision in there that Sony can’t interfere and say “We don’t want to distribute this” or whatever?
If something was really really crapped out they could say something, but so far, even with all the controversial shit we have, nothing has come up. Our new album has like a page with a hit of acid and fucking every other fucking psychotic thing in it and nothing was said to me about anything.
Now how do you feel about… obviously technology starts coming into play a lot with music in the past few years. On the one hand, it seems like a lot of underground bands can get out there with a little bit more ease. On the other hand, it seems like with illegal downloading, it’s the small underground bands who are hurt the most.
Well, you know it’s like this: we are at a nexus in society. We’ve reached something that’s so big that almost no one, and I mean no one, really knows what twenty years from now is definitely going to bring. The reason why I say that is we’ve reached into a realm now where digitally with binary code of 0’s and 1’s, there are many things that can be bought and sold digitally that you don’t have to put your hands on physically… intangible items that sell by digital code. So one thing’s for sure, you’re never going to stop that medium. The real reality is, people like Apple computers; they’re at the forefront of understanding the digital medium and the digital distribution world. And I say that because, obviously, they fucking started iTunes and WebTV. And that’s going to be the venture from now on, meaning: fuck DVDs and fuck going to a rental store or whatever. You’re going to sit at home and when you want to see a movie, you’re going to fucking pay for it and download it on TVs just like people do right now but in limited numbers. And then with iTunes, you know, same thing, half the people I know don’t even buy CDs anymore. They do digital downloads either illegally or legally. So what we got to do as a business, because money does have to be made – I’m punk rock all day fucking long – but the bottom line is, for us to be able to supply the party for the underground community, we do have to take a little something at the door to make it happen. And to me, I think that’s what it’s all about. Does it have to be $15.99? Does it have to cost so much? Do you have to take that much money at the door when people can get it for free? Aren’t there other ways? I mean, to me it’s genius, people who are handling the digital revolution like Nine Inch Nails and fucking Radiohead, and the reason why I say that is because Nine Inch Nails put their new album out a couple of weeks ago, and they put it out where if you want to download it, you can download the whole fucking thing, minus a few songs for free. If you want the whole fucking thing, then you pay five bucks and you can have the whole rest of it including graphics. Then if you want a t-shirt and the rest of it…
I think he made it be like $20 gets you the whole shindig including a physical copy of the album. So some people would be like “How are you going to make any fucking money when you’re only charging five bucks to download a fucking album?” But here’s the deal: we can’t control this format right now. We cannot control the digital format, so if you get five dollars, that’s five more dollars than you would have gotten from the other person who just fucking took it for free.
So where are we headed? This is where we’re headed, and I’ve told people this a million fucking times. We are headed towards a music being free. Not only will music be free, but the goddamn shows and clubs are going to be free too, and it’s all ready changing like that right now. When it’s like bars, people who put on promotional events, people who put on rock shows and stuff like that, they’re not fucking paying huge guarantees. We’re living in a day and age where gas costs almost five bucks. So people are doing shit like, “Here, come down, so and so band is playing, it’s free to get in.” But then people blast out money on alcohol. It makes the bar like loaded or whatever and that makes the band sell like tons and tons of merchandise.
Like Ozzfest last year with it being free. Whoever came up with that idea was right on fucking target because it’s gotten to a point we have broadband internet. We don’t give a fuck about leaving our fucking chair or futon or couch, and we don’t want to go outside the fucking house period because it’s a dangerous fucking crazy world out there. So why wouldn’t somebody want to get like a bunch of beer/weed/whatever and sit in their fucking living room and fucking watch whatever they want to watch at their will on demand with music or video or TV? I mean, we’ve got to restructure. Record companies are dying. Record companies are going to be like the dinosaurs before you know it, and it’s mainly because the big business element of it is just not working. I think the bands that they blast loads and loads of money into, that are your big number bands, that will always be. There’s always going to be an audience of idiots out there that are going to buy the next big thing or the next trendy thing. We can never stop that. So it doesn’t even matter if downloading occurs and if you get the next big thing for free. There will always be a moron right behind that other person that will plop down fifteen bucks for some gay band that sucks or whatever.
But the way to look at the future is to look at like “Maybe this is a good thing.” Maybe once we get everything straightened out.. I was saying to someone the other day that my son, who I think is a genius and he’s six years old, you know, one day he’s probably going to say to me “Dad here’s my new album.” And I’ll be like “Where?” And he’ll be like “On this USB drive.” And then I’ll play it, and then I’ll be like “Don’t you have any graphics for this?” And he’ll be like “Hell no. I don’t need no fucking inflated packaging to sell my CD.” And then I’ll be like “Well do you have any visuals or enhanced audio or enhanced video or any video on this shit?” “Hell no, I’m a real artist. I only play fucking music man. Take it or leave it.”
It’s one thing for Nine Inch Nails or Radiohead, who are obviously very well established acts, or even Today is the Day, who have an established underground following, to put out their music for free. But how do you see somebody like your son, somebody just starting out, getting their music out to a mass audience in this situation?
Free. I think it’d be free is what I’m trying to say.
But how do people find out about it?
I think in like 10 years, at the moment that an album is released, the big deal is not going to be just about the audio part, it’s going to be about all the other merchandise shit that goes along with it. All the new art designs for t-shirts, there’s some shorts, jackets, hats, mood rings, whatever else type of Kiss memorabilia insane shit…That’s the future, because you cannot stick those things through a USB port. So officially trademarked, licensed merchandise is the future of asshole music. I really do believe that in five years someone will like laugh if you tried to charge them for like a CD or something like that. They would be like “Are you kidding me?”
So, to switch gears… I’ve got to ask you a couple of questions about, you know I would kill myself if I was on the phone with you and I didn’t ask about your creative process a little bit before I let you go.
You can ask anything you want.
So obviously traditional song structure and all that kind of shit is of little to no importance to you.
No. Today is the Day and music, to me, is all about a feeling. I started playing guitar in a way of like, you know, I saw other people emulate and copy other bands of play shit and that really wasn’t my deal. And the instrument itself, the guitar… it seemed to me that there’s got to be lots of different ways to play this thing other than just the normal way it’s played. And so I made up my own chords, I made up my own phrasings, I made up my own the notated type of shit and stuff, with an idea in my mind that I just want to play what’s inside of me and not let style or shit like that come through like when I’m playing. A lot of that has to do with turning away from all other music and not really becoming some big fan of whatever bands that blah blah blah. The idea is to create music that I would personally listen to. And in my demented, dysfunctional, fucked up, terrible insane life that I live, like there’s not really that many bands that are the soundtrack to the day that I live through.
So I kind of like sit down and whatever is moving through me, I try and transcribe it and write it down and catch it in musical form. For instance, one song from our new album Axis of Eden, one of my favorite songs, is called “Free at Last.” I got into a big fight with my woman about a bunch of shit, and I was just really fucked up, one of those lower than normal fucked ups where you wanna take an axe and start running through a department store and start chopping people up or something. And so I went out to the studio and locked the door because I felt part of my mind, and there was a piano sitting there and a Macintosh laptop and I just started jamming out, and the next thing you know, I had written that whole song from beginning to end on piano. You know, if someone had asked me while I was doing it like “What kind of shit is this or whatever?” I would have been like “I have no idea because it’s just some bullshit that I’m feeling right now.” But in the end, it turned out to be a pretty epic, psychedelic metal song. But at the time when I was doing it, it just seemed like the worst thing in the world, because it really reflected how I felt inside, which was suicidal, violent, wanting to kill someone and just wanting to die.
So here’s the next question for you: how do you guys build on that? Do you see it in your head and say “You know I want to start molding it this way” or is it all stream of consciousness?
I try to let it be straight up consciousness. If I think something, I write it down. If I start playing it, I don’t stop myself. I think a lot of people over think and over fuck with their art. Especially when it comes to metal or heavy music because shit is based on technicality and being able to play it precisely and blah blah blah, a lot of people like to become Einsteins and sit there and rethink and reconnect and redevelop parts over and over and over again and they don’t really realize the beauty and the magic of something fucking coming to you. When you sit and play something and it’s coined and it comes out of your head through your hands and nobody tells you to do it, that’s such a natural thing, and you don’t know where it came from. And it’s the same thing with lyrics, in the sense that I’ll sit down and start writing some shit and then get going on a flow, and I’ll write a line down and the line won’t make any fucking sense to me at all. I’ll be like “What the fuck does this mean? What is the relevance or importance of this shit?” And then I’ll think, “Well that’s fucking stupid. Why are you doing that? Don’t stick that shit in the middle of the song.” You know? And then all of a sudden when you think about it again, and that’s right when you need to step outside yourself and go “Fuck you. Take it as it is.” You’ll feel ashamed, you’ll feel embarrassed. You won’t feel cool. You might feel stupid. And the thing is, as an artist, you cannot protect your own identity that. So sometimes I say something and at first it doesn’t make any sense to me, and then I think about it, and I want to do away with it, but then a lot of times I’ll keep that and then a month later I will look back on that song again, and go “da da da da da and then I’ll say this. . .” And I’ll be like “Goddamn that’s so fucking insanely brilliant” because it was so primitive at the time that it seemed almost stupid to say what I wanted to really say about how I feel, but I allowed myself that humility to allow myself to look like a fuckhead or whatever else for five minutes in case I’m wrong. And that’s it, you know? So the creative process for me would be being yourself, don’t get so involved in tearing your music apart and putting it back together again. If anything, try and feel that shit and keep it as pure as possible and don’t change it.
You obviously have had a rotating lineup over the years, but you’ve had a lot of great musicians involved. But at the end of the day, do you think it’s safe to say that Today is the Day your vision?
You know, I think it’s been pretty much worked out on purpose that way. I think that different bands that were meant to be like a “band band.” like the Rolling Stones or like the Beetles, and half the bands that I call a “band band” like that, are back in the days when you could be a “band band,” meaning back in the 1960s and 1970s. People didn’t even have a fucking job back then, but you didn’t even need a job. They just fucking hung out and took acid, fucking played music, ate food, fucked chicks, and dido whatever they wanted to all day long, all night long. I did the same thing myself to a certain degree from my late teens to my mid 20s, of just being a complete and total bohemian freak.
But today, I think bands like Today is the Day are becoming more commonplace, where there is one central motivating figure who cares about what’s going on and continues to put it together and make it happen. And then artists come and be apart of it and then move on and do whatever, but the main person that’s in it still goes forward. And it’s easy to see why, because it’s a hell of a lot easier for one person to function as one thing then it is like several people to function as one thing. It’s difficult.
We’ve been able to vary and change our style and evolve into different things and always be kind of ahead of the times even though we’re not trendy or anything. We don’t really follow anything, if anything the music of Today is the Day has kind of always had an extreme edge, slightly ahead of where everything else is going, so you know… I don’t know. That’s the whole idea of it… if I actually ever got like ten fucking whole heartedly beyond Jesus Christ dedicated people that would give their lives to the band, then we would probably make shit fucking gay music for the rest of our lives then [laughs]. Like sitting around in a circle jerk holding hands and staring at the moon and thinking about how awesome it is that we love each other and that we play in the band and we’ll be forever together, you know. I kind of just don’t even care about shit like that.
It’s like… it sucks because… It’s funny, on your website awhile back you had a kind of a comical thing about me and [former Today is the Day drummer] Derek Roddy and whatever. I thought that was great because there probably couldn’t be a better description from afar of what happened [with that situation]. And not to pound anybody into the pavement, but Derek too represents something that I think needs to be talked about. He represents the fucked up side of music, and the reason why I say that is this: Derek Roddy is an immensely gifted artist. He can play drums like they’re fucking going out of style. There is no doubt in my mind that if that dude can get his head straight, he could become one of the greatest drummers of all time, but there’s more to it than going “rat-a-tat-tat” on some fucking drums and stuff. There’s this shit that’s called heart, H-E-A-R-T. There’s this shit that’s called integrity, and you have to have both of those things to make it last and to make it work, and with Derek… I feel sorry for him. He’s been worked through the metal machine for so long with so many different bands that like he just simply does not have it together as far as understanding the concept of the friendship of being in a band. He’s jaded, he fucking hates music, he hates record labels, he hates bands, he hates the whole question mark of playing music where the unknown is always in your face when you play underground music. Nothing is guaranteed, and we came to him as an underground band and we were totally like, “Hey man,we play music that’s from the heart. We travel around in a van. We don’t have that much money. We’re trying to do this shit. We’re trying to make this record label a big thing, but at the same time just understand that we’re not a corporate band. We don’t have a tour bus, decisions are made internally. We don’t make like $5,000 a show, and if you’re into shit like that then come jam with me.”
And at the beginning he was like, “Yeah dude! I fucking hate the music industry and independent rock and underground and hell yeah!” And I was just buying it all the way. I was like, “Wow, this guy is blowing my mind, like he fucking is the real thing. He’s talking like some I don’t give a shit about record labels. I don’t give a shit about people kissing my ass.” And the next thing you know, we get ready to do the actual real part of making an album and that’s when I realized, “Boy oh boy, have I made a big fucking mistake.” Because we were scheduled to cut the album at January, and he rolled it back. So we rescheduled to cut the album in February, and he rolled it back. We rescheduled to practice and cut the album because we never even played together in March, and he moved it back because he said, quote, “My snakes are being born, and I cannot leave Florida until my snakes are born.” And so the whole band, including the engineers who we’d hired to record the album, were all put on hold, on call for a bunch of black headed python snakes to be born, and when they were finally born, we were allowed to cut the album. That was with two days notice. He basically called up on a Friday and said “I will be there Monday to cut the album.” And we had never even played with him before. And so then he shows up on Monday, sets his drum set up, since I owned the recording studio we already had it all mic’ed up and everything.
And I thought that we were going to jam and practice, but instead of jamming and practice, Mr. FuckingRockStarSunglasses comes in at 8 o’clock at night, sits down behind a drum set, plays with me for 3 hours and records every single song on Axis of Eden.Then the next morning I said, “So, ready to cut the album?” And he said “No, we did that last night,” and then said, “By the way I got to leave later today.” And I was like “Wait a minute, like you mean that’s the album? Like the jam from last night?” And he’s like, “Yeah.” And I’m like “Wow, that’s fucking crazy. I’ve never done that before.” So that was just the beginning of it. It’s like we were supposed to rehearse with him for a tour, he never did make it. When we finally did rehearse with him, and not to make him sound as gay as possible but I’m serious, we got ready to rehearse with him, he called me up and said “Steve, I’m going to be in Nashville tomorrow.” I was like “I can’t get the bass player down here by tomorrow.” Then he’s like “That’s okay, just me and you will play.” So he comes down the next day, but what he didn’t tell me was that we were going to use my recording studio for a fucking a MEINL photo shoot for MEINL Cymbals, and so yeah they had like 4 fans set up blowing through Derek Roddy’s gay hair, making him look like a giant homo in my studio. It’s me with my amp plugged in, and me fucking going over the songs with him for a tour while a fucking photographer was firing off strobes and taking pictures of him the whole time. End of photo shoot, he packs it up and takes off back to Florida.
Then we booked the entire tour for fall and then he – stoner move! – forgot about it, and then we had to like rebook the entire tour again because his highness forgot about it. And then we went on tour with him, and I can tell you all about his berating and being shitty to every single person in that van to the point that he ran off the guitar tech, the soundman, and the merchandise man halfway through the tour because they hated him so much. And we really didn’t make that much money on that tour, and he went into it as a band: if we make money we make money, if we don’t make money we don’t make money. But then he got home and rethought about it, and then made up a whole bunch of new shit like “Oh yeah, by the way, I get paid $15,000 an album to cut albums for people.” And I was like “Do you? Who’s ever paid you that?” “Well no one, but that’s what I should be getting paid.” And then about the tour, he says, “Yeah, I normally get paid like $4,000 to play 20 shows.” And then I’m like “Well who paid you that?” “Well no one, but I should be getting paid that.” And so I was just like, “What the fuck? What happened to the underground and independent and going to do this on our own?” Because all that shit went right out the window. That turned into “I want $15,000 and can you pay me like $4,000 for playing 19 shows?” And I was like, “You know what man? It’s cool. It’s totally cool. I respect your musical ability. You’re a fucking sick drummer and no one can take that away from you.” But there is a gigantic reason why two of the most successful producers in metal, Erik Rutan and myself, had the opportunity to play with him, but we do not play with him anymore. And it’s because Derek is a fucking egomaniac who fucking basically can’t get along with anyone else at all, and if he ever plays with anyone, they’re going to have to get him his own tour bus just for him. He basically quit after we did that last tour. He’s like, “Fuck kids. Kids are fucking stupid and drunk. They don’t know the difference between good and bad.” And this was in reference to me saying “Hey, I had an awesome time playing on tour. I thought we killed everybody.” He said, “We fucking sucked. Kids are fucking stupid that go to our shows. They don’t know any better.” And I’m just like, “God, man, you have a terrible fucking attitude about everything.” And we got offered to tour with Eyehategod opening up for us in Europe in December of last year, and I asked him if he wanted to do that, and he fucking completely yelled at me and went crazy and told me that that’s small time shit and that he would never do it. And then he told me that Korn offered him a gig, but he’s not going to take it. And if he’s ever going to play with anybody ever again, it’s going to cost $3,000 a week, $150 a day to eat, blah blah blah… So, translation: I don’t need that kind of shit.
I would highly suggest to anybody out there that thinks it’s a great idea to get some famous death metal drummer dude to play with you, to reconsider that shit, sign somebody different. Get somebody who’s not into the system, because the next thing you know, you’re going to get into what I got into and you won’t like it. Because I’m positive about music, I’m happy about music. I’m 41 years old, and right now I can fucking destroy, kill, fuck anything harder than I have ever had in my life. And like I’m happy to do it, and I go on tours where Today is the Day gets paid two hundred bucks a show, and I go on tours where Today is the Day gets paid two thousand bucks a show, but the bottom line is: we fucking play that shit like we’re going to fucking die. It doesn’t matter whether we get paid fifty cents, five dollars, ten dollars, or whatever else, and I personally cannot hang out with anybody in my band that operates any differently than that. And the reason why is, because if I started to operate like that for even five minutes, it would all be over. I would quit doing this. I would see all the negatives in doing it, and I would just be like “Fuck this shit; I don’t want to do it anymore.”
So I don’t want to entertain people who have insane, unrealistic fucking demands about the music industry when there’s a whole awesome world of music going on out there. Like when I go see a band like Extreme Noise Terror play, it reminds me that there are people who don’t fucking give a fuck and can play and go fucking insane. Same thing with Napalm Death, the real deal, going insane, underground, and honest to goodness good fucking music, you know. These other death metal pussies that go around with their fucking cell phone glued to the left side of their head with fucking sunglasses on at night time all the time and everything, thinking that they’re in fucking Metallica when the reality of it is they play in some pussy ass death metal band… those dudes are fucking over, man. There is no time to cater to rock stars in 2008.
Well dude I appreciate your honesty.
Do you have anything you want to add?
No, just that I want to say thanks to all the people who came out to all the shows on the Supernova Records/Total Resistance 2008 tour. The fans who came out for those shows were all the hardcore, really into it music fans that are out there, and they made those shows rock. And I don’t care if any of those shows had packed houses or fewer people, every one of those fucking shows I tried to give it my all and give it to the people in the United States and Canada on that tour. So, you know, people who are looking for something real and not some shit that’s tied into corporate bullshit but is music that’s from the heart, then go to www.supernovarecords.net and check out these other bands that are on the label like F.U.C.T., Trampskirts, Admirals Club, and Defcon 4. All those bands are the real deal, and they’re really doing it and they don’t get paid the big bucks. They’re just real artists giving you something unedited and spontaneous.
Photo #5 copyright 2007 Michael Rosswog