TIBERIAN VOCALIZATIONS: CORMORANT’S ARTHUR VON NAGEL KEEPS IT IN THE FAMILY
So I was working on the proper follow-up to my article “Anatomy of a Record Contract,” which, for all you aspiring bands out there, will be an in-depth guide to self-releasing a metal album. I was finishing up a section listing effective methods for shipping merchandise, and I wrote a sentence that made me pause and realize how incredibly fortunate I am:
“To aid with packaging orders, your own family is potentially a valuable resource.”
Now family is a delicate subject for some, as it is for me on my father’s side. But overall in Cormorant, we’ve all been blessed with family members supportive of our music. While we were holed up for two weeks recording Metazoa, Matt Solis’s father visited us brandishing a mighty cauldron of chicken mole, and his brother Andrew contributed the album’s awesome keyboard tracks. We’re very grateful for the horrible racket Brennan Kunkel’s poor grandparents were kind enough to endure when we practiced in their living room or garage, and all the beautiful operatic female vocal work on our albums comes courtesy of his sister Deborah Spake. Nick Cohon’s dad actually tracked the rain stick parts on our song “Ballad of Beast” and did a hell of job of it. On my end, my aunt Deborah Tibbetts contributed her significant graphic design skills to fashion the look of our EP The Last Tree, and my grandmother, despite being in her 70s (but still spry), comes to rock out at most of our shows. My girlfriend Amber’s parents Alison and Greg Nelson and brother Ben have backed us for years, and her father not only helped us construct the sound-proof practice studio where we composed Metazoa, but he actually built the bass and one of the primary guitars you hear on the album.
And then there’s my mom.
Meet Katherina von Nagel: daughter of a German harpsichord builder, immigrant from France, single-mother, and one the hardest-working people I will ever meet. A huge number of you have been kind enough to order our latest album direct from us, and I can promise you the majority of those shipments were packaged at least in part with Kathy’s help. I don’t think we’d have been able to get through dozens of hours of poster and T-shirt folding, customs form writing, address managing, scotch-taping, and standing in line at the post office without her support. I was at my mom’s house until 3:30 AM on the eve of the first shipment, putting the finishing touches on the pre-orders, and then we were at the post office for FOUR HOURS processing everything. The woman is a machine.
To think she didn’t even know what metal music was until I fell in love with it.
At first she didn’t really understand it. She’d been raised on classical and jazz, and was only introduced to some 70s progressive and folk rock by my father later on; meaning extreme music was quite foreign to her. I first ventured into metal via the classic trad and thrash bands, so the barrier for entry wasn’t particularly high, though I do remember her being a bit puzzled upon hearing Reign in Blood. When I moved out at 18, I still periodically introduced her to new bands that focused on the soft or beautiful sides of metal, like Opeth, Isis, Agalloch, and Noekk. She was surprisingly receptive to all of it, even the harsh vocals, though I feel it took her some time to uncover all the subtleties and differences between groups. As she came to more of our shows (often manning the merch booth), she asked a ton of questions and really developed a keen ear for the divisions in genres. When she watched us play Paganfest, she was quick to accurately describe the contrasts in tone and style between Moonsorrow, Blackguard and Swashbuckle. Nowadays she’ll casually roll up to my house blasting black metal from her car stereo and scaring the whole neighborhood.
I love my mom.
It seems natural that those who raised you would want to support you in all your weird hobbies and talents, but when it comes to metal music, things are not always so simple. Most metal is by its nature anti-authoritarian, politically incorrect, abrasive, anti-social, anti-religious… certainly not values many parents want to foster in their progeny. While I’ve heard horror stories from fans whose folks banned metal from the household outright, I sense the most common familial response to metal is one of indifference, or perhaps a tepid acceptance followed by the caveat “he’ll grow out of it.” Depending on your age, there are certainly quite a few cool moms and dads who grew up on Sabbath, Priest and Maiden and have a thing or two to teach the youngins about heavy metal. Hell, I’m 23, so some of my own generation are already breeding, surely to rock their children to sleep with the dulcet sounds of Gorguts – Obscura.
So my questions to you MetalSucks readers are the following:
- How have your parents reacted to your love of metal?
- If you’re in a metal band, has your family been supportive of your music?
- If you’re a parent yourself, how have you introduced your musical tastes to your children?