Black Collar Workers



36 crazyfists

“But then our A&R guy got canned and no one at the label cared about us anymore,” goes the old tried-and-true saying about great bands being lost in the record label shuffle.

But what about when the A&R guy, marketing guy, label founder and owner are all the same dude? And what happens when he leaves voluntarily? And your band isn’t even “great” to begin with?

What happens is that you’re staring a giant shitstorm in the face and your band is called 36 Crazyfists.

Anton OyVey swears by The Tide and Its Takers… loves that album to death… and though I don’t really see it, I did always enjoy one 36 Crazyfists song, “The All Night Lights.” But what I think about the band’s music is [mostly] irrelevant because the band definitely has a fan-base; what is relevant is the fact that 36 Crazyfists have a new album on the way and have found themselves in a rather dubious label situation.

The brain-trust that made Ferret Music into Ferret Music jumped ship in late ’09 to form Good Fight Entertainment — home to such excellent bands as Son of Aurelius and Cancer Bats — leaving the Ferret brand, its catalogue and its bands to Warner Music Group’s Independent Label Group. A couple of Ferret staffers stayed the course, and though they’re fine people with an unwavering dedication to metal it’s hard to imagine a world in which WMG doesn’t stick its grimy little hands into a small label’s affairs to fuck it all up. Or, worse — and more likely — does absolutely nothing, ’cause majors and the people that work at them have no fucking clue how to market a metal band. Or even worse than that, some combination of the above. Which is to say nothing of the absence of the dudes who started Ferret and ran it for 10 years, which I’m sure will affect the marketing of this release in every conceivable way.

I know because I witnessed all of the above first-hand with Shadows Fall when I worked at Atlantic Records. First their A&R guy got canned, leaving the band without their prime ally inside the building. I watched as Atlantic bumbled everything, trying to force a single down radio’s throat, line up live TV appearances, make an expensive music video and just generally have no idea what the fuck to do. It wasn’t for lack of trying, as those people certainly meant well; it’s just what happens when you try to force a square peg into a round hole. The voices of those few people at the label who did understand the band were constantly drowned out in favor of the unknowing majority, and eventually everyone gave up. The apparatus of a major label is good for exposing a band through mainstream media; the logic is “let’s carpet bomb the world, and some percentage of those folks will be interested.” Only problem is that just doesn’t hold true for metal.

So if you’re 36 Crazyfists, what the fuck are you supposed to do in your current situation that’s beyond your control? It definitely helps that in the current incarnation of Ferret you’ve got a label-within-a-label and at least one dedicated staffer there who understands metal and knows the band. But then what happens when Lyor Cohen and co. start asking for profit reports when the only basis for comparison they have is The Devil Wears Prada, who probably made them a bucket of money? What happens when they start demanding expensive radio campaigns and music videos that simply aren’t feasible (or useful) in the metal world that Ferret traffics in? Trouble, my friends, trouble, because at the end of the day metal just isn’t really a big money earner. If I were 36 Crazyfists I’d hope I have a good manager, someone who won’t pander to the desires of men in suits and who always does good by his band. I’d look over the label process with a fucking microscope, really micro-manage things, and make sure the band’s fans know about this record and that the band continues to reach new audiences in the right places via smart touring and promo. But beyond that, it’s gonna be tough. Alternately, I guess you could try to write a radio single and pray for a smash — for which a major label’s tools are perfectly suited to exploit — but that just ain’t likely.

Anyway, 36 Crazyfists vocalist Brock Lindow certainly seemed like a nice enough chap when we interviewed him at Mayhem Festival two Summers ago, so I certainly wish him and his band the best. Be prepared for a ride, gentlemen.


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