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"...it’s 2003! Get a lawyer to look over your contract you f**king dimwits!"

TUNGSTEN vs. The RIAA

An interview with Tungsten vocalist/guitarist Al Hodge

Nailer: The RIAA is certainly pissing a bunch of people off, aren't they? Makes you wish there was a pedophile priest close by to strangle sometimes doesn't it?

Al Hodge: “The RIAA are seeing a big dent in their pocket book because of file sharing. I mean they are talking about going after people for downloading music and actually suing the parents of the kids that do it. How f**ked up is that? When people were making cassette copies of songs in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s it was ok, but now that CD’s have come into the picture and the sound is crystal clear without the loss of quality through generation after generation that cassettes were faulty of doing, they are in an uproar. It’s too late, this monster that they are trying to kill is way too big to destroy and we are feeding it daily by letting fans and friends of the band download all of our songs and promote file sharing against their will. There is nothing they can do to stop us or any other band that grows the balls to do what we did. As far as those priests go, man there are way too many fine women that go to church these days that are looking for redemption. They should be busy working on them instead of kids. I’m glad that they get beat up or killed in jail for molesting children, anybody that does that deserves it”.

Nailer: TUNGSTEN released a 14 song new album entitled “The Abuse” to the Public for free on April 28th. Do you know of any other metal band who has done this?

Al Hodge: “No. We are the first band to take such a stance and give out an entire album as well as our entire back catalog away for free. Other bands are giving out 20-second samples expecting the world to bow at their feet. How is a music fan supposed to judge a tune on 20 seconds? I don’t want an appetizer I want the steak. So that’s why we are dishing out huge rib eyes, buffet style. It’s all you can download for free. You can’t you beat that?”

Nailer: Would you say that the experiment has helped or hurt the band since then?

Al Hodge: “It has completely helped the band. Everybody wants something for free don’t they? When we chose to do this we knew it would cause a lot of waves in the music community. There are a lot of grumpy old band guys that are pissed about fans grabbing their songs for free. These guys are pissed because they know that they are in their 40’s and are stuck playing shitty clubs across the country to make money to pay for their rent back in L.A. These tape traders of yesterday have become the shareholders of today. They are worried about how they will retire, but the sad thing is, is they can’t, because they were too stupid to put money aside for a rainy day. They spent it on wine, women and song. They lost their fire a long time ago when they realized that this was a business and if they wanted to stay unemployed and play ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ until they die they would have to have a source of income. The funny thing is that these bands are pissed off at the fans for “stealing” their music, but in all reality the labels that they are on have been f**king them out of money for years. As fans we go to the shows we buy their shirts, posters and what not, so we do support them, that’s were a band makes their money is in the clubs, not on the arena tours opening up for someone else. The labels pay other labels for that “Special guest” support slot and that comes right out of a band’s royalties. As far as sales go that’s why the bands only see about a dollar per unit sold. Let’s break that down shall we: $15 for a CD at a store, $5 to $6 dollars goes to the chain store just for carrying the product on their rack. Ok that leaves $9 to $10 dollars. That’s when the bean counters at the record label start reminding the band of the “ads we took out to promote your product and don’t forget about that advance that we gave you against sales for tour support, you owe us a lot of money”. So there goes your $10 bucks and then after all of that the band is only paid like 10 cents a song and for 10 songs anything over 10 songs is a freebee for the company. So why are they mad at us?”

Nailer: Do you plan to continue offering free downloads for newer songs?

Al Hodge: “Absolutely! This is the future. We are the first band to do this and others will follow our lead I promise. We are already working on songs for album number 5. We plan on having the songs done by the end of the year and then we will start the recording process after that, then the album will be on our site for the fans and friends of the band to grab and behold! We may even release some unreleased tracks to the site before then as well, but who knows, we’ll see”.

Nailer: So, how does the studio time get paid for? Are you breaking in at night and sneaking out before the dawn?

Al Hodge: “Mark and I invested in a home studio when we were young and we built up from there. Mark is a great engineer. He’s done all of our records, as well as the second CROWBAR self-titled record in 1993, the live EP that they put out the following year in 1994 as well as the very first 3-song demo for the New Orleans super-group DOWN in January of 1992. The dude has a killer reputation as a man that can make things happen sonicly. So we don’t have to sneak into a studio, it’s all in Mark’s house. We call it H/T studio (it stands for “Hot Tits” or “Hodge/Talamo” you decide). We use to record other bands from Louisiana like CHOKE, DARK AUGUST, DRIP (which featured members of EHG and CLEARLIGHT) a few years ago, but we stopped all of that and only focus on us, so that we have a signature sound”.

Nailer: Record company scum notwithstanding, isn't it fair to whomever invests in you as a band to expect to get a return on that investment?

Al Hodge: “Only a fool would disagree. Sure you owe them, but the bands that cry “foul” don’t realize this. They say, “we were young we didn’to know any better” Ok I would believe it if we were in the 1950’s, but it’s 2003! Get a lawyer to look over your contract you f**king dimwits! They knew what they were getting into when they signed the deal. It’s no different than any other job except that you get paid all at once in the beginning and then you have to work back what you borrowed, plain and simple. If bands would realize this, then there wouldn’t be these lawsuits clogging up our courts. And YES music fans we are paying for that too!”

Nailer: What would you tell a young band that thinks they need to sign a record company contract for advance money to cut a record? Could they really become big stars without a company behind them?

Al Hodge: “If they want to live in a delusional world and think that a record company gives a f**k about them to make them a “rock star” it will happen! There’s only another million bands with the same fantasy, so your chances are very great that you will become a rock star, have lots of money and snort all of the drugs that you want and have sex with hundreds of women that are willing to do anything with you on video and in front of your friends. Ok now that I’ve finished my facetious tirade here’s the truth: BANDS you have to realize that when a company “gives” you all of this money it is only a LOAN, you have to pay it back. Nobody gets free money unless you win the lottery. Nothing’s free (except our entire catalog…sorry shameless plug) so knowing all of this is true, I suggest that anybody thinking about signing their name on the dotted line you should read a book by MOSES AVALON called “Confessions of a record producer: How to survive the scams and shams of the music business”. Talk to other bands that have been signed and get the low down on what they had to deal with. I guarantee that if you talk to any band that has been signed they will have some horror story to tell. When a record company and band don’t see eye to eye anymore it’s no different than what a couple goes through when they are in the middle of a divorce. Record companies are scared of anybody that has any sense about how the system “really” works. So do your homework kids and have a great entertainment lawyer look over anything before you sign it. Now to answer you other question if they can become big stars without a company behind them? We haven’t, so no you won’t be a “rock star” but you’ll have your dignity intact. Guys like Ian MacKaye (MINOR THREAT) or Greg Ginn (BLACK FLAG) ran their own record labels without the help of the majors. They cut their teeth and pushed their bands to the limit. Sure they never made a million dollars, but their hearts were in it and they stayed true to their cause of putting out pure music that wasn’t made in a factory for the masses at Wal-Mart to digest easily. I think those guys are unsung heroes. The music that we do is nothing like that because we’re a metal band, but we stole some of that rebellious attitude from the early D.I.Y punk scene that’s for sure”.

Nailer: What can you offer extra to fans who want to buy the whole package direct from you instead of just downloading the free songs?

Al Hodge: “For the ladies I can offer my ball bag. It’s really stretchy, so I can drape it over their faces as they try to blow a bubble and say “Hubba Bubba” at the same time. Man I really love that! What other band can make an offer like that? No I’m just kidding, not really but you know I can’t really do that unless they send a picture of themselves first. I do have to have some sort of standards here you know. If fans or friends want to grab the CD, they get a great package. It’s for collectors that want the booklet with the photos and the lyrics. There’s nothing “extra” or “bonus” on it really. My friend Eddie plays in a band called WHEN DREAMS BECOME NIGHTMARES here in New Orleans. They put out an EP and on their CD there is bonus CD-ROM stuff. Both Mark and I looked at each other after we jammed to it and said, “Damn, why didn’t we think about doing that?” Then I noticed that some of the other bands that I jam to that put out re-issue records like TURBONEGRO and ARMORED SAINT had CD-ROM stuff on their CD as well. So the next CD will have some extra stuff for the collectors besides just the booklet. But for the most part we are very happy that fans and friends of the band have been downloading our stuff”.

Nailer: So for those who are interested, how can people get your stuff?

Al Hodge: “There’s only one way and that’s going to our website www.tungstenmusic.com Grab a beer and come in and burn! Nailer, thank you very much for giving us the time and chance to speak our words here at www.maximummetal.com You guys rock!!!!”


Nailer
Maximum Metal
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Al HodgeTungstenFrank Hill8/25/2003



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