I N T E R V I E W S
"I'm an Old Fart Stuck in the 80s and Proud of It"
An interview with Stormspell Records owner Lordan K. as he talks about the label’s origins, band signings and his love for physical media
By: Eric Compton | Published: Friday, March 27, 2015
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Maximum Metal: Can you tell us a little bit about your history prior to establishing Stormspell Records? Were you in a band, musician, journalist or maybe working for another label early on? |
I was too lazy to practice and thus never became a musician, not a serious one anyway. I was an avid concert goer though and used to work in a music store in the early 90s. That was my contribution to the music scene back in the day.
MM: Growing up and beginning to listen to heavy metal, what were the bands and albums that really influenced you the most?
I was born and raised in Eastern Europe, behind the Iron Curtain. There were two major events which happened to me in the early 80s and pretty much defined who I am today - my undying love for Commodore 64 and my life-long passion for heavy metal. I obtained my first tape from a classmate in 8th grade (1984) – it was a TDK90 with Ratt’s ‘Out of the Cellar’ on side A and Def Leppard’s ‘Pyromania’ on side B. I was hooked instantly and those are two of my all-time favorite albums to this day. It was pretty much downhill from there. I discovered the tape trading mania and soon after I was swapping tapes like crazy, getting acquainted with the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Accept, Twisted Sister, W.A.S.P. and so on. By 1986-1987, I had discovered it all and listened to everything from KISS to Bathory and Possessed. The very first band I was really obsessed with was Stormwitch. I was a total sucker for that dark romantic metal. Then in 1986 a friend gave me King Diamond’s ‘Fatal Portrait’ and the King became my new obsession for a long time, all the way up to 1992 when Blind Guardian’s ‘Somewhere Far Beyond’ came out and blew my mind big time. And of course, I also loved and listened to tons of other bands too – I had particularly soft spots for German metal – everything from Accept through Warlock, Railway, Running Wild, Bonfire, Veto, Zed Yago, Mania, Angel Dust, Risk, Vectom, up to Tankard, Destruction, Kreator, Darkness, etc. In the late 80s, I was really into tech-thrash, digging bands like Mekong Delta, Sieges Even, Watchtower, Anacrusis, Sanctuary, etc. 90s did little to me, death metal mostly bored me with the exception of selected few bands like Entombed, Amorphis, Dismember, Morbid Angel and the godly techno-death masters of course, such as Nocturnus, Atheist, Cynic, and Pestilence. Black metal did little for me, unless we count the first wave masters as Bathory, Venom, Possessed, etc. Really hated grunge/alternative and the following groove/mallcore turncoat bands that Pantera and Machine Head inspired. So, all in all you can say I’m an old fart stuck in the 80s and proud of it.
MM: When did you decide to start a label and why?
When I moved to the USA and found myself making unimaginable amounts of money, at least compared to what I made back home. *laughs* Up to that point my ‘collection’ consisted of dubbed tapes mostly (we did not have any official stores or means to buy official merchandise behind the Iron Curtain back in the day) so I happily set on a quest replacing all those tapes with original CDs. I was quite disappointed to discover many of the overpriced collectible items are actually quite poorly packaged releases with budget ‘booklets’ and such (Road Racer’s Price Killers series, Aurophon Series, Mausoleum Classix, etc). Being a graphic designer by trade this bugged me a lot. I was bitching about it to a friend and he said ‘why don’t you start your own label then’, it was a good idea and I did it.
MM: Officially when did Stormspell Records begin and what was the first few releases on the label?
I started kicking the label idea around 2005, but it wasn’t until 2006 when it really kicked in. My first release was Inspell, a blackened thrash metal band. They were buddies of mine and I figured it would be a good start. I knew very little to nothing at that point and it was all trial and error. This first release sold horribly. I still have copies after all those years! *laughs* It almost killed the label. Luckily, I still had some funds left and managed to license and re-release Vectom’s 80s albums from Battle Cry Records and demo compilation of Swiss power/speed metal merchants Drifter, which fared considerably better.
MM: In the history of Stormspell releases, what is the best-selling title?
*shrugs* You know there isn’t any particular title which really outsold the rest. If I have to name any from the re-releases that would be the likes of Traget, Amulance, Anacrusis, Sentinel Beast. From the current bands Space Eater, Lich King, Air Raid, Blazon Stone, etc.
MM: The birth of New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal began around 10-12 years ago. Why do you feel all of these young artists are returning to the NWOBHM sound? Not necessarily power metal ala Hammerfall/Dream Evil/Blind Guardian, but more of the 1979-1983 sound?
I really don’t know. I guess every new thing is a well-forgotten one, and as such the music has started to repeat itself. We had the New Wave of Classic Thrash Metal, which is on a decline already. Now we have NWTHM, next probably will be New Wave of Alternative/Grunge, if it hasn’t started already with all those hipster/djent bands. Each of those movements is basically a trend, and as such you have genuine bands really into it and a bunch of bands jumping on the bandwagon once it becomes popular enough. Then the entire thing saturates enough for the corporate industry to take note and exploit it – bazillion bands are released littering the market and before you know it the bubble bursts, next trend has arrived and it’s all gone down to underground level with the few true bands keeping it alive until next cycle comes. It has happened over and over with almost every metal genre.
MM: How hard is it in 2015 to sign new bands as an independent record label?
It becomes a bit harder when a trend is at its apogee and corporate labels start signing demo bands left and right. However, I never really signed bands, so it doesn’t affect me that much. In most cases I prefer to work on short-term licensing basis, underground old-school way if you will – this way the band retains possession over their music at all times, is not tied to me, and can move on if/when a better opportunity arises. There’s nothing more pathetic than a small underground label trying to emulate the corporate industry model signing bands on multi-album, decade-long contracts absorbing copyrights, master usage, digital sales and so on. All the while offering next to nothing in return with zero financial, touring, or promotional support. Unfortunately, many small labels do this and many bands keep falling for it. Luckily there are still bands able to recognize the difference and make the right choice. I work with those bands.
MM: Do you feel new media like Soundcloud, Spotify, You Tube and Bandcamp make it harder to sell records? How do we fix this problem?
I don’t think so. I’m not a particular fan of Spotify and the model it operates, although I recognize it as a good promotional tool if used wisely. In general, I like to think that if a person wishes to support a band or label, they will find a way to buy their music. If they are in it for the free download they will find an excuse not to buy it, so I really try not to bother about illegal downloads and/or streaming media. I constantly discover new bands perusing Youtube and Bandcamp so in my mind those platforms are very good and powerful promotional tools. If your album is good, and your product is quality, with good artwork, thick booklet, etc. real fans would prefer to buy it instead of downloading it. Stormspell is dedicated to those fans, the rest are of no concern to me.
MM: What are the planned releases thus far for 2015 and have you licensed any new bands this year?
We are working on new releases from Rocka Rollas, Breitenhold, Blazon Stone, Slander. Also debut albums by Backhill, Cloven Altar, and Terminus. Trend Killers series are going strong with several bands lined up for next volumes. And of course, we will have some 80s re-releases also like Paradox (from Minnesota), Sage Meridien, etc.
Official - www.stormspell.com
Bandcamp - stormspell.bandcamp.com
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