Label Spotlight: Heavy Artillery

posted June 4, 2007

by Corinne

Heavy ArtilleryPlease introduce yourself.

My name is Dave, I’m the label manager. Along with our publicist Mike and our sales guy Anthony, we are Heavy Artillery Records.

When and why was the label started?

Heavy Artillery is a new subsidiary of a larger punk label. We’ve wanted to start a metal label for a few years now but we’ve been waiting for the right time and the right talent to come along. I’m an 80s kid who was raised on metal and punk rock so this was a natural progression for us.

What kind(s) of music does the label put out?

All forms of traditional (80s) heavy metal, from hard rock to thrash metal. With a new generation of kids getting interested in rock-based music again and a lot of the old fans coming back, we felt that the time was right to launch the label and release this music that we love. Not to mention the fact that vinyl is coming back big time and we’re all about the vinyl!

What was the first release? How was it financed?

The first release was the debut album by LA’s Merciless Death, entitled “Evil in the Night”. It was financed by the parent label and by peddling crack in local school yards.

What is the most recent release?

Coming next is the “Speed Kills…Again!” compilation which is more like a label sampler since we’ll be releasing albums by many of the bands on it. It features two tracks each by Merciless Death (Los Angeles), Avenger of Blood (Las Vegas), Enforcer (Sweden), Toxic Holocaust (Boston), Hatred (Italy) and Warbringer (Los Angeles). The limited vinyl version also includes a bonus 7” EP which features tracks that are not available on the CD version. It’s scheduled for release on July 17th.

How do you feel about sharing music on the Internet?

It depends on the end result. It seems that metal fans are more interested in actually owning the tangible LP or CD than fans of other genres, which I respect to no end. I’m a big record collector so I have a hard time understanding the MP3 mentality. I thought for a while that maybe it was the fact that this new generation wasn’t raised on record stores and as a result they never got to know the pleasures of record or CD collecting. Although it certainly is a factor, most young metal heads still prefer tangible formats over lame MP3 shit which has redeemed my faith in humanity.

The bottom line is that if people are sharing music online and not purchasing the music afterward in one format or another, they’re stealing. They’re stealing from the bands and they’re stealing from the labels. These are the people that the fans rely upon to provide the music that they like to listen to. When they steal from the bands and labels, they diminish the ability of each to spend their time and money making that music and marketing it so that people can find out about it. If things continue this way, the only people who will be able to spend the time and money creating music will be the idle rich. Who wouldn’t want to listen to a Paris Hilton album?

Any words of wisdom for those interested in running their own label?

Yeah. Don’t quit your day job! The music industry is brutal and bloody these days. Even labels that are well rooted for many years are having a hard time. With the preponderance of new technology, the playing field changes under your feet every day and nobody knows where it’s going to land or what it will mean for the industry long-term. Scary stuff indeed.

What has been your most successful release?

Well, our first and only release so far was the Merciless Death album. It has done extremely well since its release in March and is making some serious waves so of course we’re hoping that success continues with our future releases.

What's the best way and the worst way to get a label's attention?

I can’t speak for other labels but the best way to approach us is to be polite and tenacious. Most labels don’t want to reveal that information because bands who persist can be a pain in the ass. However, it’s that same persistence that is necessary to make a band successful.

Regardless of genre, what do you look for in the artists and bands you sign?

The bottom line is that we’re looking for bands that are aggressive about promoting themselves online through MySpace and otherwise as well as touring/gigging regularly. There are a lot of factors that make a potentially successful band, including their sound, image and willingness to work hard.

There are a lot of legalities involved in running a label (signing bands, releasing records, everyday work, etc.). How does your label deal with these things?

A lawyer! It’s an unfortunate reality of the music business. Like every other industry these days it’s extremely litigious so you need to cover your ass.

What upcoming releases can we expect from Heavy Artillery?

Well, there’s the V/A Speed Kills…Again! LP/CD that I mentioned earlier coming in July, followed by the “Death Brigade” LP/CD by Las Vegas metal maniacs Avenger of Blood in August. We have lots of other exciting stuff coming up that I can’t spill the beans on just yet so please keep an eye on our MySpace profile for news & updates!

Thanks for your time.

Thanks for the interview!