This week I spoke to Bindrune Records mastermind Marty about running a record label in the digital age, Heathens, the evolution of black metal and how much cassettes suck (ha ha) read on:
* So you guys started as a partnership between Scott Crionic Mind Records and and you from Worm Gear Zine how did you guys get to meet?
We met in 5th grade when Scott’s family moved to Traverse City from Illinois. He’s one of the main influences on me in getting into metal and it’s more extreme forms. Always been a dear friend to me. I don’t speak to him often these days, which is unfortunate, but he’s still one of my best friends.
* What made you want to start a record label in a time where most record labels are going out of business?
Probably not the smartest thing to do eh? Haha. It all boils down to passion for this music, the desire to try and help other bands get a boost and a tenacity that isn’t smart enough to know when to quit. I still believe things are cyclical. Look at the return of vinyl and cassettes. There is a growing movement within the world of music that wants to purchase and support music/bands/labels again. It’ll come around. At least this is what I keep telling myself!
* I know a lot of your releases are about pushing musical boundaries – what do you look for when bands send you a link to their demos? Do you both have to agree on each signing or?
Scott is no longer involved in Bindrune. Hasn’t been for many years. I think the last project he was a part of, was Celestiial’s Desolate North, which was our 4th release (we are over 30 now), BUT he was a MAJOR part of getting this label off the ground. But for me, a bands atmosphere and uniqueness is always at the forefront of my appreciation. Also, are they good people that are easy to work with? This is also a huge factor. But the music… it isn’t just a series of good riffs for me. There has to be a “spiritual”, for lack of a better term, connection for a band to truly earn my interest. And of course they have to fit in with the aesthetic of the label.
* Do bands have to be pagan minded to be signed to Bindrune? What about satanic or Christian bands if they musically fit your tastes – would you be down to work with them?
There is no set in stone ideology that I need to connect with a band on as I tend to shy away from organized religion. BUT, I refuse to work with racists. The style and sound of the label does seem to attract bands who have an interest with pagan or heathen ideologies which I’m completely fine with as many of the thoughts within those circles are nearest to my own when trying to dissect my typically unfulfilled beliefs. Satanic bands are fine… I’m of course a fan of many bands that adhere to this tired and true religious path and I wouldn’t let something like that stand in the way of releasing their music if I found a connection with it, but these type of bands tend to be far more aggressive and less atmospheric than I typically gravitate towards for Bindrune. But… never say never!
* Are you a practicing pagan? If so what faith? I would presume Asatru but I could be wrong – please enlighten me?
I have a great respect for people that practice faith in nature and the archetypes that connect gods/goddesses to our living world, but I am not a practicing pagan, nor do I have the time to further my research into the teachings into it. Call it more of a fascination. I am more heathen minded, with a love for nature and respect for others. Music for me has always been my unfaltering religion. The rest just feels like it begins and ends with common sense.
* How did you get into black metal and what was the band that was your “A-ha” moment?
Well even though it isn’t your stereotypical “black metal” and really wasn’t called that, bands like early Bathory, early Kreator, early Destruction, early Sodom were my A-ha moments in the proto black sound due to my age and when I came into this style of metal back in the 80’s. For more modern black metal bands… the first CDs I ordered in regards to “Norwegian black metal”, were the Emperor/Enslaved split, Mayhem – De Mysteriius Dom Sathanas, Satyricon’s Shadowthrone and Burzum’s Det Som Engang Var. All of these releases were eye opening and mind blowing. I was hooked.
“Black metal has become less of a statement and force and more of a corporately viable musical genre. It lost its teeth. The pantomime make-up has lost its mystery”
* Black metal over the last 25 years has gone from loud fast punk rock recorded on a 4 track cassette recorder style bands to neo folk and more – what would you say has been the biggest change in black metal for you and where do you see the movement going into the future?
This is perhaps a generalization, but black metal has become less of a statement and force and more of a corporately viable musical genre. It lost its teeth. The pantomime make-up has lost its mystery and a lot of the new bands are simply trying to re-invent the riffs perfected by their idols. I’m not saying all black metal is bad or a “trademark” sound, but there are so many damn bands out there all fighting for the same scraps, it’s hard to uncover the ones that have something to offer that is more of a reflection of the individual behind the corpse paint.
“Great people exist behind the art”
* What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment with the label so far?
Surviving for 17 years now. As largely a 1 man owned an operated business, other than some greatly appreciated help and new members over the past 5 years or so, Bindrune has been a lot of hard work, dedication, debt and struggle, BUT we are growing and doing our best to offer fans of the label and this music some truly inspiring artists to enjoy. This and the friendships that have risen out of working with some of these bands have been the biggest accomplishment. Great people exist behind the art and many of them I have drank with and become friends with. At the end of the day, this means the most to me.
* What would you consider to be your labels biggest failure to date?
Huh. There hasn’t been any real definitive failures. Sure, some bands sell better than others, but I have been a fan of everything I have put out. I guess the failures reside behind the scenes and typically revolve around finances. But, we all learn from such things and we will forge onward.
* What’s been the biggest hurdle in growing your business? The rise of postage costs or? What bit of advice do you wish you could have told the Marty who was just starting out?
The biggest hurdle is keeping potential fans interested in buying music. Digital is still a part of a music fans collection and once people download something, they may be less prone to go that extra step and purchase a physical copy. Collecting music is expensive and takes up space. Some folks have neither to warrant a big collection. Postage cost overseas have grown into a nightmare and it forced us to unite with a like minded label to share the international postage burden. We were lucky to find that partner in Nordvis Produktion/Andreas. I’ve often said that we started this label 20 years too late, but the reality of it is, I wasn’t in the place I needed to be back then to be able to stick with the mission. So really, I have nothing big or secret to tell myself starting out that would be a bombshell. I believed in what I was doing then AND now. It’s all expensive and juggling cash is always a struggle when sales are low, but the end result is always a feeling of accomplishment.
* What’s been your favorite release on the label to date and why?
There has been many. Wodensthrone – Loss, Nechochwen – OtO AND Heart of Akamon, Falls of Rauros – The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood, Panopticon – Roads to the North, Ahamkara – Embers of the Stars… I could find something in every release that would make it my favorite depending on what day of the week it is, but these albums were all something truly special/powerful.
“Cassettes are the worst, least trustworthy and clunky musical medium out there.”
* Are you surprised with the return in popularity of cassettes in certain musical genres (Black metal, grindcore etc) As an older guy I never thought I would see cassettes make a come back. Do you think its purely a novelty item or do folks see them selves carrying around the most portable analog sound device going?
I really am surprised. Next to 8-tracks, cassettes are the worst, least trustworthy and clunky musical medium out there. I grew up collecting them as they were gold standard when I was a teen burning through my allowance/lunch money to get everything I could in an exploding scene. What surprises me even more, is that I’m also buying them again. Mainly crusty black metal and dungeon synth releases. The latter just feels right on cassette for some reason. Like I said earlier in this interview, everything is cyclical. I can’t wait for people to come back around again and actually LIKE CDs. They truly are the most resilient, durable and sensible medium.
* How do the releases on Eihwaz Recordings differ from the releases on Bindrune?
Eihwaz began as a brother label to Bindrune created by Jim Clifton and myself to release bands that we thought were great and probably didn’t fit within the Bindrune aesthetic. These bands tended to be more aggressive, or death metal leaning, but as time went on, more black metal seeped into the roster. Eihwaz is earning its own voice and as I have splintered off from releasing titles with Jim so that I can focus on Bindrune, Jim is continuing onward to help the label grow and further find it’s own voice. Great bands. Great new label AND a great friend behind it all!!
* Have you guys consider a Bindrune music festival (Like the guys did from 20 buck spin and Giliad media and their migration fest) or a traveling tour of your artists?
A Bindrune fest is always in my thoughts and has been for years. It may eventually happen as a lot of the bands have voiced interest in playing such an event, but at the moment, it seems like a logistical/financial nightmare in my head. Fingers crossed! We shall see what this and next year brings!
* Have you had any problems with the narrow minded bigots of the left accusing you guys of being nazis or racists for using Heathen imagery in your releases and with the label yet?
I really haven’t, at least to my face, but I have made it known out there that Bindrune ISN’T affiliated with racism or fascism. Some people will always see the logo and just assume that we are that way due to the runes, but they would be seriously mistaken and I can’t control what people think. Bindrune has members in bands that are Anarchist, pagan minded, all just normal, forest dwelling people that try to find the good in folks out there and in nature. The hatred found out there in the world is so damn tiring. It’s time to make more constructive choices folks!
* What can we expect from Bindrune recordings in 2017 and onwards?
A lot. It’s crazy. Impending releases:
Falls of Rauros – Vigilance Perennial CD/LP
Vaiya – Remnant Light CD/LP
Coldfells – S/T (With Eihwaz)
Alda – Passage 2LP
Panopticon – Roads to the North 2LP reissue
Panopticon – Autumn Eternal 2LP reissue
Panopticon – Kentucky CD/2LP reissue
Paths – In Lands Thought Lost CD/LP
Saiva – Bortom markerna
Wilt – Moving Monoliths 2LP
Krigsgrav – Waves of Degradation LP
Several new signings which we shall announce soon! Stay tuned.
*Any final words to your friends fan and followers?
Many thanks to all of you for the kind words and support! It means a lot!
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