Exclusive Interviews Only Found Here at MetalCore!
Area Death Productions
When I got a copy of the Savage Death demos on CD, I knew I had to get in touch with one of the members of the label to find out why they put that out as well as other stuff they have put out before and in the future so here is an incredible interview with one of the men at the label named Filippo
MC: What made you decide to start up a label and how many people are at the label now and how many were there when you decided to start one?
AD: Well, it was since I began listening to metal, in 1989 that I wanted to start a label. I actually did so: when the first cd-r burners came into the markets, I “published” some home made cd-r (with pro-done covers) of my favorite bands of the time (S.O.B., Electro Hippies, Outo, Systematic Death..) for some friends and sold at some local gigs. Anyway the main difficulty to start a “real” label was my lack of money and the incredible amount of bureaucracy and papers required in Italy. Chinese metal start at end of 80s. you can check Metal-Archives (http://www.metal-archives.com/lists/CN) and a documentry "Global Metal" on youtube , then you find names like TANG DYNASTY, BLACK PANTHER and OVERLOAD, HADES... those are influence bands, and lots of fans, and follower bands in 90s. debut album sold more than million copies of Tapes. here lots of fans listen metal music, also some underground Rock zines here in 90's.
MC: What was the 1st release you guys put out and how hard was it getting this release out?
AD: When I joined ADP, Wang had already published 3 cd’s: Herald from Latvia, Hyponic from Hong Kong and a tribute to Chuck Schuldiner with international bands. The beginning was hard because we were a new label from China, the land of bootlegs and pirate editions, copyrights infringement, the land of mistrust and illegal deeds, the land of totalitarian government and shady businesses, so many bands, labels and distros looked down upon us afraid of being cheated or ripped off. In addition, heavy metal in China has always been in the eye of the storm of the government, and quite often in the beginning we had problems with the censorship, and the police would sometimes come to seize the material or ban some titles. It was hard, extremely hard to get us known outside of China. I also have to add that in spite of its enormous population, heavy metal has never been popular in China. Of nearly 1.5 billion people, only a couple of thousand are what I can say “heavy metal fans” and even fewer would actually buy the cd (200 or 300 AT MOST). The typical Chinese fan prefers to download from internet or to buy the pirate edition because cheaper. We were just in the wrong place and at the wrong time, publishing the wrong music and in the wrong way. Things became a little easier, though far from being smooth, after I joined and released the Nunslaughter, Thanatos and Sore Throat cds. Form there on we got, bit by bit, known. The Insanity cd definitely helped us to be more popular. We are still a small label, anyway, far from being professional like Stormspell, Hellsheadbangers or Shadow Kingdom.
MC: Looking back, was starting this label and starting to release stuff harder or easier than you thought it was gonna be?
AD: Being in a place like China, it was on one hand easier, because here we don’t need too much bureaucracy and documents to press a cd, so basically one can publish whatever he wants without bothering too much about copyrights (but we are NOT bootleggers). And pressing cd’s here is way cheaper than anywhere else, so financially and technically it was easier as I had expected. On the other hand, since many countries mistrust China for several financial/political/ethical reasons, it was harder than I thought to be trusted by foreign bands and distributions. This is a country still far from being democratic, open and honest, and when many people hear the name “China” they simply don’t want anything to do with.
MC: I know you just released a Savage Death Cd, which I love. How did you end up putting this cult release and how is selling so far?
AD: SD is one of those bands that might not be special or innovative, but are highly sought after for being one of the earliest examples of US death. It was since I first heard “Legions of Doom” that I fell in love with the band and its catchy riffs. I have thousand of bands in my collection, but there are a few that I would collect ALL they have done, such as SD, Poison (Ger), Desecration (California), Pentagram (USA). I spent 2 years finding the best source available for SD because, especially the first demo, the original recordings were so badly done or poorly dubbed that it was hard to find a tape with a decent sound. I compared dozens of rips in order to find the best ones. Remember that we are talking about tapes that had little circulation, so there weren’t many copies in good conditions available. Finally I contacted Tom who enthusiastically gave me his OK. I also wanted to make a Lp version, so I licensed it to my good friend Giulio at FOAD records. Meanwhile Tom had found the original reel tapes, but they were in such bad conditions that were unusable so we had to use the tapes and rips we got from other collectors. It took us long to make it just because we couldn’t find any decent sounding tape. The Lp is sold out, it sold like hotcakes, and the cd is nearly sold out too. We are going to repress a new batch of Lp’s for the Maryland Fest, when Nokturnel will play there in May, and again on FOAD Records, that is our partner label for pressing vinyls.
MC: What releases have you put out so far and are you just going to be releasing old stuff onto CD and vinyl or are you going to be signing bands?
AD: Now as I am writing these lines, we have other 6 cd’s at the pressing plant, the last one carrying the catalogue number 050. So far, we published several bands like Herald, Hyponic, Thanatos, Sore Throat, Nunslaughter, Insanity, Necrophagia, Skitzo, Deceased, Ritual Sacrifice, Protector, Archenemy, Annathema, Devastation (Croatia), Annihilated, Impaler (USA), Midian from New Jersey, Dissection from Canada, Generichrist, Prellude, Nadimac, Germ Bomb, and some others. Just this morning we sent the masters to the pressing plant to publish Brutality (3xcd with all their demos and rarities + dvd), Stone Vengeance (2xcd with demos, rarities and dvd), Black Hole (3xcd with all their demos + live), Aftermath from Chicago (3xcd with all their full discography + dvd), Rampage (from Melbourne, Australia, their Lp + demos + dvd). They will be out this month (January 2011). Next, in March/April we’ll be out with Sabbat (Jpn) in collaboration with FOAD Records, a 3xcd box with all their demos 1983-87, including lots of unreleased material and rare live cuts 1983-87, (so also including the Evil recordings), then Vice/The Kill from New York (2xcd with ALL their recordings existing), Dealer from UK (massive 6xcd box set with ALL their recordings), Desecration from San Francisco (ALL their recordings + dvd, in a massive 5 discs + dvd box), Lethal Aggression (box set with ALL their demo/rarities not yet published, maybe 5 or 6xcd box), Malevolent Creation (the 1987 demo + other rare recordings from 1987-90), Nokturnel (demos + ep + rarities), Excruciation from Switzerland (ALL their early recordings 1984-91, including lots of unreleased tunes in a deluxe box set of 4 cd’s), Frigid Bich (full discography), Boss Tweed (discography), Hammerhead (UK, a fantastic collection of recordings 1978-91 + dvd, NEVER published before in a 3xcd box set), Deceased new album (double cd with ALL their covers + unreleased exclusive tracks), and Sore Throat box set (with ALL their recordings existing in a big 4 or 5xcd + dvd box, this gonna be the ULTIMATE grindcore release ever). We are also talking with 2 KVLT black/death bands from the 1980s, one from Germany and one from France, but I can’t make any name yet, top secret! Some of these releases will also be on vinyl through our partner labels Stormbringer Records from Sweden (Black Hole, Frigid Bich and Boss Tweed) and FOAD Records from Italy (Aftermath, Malevolent Creation, Excruciation, Desecration), though the cd versions on ADP will have more songs than the vinyls. All these releases are nearly done, or being done, but obviously we can not put out 20 releases at once (we aren’t that rich and we haven’t enough storage room!!), we prefer to publish them in batches of 5-6 per time during the year. The first batch will include Brutality, Aftermath, Black Hole, Rampage, Generichrist and Stone Vengeance, this January 2011.
MC: Are there any bands that you have approached about releasing some of their stuff on CD that have turned you down?
AD: Yes, in particular Blood from Germany. I wanted to make a cd with all their demos and early rehearsals, but the band said they are not happy with spreading that material that is too “shitty” if compared to their latest releases. Same with Rotting Christ, I contacted them to publish their grindcore demos, but they gave me the same answer even if now it seems they may agree with it. We shall see. Ripping Corpse, Sindrome and Necrovore were contacted too, but in no way they’ll ever publish their demos on any label, sadly. I contacted Warhammer too, but Mitch is a person who just talks talks talks… I don’t think he’s actually interested in publishing the demos despite the rumors, whether on my label or any other label.. I contacted Exmortis too, and they made me waste months for nothing. Those 2 guys, Chris and Brian are in eternal conflict with each other, and they always try to rip off each other. After trying to deal with their shady business, I gave up in desperation.. Now I know that Brian has got a deal with Necroharmonic, though Chris offered me the deal first. In any case the situation behind that band is extremely confusing, and technically the Necroharmonic release won’t be 100% official, because not approved by Chris. I’d like to re-release Outbreak (Canada) too, though I haven’t heard from them anymore.
MC: What are the next couple releases going to be?
AD: As I said, they’ll be Brutality (a 3xcd + dvd with all their demos, live 1990, and the pre-Brutality recordings, Abomination and Darkness), Black Hole (doom from Italy, with all their demos + live 1985 on a triple cd), Aftermath from Chicago, with their full discography and a 3-hour dvd (on dvd-9), Stone Vengeance (double cd with all their demos + live cuts + dvd), Rampage from Australia (Veil of Mourn lp + demos + dvd), Generichrist’s new album, and if we can get the artwork done quickly, also the Sabbat (Jpn) triple cd with all their rarities 1983-87. They wil be out in January 2011, we sent the masters right this morning.
MC: In your eyes, what makes a good song?
AD: A catchy riff and a catchy melody. I am a great fan of 70s rock, punk, nwobhm and classic metal. Though I published some death/black/brutal/grind bands, I remain loyal to the old nwobhm and 70s rock. I listened to many new brutal death/gore/black bands, but to me they sound all the same: super technical riffs that you can’t remember neither after several listening, hyper speed that kills melody, and brutal vocals that sound all the same. I come from a punk/hc background, so I prefer melody and riffs that are easy to remember or sing along: that’s why modern bands, especially brutal and/or black aren’t my cup of tea: they emphasize the technical skills and sheer brutality rather than the melody. Sure, I published Sore Throat that are pure grindcore, but in that case they were funny and had the right anarchist/tongue-in-cheeck attitude, that most of the new grind/brutal bands don’t have. And anyway, most of the ST songs have riffs easy to remember, being very close to punk/crust.
MC: Are there many new bands that you like or do you think most of the newer bands are crap?
AD: I don’t think that ALL the new bands are crap. Of course, the black/brutal death market is oversaturated and this kills originality: It seems that everyone who can scream like a pig, play the same chord and do machine-gun-like drumming can start a band like that. That’s not what music is actually supposed to be. Music requires originality and creativity, rather than playing as fast and as brutal as possible to conceal your lack of skills, or copying from other archetypes because you have no ideas. It’s true that in the mid 80s many bands imitated Slayer and Metallica, but just because there were few models to follow. Now, in 2011, there are millions of new genres and bands: keep imitating other bands does not make sense. There are enough ideas and styles and innovations to create new genres without copying from existing ones. I do not follow big bands anymore, I was actually surprised to know that Slayer and Anthrax are still playing. If you ask me if Metallica are still active, I frankly don’t know, and probably don’t care either. I like underground bands such as Lord Weird Slough Feg, one of the most original bands ever, Brocas Helm, Reverend Bizarre, Warning, in a word all the bands that put together the 1980s sound with new ideas and originality, no matter what the style is. I do not like much new retro-thrash bands such as Gama Bomb, Vindikator etc.. listening to them is like listening to Nuclear assault, SOD, early Anthrax.. yes, technically good, but they are not doing anything of original. They are not creating or developing: they are just imitating. I do not even like modern productions, with these oversaturated bass frequencies, these chugga-chugga guitars, this semi-industrial sound.. To me thrash must be few chords played at the speed of light, with fast snares and double bass work. Heavy metal should be melodic with clear blues and hard rock influences, without keyboards or crystal clear 64-channels productions. Heavy metal should be raw, unpolished, and melodic. Most of the new releases have professional productions that make them sound too flat, like a plastic or fast food product. Listen to the Judas Priest re-releases! They are horrible! They made them sound industrial, like the majority of new productions with NOTHING to do with the spirit of the 1980s!! Anyway, I do not have time, nor money to buy all the new releases so I prefer to listen to what I already have. I hate mp3, so I definitely have not enough cash to buy all the originals. As a matter of taste, I dislike most of the black metal/pagan/Viking or whatever they are called bands simply because they all sound the same to me, or they have little melody. The only black/death bands I like are classics like Bathory, Mantas, Massacre, Pentagram (Chile) because they created a new style when there was nothing of the sort before. I am not into gore/brutal death either because if you listen to one band, you listen to 1000 of them. To me the best gore band is Impetigo, because they combined brutality with melody and fun. Current gore bands are too extreme, both musically and visually, maybe too serious so that the result is too banal.. As for doom, well, doom is always a genre that has no age, or actually it has: the age of the 1970s, so any new doom band is good, because it’s a timeless genre. Anyway I abhor the drone doom, or funeral doom.. that’s like dropping a bass or a guitar to the ground and let it play at random..
MC: What are some of the best concerts that you have seen so far in your lifetime?
AD: I am currently living somewhere in the “Golden Triangle” one of the most inaccessible parts of the world, with little contacts with civilization and definitely nothing that even resembles a city or even a town, so I haven’t seen any concert in the last years. When I lived in italy I saw many GREAT concerts: I remember the first Carcass’ Italian tour, that was awesome, with that triple bass drums, the first Death and Brutal Truth concerts with an incredibly fast drummer, Kreator, Iron Maiden during the No Prayer for the Dying tour (my first heavy metal concert), and all the great HC bands I saw at local squats. Honestly, I have never attended many BIG bands concerts simply because I was too poor to afford the ticket. I used to go to local squats and anarchist centres to see hardcore/punk bands because they were cheaper. I remember gladly the Sick Of It All concert in Bologna: the pogo and stage diving was a massacre! Raw Power in Firenze was a great one, but the best I saw was Zero Boys and Negu Gorriak in Firenze, with the warmest audience, the most colorful and the best pogo ever, and some of the best friends I have ever known. Assuck and Dropdead in Modena were great too, it was one of the best bands I have ever seen live and really laid back guys. Ah, I was wrong.. my first concert was Dark Lust (later Necromass), in Firenze, at a small squat along with other punk bands. That was my first time I saw a death metal band live. The Iron Maiden concert was few weeks later. In all I attented about 400 concerts. I have never been to big concerts like Keep It True. Honestly I am not too interested, now, in live bands. I liked best the hc/punk concerts because there was more pogo and stage diving and more interaction between the crowd and the band. The heavy metal concerts were somewhat disappointing because there was always this sort of “physical distance” between the fans and the band and no any real pogo or stage diving and most of the musicians wouldn’t let us approach them..
MC: What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start up a label?
AD: To change job or activity.. no, ok, I am kidding. You must have 3 things: time, money and contacts. Time is essential since it’s a time-consuming job. Many times I have been working for 3 days in a row eating nothing, sleeping nothing but drinking cups of coffee just to finish in time. If you do it as a part time job, then, you must sacrifice your free time: now, I use almost all of my (little) free time to work on the label. Money: you need some money to start with, because you have to pay the bands, the studios, the designers, the pressing plants. When I began, I had little money (almost nothing), and to produce my first cd, I really had to sell my underwear and socks to gain few extra penny (no kidding!!). Then of course you need contacts: bands, distros, collectors (if you want to re-release old stuff), and this last point is the hardest: bands won’t trust you because you are “new” and potentially a rip-off. Distros won’t trust you for the same reason, and collectors are hard to convince: you know that most of them would rather have their hands cut off than making available to the public their rarities.. You can find time, if you give up some leisure time in order to run the label. You may also find money from a rich uncle in Australia or an old hag who loves and trusts you. But convincing bands, distros and collectors to trust, support and help you is REALLY hard, especially in the very beginning.
MC: Where do you get your stuff pressed at?
AD: At a factory nearby Beijing, China. Wang cares for all the pressing/technical parts. Anyway, pressing here is 5 times cheaper than in Europe/USA, that’s why we can afford these multi-cd releases. If we were in Europe, I doubt we could do the same..
MC: Where can people get your stuff on-line?
AD: We have Hellsheadbangers in USA, Necroharmonic, Seasons Of Mist, Sonic Age and FOAD in Europe, Rock Stakk, Record Boy and Disk Heaven in Japan, in a word, some of the best distros ever that can cover the main markets, and they always distribute whichever release we make. We also distribute through Stormspell, Shadow Kingdom and other labels, though not regularly (depends on what style they are most interested in)
MC: About how much time during any given week is spent doing label releated stuff?
AD: Depends. I live in this shithole (well, actually it’s beautiful, though really poor and semi-uncivilized) so I spend most of my time doing my main job, which is teaching for a Non Profit Organization and doing humanitarian works and helps. Anyway, as I said, I spend almost all of my free time on the label, sometimes (very often I may say) I work until 3:00 or 4:00 am to run the label, or I spend whole weekends (since here there’s no difference between weekdays and weekends) on it. Anyway, there’s no any bar, pub, club, venue here where I live, but just farms, swamps, huts, mosquitos and jungle… what else could I do in my free time iof not just working on the label? Wang, on the other hand, works full time on the label, because he also runs the physical shop and a magazine. He is a workalcoholic, like any other Chinese, he often sends me mails or calls me at the most unlikely hours at night..i believe that he works no less than 10 hours a day on the label/shop.
MC: Is there any bands your looking for that you have not been able to contact yet?
AD: Several.. I’d like to contact The Obsessed, Pentagram (USA), Morbid (Swe), and Hirax to ask if I could make a super-complete collection of their demos and rarities, but I do not even bother writing them, partly because I don’t know HOW to contact them, partly because I know they’ll say no, and partly because I know they’ll charge too much for royalties.
MC: How do you go about promoting your releases?
AD: Wang does it. He has many contacts through myspace (though it’s banned in China), he does mailing lists, sends promos and ads to several zines and distros, posts news on some specialized forums like The Corroseum or others. Then of course the word-of-mouth does the rest, like a tam-tam. China has a massive internet censorship, so we are unable to surf most of the foreign web sites, such as myspace, facebook, twitter and many other web sites, and this influences negatively our distribution…Wang also runs the physical shop, so we do not have too much time to do online promotion. Anyway, we already have a very good coverage that is becoming bigger and bigger: we have limitations too, that’s true, because the label is based in China so not many would trust us, but anyway, as a matter of numbers, the label has grown very much since the beginning, and we easily sell out quickly. Almost all the releases are now sold out. Some, like Savage Death sold out in a matter of few weeks. The fastest one was the Sore Throat cd: sold out in 3 days. Insanity sold out in 3 weeks, because by then we were still “unknown”. We still have some bands in stock, but in limited amounts, like 10-15 copies left that we keep for “emergency”. Midian sold quickly too, though it was a band nearly unknown. Now, we are cooperating with Laurent Ramadier, who’s helped us in more than one occasion and his help has proved to be essential. We are going to make some ads on Snakepit,
MC: How big would you like to see the label get?
AD: Not too big, haha, or we’ll have to work much more! No, I NEVER thought of becoming the next Relapse or Earache. Never. We started this to create something personal, to create something in China that didn’t exist at all before. Before us, there was NOTHING in China, not even a metal shop or a metal magazine or even a label. Now, our only goal is to keep going on, releasing what we like (honestly I have the ambitious dream of re-releasing all the demos existing haha), and trying to make nice releases. We do not expect to become rich from the label. We barely make out a living (remember that we earn little salaries here, some 7-10 times lower than in Europe/USA, and paying 1000-1500 US$ ONLY for the royalties for ONLY one band, is sometimes a great sacrifice for us).
MC: How did you come up with the name for the label?
AD: That is from our chinese webzine, we need a english name, it is chinese name in original, but looks not really good trans into english. that Wang established since 1996, with his long time partner Pzyy who is owner of ADP as well.
MC: Horns up for the interview. Any last words the floor is yours.
AD: Thanks for the interview. I like Metalcore and I have several old issues. This is the first time we have such an interview so we are honored. A little label from China, run by two desperate guys, who finally has the chance of being known more in the West. This is a great honor. I’d like to suggest to the new generations of metal fans that the real metal lays in the 1980s.. open your eyes, do not follow blindly whichever band internet advertises without evaluating their real value and artistic weight. Try to appreciate more melody, originality and creativity rather than brutality and evilness. Support the underground but do not follow easy trends, and worst of all, DO NOT IMITATE, but rather CREATE.