Hi Dan! Thanks for your time. Please tell us something about yourself and the milestones of your career up to now.
My original career choice was big-rig truck driving. I did that for about 5 years but there came a point in time where I got laid off and couldn't find a new truck driving job. Turns out that was actually good luck for me because I spent the next year (or so) learning how to make websites and do graphic design. That was 1995 when computers were very primitive and websites were even more primitive. The barrier-to-entry was very low and I only needed the most basic html/photoshop skills to get a job! I went from not-even-knowing-how-to-type in Canada to being the lead internet developer at a web design firm in Australia to starting my own business in the United States all within about 5 years. I launched StonerRock.com in 1999. I ran All That is Heavy (originally called All That's Heavy) for a couple of years under a sort of license style arrangement before buying out of the license to become the full owner. That's around the time I met Melanie - who is now my wife and business partner and the best thing that ever happened to me by far. :) In 2007 we purchased the record label, MeteorCity, from the same people we purchased All That's Heavy from. So far, in 2008/2009, we've already released well over a dozen killer albums with many more coming soon. The timeline and dates are certainly fuzzy (at best) but that's a reasonable facsimile of how we got where we are now.
What is the business model of StonerRock.com and your new baby MeteorCity?
The business model of StonerRock.com is to lose money hand-over-fist. It's a money pit! haha. But, it was our original business so we keep doing it even though it costs a lot more than it earns. We also keep it going for the stoner/doom community and fans who've been hanging around for 10 years (!) now. It's a high-traffic site that functions very well as a portal between All That is Heavy (our online record store / www.allthatisheavy.com) and MeteorCity (our record label / www.meteorcity.com). Our business model for MeteorCity is simply to release great albums and not go broke in the process. Is flying by the seat of your pants a business model? haha. All That is Heavy pays the bills. There's no doubt about that.
Which bands are your greatest hopefuls?
That's like asking the octomom who her favorite child is! haha. Seriously, it's impossible to choose and I hate playing favorites. I will venture outside of my comfort zone a little bit and say that Elder, New Keepers of the Water Towers and WhiteBuzz are all young dudes in their late teens/early twenties. These three bands have huge talent and it definitely gives me a lot of hope to see this kind of music reaching younger and younger generations.
And do you have some insiders' tip for our readers?
Since this is a METAL website I will recommend Let the Night Roar. It's a ferocious mix of "The Art of Self Defense" era High on Fire and "To Mega Therion" era Celtic Frost that bleeds molten metal from the speakers!! Here's an MP3:
Let the Night Roar - All Costs
PLAY IT VERY LOUD!!
What was your aim when you started playing an active role in the music business? And have you achieved it?
I was knee deep in the music business before I even realized that's the business I was in! I didn't necessaryly have a specific goal in mind either. It occurred to me that I could do something creative and enjoyable for a living if I learned how to make websites and that led me to owning an online record store, a record label and a music community website. My original goal was to earn 100% of our income from advertising on StonerRock.com while living on the road (doing live reviews, interviewing bands, etc, to create content for StonerRock.com). That lasted about 9-12 months before the Internet Bubble burst! I was deadset against ever running an "actual business" that sold "actual products", but sometimes you have to make due with reality. We're very happy with where we are in life so I'm very happy that I didn't reach that original goal.
Is there anything you would do in a different way if you could start it all over again?
Nope. Life is a long series of decisions that lead you down a very specific path. Change one thing and it's likely that the outcome will be changed completely.
What was the most special moment in your work and in your life as a music fan?
Yob played a party at my house in Portland before they had any proper albums out. Melanie flew out from New Jersey for that party and it was the first time we ever met. Releasing our very first album on MeteorCity was pretty satisfying as well. Especially considering the fact that the album, "A Wound in Eternity" by Farflung, is magnificently good!
What do you like most in Stoner and Doom Metal / Rock? And is there something you dislike?
I like the warmth, the depth, the soulful/heartfelt authenticity of the really good bands. I don't like the generic stoner rock bands with singers that howl out of key though the entire album!
Please describe the development of this kind of music in the last ten years.
I think we've gone from the somewhat disperate genres of stoner rock, doom, sludge, grunge, psychedelic, etc. to the present day, where virtually all bands have aspects of all those genres and more. At least, the most interesting bands do.
And what will be the next steps? Where will the journey lead us to in your opinion?
With super-talented young bands like Elder, New Keepers of the Water Towers and WhiteBuzz popping up all of a sudden I would say that the future looks bright. We're not going away any time soon!
Please name some lately released CDs that you like to listen to at home.
The honest truth is that I mostly listen to MeteorCity CDs. We liked these bands/albums so much that we signed them to our record label! I just listen to them over and over. In the car, at work, at home, everywhere. When I'm not listening to MeteorCity albums I'm sifting through huge piles of promo CDs that come in for review on StonerRock.com. I don't review them these days but I do listen to them before sending them off to the reviews department.
Do you still watch other bands play? Can you name some shows that have impressed you lately?
We live in Cowpokeville Idaho. No bands ever play here. They don't even drive through here! I've seen hundreds of shows but none in the last couple of years at all. We're living a non-city/non-freeway lifestyle very much on purpose. The only thing we miss from society is live music. oh, and good restaurants, and good movie theatres, and well, a lot of other civilized things like that. hehe. We still prefer our rural lifestyle over a city one any day.
If you would organize a festival, who would be on the running order? Please choose freely.
It would have to be all current MeteorCity bands in random order.
You certainly know the Doom Shall Rise Festival. What do you think of it?
I have only heard of it. I know very little about it.
Back to your work. What can we expect in the nearest future? What will be the next highlights?
In October we're releasing Ararat (experimental/psychedelic solo project of Sergio CH. of Los Natas) and Nightstalker's latest slab of Monster Magnet style heavy rock. Then in November we're releasing Let the Night Roar's debut self titled album and WhiteBuzz's debut album titled "Book of Whyte". I already mentioned above how unrelentingly METAL the Let the Night Roar album is. WhiteBuzz is the exact opposite. It's hypnotic and mellow. A lot like Om, but with guitar!! They're from Germany, too! Also, in December we'll be releasing sophomore albums by Freedom Hawk and Village of Dead Roads. Again, two very different styles of albums. Freedom Hawk is like Lowrider meets Paranoid era Black Sabbath with super catchy, very well written songs. Village of Dead Roads is like Neurosis meets Slayer meets Eyehategod. People who write us off as just another "stoner rock" record label are really missing out!
Best whishes to you from Germany. Any finishing words?
Just a big thanks for the great questions and appreciation for the opportunity! Keep up the good work!