Exclusive Interview Series: The internet and the music industry – Derelict

As part of a new series of interviews EspyRock commander-in-chief Michael Hughes, who is currently writing a dissertation on the effect of the internet on the music industry for the University Of The West Of Scotland, will be getting the views of artists on the internet’s effect on the music industry. The interview series will cover what is currently going on with the band at the moment but will also feature a questionnaire ranging from topics as to illegal downloading, social networking, technology and the future of the industry.

Next in our series of interviews is Canadian death metal band Dereclict who are currently working on their brand new album, the follow up to the 2009 ‘Unspoken Words’.

Read on as Eric Burnet (vocals), Jordan Perry (drums) and Max Lussier (guitar) talk about the latest addition to their line-up, their influences and also what to expect on their brand new album later this year. Follow on to read the thoughts of Eric on the internet’s effect on the music industry.

Be sure to follow the band on Facebook where they are constantly updating fans as to what is happening with their new album and pick up their previous works on CD or MP3 over at CD Baby.

Listen to their 2011 promo EP below:

Interview

New year and a revamped line-up, what have the changes brought to the band?

Max (guitar): I believe that the band has actually grown very much since all the changes have occurred. Sometimes you need to be forced into making a decision and it’s for the better. I think musically we’ve opened up a bit and it’s led to a more cohesive song writing process. As a whole I think the band is stronger now than it’s ever been and I hope people will be able to hear that.

‘Unspoken Words’ did receive a positive response when it was released in 2009, were you at all surprised as to how well or did you believe you had an album capable to making waves when you released it?

Eric (vocals): We had high hopes because we worked hard for a really long time and hired the right people to mix and master, but we were nevertheless quite surprised with the press and fan reaction. We received praise from all over the world, which was really heart-warming and encouraging. Bands may be making less money than they used to, but the Internet provides such a wide reach. No complaints here!

You’re of course building up to the release of your new album this year with your promotional tracks which where uploaded last month. Can you tell us a little bit about each song?

• Perpetuation – Eric: The goal with Perpetuation was to capture as many of our strong elements into one song as possible. We wanted to show that we’re capable of out-brutalizing and out-speeding our older releases, while streamlining the melodic and catchy influences we have. The lyrics are about the ridiculous “economic” system we call capitalism, and how it makes zero sense.
• Expiry – Eric: Expiry is more straightforward and melodic. It’s a vocal-oriented song, until the guitar solo of course, haha. The lyrics are about environmental destruction in the name of profit.
• Yours to Surpass – Max: This is a pretty technical song with a lot of time signature changes and whatnot. As far as the arrangement is concerned I tried writing it as a stream of consciousness, only death metal. The parts weave into one another without necessarily having a verse-chorus structure. It’s also short, but I find it accomplishes more in two-and-a-half minutes than some of our old songs accomplished in five.

Derelict - Max and GeorgeWill the new album have the same political message? What fuels you to write about this topic and is or will there be any other topics that you approach for the new album?

Eric: My lyrics are and remain socially conscious. What I mean by that is I single out and discuss issues which I personally feel need addressing. These often end up being political, environmental, social, etc. I’m not looking to be a news pundit or anything, but I just hope to be a source of encouragement for people to inform themselves about issues that affect them. If there is one overarching message in my lyrics, it’s “see, hear, and stand up for your fucking rights”.

Eric has spoken of what he wants to achieve with the lyrics in that he wants them to have some sort of positive reaction to the listener and make an impact. Has anyone responded to the lyrics you have written in a positive or negative manner as of yet?

Eric: I’d say the reaction has been mostly positive. People who don’t care about lyrical content aren’t bothered one way or another. I did however get told to shut up once when I was speaking out against shale gas exploration in Quebec City. That’s fine. At the same time another person was nodding his head in agreement. I could care less if people agree with me or not, the important thing is that they’re listening and thinking, one way or another. Rousing people out of complacency, that’s the goal. First and foremost though, we aim to play good metal music. The message is secondary and I don’t claim to speak for everyone in the band.

What are fans going to expect from the new album; do you feel that you can expand on your sound created on ‘Unspoken Words’?

Jordan (drums): I feel the new record is a natural progression from the last. We’re taking everything we liked about the last record, expanding and refining it, and cutting what we didn’t like. We want the new stuff to feel like more of a direct kick to the teeth rather than an extended drag through the gravel.

Max: I think as a whole this album will be a bit more melodic than Unspoken Words and yet the more technical bits match up to some of the more complex parts from that album. The songs are more concise than they used to be as well. We learned how to “trim the fat” so to speak. Another important change is in lead guitar. There is a stronger emphasis on lead play and solos than we have ever had. This is largely due to George joining the band. We didn’t originally set out to add a lot of guitar solos but they found their way on there.

One thing that again Eric mentioned when questioned was his influences but those that are less associated to the band’s music; he mentioned old school Offspring and Green Day. Do you think any of these influences, including those from other members ever make an appearance or shape the way you perform certain sections of a song? Xenocide is one song that of course that starts completely out of the realm of what Derelicts key sound is.

Jordan: Unspoken Words had several passages that were quite diverse in influence but were, in retrospect, a little tacked on. We’re still aiming to include a wide variety of influences, but in a way that’s more seamless. As a drummer, I’m very influenced by jazz technique and style, which makes a frequent appearance not only in the way I play songs, but in the way I construct beats. Our new guitarist, George, is deeply rooted in old school metal which shows through in the way he writes solos, and will be a noticeable difference on the new record from the last.

Max: I like a lot of old-school death metal and I think it’s apparent in the rhythm changes in some of the songs I write. I also have a bit of a jazz influence in my playing in that I use more of a finesse approach and am a little more about note selection than speed. I think George’s style contrasts well with mine. I think some of our different influences may become apparent with the melodies within our songs. Someone might bring in a melody which isn’t traditionally “metal”, but which we can turn into Derelict.

When we look at ‘Unspoken Words’ in terms of writing and also the writing that is currently taking place, is the live show or how the song will convert into a live performance on your mind?

Eric: Although our albums, like most modern metal releases, are very produced, we try to step things up even further live. I open up my vocals to more experimentation, Max and George improvise or change some solos, and we just try to bring things to another level of intensity. I mean, if it’s identical to the record, why go to the show?

Does the band have any special rituals or good luck charms that are meaningful to them when you perform live?

Jordan: The only ritual I can think of is warming up extensively before the show. We can’t deliver the tight, technical performance we strive for if we have cold fingers.

Eric: Same thing for vocals. People really underestimate proper warmups and technique. Other rituals include trying to remember the set list, getting some water, and re-tying my shoes. For some reason I never trust that my shoes will stay tied unless I do that. It’s weird.

Derelict - JordanWe’re only into April now so what are the goals for the rest of 2011?

Eric: We’re finishing up writing and recording the rest of our new album, playing shows around Quebec and Ontario, and just continuing to expand our knowledge and reach within the scene. The writing is really taking precedence right now; there are nine more songs on the way for the next record!

Thank you for taking time to answer some questions. Please feel free to add anything you wish.

Eric: Well first off, thank you! Quality sites and journalists like you supporting underground music really make a difference. I think that’s what the music scene is about more than anything, people helping each other out for the sake of good music.
Otherwise, we hope people come check out our new website at www.derelictmetal.com, it has pretty much everything right there, and links to all our other profiles.
Peace to you and hails to the scene!

Internet and the music industry

The biggest issue with the internet for artists is of course illegal downloading and there has been a rapid decline in value of the industry as the internet expands throughout the world. Several artists I have spoken to have stated that it has become part of life and that now selling albums is no longer a profitable business; money is solely earned from touring. What are your views on the matter of illegal downloading?

People who are in music, especially metal, to make a profit first and foremost are deluded and destined to fail. The music industry is evolving along with our technology and the rest of our social system, and illegal downloading, in my opinion, is a response to a saturated, over-priced, and over-commercialized industry. It’s true, there’s no profit to be made in CD sales anymore. However, digital sales are starting to make some headway. The Internet also allows new and innovative ways to sell merchandise, which is huge and much more profitable to the bands than CD sales. Illegal downloading is fine by me. I think if people want our music they’re going to get it one way or another. I would just hope that they in turn support us either through telling their friends about us, or buying a shirt, or coming to a show.

Do you feel that any of the current methods such as watermarking or streaming based models which have users paying a fee to stream music will take off and help stop the illegal sharing of music files? Or do you see any strength with the idea of giving away your music for free, having it shared around the world and again relying on touring to make money?

I think streaming is a great thing, such as off YouTube, MySpace, ReverbNation, etc. It provides people with a fast and easy way to find music. However, watermarking and other methods of “protecting” music files are a terrible idea. I write for a review site, and if I receive a beeped promo copy or anything like that, there is absolutely no way I’m going to listen through the album. Music needs to remain music. It’s the industry and promotional structure that needs to adapt to the new paradigm, not the other way around.

The global recorded music industry saw a 31% decline in value from the years of 2004 to 2010 but the digital music market has seen a 1000% increase in value over the same period. Do you see the internet’s influence on the industry as the sole cause of this decline or do you believe there are any other factors which you consider an issue?

I think the Internet has a huge part to play, because it is part of daily life in industrialized nations now. I also think that people just got tired of bullshit record companies putting out bullshit music. Digital sales allow more original indie artists to take a chance on themselves and sell their stuff. I’d be willing to bet the digital market is even bigger than we know because off all the smaller sites and sources that don’t report income.

Derelict - Eric BurnetWith such a growth in the digital music market, many artists have already stopped creating physical albums; the most notable is Rob Zombie who stated his most recent release would be his last physical album as the growing popularity of iTunes and Amazon is now controlling album sales. The IFPI recently published findings that 16.5% of internet users in the United States purchase their music digitally than physically.
Firstly as an artist and music fan, do you still buy physical albums or do you download from digital music stores? Secondly, do see the digital music markets as something positive for the industry and your career as a new and cheaper distribution method?

As a music fan, I like having a CD, because of the booklet and art. However, you can release a digital booklet (we did) in a PDF. So why not? Less physical waste, less plastic, etc. The physical copy does have an aura associated to it, and it also helps to have for at-show merchandise sales, but otherwise I can go either way.

I do think digital sales are a positive for our career. We can go indie and release singles whenever we want, sell them at whatever price we want. We can remove them from the market if we choose. It’s awesome, and costs nothing to replicate.

As the digital music stores assist in distribution, other factors that come into releasing an album are marketing and promotion of any sort. What are your views on the ability to use the internet to promote and market yourself?

Using the internet to promote and market artists is absolutely and fundamentally crucial now. Try finding anything through the phone anymore… forget it. It’s all online. Booking is online, PR is online, promo is online. Only shows and touring remain in the physical world.

Social networking has naturally become a massive asset in the industry for labels and artists to be able to interact with fans on an everyday basis from anywhere in the world. Do you feel that if the social networking boom hadn’t taken place that it would effectively hinder careers as there would have been no direct route to communicate with fans?

Very interesting question. It makes it easier for everyone to promote and communicate. That means the terrible garage-fourteen-year-old bands too. It saturates the market and forces people to sift through really unprepared, unprofessional acts in order to find serious ones. That’s okay I guess. Everyone gets a chance now instead of waiting to “get noticed”.

A big development in recent years has been the hardware and software that has been created for anyone and everyone to purchase. We now find aspiring artists building their own home studios at their computer by purchasing top of line software, sound cards, microphones and such. What are your views on the technology advancements in recent years from software, hardware and even to the MP3 itself? What positives or negatives if any do you see from these advancements?

Same answer as the question before. It’s more democratic, but that also means the market gets flooded with more unprofessional music. I think it’s fine though. We walk the line between DIY and relying on service providers. For example we track our own guitar and bass lines direct-in on my computer, and demo live jams and Jordan’s place, but vocals, drums, and mixing/mastering are done in a pro studio. We save money but also get a full-pro package.
As far as the MP3 itself… it depends how it’s encoded. The “quality loss” people claim is mostly in frequencies humans can’t even hear. I try and encode my mp3s at 320kpbs, but clearly if you’re encoding at very low qualities it’s affecting the quality of your music.

While purchasing hardware/software and recording in your own home studio is a method of removing big studio costs and staff costs, recently fan funding in return for incentives has become a new way forward. Recently in the UK bands such as Madina Lake, Funeral For A Friend and The Blackout have used Pledge Music (Kickstarter in the US) in which fans contribute towards the cost of the studio in return for signed albums, special gifts and more. Do you think this method of involving fans more intimately in the creation of an album and offering them incentives to do so could be a way forward to combat the losses through piracy?

I think that’s great. We haven’t done it yet, but are planning on looking into it. If artists and fans can collaborate in better ways to get music made and listened to, then I’m all for it. If 10,000 people can throw us 50 cents each, we can record, mix, and master an album. If that means they all need to get it for free, good!

In the United States from 1999 to 2009 there was a 17% fall in the number of people hired as a musician and in Europe, while not directly musicians, the estimated number of jobs likely to be lost due to piracy in the creative industries will reach 1.2 million by 2015. Do you worry as an artist that you will ever be swept by this wave and be forced to leave the industry you love in order to provide a better living for yourself?

I just started my of PR/media consultancy firm. I really hope bands stick around and continue needing my services. If they don’t and I have to choose another career though, so be it. I’ll adapt. That’s all I can say. I don’t believe in forcing the system and planet into being something that supports financial goals. If things change, we have to change with them. That’s how we evolve and figure out new ways of doing things. Sorry to get all philosophical…

When you consider the industry previously to the time before the internet and to now with the internet in full swing, what do you see for the future of the industry?

Very difficult to answer. Technology progresses exponentially, so we have no way of predicting the state of communication and music in 10 years. If I had to guess, I’d say things will become more indie, more personal, and people will adapt by finding better ways to organize information and find the artists they want to listen to.

     

About Michael

Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

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