Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Interview with Luís “Krumhûr” founder of Hell Bent For Metal zine

Interview with Luís “Krumhûr” founder of Hell Bent For Metal zine
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Email interview conducted by: Lady Kat Chaos
Date: July 2014

Hails Luís “Krumhûr”! Congrats on selling out your Hell Bent For Metal zine issue #5! Was this the first issue you have ever sold out of? Have you thought about reprinting more since it sold out? How many printed copies of this issue did you make?

Greetings! Thank you for the kind words. This was the fourth issue of the 'zine to have sold out. Previous issues to have vanished from my hands were #1, #2 and #4, of which only #4 was a "serious" issue by my current standards (100 copies pressed). Both #1 and #2 came out in very limited runs of 40 and 70 copies each respectively and were very different to the latter and more experienced issues. I have given the prospect of making them available online some thought over the years, but still have not come to any decision one way or the other. I might do a compilation of the best interviews of the early ones one day, who knows!

How many copies of your zine do you set aside to mail to the bands, record labels and for trading with other zines? 

I could not tell you a number, because I have never counted! But all the band and contributors to each issue get sent a copy, naturally. Trading with other zines tends to happen sporadically and labels and distros tend to be the bulk of my distribution, which would mean they end up getting a fair share of all available copies of each issue.

What issues do you still have available, who are some featuring bands in the available issues and where can one purchase it? 

I am down to the very last copies of #3 for £4 plus p&p (2010, Doom Special: While Heaven Wept, Rich Walker, Pagan Altar, Sorcerer (Swe), Procession, Forsaken, Dawnrider, Briton Rites, Ereb Altor, Old Season, Rituals of the Oak)

I have also still got quite a few copies of the latest split 'zine release with Pariah Child, called Masters of the Pit #1, for £3 plus p&p (2013, Desolation Angels, Procession, Asomvel, Gods Tower, The Wounded Kings, Ravensire, Deceptor, on the road with Rituals of the Oak and a special guest feature looking back at the birth of Heavy Metal on Portuguese shores! Plus Revelation, Pale Divine, Griftegard, Great Coven, Thomas Hand Hand Chaste, Abysmal Grief and a Faith tour report!)

Both issues can be ordered by contacting Hell Bent For Metal on facebook, as well as through Black Tears Distribution, Emanes Records and Pariah Child!

What are your thoughts on how both music and printed zines have been greatly altered by technological advancements? Do you still appreciate physical product from other zines and bands releases? Whats the core quality of a great zine?

The impact of the digital age in music had been immense, and in my opinion a double edged sword. On the one hand it has made it possible to find a wealth of previously forgotten bands and made it easier to connect and contact people across the world. But on the other hand, it has also removed a certain natural selection aspect from music that was essential to filtering a lot of the shit from the good stuff. Nowadays no one can possibly keep up with the amount of releases and bands being formed and released every month. It is just too much to cope with and I think that has led to a drowning out of quality and a dilution of the average attention span to that of a goldfish!

This is why I appreciate people who still worship at the altar of tradition, so to speak. The people doing 'zines will take their time to put an issue out, and will often choose their preferred releases and bands to feature in their issues. This does not guarantee you will like everything that appears in 'zines or even agree with the choices made, but at least there has already been some effort towards filtering the best in the editor's point of view, the most worthy of attention, so to speak. The same goes with bands and labels that still treat their releases as fully packaged products, and not just a cheap commodity you can get on the same supermarket you get your bacon and eggs from.

The core of a great 'zine and the core of a great album and label is the same: passion and honesty. It will not guarantee "success", but enthusiasm is contagious! The rest can be acquired along the way, but the raw passion has to be there from the start.

In issue # 5 some bands that were featured were Portrait, Argus, Midnight Priest, Borrowed Time, Condenados, and many others. What interview from
this issue are you most proud of?

I am not sure about proud, but the one I am happiest with would have to be the Eliminator one, which we recorded after a show in Burnley all huddled into their van and in very high spirits!

How do you conduct most of your interviews such as: emails, over the phone, in person etc.? Do you set a limit on how many questions to ask the bands? How long do you give the bands to return the interview back to you if done by an email?

Most interviews for the 'zine have been done over email. A few notable ones, such as the Eliminator one in #4, Asomvel in #5 and The Wounded Kings in Masters of the Pit #1 were done in person using a recorder after a gig and were usually the most fun to do, but also the most painful to actually get ready to print! I don't usually give bands a time limit, though sometimes you need to chase them a few weeks down the line to make sure they reply to it, like you should have done with me haha!

Have you ever spent a lot of time researching, listening to the bands music and coming up with interview questions, send it out to the band who have agreed to do the interview with you and you never receive it back? Does it make you irate when they don't respond to your interview after you spent many hours working on it? How do you handle it?

To be honest, this has never happened to me in the course of preparing six issues to date, but it is a common issue for people who write fanzines. All of the bands that I have gotten in touch with over the years have not only responded to the interviews, but have even, for the most part, come back with informative and interesting replies. Some bands however tend to either not understand the questions or get completely side-railed into whatever parallel dimension they are living in, which makes replies very amusing sometimes!

What sub-genres of Heavy Metal to you support and review? What are your thoughts about all these sub-genres these days? If a band sends you the material that is something you wouldn't review what do you do with the package they've sent to you? 

With Hell Bent For Metal, my main focus was, is and will remain to cover pure Heavy Metal, as well as bands delving into Doom and Epic forms of the sacred sound. Initially this was not up to discussion, as I felt that these types of metal were not getting their due attention from either the "professional" or fan press. However, as time has passed and my personal tastes have started to veer into faster and angrier areas, and with a greater share of the spotlight inciding upon these genres, you could expect some Death and Black metal to crawl up from the dungeons onto the pages of the 'zine. But they will never -ever- be as predominant as the core ones.

I am still unsure as to the benefit of the recent exposure and interest in more traditional and pure forms of Heavy and Doom metal, as with the attention come all sorts of vultures, either in labels hungry for a quick trend-profit or the attention and fame seekers who see in it a way to make a name for themselves without it coming from the heart. There are plenty of good bands coming out though, and the concerts and tours seem to be easier to organise, which benefits everyone! The wheel will inevitably turn as it must, for the masses are fickle masters and something else will soon become "cool". We will see who of the current crop of shield-bashers will remain then, when "underground heavy metal" truly does return underground!

I don't usually get many packages in the mail these days apart from long standing label allies, as most bands will just spam your digital channels with mostly worthless garbage. To the labels that occasionally send me stuff, I either review it if it falls within the zine's are of interest, or will send it back, as I have done in the past to the good people at Metal on Metal Records.

How many times do you listen to an demo, EP or album before you write your completed review?  Was there a release that you didn't enjoy on your first listen but then it grew on you? Have you ever received pissed off emails or letters because you wrote a review one didn't like? 

I have never received angry mail of any sort... yet. As for how I write reviews... I hate doing it, it is my least favourite thing about writing the fanzine! But just as I like to read them in other mags and fanzines, I always force myself to include at least a handful in there for good measure. That said, I will only review stuff I am really digging at the moment and stuff I will have agreed to review for labels, so by the time I come to write the reviews, I am very familiar with the material! Some reviews write themselves, though these are very rare. One example of a recent release that grew on me recently would have been Slough Feg's last album "Digital Resistance", but perhaps the most notable would be Realmbuilder's debut album "Summon the Stone Throwers", which I hated at first! I came back to it a few months later and it started growing on me, and I have bought and reviewed (or will have reviewed by the next issue) every album they've done since!

When a band sends you a copy of there release as an mp3 formats, do you feel that some bands may not received a good review because of digital downloads, especially if they're a local band who doesn't always best recordings tools? Have you ever notice that it sounds different on your computer, mp3 player, Ipod, cellphone, and stereo? What do you prefer listening to your music on? 

If the music is good, you could record it with the microphone facing away from the singer and be a complete amateur in mixing and recording at home and it WILL transpire when it is played back. I am not fussy at all in that aspect with demos and promo recordings that are not finished products, that is what they are meant for, to showcase a band's raw talent! I have reviewed some mp3 releases in the past, and it is true that you don't feel the same attachment to a bunch of 1s and 0s as you would to the actual slab of vinyl on your turntable, but that is how it goes and you get on with it. I have never really had issues where I thought I could not review something due to its recording quality.

I'll always prefer vinyl for the experience of listening to records with the cover in one hand and a beer in the other!

What formats do you except for reviewing a bands releases? Where can a record label or band send their release to you? What record label(s) do you work closely with?

I have worked in the past with I Hate, Cruz del Sur and Metal on Metal, which are all worth supporting as they have killer bands on their rosters and care about the quality of the finished product that reaches people's hands. Nowadays, however, I will not take any more review material from bands or labels, and will focus on trying to write as many reviews of my own purchases since the last issues, as I feel that will be more beneficial to all. I am not a professional writer, and I do not claim the encyclopedic knowledge some asshole-gazing wankers with a band of the week blog do, so both my time and space available on the zine for reviews is limited.

In your opinion, you have been covering music since 2009, what trends are you seeing in terms of where music is heading? 

When I started off, at least where I was living at the time, in Portugal, you almost would not see Heavy Metal mentioned at all beyond Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, it was all about 3rd and 4th rate Marduk/Mayhem/Darkthrone clones or pig-butchering technical death metal nonsense. I have since moved to England and the scene here was even stranger at first, with nu-metal apparently still alive and well, which was very surprising for me! Over the past few years however, Heavy Metal and Doom Metal have made it into the spotlight and seem to have taken over Neo-Thrash as the new "hip" thing. But now some bands that were part of that "movement" are already shedding their pretences to play metal and going onto what might become the next thing, gothic hard rock or whatever the term is for what the likes of Beast Milk are pandering nowadays. The wheel might well have started turning on this fad already, brace for impact!

What are your thoughts about metal releases so far in 2014? What albums are you waiting for to come out? What album do you wish they would re-issue that is hard to find? 

I have really been enjoying the last Dark Forest, Slough Feg and Ambush records! Demos-wise I have been really impressed with the Seven Sisters and Rabid Bitch of the North tape demos, which strike all the right chords with me! I keep hoping against hope that this will be year we finally get a new Pagan Altar record, as it is only a matter of time until it happens! Looking forward to the debuts of Eliminator and Terminus as both bands have gone from strength to strength, as well as new stuff from Necros Christos and Primordial.

As far as reissues: HEAVY LOAD, please!

Do you find it hard to get advertisements in order to raise funds to print out an issue? How can one advertise with your zine?

I do not do paid advertisements, or almost any advertisements of any sort. I leave that to the "professionals". The fanzine is completely and totally paid for by myself, and as of the last issue, co-financed between myself and my ally Danny Angus, who writes the Pariah Child half of the content in Masters of the Pit. Not taking any advertisements, so do not ask, please. If we really like what you are doing, we will ask you ourselves.

At times do you find it rough because you need to shut down all of your social engagements because you have so much work to complete for an issue? Have you ever gotten side tracked or sick over it? Do you feel that the zine-compiling process has definitely gotten tougher and how so? 

It takes a big chunk out of your life to do a fanzine, and every printed fanzine writer pours his blood, sweat and tears into their work, which is why all those keeping printed fanzines out there have my respect. It got especially hard when I was getting Masters of the Pit #1 ready to print, as I was working full time during the day and coming home and putting in another 6 hours into it every night, but it was worth it in the end, it always is. After each issue is done though, you feel the drain and swear to yourself "never again!". The reason it has taken so long for me to finish the new issue (although some fellow zine writers still say that is not long at all, haha!) since then was to do with my last year at university and the fact I had to focus 100% on finishing my degree, as well as still feeling the drain from the last issue.

Ultimately, I have always found that the flame to write comes and goes, and you have got to simply ride the wave when it is there and try to persevere afterwards, which can be hard when life throws all sort of commitments and distractions at you! It is a labour of love and passion for the music and for spreading the work of bands you feel deserve to get more exposure, and that sense of mission ultimately acts as its own morale-booster.

When it comes to writing a zine do you feel that two of the biggest and obvious disappointments is many hit major financial concerns and realization? Are bands, record labels and your zine supporters understanding about your situations that you have faced over the years? Do you feel this can hurt your zine credibility somewhat?

I would say it is mostly a lack of time and drive problem that eventually dries the pens of many 'zine writers, although the financial side weighs in as well. There are not that many fanzines going nowadays that reach beyond the 10 issues mark, but in fact, I suspect that has always been the case. And it is only natural in a sense, as most people, like myself, will have started writing in high school or university when time and responsibilities are at the best they are ever likely to get. As you get older and start working and/or forming a family and dealing with being a real person, it becomes harder to put a 'zine out too often and it becomes more and more of a real statement of how much you care to carry on doing it. I have never met anyone who does not understand these constrains, and everyone involved with fanzines, from the bands to the fans and readers knows how it goes.

Fanzines should not concern themselves with "credibility" at all! That would mean trying to pander to a specific audience and reaching for a certain market share which is the opposite of what you should be setting out to achieve with a fanmade effort! I will leave that to someone else, I write about what -I- like and talk with bands -I- think deserve more exposure. You make your own choice on whether you agree with me, but it is all sincere. That's the beauty of it for me.

Most don't realize that its expensive to put out a zine. How much you say you have spent per book and how much money you have lost putting it out?  

For the sake of my sanity, I have never actually kept tabs on it, but pressings easily reach into the three figures, which is a fortune when you are living on a student's budget haha! However, it all tends to balance out in the end, most of the times, and over the years I have managed to lose less and less money per issue, with this last one even having paid for itself already! 

Postage and envelopes can burn holes in your pockets as well. Is this one reason you started doing split zines with Pariah Child and how are the orders of "Masters of the Pit" going? 

Postage rates keep rising too, which hurts everyone, not just us. It has gotten to the point where it costs more to post a copy than it does to have it printed, which is absurd and why everyone has been trying to group orders together in bulk-orders so readers end up forking out the least possible amount on shipping.

Pariah Child was one of the first fanzines I ever got my hands on, and its writer, Danny Angus, was a penfriend who became a good friend of mine over the years, but Pariah Child went silent as Hell Bent For Metal gathered pace. The split zine idea had been on my mind for some time, and I approached Danny with it, trying to lure his hand back to the quill, and I am still very glad that he agreed to it and brought Pariah Child out of limbo to strike forth once again, alongside my own 'zine efforts. Cost does come into it, as it effectively halves everything, but I think it also provides 'zine readers with two complimentary styles and interests, as I will tend to cover more broad stuff and Danny will come up with slabs of Doom Metal history, past and current!

The orders have gone great, we sold out the first press of 200 copies within a month of putting it out there, and are slowly going through the last copies of the second pressing as of the time of writing this. I was not expecting this response for it, and I hope that everyone who has gotten a copy has not come to regret their investment!

Are you currently working on your 6th issue are you doing it on your own or will you continue to only do split printed issues? What bands would you like to interview for this issue and what special features are you planning on publishing in this issue that you want to mention here?

For the time being, the next issue will be a second installment of the Master of the Pit split zine with Pariah Child, although we both count our contributions to it as a standalone zine's worth of content, which makes this upcoming issue Hell Bent For Metal #7!

Speaking for the HBFM side of the next issue, you can count on interviews with Dark Forest, Terminus, Caladan Brood, a quick newcomer feature with Wanderer, The Unholy and Insurgency, as well as a report on the current hive of heavy metal flurry happening in Portugal! I am still trying to fire away a couple more interviews, so there might be a few more names to add to that list.

Can you tell us who would be your ultimate interview?

I would love to actually be the one who gets Judas Priest to sit down and actually tell the real story behind the band without any legal or PR constraints, as I believe there will be quite a lot of good and bad that has never come to light and might possibly never see the light of day. A man can dream though!

What made you decide to work with distribution to sell your zine instead of doing it all on your own? Now with working with  distributions to sell your printed issues, how much of a cut do they receive? What are the pros and cons when working with distributions? 

Once I started doing larger runs of each issue it became more and more clear that I would not be able to spread them everywhere on my own, but working with distros around the world has not really changed things much, as I still deal with a lot of direct orders from both old and new readers alike. It just enables me to spread the 'zine to a much larger number of people, the way it should be! As far as I am concerned there are no cons to it, apart from sometimes seeing the 'zine upmarked in price above what I would think it is worth, but I might be overcritical of my own work there and people seem happy to pay, so it seems to work out for everyone.

You created, 'Hell Bent For Metal Zine' in 2009, one reasons is because you were inspired by other printed zines; On The March, Snakepit, Morbid Tales, Templiers of Doom and Holy Sword. What are you doing differently that these zines are not doing to stand out?

Absolutely nothing would be my ideal answer! But On The March has gone silent since 2008, as has Morbid Tales (though I have heard it is going to come back once Annick gets some time from her other never ending metal efforts!). I would say my efforts are quite similar to those of Holy Sword, which turned into Steel for An Age, but I tend to focus less on obscure 80s US metal bands. They're also much, much more active at this than I am, but from my part we are all in this together and Kostas and Thanos are worth supporting all the way. Snakepit is a whole other league so far as I am concerned!

I know have Judas Priest stuck in my head. Tell us about how your name of your zine came about? 

In true heavy metal tradition, there simply was not any other way to go about it! Exciter, Running Wild, and now Hell Bent For Metal!

"There's many who tried to prove that they're faster, but they didn't last and they died as they tried!"

When talking about old school, do you use cut and paste method as old school zines continue to do? 

I wish I could, and there is a definite appeal to going down that way, but the truth is I am hopeless at all that creative crafting and drawing, so will leave it to more competent hands at that such as Devilment Zine or Cunt and Paste!

When did you start listening to metal? Who were some of your first bands you became a big fan of? What are five albums that you could never part with? What was your first metal concert? Favorite t-shirts?

I got introduced to metal at the age of 13 or 14, when an older cousin sent me a couple of mp3 tracks, among which were Metallica's Call of Ktulu and Mercyful Fate's Evil. He also jammed with friends covering Metallica, so I got a lot of exposure to them then! However, what really pushed me over the edge was listening to Judas Priest's "Judas Rising" off of Angel of Retribution. There was no going back after that and I did not rest until I had made my way through their discography. I have been on the hunt for more heavy metal ever since!

In your worthy opinion, what new bands and old bands are due attention from your homeland?

New and current bands: Midnight Priest, Ravensire, The Unholy, Inquisitor, Wanderer, Corman, Filii Negrantium Infernalium, Decayed and Festering.

Old bands: Alkateya, Ironsword, Sepulcro, early-V12 (before they got made to sing in Portuguese by their label), Tarantula's "Kingdom of Lusitania"

If I was to ask you to write an article for our printed zine, would you consider yourself knowledgeable of the origins and history of metal from your home land?

I would be flattered, but I would have to decline. I am too young to have lived it and far too removed in time and place from it to provide more than a third-hand account of events! There has been some effort already into getting that history into writing in a book called "Breve História do Metal Português", which should see an English translation at some point and an excerpt of which I published in Masters of the Pit #1. I could certainly try to write something though, or point you to people who would do a better job.

What is the metal scene like in your country? What are the biggest fest that happen in your homeland each year?

Well, I have been away for nearly 5 years now but the metal scene is very small, especially when it comes to my type of heavy metal and fellow fans. From going to gigs over the years, you ended up bein part of the same 50 to 100 people that regularly showed up, no more. I am told things have changed in the past few years, and the mainstream gigs are the same as anywhere else, really, but that question is one of the reasons I asked my friend Luís "Defiance" Santos to write up a scene report for the upcoming 'zine! 

The biggest metal festival still happening in Portugal is the Steel Warriors Rebellion fest in Barroselas, which has been growing and getting better for more than 15 years now and has brought many great bands to the country. It is also organised by two brothers and a small team, who do this for the right reasons, and the fest is always a blast.

How large are turnouts at these shows and how aggressively are shows advertised in print?

It depends... You can easily get 30 000 people or more watching Iron Maiden or Metallica, and still fill big club and small arena shows, but on the underground scale you were looking at an average of 60 to 90 people when I left the country, which ruined some friends of mine financially (but some of them are too stubborn and passionate to give a shit!). Same as everywhere, big shows will get posters on the street alongside big events and get mentioned in magazines and social media. Smaller shows tend to go through word of mouth, posting on forums, facebook and handing out flyers and posting the odd poster on shop windows here and there.

How often do you join the pit, stage dive or are you too busy focusing on the bands to write a full review? Whats your thoughts about fans just standing there recording the band?

I rarely join pits these days, but if the music's really calling for it I will go. Hell, I seem to remember at least Antichrist at Muskelrock got me in one recently! I would like to say I focus on the band to write full reviews afterwards, but I am generally a lot more preoccupied with having a good time, drinking beer and enjoying the moment (which is fancy speak for wasted). Fans going to gigs to watch them through the video screens of their cameras, FUCK OFF.

So, what type of headbanger are you? 

Hopefully, a human one.

Are you currently involved with the local underground as far as putting together shows or anything like that is concerned? Would you be interested if that idea was proposed to you?

I have helped friends organize gigs in the past, and I would like to put something together at some point, but got no actual plans for the near future.

Tell us about your metal glory days entering a record store. Do they still exist? Do you now sampling albums today before you purchase or do you think it ruins the full excitement of bringing an album home and hearing it fully for the first time?

So far as I am concerned, I am living the metal glory days right now, although I wish I had come to England before shopkeepers started keeping tabs on the prices of records on ebay. Record shops are closing left, right and centre everywhere, but the second hand shops seem to be governed by different laws of economics... Through doing the 'zine, I have listened to records first as promos on mp3 and then went and bought the real thing later, but on my own time I will listen to a band's bandcamp/soundcloud or a couple of tracks on youtube at most before buying, preferably I will try to catch them live. If they don't convince me then I will just pass on to the next one, and even with this filtering the "to buy" list never ends!

How often do you get press pass to do a review on a show? Do you find concert tickets reasonable or over priced?

I have never gotten a press pass for a show, maybe I should start asking! Most gigs I go to tend to have fair prices, but then again, that would be different if I wanted to go to a Manowar gig haha!

Do you enjoy reviewing release, fest/concerts, or doing interviews most?

I hate writing reviews, give me interview and special features any time of the day.

What were some your the most obscure or chaotic moments you had since you started your zine?

The Asomvel interview in #5 took three attempts until both me and them managed to be sober enough to actually sit down and talk through the whole thing! It is also weird when I get approached at festivals by people who start the conversation with "Are you the guy from Hell Bent For Metal?" Not used to that at all!

Many individuals don't know the level of work that goes into a printed zine, did you ever feel like pulling the hair out of your head? What is the best advice someone ever gave to you about doing a zine? 

It is not so much a hair-pulling matter, rather a complete energy and motivation drain sometimes. As for best advice, aside from layout tips I have acquired over the years, there never was a particular one I would single out, though all the support from Danny Angus and Nuno "Mordred" over the years, as well as my brothers in penship Flavius (Devilment), Matthew Moore (War On All Fronts), Miguel (Black Hand) have made it less of a lonely endeavour. Let's get some pints in, you maniacs!

Thank you for taken your time out for this interview. The pit is all yours to write any last thoughts before we lock our metal gates behind you....

Thank you for the interest in the 'zine, Kat! I hope I have given a reasonable account of my experience with Hell Bent For Metal, and I would just like to finish by saying that, for all the missed hours of sleep, gigs missed, money lost, it's all good when you hold the printed issue of your effort in your hands. To those thinking of starting one, do it! Support printed fanzines, some of them even have doodles and tits.

Up the Hammers!

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