All 20 of the finalists for the No Label Needed Contest and Series were great bands, and while Iron Thrones ultimately triumphed, the runners-up aren’t sitting still. In fact, 2011 will bring new music from at least two of the bands in the contest.
San Francisco Bay Area quartet Scorched Earth Policy have released a sampler track of their forthcoming 2011 album. Their album will be mixed in January for a Spring 2011 release. On first listen, we want to hear more. It’s full of riffs and melodies that remind us of their Bay Area brothers Testament, with some Anthrax mixed in – basically, solid thrash that old school and new school metalheads should appreciate. The album sampler is also available for download at the band’s website.
Also, Phoenix band Hemoptysis have just finished recording their full length debut album as well. They recently got out of the studio with Grammy-winning producer Ryan Greene, who’s worked with Megadeth, NOFX and MXPX among others. They’re offering up a new song, “Misanthropic Slaughter,” on their MySpace page. The new song is heavier and thrashier than “Shadow of Death,” their submission for No Label Needed.
Either way, Metal Insider is psyched to have helped bring these bands to your attention, and now that they’ve got new music out, support them by listening!
Metal Insider is sad to report Falling To Pieces’ frontwoman, Nicci DeSoto (Nicci D.), perished in a motorcycle accident over the weekend. The Bay Area band had been a finalist in the No Label Needed contest and series. Falling to Pieces had formed in 2004, and Nicci joined two years ago along with former Bleeding Through guitarist Scott Danough. The band released an independent EP in 2009 titled Awaken the Weak. Darkest Hour guitarist Mike Schleibaum picked the band as one of his five favorite finalists, stating “a perfect example of how awesome the blending of European and American metal styles can be.” DeSoto was 25.
You’ve seen them record and learn the ropes of the business in the No Label Needed Contest & Series, and now you can catch them live! Iron Thrones, the winner of Scion and Metal Insider’s No Label Needed Contest & Series, has announced dates for a November tour with Hero Destroyed. The nine date tour will be in support of the band’s new EP The Wretched Sun, which the band recorded with Will Putney for Machine Shop Productions. Check out all the confirmed dates below.
Nov. 12 Pittsburgh, PA Howlers Coyote Café (w/ NECROLYSIS)
Nov. 13 Rochester, NY Bug Jar (w/ LIKE WOLVES, CURL & DRAG)
Nov. 14 Ithaca, NY The Haunt
Nov. 15 New York, NY Lit Lounge (w/ EMPYREON, PRISTINA)
Nov. 16 Worcester, MA Ralph’s Music Diner
Nov. 17 Boston, MA Great Scott (w/ SEXCREMENT, MOTHERBOAR)
Nov. 18 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie (w/ FIGHT AMP)
When Metal Insider started the No Label Needed contest, we didn’t have a “sound” or genre of metal in mind, we just wanted the band that won to have an independent spirit whose music was good. Iron Thrones embodied everything we were looking for in a winner, and the resulting EP that they recorded has also struck a chord with metal radio, as it’s currently the #3 album on CMJ’s Loud Rock chart. We caught up with guitarist Steve Henningsgard to talk about what they learned since winning the contest.
So to lead things off, what do you think you accomplished through winning this contest that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise?
There are a lot of small and large things from every aspect of the band. But radio promotion is something that we would have never gotten into without somebody teaching us how to do it, just because it’s not really obvious from an outsider’s point of view how to get on more than a couple of radio stations, like local stations that you know about and just hope things work out. A lot of the background, like CMJ and such, are things that you don’t really know about unless you go searching for them. A lot of the music industry works based on the mystery of not knowing how to make things happen (laughing). Working with a company that knows it and does it a whole bunch really helps when it comes to radio.
Also, anybody can write up at least a remotely OK press release if you have writing skills or if you look at other ones. There’s pretty much a format to them and there is definitely an art to it to making a really good one, but the difficult thing is getting the mailing list and the respect of the people on that mailing list to actually post your press releases, and that’s again something that doesn’t just happen. You have to build up a rapport with those people and have a consistent quality. We have a list of people and sites we can send things to, but we don’t have established relationships with them and we don’t know the exact timing that makes sense. So it’s always things you can do as a D.I.Y. band, but it’s so much easier going through someone who has all the established connections already.
How different would you think The Wretched Sun would have turned out if you just did it yourself or with the same producer that you did the last album with?
Well we did the last album ourselves, and so you can easily run into self indulgent things when it comes to production. Like putting more and more harmonies until it’s as big as you think it should be, which doesn’t necessarily fit what other people to get out of it that you want them to. But it’s definitely different then it would have been, and I wouldn’t say it’s more or less “Iron Thrones” then it would have been. It’s not like we went in there and [producer Will Putney] Will gave us all of these new riffs to learn (laughing) and then we went to play his stuff. There wasn’t even any time to. We were doing 18 hour days over and over again in the studio just to get what we had down. There was definitely an influence with the pre-production side of it. Having somebody else to suggest “maybe we bump the tempo here,” or “maybe you guys could think about how strongly you feel about this part? Do you think you could rewrite some part of it to make certain thing make sense?” Just suggestions, but suggestions that I don’t know if we would have come up with ourselves. It definitely would have been different and definitely wouldn’t have been as much of a punch in the face as this one is. That’s definitely Will’s style, just kind of a “Hey how’s it going? I’m going to kill you.” (laughing). There’s not going to be any part of the record you can ignore or lay back to. It’s just full force the whole time, which for going through the whole contest it really works as a wake up for a lot of people to have production like that. Read more »
Regardless of genre, radio airplay is still one of the key steps of marketing a band. It creates awareness and drives sales, and hopefully finds fans. Of course, being a metal band creates interesting waters to navigate through.
Iron Thrones received a radio promotion campaign as part of winning the No Label Needed contest and series. On a marketing level, radio promotion compliments a PR campaign very nicely. It’s all part of the puzzle to see a band online or in print and then to be able to hear the songs on the radio.
The first obvious hurdle is to find out which radio stations play metal. There is only one 24-hour radio station that plays metal, but there are plenty of college and commercial radio stations that play metal in blocks. Commercial stations will usually have one show per week, like KROX/Austin, for example. College radio stations may have block shows, include metal in their regular programming, or both. And of course, there are national outlets, like SiriusXM’s “Hard Attack” and cable service Music Choice that play metal all the time as well.
Similar to a PR campaign, you need to know who your fanbase is and be available to them. Metalheads know where to find music – whether it’s on on the internet, magazines, clubs or the radio.
Getting your music played on the radio isn’t an easy task, but it’s one that you can take into your own hands by learning who the DJ’s and music directors are in your town. You can find out as easily as going into shows or calling the radio station. Everything starts in your home market. For Iron Thrones these stations would be commercial stations like KXXR (93X) and college stations like KFAI and WMCN
As you tour the next best step is to promote your band in the markets you’re playing. Club promoters can often help as they work with many of these radio stations to promote their shows. In addition to attempting to get airplay, you can also try to do an interview to promote an upcoming show and possibly give away tickets. As with every facet of promotion, every fan you make from promoting yourself at radio should come with you on your career as a band.
In the interest of full disclosure, Metal Insider’s parent company, The Syndicate, has had a radio promotion division for over 12 years and uses all of the techniques described above.
As part of winning the No Label Needed Contest and Series, Iron Thrones received a new website that they can easily manage. The site was built using the Sons of Nero artwork and WordPress content management system (CMS) as that is one of the easiest to update and manage. The Syndicate’s Bill Shouldis explains how any band can create their own, inexpensive website below and provides more detailed information after the jump.
As the winner of the No Label Needed Contest and Series, Iron Thrones received several merch designs based on The Wretched Sun EP artwork done by Sons of Nero. With item options ranging from baseball caps to booty shorts, the band opted to keep it simple, going with T-shirt and a zip hoodie.
This being the No Label Needed series, we could show how bands could screen print their own shirts but truth be told, if you’re an active and touring band or you have full time jobs that don’t give you the freedom to print your own merch, you might need some help. Much like the chat with Will and Machine from The Machine shop, we’re taking you inside the process, and MerchNow – as you can see from the video below, was happy to walk through the steps that go into creating merch.
As with everything else in this series, Iron Thrones oversaw the process to make sure everything was as they wanted.
Metal Insider recently caught up with renowned metal photographer Jeremy Saffer to talk about a wide variety of topics ranging from his favorite bands to shoot to the upcoming seminar he’s hosting. You’ve probably seen his pictures in Revolver and Outburn, and he shotNo Label Needed winners Iron Thrones, but here’s some insight from the man himself.
How did you break into shooting metal bands?
Basically I grew up on metal. When I was 10 I went to my first few metal shows which were Metallica/Guns ‘N Roses/Danzig/Morbid Angel/Napalm Death etc. Since a young age, my affinity for metal has been my roots and foundation of any and all music in my life. So naturally when I first started shooting concerts, it was namely to be as close as possible to my favorite bands and to capture them at that point in time, which to me, bands like Nevermore, Opeth, Cradle of Filth, Mayhem, Satyricon, Immortal, it was a dream come true, and that was prior to it ever becoming a job. As I kept on doing live shows for fun, that all traversed into doing photo sessions, and eventually working as a full time photographer.
You’re well known for being a metal photographer. What’s the difference between photographing metal bands and other bands?
Metal is the strongest and most diverse genre of music. It also has the strongest minded fans on earth. When shooting a metal band, depending on what sub-genre it is, you really want to put that band into a location that fits them, and use lighting that works for their look. For example: for a black metal band you’d probably want to use lighting that will cause a lot of shadow in a dark location, whereas shooting a thrash band, you’d want brighter lighting and can shoot in a hotel room with beer bottles everywhere. You have to capture both the essence and the personality of the individual band. Read more »
As part of the No Label Needed series, The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Benjamin Weinman shared some thoughts on management. The Dillinger Escape Plan have acted as their own management for their entire career.
Why does Ben self-manage? That’s the kinda guy he is and always has been.
Is taking things into your own hands the best thing for your band, or would you feel better trusting your career with professional management?
Unsigned & Streamed vets Anciients, who’s Season of Mist debut Heart of Oak is out now, have landed the opening slot on the Lamb of God tour. They’ll be playing from May 16 – June 10. Check out the dates here.
Sinestra Studios (who very often provides Metal Insider with some killer live photos) is hosting its very first art galleria and metal show on Saturday, May 25, at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, NY. Tickets for the event are onsale now.
Louna has premiered a new music video for the song “Business” with Crave Online. The extravagant and politically themed music video comes in support of the Russian hard rock group’s new album, Behind The Mask, available now via Red Decade Records and MEG/RED.