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Interview: Brock Lindow of 36 Crazyfists talks new album, Alaska metal scene

Posted by on December 19, 2014

36 Crazyfists vocalist Brock Lindow is happy to be in New York. Doing the press rounds for the band’s Spinefarm debut, Time and Trauma, Lindow has already gone ice skating for an interview, he’s having a meeting after our interview at a hockey game, and we run into him later in the evening at the Crowbar show (yes he’s just as starstruck by Kirk Windstein as everyone else) at Saint Vitus. We caught up with him about why it was five years between albums,their decision to sign with a label versus doing it on their own, and what the scene is like in Anchorage, Alaska (there is one!).

 

Talk to me a little bit about the new record. It seems like it’s been a while and I’m sure it hasn’t been super long.

It has. It’s been about four years. It’ll definitely be five by the time it comes out.

 

Why the delay? I read the album has been done for a while. Have you just been searching for a label?

There was that, but originally we were doing records every two years. But then my mom got cancer so I had decided to get off the road completely for that full year. Then she passed. So that was one of the years. And then the album was pretty much written during that same time. Then I opened up a restaurant and that took out almost another year. I finally got to record the album at around February of this year. Once it was done by April, then we started saying ‘are we going to put this out on our own?’ We didn’t know what we were doing. We weren’t with Ferret anymore because it originally wasn’t Ferret anymore. So I talked to Tim [Brennan, Spinefarm director of marketing] and he was at Razor & Tie at the time. He said “send me the demos when you’re done.”

We weren’t sure at the time if we really even wanted to do a label thing. We were thinking maybe there’s some new model somewhere where we can just hire out some distro stuff and but put it on iTunes and make a buck. At least it would be our money. But then we got into it more and got a new manager, and I was like ‘I still wanna do these festivals, I still want to tour.’ And you do need a label still, you really do. As much as people want to rebel against certain things, some things you need to not conform, but realize there is a necessity for them. When Tim got here and we started talking to Darren, the A&R guy, I started thinking “man these guys are a little different.” It just felt different to me. We’ve been around a few different labels so I just felt like ‘give it a shot.’ If nothing happens, well that’s nothing new so let’s just see what happens. I’m in New York doing a press trip and that hasn’t happened for me in three records. So that to me just shows there’s a little more belief on this side of the fence. Maybe it’s not belief, maybe it’s just being run properly. So far so good. So that’s the reason it has taken so long.

 

How long did it take you to come to the conclusion that being on a label wasn’t such a bad deal?

I think I had a few good conversations with Carl from my old label Ferret. We just started talking about some stuff. He kind of told me what could still be provided to me in the sense of you know, when you still want to do Download [Festival], you aren’t an indie band getting on Download without those sponsorships from the labels and that’s your bigger band. We’re still very much under the radar within certain circles and there’s nothing wrong with that in my opinion. We’ve grinded it out for twenty years and we’re still grinding. I’ve been grateful for every step of this. There’s been some ups and downs, there’s no doubt about it.  But that conversation I had with Carl, next to our new manager Steve Davis, made me realize there was still a tool. If it’s a helping tool, it can be very beneficial to the band.

When we started talking to a bunch of different labels, especially this one, I just felt like they were as hungry as we are. They, even if they can’t do all the things they said, they have something to prove and so do we together. That is what I liked about it. They were kind of newer in the States, so I talked to the boys and everyone was like “if nothing happens, I don’t know what I’m talking about,” but if we just get to run with it a little bit more, than that’s a success. If we don’t, it’s what it was anyway. We just keep doing our thing. I love playing anyway and I love live music and that’s what it’s all about anyway. I’ve never really made money off an album sale, in fact I don’t think I ever have. I make money off of t-shirts and touring. If anything good can come of it, and I mean exposure. I really mean getting onto some radio festivals that all the bands, like Rock on the Range, whatever they all are, a lot of my peers are getting onto these things and that’s the avenue bands that maybe weren’t on active rock radio get the chance to play these radio festivals. I think that’s very positive. Let’s throw the dice again.

 

You mentioned those festivals, and it seems like there are more of those these days. What are other things that have changed drastically since you first signed and released an album?

I don’t know how new that 360 deal is but that sounds like the most awful thing to ever get involved in. I’m grateful to not be in that position. And I think that’s complete bologna. Bands need their touring merch. That’s how they make their money. And I get it, I totally get it. This is kind of an industry that is crumbling inside of itself. I think there are a lot of ways if you think about it. Think of Hatebreed, a band that has such a dedicated following, but no radio play. You’re not putting Jamey on the radio. Killer band. Their fans are still buying their records. I think there is so much respect for him, and the way that he talks about that, and the necessity for your fans to still buy an album. I’ve been listening to his podcast so I’ve kind of been getting his mindset on that. I was thinking to myself, there is a small but very loyal 36 listenership. Very loyal. You get those kids buying records again, they will if you really explain to them that it is a necessity. Instead of buying your coffee and your cigarettes for maybe one day, and purchase a record from a band that you really love, you will see this industry turn around. Therefore you are going to see your favorite band around because they can afford gas at least. So I think that what I have seen is a bit of imploding, but I think there is a bit of a positive in the sense of real fans will still buy your record as long as you can convey that message to them.

 

Do you think it’s like the movie industry, where the first week is a big deal and if something debuts top 20 people are going to talk about it? Or is it just like energizing the fan base?

I think it’s that I think it’s more about the connection with your fan base. As long as you have it and they don’t feel like you don’t deserve it, because maybe there is some of that with some bands I don’t know, hopefully not. With me as long as you’re a standup dude and you really dig my band, than I’m thinking you want to support it and pay whatever it is $.99 a song or a buck a song. Whatever it is. I think that it’s about connection. I wish the movie industry would’ve gotten hit as hard as the music industry. If it had, they could have gone together.

How about the porn industry?. No one gets a free porno. No one pays for porno anymore. Unless you’re in a hotel. As long as you’ve got your phone, you’ve got it. They’ve taken a massive hit. I’m talking about Lucas films and the big movies, like the Exodus film that is all over town which looks awesome. Those guys are going to crush it. Because no one cares about that guy with the little camera. No one is going to pay for that. They aren’t going to want that. They want the experience. I’m glad it hasn’t happened in the sense for their industry. I don’t want to wish ill on anyone. I’m just saying that if they took a hit like the music industry had, they could have joined forces somehow to figure it out earlier. I read a thing where they really don’t even know where to begin for music. Jeffrey Moreira, the singer for Poison the Well, now he works for labels how. He was working the last Deftones record and what his job was to make sure anytime leaked the record, he’d get it off. So certain labels are trying to do those things as needed. For certain bands, it doesn’t matter. But for a band who is really relying on someone to purchase their album, leaks hurt.

 

What are your thoughts about Spotify and the whole fact that you can stream? Now everybody is putting their record out there a week before streaming it online on like iTunes.

That’s fine but the whole Spotify thing I am completely confused about. There is a digital royalty.

 

Like a sixth of a penny?

If that.  The first time I saw, it I just grabbed every Van Halen record in a split second. Now I can burn it, which I think is great. But I’m just more or less confused on it, wondering who is getting paid for what. Are they getting all the money on that? I guess they are because they have the premiums and all that. I don’t know to be honest I really, I’m definitely not a guy trying to fly a flag about it. I’m just trying to get our fans to buy our records and support our tours and things of that nature. Anything that is outside of that thing you just can’t even worry about. There’s no cure for it that’s just the state of it. The shame of it is that you and I growing up, we couldn’t wait to buy a record. Couldn’t wait to look at the art. Couldn’t wait to read the lyrics. Kids that are in their twenties now never grew up with that. They never grew up with buying an album. They’ve burning and downloading them for free, illegally their whole life. So if you got something for free, why are you going to pay for it?

 

You can’t put that genie back in the bottle.

You can’t. So that’s what I mean by what Jamey was talking about. What he was saying really resonated with me. He was saying if you connect with your people enough and they realize that this is affecting you getting to see me again, this is you as much as it is me. But he’s totally right about that. If you connect with your fans like that, they will support you. They will.

 

Do you have any thoughts on the bands that are kind of your generation that are breaking up or disbanding like God Forbid, Shadows Fall, Chimaira, etc. Is there just a point where

Real life happens?

 

Yeah….

Well I think it is inevitable. I could very well be right there with those guys. It’s also maybe just the change in the guard. You have these bands like Of Mice and Men and Bring Me The Horizon who are in their early twenties and good looking and they got radio songs now. Not really, but they’re adapting to it. You know we’re not young anymore and we’ve had our run, I’m grateful I still have a little left in the tank. But guys like those, I know all those guys have families. So there comes a time where going on the road and coming home with no money isn’t acceptable anymore. I mean you can’t owe money. You can’t go busting your balls so I get it. That’s the state of the industry, too. Otherwise those guys would be crushing it.

 

But it also comes back to the fact that three or four years from now they can reunite and play festivals and make more money at a couple weeks worth of shows than they did a few years in a row as a reunion.

I mean, the consensus around here that it’s a good thing we’ve been gone for five years. It’s finally nice to get on our band Facebook and tell everyone what’s going on. For years everyone was wondering what happened and where we were.

 

How involved are you and the rest of the band in social media?

I run it for our band and I’ve never been that good at it, but I’m better than I used to be. I try to make posts not every day, but luckily I’ve got a lot of substance these days of new things happening. Like right now we’re doing the full rollout of the album on our Instagram. So every day, this is the third day of it so far, we’ve been giving 20 seconds of a song off the new album. That’s super fun to pump that stuff because before it’s just like we’re playing in Dallas tonight come see us. You don’t really have much to say but it’s important. I think Facebook kind of sucks in the sense that only a portion of my likes are getting to see it. Twitter and Instagram seem to be, at least for now, great outlets for your band. Unfortunately, Facebook could be the ultimate if it changed some things. Now you just have to pay to boost your stuff.

 

Which is understandable. They’ve been losing money for a while.

It’s important. Social media, even though I’m not that versed in it, I believe my Facebook is linked to my Twitter because I don’t see the need for Twitter. And I know that it’s important in some realm I just don’t want to tell that much of an update. You know what I mean that’s just odd to me. My personal Facebook, all I do is share my 36 stuff. I rarely post a status thing because what am I gonna tell them? I really don’t care.

 

So are you in Portland now?

No. The band is in Portland. I moved back to Alaska in ’04. I got married and just I’m not a big city guy. I like to visit them but I love Alaska. I don’t know what it is about the place but I’ve been flying that flag for a long time.

 

Sure. I mean basically you and Portugal. The Man. That’s basically it. Is there anything else is there really a scene?

There’s definitely a scene. Not the type of scene that Portugal. The Man is, though. They became that in Portland. So it’s only two guys from Alaska in the band.

 

How far is Alaska from Portland?

Ok so here’s an example. Seattle to New York is 2700 miles. Seattle to Anchorage is 3200 miles. So you see the look of it anyway. You can bust ass and get to Seattle in 48 hours if you just fill up gas and keep going. But it’s a 3 to 5 day trip if you’re just cruising. It’s all mountainous. It’s a trek.

 

But that’s kind of the place where a lot of people from Alaska go to “make it”?

Initially. When we started, everyone moved to Seattle and so did we. We moved to Seattle first and I wasn’t 21 yet so they were real strict about that. They didn’t have any all ages joints that I knew about. The really cool ’90s bars, Crocodile Café and all those joints. But we had a couple of friends in Portland in a band and they were like “Come one man. It’s a little mellower. They have a new band night on Monday nights.” We couldn’t find a house to all live in in Seattle. It’s just not like that. We moved to Portland and it was totally a great music place and a great music scene. Not really a metal scene, but a big music scene. There’s bands every night. I’m sure it’s like that here but from where I came from, bands only played Friday or Saturday night, if that. So it was so cool to get to a city where it was all art, all music. So everyone moved to Seattle at first but now Anchorage and all of Portland. They’re all hip. It’s disgustingly hip.

 

I’m sure it’s changed since you moved there, too.

Yea I was just there visiting the guys and we started our tour there and ended it there. Everyone who walks up the street looks like they’re in a band. Every kid. Everybody’s got a sweet mustache and cool shoes. But I love Portland. I know everyone gives that hipster thing to Portland but they got great beers, great clubs, great people I love it.

 

I can’t imagine there being more of a scene in Anchorage than there was. What is it like?

The thing is it is such a cool and supported scene by the bands. There are no cliques. There might be but I don’t really see it. The metal bands there are all friends they’re all cool dudes. They’re really of the mind that they aren’t trying to get signed because no one is looking at them. And no one has been ever looking at them. That in a sense is really refreshing as opposed to bands that are always trying to get signed somewhere else. You have these local bands. There’s nothing wrong with that they’re trying to go after their dream I get that. I always notice that the bands up there they don’t really have that drive, and that drive also breeds ego and clique. So I’ve always been a big fan of the Alaska music scene. It’s not big but it’s heavily supported.

 

Do they look at you in Alaska as the ones who made it?

Oh yeah I mean we for a long time, we were the only band that had a record deal from there. Then Portugal. The Man came and they have a big community that loves them as well. The Hard Rock Café opened for the first time in Anchorage and I went to party and Portugal The Man played it, which was awesome. Those guys are such sweet dudes, great band. I like that we are the more hard rock band from there while they are more of the alternative. It’s cool to have such, I’m really happy for them. I think that what they’re doing is great because a lot of bands in the beginning sounded like us. Those guys don’t sound like anybody. They have The Beatles or Zeppelin going on with those guys I’m not quite sure what. It’s cool stuff. And I really love that about their band. And that’s why they’ve had so much success, because they aren’t doing something normal.

 

I heard you have a beer podcast?

It’s not a podcast. It’s actually on four stations. I only say that because my partner is always like “it’s not a podcast!” You can hear it on Podbean, but ya it’s called The Beer Show With Chris and Brock and we interview brewers from all over the country when they come up for the beerfest. I was a guest on it four years ago. Then the lady who started it got fired, actually. So then I was asked if I wanted to co-host and I was like ‘Hell yeah! Beer show!’ So for the last three years I’ve been on it. I’ve learned a lot about craft beer, it’s been super fun we’ve gone to all types of beerfests, it’s just a great thing that I didn’t realize I was going to be so into educationally. Because there is an educational angle to this. There’s a science to this. I even got to go to the most popular brewery called Anchorage Brewing Company and it was the number one new brewery in the world by ratebeer.com a few years ago. He did a beer called “The Tide and Its Takers” after one of our albums and the cool thing about that is I was at Gothenberg at In Flames’ restaurant and they were selling it, which I thought was so cool. So we got to brew our own beer which we named “Frequency” which was an IPA. I love it. It’s kind of my other hobby I guess.

 

How’s the restaurant doing?

We just had our first anniversary. So we’re one year in. in that industry, it’s a big feat. I forget the percentage of restaurants that fail in the first year, but it’s alarming. But it’s cool. It’s a beast.

 

What kind of restaurant is it?

We do as much farm to table as possible. It’s a sports bar obviously but it’s a little upper scale. We do a lot of Alaskan seafood. It’s called Cross Bar with a lot of vintage hockey memorabilia. Old black and whites from the seventies. We have all the local guys, those 12 local NHLers’ jerseys, and a bunch of TVs. It’s a cool place.

 

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