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Shadows Fall’s Jason Bittner: “The Music Industry Needs To Change”

Posted by on July 29, 2010

It’s the last thing you’d want to be faced with during an already stressful period of time: You’re less than an hour away from show time, you still need to warm up and all of a sudden there’s a last minute interview you weren’t prepared for. But nevertheless, Shadows Fall drummer Jason Bittner took the time to chat with us during the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Fest’s stop in Camden, NJ this past weekend. As he warmed up for the show, he discussed the band’s new live DVD and how owning your own label isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, especially with how bad the industry is doing.

In the Fall, Shadows Fall asked fans to help get you guys on Mayhem Fest using Twitter or Facebook, and here you guys are now! How has the response been?

The response on the tour so far has just been amazing actually. The shows have been great. The crowds have been great. We’ve been meeting a lot of kids at the signings afterwards and it’s been a lot of fun. Obviously we thank the fans tremendously for helping get us on here. We actually had a little incident yesterday that we just found out about with someone who had something to do with the tour package in some way shape or form in St. Louis and with someone who helped get us somewhere with this. They were supposed to have tickets and passes, and something went down. Our tour manager didn’t know what was up, and they ended up driving five and a half hours for nothing. So now today we all feel like shit. We got to do something good for these people, so we’re going to make a $1,000 pack of merch and send it to them. In good faith, it wasn’t our fault. We know that without the fans, we’re nobody.

It’s been about a year since the band created your own record label, Everblack Industries. How has the experience been so far?

I can’t really give an honest answer to that question because we haven’t seen any difference in anything as far as, like we’re still broke (laughing). So I don’t know if starting our own label was the right idea for this business. It just seems like every business model that we come up with we fall short in some way shape or form. I think it would be a great thing if we were a little bit bigger of a band that sold enough units. The problem is that nobody buys records anymore, and when you’re trying to base a business model off what you think you’re going to sell, you have to remember that what you sold two years ago you’re going to probably sell a third of now. It makes it really tough when everybody has to continue making a living out of this. So we’ll see.

So would you say that this has been a lot harder then?

Yes. I think it’s been harder. We come out and do these tours and we have no crew, we have no help. It’s all on our own dime because we don’t have tour support. We don’t have that label support. We don’t have the financial backing of a label to help put us on the road. So if we’re not making enough money being out here, I don’t need to say any more.

Do you think there is still a future for Everblack Industries then or are you not sure?

I think there’s a future. I mean we have another record we’re contracted to do with [Warner Music Group’s] ILG. So we know there’s a future for one more record, and then we’re see what happens after that. The music industry needs to change. That’s basically the bottom line. I mean bands can’t even make a living anymore and it’s becoming pretty ridiculous. The labels that still exist, it’s either bigger labels that aren’t going to cater to metal or it’s pop princess stuff. Everybody wants something for nothing and they want it two weeks before it comes out.

Well I hope things pick up for you then!

So do we (laughing)! It’s not just us. It’s with every band. Technology and all that shit killing every band. Ask anybody out here. If they tell you “no” then they’re lying to you.

Speaking about releases, the band has a new live DVD coming out called Madness in Manila: Shadows Fall Live in The Philippines 2009 on August 24. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Yeah, we shot it in the Philippines, in Manila, on our second time there. It was at a festival in front of 15,000 people. So to say it was pretty intense is an understatement. Aside from doing Download [festival in Donington] and the show we just played in Columbia, it was our biggest audience we’ve ever played for. It was 15,000 people for our own show.

And now you get to share it with everybody else!

Yeah. We thought at the time we put a really good set list for that. We played almost an hour and a half, and it was a really good show. It’s nice to know that we captured that and we can release and finally have a “proper” live DVD, as opposed to the other DVD that we did [The Art Of Touring] which pretty much we self financed and did ourselves. Everybody complained “The quality of the live stuff isn’t that great!” Well yeah, because we shot it with our own hand held cameras and we said it right on the cover! I mean, what more do you want (laughing)! So at least now we’re going to have a pro-shot one where the audio is great and everything else. We’re really excited about it.

Were you guys thinking about making it a live album CD as well or just a DVD?

I actually think it’s going to be a DVD/CD package. I’m pretty sure. I just found that out myself the other day (laughing). I was looking at the email and I see “DVD/CD Package” listed and I was like ‘What the hell is this?!’ (laughing) I’m half out of the loop sometimes.

Jon [Donais, guitarist] and Matt [Bachand, guitarist] just announced that they are doing a new side project with Unearth/Seemless drummer Derek Kerswill and Seemless bassist Jeff Fultz. Is this going to possibly sideline Shadow Fall activities, or will the two bands be able to coincide with each other?

I have no idea. I don’t really care personally. I mean we’re never a band that says ‘you can’t do this’ or ‘you can’t do that.’ I mean I have my side band, Burning Human. Brian [Fair, singer] has two projects, Overcast and Transient. Shadows Fall is always the main focus. If it comes to a point where let’s say they have a gig or something and Shadows Fall has something that’s more important, then obviously that needs to take precedence. I don’t book a Burning Human show if there’s a Shadows Fall activity going on. So I think everybody knows there place with their side bands. I mean I’ve heard the material and it sounds cool. It’s a rockier musical version of Shadows Fall. They’re trying to concentrate more towards the rock end and not the heaviness end, per se.

Could it be something that Everblack Industries might release?

I wouldn’t see why not. It makes sense. I mean if we have the money to release it (laughing). Quite honestly, on paper that sounds great, but what the reality of it is I don’t know.

You mentioned about your own project Burning Human. It appears that a Facebook page just got created.

Yeah we heard that too (laughing).

Wow, you really are finding out everything along with the rest of us!

We were at practice the other night, and the funny part about it is none of us made it! We’re like “Uh, hey there’s a Burning Human page up,” and then we’re like “Yeah? Who did it?” We just assumed our bass player [Jay VanDervoort] did because he usually does all that stuff. He’s like “No we don’t know who did it.” So now we’re like “Alright cool!” (laughing)

So nothing is coming up with Burning Human then?

No, we already have a record out. We released our first album [Resurrection Through Fire] last year.

And no touring either?

No, we’re doing some spot shows. We’re actually writing right now for the next one. We have a few shows in the Fall when I get home, but nothing major, just maybe two or three in the New York/Connecticut area. But we are trying to write and do a new record.

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