Where were you born and where did you grow up?
TT: Born and raised in Utica, NY and stayed there until my 20’s when I eventually moved to Massachusetts where I am still to this day.
What sort of kid were you growing up?
TT: I suppose normal for the most part, into Micronauts, monsters and wrestling (no real video games back then except for Atari haha).
Now how did you come to discover underground metal music? Was it a certain band you heard?
TT: I guess my real underground experience was in 1984 when a friend got me Slayer’s Live undead pic LP for my birthday. I was completely blown away by how aggressive it was. I had been into lighter metal at the time like Dio and Iron Maiden, but when I first heard Slayer it was all over!
Now, what were some early jobs you had involving music?
TT: None really to speak of. I used to order a lot of CDs and vinyl online in the early 90s and then one day I just decided I wanted to get involved in distributing myself, so I got the necessary info from a lot of the smaller distros I was ordering from and started buying stuff wholesale as opposed to retail, and in 1995, the mail order was born.
Now have you been working at Dark Symphonies since the start or did you come on later down the line so to speak?
TT: I actually started Dark Symphonies myself in February of 1995. It started as a mail-order but eventually grew into a label and has been going steady ever since.
Now, what gave you the idea to start up a label? Did you have an idea when you were gonna start up one, exactly how to do it? If you weren’t there from the start, how did you end up getting a job there and how long have you been there for?
TT: Well as I was running the mail order, I was also getting my music project Autumn Tears started up, which at the time was mainly Darkwave / Gothic style with female vocals. Instead of releasing it in that genre, I decided to gamble and release it myself as my first label release on Dark Symphonies and promote and sell it to the metal audience. Thankfully it went over very well and has done so ever since. From there I decided to start working with other bands whose music I loved and started to add to our roster. By 2007 we had 23 releases from various artists.
How did you come up with the name and did you throw any other names around before you came up with the name for the label? Now exactly is The Crypt Vinyl?
TT: The name Dark Symphonies just came to me as I was really into the more atmospheric and symphonic metal bands at the time and I thought it was a fitting title. As for The Crypt Vinyl, in 2009 after a 2-year hiatus, I reinvented/reopened the label specializing in vinyl reissues of long out of print classic 80s and 90s metal titles. In 2014 I decided to do the same with CD reissues and re-established the Dark Symphonies label for that.
Now are you the only one working at the label or do you have someone else helping you?
TT: As far as the day to day work I pretty much do everything from layouts to shipping. My friend Phil helps with getting in touch with bands we are interested in working with and doing lengthy in-depth interviews with them which we, in turn, include in the releases.
Now how long did it take you from the time you thought about starting up the label until you put out your 1st actual release?
TT: It actually only took a year. We had been running the mail order for a while and at the same time writing music for Autumn Tears so we were pretty much ready to go by early 1996.
Now back in 1996, when you put your 1st release, how did you find the band and were they cool with being the first band on a new label? How did it feel having your 1st release in your hands?
TT: Haha well considering it was my project, I thought they were pretty cool and I was of course ecstatic having the CD in my hands for the first time. It’s always a great feeling when you have a new release but nothing was as great as the first one.
How many copies of your 1st release did you do? Is it sold out or still for sale? If it is sold out, would you consider re-issuing it?
TT: All in all, over the years with the represses, the vinyl version and the reissue we moved about 10k copies. At this point, we only sell it digitally as I am more focused on releasing new albums now, but all the older Autumn Tears titles are available on Bandcamp.
Over the years, you have released over 100 releases. Have there been some releases that have just bombed saleswise? Now, on the other hand, has there been some releases that sold way more copies than you thought?
TT: We actually are up to 135 in CDs and 113 in vinyl. I wouldn’t say anything actually bombed and many titles sell faster than others, but all in all, it’s about releasing titles that I love so I never get disappointed if they linger for a while. The way I see it, that way they are still available for fans who are looking for a copy.
Now over the years, how many employees would you say have come and gone over the years and how many people are working at the label currently?
TT: Just myself, and I’m still here!
Now I know you mostly do CD releases with a sprinkle of vinyl and one cassette, which was the incredible debut of Wargasm’s “Why Play Around”. How did the cassette version do?
TT: Not so great. I wanted to try out the cassette angle but unfortunately, they didn’t sell as well as I had hoped. It was still fun to do it once. The vinyl and both CD versions of course are sold out.
Where do you get your stuff done?
TT: All vinyl is pressed at GZ in the Czech Republic and CDs at Imprint in Florida.
Now since the label started, and I was in the middle of doing my print zine, we have gone from having some big print metal mags (Metal Maniacs) to Headbanger’s Ball to My Space to Facebook/Bandcamp/YouTube/Spotify, etc and now most people just download stuff and don’t even want to pay for music. How have you as a label dealt with this over the years?
TT: Well downloads are the way of the future now, but since we deal mainly in classic, out of print reissues, people tend to buy them for their collectibility so fortunately, it hasn’t impacted us that much.
Has there ever been at any point in the label’s history, that it almost went bankrupt and out of business?
TT: Thankfully no, although we did stop the label from 2007 – 2009 as I was tired of running the mailorder and label and wanted to just basically take some time off.
How hard or easy is it for you as a label to try and attract someone to your product you have out?
TT: I am happy to say that it is relatively easy because we offer high-quality official, band endorsed reissues of releases that people would otherwise have to pay hundreds for the originals.
Do you have many people overseas buying your stuff or is it pretty much mostly in the US? Do you have any license deals with any other labels in any places in the world?
TT: We deal with people and labels worldwide. If there are fans out there who need our releases, we make sure they can get them, either directly from us or from our overseas distributors!
Do you have actual contracts with the bands that are still active or are bands free to do as they wish after you release their product?
TT: We always contact the original band members as we want them involved in the process. Plus that way we are able to get original source files and have them bands write new liner notes to share with the fans so we can offer the best product possible.
Do many bands contact you about releasing stuff? How do you decide which bands to work with?
TT: It’s usually us who do the contacting as we look for releases that have always been our favourites, but yes there have been a few who have approached us for reissues.
Now I see you are re-issuing a lot of stuff on vinyl and in the past on CD. Since most of the labels that originally released this stuff, like say JL America, Profile Records, etc, is it fairly easy to re-issue this stuff with not many problems or am I wrong?
TT: You really have to take it on a release per release basis. It all depends on who owns the rights and if you can find band contacts and if they are even interested. Plus since I started the reissues 12 years ago, so many other labels have jumped on the reissue bandwagon so there is always that to contend with as well.
Do you ever go out looking for bands yourself to sign? Are you very selective on who you work with?
TT: Definitely, and I am very selective about it. Generally, I always try to find releases to reissue that I grew up with and are among my favourites.
What styles of music do you sign?
TT: Mainly classic thrash and early death metal from the 80s – 90s almost exclusively.
Do you work a regular job and how much time in any given week is spent doing label related work?
TT: Yes I still work a full-time job and do the label in the mornings and on weekends! I don’t sleep much.
Are all your releases currently for sale or are some sold out?
TT: Many are sold out in fact and some we have repressed a few times. it all depends on the release.
How do you get the word out about a new release?
TT: Pretty much email and social media do the trick.
What are some new releases you plan on putting out in 2021 and into 2022?
TT: We actually just put out Dolmen and Psychrist CDs, and Anatomy and Sarcastic Terror on vinyl.
How is the underground scene up in MASS these days? Have bands not being able to play with COVID shit hurt the label much?
TT: Honestly I couldn’t say. I haven’t been to a show in about 15 years and have been more of a hermit so to speak.
Horns up for doing this interview and best of luck with the label. Any last words to wrap this up?
TT: Thank you so much for the interview, I really appreciate it and am glad underground music is still going strong!
Lori Bravo from Nuclear Death