Nameless Grave Records Chat With Brandon Corsair

Brandon Corsair is in several bands (Drawn and Quartered, Draghkar, and Serpent Rider). He also runs a record label called Nameless Grave Records, which was more than enough for me to interview with this busy man

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

BK: Hey mate! I was born in Southern California and grew up there, and moved to Seattle a couple of years ago. Most of my formative experiences with metal gigs and starting to play music were in the Los Angeles area.

What sort of kid were you growing up?

BK: I was a dork, that’s for sure! I read constantly. I always played sports as well, and I have been obsessed with music for as long as I can remember.

What sort of music did you listen to at an early age, and when did you discover metal in general?

BK: My dad is an old-school metalhead going back to the 1970s, so that’s what I grew up with! There’s not a time I “discovered” metal since it’s always been my thing, but I found my taste starting around high school. I remember that finding Possessed and Dismember made big impacts, as did Dissection, Vader, Celtic Frost, and Solitude Aeturnus. In my freshman year of college, I got into Slough Feg, who led me into classic heavy metal (which I grew up with, as I said, but wasn’t something I’d dug into until then), and here we are now!

When did you discover underground metal, and did you have to live through that whole Seattle grunge scene that came before you?

BK: Since I grew up in California, that’s not as much of a thing for me!

So now what led to you picking up the guitar, and who are some of your favourite guitar players?

BK: I had a pal in the dorms in college my freshman year who played that I was always asking to learn riffs to play for me, and by around Christmas he was completely done with it. He told me to just get a guitar and he’d show me how to play so I could play the riffs myself, something I’d never considered doing, and the rest is history! Favourite guitar players, hmm—as far as songwriters go, I’m partial to Tom Warrior, Mark Shelton, Mike Scalzi, and Trey Azagthoth just off the top of my head, and for shredders, I’m a sucker for Yngwie and Satriani. I like Dave Chastain’s stuff quite a bit—both with his bands and a bit with his solo band—and I think very highly of Vivian Campbell.

I know you are in several bands, but let’s talk about Draghkar, who has had more than a few releases. Tell me about them. I know they play death metal, what kind and who writes the music, etc.

BK: Draghkar is sort of my alternate death metal history band, where heavy metal never got dropped as a core influence, and where Mediterranean and Finnish bands have as much sway as Morbid Angel. That band is my baby and is just the culmination of all of my influences in all of their forms; I shove Nasty Savage, Mortuary Drape, Mercyful Fate, Demigod, Gorement, Judas Priest, and everyone else that I worship together into one band and try my best to make it cohesively work. Right now we’re sort of on hold as we wrap up other stuff, but I’m hoping to get back to gigging with Draghkar by the end of next year and to have a new album out next year or in 2025.

Now you’re also in a band called Serpent Rider, which plays doom metal. So is it easy to go from playing death metal to doom metal? Tell me about this band.

BK: Not easy at all, honestly! I started playing guitar with Celtic Frost, Dismember, and Slayer, not with heavy metal, and it took me years to figure it out. The band is sort of like Draghkar but coming from the other direction, where instead of blending all my influences with Death Metal being the primary one, Serpent Rider is taking all my influences and making heavy metal the king. Since Serpent Rider and Draghkar have damn well near the same lineup—only different singers and lead guitarists—when I’m working hard on one, the other tends to get left behind, which is the reason Draghkar is at a standstill: we’re rehearsing for a new Serpent Rider album right now instead! I’d loosely describe Serpent Rider as mystical epic heavy metal, but I don’t think we’re an easy band to easily summarise.

Feel free to plug your other bands and do you have a favorite out of all of them?

BK: I’d call most of the things I do outside of Draghkar, Serpent Rider, and Drawn and Quartered more “project” than “band,” if that makes sense since those are the only three that gig—I associate projects with studio projects and bands with playing shows! That band said the active ones we haven’t talked about yet are Azath, Drawn and Quartered, and Reaver. I also sometimes do live vocals for Houkago Grind Time.

Drawn and Quartered are legends from Seattle that have been around since the early 1990s; I’ve been a big fan for years, and they’re the ones I’ve listened to the most, at least! Highly recommended for fans of Immolation or Incantation. Azath is hyperspeed death metal for nerds, and Reaver is my friend Andrew Lee’s homage to the classic Swedish death metal scene. Andrew asked me one day to write him some riffs so he could see how close he could get to the Sunlight Studios sound in his home studio, and that turned into him writing most of a demo by himself and having me do some guitar and the vocals for it. Andrew also plays with me in Draghkar and Azath, was in Serpent Rider until I moved to Seattle, and we’ve been in several other bands in the past; he’s the guy behind Houkago Grind Time, his solo goregrind band, and this year I joined up to sometimes do like vocals and make HGT a two-piece.

How did you end up hooking up with Kelly Kuciemba and joining Drawn and Quartered, which you have been a member of since 2022?

BK: Draghkar did a small tour of the United States West Coast in 2018, and our final date was in Seattle. As a big fan of Drawn and Quartered, I asked them if they could play the show, and they ended up doing it with their side project Plague Bearer (whose debut album I released this year on my record label, Nameless Grave Records!). Kelly and I got along, and sometime later, when I posted on Facebook that I was looking for a new lead guitarist for Draghkar, he volunteered. He also joined Serpent Rider for a while, and though he’s since left both bands, we got to know each other and got used to making music together. When I moved to Seattle, he had me jump into Drawn and Quartered on second guitar, and I started rehearsing at home, I guess, in 2021. Last year, when it was time to get ready for Maryland Deathfest, I started rehearsing together with the whole band, and here we are!

Before we get to the label, how did the coming of Draghkar come together? How long were you together before you put your 2017 demo out? How was the response to it?

BK: I started Draghkar in the summer of 2016 with a drummer I met online, and by the winter of that same year, I had the demo written. He quit the band before we could record, and my good friend and Draghkar’s current lead guitarist, Andrew Lee, recommended a drummer to replace him, who was in a band called Disincarnation with Andrew. We put together the demo quickly with that drummer, AK, and a different friend did session bass on it, while my friend and Azath bandmate Derek Orthner mixed it. The response was pretty stunning to me: it’s had two tape pressings by itself, a tape pressing as part of a compilation, a CD pressing as part of a compilation, and it made it to 12″ vinyl as a split with a different band’s demo. At the time, I was worried I wouldn’t even be able to find a tape label, and instead, it got me signed to Blood Harvest, a label I’d loved for years and got me in touch with many of my favourite musicians. It was amazing!

Do you pretty much do all the writing in the band? How about the lyrics? Did you know early on that you were going to be the singer?

BK: Yeah, Draghkar is my baby. I do pretty much all the heavy lifting with it in terms of arrangement, artistic vision, visual presentation, and the like, though I leave each bandmate their instrument—after all, why have a lead guitarist or bassist if I’m just going to write their parts? Other bandmates have written a section or two here and there—”Seeking  Oblivion” from Crossroads was a heavily reworked song that the lead guitarist from that album, Kelly, originally wrote—but for the most part, all of the music and lyrics have been my responsibility since day one.
As far as singing goes, the original plan was always to be on vocals. I stopped after the Beyond Despair demo in 2019 when I decided to pursue clean singing instead, and that’s when Dan joined as our lead vocalist. I still do some singing in Draghkar, but it’s all heavy metal now, and I don’t growl anymore at all.

So now 2 split releases followed until you did an EP called “The Endless Howling Abyss” on Cráneo Negro Records. How did you hook up with them, and what are your thoughts on this EP these days?

BK: Yeah, Cráneo Negro did the CD, and Messe Noire did the vinyl. I was recommended Cráneo Negro by my friend JT from Symptom/Eosphoros, as he’d worked with them in the past, and I was really happy with the experience. I found Messe Noire via some of the releases they’d done and was also very happy with them.

These days, I don’t like the EP much, honestly. It’s not bad, but I was still really figuring out how to write in the way I wanted to, and some of the arrangements are just not what I want from them looking back. It was important for me to write it to learn how to do what I do now, but I don’t plan to ever play those songs live again, that’s for sure!

Were you able to plan out live performances much? What was the Seattle underground scene like around that time?

BK: No, that lineup was pretty unstable. We did a single tour, and then the band fell apart. I had just gotten together a solid new lineup and recorded Crossroads when the pandemic hit, so Draghkar didn’t play live in between that one tour in 2018 and our first show back earlier this year.
I couldn’t tell you what Seattle was like—that was before I moved here! I was still living in Los Angeles at the time. I moved in large part because of how much I loved Seattle when we toured through. The American Pacific Northwest is gorgeous, and I love living here.

Up next was a compilation release put out by Mike over at Horror Pain Gore Death Productions called “Eternal Anyuss.”. What exactly is on this and any unreleased stuff?

BK: That was a compilation of everything we’d released up until that point—our first demo, our split with Desekryptor, and The Endless Howling Abyss. A lot of it had never made it to CD before. It also had a full live set from our 2018 tour, from the Seattle date, coincidentally. That live set is the only material completely exclusive to the release, though much of it is still only available on CD via that compilation.

A full-length came out in 2020 called “At the Crossroads of Infinity” on Unspeakable Axe Records. How did this release work for you?

BK: It did pretty well. We got a lot of attention from people I never would have expected to hear music that I wrote, and Nuclear Winter Records, one of my favourite labels in the underground, picked us up to do the LP version. Though we couldn’t tour on it at the time before the pandemic, it got us some festival offers, and we ended up playing Northwest Terror Fest this year, which could not have happened without the album. I wouldn’t change anything looking back and I’m still very proud of it.

How much if any did you think the band’s style of death metal had changed?

BK: Quite a bit. Our first demo was extremely rough Finnish death metal worship, equal parts Autopsy and Abhorrence. There was no finesse to it, and it sounds like a demo from the early 1990s, but not in a good way. The EP was sort of transitionary moving towards the album, which itself is a much more nuanced mixture of all of my influences: not only is the musicianship itself on it much better, but the writing is infinitely better developed, and the style itself is a lot more unique to me, whatever that means. I went from something fine for what it is to something that people listen to and go, yeah, sounds like Brandon, and that’s exactly what I wanted. The massive influxes of heavy metal, old Greek and Italian black metal, thrash, Morbid Angel, and melodic death to our original base of Autopsy and Abhorrence turned into something a lot more unique.

For someone who has not heard the band, what would you say you sound like?

BK: I don’t know if there’s an easy way to describe Draghkar. I have sometimes told people that it’s like Mercyful Fate playing death metal in Mortuary Drape’s basement. I’ve made comparisons to Deceased, playing Varathron. It’s just not a band that falls into an easy grouping, I think. Cartilage (Fin) and Amorphis jamming out to Eucharist with the Rotting Christ guys? Is Razor getting really into obscure black and death metal? I don’t have a good answer here.

I wanna touch on Serpent Rider for a bit, then we will move on to the label. I saw that you originally formed Serpent Rider in 2015 under the name “Skyway Corsair” to worship ‘70s metal. the band broke up due to internal conflicts with the first lineup. you reformed in 2017 under the name Serpent Rider. Were any of the old members with the new lineup?

BK: No, it was just me that carried it forward!

How easy was it for you to go from writing death metal to Epic Heavy/Doom Metal? Can you just snap your finger and get in the mood? Tell me how you made the switch.

BK: It was a huge adjustment, honestly. It took me years to get in the swing of things. I can go back and forth now pretty easily because I’ve been doing it for the last seven or eight years, but there’s a reason it took a couple of years to get the demo out and more time after that for the split: I wanted to do it right, and when I started, I just couldn’t. Years of practice fixed that, though!

The 2-song demo. Was that just a couple of tunes you recorded to hear how you sounded?

BK: No, we were pretty proud of them at the time! I still am some days, though some days all I can hear are the things I’d have done differently.

Now you did a split in 2021 with the band Ezra Ooks, which was called “Visions of Esoteric Splendour,” put out by No Remorse Records. How did this whole release come about, and what are your thoughts on it these days?

BK: Our friend Shawn was the one who initially suggested the idea. He’d liked the demo and wanted, in friendship and metal, to have us come together for a split for Serpent Rider’s next release, and since I already loved Ezra Brooks, it was a very easy decision to move forward with it. He was waiting on me for quite a while, I’m afraid. I was having a lot of trouble figuring out how to do heavy metal the way I wanted, as I said, and it took a bit for me to get all the split tracks together. I moved to vocals and had my wife help me write the vocal lines, and I loved the demos she was making to help me with my parts so much that I just asked her to take over. Andrew played the instruments that I couldn’t, and then he also mixed them. Once both sides were done, we shopped around a bit, and both bands were thrilled to get the offer from No Remorse—and the rest is history!

Have you managed to play live yet? If so, how did that go?

BK: Yeah! Serpent Rider started gigging this year (2023, in case this interview goes up later!) and it’s been a blast. We played a string of local shows, an out-of-town one a couple hours north, and a festival in Chicago called Legions of Metal. The current lineup has a mixture of people who are both very experienced with playing live and people who have none, so though there was a bit of a learning curve, there was plenty of experience internally to make it all go smoothly. Looking forward to playing more with this band. Heavy metal is a very different beast live than death metal, and it’s some of the most fun gigging I’ve ever had!

Your latest release is a 4-way split, in which you have tunes on it called “Iron and Hell Vol. 2” put out by Gates of Hell Records. Did they approach you, or did you approach them? What are your thoughts on this release these days?

BK: That one is just our first demo alongside some other bands’ demos and EPs. Gates of Hell was the one that approached us to do it, and I was excited about it because Cruz del Sur (of which Gates of Hell is a sublabel) has always been a label I’ve admired and wanted to work with. The whole experience was very easy and smooth, and the CDs came out great. I was only familiar with one of the other bands on the split, Solicitor, and it was a cool way to check out the others! As I said earlier, I have pretty mixed feelings about the demo itself sometimes, but that doesn’t make the split any less cool!

So now, what is the band up to these days?

BK: We’re hard at work on our debut full-length album, which should come out next year on No Remorse Records!

For someone who has never heard the band, what would you say the band sounds like?

BK: Sort of hard to say! As with Draghkar, a lot is going into our sound. We’ve been compared a lot to Lordian Guard and I don’t really get that, honestly, and we’re not really in the vein of old-school TRUE METAL because I am not shy about letting some of my more extreme metal influences bleed through—especially Mediterranean black metal stuff like Varathron, who we covered on the split for a reason- but that’s the shorthand I’ve used on some show flyers. American epic power doom? Triumphing true metal? Any of the above!

So how did this idea for a record label start? How long did it take from when you started to think about doing one until your first release came out?

BK: Around 2017 and early 2018, I was in a bunch of bands with the then-drummer from Draghkar, including a few anonymous ones that never ended up releasing anything. We were talking about launching our collective in the style of the Black Twilight Circle, or NVNM. We ended up tanking the idea, but I resurrected the original thought of starting a label in the summer of 2018 to do a cassette version of Draghkar’s newest EP just to make sure I’d have something to sell on an upcoming tour. Things moved pretty quickly from there. Originally, I was just going to use the label for cassette editions of my bands, but several other tape opportunities came up, and before I knew it, I was doing my first CD release for New Jersey’s Altar of Gore in 2020, a band that is still signed to the label years later and will have a new album out with us next year. Vinyl followed quickly thereafter and the rest has come from there!

Now do you have any idea on how to start one up because, in this day and age, people are not buying music as they did back in the 80’s and 90’s? Whose advice did you ask for?

BK: I had a lot of friends running small labels or distros that I fielded advice from. I mentioned being very inspired by what the NVNM in New Jersey was doing; I quickly became good friends around 2017 and 2018 with Tom, who co-runs the NVNM, and his advice in particular was critical to getting started. Eric, the guy who runs Unspeakable Axe Records (who did the CD release for Draghkar’s first album in 2020), was another key source of insight, and to this day I follow many of the adages that Eric passed on when the label was getting started. The entire endeavour was a labour of love that could not have existed without the support of numerous friends, and I am eternally grateful for their help. There would be no Nameless Grave Records without them.

How did you come up with the cool name “Nameless Grave Records”? Were any other names thrown around?

BK: It’s from a Bathory song, “Call From the Grave,” from Under the Sign of the Black Mark. There’s a bit in it about suffering in a “cold and nameless grave” that has always resonated with me. When I was starting the label, several names were thrown out, all from Bathory songs, and Nameless Grave Records was just the one that resonated the most and had never been used before to the best of my Googling capabilities.

Now when you decided to start your label, had you decided what sort of bands you were going to sign, whether it be death, thrash, speed, or heavy metal?

BK: Since the idea was originally just to work with my bands, I had nothing special in mind! It took a while, but we sort of ended up gravitating mostly towards death metal and heavy metal, though we’ve done grindcore, black metal, thrash, crossover, and other genres in the past when we’ve liked something. At the end of the day, our favourite genre is quality.

So now tell me how long the label has been around, all about your first release, and how it came to be. What formats are you releasing stuff on?

BK: It’s been almost six years now. Our official first release was in July of 2018, and it was that cassette I mentioned of Draghkar’s The Endless Howling Abyss. The finalisation of the idea itself dates back closer to the beginning of 2018. Initially, we just did tapes, but within a couple of years, we had branched out to vinyl and CDs.

Is all your stuff printed in limited quality, but by that, I mean 500 copies or say 1000 copies?

BK: Just depends. Anything with demand we’ll repress forever—it’d be a shame to let Dungeon Serpent Helms Deep, or whatever, end up as a Discogs collector item! Obscurities or things we know won’t sell tend to be limited to 300 or 500 copies with no intended repress, though we’re happy to keep things in print if the fans want them to be available. We are not a label geared at collectors: we want music to be available and accessible to everyone, not only to whoever had the money and noticed the release the first time around. It’s why we do so many reissues.

So now, where do you get your stuff printed? Now that I know Drawn and Quartered just did a small tour and I also met you, which was great, do people still buy cassettes much here in the US? Is printing vinyl very expensive? How many copies of stuff do you print up?

BK: I do most of my vinyl at Precision Record Pressing in Canada. It’s a little pricy but the quality control is a lot better than a lot of the stuff people are getting from certain GZ middlemen, which is what matters to me. Pressing size just depends on estimated demand- I usually do 300 to 500 copies and just repress as needed.

People buy cassettes, but typically in much smaller quantities than CDs or vinyl. We usually do 100 or 200 copies of most tape releases, though again, we repress as needed; obviously, some releases are just more successful than others (or, better known, reissues) and merit bigger pressings. For example, we did 300 copies of the new Zemial on tape, Dungeon Serpent’s album got three or four tape pressings of 150–200 copies, and we’re in the process of repressing that Pagan Altar compilation.

Now do bands send you stuff in the hopes of getting signed at all, or is it more that you hear a band and reach out to them?

BK: Both. We reach out to quite a few bands, and quite a few bands reach out to us. Sometimes we’ll make an offer and then years later the band will come back ready to work with us after their current contract expired. We check out most of the promos we get unless they’re unsuitable, but we sign relatively few bands in general; we’re already pretty damn close to capacity, frankly.

Now you just released something that has John Gallagher from Raven within it’s ranks called Helm’s Deep. Please tell me more about that.

BK: That’s one where I reached out, to circle back to that last question! I heard it on Bandcamp after someone in a chatroom linked it the very day (or maybe the day after), and it went up independently. I immediately fell in love and shot the band an email asking about it, and here we are! That one is the guitarist/singer’s baby, Alex. He wrote a killer album, and I guess when he was chit-chatting about it with Mike Heller (Raven and Helms Deep’s drummer) at a Raven show, Mike asked to hear it, loved it, and then volunteered to try and rope in John—the rest is history! I’m really glad it worked out because the album is just insanely good, with art to match. I’ve been listening to it on a loop for weeks.

Are you the only one that works at the label, and in any given week, would you say you do work for it? Do you do much trading, and if so, have you ever been ripped off? Do you ever licence stuff to the US that was released overseas?

BK: The label is a partnership between Andrew Lee (Ripped to Shreds, Azath, Draghkar), and our friend Paul does most of our shipping. We also have Shawn Vincent from Smoulder and Ezra Brooks do most of our laying out, and we pay a couple of engineers to do most of our audio work. I handle a lot of the planning, coordination, and heavy lifting on those fronts in general, but Paul also handles a lot of our social media, emails, and, as I said, shipping and Andrew sometimes will step in and handle most or all of a release (that Intestine Baalism LP reissue from 2022 was his baby, for example).

The amount of work that goes in from my end is variable. Some weeks I’m dumping in an extra twenty or forty hours. Some weeks I do less, though there’s always something that needs doing. I’d even consider something like this interview to be “work” going on with the label because publicity is important. Similarly, Paul’s workload depends a lot on how many orders have come in around a new release or a big sale. He might be working around the clock to get out orders, and some weeks he might ship one or two things, and that’s it.

We do trade a lot, and that’s where we get in a lot of our distro stock alongside occasional wholesale orders from European distributors like High Roller Records. I’ve very rarely had issues with it since we only trade with labels that have stock I think I can sell. I think most issues with rip-offs come from less reputable labels than I end up working with. As far as licencing goes, yeah, all the time. We usually don’t licence new release variants since most stuff worthwhile enough to do that is being handled directly in the USA by their parent label (IE, a Brazilian or Japanese label might be able to license a variant of a new Metal Blade release, but Metal Blade is going to handle it themselves for the USA) but we do a lot of licenced reissues. Even when the band does own the rights, sometimes they want a direct licence payment instead of traditional forms of royalty payments. It just depends!

Are shipping prices a pain in the ass for you, as I have heard from other smaller labels?

BK: They’re a bigger barrier than anything else because we generally either don’t pay them outright or only do things that make sense. We lose a lot of business from international customers because of high shipping prices, and a lot of non-domestic labels don’t trade with the US as much as they used to because of them. It’s not a direct problem financially, but it’s very much a logistical issue sometimes.

Do you have actual contracts with the bands, or is it a handshake deal? Do you own the rights to the actual release so it can’t be reissued without your permission? What do you think of bootlegs?

BK: Our preference is handshake deals, but if a band requests an actual contract, we write one up for them. We never, ever take any rights to any releases; the closest we come to that is (usually at the band’s request) licencing contracts where we retain control of physical releases for five or seven years after release, and even then, that’s relatively unusual. As musicians ourselves who have been burned sometimes by aggressive contracts, we try to be as artist-friendly as possible. I’d rather risk getting burned than try to be overly possessive. Now and again, that means that some artists decide to fuck us, but it’s very rare since most of the time artists are grateful that we do good work, treat them well, and want everyone to come out ahead.

I have nothing against buying bootlegs of archival live shows that will never get a proper release—god knows I have too many Maiden live boots to complain about—and I have no issue with boots of obscure stuff that’s never going to be reissued for one reason or another. I think only scum would ever bootleg a studio album where the rights are attainable, and I have no interest in ever doing any bootlegs at all. There are way too many active bands that need support and great releases in wait of a reissue to spend my time and money stealing from someone, even if it’s something that I’d buy if someone else bootlegged it.

So far, what has been your most disappointing release saleswise that you thought would do better and your most surprising sales release that sold way more than you thought?

BK: I’m not going to answer the first one! I don’t want a band to read it and have their feelings hurt. I don’t do the label for money so I’ve had a lot of releases I picked up just for the love of the music and then had poor sales. Some of them were more surprising than others, but you know what? It happens and it’s not something I want to hang over a great band’s head! For the most surprising sales, I’d have to say Dungeon Serpent’s World of Sorrows. We thought it’d tank (who knew that fan interest in old-school melodic death stuff was about to resurface?) and we only did the CD in the first place because the music was so killer, we felt morally compelled to make sure it was available on SOME physical format for fans. We remixed and remastered it from the original version that Arawn had done, and we started with just 300 CDs and no vinyl. The demand was rabid- we quickly had to repress the CD, do a run on vinyl, and then do a second press on vinyl when the first one flew off the shelves. To date, it’s probably been the most successful new release we’ve ever had, though Helms Deep is looking like it may overtake it, which is less surprising but still cool to see!

That first Altar of Gore album is another that comes to mind. I initially only pressed 200 CD copies because I didn’t think there’d be much interest, and then I pressed 150 copies on vinyl because I wanted it for myself. I then had to repress both the CD and the LP because fans were so fervently hungry for the Altar of Gore. It was a great surprise for both us and for the band, who was a little sceptical of me doing either format in the first place. Interest remains high in the band and we’re going to be a lot less surprised the next round when their second album comes out and inevitably sells well: it’s killer, the band rules, and now we have a better idea of their base!

I want to get your thoughts on the following: are all the styles below something you would sign or not?

Heavy metal:
BK: Heavy metal is my first and oldest love of music. I grew up on old Judas Priest and Iron Maiden albums, and I think the modern heavy metal scene is very strong. I’ve signed heavy metal bands in the past (just check out the new Helms Deep album we released—it’s amazing) and done quite a few reissues of classic heavy metal albums and demos. I consider it a speciality focus of the label, though I’m very picky.

Thrash metal:
BK: I love thrash, but I think most modern thrash kind of stinks (yes, it does/Chris), and the best bands doing it are largely all already signed. I’ve made exceptions before—we signed and released the debut album of Seattle crossover maniacs Colony Drop earlier this year, and it’s fantastic—but it’s just not something we do often, and because of that, we don’t have a fanbase to sell thrash to anyway. Realistically, I’d be more likely to do reissues than more new bands, but neither is something I’m actively looking for.

Death metal:
BK: Death metal is my other great love and is what I’d consider the other speciality focus of the label. We’ve released and signed a lot of great modern death metal bands, and done a lot of cool reissues over the last few years. When I describe the label to people, I say we do heavy metal and death metal.

Black metal:
BK: I love a lot of black metal, but it’s not something that we have a fanbase for, so we can’t afford to release it often. Black metal fans tend to go to black metal labels for new releases, and our normal customers just don’t care. We’ve done a handful of classic black metal reissues and new releases, but as with thrash, it’s something we avoid.

Now is the label your full-time job? How about your other employees who help you out?

BK: It’s not, and I doubt it ever will be (though that’d be great!). Neither Andrew nor I make much or anything from the label. It’s a business and not a hobby like some smaller labels will say- we’ve expanded too much and spent too much time and money on it for it to just be something we do for fun- but the only people genuinely making anything from us are the contractors we hire to help us out with shipping, audio work, and lay-outing. I’m fine with that, frankly. I’m glad we can do what we do while also pumping money at the people who help us the most. Whenever we do pay people to help us, we’re proud to be able to pay fair rates for labour, which is certainly more than a lot of small businesses (in and outside of the music industry!) can say.

Now what can we look forward to from you and the label in 2024 and beyond and how long do you even think the label will last?

BK: 2024 is going to be busy, like always! Drawn and Quartered has some gigging planned, I’m trying to get Serpent Rider’s debut full-length recorded in the winter for a spring or summer release, I’m working on Draghkar’s second album and trying to get a recorded split 7″ outed and released, hoping we can get out Azath’s second album; and there’s plenty more behind the scenes. I want to get out the next edition of my fanzine after a long delay, and the label is going to be busier than ever.

I have no plans to end the label as long as I can keep it running at a marginal profit. The reason I hire people to help with so much is that it lets me prevent myself from burning out. The less I do other than organize releases, the more viable it is to run the label for years to come. I’ll always do the occasional layout or provide input on audio or ship things here and there, but if I had to do it all I’d have already closed up shop.

Please plug any social media sites you have.

BK: Sure! The best site for everything is, which I use to track my bands, the record label, and journalism.


Brandon, It was great meeting you recently, and horns up for doing this interview. Any last words to wrap this up?

BK: Buy physical music, go to shows, and support the scene you love so much. I’ll end up with a small playlist of things I’ve been listening to today and yesterday. Hail and kill!

Nite: Voices of the Kronian Moon

Nocturnal Wanderer: Gift of the Night

Omen: Battle Cry

Solstice The New Dark Age

Iron Maiden: Piece of Mind

The Lord Weird Slough Feg: Down Among the Deadmen

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