Soulgrinder Zine and Records Chat With Paul Caravasi

Paul Caravasi is the editor of the print zine Soulgrinder and he also owns a record label called Soulgrinder Records to top things off he puts on shows as well. I fired off some questions to this busy man and here is what he said:

Where were you born and where did you grow up? What sort of kid were you growing up?

PS: Hi Chris, well, I was born in Peru in 1976 i lived there until 1998′ when I came to the States. I was a normal/quiet kid but I liked soccer a lot and I liked to be around my friends, also I was part of the school soccer team. I got along well with everyone as a kid.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

PS: That’s a good question, when I was a kid, I always dreamed of being an airplane pilot or sound engineer. well, those dreams never came true, lol.

Did you ever have any desire to play an instrument?

PS: Absolutely, I always wanted to be a drummer, I have so much respect for musicians especially drummers.

What were some of the early bands that you heard and how did you discover rock n roll/heavy metal music? What were some of the 1st bands you heard and are you fans of them still?

PS: As a kid, I listened to a lot of music because of my aunts, i was the only kid in the family at that time and I was surrounded by teenagers listening to cool stuff. When I was 10 years old I discovered Slade’s “Alive”, and that album blew my mind, not long after I wanted to discover more and more bands, I had a friend from the same neighborhood his older brother was a metalhead, one day I went to his house and saw his record collection, and saw Iron Maiden’s Killers album, I’ve been through a lot of music in my time. But the sound of the whole band has always been captivating to me. It has a spell on me I can’t resist. My quest for increasingly harder and harder music led me to bands like Venom, Slayer, Death, etc…

Take me through the event or events that led you to discover the world of underground metal. Did you like it right away or did it take a few spins before you were hooked? What were some of the early bands you heard and do you still like them today?

PS: It Started with heavy metal and thrash. Then more obscure bands Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, Nasty Savage, Sabbat (UK), Death, Dark Angel, Corrosion of Conformity, Morbid Angel, Rigor Mortis, Hirax, Obituary, and Exorcist were my early gateway. I then got into extreme Hardcore, bands like Sick of It All, Crumbsuckers, D.R.I. Attitude Adjustment, Cryptic Slaughter, Septic Death……..the list goes on.

What were some of the early shows you got to see? Did any bands over the years disappoint you when you got to see them?

PS: Well when I was a teenager I lived in Peru still, the South American scene in the early days was fantastic, I had the chance to see cool bands such as Torturer and Sadism from Chile, plus the bands from Peru as well: Sepulcro, Mortem, Trauma, Hadez, Mazo, Kranium, Mortuorio.

When was the 1st time you heard the word “fanzine” and what did you think it was? What was the first fanzine you saw or was it a webzine you saw on the internet?

PS: I remember I got a zine from Argentina in the late 80s for the first time “Metal Command” and Metal Mania from Canada. At first, I didn’t know the difference between a magazine and a fanzine, i keep discovering more and more and I felt connected to it, to this day I rather read self-published work that generally has small print runs and is reproduced on copy machines, that to me is the real deal.

I wanna backtrack a bit. Now how hard was the move for you to go from overseas to the US? Did you know much about the US at the time?

PS: I knew a lot about this country ’cause I have relatives living in the States since the 80s, and yes It was hard moving to the States for sure, I was 20 years old when I came to the States, but my mindset was to have a better life. No complaints so far.

Now where in the US did you move to and where you near to any big or semi-big cities at all?

PS: When I came to the States, I lived in New Rochelle, NY. for 6 years then I moved to Pennsylvania where I currently live.

Now did it take long before you found some people into heavy metal, stores and even clubs? Do you remember what the 1st show you saw in the US and where was it?

PS: Luckily it wasn’t hard and it didn’t take long to meet metalheads in the States and there were cool stores around the city. I remember Tower Records, Virgin Records, Sam Goody, Coconuts, and the local mom-and-pop music stores as well. I will never forget the first show I experienced in the States, I saw Iron Maiden, WASP, DIO, and Dirty Deeds at Roseland Ballroom in NYC. (quite a great debut show-Chris)

Now you had started to hear about what fanzines were when you lived overseas, how quickly did you start to discover them over here in the US? What was the 1st one you saw and did you buy it in a store or order it through the mail?

PS: Man it was an amazing experience trading zines and demos from all over the world, but the ones from the States responded quickly. I remember getting The Wild Rag, Level Six, and Ultra Noize in the mail. It was always a big surprise.

Did you ever do any type of tape trading at all? Did you ever write to any bands and order demos and stuff?

PS: Hell yeah, I loved tape trading, even to this day some maniacs always want to trade like in the old days which is fun and cool. I remember getting the Mercenary demo from Texas ” Plagues of Death” and Dementia from Holland, and a bunch of demos from South America as well.

Were you seeing at all how the underground worked where bands and zine editors would make ads up and have them spread out throughout their mail and do the same for others?

PS: As you know making a zine is a lot of dedication and time consuming, and luckily the majority of zine editors are willing to include or trade ads. The only way to keep the zines alive is to contribute and support each other. Fuck to all the editors that only do zines to get free stuff or for fashion. (not me-Chris)

So did you do any sort of writing before starting up the Soulgrinder zine? How about managing any bands?

PS: Yeah, I used to collaborate with the Peruvian zine Aquelarre in the 90s and early 2000s. I wanted to keep contributing to that zine but the editor-in-chief and myself had different ideas and I decided to create my zine. About managing bands, that’s a lot of responsibility and hard work if you want to do it right, so far I only run local shows, the zine, and my label as well. who knows maybe in the future I can manage bands.

So take me through the steps of wanting to branch off and start up your zine. What year was this? Now obviously you had written for some zines, but started up one? Was there any thought at all about making it a webzine?

PS: In 2012 I was still collaborating with Aquelarre Zine from Peru, and I wanted to include some new ideas in favor of that zine, but the main editor did not agree with my ideas, so I decided to leave that zine and create my own in 2013, I run a blog site as well, I include only reviews and some interviews on it.

Now did you realize at the time about starting up a print zine just how much harder it was going to be because it seems most newer, not all, want free stuff and that is because you have full-length releases on YouTube, Bandcamp, Spotify and you have to have something pretty special to have that wallet open?

PS: I knew that running a zine was hard, but with determination and true dedication anything is possible, it’s also what I like to do, and there is a lot to discover in the underground scene worldwide. There are many bands, artists, promoters, and labels, that need more support and to be more recognized, I hope that my zine in some way opens some doors for all of them and that’s the essence of Soulgrinder Zine.

Now how did you come up with the name of your zine and were any other names thrown around?

PS: First I wanted to use the Hell Awaits zine, but there was already a zine from Spain with that name. One day I was listening to the album from Beyond of Massacre and the song Corpse Grinder was playing at the same time the song by Mercyful Fate Desecration of Souls came to my mind, and that’s how Soulgrinder Zine was created.

Now the all-important 1st issue. how many pages was it and how many did you print up? Are any still left in stock?

PS: The first issue featured 34 pages, and I printed out 100 copies, I don’t have more physical copies available at this time but I can print more if there are some orders.

I have seen a couple of issues, I have even done a few reviews, which I hope you continue to let me do because it is cool and old-school to write for a print zine. Do you have an actual staff besides yourself or do you just have other people help if they offer?

PS: The early issues were all made by myself, since issue 7 ’til now I’ve been lucky enough to have collaborators including yourself, and thanks to all of the people that are always willing to help me with the zine, it makes this job easier and I can release at least 2 issues per year.

Who does the artwork for the zine?

PS: I always allow artists from all over the world, they show their art in my fanzine. It is a real honor to be able to include amazing artists.

Now how do you get the word out that you have a new issue out? How many copies do you print of each issue? Would you ever bump up the circulation at all? Would you ever consider going to newsprint? I ask because I did that for 6 issues, my print run was 10,000 copies and I just gave the copies away, but labels took out many ads so I was making money on it.

PS: Well, making a living from this is very difficult, I only do it ’cause I love metal, I usually print 100 copies for each issue, and if some labels or distros want more copies after I sell them all, I print a little more. So far social media helps a lot in spreading the word about the zine, and the shows I do help a lot too.

Paul, I think you misread what I was saying. When I was doing newsprint, I was making money with it, so the ads and stuff were paying for the printing of the zine and bands were getting huge exposure. Now onto the question. How do you decide who to interview for each issue?

PS: My bad, well yeah sometimes the labels pay for their ADS, but they like doing trades, In the end, it helps a little for the printing costs, and I get some profit from it as well. As for the bands featured in the zine, I do my research all the time, I am always trying to discover more and more bands in the scene, it can be from going to shows, reading other zines, and getting bands from independent labels too.

What was it like having your, your, 1st actual print zine in your hand? Where do you go get them printed at? How much does each issue cost you or do ads at least have you break even?

PS: It was a great achievement having the first print issue on my hands, after so much dedication and sleepless nights it was worth it. I printed the first copies at Staples but I stopped doing it because they didn’t understand what a fanzine was and I got tired of explaining the process to them. Nowadays I was lucky enough to find a kick-ass local printing shop and the owner knows what’s up. The quality is better on every issue.

Now how do spread the word when a new issue is released?

PS: Well social media is a necessary evil and you have to use it to promote your stuff, the old-school way still works but social media works much better these days, I usually publish and print flyers for the new issue when it is out.

How much stuff do you get on average to review for each issue? Is it most of it email or is some of it physical copies such as CDS or vinyl?

PS: I don’t review digital stuff, it’s rarely, bands and labels always send physical promotional copies for reviews, cassettes, and CDs, and occasionally vinyl. I try to review as much as I can for each issue.

Now when you’re reviewing something, what do you listen for? Does it have to be a hook, the guitar riffs, the vocals, etc?

PS: Bands must have a brutal or fast approach it doesn’t matter what genre, heavy, thrash, death, grindcore, hardcore, crossover, good riffs/hooks, all together combined, and for doom metal, I like the old school sound, I don’t like nu metal, I don’t hate it but it’s not what I listen to.

Now I want your opinion on the following metal genres”

Heavy metal:
It was how I started listening to metal in general, bands like Maiden, Priest, Queensryche, Diamond Head, and Picture. No matter how much time passes I always go back to listening to this genre.

Thrash metal:
My favorite genre of metal, is the way of executing the riffs and drums, pure energy and fury, in my opinion the best sound in metal.

Death metal:
A very complicated and respected genre in the world of metal, it can have melody and at the same time brutality that blows your mind. In my opinion, death metal is Thrash but on steroids.

Doom metal:
An extreme subgenre of heavy metal with slower tempos, low-tuned guitars, and a much “thicker” or “heavier” sound than other heavy metal genres. Both the music and the lyrics are intended to evoke a sense of despair, dread, and impending doom which is very interesting, Candlemass rules !!

Black metal:
I’m not a big fan of black metal but I like some bands and I do have them in my collection, I can name a few, Bathory, Mayhem, Darkthrone, Watain, Immortal, early Satyricon, and Marduk.

An amazing fusion of thrash metal and hardcore punk, I like Crossover bands, with pure nonstop energy.

Metal Core/Groove/Nu Metal:
All the Beatdown Hardcore, breakdowns and shit like that, is not my thing at all.

So what is there to do for fun out in your next of the woods?

PS: I always try to go to local shows, and enjoy the weekend with my children, not everything in this life is working, and metal is very important, the good thing is that there are cool places around here in PA.

To see touring bands where do you usually need to go?

PS: Philly or New Jersey.

So now what gave you the idea to start to put on shows? Are these all at the same place and they are with different local bands or with sometimes smaller bands on the road? How have the shows been doing so far? Give someone an idea of how much work you have to do to put a show together.

PS: I always wanted to do shows around here but I couldn’t find the right place until I was lucky enough to go to a punk/hardcore show and I was able to meet the owner of the venue, he was looking for a metal promoter, he gave me the opportunity and to this day I’m still doing shows. Usually, the bands at my shows are from Pennsylvania sometimes bands come from New York, Jersey, Philly, Maryland, and Boston. One time I was lucky enough to catch two bands from South America on tour, doing shows is not easy but if you have dedication and you mean it, everything turns out well, the key is respecting the bands always.

How have your shows done so far and would you branch out and try to book say a touring/signed band one day?

PS: The local shows are going great so far, there are so many bands to discover that need a lot of support too, of course, I would like to be able to bring a big band one day, and so far I can’t complain, some of the classic bands that played at my shows were Faith or Fear, Wrath, also two bands from South America, Azotador from Bolivia and Perpetual Warfare from Colombia. I hope to bring more bands from overseas.

What are some of your favorite concerts you have seen?

PS: Iron Maiden on the Ed Hunter tour in 99′, Slayer when they reunited with Lombardo in 2001, Morbid Angel opening for Motorhead at the Birch Hill in Jersey, King Diamond, and Napalm Death at CBGBS, I have seen too many bands live but those were the most amazing shows I have seen.

Which bands would you like to interview that you have not yet?

PS: Pestilence, Unleashed, Bulldozer, Tom Warrior.

How soon after an issue comes out, do you start work on a new issue?

PS: I am trying to release each issue twice a year, the good thing is that there are a few contributors who are helping me with the zine, thanks to you Chris too for contributing with your reviews.

When did you decide on Soulgrinder Records? How many releases do you have out? Is it just new bands? Is it on LP or CD or both? Do you make any money on the label?

PS: I wanted to create my independent label a while ago but due to work and family reasons it was a little difficult for me to do it, until early in 2023 I was able to release the first band from New Jersey called The Donner Party. I plan to have the releases only on CD.

Only with the guys in The Donner Party we were able to release their stuff in three formats, cassette, CD, and vinyl. I have 4 more bands in the works that I hope will be released in 2024. thrash and death metal bands.

So you have a lot on your plate with doing all these things. If you had to remove one, which would it be and why?

PS: Probably the zine since I’ve been doing it for a long time, it wouldn’t be bad to take a break.
But so far I couldn’t stop doing any of them because I like what I do.

Do bands send you stuff in the hopes of getting signed or is this for the time being more of a local band style label for the time being?

PS: What I’m trying to do with my label is sign bands that I like, and I’ve received some demos from different people, but I already had the other bands in mind. I also want to continue helping the underground bands that deserve a chance.

Paul, please feel free to plug all your social media sites and your labels and t-shirts you had done. Also, how can people get in touch with you as well?

PS: For now people can visit the Facebook page or Instagram, I’m still learning how to work with social media lol.

Instagram: @wratchild114

Paul horns up for the fantastic interview and last words to wrap this up and it is great to meet you one day.

PS: Thanks a lot Chris for this awesome interview, I had fun answering it, keep up your excellent work and total respect for what you do, it shows that you like it. Cheers warrior and see you soon !!

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