Another heavy music blog we often like to visit with, is run by the wise ole mad shredders over at Shreddernet. Shreddernet generally focuses on a lot of heavy music (both new and old), and they mix in a good dose of punk, hardcore, some stoner metal stuff and some crazy funny humor into their “strange” shreddin’ brew. A great well-written, smart, and thoughtful blog all around – and a great place to learn about all kinds of wild and crazy Rock and Roll. Enjoy our interview with lead throat, Maz, about the origins and evolutions of Shreddernet, the new wave of traditional heavy metal, and what it’s really like running a music blog.
INTERVIEW: RT Shoots the Shit With Maz From Shreddernet
RT: What inspired you to start Shreddernet? What ultimately led to its launch?
MAZ: Just to do something productive with my interest in music and also feed my love for journalism. I mean I laugh out loud thinking of myself as a music journalist but I do enjoy telling people’s stories. I did a piece on a metal band from Armenia, another from Egypt, and tried to be as honest as possible in my narrative to their experience. Longer form articles that explore some of the cultural and sociopolitical implications that come with playing metal in some places aren’t done often enough. So I’ve tried to do that and also it was a way for me to try to make sense of my insanely eclectic music taste.
RT: You have a pretty clever writing style/off-beat sense of humor. Where does that come from? Who are some of your inspirations?
MAZ: Hmmm.. Spinal Tap. Next question. No but honestly I just rip-off my friends’ sense of humor. Not word for word, of course, but they are collectively hilarious. One thing I can say is that it’s not the run-of-the-mill snark of critics. Metal fans don’t often have the best grasp of the fact that their favorite art form can be pretty absurd. I mean aside from all the terrible band tattoos you see, I just finished a post about a guy who bit the head off of a rat at a black metal gig. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? Well, they interviewed him after as if he was a Nobel Prize winner…like…expecting him to drop some transcendental knowledge! That being said, I love it to death and anyone listening to metal with me ironically will be drawn and quartered…or maybe just find themselves on the receiving end of a biting backhanded compliment.
RT: What lessons have you learned while running a heavy music blog over the last year?
MAZ: Not to be trite but I have a new-found respect for how much commitment it takes to do this and to do it well. It doesn’t pay me anything. We don’t even have ads, and we may never go down that road but it’s a pretty fulfilling experience kind of contributing to the “scene” (for lack of a better word). Also, I churn through more music then I ever have. Like I’m sure you all at ROCKTHOUGHT know, the days of immersing yourself in an album are gone once you decide to write daily about music.
RT: Top 3 new bands/albums over the past year we MUST hear?
MAZ: Oh man, remember that episode of friends where they ask Joey which of the girls he’d rather sleep with and he has to answer right away and he says, “Monica” and then is all like WTF? I feel like I’m doing that. In all seriousness, off the top of my head…
Everyone should check out NYLITHIA from Vancouver, Canada. The two notable elements here are thrash metal, maybe of the German variety, and progressive leaning death metal like DEATH and CYNIC. The result is really intricate, heavy and insanely catchy. They’re currently releasing their new album for free, track-by-track, with a music video for each song. If that’s not artistic credibility, I’m not sure what is.
Another one is “Riot Avenue“, the newest record from CRAZY LIXX. What started as part of the new wave of Swedish sleaze has now morphed into a really talented 80′s style rock band. Instead of watching Axl Rose waddle around stage with a bunch of carnies, you can listen to catchy, well-written rock songs that are completely original.
To top it all off, we give a lot of love to SKULL FIST. A lot of bands are flying the flag of traditional heavy metal these days, but nobody does it with more flair than this Canadian band. Their musicianship is phenomenal. Hook-laden, face-melting speed metal at its core that is more fun than anything I’ve heard in the last year.
RT: What was the first experience you had where you began your journey into heavy metal music?
MAZ: Well, like many in my generation of mid-20s metalheads, I used the incredibly hilarious world of nu-metal as a gateway to heavy metal and extreme metal. In retrospect, I was a train wreck back then – wearing wallet chains and Puma gear, sporting the latest KORN shirt haha. I don’t think I really realized what metal was until I bought ‘Rust in Peace’ by MEGADETH. Some [JUDAS] PRIEST records and more extreme metal followed.
RT: Describe your very first heavy metal concert. Who did you see? What was it like?
MAZ: I probably didn’t attend a concert til I was 15 or so. By then I was into death metal so me and a friend saw DYING FETUS at a small local club. It was mind-blowing. It wasn’t just death metal, it was the most massive sounding, slamming death I’d ever heard, or arguably was around at the time. I stage dove and bought a tour shirt that continues to be one of the post socially-unacceptable pieces of clothing I own.
RT: What is your favorite sub-genre of heavy metal? Name some of your favorite bands/albums from that sub-genre?
MAZ: It varies from thrash to black metal to stoner but at the moment it has to be the new wave of traditional heavy metal. It’s something that un-apologetically takes hold of all of heavy metal’s classic hallmarks, in terms of both its visual and sonic aesthetics, and has a great time with it. We even did a series of posts detailing the bands that make up this movement.
SKULL FIST, ENFORCER, CAULDRON, HOLY GRAIL, WOLF (Sweden), CRYSTAL VIPER, HUNTRESS, RAM, SPELLCASTER, SIGN OF THE JACKAL…I would even put bands like SPEEDWOLF, MIDNIGHT and SUPERCHRIST in that group since they play a very MOTORHEAD inspired form of bluesy speed metal.
RT: Do you guys have a band? What other kinds of music-related hobbies, jobs, etc. do you enjoy outside of Shreddernet?
MAZ: I haven’t played in a band in some time. I do play some down-tuned eclectic stoner stuff on the guitar these days and jam with some guys occasionally but if we had an in-house band the feed would be jammed with shameless plugs haha. Aside form that, I personally enjoy beer, geopolitics, history, working out, soccer, basketball, the visual arts, being a cubicle drone, bar tending on the side, telling bad jokes.
RT: What do you guys think about the state of the social web these days? Is all of this social media stuff worth the time and energy? Is it good or bad?
MAZ: For those like you and me who are interested in spreading the word about music, writing about it and building a network that benefits all of us – its phenomenal. Building relationships, sharing music, debating moot points, cracking jokes, much like we’re doing now, I think humanizes technology and is good for the arts. Contact with record labels and PR people is instantaneous and the viral nature of social media helps the exposure benefit flow both ways for both ziners/blogs and bands/labels. Pretty righteous, no?
The downside, as many curmudgeonly old guard metalheads will often tell you, is that it takes a lot less work to be deep into heavy metals various sub-cults. You no longer have to even build the most superficial of human relationships if you don’t want to and still get a hold of the most underground music. In the 80′s at least they had to do tape trading and fanzines and phone calls. Remember those? I’m so awkward on the phone, it’s like watching a donkey on roller stakes. Thus, you now have a lot of people, not just stealing music, but basically cruising Twitter and metal blogs on the weekends just to acquire social currency so that their friends think they’re “edgy” haha. What I’m trying to say is – “OFF MY LAWN, DAMN KIDS.”
The real importance of social media is of course what it’s done for civil society around the world. The various uprisings of the Arab Spring, for example, are often dubbed “twitter revolutions.” Of course, this is an absurd hyperbole. It wasn’t like a couple of dudes at the Cairo flea market started tweeting each other lolcat pics and the next day Hosni Mubarak had been toppled in Egypt. Revolutionary sentiments have existed in those places for sometime. The difference that social media made is the speed with which people could organize, gather and plan to display those sentiments en masse and in public spaces. Organizing an opposition rally took hours instead of days. Mobile technology has also helped make social media took of accountability for the authorities.. Whether it’s the armies and militias of the Middle East or riot police in the US and Europe. If you take the liberty of cracking a skull or pepper spraying some un-aggressive girl then, smile, you’re on YouTube. Thus, in a greater sense, none of this it is perfect but it’s moving our societies in the right direction of transparency. I think as a music community we’ve yet to really harness that organizational potential. Maybe its because metalheads don’t exactly have a sense of urgency unless LAMB OF GOD is about to hit the stage. But the real use of it is yet to come.
Then again with the behemoth that is Facebook, it’s important to remember that users are there to just be harvested as data, so that they can then be riddled with insanely-specific advertising. It’s thus famously said that, at least with Facebook and I suppose Google, we are the product not the consumer. When you think about it, it’s hard not to think of the harvest fields from The Matrix with all the people stuck in pods, hooked up to feeding tubes, harvested by soulless entities that need humans to survive in this twisted symbiotic way…at least for a dork like me haha.
RT: What future plans do you have for Shreddernet? Any special projects coming in the 2nd half of 2012?
MAZ: Yes! Actually we are putting together a compilation of local metal bands from our hometown of Seattle. A lot of people often say, “don’t support local metal, support good metal” and rightfully so. But I think we have a lot of cool, professional unsigned acts here. The organization however could be better so we’re hoping to do our part to get something going.
RT: Any last words, announcements, shout-outs, something we need to be sure to check-out?
MAZ: I just want to say thanks so much for the opportunity. It’s been awesome talking to you guys. We’ve gotten to know a lot of good bands and people by doing this, mostly through the internet. We hope to one day break bread and toast with you in person. We’ll order pizza, make the delivery guy cut into a pentagram, crack beers, and toast to the apocalypse. Cheers!