The Whipping Post presents...
Bombworks Records Interview - Added 01/18/06
Sometimes, the anticipation of something is better than the actual getting. In the case of this interview with Bombworks Records, the anticipation phase lasted quite some time (as you will see in one of the answers below). However, I would have to say that the actual getting of the answers was more exciting than the anticipation this time. Read along as I talk with Rob and David of Bombworks and what makes their label tick.
The Whipping Post: So, Bombworks Records has been around for almost 2 years now. Tell us how it all got started, who's involved, and what your goals are?
Rob: Well, I had a really small business model that I had been running by a friend of mine nearly 3 years ago. I wanted to start a label for underground bands and basically have some fun with it. I started out by doing the Sorrowstorm disc and it went well. That helped me to learn what the process was of getting everything together for a release and distributing it and all that good stuff. After that, the label was born in January of 2004 and it has been growing ever since. David and I had been talking for some time about how to expand distro and the label roster. He was a Faithbomb fan, for some reason, from way back. The more we talked, the more I realized that he should be my label partner. I thought long and hard about it and the next thing I know, here we are. He has been a great addition to the family. His business sense helps quite a bit. Plus, he's a walking musical encyclopedia, which is useful.
David really helped me to take some steps to improve our product. It was all stuff I knew I needed, it's just good to be able to bounce ideas off of someone who is really interested in seeing the label succeed.
David: Rob had been doing the label since 2004, and he and I had been talking off and on for quite some time since I first met him at the Texas Rockfest in summer 1999 (he was the lead vocalist for the band Faithbomb). I had some good ideas for him, and he was wanting to expand the label, so it made sense for us to join forces. I officially joined the label in February 2005, and it has been a wild ride since then.
In addition to Rob and me, the awesome Rex Zachary (check out his page at http://www.rexorcist.com ) serves as our art guy. He helps get all the artwork ready for manufacturing, and he has even designed the artwork for some Bombworks releases (Consecrator, Seventh Angel, the upcoming My Silent Wake). He is now designing magazine ads for us (look for our ad in the latest Heaven's Metal fanzine and in the upcoming Unrestrained Magazine). He basically does anything we need him to do art-wise, and to say his work is awesome would be an understatement. We are so happy to be working with him. And bands, if you need killer artwork done for a reasonable price, you should talk to him. And no, Rex did not ask me to plug him.
We have set pretty high standards for the label and thus have high-reaching goals. We want to put out super high quality releases by great bands that are relevant in both the Christian and mainstream markets. Christian-based music has so often fallen victim to a “culture of mediocrity”, and it has gotten to the point that many bands made up of Christians that may or may not have evangelistic lyrics are shying away from the tag “Christian” altogether due to lack of acceptance by anyone in the mainstream. We want to show that music made by Christians can be just as good as anything else out there. Already, we have gotten some great mainstream reviews for a number of our releases, and the mainstream distribution is also starting to pick up. We have no desire to be confined to the Christian bubble. We want our releases to be purchased anywhere great metal can be found, whether it be a Christian store or not. We are still learning and want to continue to improve the quality of the releases and the caliber of the bands we are putting out.
Oh yeah, Rob and I both would love for Bombworks Records to be our full time job, as it already takes the hours of a full time job to keep up with the huge growth we have had over the past year. We want to be as big as labels like Metal Blade, Nuclear Blast, and Century Media while keeping the great relationship we have with each of our bands.
TWP: You guys have released a wide range of albums, from re-releases of out of print albums, to “first time ever on CD” releases, to brand new releases from current bands. Did you originally set out to do things this way, or did it just happen as opportunities became available?
Rob: I did set out to do it that way. I wanted to get a lot of the old demos out that I had loved for years. It was fun. I was getting to put out stuff that was so underground that not many people had it or, it might have been something that just never made it into the market. I knew the label would get current bands eventually but, the bread and butter that first year was definitely the re-release schedule.
David: In the early days before I joined the label , Rob seemed to focus more on re-releases and first time releases (e.g. Consecrator, Royal Anguish, Pale Horse). As the label grew, it made sense to start working with more current bands. Moving forward, Bombworks Records will primarily be working with currently active bands. We still plan on doing reissues and “first time” releases as we come across ones that are worthy of being released, but you will see far fewer of them as time goes on compared to the early days of Bombworks. In fact, since September 2005, we have focused more on currently active bands with new material. I can guarantee that you will see at least one reissue / first time on CD release in 2006, and it will be a very good one that most people have not heard.
TWP: You just released four new albums in September. Tell us about these releases and then tell us about some of your upcoming releases in the next few months.
David: This question shows how late we were in answering these interview questions, given that it is now January 2006. September was a pretty busy month for us. The releases were:
Amos / A Matter of Time: Amos plays gothic influenced power metal and hails from Brazil (though the band members did recently just relocate to Japan). They had previously released a CD called Gothic Soul, and this one blows it out of the water.
Evroklidon / The Flame of Sodom: Evroklidon is another amazing band from the Ukrainian scene we were fortunate enough to tap into (also home to Holy Blood, Requital, Angel 7). They play atmospheric, raw black metal and manage to do this while still maintaining high production standards. Who says you have to have an awful sounding recording to play raw black metal anyway? Evroklidon definitely proves otherwise.
Illuminandi / The Beginning …: This release collects Poland's Illuminandi's 2 demos as well as live tracks and makes them available for the first time on a professionally packaged CD. Rob remastered all the tracks, making them sound much better than the original demos. They are probably the most unique band on the Bombworks roster, playing extreme gothic metal with lots of cool string arrangements. They will hopefully be releasing an album of brand new material in 2006.
Venia / In Our Weakness: Venia is a really great thrashy power metal band from Finland with female vocals. I have actually been following them for quite some time and was really excited to hear this recording once they were finished with it. It was a huge improvement over their Genesis demo in both song-writing and production, and we were very excited to have the opportunity to work with the band and get this CD out. It has been very well-received and has done quite well for us. They have plans eventually to record a full length, but we don't yet know when this will be.
Fast forward to December, and we put out the following 2 releases:
Luminaria / Arche: Luminaria is a really cool band from Poland that plays post-gothic metal. Several people who have heard it have compared it to Type O Negative. It reminds me a lot of early 90's Saviour Machine, but with more ambience and keyboards and the addition of extreme vocals. Poland seems to have a pretty cool gothic scene going, and Luminaria is a great example of this. We hope this is the precursor to more great tunes in the future from them.
Lo-Ruhamah / Lo-Ruhamah: This release was supposed to have been released in September, but some serious artwork delays that were out of both our and the band's hands pushed it back until December. Lo-Ruhamah melds melodic goth and folk influences with insane death and black metal for a very unique sound that is very heavy and intricate. With the exception of re-releasing Pale Horse in June of 2005, Lo-Ruhamah is the only American band that Bombworks released in 2005 (you will see many more American bands putting out releases on the label in 2006). This MCD (4 songs) serves as a nice precursor to a full length we are hoping to release in late 2006.
TWP: You just signed a new band called Souls Unrest. The hype on your website seems to be pretty big. How confident are you guys that Souls Unrest will live up to the hype the has already been placed upon them before most people have even heard their music?
Rob: All I am going to say is, you just need to hear it. These guys are stinkin' good.
David: The Soul's Unrest is unbelievable. They are pretty well-known in the Atlanta scene already. They actually were close to a deal with Relapse Records in 2004, and they were supposed to appear on a split EP on Deathgasm Records, but due to several factors (including their going on hiatus for a little while), it never actually happened. Yes, we think they will live up to the hype.
As I already mentioned, we have high standards for our bands and our releases. We don't want to put anything out that couldn't stand up in the mainstream scene. We have come a long way since the early days and want to continually improve. We are excited about all of our upcoming releases. By the end of January, we will be releasing Seven Angels / Faceless Man, which is super speedy technical power metal with female vocals from Brazil. February will see 2 releases: Century Sleeper / Awaken, a co-release with Cold Fusion Music featuring gothic doom metal from James Allin of Visionaire and Ian Arkley of Seventh Angel / Ashen Mortality / My Silent Wake; and the aforementioned The Soul's Unrest. March will deliver My Silent Wake, Ian Arkley's new band of thrashy death / doom, as well as Hope Has Failed Us, an interesting mix of death, black, grind, and brutal metal from Bombworks backyard in Dallas, TX (we are also recording this release). We have quite a few other releases that will be coming out throughout the year, but we are not quite ready to announce them yet.
TWP: What have been your top three selling releases so far? Are there any more that may be nearing “out of print” soon?
David: Without a question, Holy Blood has been our top seller. Waves Are Dancing has been the best seller, but The Wanderer has certainly been no slouch. After that, it is sort of a toss up, though all of our releases have sold consistently so far.
As of right now, we have no current plans for any of our June and later releases to be out of print. Everything prior to that, however, is out of print.
TWP: David, you mentioned to me a while back about your excitement about the improving quality of all the Bombworks releases. Explain in more detail what some of those improvements are for these current new releases and for some of the new releases in the future.
David: When Rob first started the label and was feeling things out, he put out short runs of each release. These short runs were packaged, professionally printed high-end CDRs. Growth necessitated higher quality releases that were professionally replicated CDs with professionally printed artwork films, UPC barcodes, etc. We also have taken large steps to improve the artwork. Though the art itself looked pretty good on the early releases, they usually consisted of 2-panel or 4-panel front inserts only. Nowadays, most of our releases have a minimum of 8-panel front inserts, and we have some coming out soon that are even bigger than that. We may still put out an occasional release with a 4-panel front insert, but I am pretty confident you will never see a 2-panel again. Also, as I already mentioned, we feel like the caliber of our bands and releases has increased drastically, and we are trying to be more discerning as time goes on.
TWP: You all had a difficult time getting Evroklidon to see the light of day. And then the fantastic album by Angel 7 has been delayed for quite some time. What was the hold up with Evroklidon and will we ever see that great Angel 7 release?
David: As great as the scene is in Ukraine, we do run into language barriers. We have one point of contact that actually understands English (Holy Blood's bass player), and he acts as the middleman between us and the other bands. He also is very busy and does not always have easy email access. The biggest hold-up with Evroklidon was the artwork, and once we had that, it was pretty easy to move forward.
I agree with you that Angel 7 is an absolutely fantastic release. Don't give up hope on it yet. I think there is a very, very good chance that it will see the light of day very soon, though I won't say exactly when just yet.
TWP: Rob, you also run Bombworks Studios. Tell us a little about how that got started and have you or do you plan on using it for the recording of any of your future band's albums?
Rob: The studio got started out of necessity for Faithbomb to begin. We were mostly a studio band and we played less than 20 or 25 shows. When I started looking around for places to record, it made sense to spend that money on recording gear and learning to engineer on my own. A friend of mine helped me to get started and I pretty much taught myself the rest. I've been recording now for about 10 years. I really can't say for sure what my involvement will be in the recording of future Bombworks Label bands. Generally they are very far away and it makes more sense for them to record where they are. Schedules and finances are tough to work around for the bands a lot of times.
David: Since Rob did not mention it, I will mention that we are recording the Hope Has Failed Us release since they are local to us.
TWP: What do you guys do in your spare time when you are not running the label or the studio?
Rob: I am a Technology Specialist at a school district in north Texas. I absolutely love my job. My son goes to school where I work and it is very convenient. I have two boys and they have a lot going on that we keep up with. Stephen is in Scouts and there are always school functions. Other than that, I do mastering jobs for other labels. I play video games when I can and I'm becoming a bit of a war board game guy as well. The main thing I like to do is spend time with my wife and the kids.
David: I am a software engineer who travels a lot to various clients all throughout the US and Canada. When I am not doing that, I am helping my wife raise our newborn son (well, used-to-be-newborn; he is nearly 10 months old now). I also enjoy playing guitar, riding my jet skis, playing Xbox, watching sports (especially my alum Duke Blue Devils basketball team), and working on my online Christian rock / metal CD database project ( http://www.drindustrial.com ). Of course, I also do spend a lot of time on the label, and I occasionally sleep.
TWP: Where can fans purchase all the Bombworks releases?
David: Just check out the links page at http://www.bombworksrecords.com . We list all the distros that carry any of our releases. You can also go to the releases page on our site, click on any available release, and see the distros that are carrying it. We try hard to make it very easy for people to find our releases. Currently, our releases are available in the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands, and Australia, and I am constantly working on new distribution opportunities.
TWP: Thank you guys for taking time to do this interview. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Do you have any final comments for the readers of The Whipping Post?
Rob: Thanks to you for the support. The reviews have been appreciated from the very start. Thanks for letting us be us. It's a lot of fun. We hope to meet some of you at Cornerstone this year.
David: Stay metal and keep supporting Bombworks Records. 2006 is looking to be a huge year for us!