“Just do the right thing, don’t marginalize all new metal bands in favor of the shit you remember when you were eighteen because that suppresses a whole generation. It makes our chances of breaking new music more difficult. Don’t forget a good record but don’t act like it’s the same today because it’s not, there’s new music out there!”
Today’s artists must be more than talented; they must have good business-sense. Misconceptions inhabit a world where dedication and devotion stand tall. We cannot envision the transient life of a musician. We irrationally assume artists have money. Fame and fortune don’t always mix. Having a popular album or well-known act doesn’t necessarily translate into wealth. Longevity is an afterthought if your first responsibility is putting food on the table.
The situation sounds bleak, why would people devote their lives to playing metal? The short answer is because they love it! The desire to share their passion is like a thirst that cannot be quenched!
John Kevill, vocalist of the band Warbringer, is an artist who openly shares these convictions. He is a craftsman whose first desire is to contribute, a historian with an eye on the future. I recently had the opportunity to speak with John about the current status of Warbinger, the cancelation of That Metal Show and the passing of Lemmy Kilmister. Please enjoy some excerpts of our 1/22 interview.
David Halbe: Is Warbringer ready to record new material?
John Kevill: We should be after this tour. Basically, we were supposed to have an album done before this tour but due to continuing problems holding together a stable line-up, we didn’t. Fortunately, I think this version of the band is better than the one before. I’d like to finish writing and record a new record by the end of the summer.
Dave: I saw your tour announcement on YouTube and I was wondering if you happened to see Satyr from Satyricon’s comment: ‘wishing he hadn’t wasted time playing small clubs in the Midwest’, black metal aside, do you think playing small clubs is a waste of time?
John: No. I’ve noticed many of the same people who attend the big festival events still come to the smaller shows because they love the music. These tours work out better for us financially because if you’re opening for an older established headliner they’re basically going to shaft you, that’s just the way it is. You’re not going to get paid anything more than a bare sustenance but on a tour like this we can actually make a bit of money because the guaranteed split is fair between all of the bands.
It’s not a waste of time because these kinds of shows rule! It’s a sad mentality for someone to put down something when they probably started playing these kinds of club tours to open their career, people came out and saw them, to dismiss those fans is just wrong.
Dave: What made YouTube the right platform to address Warbringer fans?
John: Well, we do both written and video announcements but for videos, YouTube is just really easy. It’s not like we have a great allegiance to YouTube but it’s a free and quick way to put a video up. I wanted to address people in such a way where they could actually see me speaking. I wanted to do it that way because it is a personal matter to me and I wanted the fans to see how I really felt about it.
Dave: I thought it was awesome. What’s the thought process behind the Full Metal Sampler being given away at the shows?
John: That was the brainchild of our manager Marco Barbieri. He wanted to make a cool compilation of upcoming metal bands. He has all the bands on this current tour as well as a collection of other groups from the scene, it’s solid.
Dave: Give me some insight into the band’s relationship with Salem Rose Music, you seem to share a similar metal theology.
John: Salem Rose Music is the aforementioned Marco Barbieri and he’s a lot of the force behind Warbringer. He’s our manager but he’s also backed the band financially at times when he didn’t have to. He’s really laid it out on the line for this band many times!
Dave: That’s kick-ass!
John: Marco kept us going. Privately, I’m really poor because I’ve spent my life doing this. He’s somebody who’s successful in the industry, who believes in what we’re doing and wants to back projects just so they happen and that’s awesome. I can only speak highly of Marco, we’ve been friends for the past nine or ten years at this point.
Dave: Sounds like he’s intent on growing the scene.
John: Oh yeah and he’s involved with a lot of other bands as well, Exmortus for one, it’s about getting metal back to the forefront.
Dave: Fuck yeah. So what do you think about the cancelation of That Metal Show?
John: They canceled it, that’s fine. They need to do a real one that’s not just remember when. The show never seemed to cover extreme music and right now that’s over half the genre! You can’t call yourself That Metal Show and never talk about black or death metal. They don’t even talk about any thrash bands that came after Slayer.
Dave: I agree, it was very narrow-minded.
John: I’m a guy who plays metal in the vein of old school metal because I love that music but let’s face it, most of these bands aren’t like what they used to be and honestly I see a lot of young bands out there who play a better show and that’s what it’s really about, the show.
Dave: For sure!
John: Thirty years ago those bands killed it but now if they pull a record that’s seven out of ten, it gets a ton of press because we were all expecting it to suck. Meanwhile, new bands are making some really cool records but they’re getting overshadowed!
Dave: That’s a problem with metal, we’ve got to embrace the new wave!
John: I think we’re making a legitimate contribution or else I wouldn’t be doing it. I believe our records, and records by bands similar to us, have a lot of legitimacy. We deserve a platform and That Metal Show could have been the platform to do it.
Dave: I agree.
John: It could have been the best. It could have broken new bands and they didn’t do it. It’s all metal (black metal/death metal) it’s all part of the same genre. How can you not cover it? There’s legitimate death metal bands out there right now, new ground is being broken!
Dave: They’re blaming VH1 on the content but I think that’s bullshit.
John: Just do the right thing, don’t marginalize all new metal bands in favor of the shit you remember when you were eighteen because that suppresses a whole generation. It makes our chances of breaking new music more difficult. Don’t forget a good record but don’t act like it’s the same today because it’s not, there’s new music out there!
Dave: How important was Lemmy to heavy metal?
John: Well, now that I just ragged on some of these old dinosaurs, let me say that Lemmy stayed true to his principals, from day one, until his final day. Lemmy is a guy I truly have a lot of respect for.
He lived an uncompromising lifestyle and Motörhead’s worst record is still pretty good, you know? Solid at worst, amazing at best so you can’t really talk trash about Motörhead because if you do, you’re fucking wrong!
Dave: Did you ever meet Lemmy?
John: No, but that’s not an important thing to me. He was a cool, interesting guy, who earned legendary creature status but I never cared about that. I heard his records, that’s the important part to me, I’m glad I have those classic albums to jam on the highway.
Dave: Alright, thanks for your time today, John.
John: My pleasure Dave, enjoy the show!
Warbringer (2016) are:
- Adam Carroll – Guitars
- Carlos Cruz – Drums
- John Kevill – Vocals
- Chase Becker – Guitars
- Jesse Sanchez – Bass
This article was originally published 2/15/16 by Metalrecusants.com