For those unfamiliar with Crypt Magazine, it is (as the name suggests) an underground magazine which is not available in high street newsagents. Since Crypt was never intended as a weekly or monthly, it encompasses more in-depth interviews than the average periodical. Terrorizer is a UK-based monthly magazine about extreme music.
I turned the tables on its creator, Dayal Patterson, and asked him for an 'insider view' on music in general and how his experiences within the music industry as a freelance photographer and journalist, and writing for Crypt and Terrorizer have shaped his opinions. See below for details of Dayal's distribution and his photographic portfolio.
How did you get into metal and how did that evolve into trying out the underground scene?
Let me cast my mind back into the dark past-to cut a long and probably fairly boring story short, I basically discovered rock music on my eleventh birthday with Guns N Roses' 'Use Your Illusions II' album. I was exclusively into GNR for about a year until I met other metal heads and got into Rage Against The Machine, Clawfinger, Megadeth, Metallica, Pantera and Sepultura, The normal stuff for that period I guess.
From the age of about 13, I was really looking for new bands the whole time and got into death metal through the Bolt Thrower 'Realm Of Chaos' album and the Carcass 'Radio One Rock Show' session. I remember I had the Carcass 'Heartwork' video on a VHS, recorded from the 'Noisy Mothers' program on ITV, and I couldn't understand how anyone could enjoy that, it was so extreme and unmusical, at least it seemed so at the time. I kept watching it with a morbid fascination because it seemed so ridiculously over the top but then it clicked and I was hooked.
By 14, 15 I wasn't going to school so much and got into black metal through some older friends I met around that time and went from there really, started going to shows, reading magazines-
What are your musical preferences?
Pretty wide. A lot of metal obviously - Black, Death, etc, but also a lot of punk music like The Ramones, The Damned, Rancid, Capdown, and also to a lesser extent classical, hip hop, ska, goth, rock, dub, etc.
How did you become a music journalist?
By a side door I guess. I'm a photographer (and photographic retoucher) by 'trade' and was involved with bands and music magazines in that way. Check out my homepage www.dayal.co.uk for some examples of my music photography, it's a bit behind but it should be updated in the next month or so. I got into Terrorizer through the quality of my photography and then had to kind of prove later that I could write as well. I only realised that I wanted to write at all through doing the first volume of Crypt Magazine though, I had no interest in being involved with journalism before that at all.
Nifelheim (Dayal Patterson)
You write for Terrorizer. What made you decide to write Crypt?
Well my Crypt work predates my writing for Terrorizer by about a year. When I started Crypt Volume One I really had no interest in music journalism, at that time I was only focussed on my photography. I had absolutely no ambition to write for anyone else, I just wanted to interview some bands that I was interested in because there are always questions I want to ask, and I had an urge to put together my own zine, really as a sentimental thing because noone else was doing it anymore. At that point I envisioned a basic photocopied thing but once I got started it began to take the form of a more professional magazine because I was very perfectionist about the whole thing.
I didn't start writing for Terrorizer until about a year after I had begun shooting for them regularly. So it was Crypt that really led me to writing for Terrorizer, both in terms of realising that it was something I enjoyed and had a talent for and also in the sense that I had written work that I could show, although actually in the end I think I started being given interviews more on the basis of the odd reviews I'd done for them.
How do you choose the content of Crypt? Does it reflect your personal preferences?
Crypt definitely reflects my musical preferences but it's only a very particular slice of those tastes. That is to say that I wouldn't put anything in Crypt that I didn't like but at the same time there's of course a lot of music that I do like that I wouldn't include in Crypt. I try and keep the Crypt remit fairly specific and focussed.
As well as band members, you interview other people on the scene - such as Joe Petagno (Volume 1) and Christophe Szpajdel (Volume 2). How do you decide who to interview?
I'm really happy that I included those interviews, the Szpajdel one I think was especially interesting just because the guy is such a character. But yeah, I'm really interested in visual art, and I was really happy to put that in Crypt because it was a fairly original thing to do and because it kept the magazine varied. I think its much more interesting from both my point of view and the readers to include interviews with people involved in the scene other than those in bands, and the interview with extreme arts venue The Horse Hospital received more good feedback than any interview in the first issue barring the Forefather feature. I'd like to do more interviews and writing around visual arts and artists in the future though I'm not sure who that would be for at this point.
Is there anyone you wouldn't include in Crypt and why?
I guess the only real reasons I would turn a band down would be if I didn't like their music or I didn't feel it fitted in with the 'Crypt' remit, musically. I would have some reservations about interviewing a full on NS / nazi act as well, both in terms of promoting such a group's popularity and giving them a platform. That said a lot of acts featured expressed opinions very different to my own, and I was happy to keep it in the magazine. I'm not really one for censorship.
Is there any one particular interview you remember and why?
Well I remember all the interviews I've done in person or even by phone, the email ones are fairly easily forgotten. I can't really pick one out-Certainly the Gorgoroth interview for Crypt Two was the hardest and strangest and I think that comes across in the feature. The interview I did with Dylan Carlson of Earth for Terrorizer meant a lot to me on a personal level as I have a lot of respect for him as a musician and also because I had already established contact with him when I interviewed him for Crypt Volume One. That interview predated the flurry of interviews in Terrorizer, Wire etc and was very candid so it was good to meet him in person and both him and the band turned out to be really good guys. Sometimes you meet musical 'heroes' and its cool but its not often you meet them and you really get on, on a personal level.
Have you ever had any bad experiences during an interview?
No really bad experiences yet, thankfully. The Arcturus interview in Crypt Volume Two was a real struggle because I was speaking to guitarist Knut whose English is, by his own admission, very poor, so he was just giving yes or no answers, unless really pushed. I had to ask questions three times in some cases just to draw a response, it was really like drawing blood from a stone. So in some ways that was one of the interviews I'm most proud of because I had good feedback on that article in particular and it was such hard work to get any real insight from him.
Your interviews cover wide-ranging issues, such as terrorism (Napalm Death, Volume 1) and vegetarianism (Cathedral, Volume 2). Is it easy to get people to talk about their opinions on such issues?
Well it's not as though I try and force people to talk about such things, but I am happy to delve into those kind of subjects if they make for an interesting read. I think a lot of writers steer clear of political and 'difficult' issues which can make for somewhat boring interviews. Politics has always been a fundamental element of a band like Napalm Death and I think to ignore that and just discuss new riffs and blastbeats is ridiculous. Moreover I think people really like to read about that stuff even if they don't agree with the points of view being expressed - the Lee Dorian interview is undoubtedly one of the most popular features this issue for example.
I wondered if you thought the current popularity for mainstream metal is a good thing in the long run, in that it gets metal known and some of the fans will discover the lesser-known bands or that mainstream fans are annoying little oiks that aren't "true".
For example if Bolt Thrower have a sell-out gig, does it matter if some of the crowd are being "ironic" if it puts food on the band's plate? Is the current popularity for mainstream metal something that affects the underground metal scene much or is it something you personally don't take much notice of?
If you'd asked me this ten years ago, or even five, then I would have given some vitriolic speech about how extreme metal should remain underground, away from 'trendy' and 'unworthy' individuals. Like many people I used to get pretty incensed when I started to see uninformed people talking about black metal for example.
The first big gig I went to was Emperor when I was about 15 or 16, I think I was probably the youngest person there by at least two years, and everyone was really into the scene, everyone was were there because they were really fans of the band and of black metal. Two years later I went to see the band again with some of my very 'dedicated' friends and we were sickened to see these morons in Coal Chamber shirts going in. Haha, I really hated that band and that whole scene. But now such things really don't bother me much. Maybe I just have bigger things in life to worry about. But anyway, I don't feel like I have anything to prove anymore so I never think about it.
The people I hang out with are all as into it as I am so that's enough for me I guess. Sure it's great when you go to a show and everyone there is really clued up and dedicated but the better shows sell, the more shows there are, you can't keep putting on these things and losing money. If Bolt Thrower sold out thanks to some curious outsiders, then why not? I'm just glad to see them play again. As for genuinely mainstream metal, I take each band as they come but I do think its fair to say that popularity is certainly not a good indicator of musical quality and that generally the exact opposite is true. There are exceptions-I have time for System Of A Down, who are one of the biggest and most 'mainstream' metal acts ever.
It would probably be unwise to start listing all the rubbish, overhyped bands out there in the mainstream for obvious reasons but I have to admit I'm not into this whole Trivium thing too much-lets leave it there for now.
System Of A Down (Daryl Patterson)
What's your view on the current underground scene? Are there many under-rated bands out there? Is the 'scene' alive and kicking or in its dying throes?
I think in many ways the underground metal scene is very healthy right now, the current increase in metal's popularity seems to have filtered down to the more obscure sub-genres, and album and magazine sales seem to be healthier because of it. On the other side I do feel that people are a bit lazier now than say, ten years ago, one example that obviously comes to my mind is the current situation here with zines. Ten years ago there were about fifteen metal zines in the UK, now Crypt is almost the only one. Perhaps that has helped me in terms of sales, but as a fan I find it slightly sad. But it doesn't keep me awake at night, many other aspects have improved, for example, there are a lot more girls into the scene these days which I've certainly appreciated.
What do you think makes an interview or review enjoyable to read? And what makes a bad one?
That's a good question although its one that's hard to answer. Without wanting to sound like an arrogant bastard, I've had a lot of good feedback from people about my interviews and that's reassuring because I write the sort of features I'd like to read, so its good to know that other people appreciate the care that goes into them. I was always really critical of interviews before I started doing my own. I think often they can be so superficial and really say nothing at all.
I don't want to read another feature where a band says how good the new album is, how they've stayed true to their traditional sound but have a few new surprises in store for fans, or something similarly predictable. That's the worst. I think a good interview asks difficult questions, and finds the most interesting aspects to talk about instead of following the easy route and sleepwalking through the piece. It's a cliché but I think its imp ortant to have an angle and write for people who aren't interested in the band as well as the hardcore fans. Obviously an entertaining and half intelligent writing style is pretty important too.
You get free music, free admission to gigs, babes, beer and you hang out with the 'rich and famous' but music criticism isn't all fun is it? Is there anything you particularly dislike?
Hmm, I think that probably makes my life sound a lot more exciting than it is. You do get free gigs, music, sometimes beer, meals etc and of course you meet girls and musicians but most of the time it's not quite that glamorous - if you didn't enjoy the work it would be pretty unrewarding. When I started writing Crypt for example it was really just an experiment and a labour of love, and there certainly wasn't any free stuff to begin with. I really enjoy writing and photography and though you get freebies and treated well sometimes, you've got to have a passion for what you do and care about the quality of your output.
Is there anything I dislike? Nothing springs to mind. Sometime the deadlines are shorter than I'd like and occasionally you end up waiting around and stuff but no, there's nothing that really bothers me. More money would always be nice of course-
You've talked to all sorts of bands from the relatively commercially successful to the bands few people have heard of - have you formed an opinion on how the music industry operates?
Yeah I guess I have to a fairly large extent. It's a business like anything else unfortunately, and I guess you become aware of that pretty quickly, the higher up you go the more that becomes an issue because there's more money involved and people are relying on what they do to pay the rent, rather than just doing it for enjoyment or artistic satisfaction. It can be fairly disheartening to realise that the artists that make it big do so, generally speaking, because of good marketing or luck as much as through musical ability. But who cares? I knew that anyway. If you're into underground metal you are already making a decision to listen to bands whose popularity is limited to some extent. Mayhem will never sell as many records or shirts as Slipknot but come on, who's the better band?
Is there any one person you'd still really like to interview?
There's lots of people I'd like to interview, so choosing one is quite hard. You might be surprised but I'd really like to interview Axl Rose - not only does he give good copy but Guns N Roses were really the first band I got into in a big way when I was a kid and led me to get into music generally. Within metal I guess I'd most like to talk to the Mysticum and Vlad Tepes guys although I think the chances in both cases is slim to say to say the very least. I really regret that I'll never be able to interview Joey Ramone too, if he was still alive that's a meeting I'd be chasing.
And what about gigs? Is there one band in particular that you'd still like to see?
Most of the bands I would really love to see live are the ones that are impossible because the band has split up. I would love to see The Ramones, Autopsy, Mysticum, Blind Melon, and Christian Death in the Rozz Williams era (I have no interest in seeing the modern incarnation). Thinking about this now I've actually seen most of my favourite (surviving) bands but there's always new acts I want to check out.
Any tips for the aspiring music journalists in our readership?
I don't make my living solely from music journalism so perhaps I'm not really the person to give advice. As I said before you've got to have a passion for what you do and just try and push to get stuff published, I guess. I didn't really get into this through a traditional route so I don't know what to say really-starting your own zine and making a name out of it is probably not the easiest or most straightforward route to follow that's for sure-
And finally - Any plans to make Crypt a trilogy?
That's a question I've been asked a lot recently and the answer would be- not for a while. Volume Two is still pretty fresh and I've only been putting out one a year which is why I try and go more in depth with the interviews and not just focus on stuff that will date easily. I did originally intend Crypt to be a trilogy (actually originally I intended it to be a one off but after the success of the first issue I decided on a trilogy), so at some point I probably will but right now I'm just selling Volume Two and focusing on doing more freelance work for other people.
I would of course urge people to check the magazine out especially if you normally only read the stuff on the shelves of Smiths or whatever-open your mind. Anyway you can order copies of Crypt and some other underground mags I distribute at www.cryptuk.com or have a look at www.myspace.com/cryptmagazine
Any bands looking for a reasonably priced photographer can contact me on email too. Thanks for the interview!
Interview © 2006 Amanda Hyne