I had recently reviewed an old school death metal EP by Greek underground titans Abyssus who released their excellent Unleash the Storm EP to the masses through a little known underground music label called Death In Pieces Records from Mexico. After some communication between label owner Victor and myself, it only felt right to interview him regarding his label, how to get signed onto his label and the huge metal scene that Mexico has. Victor expresses his desire for the underground scene, not just in his native Mexico but the international scene signing bands from Romania, Finland and Greece. Support Victor. Support Death In Pieces Records. Support the underground.
Simple question first. Are you mad running a record label in the world of internet downloads haha!! How do you survive and flourish as a label and sign new acts under the severe pressure of a diminishing market?
Hello Ricky!! First of all, thank you very much for this interview. Yeah, I can say I’m a bit mad running a record label!!! Hahaha!! Let’s say I’ve been involved in underground music for a long time, I’m a musician too, and I know that this kind of life is just for passion. Metal music is not for everybody, and I belong to a generation that every single tape, vinyl or CD was a jewel, because when you are young and have no money, you have to save coins from money for transportation, just to go to metal store at the end of the week, and buy a couple of original stuff. That’s why I really appreciate original CD’s, tapes, vinyl, and my total respect to those who still buy physical format. You are right, metal music is a diminishing market, but there are some crazy people who still buy, and I appreciate it. I have a regular work in a Corporation, and I have a family, and definitely my metal label survives thanks to loyal customers, but it will not make me rich, for sure!!
How did your life in heavy/extreme metal begin? What was it that brought you to this form of music?
I think it was in 1993 or 1994 when I was in secondary school. A friend of mine had a notebook where he used to draw logos and demons, hehe!! Then, another friend invited me to a very underground metal party, where some bands played covers of Metallica, Maiden, Judas, etc. Later I started to go to a cultural market called El Chopo in Mexico City, where I bought many recorded tapes and original CD’s, when I had enough money. I started to play guitar and bass guitar in some bands. And that’s the story!!
How is the extreme and heavy metal scene in Mexico? Is it growing to become a real force in music in Mexico or will it always be an underground scene in your opinion?
I’m glad you ask this question, as I’m pretty sure we are living good years for Mexican metal music, nowadays. Every day I see many good bands growing from everywhere in this country, with good quality and good attitude. This is not new, as in the 80’s and 90’s we had some really good bands, but for a strange reason they never reached an international/mainstream level or never signed with big metal labels. Now, young bands are using internet and social media to promote themselves, and that’s a good advantage for extreme metal music. Of course, Mexican underground scene has many mistakes too, as well as envy, bad attitudes, rock stars, etc. But that’s not new either.
Lately, many bands had the opportunity to play in other countries, especially in European festivals, and that’s really good promotion not only for the band, but for the entire Mexican scene too. I recommend Majestic Downfall, Zombiefication, Hacavitz, Black Torment, Raped God, Agony Lords, Necroccultus, Venemous, Piraña, Doomortalis, Denial, The Suffering, Strike Master, Voltax, Split Heaven, Luzbel (the new vocalist is incredible), Eternal Secret, Fumata, Canibales, Abyssal, Morbid Messiah, as well as old bands like Cenotaph, Shub Niggurath, Sargatanas, Anarchus, Ripping Flesh, Supplicium, Dark Half, Gehenna, Argus, Crazy Lazy, Exus, Aspid, Megaton, Ramses, Apocalipsis, Gog.
What is the scene like in Mexico for music shops, venues for gigs and recording studios?
There are many music shops, venues and recording studios in Mexico. I live in Mexico City, and it’s an obligatory place to European and American bands when they are on a Latin American tour. Yeah, unfortunately, most people support mainstream metal shows as well as popular festivals (very expensive) instead of supporting local bands. Also, we have a large list of recording studios, and in spite of many years we had no metal music producers, young people are taking the place, and learning how to record and produce excellent metal albums. I like albums recorded in studios like Evolution Studio (owner is the vocalist of Agony Lords), MAT Studio (owner is the guitarist of Foeticide), Ruido Studios (owner is bassist Javier Ruido from Psicofonia).
Death in Pieces is a relatively young label with a handful of releases. Do you see this growing substantially now that you have more experience?
As you said, we are really young as a metal label/distro. I make an effort every day to promote our business. We have 5 releases ‘till now, and we are looking for growing even more, next year. It’s not easy, but we are working every day.
You also own an underground fanzine Zombie Ritual. What is the latest on the fanzine and how hard is it to keep active and up to date?
I started Zombie Ritual zine in 2009 or something, and I published only two printed issues, in Spanish language. Unfortunately, due to my current work I couldn’t continue with the printed version, but bands and underground labels still sent me a lot of promos, so I decided to make a wordpress blog and publish my reviews in English language. As you can see, my English is terrible! Hahahaha!! But I write my reviews the most honest I can be, and direct to the point. And people like it. Also, I apply some SEO technique and you can find their bands and reviews easily on Google. At least, it’s what I try to do: help bands.
How many people do you have helping you run the label? Has this grown considerably in the last couple of years since your inception in 2014?
In Death In Pieces Records it’s only me and myself hehehe!!. I have a great help from Uriel Aguillon (Necrorite, Cryptic Realms, Vorus, etc) at graphic designs, layouts etc. But in general, I do everything concerning the label.
Nope, the label has grown slowly, but also as distributors we have grown considerably.
What would you recommend bands do in order to attract your attention and get themselves signed to your label?
First: be authentic. People say that there is nothing new in metal music nowadays. But I can name a large list of new bands making awesome stuff, all around the globe.
Second: Death in Pieces Recs was created to release classic death metal music, from every corner of the world, and no matter if you have expensive instruments and recorded in an expensive studio or you have borrowed instruments and you recorded in the bathroom. The most important is the music and the passion of the genre.
Every day we receive many demos and proposals, and everything is welcomed, but we need to be picky, as we are a small label doing a big effort. If you think you have great music in the vein of classic death metal, and you have a decent recording (not extra shiny and over polished, but just appropriate recording), yeah, you can send me a promo and maybe I can support you in some way.
What level of pressure are you under every day in order for deadlines to be met and what setbacks can you face running a record label?
Honestly, I try not to be under any kind of pressure. Running this music label is just for passion and for support underground metal bands. You know? As soon as I like a band and its new recording, and as soon as we close the deal, I start to make plans, and I ask a designer to make the art and layout. Later, when I have all elements, I order the whole pack to the pressing plant. Meanwhile, I launch a press bulletin in my own PR agency Zineaholic. All this happens in about 2 months before official launch, so I’m not really in a hurry. Yes, sometimes shit happens in the press plant, mistakes, colour, audio, but that’s not in my hands, and fortunately they always act fast to solve it.
What are your ambitions for your label Death In Pieces?
My only ambition with the label is to support underground metal bands for a long time. I want to reactivate underground movement, and let young people know what it is about extreme music in a physical format. I’m not against the digital era, but I’m against tons of music inside an iPod, which hardly can be heard entirely.
What future releases will there be for the label and do you see the label signing Mexican acts in the near future as well as international acts?
In few days (end April) we are going to release VORUS (Romania) The Wretched Path album, in tape format. This will be limited edition of 150 copies, in two versions: red and clear cassette shields. It’s cooperation with Mexican label Macabre End Productions.
After that, we have some interesting proposals, but it’s too early to mention. Of course I will sign Mexican acts in the future!!
Do you have any limitations when it comes to bands that you would sign to your label?
Not really. I give freedom to the bands, hahahaha!! If they have another deal with different labels, it’s ok for me, no problem. In the other hand, I have to say I can’t stand with racism attitudes, porno gore, and explicit children abuse images. You will never see those elements under my label.
How long do you see yourself doing what you are doing within the music industry?
For a long long time!!
A question I have to ask at the end of this interview. Is there one band that slipped through the net that you would have loved to have signed to your label?
Yes. But no problem, I believe that things are accommodated in some way in the universe, and everything is in due time. Anyway, we all in metal music are a big family, and sooner or later we will do something together.
Thank you for your time Victor. A fun question to end this interview. If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?
Well, it must be a heavy metal party!!
- Metal Church – Metal Church
- Riot – Thunder Steel
- Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind
- Luzbel – Pasaporte al Infierno
- Death – Individual Thought Patterns (when everybody is drunk at 5 a.m. in the morning, hahahaha!)
Any last messages for our readers over here at Moshville Times?
Thank you very much for this interview, Ricky! I had a good time reading and writing. I hope one day we will meet in a metal festival, and drink some beers.
Don’t forget to visit our Facebook profile, and stop to say hi!
Cheers from Mexico!! Victor Varas
Death In Pieces Records: facebook