Originally published July 15th 2014:
Last week, UP gave an overview of the advantages and draw backs of releasing a continuous stream of music. Is it the best way to keep your band in the public eye in an environment where attention spans are even shorter than they were at the birth of MTV? Or does it detract from the impact which one bigger push could have every once in a while.
In the past 7 years, bassist Chris Ryan has been involved in double figures of releases, most notably with death metal misfits Party Cannon, who are working on their first full-length for 2015 and have stomped their way around Europe with very little external support. UP bothers him for a suitably quick shooting interview about his persistent prolificacy.
Chris Ryan: Hey!
UP: Hello there, how are you tonight?
CR: Not too bad man, yourself? Ready to do this interview?
UP: I think so! If you saw the brief article I had circulating this week, you’ll have noticed it was discussing the amount of music artists release. So, 11 releases for you, is it, in 7 years across various bands? The first question that begs to be asked is ‘are you possessed’? Who writes that many songs?
CR: Is it really 11?
UP: I think so, including EPs, demos, albums. I take it you lost count?
CR: I never actually thought about this, I’m sitting counting on my fingers all the recordings I can think of. Eh, well the only band that I’ve written songs for that has released anything is Party Cannon, so it’s not so much as being “possessed” more just, piggy backing on other peoples’ writing
UP: Even so, it’s a fair few releases to be involved with, and Party Cannon isn’t looking like slowing that pace down any, is it?
CR: I hope not anyway! This year has been the busiest for us in terms of gigs
UP: Yes, and some quite significant ones on the underground scale
CR: You could say so, but I’m just happy that we’re managing to frequently get to Europe and see new places
UP: It’s something a lot of bands struggle to get nailed down
CR: Luckily for us, our genre is so niche and small that it’s easy to network and move around. The fans of the style are usually really understanding of the effort put into travelling by bands like us and are very appreciative
UP: It is nice to see your hard work getting credit! I’d like to pull you back to the issue of rate of releasing music, though. Party Cannon has been active for about four years now. According to online sources, that’s 2 singles, 2 demos, an EP and a live album, with a studio full length planned for 2015.That’s still some pretty quick work for an underground band
CR: You think? I feel the recording side of Party Cannon has been going at a snail’s pace. We’ve had so many line-up changes that it’s made getting new material solidified pretty difficult. For example, our 2013 EP was meant to come out in 2012. Like, the middle of 2012
UP: So you’d rather be going faster?
CR: It’s hard to say, I’d rather things took the time they need to be right, but at the same time, it’s fun having new songs
UP: Is it actually a decision you make, or made, or do you simply churn out song after song after song?
CR: In the past when we’ve recorded it’s always been a case of having session drummers, so we’ve always had to focus on what little material we had at the time. At the moment we’re in a better position to start churning out songs now that we have a consistent line-up.
UP: It’s interesting that you previously mentioned the songs taking as long as they need. The only place this seems to be heavily discussed in music is in rap, R&B communities. It’s probably far more extreme, considering the ease with which you can roll out a mix-tape. There, the theory is circulating that the quick succession of releases is linked to a poorer standard of work. Do you think the quality suffers working at such a high rate?
CR: It’s down to the people producing it I guess. Personally, if I had to work to a deadline and produce say, 8 songs a year, then the quality would definitely suffer. But I’m sure there’s people out there that just excrete good songs.
UP: It also becomes harder to better yourself as you go on
CR: Yeah for sure, trying not to repeat yourself is the hardest part about writing
UP: What about the other side of that coin? Do you think that consistently providing new content helps to build a relationship, or a better relationship, with listeners?
CR: It definitely helps to put out stuff semi-regularly, keeping you fans waiting a long time isn’t good. Look at Necrophagist
UP: I’m not so familiar with their story, actually. Could you fill me in?
CR: Their last album came out in 2004 and they kept making statements saying they were going to release a new album in 2012, then completely disappeared
UP: Ah, so you think this had something to do with their lacking consistent output?
CR: More than likely, they haven’t made an update in years
UP: Then again when is a lot too much? Could a band stumble into overkill?
CR: Definitely, I know some bands that have an obscene discography full of random splits, demos, promos, EPS. It just gets to the point where you have no idea how to keep track
UP: Have you ever given up on a band because of this?
CR: Not really given up, but it kinda puts me off exploring their discography a bit. I’ll end up just listening to whatever the first material I found was. But that’s just me, I’m sure there’s people that love bands with hundreds of obscure 7″ splits, demo promos, etc.
UP: It seems a bit of a balancing act
CR: Ideally, I’d like to keep things to around one release a year, be it an album or a split
UP: I noticed that in the same month as announcing Party Cannon will be putting out a debut album, you’ve also started some drum play through videos. Was it part of the plan to keep the ball rolling while you build up to something bigger?
CR: People have been requesting play through videos for a while, and we all personally enjoy it when bands post stuff like that. I guess it keeps people interested until the album is ready
UP: Would you have done it if they hadn’t asked?
CR: More than likely. Martin, our drummer, has been making play through videos for his other band for a while now
UP: I must admit, I like behind the scenes videos as a way to connect with the audience
CR: Yeah man for sure, I absolutely love making-of documentary and tour diaries
UP: Have you done this with your other bands?
CR: Iniquitous Savagery attempted to make a diary of our US tour, but all the footage turned out pretty boring, There’s a recording video of Party Cannon, but it’s mainly a compilation of us fucking up takes
UP: I think Pantera, for example, were really good at this. Those guys took cameras everywhere
CR: You know, I’ve never actually seen the Pantera home videos
UP: It’s basically a lot of crazy mucking about with some music videos in there!
CR: Sounds pretty good!
UP: I like it! Let’s go back to yourself as a ‘musical entity’ – Do you think the more or less continuous stream of music you’re personally involved with helps build up all the projects, or do they each stand on their own?
CR: I would definitely think they stand on their own, I don’t think Party Cannon has been boosted by me being in Iniquitous Savagery and vice versa
UP: So, equally, the amount you put out from one band is unlikely to swamp fans of the other?
CR: I doubt it would. I don’t think fans of either band think about me too much when listening to the music
UP: You’re my gateway to both, since the Psychoanalysis days
CR: That’s due to being a local thing though!
UP: True, it could be a local/social thing. Again, that’s somewhere where there is more pressure to be ‘present’ now, with people constantly on social media
CR: Totally, especially with the way Facebook works. If you don’t keep posting ‘like-able’ content, your posts’ reach diminishes
UP: Do you tend to get more feedback on new stuff online?
CR: Definitely man, especially with the majority of our fanbase being aborad
UP: How do you mean?
CR: From what I’ve found, the majority of our fans seem to be in Europe and America, and the only way for them to give us feedback really is online
UP: Got you! The positive side of the internet for musicians, especially those in niche genres.
CR: If it wasn’t for the internet, I would not be into death metal
UP: Wow! That’s a significant statement to make!
CR: HMV doesn’t exactly stock Repudilation CDs
UP: I actually worked in Virgin Megastores when they were in Perth, and you know what? I found a great stack of fantastic heavy stuff that just hadn’t been put out!
CR: Really? Anything like Disgorge or Digest Flesh?
UP: There were a couple of quite obscure death and black metal albums, but I remember Napalm Death gathering dust in the stock room
CR: There used to be a Music Zone in Dunfermline and that pretty good for getting stuff like Cannibal Corpse and Obituary, but for the bands I’m really into these days their stuff is only available through dedicated online distros
UP: And I suppose those labels can only afford to carry so many releases
CR: I think their stock is made up by trading with other labels
UP:And again we come back to the social aspect. Which has been largely enabled by the internet
UP: So, you’ve got recorded output, touring, behind the scenes content, and connecting with your audience via social media, all coming under pressure to perform: not too much, or people turn off. Not too little, or a band could just disappear in a puff of smoke. Is there any real way to decide how to balance all these things out, individually or against each other?
CR: It’s really hard to say what is the best way as it seems to vary from band to band. For example, we were talking about Necrophagist not releasing anything and that being bad for their fan base, where as Guttural Secrete took ~6 years to release their second album and they only got more popular during the wait. Then you have bands that only put out releases and don’t perform live that are hugely popular. What I’ve found works for my bands is gigging as much as possible in as many different places as possible. As long as you’re hitting different places with bands that a draw a crowd, you are likely to gain a following
UP: Just get out there and do it, and let the rest develop naturally?
CR: As long you have one or two decently recorded songs, then pretty much. Look at Cerebral Bore, they only put out a demo and a single and then toured everywhere for years
UP: Well Chris, thank you very much for lending us your experience. It’s been fast and friendly! I can’t wait to hear your full length when it lands next year, and wish you all the best with it and with taking the party on the road!
CR: Thanks for taking the time to interview me, had a lot of fun! Can’t wait for Hordes Of Belial In September!