Heart of Steel: Interviews

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Interview With Listenable Records
Interview By Keith McDonald

Most people don’t realize that France does have a pretty formidable metal scene. It seems that when people discuss Europe’s metal scene many fans think of countries like Sweden, Finland and Germany. As I soon found out, France’s Listenable Records has been doing a quality job getting metal out to their countrymen. I recently had the opportunity to get some information about this label from their label manager Laurent Merle. You can check out their website at www.listenable.net.


How did you get started in the music business?

I've been doing zines since 1987 and in the early 90s, I wanted to do limited edition 7inches. I had released MY DYING BRIDE 'god is alone' 7"ep and eventually released IMMORTAL 7"ep debut as well. It was never meant to be business orientated though, just pure passion.



How did Listenable Records start?

Just out of pure passion, I wanted to make people aware of great demo bands like RITUAL SACRIFICE , IMMOLATION, SINDROME, BLASPHEMY, REPULSION, DEAD CONSPIRACY etc that I've always wanted to release records to basically share my passion with others. I just saved money and did my first 7"inch. I wish I had done more 7inches. I was studying back then.



Who handles your distribution? How important is quality distribution?

Well, down here, in Europe, it's different than in the U.S., we have a distributor per territory. ZOMBA in Germany, M10 in France, AUDIOGLOBE in Italy..... We deal with a lot of different people with different ways of working and different perspectives; I'd like to say we have a good European distribution, a professional one, with sales men / pre campaigns for each release, coordinated promotion etc. Plus we recently began working with THE END records in the U.S. and I'm sure our bands gained a lot of new fans. Everything is as important the others: bands, promotion, distribution etc.;



Who is on your roster? Who has been the most successful?

I guess IMMOLATION, DERANGED, SOILWORK and ABORTED are the most successful artists. Others are heading towards international recognition, I can feel it on AMARAN whose upcoming album 'pristine bondage' will become a future classic, THEORY IN PRACTICE, LUCIFERION 's new album is eagerly awaited, our new artists THE LEGION, SCARVE, MORS PRINCIPIUM EST are something to catch up with.



Do you sign all types of metal?

No, I'm trying to sign bands that I enjoy listening too, I listen to all types, but I make my selection in all those music styles. My favorite music style remains death metal, mainly because of the intensity, the energy and feeling especially when it's dark death metal like IMMOLATION, MORBID ANGEL, NILE etc but I definitely enjoy the new CAVE IN, and SYMPHONY X albums. We're trying to sign artists who can inject feeling and mood into the music. Say I like it when it's fast, or melodic, but I like it more when it takes my mind off my daily life. . We also have PALE FOREST whom sound opposite to death metal. They're actually the only listenable band (I mean that you can listen to) with AMARAN on the label.



How do you find new artists?

We get demos and we've been getting a lot of offers from bands on other labels during the past 2 years. We have benefited from a growth in popularity and it helps us reaching new heights. But frankly, I have to enjoy the band's music, how popular they may be, to make me feel comfortable doing my job.



How deep is your back catalog? How important is it for a label's growth?

We have a small back catalog since we've only been releasing like 7/10 records a year but our back catalog is still selling which is a part of a label's success. The back catalog is the financial root of a label sometimes. It allows bigger investment on new artists.



Do you sign bands to worldwide deals or just for France?

We sign bands worldwide or Europe only.



How is the French metal scene? How would you compare it to the rest of the world?

It's still happening. A few years earlier, I would have said the French scene was really behind all other metal scenes, and now I feel there's a lot of good bands from France in various metal styles: death/ thrash, hardcore, black metal, happy metal etc.; I 'd like to recommend SCARVE, NO RETURN, GRONIBARD, MORGUE, LATRODECTUS, BELENOS, NIGHTMARE... It's better organized than in the 90s with quality webzines, good press supporting its own scene too, we have 4 major metal magazines here. Bands have a better overall quality as well; I remember that all-extreme metal French bands were sounding so pathetic in the early 90s. Of course, we still have funnels like any other countries (bar Sweden ha). National heavy metal and hard rock have also always been important over the years like any other Latin country I guess. We don't sign many French bands; we've only been working with 3 French bands since the beginning.



Do your bands tour? How important is it to help sell records?

Basically this is the most important thing to me. If the band is good live they can convince new fans and an advert will rarely draw new fans, it only attracts some eventual record buyers. We've had big European tours since the beginning of the year, IMMOLATION with CRADLE OF FILTH, PALEFOREST with THE GATHERING. VILE headlining in Europe, DERANGED touring with VADER. It was exciting. We'd hope all our bands were able to play live and tour. It was motivating to see PALE FOREST being acclaimed by 1500 people in a sold out hall in Paris and see IMMOLATION crushing everything in front of 2700 attendees in Amsterdam.



Anything you'd like to promote/plug for your label?

Watch out for ABORTED 'goremageddon' to be released in the U.S. through CENTURY MEDIA, MORS PRINCIPIUM EST a highly talented band from Finland, THE LEGION featuring current MARDUK 's drummer, AMARAN whose second album is a thrilling experience, IMMOLATION 's DVD will flatten you out. Check our new shirts.



What's the future for Listenable Records?

Make people believe in us and in our unlistenable bands. Have more fun and work less extra hours. 


Label Website: www.listenable.net