Interview with Thomas Hertler of Massacre Records
Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary of Massacre Records!! I have some very fond memories of bands on Massacre and I have many (what I consider to be rare) items on Massacre in my personal collection. The first CD I ever bought when I decided to transition from cassettes to CD was VIPER-Theater of Fate (Mass 002) so I have been a fan for a long, long time! During the dreaded grunge era in North America I thought it was amazing that a small little label in Germany was releasing superb Power Metal from Brazil! Finding early albums by bands like Forte and Winter’s Bane on Massacre Records was a godsend, even if they were very expensive to buy from mail-order catalogues…but worth every penny. It is a pleasure to ask you some questions.
Is the founder, Mr. Hartmann still involved?
Yes, Torsten is still president of Massacre Records GmbH including Blue Rose Records
I understand that Baphomet-No Answer was the first record issued on Massacre (Mass 001) Are you the one and same vocalist of Baphomet? If yes, do you ever get that desire to get back on stage? When can we expect a Baphomet reunion?!
Yes, you are right. Baphomet was my band back at the time. I have quit there already back in 1994 though. No, I am sorry there will be no reunion. We did some rehearsals some time ago just for fun but due to health reasons of our guitar player Gernot there was no chance to continue.
Tell about an average day for you in the office? When you were in A&R did you have a favourite artist that you worked with? Conversely was there a band that was especially challenging? What was the first band you ever signed to the label?
Well, the working day is not so different than any other office clerk selling and producing some kind of product. Consequently the matter if I like a band of not is not the final point – basically it matters
more if we can sell that band or not, haha. My first signings if I remember well were Mystic and Forte, can’t remember who was first.
According to Wikipedia the best-selling albums on Massacre were Werk 80 and Velvet Darkness They Fear. Does that still hold true today?
Yes. Velvet Darkness they fear did about 180.000 records and Werk 80 about 100.000, the other Theatre Of Tragedy albums should have sold
more than Werk 80 in the meantime though
This is a tough but fair question. Why has Massacre historically had such poor distribution in North America?
Well, it I’d knew the answer.. we did try with an own office in the early Nineties, which did not work out. I think that was the problem that we never had
a real US dependance. It has been better though in the last years working with Soulfood/E One and now with MVD distribution.
Over the 25 years of Massacre what are the biggest changes to the industry in your experience?
For sure the internet with its new digital business, which wasn’t existing when we started – it changed it all
Massacre traditionally has not released as many stand alone DVD’s. Why is that?
Well, there wasn’t much product and the market for music DVDs ist really small.
An obvious question but has illegal downloading impacted your business model and revised how you do business now? What is it about Metal fans that they still buy physical products?
It has affected the whole business including us for sure. The complete music scene has changed there are massive losses everywhere, but everybody knows that. The metal fans – god thanks – are very loyal and are still supporting bands and their physical products.
What is currently your strongest selling artist?
Our best selling bands are Eisregen, Mystic Prophecy, Debauchery and Arven.
Why has Massacre succeed in an era of declining sales and literally dozens and dozens of small Heavy Metal record labels have failed? What is the secret to your success as a label?
We have always kept to our roots. We have the same people working here for more than 15 years – same with our artists. Most of the bands
are here for a decade or longer. We stand for solid, reliable work and it feels like family sometimes. I think that’s what makes the difference.
And, maybe, a little knowledge and experience from 25 years hahaha.
What are the future plans?
Keep it up, staying sold in our metal market and expanding the family with other great bands and artists to the ones we already have!
Thank you and continued success!
Thank you for your time, Joshua, and the chance to show ourselves at Metal Rules. Watch out for the coming Exciter album
in original lineup over there in Canada!!!!