Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview With Andreas Katsambas - The End Records

Interviewed by JP

This month's industry feature is a focus on the president and founder of The End Records, Andreas Katsambas. The End Records is one of the exciting new labels in the USA that is making waves in the metal underground. We are delighted to have the opportunity to talk with Andreas.

Tell us a little bit about THE END. How did you come up with the name, and how did the label start?

Starting the label was more of a spontaneous decision. I was never a musician and neither was Sergey. We were just really big fans of metal. I listen to music all the time and I remember studying finals at college and listening to black metal through my headphones! After, graduation I moved from San Diego to L.A. but kept good contact with a good friend, Sergey Makhotkin. So one day he called me up saying he was driving to LA to bring me some tapes he got from his recent trip to Russia. He gave me Mental Home the first time and Nokturnal Mortum the second time. At the same time I gave him demos from Sculptured and Odes Of Ecstasy. As we were very impressed with the quality of the music we wanted to do something to help them. The original idea was to contact some label and help these bands get signed, but soon after we just decided to start our own underground label. The name came rather quickly and we decided on it as it has different meanings and it can be interpreted in various ways. I remember in our first AD we wrote: "Metal? Let it be The End!" and some people called to complain why we want metal to die haha!

We started the label slowly and all was done internally, even the funding. Our first release was Mental Home "Vale" in 1998. It was definitely not an easy time but our dedication to metal kept us going.


Some industry watchers are aware that you are a part of the Century Media family. Can you tell us about that relationship?

Yes, I started working at Century Media over 3 years ago. Marco Barbieri (CM President), whom I knew through Ill Literature, called me up and said they were looking for someone to take care of their website. It was a great opportunity as computers and metal are my two hobbies and thus I would be able to combine both into a full time job. Since then I helped re-structure their site and also set-up new computer networks, new programs, etc. Three years may seem a long time, but I actually I am just about to finish all the big projects so now I will concentrate a bit more on The End and see how this one goes.


It seems to me you have an incredible talent for scouting and signing these amazingly innovative bands from overseas and bringing them into the US. How do you decide who to approach with a label deal?

Thanks for the nice words. It is pretty much based on music quality and talent. I got into metal in 1983 and at the time the scene was loaded with incredible and exciting bands that were always pushing the boundaries of metal to new heights. That's what got me excited at the time and now when we look for bands we try to find those that still try to bring in new ideas into the scene. Even when we try to sing a new band we want it to be different than our other bands. The idea is to innovate and challenge.


I was delighted to see that you have the ability to bring over titles from the excellent AFM label (Edguy, Squealer, Tankard). How did that deal come about and are those excellent bands finally getting the recognition they deserve in the US?

We first started buying CDs from them to sell through our mail-order. Then Tomer, who handles our purchasing and sales, created a good relationship with AFM and one of the big issues for them was the lack of promotion and distribution in the USA. And thus we added another department to The End that also deals with distribution and promotions of bands that while are not ours per se, they are of good quality and should be more recognized in the USA. Since then we acquired AFM, Moonfog, Scarlet, Prophecy, Listenable, etc.


What are some of the daily challenges you face dealing with bands and management from all over the world?

I don't think we encounter a lot of challenges. It is mostly responsibilities and these are issues that deal with recordings, budgets, designs, and such. We keep a friendly and open communication with all our bands and I have found out that this approach, helps avoid any misunderstandings as band appreciate that. I spent a lot of time ensuring that our bands are happy with us, as they are what make the label after all!


What are some of your favorite metal bands? What are you listening to lately and what new bands (if any) have caught your ear? (Besides the ones you signed!)

I have tons of favorite bands as I have been following the scene since I was 11 years old, but some are Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Scorpions (the band that got me into metal!), Slayer, Razor, Venom, Bathory, Celtic Frost, Entombed, Arcturus, My Dying Bride, Septic Flesh, Dream Theater, Samael and the list goes on and on. From recent metal releases I like the latest Alchemist, My Dying Bride, Sigh, The Tea Party and Portishead (not really metal but very depressive music!).


As mainstream media continue to ignore metal there seems to be more and more independent record labels and bands who have the time, energy and tools to make higher quality products and services. I'm sure you are aware that at least 15 metal record labels have been bought or gone out of business in the last few years. How do you see THE END Records staying successful in an increasingly competitive marketplace?

We started the label more out of enthusiasm and it was more of a hobby at that time. We never even followed any industry standards at the time as we didn't even know what those were. We just did things our way and what we felt was right for the bands. Also, we never depended on the label to cover our personal expenses. We had our full-time jobs for that. Then slowly as we became more familiar with the industry, gained more knowledge, we kept pushing the label to the next level. We have also noticed that once an opportunity knocks, then more doors open for you so things were improving for us. We are very carefully with our spending and above all we all work very hard and are totally committed into what we do. We get e-mail from happy clients on daily basis and nothing can make me happier than that.


Do you have any last thoughts or comments? This is your turn to shine!

I would like to say a big thanks for the interview! Also, those that would like to get more info on the label check our site: www.theendrecords.com. We always try to bring forth high quality metal and if you get a chance check out our bands. Thanks!

Thank you very much for talking the time out of your busy day to speak with us and thank you for your continued support of Metal-Rules.com and the metal scene in general.

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