Heart of Steel: Interviews

Industry Profile – Chavis Records Bill Chavis: Label President Gives a Look into his Label

Interview by Keith McDonald

Despite the fact that radio and MTV have long since forgotten about the melodic hard rock scene, labels like Chavis Records still find bands making this type of music and a market willing to buy it. Now, most of the artists on Chavis are not household names and will not be headlining your local arena. But they are continuing to put out great, radio ready material and hitting the road to promote their releases. With artists like Alex Masi, Cry Havoc, Brave New World, Naked Son, Martian Soul and Bangkok Babes, Chavis feels very confident with what they have to offer to the music community. I recently had the opportunity to speak with the label’s founder and President Bill Chavis who gave me the lowdown on his label. You can check out their website at www.chavisrecords.com.



How did you get started in the music business?

Well from the very beginning I started as a fan. At a very young age say 6 years I was heavy into the music. The radio or stereo was always on and I was introduced to bands like Cream, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and on the flip side many bands from the 70's including the dreaded disco era which I enjoyed looking back. Moving along into the 80's which really were the best of times for me and Hard Rock Heavy Metal, I became heavily involved in the music scene playing in bands, promoting and managing bands. It wasn't until a few years ago that I became involved in writing for magazines and Internet resource websites. I have always been involved in the music scene in one form or another.


How did Chavis Records start?

Several years ago as I was writing and reviewing CD's and doing interviews, it became apparent to me how many bands creating melodic hard rock and/or heavy metal never got signed. There are so many great bands still kickin' out great hard rock and heavy metal. It is also apparent how the major labels now shun and despise the very same bands that made a decade of great music. The very fact that people who praised the bands of the 80's and early 90's now shit on them and disregard them pisses me off. In today's market it's all about the bottom line - 'How much can we make off this band?'. It's really a form of whoring out the band to make as much money as possible. It's not about the music anymore. So with all this in mind I felt that there were still many of us in the world that still love this music so I put together a business plan and launched CHAVIS RECORDS in Nov of 2001.


How hard is it to run your own label?

It's a bit of live and learn. But for the most part keeping everything in check seems to be the hardest and keeping overhead and costs down. I am an organization freak so keeping everything straight makes running the business easier. Overall I do this because I love it no other reason. It's a lot of fun.


What are your day to day events?

Generally we review a bunch of material and try to decide whether we want to take it to the next level or not. Follow up on any current projects we have in the works. Keep track of how our artists are coming along in the studio or how productions are going on future releases. Answering a ton of Email and making new contacts with people to help advance our label. 


Who handles your distribution?

We have several across the US and in Europe. We are also locking a deal to get all our releases in the Far East as well. Additionally you can buy all our stuff off of the CR website www.chavisrecords.com


How do you feel about the current melodic hard rock scene?

In the underground it's good although it can always be better. But in the overall picture in the main corporate rock world it sucks at least in the U.S. I feel it may even have slowed a bit in Europe. The Far East still rocks! Those fans really know what it's all about.


Who is currently on your roster? Who do you feel has the most potential?

This is a very loaded question (Laughs). Currently we have: Zyris, Mystery Bloom, Alex Masi, Naked Son, Cry Havoc, Brave New World, Martian Soul and Bangkok Babes.

To be honest we hope that they all do very well. There are a few that
already have a huge fan base such as Zyris, Alex Masi, Brave New World and Martian Soul. So because of this they may take off quicker then developing the others from the ground up.


How many demos do you receive a week? Do you accept unsolicited material?

At minimum 50. We accept everything as long as it conforms to what were looking for and as long as it contains everything in the package that we expect. All that can be found at www.chavisrecords.com 


How do you get the Alex Masi reissues? Will there be any bonus tracks?

As for Alex he's a great, great guitarist and has done some amazing work over the years. I have always been a fan and so when we were approached by Alex to release his latest in the U.S. we took a look at the entire picture and decided to do it.


It seems Chavis has made some noise rather quickly, was that the plan?

Absolutely!!! We wanted to come out with a bang, let people and the industry know we were here. Take notice - CHAVIS RECORDS as arrived! 


Do you only sign hard rock artists or would you consider signing other genres?

Right now yes and to very honest it's probably all that we will sign because this label is built from a fan perspective of hard rock. And if your all over the place it could be disastrous for the label. But I never say never. (Laughs)


What advise do you have for an unsigned artist?

I would say this and I say it all the time. Quality Quality Quality then image. Always make sure your producing the best demo that you can. If you send a label a crappy demo, first impressions only come once, that's your first shot at getting recognized. If your demo package is less then great then chances are it may end up in the rotary file. And be patient. Because of the volume of demos many labels get it's really hard to get to them all in a timely manner. Even harder is to get back to the band to let them know feedback. We at CR try to mange that huge task but sometimes things do slip through the cracks. But rest assured that if a label really likes you, you will hear from them.


What's the future for Chavis Records?

To release only the best music that we can. To sign additional bands to enhance and broaden our label. To make some noise and let the world know that there is still great Rock N' Roll musicians despite the trends of today. To help artists get their music out to the world.

I'd like to say thank you Keith for taking the time to interview me and to all the fans and industry people who have stepped and help us along the way. Your efforts are truly appreciated. Thank you!

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