Heart of Steel: Interviews

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Interview With Galy Records
Interview By JP

Greetings Eric! Tell us a bit about your personal background. What made you want to get into the crazy world of running a heavy metal label?

I’ve been involved in the music scene in Montreal (Canada) since 1988. It all start out with a fanzine I did with some friends call Stage Dive, it was in French and we put out three issues. With the zine I made contacts and I started to promote shows with local bands like Soothsayer, Leprocy, Obliveon, Chronical Disturbance then international acts like Dead Horse, Suffocation, Immolation, Cannibal Corpse, etc… I also did management for some groups and took care of booking their shows. The label seemed like the next logical step for me as far as my involvement in the music scene. I had day jobs (9 to 5) all that time to pay the bills but I was fed up with working for companies that didn’t care about there staff etc… so I said to myself might as well bust my ass doing my own thing and what I like full time. Also, I got a lot of friends that play in bands and I see all the efforts and sacrifices they put into it, so if I can make a difference and help some of them get further in their career then I’m a happy man. As far as being a crazy world - you're right about this - but I am so much into it that at the end of the day its all good.



Tell us a bit how you founded the label.

Basically I had the idea in my head for a very long time, so I took note and watched what was going on and how it was done as well as saving as much money as I could! Then one day I finally had enough guts to stop just thinking about it and I quit my day job and made the big step to start my own business full time once and for all. It's not that easy to make a huge decision like that when you got a secure job that pays well and all but I had no choice. I was unhappy with what I was doing and I couldn’t do the label part time - It had to be for real if I was doing it. When that day came I had a bunch of ideas and plans so I just started making phone calls and sending emails to put it all together and it happened. I have some contacts so I used them. I had some knowledge of the music scene and business so I put it to work and I’m still learning as I go along.



What was the first band you signed, and what was the most recent band you signed?

First band I signed was DBC (Dead Brain Cells) - one of my favorite groups of all time. It was a dream come true to start my label and a great honor to do it with a band that I like so much. I knew Eddie Shahini (guitar player) back in the day and I lost touch with him for almost a decade. I had that tape he made me of their demo for their third album that never came out so when I got his email I told him about my project and he agreed to do it. For Eddie, Phil and Jeff it was a chance to pay homage to their band mate Gerry Ouellette (guitar) who sadly passed away in 1994. The last band I signed is Blinded By Faith, a young promising act from Quebec City (Canada). They play melodic black metal. So right away you can see that the label is very diverse.



Do you have the final decision of who gets signed to your label?

Yes, I do but I have help from different persons involved at different levels in the music scene that give me their opinions and suggestions. I’m very lucky to have them helping me out and giving me cues and pointers, etc… Some bands I do find myself by contacting them, others are recommended by those contacts that are helping and sometime bands just send their material and it works out.



Do you have a certain vision or philosophy for your label?

I don’t put any restrictions or barriers to the label. If its good I will put it out. I don’t want to be trapped in just one particular style of music. I want to build an interesting, diverse and strong catalog. It will be mostly metal in one shape or another, but if a good hardcore or punk or any other underground band shows up I might do it. I like a lot of different type of music so the label will be diversified but within limits. I won't put out something to far off for us. I want to put out interesting bands for people to enjoy and I’m not trying to please just one particular crowd and I don’t want to be classified as a label that does one specific style of metal. I just want to be a good and interesting label. Also I can do old school or new school, unknown bands or well known bands etc.. I take chances - I’m not trying to just go for a safe bet, in the long run I think it will pay off and work out for the best.



The global metal market is quite small and quite competitive. What are doing to make yourself stand out?

There are so many bands and so many labels that it can be hard to pop out of the pack, but with all modesty with time I think we will stand out because of hard work, dedication and honesty. I’m also doing my best to build an interesting catalog so I believe metal fans will take notice and they will keep an eye on the label and be interested in what we do. My heart and soul is into this. I got involved in this because I am a music fan - its a passion for me. We do as much promotion as we can also.



What is the connection you have with Houston, Texas?

I have many friends over there and some are involved in the music business as well. Eventually I want an office there. Also, my son lives in Houston and I live in Montreal and the label has our family name, so that’s another reason. My friend Sean Sitka is in Houston and he already helped me a lot. He does some promo for the label and he’s an A&R for the label. He’s involved in the music business with a tour bus company (www.rocknrolltourbusleasing.com) and he knows a lot of bands from USA and Europe.



A related question:, The metal scene in Canada seems to be almost completely centered in Quebec. Why do you think that is?

That’s a hard one to answer. I’m not sure. Maybe the cold weather and the snow make you stay inside so I guess musicians have more then enough time to practice! Quebec represents 80% of the metal market in Canada. More CD’s are sold here and shows get bigger turnouts here compared to the rest of Canada. I guess we are more exposed to this music then other parts of Canada, so I presume it influences more kids to pick up an instrument and start a band. Having two languages here (French/English) and Montreal being a multicultural town might be a factor, as it’s a good place for arts over here. We are also pretty open minded. Maybe the answer to that is only one word: VOIVOD.



Describe an average business day for yourself.

It's 7 days a week, 15 hours a day consisting of tons of emails and sitting in front of the computer for hours doing different stuff related to the label, answering phone calls, packing orders, going to the post office, solving problems , negotiating contract (I hate that part, its very time consuming and it sucks your energy at times. I wish we could do it with a handshake but its not like that!), paying bills, ordering stuff, planning future releases & advertisements, inventory, explaining stuff to musicians, booking shows, stressing out because there is tons of work or delays. Stuff like that, all while listening to music. As you can see its nothing very exciting or out of the ordinary, but I like it and I’m not complaining - its better then doing it for someone else in something you don’t like. While working, I'm creating and I'm building something in what I like the most (music) I’m part of the scene and I hope I can help it get stronger and bigger. I feel like I’m doing something meaningful. Working with musicians is not always easy but it's inspired and motivated me unlike working with drones in a factory!



What are you listening to these days and who are some of your hopes for the future of metal?

I listen a lot to Soulscar (www.soulscar.com) I just found out about them recently and picked them up for the label. I also like the New York Dolls, Anorexia Nervosa, Opeth, QOTSA, High on Fire, Immortal, and Mastodon. Relapse Records is the label I enjoy and like the most. I also like Willowtip Records. While working I also listen to a local radio station that plays classic rock. As for hopes I would say Neuraxis - I think those guys will have a huge year and they are very close to getting bigger and more known worldwide. The next Martyr album should be quite something. There is a new young band from Montreal called Ashes of Eden - I think they have a bright future, they kick ass live and they put out a demo on CD - a mix of old school thrash with black metal etc.. It’s very good and I hope i'll have the chance to work with them in the future. I sure hope Voivod will finally get what they deserve - those guys are genius and pioneers. Voivod rules...



There seems to be a massive demand for melodic power metal. Have you ever considered dealing with local bands like Crystal Castle, Forgotten Tales, or Dragon Warrior and exposing them to the rabid fans in Europe?

Not really, as I don’t follow trends and it's not the type of metal that I like the most. I do like some power metal but not a lot. Still, I don’t say that I will never have a power metal band on the label, but the door is not closed. To tell you the truth, I know their name but I never heard what Crystal Castle and Dragon Warrior do. I’m in Montreal and most power metal bands in Quebec are outside of Montreal, so I’m not close to the power metal scene. But I did have two power metal bands from Quebec in mind at one point and I just decided not to follow those ideas for a couple of reasons.



What does the future hold in store for Galy in 2003?

Plans are not made too much in advance, as we never know what ends up on the table and when, but we will release the demo of Gorguts on CD for the first time with bonus tracks. We got Soulscar In March, a CD sampler, Divinity and Blinded By Faith in April, the CD compilation of the Trois-Rivières Métalfest in November . Other things will come up as well. If DBC finds a good live recording I will put out a live CD of them. If I have the time and get the rights, I want to put one specific release on vinyl as well as old demos or live recording in special packages and very limited. I want to do one of those clear cd (like the Cephalic Carnage EP) as well. They look too good.



The floor is yours. Do you have any last words for our readers?

First, thanks so much for the interview - this is my first one so I hope I wasn’t too boring! I appreciate your help and support. I would like to say to your readers to be open minded to music. There are good bands in different styles, so don’t limit yourself to only one type of music, black metal, death metal, grind, hardcore, heavy metal, old school, new school ,etc… It's all good.

Label Website:  www.galyrecords.com