Russia’s Special Radio Interviews THE METAL DEN’s Randy “Rocket” Cody
August 6, 2012
Den Headz, premiere Russian music site specialradio.ru has conducted an interview with Randy “Rocket” Cody of The Metal Den. Rocket discusses his new record label and how he created The Metal Den.
(Read Russian Language Version HERE)
Russia’s Special Radio Interviews
THE METAL DEN’s Randy “Rocket” Cody
SR: Do you remember the moment when metal music struck your heart? How old were you then and what was the band or the artists that put the spell on you?
ROCKET: Yes, I grew up in Los Angeles throughout the 1980′s, so when I was very young I began going to MÖTLEY CRÜE and IRON MAIDEN concerts. I first attended Shout at The Devil and Number of The Beast concerts at 12 and 13 so that should tell you quite enough. lol I remember those two shows definitely putting a ‘spell’ on me and it made me feel so good inside to be out at such big concerts around so many people so young and watching history unfold before my very eyes.
SR: How did your development of a metalhead go on? Do you feel like that your tastes are the same today?
ROCKET: As I grew older, I grew less fond of metal music because it became too much of a gimmick and I ultimately turned away from it as hardcore as I was when younger and started to listen more to older 60-70′s hard rock like Led Zeppelin, Cream and Jimi Hendrix. I learned more about the blues. I actually began to play the bass guitar at 19 years old after having performed as singer in a handful of garage bands earlier in my teens for the fun of it. But when I took on the bass guitar instrument and jammed with my younger brother, Eric Cody, who went on to be trained by Nick Tongue from Australia, who was Steve Vai’s guitar tech for the first G3tour, I started to get very interested in playing and hearing nothing but metal once again. Then after Dimebag Darrell’s tragic murder on stage in December of 2004 that inspired me to do something more to give back to the metal scene I love so much. So really it was all a fluke but I developed the concept for ‘The Metal Den’ at that time and just went to work. I was also in the midst of serious drug problems. I literally started from a free MySpace page, and just started working in the underground of metal, going out to shows regularly on the Sunset Strip to watch shows and write about them and do interviews with whomever would give me an opportunity to do so. I was invited in 2006 to write for the premiere metal news site www.metalunderground.com, where I was on staff for about thirteen months and after hundreds of articles, I had ugly falling out with site owner over my always promoting the lesser known “Unsigned” bands. lol Which confused me, ultimately because I thought that was the cooler thing to be doing was helping the bands that truly needed the help, you know? This is why I left metalunderground site and launched the offical site for my creation The Metal Den with partner Eddie Karam of Red Rocket Entertainment.
SR: Name only 3 bands, the ones that you would call immensely important for you, and give reasons why! Which are your most preferred metal genres?
ROCKET: Today I would say thrash metal is my favorite, so obviously Metallica and Anthrax are big ones for me. Black Sabbath was one of the first bands my older brother, Jeff Cody, turned me onto when I was only 6 or 7. lol I can recall hearing the song “Black Sabbath” and it scared the living crap out of me. I loved the imagery and lyrics so much and understood that they were not satanic, so they were very important early on. Again, Metallica is another big one for sure. I got into them like everyone else at the time they were coming out of the underground and really admired the songwriting and how heavy they were. Pantera is most definitely, however, the single most important band to me. I could go on all day about them. I feel if they could have had four or five more studio albums that they could have proved to be the best metal band ever in terms of overall popularity in the world. It is my hope that Vinnie Paul can one day set aside his anger toward the surviving members and do a final set of shows with them and Zakk Wylde filling in for Dime. The fans deserve it. I helped start a cause for this on Facebook a while back and it has gained major media attention as of late and so I am very pleased to be the driving force behind that, because now so many important metal figures are giving great support behind the idea of it maybe actually happening, including Zakk Wylde, Rita Haney (Dimebag’s Hag), Fozzy’s Chris Jericho, to name only a few.
SR: Do you prefer to buy CDs or maybe LPs, or you don’t mind to purchase music from iTunes?
ROCKET: Honestly, I purchase music both ways today. But you see, being a well known heavy metal promoter as I am, all the record labels that you can possibly think of are sending me music on a daily basis to review at my site for free. But when I want something on my own that I find, it depends. I love to have the CD, with art and booklet, etc.. because it’s an ‘experience’ much like how vinyl was cool to have back in the day… and actually that itself is making a comeback now. A lot of people prefer vinyl because of the sound you get, which is much warmer and closer to the sound the musician intended in the first place.
SR: When and how did you switch to metal with a different, professional approach, not only consuming music but working with it?
ROCKET: As I explained before, it was not easy. I was locked in a drug daze on something that is called ‘Meth’ in the US. Or it is also known as “Speed”. I started to take it so that I could go to more concerts and be up all night, mainly at this time I was big fan of Philip H. Anselmo’s Superjoint Ritual band and saw them every chance. But something told me I needed to slow down, and I wish I would have listened. lol Instead I spent the better part of two years living homeless, which was a very difficult life, but after a long hard fight I finally beat the drugs and the streets. I have been sober from hard drugs of any kind, this includes alcohol for about 5 years now. I met a fantastic woman online who was a fan of my work. Her name is Hope and she lives in Fort Worth, Texas, and she actually grew up going to Pantera club shows before Philip was even in the band. She is the love of my life and helped me to get more serious about the work I do. We just celebrated our four year wedding anniversary on July 22.
SR: You have done a lot for metalunderground, which remains a premiere metal site today, and then you launched your own site. What made you realize that it’s time to walk your own path? Do still keep relations with metalunderground?
ROCKET: No. As I explained, I has a falling out with owner of site over the way I was going about my business promoting and so I basically gave him the middle finger salute and went on with The Metal Den and launching that site.
SR: When does the title “The Metal Den” come from? What does it actually mean (any additional implications) and what does it mean for you?
ROCKET: Great question! I was in a music rehearsal studio I was renting at time jamming on my bass alone doing drugs, thinking about starting another band. lol I was thirty five at the time! My mother and family thought I was crazy. My drug habit was really bad and at the moment I came up with the name I had been up for the past eighteen days out of twenty with zero sleep, and I actually was bleeding from the finger tips onto the bass strings because I was playing too much. At some point I picked up a magazine on the studio floor that featured Dimebag in it and a section of his interview spoke to me. Like literally. It had nothing to do with me of course, but he spoke about how he didn’t like seeing his friends go down in flames on bad drugs, almost like he was speaking directly to me. lol At that point something spoke to me in my head and I dunno, perhaps it was God himself, I dunno…but all I recall is hearing the three words over and over repeating “The Metal Den”. I could not understand it myself! But after time, I did understand that it was a gift given to me and it was up to me to do something with it. After all these years now, it easily breaks down to this: ‘Den’ means a refuge or hiding place… and so you add ‘Metal’ and it is the ultimate place to be for that kind of music. Somewhere where a true fan of the music like myself can go to and always know they are in a special place for this sort of thing.
SR: What are the keys to success to make your music site popular among thousands of others doing the same job?
ROCKET: Work. A lot of hard work. I get up every day, seven days a week, at same time, six AM, and I work probably 12-15 hours every day, and I try to stick with a daily game plan of the things that need to get done first above all else. This means a lot of follow up work, scouting, speaking with bands on the phone or out at shows, but most of the time I just let my heart take me to where I feel I need to be at that time. If my heart is not into it, then it is usually not going to get my best effort. So I really do the work that I love first and foremost so my fans get my best possible work and not something that is halfway inspiring. If I choose to promote a new band I promote them with all of my energy, doing whatever it takes to get their music heard on radio stations/sites, being properly covered by media in interviews and reviews. So one day I will be more focused on actual site content, doing things with more well known talent, covering major news stories or whatnot and then other days I am more focused on working with the new bands.
SR: Please introduce your partner of TheMetalDen.com. How do you normally divide responsibilities?
ROCKET: Eddie Karam from Florida is the technical guy for the site and designer. He also is with Red Rocket Entertainment (http://www.redrocketentertainment.com), so he manages talent himself as well. But as for the content at the site and everything else I am the Editor-In-Chief and all of that stuff is handled by me only. If he or anyone (label/publicist) submits to TMD’s site I am the final approval for what appears on the site.
SR: You have interviewed and talked to lots of famous people in metal biz, still are there any particular names you would love to point out specifically?
ROCKET: Oh yes, most definitely. I would like to interview Robert Trujillo from Metallica/Suicidal Tendencies one of these days. I interviewed his wife Chloe twice already. She does the artwork on his basses, and so I thought she was so fascinating I would interview her first as a way to do something not so predictable but perhaps we will finally interview Robert when the next Metallica album is being promoted. I can recall meeting him once when I was about seventeen and working in a music store in Venice, California called “Wherehouse Music” (it has since gone out of business) and it was a very inspirational moment. It was during the release of Suicidal’s “Lights, Camera, Revolution”.. we had the posters all over the store promoting it… and then he walked in one morning to buy some music and we spoke briefly and it just was a very powerful moment for me to interact with someone I looked up to as an idol. He could not have been more down to earth and normal. That made me feel more closer to the music.
SR: You did not stop on just metal site – you pushed further on to TMD Promotion and your record label! Looks like you never gonna stop! Lets talk about TMD Promotion first. What promotion services do you provide and which are bands you have worked with?
ROCKET: TMD Promotions is essentially a press release service for unsigned bands. For a starting fee of only $200, I will give a band promotions for one month via unlimited press alerts at TMD’s site. If they want to get more advanced I offer ‘full-time publicist’ service and band management. These cost more, but yield far greater results. Once a band uses this service, I begin to consider them for my label. It is up to how hard they work and how well they do working in the industry under my care that I will then decide if they are ready to be signed and so much bigger things.
You can view the bands on my current roster, here: (http://www.reverbnation.com/label/randycody) and bands can submit directly to me at my email: (email@example.com)
SR: Are you also involved into organizing gigs and festivals?
ROCKET: Yes, I am always looking to find opportunities for my bands. I booked one of my new acts to a big event on August 4th in Princeton, Indiana. Florida’s FORESHADOW will be peforming at Kaos Fest 3 (https://www.facebook.com/kaosfest), which is a premiere underground festival that allows camping and free parking and is like a mini-Ozz fest. TMD is a sponsor for the event, and so yes, I am always involved with that sort of thing… helping my bands get shows at clubs or festivals. I have many contacts in this area that has developed over time. But really because people know who TMD is now in a big way today more of these opportunities are falling into my lap. It is very exciting to help someone else see their dreams come true and too many underground bands get ripped off my promoters/booking agents, so I do my best to protect my bands in this area.
SR: TMD Records… Starting a new label is a serious thing these days – while lots of label managers claim that it’s high time to close most of records label today!
ROCKET: That is a very stupid thing to believe, in my opinion. A record label run by a hard working person or team can still be a powerful tool for a band that does not know how to navigate the industry. As you said, there are more bands today than ever and so it is very competitive to get featured at top metal sites like TMD and to get booked to shows with national acts. I function ultimately, beyond everything else, as a business mentor and I personally monitor all the sales myself and report to the band, trying my best to get them on the road to profitability as soon as possible. Some bands need more work than others, even if they have been around longer. They may not have the necessary ‘following’ via social sites, which is crucial to success today I feel. Bands need to understand this. You can’t just put out a well produced, great sounding album any longer and expect for everyone to find out about it on their own. The promotions and marketing to that specific demographic must occur for several months before a release, and several months after if you are going to have real chance at success in the harsh present market.
SR: To what extent do you agree that all metal labels now are divided into two categories: sharks and enthusiasts, while the first one are concentrated on making money by all means, with no respect to artistic creativity, the second ones would lose money in order to remain specific and original?
ROCKET: Another great question! I think that yes you will find those two are out there for sure, and that is why it is so important to do research about the labels you are submitting to, and ask people on the scene, out at shows, what they know. It is like a fact finding mission. lol But if you can find the right person, I say always go with a label… no matter what anyone else says because the consumers respond more to a label marketing to them then a band directly.
SR: How do think it is possible to fight free downloads that has already destabilized basics of music industry? Or maybe – rather the reverse – you can use the current situation in your favor?
ROCKET: Really today the music itself is more like how the ‘music video’ was in 80′s and 90′s. It is a promotional item to get the fans out to the concerts so they can buy admission tickets and merchandise: CD’s, shirts, etc.. Due to so much illegal downloads it makes it tougher to profit in this area, but I still believe that both ‘physical and digital’ distribution can reap solid profits for the right band under perfect circumstances. A band still needs a hit single to play on the radio and to capture the imagination and really appeal to a wider audience. This has not changed. Are people still buying music? Sure they are. You just have to find a dedicated audience and the band must interact regularly with them via social sites and out at shows, doing free giveaways contests to keep them dedicated to what you are doing. If they feel that connection with the band, they will most always do what is right and pay for the product not steal it.
SR: Tell us about your current roster, a few words about each band.You work with Grenouer, who come from Russia. Despite the fact that Russia is a huge country with huge fan base and that is huge market potential, we can hardly talk of heaps of Russian bands that are famous worldwide. To be more precise only Gorky Park – a glam/ hard rock in Gorby’s era – was the only platinum success. Today we can mention Arkona, but this band has very narrow specifics which is folk metal based on traditional Russian music. Unlike Arkona Grenouer is not willing to emphasize their traditional roots, their music is far more universal, melodic metal stuff with clean singing (today) that conveys no national belongings. Do you think it is a more difficult task to promote a band that has no exotic elements?
ROCKET: No. I think it can help. It just depends. Well, I have already signed great names to my new label like Grenouer, Sargon, Sylo, and Foreshadow, each is very unique in their own way. I just feel it is important that while the band uses popular elements of the music from whatever genre they still need to develop their own sound. This is what I am listening for when I scout bands.
SR: What do you know about Russian and former USSR metal scene? Or maybe – not only metal.
ROCKET: I know that they are very passionate fans about this music and that they have clubs that allow metal music to be peformed at… and that generally Russia has great love for music in total. It is exciting to think that metal music touches so many no matter where they are at on this wonderful globe.
SR: What do you generally know about Russia, or maybe what is your impression of that part of the world? Do you happen to know personally anyone from Russia?
ROCKET: I have never traveled to Russia, so I only have seen pictures. But St. Petersburg looks like a very cool place from what I can see the way you live with canals. It is the same in Venice Beach, California where I grew up!
SR: Lets talk a bit about your current personal life – where do you live, your family life, hobbies and preferences in other spheres of life – not related to music.
ROCKET: I live in a nice townhouse today in Fort Worth, Texas, about five minutes away from where Pantera broke into the club scene at a spot called Joe’s Garage, that my wife and I just purchased this year. It is very expensive in US to live when renting, so I am happy that we are in ownership finally. I love baseball and watch it daily to take break from the metal world. I was a pitcher in little league all throughout my childhood years and so I am very fond of it still. I even coached kids for a few years and found that very fulfilling. I also have an interest in writing motion picture screenplays. Growing up in Hollywood as I did I was surrounded by more movie people than music actually. lol My mentor wrote for Steven Spielberg on Amazing Stories television show and the animated dinosaur movie “The Land Before Time”, so in my teens I developed big interest for movies and was closely involved as a ‘script reader’ on many productions and now I am currently working on spec scripts that I plan to sell one day. It would be tremendous because I could then re-invest the money I make into The Metal Den Records. lol My dream is to have the biggest metal label in the world within ten years from now. I am willing to do whatever it takes to make this happen.
SR: And getting back to music – which 2012 release impressed you and which turned out a sort of disappointment?
ROCKET: There has been a lot of great music released in 2012. I love the new LAMB OF GOD but was totally disappointed by new the KREATOR album. I am enjoying new PRONG and TESTAMENT. I am excited to hear Philip Anselmo’s new EP from DOWN and his upcoming solo CD.
SR: Thank you very much, say your final words to Russian readers and listeners! If possible – something really encouraging!
ROCKET: You are welcome and thanks for inviting me to do this interview. I would just like to say that for those who are reading this and maybe have some of the problems that once plagued my life, to not ever quit or give up on your dreams. I am living proof that those who get knocked down can indeed get back up and do some great things. You just need to believe in yourself, whether you want to play music or promote it, or do whatever is your fancy, my best advice is to stop talking about it and “Just do it”, because we all only have so much time here on earth. Do all that your heart desires before your time is up. I welcome any of you to join me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/randyrocketcody). Keep it rocking and rolling, my friends!
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]Russia's Special Radio Interviews THE METAL DEN's Randy "Rocket" Cody,