Currently Unsigned: Daemon Pyre

We were inundated with responses when we put out the feelers for a month-long 'unsigned bands fiesta'; so much so that we've decided to make 'Currently Unsigned' a permanent fixture on the MaF calendar. Sydney metallers Daemon Pyre are the first band to take advantage of that decision...

Hello there! Welcome to Currently Unsigned! Please identify yourself. "Hey. I'm Sam Rilatt and I'm the Vocalist and lyricist for Daemon Pyre."

Nice to meet you! Who else is in the band? "On Guitars we have Andrew Lilley and Simon Tattam, on Drums we have Nathan Crofts and recently we completed our lineup with our mate Matt Seckold, who was temping on Bass for our tours, but is now on board full time".

And how long have you been together, notwithstanding Matt's recent addition? "Well Daemon Pyre has only been a thing since May, 2014, but that's a tricky one to answer as we were known under another name up till that point, which was As Silence Breaks. Under that name the band has gone through multiple lineups, genre changes and been around in one form or another since 2005".

And how much recorded output do you have under your belts to date? "Again, not so easy to answer when you consider our history. As Silence Breaks had 3 commercial releases, but under our new moniker, we've released 2 singles in the last few weeks, gearing up for the release of our self titled album expected in November this year".

Exciting times ahead then! Not having a record deal in 2014 has different connotations to being unsigned in 1994, or even 2004. How important do you think record companies are in today’s modern world of social media et cetera? "I think that my perspective on this will probably be slightly unique, as I actually own an indie label, called New Justice Records. In this age, particularly with the prevalence of digital media and online marketing and self enablement, bands and artists can achieve a great deal on their own. But in the same breath, there are benefits that come from what I call the "strength in numbers" model. With many artists under the one banner, the artists can leverage the experience, the networks and contacts, the discounts etc of the other artists and that the label has negotiated with publicists, printers, designers et cetera. I think there is still very much a place for labels to act as industry specialists who have the time and the expertise to help bands achieve their goals. For me, I've always seen it as like any other professional service, like an insurance broker for example. The reality is, most of us have a brain and can read our PDS and compare the insurance products out there, but often we engage the services of an industry expert to cut down on time, provide us with direction on the best options and sometimes even, do the ground work. This is what a record label does. In the modern age, most indie labels don't have the budgets to shell out on advances for their artists so they have to push twice as hard for even less and the bands have to work equally as hard. I guess, as I said, both paths have merit. At the end of the day, it's all about getting music out there to as many fans as possible". 

Simple really! But to extend that topic a little further, how important is any of the ‘traditional’ impedimenta of the record industry in 2014? Are band managers, distro companies, merch companies and PR reps just other means by which a band can lose money or does each separate part of the machine still have something to offer the unsigned band? "I think that to answer that question, you'd need to look at the unique requirements of every band. This is also heavily influenced by factors like demand, active audience size, tour frequency, and other things like whether or not some or all of the band members have other jobs, study etc, that might take attention away from managing these elements of being in a band. At times, and indeed as demand grows, running a band is a full time enterprise and I personally still believe that the world needs all types of industry companies to help grow musicians. But like I said, it's all going to come down to the unique circumstances of your band. If one or two (or more) members of the band have the time in their lives to devote to marketing, social media initiatives, networking, merchandise orders and all the other elements of running a band as a business, then this would make pursuit of an indie business model more doable. But I also feel that good PR is crucial and we've seen first hand that a managed and maintained network of PR and media relationships on the part of a solid publicist can make a huge difference". 

Indeed without a publicisit we wouldn't be talking today! Having identified that publicity is one of the key elements in getting a band onto the road of world domination, What for you as a band has been the most effective means of getting your name out to a wider audience? "I would have to say that it's never been and will never be any one method that does it. Effective marketing is about having many things working for you in unison - A multi pronged attack. If you spend all your dollars on a publicist, but never actually get in front of audiences then the interest you generate will be short lived and not utilised. But if you do nothing to promote yourself across a wide array of media outlets, varied fan-bases and locations, then you'll also never seen a huge amount of interest for what you do. The brutal truth is that there are so many talented people in this world, so many talented performers and songwriters and they're all just as hungry as you. You have to set your self apart and that comes from having a clear direction, a clear point of differentiation and conviction. If I had to pick, I'd say the two most important things are sustained publicity and interest, and never undervaluing or under appreciating your fan-base and how powerful they are. Your fans will carry their enthusiasm and excitement about your music with them wherever they go, and you want that, because then they'll share how much your music means to them with their friends". 

And the least? Any blind alleys or time vacuums you've encountered? "I can't believe I'm gonna say this, but I think that the least effective method in recent years is a false sense of security that has come from social media. People aren't prepared to really work for it. No one really uses grass roots marketing anymore, it's simply about recording something glossy and dripping with sensationalism and then let's see how many YouTube hits we can get. There's a belief that this is the best way, but in my view it just guarantees that you will make yourself irrelevant in a couple of years.... But hey.... What do I know? I didn't write Gangnam Style". 

It's very easy to fall into the belief that a facebook ad will cure all ills. Not every one of those housewives in Azerbaijan that Facebook targets for you is going to be able to make it to next week's gig. Anyway, if you don’t have a manager, how many hours a week do you spend on non-playing activities as a band? And do you do some or all of that stuff anyway even if you have a manager? "I do most of the "back-end" work for the band and that does take up a considerable amount of time, particularly as I also have my label to run and a full time job as well. Over the years (under the As Silence Breaks brand and now too) we've worked with a number of management companies in the US and Europe who have taught us a lot and helped us build our own networks globally and expose us to their contacts. We do also work with a great publicist (Chris Maric) who helps us with handling our media presence and the like and we work together with him on our marketing plan and release strategy, and of course talking with online, print and AV media companies like you guys. The boys in the band also help, for instance our guitarist Andrew is responsible for taking care of Merchandise. He and I tend to co-ordinate a lot of the organisational elements of the band together". 

That's a lot of hard slog! Now to the more interesting stuff – any tour/release plans in the near future? This is the one chance I'm giving you to plug away! "Absolutely! We're working on the album release cycle as we speak and there'll be news on this real soon. The Album is coming in November it looks like and a album tour and launch show will accompany this release. We'll be releasing another couple of singles in the lead up to the album pre-orders, including a track that has a guest appearance on it from a certain legend from the Aussie death metal scene. In addition to that, we've got a few shows already lock in with Hadal Maw in New South Wales and Victoria in October and another awesome Sydney show lined up for late November that we can't announce just yet". 

I say again - exciting times ahead! So apart from this piece, and with all that activity coming up, where can people learn more about you? "Like any band these days, we utilise the internet heavily to ensure that people know who we are and our story and what we stand for. The best places for the most current news blasts are our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reverbnation pages, and our website is under construction at the moment". 

And finally - Anything else the readers of Metal as Fuck need to know about your band? "I have a bad habit of getting my soap box when I'm asked questions like this (laughs). I guess I would say this; don't think for a second that we have gone through all these changes and this re-invention just to sit on the fence. One of our key motives behind becoming Daemon Pyre was that we wanted to have a platform to challenge people. Our music, my lyrics, our ethos, can be fairly confronting. Not in a 'gore factor to 11' kind of way, but we often explore observations of the worst in humanity and how we constantly let ourselves down as a species. We shit all over the good, decent, rational and just race that we could be and I'm angry about that. I'm not perfect, far from it, but I feel that we've slipped into a cycle of political correctness and are so afraid to offend that we simply allow the most despicable behaviour to go unchecked and unchallenged. We're all so afraid to hold others accountable for fear that we might have the spotlight shone on us. But the world doesn't change with apathy at the helm. Just because each of us is flawed, doesn't mean that we should feel as though we can't stand up for what we as a species have deemed to be just and right. The imperfections in each of us shouldn't stop us from speaking up when there's some snot faced arse clown giving his lady lip on the train, or stepping up when we see something happening that we know, in our core, is wrong. The Left is consumed by empathetic ignorance and naiveté. The Right choked by hatred, fear and extremist ideology and The Middle has become so drowned in its own apathy and disillusionment that it is pushing more and more people to the fringes.In our twisted world, we are so afraid that we've pushed the global community to a place of extremes. We bestow mercy where conviction and justice should be applied and as a stark contrast, we crucify over the slightest infraction... Our world is so out of balance. So broken. The world gets better with rational, logical and decent thought, followed by rational, logical and decent action. This is what Daemon Pyre is, what it stands for. A representation of the dwindling flames of justice in our modern age. We want to generate discussion, debate, we want people to think about the world around them and what they contribute to it. Shit.... I just realised how long this answer is".