Currently Unsigned: Lord Impaler

You don't have to be a 'young' band to flourish outside the normal boundaries of 'the record industry'. Greek black metallers Lord Impaler have been around for sixteen years on the outer...

When we decided to turn the Metal as Fuck spotlight on bands without a record deal, we originally envisaged giving a leg up, profile-wise, to some young up-and-coming artists, maybe even bringing them to the attentions of labels looking for young talent. But that's only one side of the areas we were looking at highlighting, and Greek black metal act Lord Impaler neatly represent that other side, where bands function perfectly well without succumbing to the machine. I had a chat with band mainman Tragon about the band's long, sometimes difficult journey...

Greetings Tragon. Tell us a bit about your role within Lord Impaler. "I am vocalist and lyricist of the band. I also handle our PR, code our websites and create graphics for the band".

Who else is in the band? "Lord Nebulah (guitars and sound engineering on our recordings), Phlegethon (bass), Nodens (drums) and Aenaon (guitars)".

And how long have you been together as a going concern? "Sixteen years".

Blimey, that's a pretty good innings by anyone's standards. How many releases have you put out in that time? "We have released 4 demos (The Lord Impaler in1999, Twilight Wander  which came out in 2001, Promo in 2005 and Demo in 2009), a 4-way vinyl split (The Ascending Novelty, 2008) plus a full length album (Admire the Cosmos Black, 2011) and a digital EP (Babylon Whore, 2013) which was later made available in physical CD as a split with another Greek band".

So, reasonably prolific then. Being that you've been extant as a band for so long, you'll appreciate better than most that the nature of being 'unsigned' has changed over that period. How important do you think record companies are in today’s modern world of social media et cetera? "Record companies managed to render themselves irrelevant. After the music model shifted they are too scared to take any risks. They now require –even train- us to be able to sell thousands of records before they sign a band, but then what use are they for a band that can produce a record, market it and sell a few thousand copies by themselves?".

Good question, and a question that more and more bands seem to be finding the answer to in their own self-sufficiency! 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? "It really depends on where exactly you stand as a band. For a band that tours the world a manager is sure going to help keep track of everything. For a band that releases music often, a PR firm is sure going to make a difference in building a campaign. These are now mostly building blocks that you can tailor to your needs, not the one and only goal that being signed to a label used to be 20 years ago".

An interesting angle to take. Given that you yourself handle the band's PR, what would you say have been the most effective means of spreading the Lord Impaler message to a wider audience? "Music reviews created the most impressive spikes of traffic for us".

So organs such as Metal as Fuck still have a part to play in the brave new world? Hallelujah! What about the least effective method's you've found? "I would say either our twitter feed or posters. I cannot decide which performs worse!"

You manage yourselves, how much time in every week do you spend engaged in the rather dull, non-playing activities that band managers love so much? "When we don’t have any particular news items to work on we spend around 10-15 hours on mail correspondence, handling orders and PR. When we release new music this usually goes around 40 hours a week".

40 hours a week! That's more than a full time job these days in many places... Don't let anyone tell you being in a band is all fun. Although I suspect you knew that already! Now, here's an opportunity to let our readers in on what you are up to at the moment - plug away! "We are currently mixing an anniversary EP for the 15 years since the release of our very first demo recording. It is called The Serpent Seal and contains re-recordings of 4 songs from our demo era. Right after we release this EP we are going to begin recording our second full length album In Full Regalia which contains 8 songs of total duration around 45 minutes".

Where can people learn more about the band? "The main source of information is our website at where you can read our story, check out our releases, buy our merchandise and also find links to all other online outposts we maintain (Bandcamp, Facebook, Soundcloud and so on).

That'll keep people busy for a while, thanks. Anything further to add for our readers? "Lord Impaler are here to stay!Thanks for your time. Keep the black flame burning".