Monday, January 5, 2015

DJ Interview: THE METAL DELI

Interview with Kimmi Rudolph of The Metal Deli

Our first interview was for issue 17 of Autoeroticasphyxium, released in 2010. In the four years since your interview was published, how much have you been pushing forward with the Metal Deli and your other radio programs?
Wow, I can’t believe it’s been four years. The first year I was not only doing The Metal Deli but also started The Rock Deli and The Israeli Deli, and I burned out. I took a one and a half year hiatus but missed it the whole time. Finally in September 2012 my kids and my best friend started bugging me to start back up again, and as soon as I did I felt more whole than I had in a long time. Starting again brought me a TON of new listeners and radio stations that wanted to carry the show and it’s been amazing. Now, two years later, I’m still loving it. I only do The Metal Deli now instead of three podcasts, but I’m having the time of my life. The music pours in weekly beyond my wildest expectations. I try to go to as many shows as possible to meet the band members, and I still love to do interviews. In June of 2015 I will be hosting the first ever Metal Deli Fest and so preparations for that are already underway with some awesome bands lined up. We’ll be announcing that soon and I’m so psyched I can’t wait for June to get here already! I love what I do and I think that comes across in the podcasts. I hope you’ll all give it a listen at themetaldeli.com; all you have to do is hit PLAY and that week’s episode will pop up in a new window for you no matter what day or time.

What burned you out about hosting three shows after the time I interviewed you? When you started your hiatus, did you expect that you would take up internet radio again?
Doing three shows a week was tough in many ways. Keeping all the different music logged in, keeping my energy up for each show, and finding different things to talk about on each show. I love podcasting but the truth is there is no automatic feedback; no one to laugh (or not laugh) at jokes so it's hard to gauge how each show is going to go over until it's already published. I was working 70 hours a week on podcasting alone and I just couldn't keep up. The hiatus wasn't planned; one day I just stopped doing the show and didn't go back to it. The longer the hiatus went on the less I thought I'd be able to start up again. Two years later my best friend started nudging me to start up, and when I broached the subject with my two kids they were 100% in support of it, so I jumped back in. The reaction from listeners was so good that it gave me the energy to start weekly shows again, but I decided to just stick with The Metal Deli, which was always the most popular of the three.

What subject matter would you discuss on your shows? Was finding different topics becoming increasingly difficult?
I can talk forever. I can talk about anything. I talk about the bands, of course; where they are from and that sort of stuff. But I also talk about music in general; a famous musician's death or stuff in music news. But I also insert a lot of my own life into the show; I can make fun of myself all day long. There are running jokes about how clumsy I am; last year I broke my heel, ankle and kneecap in two different instances, so I talked a lot about that while I was laid up. I did a couple shows from bed too, so that was easy to kid about as well. Topics are never difficult to find; if I don't have anything to say I just talk more about the bands. But I talk a lot; in a two hour show I've been told I talk for at least a total of forty-five minutes of it. That's the "Kimmi" part of The Metal Deli. You get a healthy dose of metal and a healthy dose of me.

Were there any social matters you discussed on The Metal Deli; what was (or was not) being reported on the news at the time?
The only time I ever breached social matters was during the recent Israeli war. Normally I stray as far away from anything other than music or stuff I can make funny, but I have hundreds of relatives in Israel; literally hundreds; and I felt the media portrayal was so unfair that I just went off on a rant on one of my shows. I'm not a political person but this just got straight to my heart. Even if I were a political person, the show is about music and I try to keep it to that, but something had rankled me that day and off I went. I was happy I got a lot of support from listeners about it. Even if they didn't agree with me, they agreed with how I presented it, and that felt very supportive.


What did you see as unfair in the media’s portrayal of the Israeli war? Were facts distorted or ignored altogether?
The hatred spewed at Israel and not Gaza was unreal. If hatred had been spewed at both sides I could have handled that. But it was all against Israel. So while Gaza shot rockets at Israel, Israel was vilified for protecting itself. And during the entire was Israel was sending water to Gaza, helping the wounded and providing their electricity. I could go on and on forever but it would piss me off. In a war both sides are entitled to fight, yet every time Israel struck back the news went crazy with how awful they were. It was very hard to watch from so far away and it truly broke my heart.

News is often subjective, and different sources relate different versions of what happened, if not outright spin something. It gets to the point where the truth becomes more difficult to find.
It has become more and more difficult to find news outlets you can trust. For instance the most obvious is The Onion. They'll publish total satire and people on Facebook will pass it around as truth. And the more it gets passed around the more people not only believe it but start posting their own opinions that are based on satire. It becomes pathetic. I get so upset when I see a "news article" on the internet, start doing some research and find out it's all bunk. Here's an example:  Four Israeli students stayed at my home while they worked at a day camp. Also at the day camp were students from the UK. The UK kids HATED the Israelis because of the war; they had heard Israel was bombing hospitals and schools. The Israeli kids admitted the hospitals and schools were being bombed, but what WASN'T in the news is that those hospitals and schools were EMPTY and only used to house bombs. And a couple months later news reporters came out and said that that WAS true, but their lives had been threatened while they were in Gaza that if they let that information out they would die. I could go on forever. We need a better media system but I don't see that happening any time in the future.


The only thing we can do is to see the bunk for what it is, and respond accordingly. More people doing that would eventually generate change. With fewer people believing what they hear on mainstream news and searching other avenues to get their information (internet news channels etc), do you think it’s a possibility?
I would sure hope so. But you can tell just from Facebook; how many times has Betty White been declared dead already? People are always quick to believe the bad, the hoopla, etc. We just have to hope that the reliable news sources can remain and that people will always go to them to check out news before perpetuating rumors.


How was getting back into working at an internet show when you resumed The Metal Deli? When word traveled about your return, was there support and encouragement from your older listeners?
It was like slipping on those favorite pair of jeans that had been at the bottom of the drawer for a couple years; it felt great. Like it hadn't been eighteen months at all, and that no time had passed. What was interesting to me was that during the time I was off the air no one wrote to say they missed the show, so it never occurred to me that it was missed. Then it came back and the hits on my website went through the roof and people started writing how happy they were I was back. That felt so amazing I can't tell you. Not just listeners but bands wrote in to say they were glad I was back, and the music started pouring in.

How overwhelming was it to receive so much encouraging feedback when The Metal Deli returned to the air? How many episodes of The Metal Deli are currently up for streaming? How many interviews have you had in print and online since you first appeared in AEA?
It was like walking into a surprise party. I just had no idea there were people who were still listening to back episodes; eighteen months is a long time to be off the air and easily forgotten. So I was thrilled beyond belief. There were two listeners in particular who had written me each month with encouragement and when I finally started the show again I thanked them publicly and sent them shirts. So it was overwhelming like for that moment you hear everyone yell "surprise" and then you realize you are among friends who are celebrating YOU and your creation and that is truly amazing. So I wasn't overwhelmed so much as spurred on to do more, do better, and bring it up a notch. The website goes all the way down to Show #96, but we are working on getting all the previous shows up. Rock Revolt did a two page spread on me and your magazine has now featured me twice, which is epic!

How far do you see internet radio has come since you founded The Metal Deli in 2010? Do you see your station and others receiving more of a response as opposed to a few years ago?
Wow it is WAY different. A few years ago only one station carried my show. Since then they've been contacting me at least two a month and it's amazing. Podcasting has really found its niche and I believe it's the wave of the future. With a radio show you have to listen at the exact time it's on; podcasts can be heard 24/7 just by going to the website, and people like instant gratification now. Also, bands are now more willing to send their music to podcasts, which is great. To that extent, the greatest part of all is that podcasters are working together to get the word out, and I think that's very important to the business.

There have been internet radio programs and podcasts with live chat rooms, that enable fans and bands to connect with one another as the show is being aired. I have made contact with quite a few bands this way (listening to Deviants Underground Radio from Tennessee among other shows) and I can say this has opened doors for bands to get their name around on a wider scale. What is your view toward net programs that offer these services?
I think it's a great idea and I try to get in on the chat rooms of the stations that host me as much as possible, but it's not always easy. Life has really changed from when I was young; if you liked a band you sent them a letter and IF you heard back it was just a photo. Now you can reach out and talk to bands in chat rooms or just on social media alone and I think it's bringing bands closer to their fans and bringing them new fans. The chat rooms are a great idea but again there is that time-sensitive issue. Someone listening to a podcast at midnight might want to join a chat and not be able to find one.


Obviously it’s not the same as meeting bands and talking to them at shows, but in many ways internet radio programs with char rooms have helped the underground greatly by giving people the means to communicate from different countries. Another thing that has helped is social media outlets such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud which enables bands to be heard more readily. But on the other hand there is always a chance of bands having their material stolen through the same channels. What do you consider the pros and cons?
That's really not my area of knowledge; the policy on The Metal Deli is that I will not play any metal without it being sent to me by the band or someone who represents them. I don't touch Bandcamp or Reverbnation or those sites. I think the pros outweigh the cons; really, whose music ISN'T being stolen now? And while I am all about helping the bands make money for their craft, I also think that if someone steals a song and ends up liking it and passing around the name of the band... well, you take the good with the bad. The ability to reach out and really connect with bands though is amazing and that makes it all worthwhile.


I am reminded of the “money vs soul” issue which I have asked people about while interviewing them. My own position on this is, there is nothing wrong with a band making a living (Metallica and others did on their own terms) but at the end of the day the work is as important. What are your thoughts on the subject?

The work is MOST important. There are bands that I will leave unnamed that I think are SO overpaid and overrated for what they do, and yet daily I deal with bands who seem to work much harder and make nothing. I really respect these bands that give up everything and put every penny into going on the road as much as they can to spread their music, playing to crowds of sometimes ten people, but still they play. And they're always writing and promoting themselves and doing it all on their own. Of course all the bands want their music to eventually make money and make it their living and give up their day jobs, but the ones who are pulling eight to ten hour shifts and then going on the road all weekend are the ones that get my respect. Elisium, out of Virginia, they've been on the road I think ten months out of the last twelve and are just now heading BACK out. And while they tour they're putting together their next album and sending out merchandise and just really working it to the ground. So by all means I hope bands make money, but the time and effort they put into what they make will eventually come through and some overrated bands end up sounding the same each song... it's the hard work that gets you where you want to go.

It is a shame when a band is successful because of the hype surrounding them, and not their ability as a band. Far too many artists are overlooked because of this attitude and in a way it cheats people of experiencing genuine talent. Do you seek to change this for the better with The Metal Deli?
Only by trying to get unknown artists' music out there. I don't deal with big bands in any way, shape or form. The more chances I have to get unknown bands heard, the better chance they have of getting people to their shows, to download their music and become fans. But I think bands that are successful because of the hype (and that brings me straight to Nickelback) become the jokes of the industry. They make a hell of a lot of money doing it, but they become jackasses and that will follow them forever. 

What radio stations have approached you to carry The Metal Deli to reach greater number of listeners? Are these internet stations based in your area, or elsewhere in the States, or in other countries?
Of the stations I'm on only one is local; we're based in Chicago. The other stations are not only all over the States but other countries as well: France, Hungary, even a small island off the coast of Africa carries The Metal Deli now. Every time a new station reaches out to me is like a gift and I'm thrilled! So you can find my show on my own website as well as mhxradio.com (Chicago), rockmauritiusradio.com (Mauritius), sickworldradio.com (east coast), 13sradio.com (Wisconsin), 365radionetwork.com (worldwide), valhallaradio.com (Arizona), armthepit.com (Texas), inthepit.com (Ohio), euterpia-radio.fr (France), hardrockradio.hu (Hungary) and audiograffitti.co (UK). So far all of these stations have reached out to me; I have a whole list I still want to contact. How they heard of me I don't know but I sure am thankful!

How have listeners overseas responded to The Metal Deli since it began airing in other countries?
AMAZING!!!  It's always wonderful to hear from both listeners AND bands from overseas and I love the exposure I get there through radio stations that air my music and bands that spread the word.  They love the metal and they love the variety.

How many net stations are you planning to contact in the near future? Do the heads of the internet programs who contact you generally hear of The Metal Deli first before they get in touch with you?
I have ten stations on my list that I want to get in touch with now and my goal for 2015 is to be on at least thirty stations by the end of that year. It's all about networking. Other podcasters tell me where they are heard and I contact those stations, and the stations that get in touch with me have listened to at least three or four of my shows to make sure the quality is what they want to feature. We all feel each other out before reaching out. There was one station I was on, though, that I pulled out of when I found out how anti-Semitic they were; there was no way I wanted to be on that station. That happened during the recent Israeli-Gaza war; I started seeing such hatred on their page that I said I will just not be a part of this and pulled off. But karma blessed me and within the same week I was picked up by two other stations. It all works out in the end.
 
How many bands have you come into contact since you resumed the program? How many new songs are featured from week to week nowadays?
During the past year I've gone from a one-hour format to two hours and so now I showcase approximately twenty bands per show. I can't even tell you the number of bands that I hear from but it's more than enough to keep me going on a weekly basis. What's great is bands are telling other bands to send in their music, and now a couple PR firms regularly send me music from all over the world. So I've been back in business two years now. I don't know how many bands, but I know I've received over 3000 songs.

Of the many songs you are having submitted to you for airing, do you have any personal favorites that you air?
Oh yes! Unfortunately my favorite songs are by bands that have broken up but "Confession" by Sea Of Black out of California, "My Father" by Dies Mali out of Chicago and anything by Chicago's Earthen Grave stand out as my favorites and are ones I find myself singing when there's no music on. It always breaks my heart when a good band breaks up and I can't tell you how many times I've tried to intervene and convince them to stay together; so far I haven't been successful.


How much material do Sea Of Black, Dies Mali and Earthen Grave have out, and where can they be found online?
Only Earthen Grave has music online because they only recently broke up; definitely check them out. They're doom metal, which is slower and deeper, and they changed things up by adding a world-famous symphonic violinist; these guys really rocked both America and overseas.  I knew about the breakup before it was announced and I was heartbroken. You have to check out their music. But if their breakup was bad, at least they've each gone on to start new projects: Ron Holzner is in The Skull; Tony Spillman is in Spillage, Mark Weiner is in Black Garden. Rachel Barton Pine, the violinist, travels the world with her symphony work. The other guys have all started bands as well.

How would you describe Earthen Grave’s style of doom metal to those who haven’t yet heard them?
Doom metal is slower than usual; the instruments are tuned down. I personally love the genre but speed-metal freaks wouldn't like it so much. Earthen Grave takes that style and incorporates a symphonic violin that is so wicked it's unbelievable.


Is a two hour format just enough for you to handle each time you host The Metal Deli? How do you store all the songs you have received for airing, and how do you go about choosing which songs will be aired each time?

Two hours is perfect and much more fun than one hour; now when I get to the one-hour mark I can't believe that's when I used to stop the show. I store all the songs in my iTunes and then a backup hard drive. I have a Microsoft Excel file to keep track of every song I receive from every band and who sent it to me, plus playlists for each show. Choosing songs is different each week; if I am airing an interview that week then that band will be featured. If I see a show, those bands will be featured. New music is always played before old music, but music that sticks in my head as exceptionally good will get more play. Because I get so much new music every week it's hard to keep songs in "rotation" but I do my best. I try not to have too many songs of the same metal sub-genre in a row; it's a special "science" at this point, so to speak.

How many subgenres of metal are you featuring currently? Do some receive more of a response than others?
Tough question to answer because I don't keep track of what sub-genres I play but there are so many that I still haven't even heard of. Viking metal was new to me as was werewolf metal. Every couple weeks some band will label themselves with a sub-genre that either I never heard of or doesn't exist, but now it suddenly does! The Metal Deli is up for any subgenre of metal, always, all the time. Somewhere on the internet is a list of sub-genres that just keeps growing; it's crazy. What matters most is that it's metal. That's all. Sub-genres don't really get responses as much as the lesser-known the band the more publicity I seem to get from that band. Those are the bands kicking ass to get heard and they are so appreciative it's unbelievable, and that's what I appreciate.

For AEA I interviewed Stovokor, who you might consider Klingon Metal since they are Star Trek fans who perform as Klingons onstage, in full costume and everything. They have some Youtube clips I could send you just to check out.
I've never heard of them, but hell, I'm more than happy to watch their videos and request their music too! I smile because there is yet another subgenre I'd never heard of; Klingon metal; but bring it on! That's what the Deli is all about, bringing as many different subgenres together on one show. I checked them out briefly and I want their music on the Deli. Definitely a different "taste" for us!

Name some of the bands who submitted their work for The Metal Deli and describe how you arranged to air their material?
Normally I contact the bands and ask them to submit their music. I find the bands usually through listeners who send me the info on the band. The band submits their music and I play it. I also work with a couple PR firms that automatically send me all the music they're pushing. But so many bands!  Where would I start? It's like picking needles out of haystacks but there's Iron Man, The Skull, Elisium, Grimwolf. I played music from Stryper this week. I could go on and on. And on and on!

I remember hearing Stryper were back together some time ago. They seemed to return from out of nowhere. I admit I listened to them in the 80s but some friends of mine thought their Christian metal was a gimmick. What do you think?
It's so funny you mention Stryper because I was just at their concert last week! They're not "back together"; to my knowledge they never broke up, just took breaks now and then. The band is all original members and working on a new album. After watching them perform and reading up on them, their Christian metal is no gimmick. They seem to be strong Christians and their lyrics really reflect that. I read their lyrics; they wrote them so well that they could be Christian or they could be love songs, depending on how you read them. During the show they were tossing bibles out into the crowd, and their opening bands were Christian also. So no, I do not think it was a gimmick at all. Their name, Stryper, was even taken from a quote in the Bible and they just changed the "i" to a "y". They were the first band to be labeled "Christian" and it was a daring move for them. It could have ruined them right out of the box but they made it and all these years later they're still a band; kudos to them!

I can see how one can interpret Stryper’s material either way. If they are for real, and people like and appreciate what they’re doing, more power to them. My only problem with religion is how it is often used as a weapon and to justify controlling others.
Well, religion is all over metal whether it's religion or against-religion, like the Satanic star. In fact, I would say it's a major percentage of metal lyrics. I can't tell you how often bands tell me their band name is from the Bible; it’s more often than not. The recurring themes that I see in metal are religion and Greek mythology. It is unfortunate that war is usually based on religion, and hatred is based on religion, but I don't see that ever ending. But that's the beauty of putting religion in music; you can't force anyone to listen to it, but you can put your beliefs out there in your own way.

What do you think of Christian death metal bands such as Living Sacrifice and Mortification, and Christian black metal (unblack metal) bands such as Horde? How do you view the idea of bands writing Greek mythology into their lyrics, or Norse mythology and Asian mythology for that matter?
I love metal. All metal, any metal. I love it just BECAUSE it's metal. So if you tell me it's metal, I tell you I love it. The sad truth is that nowadays I only get to hear metal that is sent to me; there is so much incoming metal that I have no time to listen just for fun. So I'll go look those bands up now, and maybe get them on The Metal Deli. You never know! Check out Lords of The Trident; they not only wrote mythology into their lyrics, they wrote their OWN mythology!  You have to read it to understand; I won't explain more because I don't want to ruin it.


Do Iron Man, The Skull, Elisium and Grimwolf receive strong listener response when you play their songs? How often do you usually correspond with these bands?
My listener response is really show-wide. I get messages that people loved the show, but rarely will they specify what band they liked the best. And the truth is I don't get a lot of feedback. I watch my download numbers and that's what lets me know people are listening. So you'd have to ask those bands.

When it comes to fanzines, do you personally prefer webzines or print zines? How do you account for print zines remaining active in the age of webzines and ezines?
I like any zine that writes about The Metal Deli! I'm old-fashioned. I still like to hold the magazine in my hand and read it curled up on the couch as opposed to reading it online. That goes for books and news too. That first interview you did of me is now framed and hanging on my studio wall, so for that reason I also like print because it's forever! But when it's discussed among people I know or on the internet, people are all into their Kindles or whatever. We're in an age when we want something and we want it now. But I do know many people who prefer the reading material in their hands, and that will always be me.

Would you ever consider starting a zine of your own to help promote The Metal Deli, if you had the time and opportunity? How well would it go over with zine readers?
If I had the time and opportunity it would definitely be something to put on the "idea" list.  But as of right now I'm booked solid with doing shows and interviews.

Have you been approached by major independent labels like Metal Blade, Nuclear Blast or Roadrunner to have their bands aired on The Metal Deli? If not now, what labels would you most want to work with as the program becomes more well known?
I regularly get music from Clawhammer PR, Rottweiler and Lord Of PR to name a few. The majority of my interviews are through Lord Of PR. To be honest I'm not really familiar with a lot of labels, but any independent label willing to send me music is more than welcome!  I think, though, that I like more when the artists send me their music. It's more personal, more friendly, and they seem to appreciate it more when I play their music after they've reached out directly to me. Each week I email each band that they are going to be on the show with all the listening information, and I get more feedback from the bands that have sent me their music themselves. 

Now that The Metal Deli is fully up and running again, where would you like to see the program several years from now? Do you hope for the show to become a major voice in internet radio, or do you just want to continue supporting metal bands?
Several years from now my dream is for The Metal Deli to be featured on a Sirius/XM station. That's my true dream. I don't know of any podcast that is played on Sirius/XM, but that is my hope for the future that maybe they either devote a station to podcasts or that they start picking up podcasts for each genre that they feature. To be able for my show to be heard while flipping through radio stations in the car would be my dream. The wave of radio's future is that new cars are being designed to play internet radio stations and podcasts, so maybe that dream can come true without Sirius/XM. I want The Metal Deli to be HUGE, not only so I can keep helping the bands and get them more exposure, but to prove to the people who didn't believe in me all these years that this was NOT just a hobby and something really worth doing. I put so much time and effort into it that I would rather it be called an "unpaid job". And the best thing of all is to one day have enough sponsors to actually make money for doing it! I am hoping that in the Spring of 2015 I will host the first-ever Metal Deli fest. My vision is a two day indoor festival of bands, maybe ten per day, of different subgenres. I am working towards this with several people, I have bands lined up and just need to verify some crucial elements before officially announcing it to the metal scene. This is something I've wanted to do for a LONG time and to see it come to fruition would be just amazing. Especially if I can get it to be an all-ages venue; I am a big proponent of younger kids being able to get into concerts and I would hate to put on a TMD show without the kids, because they're the future of metal.


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-Dave Wolff