Interview with Coleman Greenhand of HEAVY VIBE
Your website Heavy Vibe supports metal bands and rap artists. How long has the site been active and what inspired you to support both of these genres which have proven to be compatible since Anthrax and Public Enemy collaborated together?
Heavy Vibe was an idea for a while before it became an actual physical thing. The debate on if I should do Youtube or a website being ruled out by me not wanting to put on mascara every morning, the time I consider Heavy Vibe's birth is 11/8/17, 6:24 PM, the first official published post. And that's just from me going back and scrolling to the first post I ever made on that website, where I just make fun of a WikiHow list on how to be a "Rocker Chick". The reason that I decided to do not just Heavy Metal, is that it isn't the only music I listen to. I feel like it would be a waste of my time to fully invest in something that I would get burnt out of. If I ever get tired of hearing someone screeching into a mic, I can just swap over to rap submissions and listen to someone mumble offbeat. To say that everyone in the Metal community only listens to Metal would be something that people would showcase as the stereotypical "Metal Elitism". For example, I can reference when I have had bands refuse to work with me because I interviewed a rapper the week before. In my opinion, the genres have and always will be compatible. Honestly, I had to Google the reference in the question you gave me, I really didn't know what it was, and I would like to lightheartedly blame it on the fact that it happened eleven years before I was even born. But more recent examples similar I could reference would be $UICIDEBOY$ doing a collab with Travis Barker and Munkey from Korn, Ozzy working with Post Malone, Ghostemane being Ghostemane, and all of the new Underground rappers whose influences come from Heavy Metal, being transformed into a more fluid genre of music. But back to the whole Elitism, the second anyone announces they will be doing a collab with a Rapper, or for that matter, anyone from any other genre, the Metal community likes to make a game of hopping on the bandwagon of this really sucks" even though they haven't listened to it, or the all-time favorite of calling whoever from the Metal community does decide to branch out and step out of their fan bases safety bubble a sellout.
How long did you have the idea of doing Heavy Vibe in mind before you started doing it online? Would more work or preparation have been involved if you decided to make it a Youtube channel?
Heavy Vibe was like a one and done thing. I got the idea for it, spent a week trying to come up with a name for it, and then I made it. Simple as that. I didn't go through any life-changing event that I went through that made me want to start doing this. It was a "this would be fun" so I did it thought process.
Where can Heavy Vibe be found on social media, and how aggressively have you been promoting the site lately?
Heavy Vibe can be found on Facebook & Instagram at @heavyvibeofficial and Twitter @HeavyVibe. When I think about it, the amount of time I spend promotion Heavy Vibe on Social media, it is most likely double the amount of time I spend actually writing articles on it. Being able to network yourself on Social Media is the only way that anyone will be able to find success. So every day, I go on Facebook, MeWe, Instagram, Reddit, Amino, and Twitter, and just share posts and get new viewers worldwide.
In the 90s there was a massive crossover between metal and rap after Anthrax/Public Enemy. Biohazard worked with Onyx and Cypress Hill, and the soundtrack to the movie “Judgement Night” had several artists from both genres working together. Metallica also collaborated with Swizz Beats and Ja Rule for “Biker Boyz.”
I am familiar with the Anthrax/PE & Metallica's collab with Swizz and Ja Rule. It's always fun to go back and look at old music videos like the music videos of the songs you mentioned, because just going back and looking at those and comparing it to how music videos look now, the culture and the standard for music videos have changed so much, and watching old ones is funny, especially with all of the green screen cutouts of people and the amazing backdrops that work into the whole early 90's aesthetic that a lot of people in the fashion industry are trying to recreate.
What are some of the changes you’ve seen in promotional videos since those days?
Promo Videos now have taken a big turn to be edgy, and everything in their own way taking on a more modernistic theme. And music videos are a whole different breed than they were 7 years ago. It seems like all music videos have some kind of storyline so that it is like a miniature movie. Have you ever seen the Bring Me The Horizon music video for "True Friends"? It is a great song, and I think the music video is a perfect example of a storyline in a music video.
What was WikiHow’s definition of a “rocker chick”? Do you think that list you mentioned was written by someone who was not familiar with underground metal?
I really don't even remember the definition, it was for sure a work of satire. I really don't know if the authors of the Wiki Page thought it was as well, but let's be honest, eyeliner and safety pins mixed with a leather jacket and a Metallica shirt from Rue 21 doesn't make you a rocker chick, it just means your outfit is rocker chic. Defining the underground metal scene is a really difficult thing to do, on the other hand, the fashion that surrounds the scene is mixed in with urban street style, which has its own influences coming from the genre of metal it hails from. The only thing I know is that I really don't like those patch jackets. It's cool to see people in them, but I don't really think I would voluntarily wear one unless I really had to. So in a shortened word, no. I really don't think whoever wrote the "how to be a rocker chick" WikiHow page was into underground metal.
More often than not, underground metal places music above image. In my experience the patch is not about the patch, but what the band means to them. That being said, would you say people who author pages like the one on WikiHow was exploiting a perceived image?
Well sure, you could say that it is music over the image, but I know a lot of bands that are a lot farther than other bands because they can execute an image better than others who arguably have better musical talent, just because they can match that aesthetic that gains them more popularity. Let's be honest, no one wants to go to a hyped-up underground concert for a bunch of people dressed like your cousin’s dad to walk out and play their heart out, they want to see the dudes all decked out in their outfit’s and makeup that can keep a hyped energetic concert playing on their aesthetic of their genre. I wouldn't consider it exploiting a perceived image, more as just playing onto a common stereotype and very visible characteristics in a community.
To a point I see what you mean; in the case of King Diamond, Manowar and Misfits their stage gear is part of the show. However, most image-only trends died while bands placing music first kept cult followings for years (not even mentioning AC/DC and Metallica). I don’t include punk and black metal since the “image” is intended as a statement.
Gwar is another big image band. I guess it's all about finding a balance, like everything in life. And the musicians that find the balance and are able to execute the image and the music, are usually the ones who make it in the long run.
I have met many bands who listen to rap, Goth, Celtic, classical, progressive rock) and it enhances their songwriting. This shows sticking to your guns is not closed-minded or elitist.
I really can't put a real number on the "genres" I have been exposed to in the metal scene. I get emails every day where someone adds another adjective onto "Blackened Sludge" and sends the email in thinking that it’s a new breakthrough genre that will set them apart when in reality, it's really annoying to write down a seven-word "sub-genre". The most common genres I see are Deathcore, Doom, Sludge, Industrial, Prog, and leaving metal it’s mainly Shadow Rap, maybe some Horrorcore but that is really depending on how it is executed, older styles being popularized again like Rap Rock, and so on and so on. Genres aren't that important, and I feel like they hinder some band's abilities if they feel like they want to change their directions. Due to the fact that they require a fan base around a "genre" so if they have any significant changes in style, like a genre shift. An example that more people would know would be how BMTH (Bring Me The Horizon) had recently shifted to more of a pop-like genre, and their fan base basically solided themselves because "What happened to the screamy Ollie we liked in the beginning". But all in all, you can never make anyone happy, so you just roll with it and do what you want and if they don't like it, they don't have to listen to it.
Is it more beneficial for bands to change because they’re expected to, or why not simply play what you like? Also, what sort of impact are you seeking to make?
I know all bands need to change and growth is a great thing for a band. It really depends on what bands want to do. If their constantly evolving with their sound and do decide to let's say, change their genre. More power to them, even if they don't have a huge fan base, normally some of their fans, if not the majority of them will stick around, and when you broaden your fan base to a new genre. I feel like musicians who limit themselves and restrict growth are obvious when you see them, when the music is soulless, you can feel it when you listen to it.
As many people know, there is a vast number of bands who utilize clean vocals, and there are video channels run by trained professional vocalists who demonstrate the discipline needed for death and black metal vocals and point out it’s not all screaming (VoiceHacks is one of them).
I watched a short documentary on Youtube about Beartooth and an old lady vocal coach. It was really interesting. Another thing people should check out is the videos where the dudes walk up to random people and ask them to do their best metal scream and it sounds like a bunch of afraid cows and goats for the whole video. Not saying I would be able to do any better in the least, but if someone asked me to do a metal scream, I would plead the fifth just to keep the little respect I have for myself still intact. This leads to my favorite phrase from the heavier bands I have worked with: "It's all about the Gutterals", indeed the word "Gutterals" is my least favorite word to be said by another human.
Are you referring to Melissa Cross? I’ve seen some of her videos and she seems to have an understanding of how to use your vocal folds properly. What interests you about her?
Yup, that would be her. I think one of the most interesting things I can come up with for what I think about her is how casually this little old lady can just pull this gnarly scream and growl. If I tried that it wouldn't be pretty, and it would just sound like either a cough or a vocally damaging burp.
Who were the first bands you promoted on Heavy Vibe and how did they hook up with you?
When I look back on how I reached out to people, I laugh so hard because of how stupid it actually was. I would DM people on Instagram and ask them if they were interested. No one wants to do an interview with some weird account that has seven followers on Instagram and doesn't know how to actually conduct an interview. I did end up talking to Lena from Infected Rai for my first interview, and it was actually me sending questions every other DM and then she would reply, and they were like really short answers to really bad questions. I had no idea about setting up questions that would lead to big answers. But comparing how it was to how it is now, it makes me feel a lot more confident that the quality has gone wayyyyy up.
How were you able to improve the quality of your interviews? What kind of questions do you find important to ask interviewees?
The best thing I could say to anyone looking to improve the quality of their interviews when talking to a musician is don't talk about stuff that everyone already talks about. And if you do talk about the same stuff that is always asked in an interview, add a spin to it that makes it fresh for not only the reader, but the musician. It also gives you the opportunity to talk about things that haven't been talked about before, so always doing your homework and looking for interviews that the band has done before if the band has ever done any interviews. While a lot of the bands I work with have never been interviewed before, I personally think that's even better, because then it's even more questions I can ask to get more info out. Working in underground music, especially as someone who published these interviews, it's giving musicians the ability to take a step up from where they were, getting content out onto the internet about them allows people to find new information about them that their Facebook profile wouldn't let them know, if you get what I mean.
When interviewing bands who hadn’t been interviewed before, how much more do you and interviewees have to talk about?
With new bands, you really want to get a blanket of anything and everything. You're the first person talking to them, so you have something other people won’t have a few months or years down the road after more and more interviews happen. As the interviewer, you can get the best stuff out before other people can even ask them about it. But as the first person that will be talking about these artists online, or wherever you're publishing, you have to get the basics, and then after you get the basics of like who they are and what they're about, then you can move onto the fun questions.
How much do you have to think about asking bands questions who have done many interviews in their time?
I really don't think about what they've been asked already, because I am pretty confident that the questions I ask are not common, and a lot of them aren't even music related and just weird. Because when you do ten to fifteen interviews a month constantly talking about your music, you're gonna be relieved when you get some funny questions for a change that the audience you're giving these interviews too will see as some fresh and funny content, and be more obliged to read it. But one of my biggest suggestions to getting questions is thinking outside the box, what is downright cringey, and what will get the best stories from the questions. You can't set up questions for one-word answers, because then that is what you will get, you have to set them up for big responses.
What are some of the most intriguing questions you thought of while interviewing a newer band?
Gross stuff, like what's the grossest thing you've ever done while going on tour, or similar questions. Usually, all of the new bands are the ones that end up going to the sketchier venues, which attract the sketchier people. It all goes in a cycle. Usually, the newer bands have fresh stories of something that is gross. But the good kind of gross. The kind of gross that makes you cringe, but show someone else because it's funny, but horrible at the same time.
How much more difficult is it to interview bands who have been around for longer and interviewed more often?
They already know what they are doing, they know the standards publishers and bloggers create for their websites/posts. You may have to go out of the box for the questions, but that is honestly no problem at all, I already do that so it usually doesn't affect my mojo. And even if some of the questions are similar to ones that have already been answered, their most likely the important ones that the artist already wants out there to spread more info about something like a release, or tour.
Which bands, young or old, have given you the most engaging and informative interviews so far?
I did an interview with X, Lead Vocals & Lead Guitar for Gürschach. That so far has been my highest engagement interview, when it comes to most informative, it's really hard to gauge. Because a lot of the interviews when you look at them as a whole have their own perks and insights to certain things. So for the most informative, I wouldn't say one. I do get some really gross and descriptive stories though. Those are always fun.
What are your requirements for bands seeking to have their material reviewed at Heavy Vibe?
I currently only do a review as promotional content, mainly due to how much time it takes. To get your music reviewed on Heavy Vibe you gotta send an email and tell me what package/order you want for that review, I go in and tell you the price depending on what package/order you get. We do some collaboration and discussion about the release so that I can get an insider look at the music. And while some people may say that paying for a review is basically buying a good review, I give my feedback 100%, I just always follow what I think is a good rule of thumb for constructive criticism- which I think is the most important thing to come out of it one thing that I dislike, compared to two things I found good in the song.
What bands that you’ve interviewed recently would you suggest people check out and why?
Rather than recently, I am going to say check this out for the future. The whole Month of December Heavy Vibe will be doing what I call the "30 Days of Features", I am hoping to get more than 100 bands featured in the span of a month, all of it free of course. I just got really inspired to try and do something spontaneous and challenging. And I think this is challenging. So hopefully it doesn't overwhelm me, I think I have it set up pretty well so that it all will run as smoothly as it possibly can. So yea, be sure to look out for the month of December on Heavy Vive, tons and tons of new music and artists will be introduced that you would've never known about.
Your Facebook community/promotion group has about three hundred members at present. Are most of your members involved in bands? How much are they encouraged to promote?
Oh yea, that thing. I think that 99% of the people in that group are band members. The way I started it was by telling every band I worked with to join it, so I could keep in some form of a group contact with the majority of people I've worked with. If they aren't in a band, they are most likely a radio personality, a promoter, or someone who does something related to the metal scene. I use it when I want to put out specials like giveaway features to bands that I've worked with before and jazz like that. I also do some previews to merch and introduce new stuff to that group first. So it's kind of the behind the scenes/early access group.
What giveaway features have you posted in the group, and what responses do they get?
Oh gosh, the responses to those really vary. A lot of them just email me or text me on the side. I do work in multiple different groups just for the sheer convenience of having hundreds of thousands of people at my fingertips because of social media. The last feature giveaway I did, I said I would only give away 5 features and around 347-ish bands submitted themselves to Heavy Vibe just from that one specific Facebook post. But depending on the kind of feature it can be from 3-400 people contacting me wanting in. You can definitely tell who is more willing to put in work than others just because of what your offering to give- a better feature but the musicians have to do more work doesn't get barely as much attention as a copy and paste job. But sadly, that is usually what ends up happening.
What other musical styles do you consider promoting on Heavy Vibe besides metal and rap?
I do say that Heavy Vibe works with Alt music too, but Metal and Rap are so broad, sometimes I think they just blur into the lines of Alt. I really accept anything with heavy influences, or in general, stuff that I like, because overall, it is my website. So I can do whatever I want with it.
What would be the ultimate metal/rap crossover for you, and what styles of music would you consider promoting in the future?
Ohhhh boy. $uicideboy$, or Post Malone doing a song with someone. I know Post Malone did a song with Ozzy. But I really want to see something with like Ghostemane and Slipknot, or something like that. It is really hard to think about what would blend together well because there are so many possibilities. But I really hope more of it happens in the future, that would be awesome.
What kind of an impact do you want Heavy Vibe to ultimately have on metal and rap?
I really want Heavy Vibe to end up being the place people go to find new music, new artists, news, and all kinds of stuff. I am fighting tooth and nail to make it up. And for only having Heavy Vibe for as long as I have had it, I think I am doing a good job. I have daily readers who are constantly giving me feedback, tons of exciting collaborations and other things planned for 2020, new record labels I will be working with. Overall, if Heavy Vibe keeps heading in the direction it is heading- I really hope that I will have a personal influence on the Metal and Rap scene. Being able to have an impressionable/seriously taken opinion is one of the most valuable things as a "Public Figure". And even above that, I hope I make some form of an impact on people's music careers positively.