Wednesday, October 28, 2015

DJ Interview: Zachary Moonshine of METAL DEVASTATION RADIO by Dave Wolff

Interview with Zachary Moonshine of METAL DEVASTATION RADIO

Start with the origins of The Zach Moonshine show and describe how you joined Metal Devastation Radio to broadcast it. How often do you air the show each week and how many listeners usually tune in?
The origins of the Zach Moonshine show are actually the origins of Metal Devastation Radio itself as I am the owner of the website and started it back in 2013. The way that I got into doing radio was actually from promoting my one man band project “Brutal Death Fuck” which I started back in 2009. I posted some songs on a Myspace profile and next thing I knew these internet radio stations were approaching me about my songs and wanted to play them on the radio. This was actually my first introduction to internet radio; I had no idea it even existed. I have always been a fan of underground metal radio stations so this excited me very much and I felt honored that anyone wanted to play my stuff so I started hanging out in chat rooms with these stations, namely Metal Head Radio, Metal Messiah Radio and Brutal Existence Radio. I quickly learned the more you hung out with the DJ's in chat rooms the more they would play your songs and I met a lot of cool characters and other bands it was like this almost had its own scene in the underground and everyone seemed very supportive especially the bands. So all this was very interesting to me and I was all about it. After about a year or so, Metal Head Radio asked me if I would be interested in DJ’ing on the station. At first I was a bit hesitant as I knew it would somewhat alienate my music from other radio sites as they seem to all be feuding with each other and have crazy rules about stuff like that. So I thought about it for a while and decided to say fuck it and do it anyway. Since listening to and promoting music is what I really care about most I decided it would be ok to put my own thing to the side and do something for the scene. That station played mostly mainstream music and some independent bands so I felt it was a good opportunity to infiltrate their listeners with some extreme music styles and underground stuff they never heard before. I worked there for a couple years started my show as “The Sunday Stoners” and then it turned into “The Metal Devastation Radio Show”. It was around that time that a lot of drama and bullshit behind the scenes with the staff, mostly the owners of Metal Head Radio, was coming to a head and they had pretty much fired everyone except me so it started getting somewhat depressing, even working there for these people that were racist paranoid control freaks. They had that site under such lockdown at one point I don’t even think anyone could get in. It would be me and a couple other people in chat and maybe five or six listeners. I started questioning what I was doing wasting my time and efforts for these people that were scaring everyone off and my woman suggested I just quit and start my own. So that’s what we did and she helped me create Metal Devastation Radio. Once we got it off the ground we contacted all the DJ's that had been fired from MHR and got them all to come help us rebuild what we all wanted MHR to be in the first place, a place for everyone and anyone no matter what they did in the scene to feel comfortable and promote there bands, websites etc. We even opened it up to other radio stations to come hang out and promote their sites. It was to be 100% all-inclusive and still is to this day. That is what we are all about. MDR goes way beyond the radio. I would even go so far as to say the radio is just an accessory to what we do really. Now that I have gotten way off track, my show on MDR is called The Zach Moonshine Show. I named it that since my name sort of became popular among the underground circuit and it just made sense. Keep it simple, keep it stupid and people can find it better. My show airs every Friday night from 9 pm EST till 1 am and is recorded live for a podcast which I post in my blogs. As far as listeners, that is something that changes constantly depending on who I am interviewing or what I am playing etc. Right now for the year we are almost at 300,000 listeners. MDR plays music 24 hours a day all over the world on many different networks including Windows Media Guide, Tune in, ITunes etc. We have DJ's from all over the world and we play just about anything including unsigned bands and we take requests in the chat room on the site. My podcast didn’t seem to get many listens at first but I started blogging it on the site and now it is getting hundreds of listens. We want people to hear the bands first and foremost so we do everything possible to make that happen. The website itself gets about 50,000 hits a month as it has its own social network built in for bands to upload music and sell it just like they do on Reverbnation and other sites. Any user that joins can have a blog to promote anything they do as well so there is always a lot going on besides the radio end of it. Which is good because I don’t think everyone cares about radio and chat some people just want to promote their stuff or find new stuff you know?

So internet radio seems to have expanded your horizons quite a bit. Since it began in the 2000s, how much would you say it has helped underground metal as a whole, as far as connecting unsigned bands and lesser known zine editors etc.?
It is like its own little world and has granted me opportunities like getting to interview some bands and artists I grew up looking at on my walls like Doro, Chris Barnes, Eric Wagner etc. It has also put me in touch with so many independent artists; I can’t even begin to really think how many. Man it’s just insane. I have sat in the chat room during my shows and literally watched different bands hook up with each other to do shows and tours and I have seen them hook up to do spilt 7-inch vinyl’s and all kinds of shit man. I would say it has helped out a lot and I think what we do and what you guys do with the zines is a very integral part of the underground scene now. You know we don’t have FM metal radio, we don’t have Headbangers’ Ball on TV, we have ourselves here on the internet with all our websites and everything. For that I think we all deserve a good pat on the back or a beer or something.

There is no more Headbangers’ Ball on MTV? I remember it was active in the 2000s, and we had programs on VH1 and FUSE TV. It was gratifying, but at the same time I thought extreme metal had lost something, namely its underground vibe.
Ya I mean we still have some outlets but it’s just not the same. And as fast as the world moves now, I mean so many bands on a constant basis, I think TV shows like that are no longer viable. If they are they should be found on Youtube along with everything else. I mean who needs any of that with all the websites and media streaming we have at our fingertips now? I think many good things have come from this but at the same time you have to dig deeper to get the good shit. I use Decibel Magazine as well as a good resource to find stuff. It is usually stuff that is already in my email from the labels but it’s cool to read the reviews they give. That’s where I get a lot of ideas for my playlists from. I don’t think extreme metal is losing anything; it just changes on a constant basis. And like I said with the internet anybody can be heard whether that’s good or bad. It sort of changes the game as far as what is underground with so many things being lumped into one.

I see what you mean about internet programming being preferable to TV. When underground metal became more accessible to the mainstream it turned toward being a trend, as when thrash became accessible in the 80s and it killed the genre.

Well I think it just killed off the bands that were willing to sell out for that but the underground remained and one of my favorite things about Pantera was how they went completely against the grain of that whole concept of toning down they just got heavier and heavier and they helped promote more extreme styles as well, it was around that time that I really started getting into death metal bands like Obituary, Deicide, Sepultura, Morbid Angel etc.

Are social media websites where bands can stream their own material another step in the direction pioneered by internet radio? How important do you see social media sites like YouTube, Soundcloud and Bandcamp becoming?
To be honest I don’t think I have seen any others that give the bands this much freedom to upload and stream independently of the radio but I could be wrong. I am sure more will be doing it in the future and I think it is a good thing, depending on what type of site you are working with. With MDR it got to the point with all the band submissions and emails coming from labels etc. It got to the point that it was just literally overwhelming and we couldn’t possibly fit them all on the air. There are literally so many on a constant basis and it just takes a lot of time to go through everything and since this is not a full time job I just didn’t have the time. I work in a factory twelve hours a day, come home and play with my kids and have a family, so the time I can spend doing what I do on MDR is precious. I just kept thinking of some way to put the control in the bands’ hands so that the site could be open to them to use how they want and when they want. So that is why we set this up this way the bands can sign up and use a profile to post the songs, videos, blogs, reviews, sell merch etc. It will all be linked and part of the Metal Devastation network which makes it easier for the DJs to find them as well and takes the load of sifting through billions of emails off my shoulders. I also think any media site is very important and all bands should use them all. I have BDF on everything I find; man the more the better. That is how the web works: the more prominent your content is the faster it is found in search engines etc. For that reason alone I think it is important and all these sites have their own communities as well so the more sites you use the more you will reach if that is what you are trying to achieve.

How many bands have been signing up to advertise their material and merchandise since the feature opened?
We added this feature three months ago and we have had over 1000 bands sign up and use it in that time. Every day around 15 bands sign up. So it is moving fast. Hopefully we have given the bands some new fans and helped them sell some merch and downloads.

How much material was recorded by your project Brutal Death Fuck from its inception in 2009 to the present day?

First I recorded a four song demo which was posted on the Myspace page in 2009. Then I rerecorded the songs in 2011 for a full album “Cunts Of Disease” which is available for free on Bandcamp and features nine tracks. I also directed a few videos which can all be found on Youtube for that album. Then In 2013 I released a two track single called “The Devils Whiskey” which is also available on Bandcamp. And I have tons of material written for a future release.

When you re-recorded your demo tracks for your Cunts Of Disease full length, what improvements did you see in the production and song structure? What made you decide to rework those songs and how do they fit with the newer ones?
Well the first four songs on the demo didn’t have bass guitar on them; it was just two guitar tracks layered, drums and vocals. The production was a bit raw like some classic black metal recordings or something, and it just kind of felt thin to me. It still sounds really great, but it was around that time I started getting into learning more about production and mixing techniques. The more I learned the more I wanted to try things again to make it thicker. I wanted the guitars to sound like a mountain. So I got a bass guitar and some new effects pedals and better recording software etc. and just re-recorded the songs. The difference is very noticeable; in fact the only song on that album that is from those early recordings is the instrumental “Bulldozing Piles Of Dead Bodies”. I didn’t bother reworking that track; I just threw it on. I tried to recreate the solo but could never get it the same. It was one of those spontaneous moments that just will never happen again and it’s perfect the way it is so I just left it alone. If you listen to that track on the album you can tell it sounds different from the rest, production-wise. But still when you listen to the album front to back it all fits together. I have been planning on putting that first demo tape up on Bandcamp soon. This conversation makes me want to do that now. I think the originals are still very important and show the progression of what became later of them.

Is your debut demo still available for trade or purchase? Is Cunts Of Disease only available for streaming on Bandcamp or can it also be purchased on CD format?
It was never printed as a physical copy but it is still available on Bandcamp, I would love to do a vinyl edition of the album for sure simply because the art work on it is fucking amazing and I think it deserves to be printed huge like that someday. BDF has never performed live, but the album has had a few reviews from zines.

Are you surprised that people are still buying vinyl albums in this day and age? It doesn’t seem to have gone away despite the advent of iPods and other advancements. Why do you think that is?
I still buy vinyl all the time; it is my favorite format. I love art and packaging, the sound is unbeatable and it reminds me of when I was in the early 80s staring at Iron Maiden album covers for hours. It is the best and will never be matched. Digital formats are great for convenience; I mean you can’t drive around jamming vinyls so I totally love having mp3 versions of everything. But vinyl is the show piece, the prized possession. You know what you show your friends when they come over and what you open up and read the lyrics and gaze at the art when you sit on the couch and listen. So I don’t think they are leaving anytime soon despite what that dude said recently in that blog at Metal Sucks, haha.

Do you expect to continue buying vinyls even as streaming becomes more popular? Do you still have analog equipment?
I will always buy music on vinyl, CD or tape I don’t give a fuck what it is really I just love collecting metal and music in general. And yes I have an old analog stereo with two big giant beat up old 15 inch speakers which is what I blast everything including my radio show on.

Which songs on Cunts Of Disease did you direct promotional videos for? Who worked on these videos with you and how would you describe them to people who haven’t seen them yet?
I did videos for “Children of the Necronomicon”, “Alcohol” and “Drinking the Blood of Gods”. I directed them and produced them using several digital cameras and some software. Children of the Necronomicon features bits from The Evil Dead and has a scene I came up with that is like a blood ritual, that features my ex-wife. Alcohol was done partly in the desert for the intro and then the rest is used footage from parties and drinking sessions with all my friends. It also features a bunch of pictures that were sent in from my fans at the time I did a promotional thing and let them all send in photos of debauchery to be used in the video. Drinking The Blood Of Gods was the first one I did and is very basic black-and-white black metal style no frills video, but intense. In everything I do there is a bit of comedy or tongue-in-cheek nature as well that is an Evil Dead or an early Type O Negative vibe, I think is the best way to describe it.

What can you tell us about the bands you were involved with before Cunts Of Disease, Skullgrinder and Perversions Of Truth? Did you release any material or play out with those bands? If so, are songs or live clips available for streaming?

Those were some of the first bands I started Perversions was very experimental and involved various other people. Skullgrinder was a two man job and was more focused on metal which is pretty much the precursor to BDF so that is why I covered several songs or remade them I should say actually under the moniker of BDF. Those early recordings are extremely primitive and harsh to listen to really but they are some good demos and pieces of a time in my life some of that stuff can be found on Myspace and Youtube, someday I might make more of it available but for now I am focused on BDF and MDR.

Why did you choose to cover Elizabeth by Skullgrinder for Cunts Of Disease? Is this the first song covered by the band or were there others before it?

Its just one of my favorite songs from the Skullgrinder era, I also redid Baptized In Cum aka (she never loved me) and Alcohol and there a bunch more that will probably get the BDF treatment in the future I am sure some of those songs are just classics in my mind and whenever I pick up my guitar they just seem to sneak their way out so it is meant to be.

Where can your promotional videos be viewed at present? Has anyone commented on your approach to making videos?

All of my videos are on YouTube like the video for Alcohol ( and various sites including MDR. You can just Google search Brutal Death Fuck and you will find all kinds of stuff. Lots of people have offered me jobs to produce their videos for their bands after seeing mine which is kind of funny to me. I think they are a bit silly but it’s flattering nonetheless.

What bands have contacted you about producing their videos? Would you ever consider doing so at some point?
Some local bands in Arizona. I can’t remember now who they were to be honest; that was quite some time ago. If I had the time and thought I could make a living at it sure why not.

What inspired your song The Devil’s Whiskey and what is the other song appearing on the single with it? Besides the band’s promotional videos do you produce the songs independently?
The Devil’s Whiskey was a tribute to my friends and family in Tennessee. After I left Arizona and moved back down south to Tennessee we were doing a lot of celebrating and so I just started writing a song about our activities and that’s how that one came about. My good friend Joe Fox helped me write a few lines in that one and he played on of the solos on that song. The second song is called “RedHed” and that was written for my woman, partner in crime and co-owner of MDR who happens to have red hair. “The Devils Whiskey” has an almost 80s rock flair to it and “RedHed” has a southern rockabilly vibe to it. And yes I record all the songs at home and produce them.

Who is the co-owner of MDR and what is the nature of your working relationship with her? How do you and she divide the responsibilities of running the station?
The co-owner is my wife Marietta Moonshine, she handles all the legal bullshit and technical stuff and she did most of the site design on the first websites we had.

Where does Marietta’s experience at web design come from, and how has her work been a benefit for the show? What are some of the legal matters she handles?

She has an associate’s degree in graphic arts and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and both have been very useful to help with the website and dealing with all these maniacs. As far as legal matters I am not at liberty to say really… deals with the devil.

Do you have a home studio of sorts where you can produce your material? What equipment are you currently employing? What material are you using for programming and broadcasting on MDR?
My home studio is also where I broadcast my shows from. With BDF I used mostly a Dean flying V with custom pickups running into an old Marshall solid state amp with a BBE sonic stomp pedal in the effects loop. I use a Morley Bad Horsie Wah pedal on leads and a Digitech RP 500 for other effects. As far as recording I use a Shure sm58 mic for vocals and the cabs. And I track using software called Reaper it is like the underground version of Protools and is customizable. I mix and master using Adobe Audition with plugins from Izatope and Waves. I also use a small cheap four channel mixer made by Behringer. Sam Broadcaster and all the shit I use for recording music, same mic etc.

Who are some of the bands you are currently playing on MDR, both signed and unsigned?
We have so many DJs I am not sure what every one of them plays to be honest but I know on my shows I play bands that I know like Pelvic Meatloaf, Hellpie, Rock N Roll Villain Society, Skin Kage, Necrotion, Sycamore3, Critical Dismemberment, Skin Drone, Markradonn, Inverticrux. And as far as signed bands some of my favorites currently getting lots of spins are Conan, Pentagram, With The Dead, Belphegor, Slomatics, Ghost, Slayer and many more. I mostly feature new music every week so it changes constantly, but those are some of the repeat offenders lately. They usually are hanging out with us in the chat room during my shows. I recommend them to people almost every time I do a show and play the songs by them, that is pretty much the basis of what we do at MDR.

Who are the DJs that have been involved with MDR for the longest time and have contributed the most to the station?
Spencer Streeter aka DJ Rem has been with the station since the day it started and has done a billion interviews, and he also helps out with setting up new DJ, DJ Buz has also been with MDR for a very long time as well as Amunet and Rage. But I can’t really single anyone out I think as a group we achieve the most when we work together and everything we have done to this point has been a direct result of how we work together. Every DJ brings a completely different thing to the table all the shows are entirely different, different musical tastes and different attitudes/personalities and whatnot. DJ Rem has done literally thousands of independent bands you can check them all out on his page,
Do you broadcast Brutal Death Fuck on your program, and of so what feedback has the band gotten? Is Brutal Death Fuck working on any new material now?

I do but only by request, I feel corny playing my own stuff so I only do it if its requested which happens almost every week so I assume they like it or they are just pulling my dick. Hahaha I don’t know. I am not working on anything but I have piles of stuff written just waiting for the time to be right.

How much material have you gathered to compose new songs from? Do you have an idea when you’ll start working on that?

I have hundreds of songs. I have been writing songs since I was a little kid. I literally have piles and boxes of lyrics and riffs even tabs for guitar on paper, I also have tons of demo tapes with riffs and stuff on them it’s just a matter of me sitting down and going through it. But that’s not at the immediate present; it will be in the future but I have no date set. When the time comes I may just write new stuff so who knows really. I just hang on to stuff and I really have no idea what will come of it.

I was talking to Chase Fincher about how his work has been featured on your show; he has also told me about a few of your episodes. Once you did a show discussing Kim Davis. What were some of the topics you covered regarding her?
Yeah I keep up with the news and the times, so whatever is going on at the moment if I feel it is important to discuss I talk about it in rants form on air in between songs. I talk a lot on my shows either pissed about something and preaching or just making jokes. You can hear the Kim Davis episode on my podcast channel at Mixcloud.

What made you want to include your views about Kim Davis on your program? I notice now that she was another flash in the pan as the spin media has pursued other stories.
I thought she was a cunt but mostly it’s just proper seo practices. Sometimes to drive traffic you use keywords that are sensitive on the net at the moment and it can get Google to boost your traffic. Sort of like how Facebook moves threads to the top of timelines the more comments that are generated, Google works in a similar fashion, just on a bigger scale so sometimes I randomly throw some shit out there for it. But I try to stay within things I feel passionate about to maintain some integrity,

Do you often cover social issues on your program? Chase also told me your shows are laced with profanity and other content that would be considered offensive by the average listener. Are there any topics you would not cover?
There is nothing I would not cover. I talk about everything and anything, this is total freedom of speech broadcasting. On my show you never really know what is going to happen; sometimes I just get drunk and talk shit. But it’s all fun. You just have to listen for yourself to see what it’s all about:

-Dave Wolff

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