Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Interview with Ted Axe (second interview) by Dave Wolff

Interview with Ted Axe (second interview) by Dave Wolff

Since your last interview for Asphyxium you released a new EP which you state continues the autobiographical nature of your life and describes your personal experiences.
I have been actually mining the same territory as I did on the “Sex, Horror, Violence” album that we talked about a year and a half ago... toxic relationships. Seldom talked about in rock or actually in any genre, toxic relationships are something everyone can relate to because everyone has had one or is in one. “Disaster” is about someone who seems to crave disaster in every facet of their life. Psychologically the term is catastrophic thinking. Dreading the future, regretting the past and a painful present. The tune starts with a siren that reappears throughout the song. In the upcoming video I will be doing for the song I will have a siren and a red cherry light shining strategically. “Victim of Love” is about someone who feels victimized in a relationship with the lyric in the chorus... “She's a killer”! “Wedlock” is pertaining to the term wedlock which is actually a combination of two words: wed and lock. It is about someone who feels locked in a toxic marriage. Finally “Alive” is about some who feels trapped and perhaps is questioning what would have happened had they never met the person that they are in a relationship with. They feel trapped and unsure about the future with the chorus “Will we get out of here? Will we get out of here alive?” Lyrically the songs are the exact opposite of the way love is and has always traditionally been portrayed in pop music. I am a provocateur and music needs someone like me who has an edge instead of the pablum that we are all being fed. These songs are autobiographical in nature but who hasn't had some of the same experiences in their lives?

In that interview you said my review of your work reinstated ideas you hoped people would see. And said you’re not satisfied with your position in the music industry. Has your new EP improved your chances to reach more people?
Here I want to stress that my lyrics are open to interpretation and if they connect with a listener; that is the main thing. I would like to take this opportunity first to thank you for the past interview and review from a year and a half ago and for this one! Also thanks for putting some of my poetry in your magazine! The EP was recorded at the same studio as 2019's “Sex, Horror, Violence” was recorded at a place in Toronto called The Cave and again I was extremely lucky that the owner Bill Gargarella and the producer Rob Sanzo let me record for free!!! Rob Sanzo is well known for his work with numerous artists including Sum 41!

[Lyrics included in this Bandcamp link. -DW] https://tedaxe-ep.bandcamp.com/album/the-count-of-rock

So summing the answer to this question up, yes the new EP has rs of the public to what I am saying... most definitely! As far as my position in this industry... I’m trying to get my songs in film and TV and am still sending out to radio stations, doing interviews and getting the EP reviewed as well as sending out to labels. What do they say? “Bang the drum of life loudly or go mad thinking about what might have happened if you had!” It's been a life battle with self-sabotage and I'm sure we can all relate to that!

Did your album “The Count of Rock” address the same issues as “Sex, Horror, Violence”? How much of a response did it generate?
“The Count of Rock” does address the same topics as “Sex, Horror Violence” did although musically it is quite different. I would say it's more punky in places yet more sophisticated in others. Perhaps less metal/hard rock as well. I still retain the darkness I am known for but it's definitely a different cocktail. “Sex, Horror, Violence” has been played on hundreds of radio stations and charted in number one positions and in the top ten on others. It has been reviewed favorably and rock fans, DJs and the music press love it still! I have been offered two record deals but have turned them down because of exploitive contracts. I have been burned too many times in the past. I am however sure I will find the right company to work with soon!

Can you say which labels offered you deals and what you found exploitive about them, or do you prefer not to dive too deeply into that subject?
I just had a deal offered to my old punk band The Action from a German label Mad Butcher, that said because it is a punk rock label we didn't need a contract. They already had a green vinyl 7-inch re-release advertised on their website. In other words they would have made money and us none. Again for The Action, my old guitarist signed two deals since he owns the masters about ten years ago that again were ripoffs. One with Rave Up Records in Italy who sold our album without us making anything and again the same thing with DOA’s label Sudden Death Records out of Vancouver who snuck a clause past my guitarist that the contract renews every five years automatically. They are still selling out comp album with my copyrighted lyrics on their website. Haven’t made a cent from that. For Ted Axe I have had a licensing deal offered to me by Phoenix Records from France that gave me a split of sales but had a clause that should I leave, they would be able to keep selling Ted Axe forever without having to pay me anything. Another deal was offered to me last year with a 60/40 split of profits in my favor, but it just reeked of amateurism and fishiness. They both were digital sales labels. My advice to bands... get yourself a music lawyer to read over the contract carefully no matter what you have to spend to do so or don't ever sign anything.

After your experiences with bad deals and ripoffs, are you still seeking a label or are you committed to releasing independently? Do you have a music lawyer to represent you?
I will be seeking an actual legit label in the new year. But the kind of record deals where they don't charge you, give you an advance and put together tours to promote an album that they fund the recording for are getting harder and harder to find! No lawyer yet but I won't make that mistake again (not getting one to read over a contract)!

What are your views of the turns the pandemic has taken, and other prevalent topics in the news?
I am still the only one wearing a mask at the clubs. I wear a mask at gigs until I have to sing. and in cars, vans and planes on the road. I draw weekly in life drawing workshops and I am the only one wearing a mask. In stores and on most public transport, the same thing. People I think are in denial and want to be free of the mask. Anti maskers are the first to get Covid and/or the flu. It's like a mass delusion. What will happen? Will there be a strain that does not respond to vaccines? Yes, it's already here. Two weeks ago I read about such a strain being identified in France. Politicians here in Ontario, Canada confuse the public by saying that everyone should mask up yet they are not wearing one because they want the majority who are non-maskers to vote for them.

It seems the media has much to do with how divided the public is, and there is so much conflicting news it’s hard to decide what is true and what isn’t. Do you ever consider reflecting on that?
I have never been that interested in the news and have never had the inclination to write about anything in the news. I used to write celeb stories for The National Enquirer, The Globe, The Star, In Touch and other tabloids when I lived in Hollywood for ten years. It was all fake news or exaggerated but they wouldn't pay for reality. People don't want reality. They crave sensationalism and that's why we have lately what is being called fake news. It has gotten to the point where false death reports are being written now as clickbait. I’d say that is going too far. It is a very competitive business and it will only become baser in the future.

What made you decide to quit writing for tabloids? Can you indicate some of the public figures you wrote about?
That is what they would do. They encouraged their readers to submit items for the gossip columns. Me and my partner in crime who worked at a very high end women's clothing store in Brentwood where celebs shopped and who came up with the majority of stories wrote stories that were then rewritten and embellished by the rags’ staff writers. We would make anywhere from 100 to 600 dollars depending on how and where in the magazine they would use it. They were all funny and never malicious or mean. We were able to supplement our income while we lived in Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver and Ottawa, Canada. We stopped when it became too much of an effort by that time. Currently those gossip mags can just go online to get their own stories. The glory days of Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper are over.

Are there naysayers who perceive your lyrics as too dark or negative for hard rock? How would you address people who view your songs that way?
I have only had praise regarding my lyrics. People identify with them it seems! It's a funny thing because when I choose to play a cover live, the crowd doesn't really react that much. They seem to only want to hear my original songs! The lyrics have to deal with real relationships and are not negative, but rather are somewhat dark.

Do you find it a relief that the people who listen to your releases and see you perform respond to something genuine instead of the sensationalism you referred to?
Ted Axe fangs are there for the music and the whole Ted Axe “Count of Rock” imagery. They don't really decipher the lyrics... it's just the music and everything that comes with it. If you look at my Facebook friends, there are 5000 women there of different ages. They listen to the music but now since people can get music for free on sites like Spotify they seldom have to pay for it. They respond to my pictures and image more I think than my music even. I project a unique old world never aging vampire image as The Count of Rock and my fangs adore it! At shows we see Ted Axe inspired makeup and top hats etc in the audience now! People want an entire fantasy ready-made there for them to climb into. Sex has always been part of the allure of any successful artist.

While you were conceptualizing “The Count of Rock”, what era of vampire lore did you draw from? In some ways it reminds me of “Interview with the Vampire”, but I'm not sure if that was your intention.
I have always had “the look” and my dear mother was from Hungary. She used to tell me that on her side of the family, Lady Bathory was my great great great aunt! One day one of my fangs referred to me as The Count of Rock and it just stuck. I am not interested at all in Anne Rice or her books and I have never researched vampires in any way shape or form. It is of course much to the chagrin of certain fans, a shtick and one that fits me perfectly. The odd thing about vampires is that they never go out of style, what with the emergence of ridiculous TV series like “Vampire Academy”. Like Ozzy Osbourne is known as The Prince of Darkness, l run with The Count.

Why do you think vampires have always remained in style? When fans come to your shows and emulate you, are they vicariously living their own fantasies?
Vampires are feared yet loved. They can live forever and everyone wants to live forever. They are somehow very romantic in women's eyes and very stylish. They will remain timeless forever and they make a comeback every Halloween. They are, however, serial killers and need to kill every night just to survive. I pity the poor delusional people who actually believe they are such creatures. Paranormal Magazine out of Salem was led to believe I actually was one, interviewed me and seemed somewhat disappointed when I informed them I was not. I am seeing more and more top hats at my shows and a few more trench coats than before. I think they are living their own fantasies, but people just need the green light to do so.

What do you think led Paranormal Magazine to believe you were an actual vampire? Who was the staff member who interviewed you?
A woman on a radio show I was on told her about me and the owner who is a very hard working woman contacted me about doing an interview.

I imagine Paranormal Magazine was either looking for an occult based story, or seeking something more sensationalistic? Which are you inclined to think?
An occult based story since their name is Paranormal Magazine. There are people who identify as vampires in every day all over the world. I did share my own ghost experiences during the interview. Many people think about me as a fantasy. In a way, of course, I am one, like everyone else on Fakebook or Intsasham.

Describe some ghost experiences you shared with Paranormal Magazine.
Relating such campfire tales makes the story-teller seem a bit daft so I won't go into it. I will say that there is another level in this reality and that entities who are not alive in physical form inhabit. I for one have never seen any such entity but have heard a disembodied voice call my name when I was opening up a clothing store where I worked one morning in Los Angeles, and then impossibly loud footsteps above me that crescendoed and then disappeared when I was working at a dog day care at night in Seattle with no one else there. I spent a good number of years working with dogs in L.A. and Seattle and ended up rescuing over a hundred on the streets one at a time and finding homes for them.

Did you work with any animal rescue groups in L.A. and Seattle or was your rescue of dogs an independent effort?
I rescued stray dogs on the streets in the poorer sections of LA in my Toyota Tercel whenever I saw one. I carried a leash in the car. I had to pay to get the animal spayed or neutered before any place would accept them for adoption but I have a lot of crisis stories and lucky to have had all good endings. I had to drive Pit bulls to a Desert facility in Palm Springs because no one wants them and there were/are a lot of stray Pits. I continued to rescue when I moved to Seattle and Vancouver. It became increasingly stressful but I ended up rescuing over a hundred dogs and cats mostly dogs. I have a way with them and people would hear about me and call media have that animal instinct.

What are some of the other magazines you have been interviewed for in the last couple years?
Too many to list. Guitar World, an Italian music magazine sold in stores there and online. Now Magazine here in Toronto. A lot of online Magazines.

Back to your last interview, you stated you haven’t been able to perform since March 2020. Has this situation improved or have the new Covid restrictions left the situation about the same? Are local clubs still closing in your area?
I have been able to perform continuously for over a year now, and more than ever lately because I am taking my band outside the city into the sixty or so small towns and cities surrounding Toronto. Turns out people want to see a show and appreciate the spectacle everywhere!

Do you work with the same band members you worked with before? How have your older videos “Death Us Do Apart”, “Get Out of Rehab” and “My Own Worst Nightmare” been received since you announced them in 2021?
The new lineup is Leslie Leoniak on lead guitar, Derrick Barton on rhythm and lead guitar, William Walker on bass and since I have started Ted Axe Band in 2019 Stefan Ford has been my drummer and he played drums on the new EP! The amazing thing is that these guys do not have the huge egos that will kill a band's longevity. The new videos for “Disaster” and “Victim of Love” are in the process of being shot and will be very edgy! “Get Out of Rehab” and “Death Us Do Apart” have thousands of views! The budget for both videos was 550 dollars! It just shows that one does not need to spend a bank loan on a video for it to be popular. The main thing is imagination and the all-important editing. I do not make a video unless I can be present during editing and it ends up that all the production ideas and edits originate from me. I love special effects! Original effects. The music industry today however is looking for very high numbers across the board. When you submit to a label you are asked to send all your links in, and you best believe you are going up against bands that have those numbers. Perhaps you are on “The Voice” on American television... then the labels might be interested in you. I do what I do and make videos for myself. It seems that these days people do not do anything, go anywhere or create anything unless they record it on their phones and send it out for public consumption. I am against that. I create every week in drawing workshops and the drawings remain in my sketch book. I dance at dark dance clubs every weekend and I do it to work on my performance not to film myself on my phone. Life should be lived, not recorded for someone else to watch or listen to. I am forced to be different in fact because I don't own a cell phone and never have. You can't take it with you when you die.

How important is imagination and originality when it comes to promotional videos? Is there anything you want to say about the edginess and creative effects in “Disaster” and “Victim of Love”?
Viewing my last videos for my last album, one gets drawn into a fantasy. These were the cheapest videos. One I paid 100 dollars for and the other 350 dollars! Without a huge budget I was able to be present at every stage of the process. In that regard imagination and becoming original in the process becomes paramount. Video companies and videographers again being highly competitive try to soak the unsuspecting novice into parting with their parents’ hard-earned cash. I would say don't copy, originate and be there at editing!!!

Who are the people you are producing your new promotional videos with? Are any of them professionals you have worked with previously? Are they trustworthy compared to others you have come across?
I have not picked who I am going to have making my videos yet! They have to be willing to have me there when editing. The first video will have my band in it and then scenes with just media. I have been scouting locations in this city's underbelly and have found such a place.

How much more creative control did you have while you were there during the production of your videos? How soon will your new videos be released for viewing and at what sites?
“Get Out Of Rehab” is the video I did back in 2019 and had to fight to get it in black and white. I spent six hours editing it with the videographer upstairs at a McDonald’s restaurant in Chinatown for the total cost of $100. “Death Us Do Part” is the video done in a graveyard with the total cost of $350. I directed all the shots and edits. Once you have a hand in editing then it becomes your vision. The new videos for the new songs will have new video people, and will be on Youtube and then of course all over!

What subject matter would you write about on future albums when it comes to toxic relationships and whatnot? Is there new material you’re working on?
I am working on new songs now. One is called “The Devil's Candy”. Another is called “I Wanna Be Me”. They are not about toxic relationships. Just because I wrote autobiographically sometimes does not mean I’ll do that forever. I am also doing older material with my band. I have lots of songs. My songs are cathartic to sing, and I get rid of a lot of demons by singing them. Sometimes I get revenge or am just able to put into words what I am going for. My final thoughts? Your future needs you. Your past doesn't.
“The Count of Rock” and “Sex, Horror, Violence” are available on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Resso, Luna, Youtube Music, Amazon, Soundtrack, Twitch, Pandora, Deezer, Tidal, iHeartRadio, ClaroMúsica, Saavn, Boomplay, Anghami, KiKBox, NetEase, Tencent, Qobuz, Triller, Joox, Kuack Media, Yandex Music (beta), Adaptr, Flo, Media Net, Snapchat and many smaller outlets.

Do you have any hints about “The Devil's Candy” and “I Wanna Be Me” will be about? And will they be made available on the same net platforms?
I wrote The Devil's Candy on Halloween and set out to write a ', heavy metal', tune. I ''Wanna Be Me'' was originally called’ ‘I Don't Want To Be Me’ ‘I don't want to say anymore though about what they are about though at this point. Got to protect my ideas.

Overall, what kind of an impact do you want to have on punk/rock/goth rock during the course of your career?
I want Ted Axe to be a household name. I want to be known as The Count of Rock the way that Ozzy Osbourne is known as The Prince of Darkness. I want to influence generations of Rock fans. In 2023, The Ted Axe Band has new videos in the works, new songs on the agenda and new shows booked. Do what you love and love the way you do it!

-Dave Wolff

1 comment: