Toxemia recently re-released their “Invocation of Misanthropy” EP, which was originally released in 2018. There were 66 copies released on pro cassette tape by the Chinese label Thanatology Production. What was the process of hooking up with them for the re-release and why was the amount of copies limited? Was this due to financial considerations or to any other reason? Will you be releasing more material with that label in the future or is this your only release with them?
Our drummer Ken hooked up with Thanatology Production. It was a difficult process since our communication was very limited due to China not having Facebook Messenger. I have no idea how they managed to connect with us - maybe they used a VPN or something. The label only released a limited number of copies, even to most of the bands in their roster. It could have been a financial consideration, but this process was actually cool for us. It gave our release a cult-like appeal that only true die-hard fans could appreciate. This is our first release with Thanatology Production, and we hope to collaborate with them again in the future.
What was the about of copies printed for "Invocation of Misanthropy"'s 2018 release? Nowadays, when social media makes bands more accessible to listeners and obscure bands from the 90s are given wider distribution, how often do you see unsigned bands going cult? Is that mystique still appealing to people today?
The 2018 release was also limited to 100 copies, potentially increasing its appeal to collectors of the band. As for the second part of your question, the mystique and appeal of unsigned or underground bands can still be attractive to some people, even with the rise of social media and streaming platforms, especially those who value authenticity and a DIY aesthetic in their music. Many unsigned or underground bands in the underground scene gain a cult following because they offer a sense of exclusivity and a feeling of being part of a tight-knit community of like-minded individuals who appreciate their music. These bands often reject mainstream commercial success in favor of staying true to their artistic vision and connecting with a more niche audience.
The band recently launched a YouTube channel where you uploaded your entire discography, including demos and full-length albums.
We have launched a new YouTube channel to showcase our entire musical history from 2003 to the present, in celebration of our twenty fucking years of existence. Our aim is to provide our audience with the opportunity to witness and hear the evolution and progression of our sound over the past two decades. Each video on the channel includes a detailed description to provide more context and insight.
Have all your releases been printed and distributed on the same limited basis as "Invocation of Misanthropy" before you started your Youtube channel? Can you list the independent labels with which you have previously worked and describe how the band was treated by them?
All of our releases have been on a limited basis, with the exception of our two albums “Planetary Devastation” and “Ancient Demon”, which were released under The 3rd Inferno in the US and printed 300 copies on CD. Infernal Hail to Roy Sierra, the bastard behind The 3rd Inferno.
Our band has had the privilege of working with several independent labels and productions throughout our twenty fucking years of existence. These include Jobless Production (PH), Mort Humain Production (PH), Mandarangan Records (US), Undergrind Production (US), Human Discount Records (Italy), No Tomorrow Records (Italy), Metal Porn Production (Malaysia), Anugal Records (PH), Palakol Records (PH), Threshold Records (PH), and The 3rd Inferno (US). Each label has treated us with great respect and support, except this label from Thailand called Hellhouse666 Production is a fuckin’ ripoff.
Can you share your experiences of being ripped off by Hellhouse666 Production? Is there a history of dishonesty on their part in dealing with bands?
Our release with that label was a split tape with Enmachined from Bangladesh. Our agreement with the label was that they would send us fifteen copies as our royalties. However, it has been two years since the release date, and we still haven't received anything. After both camps complained, the label finally sent us seven copies of inlays without the tape. What can we do about that? Fuckin’ rip-off. We thought we had a friendship, but the label turned out to be a pussy.
Does exposing dishonest labels contribute to the strengthening of underground networks as a whole? Have you encountered other ripoffs or is this the only instance you have encountered?
Exposing dishonest labels, bands, zines, distros, and individuals is essential to strengthening underground networks as a whole. While I have encountered other instances of rip-offs before, the network was able to prevent them by being alerted to the issue.
Explain how you and Roy Sierra hooked up for the 3rd Inferno release of “Planetary Devastation” and “Ancient Demon”. Had he gotten wind of the band from any of their older releases or did you take the initiative of contacting him? What made him want to sign the band?
I have been in contact with Roy since 2001 when he was staying in the Philippines and trading stuff with my zine No Bullshit Zine. He's a good friend of mine and my drinking buddy every time he came home from abroad. In 2008, I lost contact with him when he left the country and moved to the US in Texas. Then, out of nowhere in 2011, he contacted me via email saying he just bought our EP, “Cavite's Beast”, released under Mandarangan Records in the US and said he liked it, hehe! To my surprise, he was already running The 3rd Inferno label with two bands in his roster: Usul, a Filipino expat in Saudi Arabia, and Rabies, also from the Philippines. That's how we started discussing our full-length release, which we already had, the “Planetary Devastation” album. It was originally released in cassette tape format by Metal Porn Production in Malaysia, but Roy agreed right away to release it in CD format under his label. Then, we followed up with another recording, “Ancient Demon”, our second album. That's the story behind it.
So Roy has been consistent in helping to support the band and keeping you up to date on the label's activities?
Roy has been consistently supportive of the band and keeping us informed of the label's activities. However, it seems that he has put the label on hiatus now since he has recently moved to Canada.
Why do you think bands choose to remain in the grassroots as opposed to reaching for mainstream success? How important is exclusivity and tight-knit audiences to Toxemia?
Many bands choose to remain in the grassroots because they value artistic freedom and creative control. The mainstream is the imitation or a rip-off of the real fuckin’ scene which is the underground, and when a band achieves mainstream success, they may face pressure from record labels, producers, and fans to conform to a certain sound or image. Staying at the grassroots allows a band to maintain their artistic vision and avoid compromising their music.
For Toxemia specifically, exclusivity and a tight-knit audience are important because our music may appeal to a niche audience. Additionally, staying at the grassroots allows us to maintain our unique sound and avoid diluting our music for a mainstream audience.
With all the labels you mentioned that support the band, does this help increase its popularity without requiring you to change or compromise? What role does social media play in the process of gaining more listeners?
Most of our labels are small and DIY labels, of course, it helps increase of our promotion but not popularity, we don’t even care about that! 20-30 record sale is equivalent to 666 record sales for us already because at least we all know that there are some True Underground Metal maniacs who know us and listen to us, and supported us. On the other hand, social media plays a significant role in the process of gaining more listeners.
Have finances ever gotten in the way of maintaining a tight-knit audience, or does the band manage to break even in that department?
Financial difficulties have sometimes gotten in our way since all of us are family men, and we prioritize our families first. The band is just second in priority.
Is it easy or difficult to balance having family come first with maintaining the band's career?
It is easy to balance because we prioritize our family first and foremost, and we do not view our band as a career. Rather, it is a passion and a hobby that we pursue in our spare time. All of us have day jobs to support ourselves and our families, so we do not rely on the band for income, underground music is actually meant to be free!
How many of your local audiences come to support the band? Aside from the pandemic, do audience turnouts give you a steady performing streak?
We don't pay much attention to the number of attendees at our shows. Even a small crowd of four or five people is significant to us and feels like a massive audience of 666 maniacs banging! Our passion for music and performing keeps us going, and we don't rely on audience turnout to maintain our momentum, apart from the impact of the pandemic on live shows.
Are you of the opinion that bands that have been around for a long time can progress and mature without completely changing or abandoning the heavier aspects of their music?
Yes, that’s why being independent matters. Bands can continue to progress and mature without losing their original identity and integrity.
What is the length of time you have been publishing No Bullshit Zine? What is the status of this fanzine today?
No Bullshit Zine has been publishing for twenty years now, starting with its first issue on the same date as the release of Toxemia's first demo. To date, there have been twelve issues released, and we are currently working on the 13th issue as part of our celebration of twenty years in existence.
In the two decades since you started publishing No Bullshit Zine, who have you interviewed, including bands, zine editors, labels and distributors? What were some of the most informative articles you’ve gotten?
There are lots of them to mention. The zine focuses more on the local underground scene, but I have also featured foreign bands, zines, and other individuals. I would like to mention some of the foreign individuals and bands that I am in contact with and have featured. Since there are tons on the local side, I remember Keith of Eternal Darkness Creation, Patrick of Painful Reality Zine, Inhumate, Carnal Redemption, Creative Waste, Aaarghhh, Funerus, Rotten Cold, Putrefied Genitalia, Gab of Nihilistic Holocaust, Watch Me Burn, Bloody Sign, Opus Dead, Damnation Army, Nat of Slava Fanzine, and many more.
Has the zine improved quality-wise since the first issue came out? Upon release, how many copies of the twelfth issue were printed, and what format was it printed in?
It has improved a lot over the years. The first issue was very crappy and DIY, but it was still a proud underground product that I stand by. Since the first issue, the format has remained consistent and printed in a full-size photocopy format. For each issue, I print around 50 copies, sometimes up to 100 if the budget allows. My zine is ANTI-COPYRIGHT, so everyone is free to reprint, trade, keep it for their own collection or share it with others as long as it's not for commercial purposes.
Why did you decide not to place a copyright on No Bullshit Zine in order to allow readers to trade it or print additional copies? Did you provide free copies of the originals or did you charge a fee to obtain a copy?
No Bullshit Zine is anti-copyright because it reflects my philosophical or political belief that information should be freely accessible to all, and that copyright laws restrict the dissemination of knowledge and ideas. I am a proponent of the creative commons movement, which has been actively practiced in the punk scene since the 1970s or 80s. By allowing others to reprint and share my underground information for free, it will spread like a plague.
The early issues of No Bullshit Zine were actually free and available for trade, but as the cost of photocopying businesses increased, I began charging 50 pesos, or the equivalent to $1, just to cover the photocopy expenses. For those who are too fuckin’ lazy to reprint it themselves, they can buy or trade it instead. Additionally, as technology progressed, it became easier to send PDF files of the issue for free. If you have a printer at home, just ask me and I will send you the PDF file to reprint it in the comfort of your home, for free!
Does No Bullshit Zine have an artist or artists designing the front cover, or does it feature your own artwork? What is the current staff of the zine?
I don't have a specific artist or artists designing the front cover. Instead, I ask for trades with artists, and sometimes they allow their work to be traded for something valuable to them. As for the staff of the zine, I am the only one running it. I may have referred to 'we' in my previous answer because I have friends who have contributed to the zine, such as Patrick Schroeder from Painful Reality Zine (now Torment Webzine), who is an old-time friend and contributor based in the US, as well as Willie Desamero from Pathogen, Ron Sacueza (Noisecore Zine), Brian Castillo (Gangrene), Ken Sanglay (Toxemia), Aldwin Yap (Noise Reefer), MG Diestro (Ataul) who are also old-time contributors to the zine.
Do you have experience distributing the zine at local shows or metal festivals?
Yes, always. Local shows and metal festivals are some of the main places where I distribute the zine. I bring copies with me to every show I attend and am always willing to trade them for the band's demo or even just a beer or other alcoholic drinks.
Are you still in touch with the bands and zine editors you interviewed, if for any other reason than to keep up with their current activities?
Yes, I am still in contact with some of them, such as Patrick of Winter Torment, Canadian Assault, Soulgrinder Zine, Sangwitok Zine, etc. I lost some maybe because some of them are very underground and still don’t have a Facebook account.
How many issues of the zine are available for distribution to newer readers? Would you be able to print more copies of the older issues if the need arose?
I can re-print the previous issues if someone will ask it, but as I have said, since most people nowadays have a printer at home, I can send the pdf file, or you can even download it for free at http://www.blogspot.com/nobullshitzine all of the past issues were there.
Would you like to mention anyone who is currently being interviewed for issue 13? Can you tell me how many copies you expect to print and when the book is expected to be released?
For issue #13, I am currently in the drafting stage and have sent out questionnaires to a variety of bands, zines, and individuals, including Absit Omen (PH), Outlaw MC (PH), Canadian Assault Zine (US), Congregation (PH), Exituz (PH), Green Gass Effect (Finland), Winter Torment (US), and Seizure (PH). This issue is going to be an anniversary special, so I plan to print around 150 copies. As for when the zine will be released, I don't have a specific date yet, but I will announce it once it's ready.
What social media sites has the band been using most often? Which has had the greatest impact on spreading the word about Toxemia? Who has provided you with the most valuable information among the people you have interviewed?
After Myspace, we migrated to Facebook, and Facebook is the only social site we are using. All of them, they are all great.
Can readers access the zine online through an official website? What is your preferred method of reading zines, print or web? Or is it determined by the publication?
Readers can access the zine online, but only through a PDF download. I used to have a proper webzine, but unfortunately, the free domain like cjb.net got fucked up, and I wasn't able to back up my uploaded files. I enjoy reading both printed and webzine formats, but print is my preferred method. It can become a collector's item after you're done reading it. I remember that the purists before used to say, 'you can't read a webzine or bring that inside the toilet.' Now, you can use your phone or tablet to do so. Time flies fast!
Would you be interested in receiving contributions from writers, zine editors, or distributors to assist with distribution?
Hell yeah! Contributions are always welcome, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.facebook.com/corix666. For more infos about my band Toxemia, email us at email@example.com.