Monday, June 24, 2024

Interview (third) with Erik Leviathan of Misanthropik Torment and SelfMade Records LLC by Dave Wolff

Interview with Erik Leviathan of Misanthropik Torment and SelfMade Records LLC by Dave Wolff

How much effort and time has been put into revamping your label since our last interview? What industry contacts have you made recently and how are you able to provide additional assistance and support to bands?
A lot of time, money and effort have been put into revamping and rebranding. I had to take a step back and take a look at the industry and the so-called internet labels along with the so-called internet PR firms. I noticed that 90% of all these companies were just charging artists to do what the artist could do for themselves if the artist was given some direction. But that's the problem, none of these companies actually wanted to help these artists. These companies just wanted to make money unfairly off the artist's hard work. And they all offered the same thing. There was nothing special about any of these companies. I knew that if I wanted to thrive and actually be able to put these artists in a spot that no one else could, I had to be able to offer them something that no one else was. So I stopped working with a lot of these people, and I made connections with Earache Records EDD and the companies they work with, such as Roadie Media and Discipline PR. SelfMadeRecords L.L.C is also endorsed by WB Gear, My Merch Guy, and Dirtbag Clothing. We can now take an artist who is willing to listen to direction and take them directly to bigger labels or at least provide the artist with real legitimate label services. It's a lot of hard work and it does cost money however it's money well spent in the right places with long time industry professionals.

How would you like to see the music industry changed for the better?
As far as the industry and changes. I myself would like to see Spotify take a nosedive and disappear. Spotify is the most criminal platform out there. They refuse to pay lesser known artists and frequently make false accusations of stream fraud when it's time to make payouts to the artist. Spotify is being sued by multiple companies for their mistreatment of artists. I myself have no issues with technology and the evolution of these platforms however I don't believe that any of them really know the money it takes to be a musician these days. The owner of Spotify stated that music is free because it doesn't cost anything to make. That makes no sense to me. As an artist myself I know equipment costs money recording and production costs money getting put on these platforms costs money. I have a band on my roster that has spent $27k on their album. Not just that but the marketing costs quite a bit as well. So I don't know where this guy got his information but none of this is free and they are ripping off artists. That's just one aspect of things that need to change. There are so many more such as artists having to pay venues to perform and venues taking their merch sales. I can go on and on about this but let's move on.

Can you explain what you mean by disenchanting the industry?
Disenchanting the music industry, what I mean by this is, the music industry itself is one big illusion that is sold to fans of music and independent aspiring artists who are naive enough to buy into the smoke & mirrors. There seems to be this false expectation that if an artist is not in every major media outlet that their music is trash. Or that if an artist is not being aired on a major radio station that the artists do not have what it takes to be good musicians. All of this is a made up false expectation by PR firms and payola companies and gate keepers of the industry to keep independent artists out of the cool kids circle if they are not rich enough to pay their way in. Being in a big magazine or on a big radio station has nothing to do with talent. At the end of the day everyone who has made it into these categories has paid for it. So basically if you have the money you too can be looked at like a god even if your music sucks. How do I know this people may be asking well? That's simple, I know because I also pay for these services for the artists on my roster. I work in the industry on a level that allows me to navigate the behind the scenes. No one gets anywhere without paying for it. Don't get me wrong I see nothing wrong with working hard and paying for what you get but don't lie to yourself or others thinking you are something better than everyone else just because you can afford all the big name perks. That doesn't make you a good musician. And it discourages other talented, hard-working musicians that are not in a financial situation to be able to afford these things. It also detours fans of music from giving the music a chance simply because most people listen to what looks popular. It's a real problem for this art. Also people seem to forget that we are all racing towards the same goal.

Could you describe some of what you have observed behind the scenes?
In my opinion there's too much negativity in all the scenes. This was supposed to be fun, there is supposed to be some type of camaraderie. The overzealous egos and high school drama queens are a part of what is killing what it means to be an artist. If someone does not like someone else for any reason these days everyone screams cancel cancel cancel, and they try to bait and bully a person to the point of going off on social media so they can attempt to show others why that person should be canceled. That shit is stupid, I'm old-school, in my day if someone offended someone the two individuals would go and deal with their grievances like grown adults and then go have a beer. People are pansies these days. The internet is not real life, people need to log off and go outside or something. I myself have lived a very interesting life, I’ve been to places most would not have survived. Most of these cats out here have no idea what the real world is like and it shows in how they conduct themselves in the scene and in business. This is also a topic I can go on forever about. But I feel I have said enough on that topic.

You have consistently communicated the idea of generating change in the world, particularly in the media. What level of detail have you gone into in any recent writings that you have produced?
My last release before CLICK HATE is a song called Indigenous Lands. This track speaks on the horrific genocide that is transpiring in the Middle East. It is kind of ironic to me that one group of people who were murdered raped and oppressed have turned to do the exact same thing to another group of people. These things make no sense to me. I have had bad shit happen to me not once have I ever thought to inflict that pain on someone else. This is not a holy war, it's a war of greed for land that doesn't belong to them and they disguise it as something holy in the name of their god. There is nothing godly or holy about murdering innocent children; it's actually quite disgusting.

We've discussed this on one level or another; how much change can a song, album, or video from an underground band make? Is there any way underground music has changed anything? If someone said you can't do anything about the ways of the world, what would you say?
I am not really sure if one song can change the world. I am not narcissistic enough to think that anything I have to say is going to make an impact on this shit stain of a society. I would like to believe that there are people out there that are like me who want to stop the hate both the meaningless hate and the meaningless killings in the name of a god that no one really knows if they truly exist or not, because at the end of the day no one alive has seen god nor have they seen a heaven or a hell. I myself was baptized in a church. I was taught all about God and I will say if that entity truly does exist this is not what they intend. Love is supposed to be the law in all things. So can music change the world? People have been singing and screaming songs about change since the 60s, so no I do not believe one song can change the world, however a multitude of songs with the same message written for the many different genres of music that will appeal to the many different tastes of music that people have, this may be able to change some people and then those people can help others open their eyes and just maybe enough will start to care. But at this point I myself have no faith or hope in humanity. I use my platform to say I know what is happening and I am not fooled, as I have said before I hope what I have to say pisses people off. Mainly those who are doing the evil deeds that keep us divided and fighting amongst each other. They love us divided, they need us to have reasons to hate. If you happen to be a hateful person reading this, ask yourself why you hate, is it because you were taught to hate or is your hate justified for a personal reason not influenced by outside idealisms. So if someone said to me that I can't do anything about the ways of the world, I would say they are absolutely correct but together we can try to be a part of the solution. In my opinion you are either the problem or the solution. Which side of history do you want to be on?

As I mentioned while reviewing MT, the world has changed in many ways. From legalizing pot to a chipping away at corporate greed (which you may see in search results for movie theaters and fast food franchises) to a broader understanding and acceptance of underground music in the mainstream. In that sense, have we contributed to being part of a solution, however small?
ANSWER- I do see changes in the world however the changes that I see are not of a magnitude to make a real difference. I myself am an advocate for the legalization of marijuana however in my opinion the only reason the government has allowed it to become legalized in most states is that it is easier to control and manipulate the masses when 90% of the population is high or docile dare I say even dumb down. I use pot on rare occasions but let's be honest here after long terms of use it does slow down your brain and it literally makes a person care less about important topics. So no, I do not feel like the legalization of pot is even a minute change that could be beneficial to our society or our world, the change I am speaking of, the change I am looking for is one that will cause me to be labeled as a domestic terrorist. But I will speak on it here anyway. I want to see every politician, every government official in every country be stripped of their power. The idealisms of religious belief shattered. We as a people, the human race need to unite and overthrow every oppressor and rebuild what they have broken. Our world, not just the United States, has been divided by a great design that keeps us from being able to come together. We need to agree to disagree on unimportant topics and rise together for true and absolute freedom. A person's religious or spiritual beliefs are just that beliefs and they are important to that person or persons. However those beliefs are what those in power use to control the masses. They entice war and genocide and wars are a business that make good money for the powerful while innocent people continue to die for the agenda of others who seek to seize the world. The change I want to see will never happen. I want people to see that we have all been lied to but more importantly I want people to care enough about it to take the necessary stand. None of us are free. That's just an illusion to keep the masses deaf dumb and blind while high on whatever prescription drugs or legalized strain of pot they are on.

Hemp can also be used to manufacture paper and cloth, and to treat glaucoma. Hemp was viewed years ago as a threat to vested corporate interests, so racist propaganda was spun; people are only now discovering this.
That is true. Hemp can be used to manufacture many of our world's needs. Such as fuel, paper, rope… hemp could even replace plastic. It would be beneficial to our existence and for our planet for us to use these methods. However it is not beneficial to the corporations that run our world so when someone invents something that threatens their monetary gain, well they end up disappearing or “committing suicide”. So yeah it's a great idea, but the powers that be seem to be hell-bent on destroying humanity as well as our planet all in the name of power, control, and the almighty dollar. It is frustrating to me that small minded people cannot see the bigger picture. Either they can't or they refuse to see people as anything other than a dollar sign, so they do not care about the destruction they will bring!

Aside from that, have you been receiving any positive feedback for speaking out through your lyrics? From any bands you’re working with or your listeners?
I have received both positive and negative feedback from bands, PR companies as well as my listeners and those who do not listen to my music. I get plenty of praise and hate. It is difficult to tell which one outweighs the other. The people who get the message understand what I am doing and they are either on one side or the other. It's not up to me to make up their minds. It is up to me to deliver the truth. What they do with that is up to them.

How much of a risk do you think you’re talking in addressing these issues, given Facebook’s recent trend of deletions (censorship?)?
Risk ha ha I've passed the point of no return on the risk factor. They have tried to cancel me, they have tried to make me look insane so that they could discredit me. They have made my albums non advertisable so I mean the only thing left to do is for them to stage a suicide or black bag me lol. I won't shut up. I see too much in this world that needs to be changed. I do not give to fucks about how others view me. I have a voice and I have a fan base that likes what I have to say because they know I speak the truth. Being true and authentic is lost to the world and I think that is why my listeners stay around, I am not in this to become rich or famous I am here to piss the world off and wait for people to wake up and unite no matter their difference in belief or the color of their skin or what their sexual orientation or what their gender identity is. At the end of the day those differences should not divide us. They should unite us.

Recently, you showed me a lyric inspired by media spin directed at Chris Barnes of Six Feet Under. Earlier, we discussed how Sharon Osbourne and Marilyn Manson faced similar situations. In light of that, what was your motivation for writing said lyrics?
It's funny that you ask that. A while back Chris Barns was unfairly attacked by the masses due to the media intentionally misquoting him on his opinion of what Death Metal had become. Chris and I had been social media friends for a while before that. The media's lies caused a shit storm of trolls to come out of the word work to the point that songs had to be written by him and myself. Which brings me to the new Misanthropik Torment track CLICK HATE that features A.MOORTAL. This track was originally written as a diss track towards Chris, however Chris and I ended up talking about the issue and I got the real story from the horse's mouth. It's because of that issue that this track exists. We ended up going back and changing the lyrics and title of the track to attack the media instead of the media's target for clicks. [Promotional video link]

In what manner did you and Chris Barnes discuss his being misquoted as well as the extent to which the media spreads sensationalism about public figures? To make no assumptions, but the point I made earlier was that this was a change for the better in that it allowed us to recognize media bullshit for what it was rather than fall for it blindly. Were the lyrics entirely yours or did Barnes have a hand in penning them?
Chris and I had spoken on the Cameo app about the situation. It's actually funny because my initial intention was to have him promote the song that was trashing him, it was supposed to be a big fuck you to someone who had inspired me. The way the media portrayed Chris felt like a betrayal to the whole Death Metal scene so I wanted to fire back. That and I was told by others that his new track Know Nothing Ingrate was written about me. So I took offense. I had booked a Cameo with him to get him to promote the song, but we ended up talking like two adults should and we cleared the air so to speak. So I went back to Aaron from A.MOORTAL and I said we can't release this track and I told him why. So we agreed we should fire the track at the media instead. The Lyrics were written by myself and Aaron. The media itself uses these tactics to create a negative buzz surrounding public figures, they do it to keep their relevance. People by nature flock to negative bullshit so the media keeps it going and they keep thriving by spreading lies and hate. The masses fall for it either because they are stupid or they are just as hateful.

Would you be willing to name some media sources that misrepresented Chris Barnes? In your opinion, how much of a betrayal was this portrayal of him? In underground music and death metal, I recall more honesty and attention to facts than sensationalism. Since the scenes have always been about exposing bullshit, do you think we should return to more responsible journalism instead of fueling cancel culture?
If memory serves me correctly it was Loudwire who misquoted Chris and then after a few days of Click Hate they decided to come clean and properly quote what he had actually said. In my opinion this digital age has made it too easy for people to publish bullshit. Back in my day there were consequences for shit. Today no one has to man up or woman up and own what they have said or done. We need more professional writers like yourself. Cancel Culture is the dumbest movement ever. It just needs to fuck off and die already.

How much have you seen Sharon Osbourne and Marilyn Manson recover since the media smeared them?
I haven't seen much of Sharon Osbourne in the media lately. I do know that she and Ozzy are or have moved back to England; the USA just doesn't seem to feel safe to them anymore and I do not blame them. If I could get out of this country I would too. As for Marilyn Manson It looks like he is back in the swing of things but he took a hard hit. His label dropped him before he could even defend himself. That's not right. It's supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. People need to start caring more about facts before they go ruining someone's career. It's the digital age; if it's said on the internet it must be true. I also wrote a song about this a while back called Everybody Needs A Devil.

They’re still doing shows at Tompkins Square Park; also Amber Heard tried to have Johnny Depp canceled but it didn’t work. The lyrics in “Everybody Needs a Devil” resonate considering how people need to scapegoat and demonize people to look saintly. I recall Manson’s art was attacked when they were trying to have him canceled. In what ways have people tried to cancel you?
The problem with this is even though Amber Heard’s attempts were thwarted, the damage was done. Johnny Depp's career was put on pause, almost destroyed over a psychotic woman's need for vengeance and attention. Abuse of any kind is not O.K. However we live in a society that allows an accusation to confirm guilt before any of us know the details. So it may have come out in the wash like everything does, but he still had to go through public shaming and loss of income. While there seem to be no consequences for her actions. In my opinion if someone accuses a person of such a vile atrocity and that accusation is not true, they need to face the consequences that are attached to the act they have accused them for. The attacks on Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson were orchestrated by the same women. They used Manson's art to paint this horrible picture of him. Manson is no stranger to controversy and cancel culture. But I think this time it really wounded his career. I do see him making a comeback but how successful that comeback is going to be remains to be seen.

Can you recommend any major metal news sites or independent webzines that provide more factual information and less sensationalism?
As always, no PR company will touch my content therefore I have to do it all myself which is fine. No label will take the risk of signing my project so I signed myself, no publishing company will come near my project so I created my own publishing. Some Facebook groups have banned my name and anyone associated with me. I have lost band members due to my content. There are individuals out there who spread lies about me. Specific individuals do all they can to keep me out of the music scene and the industry itself. I have no delusions about how far I can go in this business. I am shut out on many levels when it comes to my own project. Yet these mindless idiots do not seem to understand that I am not concerned with fame or the business when it comes to my project. My focus is change, my focus is reaching as many people as I can and hope to be an influence of change. If people support me along the way that's cool but my music is free. My words are free. Like the Bible my message is free for anyone who wants to hear it.
I can recommend a few good zines. Your zine is obviously my favorite because you tell the truth and use accurate facts. You do not change my words to fit your narrative or agenda. Most others are more concerned with how many clicks they can get instead of telling the truth.

Your statement regarding signing yourself is, to me, a significant step towards making positive change in the world. From authors putting pen to paper to movie directors inventing new ideas to podcasters building their own channels, there will always be people who think outside the box and people who listen to them, even if in a small fashion. Otherwise, why continue if you can’t do anything?
Thank you for that. I greatly appreciate the compliment. I like going against the grain. If someone wants to shut me out and not even allow me to earn my opportunity to be in the cool kids club and do what I love to do, I don't let that stop me. I may not be able to do it on a larger scale but no one is going to stop me from pursuing my goals and ambitions. I will do this until the day I die. If for no other reasons than to outshine all those who tried and are still trying to keep me out. And at the end of the day I can be proud because I did this all on my own without much support from anyone in the industry. I continue because this is who I am and I honestly would not know what to do or who I was without music. Through all the chaos involved in this I will thrive and overcome any obstacle.

When it comes to writing new lyrics, writing new music, and collaborating with musicians on future albums, what ideas do you have?
At the moment I and Aaron Moore from A.MOORTAL are working on the “Brought Back by Unpopular Demand” album. The title seems kind of fitting. As always the music and lyrics are driven by the insanity that plagues my mind. Depending on one's views, I have always been politically incorrect so most of the music and lyrics are driven by themes of anti-tyranny, antigovernment and absolute freedom. There is enough crap going on in the world to fuel that creative spark so I really do not foresee the topics changing anytime soon. I am, however, contemplating a song or an album in the future that will address the struggles of living with mental health issues and how our society and the government can either cause mental health issues or make them much worse. I feel this is a topic that should be addressed. Other than my need to use my music as a weapon to attack the issues of our world, I would like to do some cover tunes just for kicks.

How much more extreme will “Brought Back by Unpopular Demand” be compared to your older releases? When did you start recording? How much input is Aaron Moore having for the material?
With this album I believe the music is much more in tune with what I have to say. Aaron Moore is a beast. His music style is fitting for how I feel at the moment. It's not just another Death Metal album, it is a mix of extreme sounds and I like that. I needed Aaron for this. Lyrically like always the gloves are off. I am not sure if the gloves were ever really on. So how much more extreme can I get, that is not something that I think about while I am writing a song, my concern is how do I get my point across with the many things that I have to convey in the most truthful way, how can I entice someone to think in the two to four minutes of this track while somewhat appeasing the music nazis out there who want a repetitive song. I find it very difficult to convey my message if I am forced to dumb down my verses and make a repetitive catchy hook. Yet I understand the need for it. I just have too much to say so getting it all into a single song or even a full album is challenging.
We started recording about 4 months back. I had planned on “Declaration Of War” being my last album. I wanted to focus on my book that I am still writing. But the world just kept getting more evil and the sheeple just kept getting dumber and I just needed to scream some common sense or rather "rare sense.” at the world. There is a song on this album that will piss a lot of people off if anyone pays attention to the words. The song is called This Is Why God Hates You. I won't ruin it by telling you what it is about. I will just say this, there are people in this world who believe to be their god’s chosen few committing genocide. I think that their view is a much distorted point of view.
I give Aaron an idea with some lyrics, he then writes all the music he also does some vocals with me on some of the tracks. We send stuff back and forth until we are both happy with the way the song is. Like I said earlier I needed Aaron for this. He is making me a better vocalist.

Do you have any new bands signed to SelfMadeRecords? Are you looking for bands seeking recording contracts? Acquaint the readers with bands you’ve come across lately.
I have one band that I am pushing really hard right now called The D.O.O.D. This band is amazing. They are the hardest working band that I have ever worked with and I believe they have what it takes to break through to the mainstream industry. The work ethic is there, the sound is there, I mean they recorded their album at Morrisound Recording. That practically sells itself. We have them set for a tour in the UK next year; there is not much this band cannot do. Find out more about them here:

How extensive is the UK tour you have planned for The D.O.O.D.? How are you going about advertising and publicity? Are there other bands on your label you’re arranging tours for?
The D.O.O.D. is performing at the Masters of Rock Festival in Bulgaria in 2025 we are obviously planning smaller shows overseas to make it a worthy trip. I can't say too much on the topic till after September 2024. The company that is putting on the festival is taking care of all the advertising. We just hired ClawHammer PR for The D.O.O.D. so I am sure there will be some promo on their end as well. We have some shows booked for our other bands but most are in the studio working on new albums.

Lately I’ve noticed some activity between you and the band Sepsiss who I interviewed for this zine some time ago. Are there any collaborations you’re planning with them at this point?
Not at this time. I would love to do a collaboration with this band. They are very talented people and honest. Which is hard to find in this industry.

In the future, do you have any plans to undertake any projects, such as organizing your own metal festival with your label's artists?
Maybe someday at the present time, I am just focused on getting these artists on well-established festivals and shows. There is a lot that goes into a festival and at the moment I cannot afford to take that risk. Back in 2020 we threw our own festival called The Summer of Madness. We put about $7k into that festival and we lost our asses. People say it's not about the money and they are correct to a point this is a labor of love however if you are putting in a substantial amount of money and you are not rich then an ROI becomes a factor. Throwing another festival before we can become more established at this point is financial suicide. So for now I will continue to grind and get these artists where they need to be and hopefully by my work ethic I may be able to get some investors in the future and possibly get a yearly Festival going but now is not that time.

Do you feel that you are closer to making the impact on underground metal that you envisioned when you launched your band and label? It appears that your partnership with Relapse is a step in that direction.
Things are definitely starting to change for my company and my band. We just got the inside cover of Decibel Magazine. If that doesn't speak volumes for the underground I don't know what will. I do see a slight change in the underground and how I am received today as to how I was shunned a few years back. There are a lot of haters who still continue to attempt to destroy everything that I am building. They can say what they want and spread their lies about me, but the truth always comes out in the wash. I am too stubborn to lay down and die. So they just need to accept that I am not going to stop doing what I love doing .I don't have an issue with any of them so it's their problem not mine. Phil from Pantera said it best "Walk on home, boy '' \m/

-Dave Wolff

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