Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Folks Behind the Music - Scott Alisoglu Outburn Magazine and Clawhammer PR

Start at the beginning, how did you get started with this crazy idea of being involved in music?

I don’t recall the actual thought process, but sometime around 2000-2001 I decided I should write a review of a gig in Kansas City, MO that featured Pantera, Morbid Angel, Soulfly, and Nothingface, which ran on a few on-line zines.  From that point forward I was hooked as far as doing more than just being an obsessed/informed fan was concerned, which included writing for (now defunct) and a few other zines before I landed my first paying gig with Pit Magazine. That led to writing for Metal Maniacs, Unrestrained, Blabbermouth, Outburn, and other outlets.  Due to the time constraints of ClawHammer PR and my day job I now only write for Outburn.

As for ClawHammer PR, that began as an idea forged in alcohol on my back patio with Ryan Ogle in 2008. We both had been writing for several years and dealing extensively with publicists that ranged from exceptional to laughable. After Adrian Bromley died (R.I.P.) John McCentee (Incantation) contacted us about taking over promotion for his Ibex Moon Records label since Adrian had been doing it; a bittersweet situation for sure, but we accepted and that for all intents and purposes kicked ClawHammer PR into high gear. The rest is history.

We're all the product of our musical past. What's your musical history? First album you ever bought? First musical epiphany moment? First album that terrified the hell out of you?

It’s a long and deep one, ha ha.  It began in the late 70s when I could always hear my older brother’s 8-tracks blaring from his room:  Kiss, Aerosmith, Foghat, Ted Nugent, you name it. That led to what I think was my first album purchase, Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever, which I worship to this day. Some other early albums I purchased included Black Sabbath’s Paranoid and AC/DC’s Let There be Rock.  The epiphany probably involved hearing the power of Cat Scratch Fever and Double Live Gonzo at high volume in my brother’s Duster, but I’m sure I’m forgetting some others. The first album that terrified me was Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut; the cover art alone creeped me the hell out. The only other one I recall truly chilling me to the bone was Mercyful Fate’s Don’t Break the Oath. I had never heard anything even close to that, whether the lyrical content, album cover, or King Diamond’s otherworldly vocals. I find it amusing now since stuff like didn’t even phase me as the years went on.

What's last album to grab you by the throat and insist you listen?

Most recently it would be Before I Hang’s Mississippi (CD) and new album Rock -N-Roll Deathwish (vinyl), both of which I bought at a show at Dallas’ Wit’s End that I happened to stumble across. Just a perfect combination of filthy, booze-swilling punk rock ‘n roll. I do love pleasant surprises. Check ‘em out here:

What do you see happening in the music scene today, good and bad?

The good is the resurgence of vinyl and physical products that the true fans seem to be snapping up again, as well as the Internet giving unknown bands the ability to get their music to the masses. On that latter point, the Internet has always made too many “fans” lazy about supporting the bands since so many people have no issue stealing MP3s from pirate sites, completely uncaring about the fact that many of these bands put a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and money into their creations. It’s one thing to check out some MP3s and then still support by buying product and/or going to shows, but quite another to give not one shit about the ability of these bands to at least break even financially.

With so many music sites, how would you describe what you do? What's your unique take on the music and writing?

I’m only writing for one print magazine (Outburn) now, but I’ve always made sure to give every album I review a fair shake before passing final judgment. That means listening several times and making certain that I’ve got my facts correct before submitting a review, both areas in which some writers for on-line and print zines both don’t seem to do very well.  At the end of the day, the review is designed to give the reader an idea about the content and quality of the album so that he/she can make an informed purchase decision.

Illegal free downloads on your site. Yes or no, and why?

Hell no, for the reasons noted above.

What's been your all time greatest "Find"? That band you "discovered" before anyone else and started the word spreading?

Oh man, that is exceedingly difficult to answer; there have been quite a few over the years and my memory has faded during that time. Let’s see…. Ones that come to mind are Zuul, Truth Cell, Nothing to Gain, Gulch… Um, I’ll have to get back to you, ha ha!

If you could write a 1,000 word essay on one song, which one would it be, and why? What makes that song so important?

Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” is the first that comes to mind. It set the tone as not only a quintessential early Sabbath anthem, but as a well-constructed, dynamic slice of doom-fueled heavy metal. The memorable verses between those massive stop/start riffs, the plodding crunch verses, the closing sorrowful guitar melody…it’s got friggin’ everything!

Give us three bands that we need to keep our eyes out for.

Midnite Hellion; Disfigurement; and Soul Remnants

Tell us about your personal music collection. Vinyl? CD? What's your prized possession?

Vinyl and CD both. Vinyl is what I care most about these days and I usually purchase LPs far more than CDs.  The CD collection is massive and the vinyl is getting there. As for most prized possession, not sure I have a single one, but my original issue purchases from the 80s of vinyl LPs from Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, and many others are certainly prized.

What makes it all worthwhile for you?

Being a part of the music community and having made a contribution to it, no matter how small, over the years, as well as all the bands that ClawHammer PR has promoted (and continues to promote) that may not have gotten the recognition otherwise.  More generally, it is the fact that I’ve been able to generate income from something that is so near and dear to my heart, and that will always burn hot within my soul. The money came later as a bonus and was never the goal, so that makes it especially sweet.

How would your life be different if you weren't writing about music?

Far more boring and uninspired…  And I wouldn’t have met a fraction of the great friends I’ve made through music.

Ever been threatened by a band or a ravenous fan?

Nah, I’m not important enough to receive threats, ha ha!

In the end, what would you like to have accomplished, or be remembered for?

Someone that did it all with passion and love for the art, and hopefully someone that made a small contribution to popular culture (or at least underground culture) and help some bands along the way.

Many people may not realize the hours you devote to what you do for little or no pay. Is there a day job? If so, how do you find the balance?

I work with grants and contracts at a university. The balance can be tough to achieve sometimes, but it always works out – it just means time spent on music in the wee hours and on weekends.

What's next? Any new projects?

With ClawHammer PR, new projects come along left and right. Currently, it involves upcoming releases from Dark Descent Records, Deepsend Records, FDA Rekotz, Carnal Records, Shadow Kingdom Records, Comatose Music, Cruz Del Sur Music, Kaotoxin Records, and several others.

Finally, other than the music, what's your other burning passion?

My family, first and foremost. Then anything that intrigues and stimulates my brain, whether movies, books, or anything else. NFL and College football is in there too.

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