After the first label feature with FDA Rekotz some month ago, here is another one with a famous German company who stands for quality and excellent musically taste! This is CYCLONE EMPIRE, an instant in Death, Doom & Thrash!
For what stands Cyclone Empire, have I look for any creative meaning behind it?
There is no actual meaning or background to the company name, if you are referring to that. Back then I wanted to create a cool name for a metal company which was not too similar to the hundreds of other labels out there.
What’s the philosophy of Cyclone Empire?
Discovering and producing music we love and believe is worth to be heard. In combination with that, we are standing for the classic type of record label – manufacturing and distributing actual, real, physical records. A few years ago we have initiated a little campaign with the following slogan: “Support artists and music * Buy / Sell Records * Fuck Downloading”.
This is supposed to reflect my view on the value of music and an album as a piece of art in its entity, including music, lyrics and artwork. We are not offering digital downloads for sale because I think that some file on a hard disc is nothing but a piece of junk and can never be a substitute for an album.
Who has created the logo? Your double headed dragon has something archaic? Are you not into the modern pathways?
The concept was done by myself, the logo then was done by Axel Hermann, good old friend of mine and renowned artist. By the way, it´s a dragon and an eagle ;-) I still love it because indeed it has some archaic touch, and also it is a quite unique and recognizable logo – the seal of the Empire, so to speak.
What brought you from consumer to producer?
Actually the first thing to happen was the founding of Cyclone Empire as a wholesale and distribution company, back in 1996. Then came the next step in adding the label side of it, as after a couple of years I felt it could be a bit boring to just trade and sell music. It all really started with meeting Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalauskaus on a crazy ship cruise from Helsinki to Tallinn and back. I was blown away by the depressive, yet melodic heaviness of their music and I had not heard anything quite like it before. So I decided to start a label and make this the first release on CE.
Tell me about your roster!
Mainly Doom and Death Metal, garnished with Thrash, Black Metal and some other stuff. We´re trying to be not stuck in or limited to certain genres, although of course the main focus will always be on the music we like the most.
We like a lot to work with German bands and hope to support the national scene a bit this way, while I think it´s also great to work with international bands from all over the planet. What we actually do.
Recently you did some re – releases, so tell me about. Why do you care about old stuff?
Basically the same reasons as for new album releases – we think this music deserves to be heard, and in such cases it needs to be brought back to people´s minds, or to find new fans. Or the original release was lacking of quality etc.
Doing so, we always try to offer value for money by re-mastering the albums where necessary, adding bonus material, nice packaging, high quality vinyl, etc.
Every label releases any Johansson stuff; do you think sometimes, the Paganizer deal is not so special anymore?
Haha, that was to be expected! I agree to a certain degree and I´ve had quite a few discussions with Rogga about this. Personally I think that he´s doing just too much and should much rather focus on a handful of things. On the other side, that guy is a total metal workaholic maniac. I guess if he would not constantly write and release music, he might be exploding at some point. Not to forget that most of his stuff is just awesome!
Are you consequently old school?
If it comes to Death Metal, for example, you might say that indeed. I am old enough to have followed the whole thing for more than 30 years now and I just figured out what I like best. But I am also listening to other stuff and still there is a million things out there to discover. At the end of the day, it´s not about old or new school, it´s all a matter of personal taste. However, I can honestly say that I am happy that many of the “old” bands are still around and that quite a few of the younger bands manage to adapt that so-called old school metal for their own music and bring some fresh blood into that sound.
Do you like it to risk something? Or maybe you sign a band only when you know it´s getting a moneymaker?
If I like it or not, running a label nowadays is nothing but an ongoing risk. None of the bands on our label I would be calling a “moneymaker”, because even if a band has reached a certain humble level of success, you´re trying to take them further, for example by pre-financing a tour. It´s quite tough to survive in this business and if you don´t take risks, you are not going anywhere. But I also have to take responsibility for the company, my staff and all that and therefore have to make sure to keep a close eye on everything and to act thoughtfully and responsibly.
In what measure your personally taste influences the decision to sign a band?
It absolutely is the main criteria, by more than 90% for sure. When we are getting band submissions, demos etc. I usually also get the opinion of my colleagues here and if everyone likes it, we might talk to the band and see if we can find a good basis for working with them.
Modern kiddie Metal, extreme Gore nonsense, US – styled Death Metal brutality – why are bands like that no win bands for your label?
Again, it´s mainly because of personal taste. I am not trying to exclude certain styles or genres and if I would like it, it could also be something to release on the label. But if I don´t like something or even think it´s utter crap, why would I want to release a record of it?
You have got lots of releases – is it still manageable?
Yes. We would cut down the number of releases if it wasn´t so. But in order to build up, and keeping a certain status as a label, you need to be continuously active and this is what we are trying to do. After all, there are monthly salaries and bills to pay...
Vinyl – just additional business or the Holy Grail?
Very important for us, and I simply love the fact that the return of the good old vinyl record was a nice, hearty FUCK OFF into the faces of the major companies and everybody who tried to make vinyl disappear from the market a couple of years ago. An outstanding example of consumer´s power, and a great proof of the fact that it still is not just about modern high-tech, cost efficiency and digital files, but about MUSIC and people´s love for it! We will continue to release as much vinyl as possible, will carry on with our “Imperial Anthems” 7” series and will do our part to keep this beloved format alive.
Is there anything, you would say “Never again!”? Have you ever regretted a decision related to the label?
There have been some situations in which I had too much trust in people who showed in the end that they did not deserve it. I am talking about verbal agreements and things like that, things that usually work between people with honesty and integrity... I´d like to avoid such disappointments in the future. And of course there have been some financial flops which were not too helpful either. But overall I am quite satisfied with the way things have been going so far.
Are you a true supporter of your local scene or is quality an more important factor than local support?
I guess both things are important. I would not sign a shitty band just because they are neighbors of mine. But I think it´s great if a label actually is giving some support to the local scene - by producing bands, putting up shows, etc. With MIRROR OF DECEPTION and MOUNTAIN THRONE we have two bands on Cyclone whose members are all living in the same area as we do – and, I really like their music!
Revenue office and bureaucracy – pesky flies or real hurdles?
Pain in the ass. Everyone knows the images from good old classic Western movies when there has been a killing somewhere in the desert and above the scenery the vultures are circling in the sky. This image fits quite well on both, tax office and the incredible amount of bureaucracy you have to deal with nowadays. In particular if you are working internationally, with artists from foreign countries, importing and exporting goods, etc. All they want is your money and the fulfillment of the insane number of formalities. If you fail to meet those, you´re busted.
What kind of deals do you have with your bands usually? Promotion – distribution, production, or the all-inclusive package?
Yes, pretty much. Things we can´t cover ourselves, we try to get done with the help of professional partners. Like for example the main promotional work on all new album releases is being handled by Sure Shot Worx. Quite costly, but just throwing CD´s on the market is not my idea of releasing an album or to work with a band I like.
How do you promote your bands?
In addition to the above, we are keeping people up to date with our own sites on Facebook, YouTube etc. Professional contacts are getting regular news mails, they can check our releases on Haulix and so on. We are also doing “old school” promotion - by advertising in magazines, festival guides etc, printing flyers, stickers,... Right now we are thinking of building up a street team which shall help to be more into people´s faces, so to say.
How long will the run for Death and Black and other extreme metal still work? And have you an plan B?
I can´t see how or why these genres would suddenly disappear. Of course there always have been trends and changes, but extreme Metal will always be there. The key might be to put out albums with quality and relevance, and this is exactly what we are trying to do. At the same time, we are open for other things as well, as long as we like them and they are original, inspiring, powerful. From my point of view, there is no need for a Plan B as long as we stick to what we are and as long as there is at least a decent number of people out there who likes and appreciates what we are doing with Cyclone Empire.
Give me a view through the Cyclone Empire window into the future!
Although the label is just a part of our activities, we are continuously enforcing the creative work there. We have some great new signings like Warfect (Sweden), Ereb Altor (Sweden) and Pentagram Chile which I am very excited about. In addition to that, lots of awesome stuff on the way, for example new albums by Facebreaker, Demonical and Onheil! And we have also made some highly interesting deals for more re-releases of metal classics. I really look forward to release the first Sacrifice and Cancer albums on CD and Vinyl!
We will completely rework our homepage as soon as possible, this had to be neglected for too long now. We´ll improve our presence in media and press and we are working hard to get more of our bands on the road at both, festivals and tours.
The web shop (www.metal-recycler.de) will be expanding further and by doing a number of different things like label, wholesale, licensing, merchandise, web shop etc. we believe that we are set for being around for a little while longer.
In general, we will be taking the never ending challenge to survive, yet also trying to move forward. Our plan and hope is to grow, together with the bands on our label. On a much shorter term, we really look forward to having fun at the several summer festivals ahead.