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B-Lo Metalix - Interview
The Rockpit interviews

B-LO

Metalix [radio show]


Metalix

As a big supporter of local underground music, I always love chatting to anyone who is into the same stuff. Whether it's with musicians and artists, friends, co-workers and even radio personalities and other media people involved in the music industry, the connection over music and sharing the same passion for it is something that I can't get enough of. One such conversation I had was with a radio guy who goes by the name B-Lo over in Denver, Colorado and who hosts a show called Metalix on idobi Howl, we ended up having a lengthy chat about all things music and how his show supports local music in Denver and even worldwide.

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Andrew: So your based in Denver, Colorado right?

B-Lo: Correct, that's where I'm at. And idobi Howl is an international station, you can hear it on the internet everywhere.

Andrew: So it's not a satellite station then?

B-Lo: No it's just the internet.

Andrew: So the show that you actually do is pretty much metal right? A metal show where you talk about music and interview bands and stuff like that?

B-Lo: Yes that's correct.

Andrew: So how did you get into the show in the first place?

B-Lo: That's a good question. So Metalix existed long before I hosted it, it was hosted by a popular DJ on the local rock station here in Denver. The station was KDPI so it's terrestrial radio and Metalix was Uncle Nasty's over night show, Uncle Nasty was the old DJ. He had his own afternoon show as well but Metalix was kind of his side deal where he played a lot of local music and more underground stuff that doesn't get played on the radio during the day. For that reason the show was over night on weekends and stuff but I eventually started working in the same building there with Nasty but working on some different stations. I ran into him, told him 'Hey I'm a metal fan too. I listen to your show and I love it, I think I can totally help you stay on top of some more of these local bands and what's getting played right now where all the new music is'. He asked me to make him a CD and then about 2 weeks later I was programming a show for him. So I started from there, I produced, then we got the show expanded from 1 or 2 nights into 6 nights a week. He had me hosting on the weekends and eventually I just kind of took it over, we both got laid off eventually which is what happens to everyone in radio here. He continued on with Metalix after I got cut, he kept it alive but he was really too busy to try and maintain it 6 nights a week. It went back down to 1 and then unfortunately Uncle Nasty also got laid off so I just took Metalix with me to another station, of course with his blessing. We're still friends, we still talk, he actually works back at Clear Channel again but I just have a different day job and then I do Metalix on Monday nights now on idobi Howl where I'm also directing the station so that's basically the origin.

Andrew: So hosting the radio show, is this the first time you had done a full on radio show like that?

B-Lo: It's the first time I could do it on my own vision really of what it should be. Honestly it isn't that different from Uncle Nasty's, it's just that I get to present it to a new audience who isn't already familiar with the previous host. So the show is really popular here in Denver and basically I took the principles that I thought made it successful so local emphasis and new music and just brought that to a new audience. Now how much does the rest of the world care about if I tell them that Denver has a great music scene, especially for metal and hardcore and whatnot - probably not much if you just tell them. But on Metalix, people get a chance to hear new music from all over the world before it gets really introduced into the main rotation on idobi Howl where they can hear it 24/7. So they get a sneak preview plus they'll hear about 6 songs from bands that are local to Denver or from Denver - maybe they didn't know, maybe they're signed bands from Denver - but I get a chance to give those bands exposure on an international platform as well.

Andrew: That's very cool! We're also very big supporters of local music and certainly bands that are trying to get out there. I guess you must be a big fan or a big supporter of local music yourself then?

B-Lo: Absolutely. I'm also a fan of a lot of bands from Australia too [laughs]. I think Metalix has good potential for mixing those 2 fanbases.

Andrew: What are some of the Aussie bands that you know or like?

B-Lo: Last year I interviewed In Hearts Wake and I thought they were a really fun and interesting interview, very political band there. But obviously Parkway Drive, I mean who doesn't like Parkway Drive. There are some bands like Carpathian, I don't think they exist anymore but man I love them! Also I gotta tell you, I think that Australia should just make some kind of, I don't know, some national recognition for King Parrot. I think they should get some kind of unofficial title that they can always carry around like Australian Metal Ambassador - King Parrot.

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah they certainly are flying the flag for metal in Australia, they just absolutely exploded. Not just in Australia but also in the US and Europe as well. It's just been an amazing run for them at the moment.

B-Lo: Right!

Andrew: How did you discover a lot of these Australian bands? Was it just through the internet?

B-Lo: Yeah pretty much. Basically once or twice a week I make a sweep of all of the upcoming releases and then whatever bands I'm just hearing about, some of it comes to me by email but a lot of it is just me paying attention to blogs and facebook pages and stuff like that. King Parrot I'm not exactly sure how they came to find out about me and my show but last time they were in Denver, they were tweeting right at me [laughs]. That's really cool, those guys are reaching out using the social media platform twitter for exactly what it's supposed to be there for. I think social media is just a great way to keep everyone basically in the same international scene up to date.




Andrew: Yeah exactly. It is amazing how social media has become one of the main platforms for music and bands and stuff like that. I mean you have probably seen those changes being on the radio and seeing how social media works.

B-Lo: Absolutely.

Andrew: How does it work in Denver at the moment? How is the music scene there and what kind of metal bands are going over there?

B-Lo: Well you may have heard some news about certain laws that changed especially in regards to certain substances that we can consume recently on a recreational basis here in Denver. And whether or not this is tied to that change in the law, I don't know but a lot of people are moving to Denver now. Over the last 3 or 4 years the city has just been exploding and so there's company's that are moving here, there's a lot of tech company's that are coming in and as they come in they bring a lot of creative people as well. So the music scene here in Denver in any genre is growing rapidly and diversifying also, that is no different for the metal scene. So some bands that you probably heard of are from Denver or surrounding areas like Havok or Allegaeon but we have a growing doom metal scene here, there's a 2 person band called In The Company Of Serpents that we play a lot on Metalix and Grant (Netzorg, vocals/guitars) has been on the show a few times. There's always going to be a scene for the younger fans in the post-hardcore crowd and stuff like that so you have Forty Fathoms, that's a little more of a scream/breakdown kind of band but they are immensely catchy, fun to listen to and along the same lines, Remain And Sustain is out there as well. I would say in 2016 compared to when I started Metalix or when I started doing Metalix primarily on my own 3 or 4 years ago, There's a much greater wealth of bands and different sounds in Denver than there was before and I think a lot of that has to do with the way the city itself is just growing.

Andrew: That's good to hear obviously. And the band you mentioned just now, Havok, I'm a huge fan of them and we were lucky enough to see them in Australia a couple of years ago. But based on that one band I always thought Denver had a bit of a thrash metal scene but it sounds like there's a bit of a variety there at the moment.

B-Lo: Yeah absolutely. There's thrash metal, there's death metal, there's a bit of a black metal scene. There's Belhor so they're from Denver. Then you have a lot of your melodic bands and metalcore and stuff like that like Burial Plot has new music comng out here pretty soon and that's much more significant in Denver than it is in surrounding areas but I'm not sure that someone in California who hears the band Burial Plot for the first time wouldn't just assume that they are also from California or one of the coastal cities or something like that based on the way that they sound. The other great thing here too is along with all these bands comes more opportunities to get recorded and get your music out there, so there's more studios now too. We have Dave Otero of Otero Studios and he records a lot of bands that are on Relapse Records, Cephalic Carnage they're from Denver and they do all their work with Dave Otero. But there's also another up and coming studio called Rusty Sun Audio, they recorded Burial Plot and I Am The Shotgun, 2 local bands here with a lot of national and international potential and his recordings are just amazing, really fills out that sound. So I think that if this growth continues, in about 5 years Denver is going to be one of those names you throw into the conversation for music with places like L.A., San Francisco, New York and Chicago.

Andrew: Yeah it's obviously great for the city!

B-Lo: Right! So here's something else that you might not consider when you think about challenges for Denver bands trying to get out there which is that we're right in the middle of the country. I don't know a whole lot about Australia but I think from what I understand is that most of the cities are typically along the coast line and once you get into the middle of the continent, there's not a whole lot. Denver is exactly the same way, we're like in the outback here man for when it comes to touring so bands that are from Denver have a lot of challenges. Like which direction do they go and how are they going to maximise their touring time so really what you have is we have bands that go out and make these quick west coast runs and they are little week long tours and things like that. We have bands that basically get big from the inside and spread out to the coasts and that's really cool too, that's not just in Denver. There's other bands, I interviewed Darkness Divided a couple weeks ago, they are from San Antonio, Texas and they booked their own tours to begin with basically just focusing on the mid-west. So now that's something we're starting to overcome and I think that ultimately as I said before, it's helping Denver just become a part of that national conversation and hopefully talking to you will help Denver get into the international conversation as well.

Andrew: Yeah absolutely. But Denver is still part of the tour itinerary of most major bands right? I mean a lot of bands don't skip Denver.

B-Lo: No they don't and that's another mission of Metalix too is I really don't want bands to see Denver as fly over country or a place you should only tour if your going on a Friday or Saturday. We've had a wealth of shows here just this week, let's see. On Tuesday there was one, Wednesday night there was one and Saturday is Amon Amarth. Nekrogoblikon was on Wednesday and Behemoth was here on Tuesday, last week we had another 2 shows. Kvelertak was one day and there was another show like the day before that as well so if you want to get in on a good, burgeoning metal scene, Denver is really a place you should pay attention to.

Andrew: Going in a bit more personal, who are some of your favorite bands and what sort of musical style do you lean towards more?

B-Lo: So I had an interesting pathway to metal. When I was in high school I would say at the beginning, I was into your typical like White Zombie and Korn. That kind of stuff, I was into that back in the day. But I heard this radio show called No Punk Intended, it was only on Sunday nights on a station that doesn't exist anymore here and they played all these great punk rock that I never heard and that I never considered that genre. Then I got into a lot of the bands I heard on there and just kind of gave up on the major label music scene when I could see that there were so many underground bands who sounded like the bands that I hear on the radio or on MTV which that was the only way I could get music at that time. I'm kind of an older fellow over here, I'm in my 30's now I guess [laughs]. But we didn't have the internet, music wasn't so available. You basically had to buy a record, look at the liner notes and then say, 'Alright, I'm gonna go back to the record store again and check out a bunch of these bands if they let me listen to the CD first'. And that was how you found out about music so I was probably one of Denver's biggest punk rock fans for 4, 5, 6 years through high school going on into the beginning of college. But when punk started exploding into the rest of the mainstream music scene, I really just felt like it was losing the edge that I loved so much about it. Challenging the norm and anti-conformity, things like that so I started seeking out harder genres and harder bands. Bands like Sick Of It All or Earth Crisis, so like hardcore and then I really got into that and kind of started to get away from punk which was just turning into a miserable scene for me but hardcore was there and hardcore was really starting to boil up. And at the same time in the early 2000's, so was metalcore so I had this nice little staged introduction into metal going from punk and hardcore to metalcore and then into all the really serious metal genres. But it meant that unfortunately I completely skipped over some of the formative bands that other people grew up with. So I'm a metalhead now but I didn't have Iron Maiden growing up, I know what they sound like and I know some of their songs and I know some things about the band but they didn't contribute to me that much when I was growing up. Unfortunately neither did Slipknot, Slipknot is another one that people generally in the metal scene seem to love. They came here and played at Red Rocks last summer and sold it out but I had no idea about any Slipknot other than the one song that was on the radio, I didn't know anything about them. Now I kind of come back around to those bands but I'm like a metalhead who got there from punk.




Andrew: Yeah everyone has a different story as to how they got into music. Me personally it started from hard rock like Aerosmith and Guns N' Roses and then it just went heavier, Metallica was that gateway band to all that heavier stuff. So it's interesting how everyone gets into metal and then you sort of get outside the mainstream and go more underground, it's an interesting story and always interesting to see how they got into it.

B-Lo: Well I'm looking for specific things in music, for myself. Obviously what I play on Metalix on idobi Howl is music that I think more people will grab onto as well but for me I'm usually looking for fast, aggressive, angry music. Not to say that I'm an angry person, I think I'm an nice person! But that's what music typically speaks to me the most, are the bands that are just out there pissed off and they have something to say about it.

Andrew: Did you ever consider to be in a band yourself?

B-Lo: Yeah I tried that. It was a good lesson in whether I should be making my own music or interpreting other people's music, I think the latter was really more suitable for me. The hard thing about a band is everyone has to be as committed to your vision and if they're not, then you have to be ready to replace people and at the time in Denver..this as about 2005-2006, there just wasn't much in the scene. If we needed a drummer, any good drummers we knew were already in 2 or 3 bands. That's still a challenge here but I figured I better just stick to recommending other people's music rather than trying to make my own.

Andrew: It's funny you mentioned trying to get a drummer because certainly where we are in Perth, Australia, there is always a shortage of drummers and they are always in more than 1 band, 2 or 3 different bands. So it must be a worldwide thing I guess, that drummers are sort of hard to get.

B-Lo: Yes I would say that's probably the hardest position to replace. Obviously you want a good vocalist, you want a good guitar player but anyone who can play guitar can play bass. I think I'm on 1 or 2 facebook groups of local musician interest and there's more people posting that 'I play guitar and I'm looking for a band' than 'I play drums and I'm looking for a band'. In fact the latter post I never see, usually it's people looking for drummers or vocalists. But I mean the challenge there with vocalists is if you are looking for a vocalist and you already have the words written which means you want a vocalist who is going to sing words that aren't their own, that's like a whole other challenge man.

Andrew: Yeah it must be hard to sing someone else's lyrics I guess.

B-Lo: Yeah if that's your jam, which is fine. But usually the bands that I know, the people who sing the words are usually the same people who write them or they had a major part in the collaborative writing process. But yeah, drummers man! That's a tough skill and a very expensive skill too and pretty much wherever the drum set is, is where you gotta practice so logistically being in a band is kind of difficult there too. But as I mentioned earlier with Denver blowing up here, we have more practice spaces now too, one of my friends just opened one up. Basically I think he put his own investment in it and he's getting other bands to rent it out so that's really cool too. There's also some talk of a concert venue which might double as a bar and a coffee shop and practice spaces too so entrepreneurship and competition is making the Denver scene better for everyone.

Andrew: That's good to hear. As I said before, I'm a big supporter of local music and any city in the world that gets into it is fantastic to hear. I did want to ask you before I let you go that being involved in the local music scene and music in general and the media side of things, what do you think is the biggest mistake that bands who are starting out are making?

B-Lo: It's a good question, let me think about that for a second. I would say the biggest mistake that bands make is expecting a certain level of success immediately, in fact it all has to do with expectations really. It takes time to get your name out there but more important than self promotion is really practicing and getting better. The thing about the music scene is it's so random, bands blow up all the time and for no good reason. There are bands that I am just finding out [that] were from Denver or Colorado Springs or Fort Collins, that they were here the whole time but I didn't really hear about them playing shows and I didn't see their flyers, I didn't see their stuff on facebook because the things they were focused on were practicing, getting a good recording and then they might of stumbled into a contact who helped them distribute and get their name out. I think where bands get a bad attitude and get discouraged is when they aren't getting returns that they want immediately, in fact it's just a sad reality of music but it just may never happen. So you have to do it for yourself, not for anyone else and you can't really do it with the image of wealth and fame in mind if this is the kind of music you're playing. At least those are the bands we really want to help support on Metalix because I don't expect that Metalix will be like the Howard Stern show in another 5 or 10 years, I'm not even sure that it will be as big as Uncle Nasty's afternoon show on KDPI. But if I can help someone in Maine find out about a band in Denver that they really like and it's just 1 person, I mean that feels like an accomplishment to me. So bands that are just starting out need to respect; 1, that the music industry doesn't always reward you on your hard work and 2, that you're going to work hard on everything. You're going to work hard on your own sound, you're going to work hard developing your band mates and promoting yourself and I think you have to basically keep your expectations at a certain level and have a plan for your future. Get a job, especially a job that will let you tour if that's what you're going to do. Give you like 3 weeks off, something like that but really to temper your expectations because it's usually around the 2 year mark that bands start running into critical issues where they're not getting along , they're not getting as much shows and band members are starting to get a little less invested in the whole idea. So it just takes practice and it takes a certain amount of perspective that unfortunately you don't always have when you're like 15 years old but by the time you're 21 and you've been in 3 or 4 bands - some that have struggled and some that have been successful - you got a much better idea of what you need to do to get yourself there but mostly you should just do it for the music and for you and for your fans. It shouldn't be about money or fame.

Andrew: Yeah absolutely, I definitely agree with that. And having a certain amount of realistic expectations is better than trying to grab the almighty fame and dollar and all that kind of stuff. Anyway it's been fantastic to talk to you, I always love reaching out to people who love supporting local music. Thanks for your time today, it's really appreciated.

B-Lo: Thank you too!


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For more info on Metalix and the idobi Howl station, visit the following links:
idobi Howl
Metalix
Metalix Facebook


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Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on May 6th 2016