Checking in with the Gore Boar

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I’m thinking this is the third interview I’ve done with Billy Nocera of Razorback records over a time span of what must be approaching 10 years, maybe eight. Heck, I don’t remember precisely, but I know that up until now I hadn’t interviewed him for Teeth of the Divine. Given some changes in Billy’s life on both the domestic and label fronts, it seemed a good time to check in with this long-time lurker of the underground. In this installment of the, uh, Razorback interview series Billy talks about the label’s doomier end, his marriage to Vanessa and their relocation to Kentucky, the world of underground distribution, and various other Boar-ing topics. If you’ve any interest in acts like Wooden Stake, Fester, Crypticus, Hooded Menace, Mausoleum, Church of Misery, Coffins, Blizaro, Revolting, Scaremaker, Mausoleum, Decrepitaph, and Fondlecorpse (to name a handful), then you should probably take the plunge and read on. Have horror will travel. Can you dig it? The grave I mean.

The last time we spoke – at least in the context of an interview – you were still a bachelor. That’s all changed now, hasn’t it?

I got married in 2010 and things have been great for me! My wife Vanessa and I have kept active with music and our love for the horror genre is stronger than ever. We bought a house down South and plan to start hitting horror conventions and trying to bring this hybrid kind of metal to more people who don’t really know about this kinda stuff!  It’s a new era for the label and also our lives.

How has the business changed in that time, if at all? Is Razorback Records still a, um, “lucrative” operation?

Razorback still does well, and we plan to start looking for new bands to work with and we are keeping up with our own bands as well (Scaremaker, Wooden Stake, etc.) as well as our friend’s bands such as Decrepitaph, Fondlecorpse, Blizaro, Revolting, etc. The label does as good as it can in this era where most people just download everything.

Have you seen an increase in vinyl sales that’s coincided with the worldwide resurgence?

Not really since we don’t release any vinyl. It’s too expensive. It’s like two grand just to get 300 records made. That kind of stuff is just catering to people who sell stuff on ebay to make tons of money off so-called “rare” records. I hate that kind of mentality. I’ll stick with CDs until the format is completely dead, which I don’t think it ever will be honestly. I like vinyl as an art form, but sadly it’s been ruined by everybody trying to make money from it now. Greed stinks and takes the fun out of music.

What about the distro aspect of your business? Has that changed in any respect?  Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a good spirit of cooperation amongst underground, predominantly death metal, distros in the States, but also worldwide. Would you say this is the case?

The distro side is hard because everybody has a distro now. It’s hard to sell things, but we manage to do ok I think. I try to trade with overseas labels to carry harder to get stuff, but even that is a challenge sometimes. I think the underground still exists to a certain extent, but it’s also been ruined a lot by Myspace, Facebook, download torrent sites, etc. The underground is what we all make of it I guess.

Along those same lines, I find the workings of this network quite interesting and vastly important for overseas labels that want to get their titles into the States. Can you talk about these inner workings or are you sworn to secrecy?

I don’t think there really are any inner workings, honestly! We just release CDs and do trades with overseas labels and sell their stuff here while they sell our stuff over there. It’s a quite simple process I guess. It’s been going like this since the 80’s basically. It doesn’t seem to really get any easier, though, only harder. Postage makes it very expensive to break even these days.

Ms. Nocera is not only your wife; she is your business partner as well. What say you about these dual roles?

It works out great. We love the same kinda stuff and are very passionate horror fans and we try to keep that concept going the best we can. It’s been hard finding other horror style bands these days, that’s why we don’t really put out as much stuff as other labels do. We’re very picky about what we release. We’re into quality over quantity, and trying to satisfy our own tastes rather than just trying to release 200 CDs a month or something ridiculous like that.

Perhaps it is the influence that Vanessa has had in the broadening of your horizons or maybe you wanted to mix things up a bit, or maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but the last few years has seen albums of a more doomy nature come out on Razorback, whether it is Hooded Menace, Wooden Stake, or Blizaro. I should add that I wouldn’t consider any of these albums to be ill-fitting within the larger Razorback context.  Can you shed some light on this relative degree of roster diversification?

Well, don’t forget, Razorback did the very first Coffins album in 2005. Lots of people seem to forget that since that band is so big now. Also the first Mausoleum album came out in 2003 and that was a very doomy kind of album. I’ve always been a fan of that kinda stuff so it was never really hard for me to release that style of metal. Vanessa has definitely helped bring in a strong gothic horror influence to the label, something that I’m really happy about since I’ve been a Hammer Horror films fan since I was a little kid! Hooded Menace was my concept and idea from the beginning and the guy [Lasse Pyykkö] in that band basically ran away with it and stole it once he got “fame” and bigger deals from other labels involving money. I could care less about that band now. It’s just a bunch of stolen ideas as that guy didn’t know shit about those kinds of movies before he met me. Wooden Stake does the gothic horror stuff much better and is more authentic because Vanessa and Wayne are actually fans of horror films and aren’t doing the band just because someone is paying them to play huge fests. Vanessa’s vocals bring a touch of class and originality to the doom/death thing also, which is something missing from that genre sometimes I think. In the end I think the doom stuff fits in perfectly with the horror metal that Razorback has always been about.

You mentioned to me at one point that you believe Vanessa’s (and Wayne Sarantopoulos’) Wooden Stake project Dungeon Prayers & Tombyard Serenades may be the best album you’ve ever released on Razorback Records. That’s a bold statement, especially for a label that has released some stellar albums over the years.

Yeah, I feel very strongly about that album. It’s not just doom; it’s also death metal, black metal, and even some NWOBHM as well which I’m a huge fan of. It’s just an all around interesting album to me, both musically and artistically. I’m very proud of it and feel like it nails the gothic horror doom metal stuff down perfectly. I can’t wait for the next album from them!

You’ve got a sub-label called Hexamorphosis Productions. Why was it necessary to establish a Razorback sub-label? When did this get up and running, what have you released, and what do you plan to release?

Vanessa started this label to get the first Wooden Stake demo release out, as well as the Scaremaker fan club MCD we did. It was fun helping out with those releases and I think we did a great job with the label. We don’t really have anything else planned with it right now because we’re so busy with Razorback and have a lot coming up in the next year! Hexamorphosis is not dead; it’s just not active right now.

What about Revolting? You released the first two albums, but the new one, In Grisly Rapture, was released on FDA-Rekotz.

We didn’t release that album because I was busy working on my own band Scaremaker during when that album was being worked on. Revolting is a band that I did with Rogga where he did all the music and I wrote the lyrics (and got my friends to write lyrics also) and got all the art and everything else for it. It’s a fun project band to work on. We’re going to be doing the 4th album sometime next year.

What about Festered?

FESTERED is planning a second CD. They have a lot of new riffs written for it so it’s only a matter of time before they record again.

Scaremaker?

We’re working on the 2nd Scaremaker album right now actually. All the drums are done and Vanessa is working on the riffs and we’re writing lyrics, etc. It’s gonna be faster, thrashier, and more crazed than the first album! We have a Scaremaker/Crypticus split CD coming out soon and it has five new songs from Scaremaker that we did in late 2010.

And in finally, if given the choice, how would you choose to end this interview?

Thanks for all the support you’ve given Razorback, Scott! Look out for new releases soon from Crypticus (third album), Mausoleum (second album), Church of Misery (Stevo from Impetigo’s doom metal band from the early 90’s before the Japanese band existed), Blizaro (second album), and tons more!

www.razorbackrecords.com

 

 

Comments

  1. Commented by: Jesse Wolf

    Awesome interview. I use to talk to Vanessa on myspace back in the day. She was a very nice person and cool as hell to talk to. Got to say though I hope in the near future maybe/possibly a new LORD GORE cd would be AMAZING!


  2. Commented by: Jimmy Pissfingers

    I disagree, I feel Billy is trying to deny the fact that his label has changed quite a bit over the last decade (for the worse).. They say that love is blind… but it must be deaf too, because wooden stake is terrible (imo)… I’m sure there is a small audience for it, and maybe they’ll buy a copy of the album when they are out shopping for eyeliner and skinny jeans. That is one band that doesn’t seem to fit with the label, I understand that his wife is in it, and I know people want to keep their wives happy, but isn’t that what hexamorphosis is for? Razorback still has a few good bands though..Fondlecorpse, Crypticus, Revolting and I’m happy to see Mausoleum back for a 2nd album… but overall, they have gone downhill fast in the last few years… And taking the time to childishly trash talk [Lasse Pyykko] in an interview is ridiculous… Should use an interview to promote your label and it’s bands, not to promote a personal vendetta! Doesn’t seem like a good business sense.


  3. Commented by: Dean M.

    Great interview, great label, and Billy and Vanessa are great people! Wooden Stake is an amazing band, and far from what Jimmy Pisspants is trying to say it is. There’s death, black, and doom influences in that music! The album is pretty fucking evil sounding in many parts. Razorback has always seemed to evolve, I hardly think it should be attributed to anything other than a label owner wanting to have variety in their catalog. Again, great interview!


  4. Commented by: Night of the Living Ted

    Does Billy really think that any of those concepts have never been used in metal before? Also the name Hooded Menace is stolen from a comic! To set the record straight: basically the guy has zero original ideas! Not blaming him for that but his sick desire to make himself seen like some alchemist of band concepts is pathetic. If he´s good at something that must be burning bridges. The last time it happened with Blood Freak who (surprise surprise!) are not on Razorback anymore. And who cares who saw what films first? How old is this guy? What next? Billy will say he invented horror? Lasse was already working on his death/doom stuff before the actual band was formed. Just because you contribute a couple of lyrics, recycle (or should I say “steal”) ideas and release their CD doesn´t mean you are/own the band. It´s so silly! You can not have a band without music! It must be tough to deal with the fact that all the best bands (Coffins, Acid Witch, Hooded Menace and Blood Freak) have left Razorback and that those bands have been only improving since. I think I smell the burning stench of bitterness and jealousy in the air… go figure. Wooden Stake is an alarming sign of the level of desperation the label has sunk in during the last couple of years. The label has become the laughing stock in the underground metal scene and Billy´s trash talk ain´t changing things for any better.


  5. Commented by: Johnny Stalls

    SCAREMAKER 2nd ALBUM?! YES! Can’t wait for the split with Crypticus as well! 2nd Mausoleum, Blizaro and Festered, too! Stevo’s other band Church of Misery!!! Billy and Vanessa know how to bring the goods! These releases sound awesome! PS- Blood Freak was the worst band ever, I can see why they were bumped off the roster…to make room for the BEST stuff!


  6. Commented by: Patrick

    Blood Freak wasn’t kicked off, they left on their own accord because Billy didn’t want to release their latest album because apparently it is too modern sounding, which obviously isn’t the case because that album rips!


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