Label Profile: Comatose Music

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If you’re choice of metal falls squarely into the Brutal Death Metal camp, then surely you are familiar with North Carolina based Comatose Music and its Chairman, CEO, and Overlord Steve Green. Steve is certifiably workaholic and selective about releasing only those albums in which he personally believes and to which he can provide the proper support/promotion. Having personally ordered from (including distro items), as well as reviewing Comatose titles (Thirst of Revenge, Bloodsoaked, Face of Oblivion, and others), I can state without equivocation that Mr. Green runs a tight ship and offers quality products at great prices. He also deals in decibels as guitarist in his own bands Atrocious Abnormality (current) and Lust of Decay (on hiatus). Steve’s story is one of dedication, determination, attention to detail, and above all else customer service. Read the interview and for the love of all that is brutal and unholy order something from Comatose Music!

What’s the story of Steve Green?

Nothing too exciting about my “story” [laughs]. I grew up in Florida and was hooked on punk and metal music in my early teens, was really into skateboarding back then too. I moved to North Carolina when I was 15 and really had nobody to skateboard with, so I pretty much gave it up and started playing guitar for a hobby. Playing punk music was not really challenging, so I started getting more into metal with bands like Slayer, Sepultura, Dark Angel, SOD and Metallica and trying to learn their songs. I played in various bands over the years, most went absolutely nowhere, but there was three bands that I consider important to where I am now, those would be Pure Hate (‘92ish – ‘98), Lust of Decay (’00 – ’07) and my current band Atrocious Abnormality (’06 – current). So music, particularly metal, has always been a passion of mine and in 2001 I decided to start a distro to help spread underground death metal at shows when my band Lust of Decay would perform. Not long after, I made the step up from a distro to an actual record label and wanted to start releasing music and really make an impact on the underground death metal scene. The timing was perfect for the first release on Comatose Music to be my own band Lust of Decay. So in July 2002 Lust of Decay’s Infesting the Exhumed was released and I have never looked back.

What first got you interested in metal in general and ultimately the brutal end of the spectrum?

Can’t really pinpoint what got me into metal, I just liked it. I can remember as far back as being 10 and 11 years old and really liking Quiet Riot and other bands similar to them like Ratt and Twisted Sister. Then as I got a bit older and started skateboarding I was introduced to punk and hardcore and really enjoyed bands like The Misfits, Suicidal Tendencies, DRI, Minor Threat and Agnostic Front. Of course thrash metal started to creep in the mix in the late ‘80’s and ultimately death metal pretty much took over my mind going into the ‘90s. And from there I discovered underground death metal and what it had to offer and it just gradually got more brutal over the years.

What have been the most challenging aspects about running a record label?

Probably building a solid customer base and a reputation for being a reliable record label and store. It has taken many years and so much hard work to build Comatose Music to what it is today. I have taken baby steps along the way and been careful not to go into debt and crash ‘n burn. So it has been a slow and steady progression and I think I have done a pretty good job. I am very proud of the label and all the talented bands I have worked with over the years.

Comatose is one of the best known of the brutal death metal record labels. Do you find your customers and fans of the genre in general to be a loyal bunch?

I appreciate customer loyalty so much! I have customers now that were ordering from me 10 years ago. Without them I doubt Comatose Music would have survived this long. I cannot thank the customers and fans enough for their undying continued support. And seeing new fans come around keeps me excited that brutal death metal music has life in it for the future and will continue to fester for many years to come.

How do you determine what albums to release on your label? Is it primarily a decision based on what you enjoy personally?

Yes, I enjoy everything that is released on Comatose Music. Now I do like some releases better than others, but I will not release something if I do not like it. I have 100 percent confidence in the bands and their music and do everything in my power to release quality albums. With that being said there are bands that I really enjoy that I end up having to decline label support because I just don’t have the budget or schedule to work with them. This happens quite often actually and it is frustrating to turn away a good band. But I never try to take on more projects than I feel I can handle and promote properly. I get countless demos every month and many of them are good, but it is impossible to sign them all.

Speaking of which, talk about your some of your all-time favorite bands and albums.

Wow, this is a tough question! So much good stuff out ther, and a lot of stuff that was influential to me as I was growing up. So here we go with a list. I will try to put these in order as I recall listening to them.

1) Misfits Earth AD (I like all their albums, but this one is so good, loved the artwork too!)

2) SOD Speak English or Die (Classic!)

3) Slayer Reign in BloodSouth of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss (Learned a lot of riffs from these albums.)

4) Dark Angel Leave Scars (Amazing album from start to finish, the drumming is pure skill!)

5) Sepultura Beneath the Remains and Arise (I wore out these cassettes back in the day!)

6) Cancer Death Shall Rise (My favorite album with James Murphy, killer stuff!)

7) Cannibal Corpse ‘Tomb of the Mutilated’ (One of the first brutal death metal bands I heard.)

8) Suffocation Pierced from Within and Despise the Sun (Can’t go wrong with these albums!)

9) Internal Bleeding Driven to Conquer (I love everything about this album; I know some would argue.)

10) Lividity The Age of Clitoral Decay (You can hear a lot of Lividity influence on the first Lust of Decay album)

Okay, I am stopping at 10! It is just too difficult to nail this list and if you asked me again in a month the list would probably be a little different. As far as influencing my label I was really into a lot of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s releases from labels like United Guttural (Skinless, Devourment, and Malignancy), Ablated Records (Lividity, Brodequin, and Regurgitation) and Unique Leader (Deeds of Flesh, Disgorge, and Pyaemia).

I’ve visited your distro table at Central Illinois Metal Fest each of the two years I’ve attended. How often do you travel to set up distros at metal festivals and any other events? Is it usually worth it financially?

I have definitely scaled back on the fest trips recently because it really is getting too expensive to travel and set up with these rising fuel costs. But certainly if my band has a show scheduled I will bring out the distro. After all, that is really how Comatose Music was created back in the day [laughs]. I usually try to get out at least once a year for a tour featuring Comatose Music artists and I will set up at all the shows on the tour. Sometimes it is worth it financially, and sometimes not. I just take the good with the bad when it comes to setting up the distro at shows. Either way I at least try to have a good time traveling.

You regularly run deals where the customer can purchase three, four, or five CDs and get one, two, and three CDs, respectively free. Is it a worthwhile marketing strategy or is it even about that?

Well, I did not always do this deal with online sales, but I noticed so many other labels and distros offering this deal and figured it must be working so I gave it a shot. I actually started with “Buy four CDs and get one additional CD free,” but later decided to go with the ever popular “Buy three CDs and get one additional CD free” deal. So I have been running that offer for probably five or six years now. That offer may not work for all labels, but it works for Comatose Music and I will continue to do it for as long as I can, hopefully forever!

How do you decide what non-Comatose titles to include in your distro? Are you selective with whom you trade?

Yeah, I try to be somewhat selective. But I also like to have a large selection of music for my customers. Obviously I am not going to like everything in my store, but I must tell myself “It is not what I like, it is what they (the customer) likes.” Yeah, that is cheesy, but that is how I have to think. So I just go with that thought and stock titles in my store. Of course I stick with the metal genre and sub-genres; you won’t find any Britney Spears or anything like that in my store [laughs]! Sorry!

Bloodsoaked is one of the better known acts on the Comatose label and it just happens to be a one-man-band with Peter Hasselbrack. You recently released the Thirst of Revenge Annihilation of Races album, another one-man death metal act. Bands like Bloodsoaked, Putrid Pile, and Insidious Decrepancy have raised the bar these past several years. What’s your take on the one-man death metal band and who else is out there that we may not know about?

Whether it is a full band or a one man band, if it is good, then I like it. I know the one-man bands sometimes get snubbed by critics, but some of them are very good. Insidious Decrepancy is definitely one of my favorites; Shawn Whitaker is such an amazing guitarist! And you mentioned the new Thirst of Revenge that was released in 2011 on Comatose Music; holy shit that CD is so brutal! It is very well written and most people would never guess it is a one-man band; it has very good composition and structure. Thirst of Revenge is certainly underground and I think underrated, so if anyone reading this interview wants to listen to a band they may not know, go check out Thirst of Revenge Annihilation of Races.

What have been your most popular titles over the years?

Certainly the Bloodsoaked titles have done well, especially with the recent release of The Death of Hope. That got people to check out the previous two Bloodsoaked releases. Pathology’s Age of Onset is definitely a top release for Comatose Music. Some other bands that have done well on the label are Lust of Decay, Necrotic Disgorgement, Blasphemer, Cerebral Effusion, Vomit the Soul, Dysentery and Disfigured. But I personally think most of the bands on the label have done well; some titles do sell better than others for whatever reason. I would only consider a handful of releases on Comatose Music as not doing so well, and I think that is because several of those bands broke up shortly after their albums were released and never really got out to play shows and get exposure for their bands. But I totally support and enjoy everything I have ever released on Comatose Music, whether it has been a top seller or not.

Tell us a bit about your 2011 releases and what we can expect in 2012.

Comatose Music had some really killer releases in 2011! The highlight releases were Bloodsoaked, Face of Oblivion, Disfigured and Dysentery. I saw the new Dysentery on a lot of bloggers 2011 top 10 lists, so that was really cool to see. I aso released a few re-issues that have been out of print for years like Deeds of Derangement by Prostitute Disfigurement and Like a Virgin by Abuse. And things will not let up for 2012. In fact, there will be even more brutal releases this year starting with the new Antropofagus and Kraanium albums. Also look for new releases from Engorgement, Atrocious Abnormality, Exhumer, Infected Flesh, Execration, Necrotic Disgorgement and Mass Infection. And perhaps a surprise re-issue or two later in the year. I think 2012 will be one of the sickest years ever for Comatose Music and its bands!

What advice would you give to someone that is thinking about starting a label?

[Laughs] It is a lot of freakin’ work! You better eat your Wheaties and be ready to spend money to make money. It is not easy and can take years to develop a successful label. But new labels are still popping up here and there, so it is not impossible by any means. Just a lot of time, dedication and a relentless passion for death metal music!

Thanks for the enlightenment. Keep the faith. The last words are yours.

Thanks Scott for this great interview and being patient with me to get it completed… I stay so damn busy [laughs]! But I really enjoyed doing this interview. It has been a while since I have done one of these things actually. I want to thank all who take the time to read this interview and especially all the long time loyal Comatose Music fans and customers, you all absolutely rule! And an extra special thanks to all the bands on the label that I have worked with over the years; they have all been so cool and professional, and that really helps make my job a bit easier. I’ve got to thank all my band mates past and present too! Keep it brutal!


  1. Commented by: GW

    Great Interview!

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