The Red Chord – Sense and Sensibility

Saturday, 30th March 2013 I remember when the band broke with Clients five years ago. What do you remember most about that point in time?

Kozowyk: Clients and the Fused Together [Through Revolving Doors] cycle, it wasn’t necessarily a glamorous time in the band. We were doing tours that were a lot cheaper and we were definitely getting exploited because we were a young band. We sold a bunch of records and I feel like on some level, we were getting taken advantage of because we were younger guys. I had so many people that would fight with me over $50 on a guarantee and it always came down to, “The lead singer of that band wants to get paid.” I always took it as, “Oh, by us playing to a bunch of 25 year-old guys, we didn’t need to get paid, but you needed to get paid.” It is what it is. As hot of a record as that was and as much as it sold, I think it put us in a really good place in terms of our label’s priorities and the kids having some awareness of it. It was great to do a lot of tours, but it wasn’t like we were rolling in the bucks because…that shit was hard. It’s really tough to accumulate savings when you’re playing for pennies. It’s tough to get ahead and we’ve always had bad luck in terms of vehicles breaking down and it’s not a very glamorous lifestyle, but we’ve always rolled with the punches. Even right now, it’s feast or famine and you got to save a little bit.

A lot of bands don’t survive the transition from blowing up then cooling down. It’s tough to say, “Yeah, we’re going to get a bus and get all of these techs and sound equipment.” Honestly, at the time we started blowing up, we couldn’t afford to bring those people and we’ve always gone out with a pretty bare-bones crew and step it up where we can. We don’t do buses, we do vans. We’ve never done our own vans, we’ve ended up renting. We keep our finances in check and be very conservative in terms of our financial approach. You never know when the transition is going to come where you blow up and it disappearsreal fast. Since you run your own label, what’s your feelings on the way things have been going?

Kozowyk: The way I look at the industry right now is that you’re at the mercy of who wants to support stuff. Not to say you can’t push bands or push something so you get it to break. Kids decide what they want right now and there will be bands that are incredible, that kids don’t want to get behind or pay attention to. And you’re not going to see as much of the manufactured success of smaller, up-and-coming bands. It’s not like, “Sign to this label and we’re going to hand you the world.” Maybe on a more major label-level there is some of that, but the big thing right now is that you can’t just turn around throw money into ads or throw money touring and all of that sort of stuff. There’s a chance that bands will never break, but that being said, I don’t think labels will become obsolete. The business model is changing, but bands still need to be promoted and have somebody to put CDs in stores and make sure their shit is advertised. Any band that turns around and says, “We don’t need a label,” I say: “Watch how far you’ll get on your own.” Generally, you hit a ceiling and it’s usually pretty low.

You have to be very conservative in your approach to what you’re going to spend records and I feel like I’m still around all of these years later is because once stuff started to blow up, it wasn’t like I took tens of thousands of dollars and just started throwing it at a bunch of bands or whatever the hot thing was. That’s what got a lot of these labels into trouble. You got to keep in mind that if you start out pressing a thousand CDs for some band and you do everything you can to go through them. Or maybe it’s easier to go through 10,000 CDs, and at any point in time, that band could fall off or that band could or the whole industry could bottom out like when metalcore went away. And now you have bands who you’ve literally chased down for all of this money who don’t sell anything.

To me, you make artist-friendly deals and if the record sells and your overhead was minimized and you don’t need a bunch of people on your payroll and you’re willing to work that much harder, like our staff is going to be a few people as opposed to 10 people, because that’s a lot of mouths to feed when you’re not selling records. At the end of day, you can work it out so you’re giving bands reasonable advances that are modest and you’re setting it up in a way that if a record really takes off, the band can take money. And if it doesn’t take off, you have a label set up to where you can keep your head above water and afford whatever it is you’re going to lose. You have these major labels or large indies have these notions that some band is going to take off and they didn’t…for a guy like me, I would have been dead years ago. Right now, I work with a lot of smaller bands and if I can break even with stuff and sometimes, you have stuff that breaks out, the infrastructure is there so that if that does happen, we can help them get to the next level. If a band is going to do a thousand CDs, it’s not the end of the world. It is what is. Finally, what’s the game plan for The Red Chord for the rest of year and into 2011?

Kozowyk: We have the Summer Slaughter tour, which we’ll be on until the end of August. This fall, we’re going to be on tour with the Acacia Strain and Gaza, that should be a cool run. We’re looking to get back to Europe at some point. We’re also reissuing some of our records on vinyl – Fused Together was supposed to be released on vinyl when it came out; so was Clients and Prey For Eyes, but because of art issues and shit, it never happened. We got the rights back to do it, and we’re in the process of getting some of that stuff together. I think at least one of those projects will keep us busy through the end of the year. I also said that back in 2002 [laughs].

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