This time round our interview interrogations turn to one of Sweden's most underground record labels, one that specializes mainly in Extreme Metal (Black, Death, Doom, etc) from far flung countries, from Colombia to Morocco and from Pakistan to a forthcoming release by a band in Kazakhstan.
Salute Records is run solely by one Satanic Tony Sundstrand, who also owns various projects amongst his band Demorian. It is also very safe to say he has seen the Swedish Metal scene expand and grow ever since 1981 when his musical career began; he also used to run Pure Black Heart Productions until it was closed around 2012 (it started 30th December, 2009 and catered for Extreme Metal)
With an ongoing list of releases forthcoming and a terrific catalog of years by-gone, GMA felt it was time to shine the spotlight on one of Sweden's greatest underground musicians and record label owners, what Tony has to say is an absolute eye-opener to those thinking of setting up their own label and / or distribution channel. Take note.
Hi there Tony, so how long has Salute Records been going, why 'Salute' and what bands do you generally sign / release material of?
I started the label in December 2007, and from the beginning the plan was to put together a compilation album with some smaller and very underground bands that I liked or felt that needed extra support. This is because I knew all the way back since the 1980´s and 1990´s how hard it was for myself to play in a band and get anywhere further from nothing. So it was more of a fun idea and from that everything grew bigger, nowadays the label has almost produced 200 releases with bands from almost the entire world; ranging from Extreme Black Metal, Death, Doom, Crustpunk, Dark Ambient, DSBM, Thrash, NSBM, Grindcore and regular Heavy Metal and Rock.
You have your own projects and bands, could you give a brief overview on what they are and what the future plans are?
Yes I am active in several bands and a couple of one-man band projects, but some of those also involve guest musicians. The bands that I am involved and active with are Demorian (active first from 2001, but fully since 2007) and have released a couple of albums, EP´s, demos and splits, and are working on a new release called "From Marduk To Gaia", this will be very different & will come out in 2014.
Then we have Wintercold which has been active since 2008 and has released five full lengths so far and features a mix of both Doom, Goth Rock & raw Atmospheric Black / Folk Metal, Curse Of Wotan is another band / project that first started playing acoustical Black Metal (which I think is very original) and released the last album in early June this year, future plans include having a forthcoming album, however the band will be put on hold or will end with this last album; which features more regular Black Metal in it.
Magiska Krafter is another band that I am involved in, it is an Indian / Swedish band and the front man is from Skool of Dead & Burn The Water, who I appeared with as a guest vocalist. The band released one album back in 2012 and are now working on something new.
Luciferian Blood is another band that is international & features me as vocalist, the rest of the line-up is as follows: Martin from Prayer of The Dying (Malta) on drums and Invisus from Terra Australis (Australia) on guitar & bass. The band started in the early summer of 2013 and plays very raw old school Black Metal, we are no working on a second demo or EP / mini album to be released later this year.
Doomsday Prophet is another project that was created back in 2012 and has released two demos / EP´s & one full length so far, with this project I play funeral-like Doom Metal with a high dose of Ambient / Drone in it.
Voxra is also another project, but it is now buried after two albums and one demo.
Another band that I can also mention is Dawn of Apocalypse, it is very new and features me taking up all instrument duties and my wife and soulmate Malin "Big Blondiee" on the lead vocals. We have done one demo and when this is written, we also have a debut mini album "Forces of Darkness Reigns" out on Satanica Productions.
Some work for splits and a compilation to come out in Bangladesh is also in my plans. Also I can inform all that a number of months back I became lead vocalist for the Black Metal / Ambient band Nostalgie Depression from Chile as well, so my vocals are on the band's first album and an EP.
One other band that you can look for in the future is called A Perfect Day, this band I will be playing guitars in, the band plays some kind of Depressive Post-Black Metal / Shoegaze and it will be interesting to see what more things await us around the corner.
One thing for sure is that the older I get, the more I burn for creating music and have no plans to stop ;)
In your opinion what countries are the most obscure for metal?
The countries that I think have some of the most obscure and unique Extreme Metal / Extreme Music scenes, are also ones that I have had the honor of releasing band music from, therefore these must be: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, China, Tunisia, Morocco, Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia.
What would you say is the hardest challenge for labels these days?
To survive as underground label without losing the right feelings and grip for it I guess. One thing that is often the hardest thing to get is money to last for more than you actually have and then of course another thing that I know many complain about (same for myeslf) is the expensive cost to send cds and tapes across the world to other countries.
That is one truly hard challenge for all small and underground labels. But one thing that I have learned all through the years is to never quit just because some things go straight to hell for a moment. Simply because before you know it, some things can really change to become more positive. A way that you never really expected to see. For me it has happened several times.
You seem to deal with mainly bands from far flung countries, do you feel more labels should do this?
Hmmm that is up to them. I think it is better nowadays than back in 2008 / 09, as more labels these days are concentrated and have more focus on bands from obscure countries and areas. So I think that the feeling and support for bands has reached even to the more small and obscure distant places.
And then it is of course good and positive that not all labels do it the same way. I have through theyears discovered that many labels start up their activity and believe that they can and want to become big and famous, but that is not the right goal to choose (same with many bands I believe). As you can often see, many of these labels that follow those terms are born to fail in the end.
What was the hardest and greatest challenge for Salute Records?
One of the hardest challenges must be last year when I recently released the second album for
the Egyptian Symphonic / Black Metal band Zatreon and the "so called" twist that went shortly after with the Dutch Metal band Toxic Grind Machine. The issue is now history and I don´t want to do some explanation on that topic here.
My conclusion after that problematic situation is that I still love the band Zatreon and their music, and what is true or false I now don´t really give a f*** about anymore ;) The release with Zatreon is nowdays "officially" sold out ;). One of the best or some of the most positive feedbacks and feelings for running Salute Records must begin with all of the great contacts I have with numerous bands, people, zines and labels, there are too many to count as it is more than you can find on any of the pages for Salute Records, haha.
And then of course from time to time when regular people make some really huge orders from the label as this really helps the label to survive and continue the work and plan for the future. For that I say thanks to you all.
What future releases can we look forward to?
Planned releases that you can expect from us include firstly from the band Detention from Kazakhstan, it is really nice to co-operate the release together with the Ukrainian label Depressive Illusions Records.
Then it is the Mexican Black / Death band Seed of Evil. We have Nigra Locust (Black Metal from Mexico) and it is a re-release of their only & first demo from 2012. A coming split with Wintercold (Sweden) and Nicrotek (Indonesia). A split with Nostalgie Depression (Chile) and Nicrotek (Indonesia). A four way split with bands like Necrolepsy from Bangladesh and more. A big Grindcore / Death Metal compilation (probably out when this interview is written) with 24 various bands. Some of the bands are Multinational Corporations, Pro-Past, Yattai, Parasite, Sloppy Teen Pussy, Fetus Slicer and many more. Another planned production is a new bigger compilation for download and perhaps on CD too. Discussions and plans with bands for a sort of deal and coming releases is always in my plans (every day), haha :)
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out?
A big thanks for this interview (the first officially made one so far), a big thanks to all those who support me, any of my bands / projects and all who in some way or another supports Salute Records and the bands on it. You know who you are, so it is not needed to write some kind of long list here. Don´t support the profit labels as they destroy it for all of us. Support the real underground! Hails & salutes from the land in north \m/