Upon the recent unveiling of the Heavy Metal degree at New College Nottingham, I spoke to one professor Mr. Liam Maloy (MA, MPhil, BEng, PGCE) of whom is an FDA Music Course Leader and Tutor Lecturer in: Songwriting, Band Performance and Industry Practice.
He has been in the past the music coach for the Joy Division film "Control", with his band Johnny & The Raindrops he has releases six albums. After being awarded an MA in Popular Music Studies, he is currently studying a PhD in Children’s Music at the Liverpool IPM.
In the interview I discussed with Liam the metal degree itself; what it entails and what are the prerequisites, how it is attracting interest from overseas as well as how this will benefit the British metal scene.
Below you will find first a link to the Heavy Metal degree and below that a link to the Roland Academy staff from which you will find Mr. Liam Maloy.
The above map shows the vastness of Metal music, evidently showing that Africa is not totally represented in the Heavy Metal universe as countries like Mali and Somalia do not have any Metal bands in their history, but due to the internet this may possibly change in the future, the same can be said for the Oceania whereby only Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand are represented, no other nation in Oceania has a known metal band (besides the American dependency of Guam).
Oman is omitted because the only known band, Arabia, moved from Oman to Manchester in the UK and thus leaving the metal scene empty.
There are numerous bands out there that truly represent their nation's traditional sound (such as Egypt's Scarab, Tunisia's Myrath, Ireland's Waylander, etc) or to the more extreme, playing metal music under the fear of violent persecution (as seen in countries like Morocco, The Lebanon, Iran, etc; especially countries with stringent 'conservative values'. However it does not stop there, in countries like Afghanistan, Angola, Iraq, etc where war and skirmishes have or continue to bombard the streets, bands have either fled (Iraq's Acrassicauda moved to the USA), reappeared (the Angolan metal scene) or in some cases halted playing (as seen with Libya's Terrorism of Brutality as the bassist / vocalist Adam Benamer fought alongside the rebels against Muammar Gaddafi and his totalitarian regime).
But the question still remains, does it matter where a Heavy Metal band comes from? Does it matter even when the music is good? Should bands from obscure locations be regarded as pioneers and or special in the global community? This is a debate that always arises, however the aim here is to conclude on a for or against answer with a valid reason. Let the debate begin.
Below is a selection of responses from metal bands and music industry personnel all over the world, some are not viewable on here but are part of a YouTube playlist entitled 'GMA Questions' - click here.
Maltese Folk Metal musician Draugûl feels that it does matter "where a band comes from, for instance bands from Malta are seldom heard of outside the country, very few people give credit to the talent of the Maltese islands!" - this therefore suggests that some European nations aren't getting the attention they deserve but detracts from the main question, however the answer does answer the question in a different light. Perhaps it's time to get some home opinions on the matter:
Zack Williams from English metal band Parasythe feels that where you are located enables one to make good music as your life and location influence on how your music sounds and what it sounds like (this can be applied to bands for example Before Crush in Angola who sing about the historical civil war that left the country war-torn, Terrorism of Brutality from Libya as they fought against the Gaddafi regime and a whole host of Indonesian metal bands who sing predominantly about corruption and politics, even verging into religious territory with the band Tengkorak and their song 'Destroying Zionism'); Indonesia being an Islamic nation.
However he also believes that the local area has a significant influence on how your music sounds, for example where a local scene is predominantly Metalcore, bands can learn from each other, but on the other hand the music may potentially diverge from differentiation and enter the 'sounds too similar' territory. For example "If you take the 90's Grindcore scene you had all these tightly connected bands like Bolt Thrower, Napalm Death and Carcass all being a part of that scene and those early Grindcore tapes all had that sound that made it what it was" and that it's stupid to say that where you live has no impact on your attitude and musical output.
Sam Knight from the Isle of Man Post-Hardcore band Our Final Hour acknowledged that the band location is situated amongst a "music scene of any alternative stance, therefore any home show we ever played there, would be packed with at least 80% return fans / friends, this created a very tight music scene, and we have a lot of very close friends because of those days in the band, however, it made it almost impossible for us to expand our fan-base without large amounts of social networking, and very costly touring".
Economically speaking Sam sadly admitted that touring on mainland Britain would start at £400 for ferry costs and furthermore given the band used to earn "around £60 including all merchandise sales, it was nearly impossible as an unknown band to book a tour long enough, and busy enough to cover our costs. Touring also added a string of personal financial problems, losing jobs due to taking too much time off, causing a spiral of negative events which would eventually ruin the band. So we solved our own problem, and moved over to the mainland and currently live in the south east London area together".
This therefore highlights the prospect that any band located on any small island faces tremendous difficulties playing on the mainland as Sam explained, this therefore could resonate in the reason why some European bands do not play in the UK and so therefore as a whole one could say the music industry and economy suffers as a result.
Samuel Hatch from Zambian Deathcore band Wrecking Tanganyika agrees that it does matter where a metal band comes from but not for segregation purposes, "different areas create different blends in music and lyrical composition, unlike hip-hop and pop music which sounds all the same; hear one pop song and you've heard them all, metal bands of different nationalities create different blends and grooves to their music" and therefore it would seem that Samuel is saying that Heavy Metal has an unbelievable creative atmosphere, which would certainly prove the point that Heavy Metal it truly global.
Taiwan's Crescent Lament feels that "when the band comes from a country where only a minor portion of citizens love metal music, without audience’s support and encouragement, a metal band won’t survive". Acknowledging that metal music is not mainstream in their country, historically there have been "fewer musicians willing to play metal music", however to maintain a unique identity, the band combines "metal music with our native culture. Adding traditional instrument is a method of solution, but it requires extra efforts to integrate Oriental instruments into the conventional metal music. That’s what we are now trying to do".
So it seems that there is a divide on this particular question, some are for and some are against the notion that it matters where a metal band comes from, you've heard and read the musicians views, but what do you think? Over to you.
'No music industry personnel were harmed in the making of this article'