Folk Metal has changed into many different forms since it's birth and over the decades these off-shoots have blossomed into their own being. Celtic Metal, Pagan Metal, Oriental Metal, etc, they all have a story to tell, but what of Crossover-Folk Metal? This rather interesting genre has been wallowing around a fair bit but without any real solid foundation being created. This is probably why Germany's Punch'N'Judy are a bit of an oddity when it comes to the Folk Metal tag, we caught up with accordionist and vocalist Ute, the sole remaining musician from the original line-up, to ask her about the journey the band has made, future plans and information about their home region.
Hey Ute, so please give us a brief history of Punch 'N' Judy, how you formed, member changes, etc?
Well, it all started off as a project at the end of 2012. We had some ideas for Folk songs with complete power and so we began to search for other musicians. In 2003 we had our first gig as Punch'N'Judy and from there on it started growing. Because of jobs or private situations we had some line-up changes, the only position which is still the same from the beginning is the accordion. But until now we are still going our way and we are still here.
Now you play a form of Crossover / Folk Metal, what inspired you to take this music style?
This was really not planned, the only thing we knew when we started, was to make some kind of powerful Folk music. All members brought their own music style to the band and so it just happened that we had metal elements, rock, medieval, hard rock and folk. We liked it that way and tried to find a name for that kind of music style and so our Crossover-Folk style was born.
Why the band name Punch 'N' Judy, apart from it being a well known British puppet show?
Yes, it is a well known puppet show in Germany as well, over here it is called "Kasperletheater".
We have a song on our first album "Spring!time", called "The Punch and Judy Show". This song was our first one, we made it together with the first band members and so that is how we found our name.
This year Punch 'N' Judy has been going 10 years, how do you plan to celebrate it?
Oh, when we did the first gig back in 2003, we already had our 10 years (2013), but we did not celebrate it. (Editor: to avoid confusion Metal Archives says they formed in 2004 (http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Punch%27N%27Judy/122459)
Have you performed outside of Germany? Do you plan to play in the UK?
Yes, we sometimes play in the Netherlands and we have played in Austria as well. If someone is going to book us in the UK, we would come over ;-)
If the band owned a plane, who would be: the pilot, the co-pilot, the baggage handler, the steward and the person screaming at the back 'Oh my god, we are gonna die!'
This is a very easy question to answer, nobody is the one screaming 'Oh my god, we are gonna die!' But everyone of us is sometimes the pilot, co-pilot, baggage handler or the steward, otherwise this band would not exist anymore. We are strong together and each of us has several things to do in the band, that is how it works.
What plans does the band have for the rest of the year and into 2015?
Some of us are planning to go on holiday this year and we will play a few club gigs. For 2015 we are planning the festivals now and hopefully we will get some good ones.
Besides Metal festivals, gigs and shops, what attractions / sites should metalheads go to in North Rhine-Westphalia?.
This is really a difficult question, we have a lot of Industrial culture here in the "Ruhrgebiet" where you can do several things from exhibitions to free climbing in an industrial area. We have a lot metal pubs and clubs as well. You should come here and see what`s going on.
What is your favorite song from all 3 albums you have released? (you can pick one song per album, explain why this choice of song)
From the first album 'Spring ! Time' I like "John Maynard", because this is also my favorite poem.
I like "Flibberty Gibbet" from the second album 'Punch On !', this song always gives me a smile on my face. And from the third album 'Cross!ng Over' my favorite song is "Last March", I like the arrangement and the strength of the song.
What other bands should readers check out from the North Rhine-Westphalia region?
I have no special one, there are a lot of small bands which are very interesting.
Finally do you have any greetings, thank you's etc, you wish to send out to fans, friends etc?
We`d like to thank everyone who is interested in music and supports bands, otherwise we and other bands could not exist. Thanks to our fan club and the great "Chaosraben", and thank you for the interview.
GMA Interview Interrogation: Ruzlan Ahmed (Mortuary Productions Owner) and Hridoy Rayhan (Metal Monger Records Owner) - Bangladesh
By GMA Bangladesh Correspondent Nabil Abaddon
In the last 4 years, Bangladesh has been going through a major upheaval in the underground Metal scene. Although the country saw its international exposure originate with bands like Weapon, Severe Dementia, Barzak, Orator etc during the mid & late 2000’s, it was after 2010 / 2011 that the local scene had developed a level of consistency in producing some quality Extreme Metal acts at it's own pace, earning accolades from places around the world.
Recently this year, two dedicated Extreme Metal labels called Mortuary Productions and Metal Monger Records emerged out of the blue in the local scene and announced two well assembled international compilation albums. One of them is "Luxury Of Pain", which is a double disk album and is going to be released via Mortuary Productions. Looking at the bill, it seems that Ruzlan Ahmed, the owner of Mortuary Productions wanted to make sure that the local acts receive maximum exposure. That is the majority of bands are Bangladeshi, are immensely talented and have great reputation.
Apart from that, the compilation not only comprises of some of the best Extreme Metal acts from the South-East Asian region like Orator, Homicide, Plague Throat, Dying Out Flame, Abominable Carnivore etc but also some amazing Thrash, Death, Black Metal and Grindcore bands from countries like Italy, The Philippines, USA, France, Spain, Thailand, Sweden and Pakistan.
On the other hand, Metal Monger Records is coming up with a heavy weight compilation album called "Total Chaos: Volume 1". Hridoy Rayhan has done a brilliant job by bringing together some supreme and malevolent acts in the form of Sabbat, Ungod, Gehennah, Orator, Nafarmaan, Lobotomy, Savage Deity and lastly, Twisted Fate. Following them, there are some promising young bands on the bill: Enmachined, Mortar, Graveyard Ghoul, Revealing Hecate, Ego Kill, Exalter etc. The compilation is a “must have” for the old school lovers.
With this in mind, it felt right for GMA to catch up with both of label owners and get to know more about their endeavors.
Greetings Ruzlan and Hridoy. How is it going with you guys?
Ruzlan: Thanks brother! I’m doing great.
Hridoy: Hey Nabil! I'm doing great! Thanks for asking!
Lets start from the beginning. How did Mortuary Production and Metal Monger Records happen in the first place? What were the directions and the motivational factors?
Ruzlan: Well, Mortuary Production started when my band Necrolepsy needed a label to release and distribute it’s EP in Bangladesh. After the release we thought of taking the label seriously and continue farther. And also, it is really hard for the Extreme Metal bands to find a label in the country, so we thought of giving them a platform too.
Hridoy: Well, I always had intentions to support the Metal scene of this country. I knew most labels would not sign up or release an Extreme Metal album. I felt the need to start a label based on Metal and Metal only. That was my inspiration. That is what drove me to start Metal Monger Records.
Both of the labels are coming up with two different compilation albums. Why did you choose to start off your journeys with compilations? Are they coming out physically?
Ruzlan: As I mentioned earlier, our first release was an EP. So no we didn’t start off with this compilation. Compilations are a great platform for bands to spread their music throughout a great number of listeners. In case of an international compilation, when a listener buys a copy of it he checks out all the other bands along with the band from his country. So I really think it’s a great way to spread the music. Yes, our compilation which is called "Luxury of Pain" is a double disk compilation. To be honest, I never really liked online releases. So yeah that pretty much sums it up.
Hridoy: Yes the compilation is coming out only in physical copies and are numbered to 100. Well, I started off with a compilation because I wanted to reach a certain audience overseas with my label and the following bands in the album. I think a compilation is a great way of introducing newer bands to people. This compilation will set the ground for future releases from Metal Monger. I also plan to release further volumes of "Total Chaos" in later years.
Recently, there have been a lot of compilations coming out from home and abroad, both online and physical. It seems to be the ongoing trend now. Do you two think these compilations, including yours, help the bands and the scenes overall?
Ruzlan: Yes why not? I get to see many compilations releasing from my country and abroad. This is a good thing only if these compilations are going to the right listeners which is the sole purpose of these compilations. These releases help a band to increase their fan-base in places where they never even thought of and of course a good compilation works as a benchmark for a scene.
Hridoy: Well, in my opinion compilations are a ground where bands who have proven their sound to their audiences, can introduce newer bands to them. In other words, a compilation can give younger bands a head start and the scene evolves around the bands.
The Bangladeshi Metal scene has been flourishing and has spread outside of Dhaka to places like Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Khulna, and as a result quality shows are happening. More bands are touring abroad and it seems that signing to foreign record labels are becoming the holy grail for a lot of local bands.
Please tell us about your thoughts as to how your labels can play important roles in farther developments of the local scene and what do your labels have to offer to the bands and the fans that other labels don’t?
Ruzlan: It is really great to see such great bands coming from places outside Dhaka. The metal scene now is at a great stage. The shows in Chittagong, Sylhet and others places are usually filled with Metal enthusiasts. Mortuary Productions will always support the local scene and the bands. A good number of quality releases from a label will surely increase the number of listeners and will help the bands in creating a fan-base of their own. It is really important for a scene to have a good number of listeners. Listeners who look forward to the releases of the local bands, show up in the gigs and support them. Mortuary Productions have a countrywide distribution and our releases will also be distributed by a few foreign labels and distros. So it is easy for the fans to grab a copy of our releases.
Hridoy: What I think is bands should sign up with local labels and the local labels should market them worldwide. But that's not the case in this country. Since we have only a handful of mainstream labels to start with, it is acceptable for the bands to sign up with labels from outside the borders. Not until recently we have labels that are based on Metal. So, we can only comment on this after a certain amount of time passes. I think the availability of labels based on Metal would have impacts on the decision making of the bands. If the labels do their part well, more bands will sign up with local labels and if the labels are willing to, they can sign up bands from other parts of the world and altogether the scene will go the right way. My label has nothing out of the ordinary to offer for the time being. Maybe if you ask this after a year or two I might have something
Have you guys signed any bands yet? What are the other releases / projects and future plans of Mortuary Production and Metal Monger Records?
Ruzlan: No we haven’t signed any bands yet. After "Luxury Of Pain", we will release a Black Metal split called "Lucifuge Rofocale of Xarkrinur and Krayl" and also the full length of Necrolepsy.
Hridoy: We are working on Exalter's (Bangladesh) EP release and Nekrofilth's (USA) EP "Street Bitch" and developing our website. Metal Monger Records is also organizing a gig called "Reign In Blasphemy Fest" in August which will comprise of some of the best Extreme Metal bands in Bangladesh.
Watch Reign In Blasphemy Fest’s trailer here
A label’s success depends a lot on its distribution channels as well as the promotion. Music must be made available to its consumers in distant places. How do you go about these two factors?
Ruzlan: Mortuary Production’s releases will be distributed through out Bangladesh and also by many labels and distros abroad like Salute Records (Sweden) and Six F Productions (Thailand). We promote bands and their releases so that their music spreads through out a huge number of people. The local bands have our full support.
Hridoy: As I mentioned earlier, I am working on Metal Monger Record's website. After it's done you can order the releases from any part of the globe anywhere and anytime. The releases will be available in a few outlets in Dhaka for now and I also wish to attend concerts with stalls for Metal Monger Records.
Looking at the bills of the compilations, both of them are pretty amazing. How did you go about selecting the bands? Have you had any difficulties dealing with them?
Ruzlan: I looked for some good Grindcore bands along with some promising Extreme Metal acts of from all over the world. Well I didn’t have any difficulties. The bands have been really supportive and I’m glad to work with such great bands.
Hridoy: Initially I knew what the compilation should sound like. I approached bands selectively. I haven't faced much problem in commencing with the bands. As a matter of fact, I got a lot of help from the band members. They were super supportive and I can say, without their support this would have been impossible.
Do you ever wish to make a career out of this? Apart from running the labels, what else do you lads do?
Ruzlan: No, I run this label only because of the sheer fun of running it and to help the scene and the bands grow. I’m also the vocalist of a Brutal Death / Goregrind band Necrolepsy and an old school Death Metal band Nordic Shadows.
Hridoy: I have a day job haha. I do want to make my career around my label. I love to spend my life doing what I love. But I am not counting on it.
How do you guys set your compilations apart from other compilations? How are they unique?
Ruzlan: LOP has great bands like Dying Out Flame, Plague Throat, Orator, HOMICIDE and many other killer acts from all around the globe. It also has some good Grindcore bands which is still a growing genre in bangladesh.
Hridoy: The bands make it unique.
Thanks to both of you, Ruzlan and Hridoy, for your time. Best wishes to all of your initiatives. Any final comments for the readers out there?
Ruzlan: Gratitude to you and GMA for the support. I would want everyone to buy original releases and listen to good music and always support metal. Ave!
Hriody: Keep supporting Metal!
Mortuary Productions Facebook & "Luxury of Pain Event page"
Metal Monger Records