How to Fix the Underground

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The following is a guest post from David Hall, metal filmmaker and head honcho of Uneasy Sleeper. The views expressed in this piece are his alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any Toilet ov Hell writer.

I recently wrote a piece called “Metal is the Fucking Worst,” for CLRVYNT in which I hyperbolically described my disdain for many elements of metal music and the metal music scene. The response to the piece was quite polarizing (which I think is a good thing) and many strangers reached out to offer critique (you’re old and stupid and homophobic/misogynist) and praise (thank you for writing what I was thinking.) Based on the reaction to what I wrote, I realized that maybe there is a chance for the underground to be saved, to return it to its pre internet, late 80s/early 90s glory that old people like me apparently pine for.

A photo of the author

Many people mistakenly interpreted my piece as nothing but disdain for underground metal, but in fact, there is much I love about it – I have worked for the better part of ten years in the underground and hope to for many more – but the underground is dying. The underground is being choked-out by corporate interests, political agendas and false artists who confuse money with success. No, the underground is not merely a “niche market” to exploit; it is not the cause of or solution to your social justice crusades. The real underground is a feral bitch, birthing bastard pups behind a dumpster. The real underground is a house show in a condemned building where junkies flock to push-off and fuck miserably in a dirty bathtub. The real underground is art and thought unimpeded by the banality of your coffee culture, your fascist youth haircuts, your pathetic, post-modern irony.

The real underground’s godhead is pure art. And if we are to preserve this holy state of culture we must implement some ideas and rules that ensure underground metal is fixed for good.

These rules will be monitored and enforced by a rotating group of artists recognized by their peers and fans as legitimate creators of true underground music. Personally, I nominate King Buzzo, Gazelle Amber Valentine, Jeff Whitehead, Steve Austin, Jay Randall, Eugene Robinson, Chris Bruni, Diamanda Galas, Scout Niblet and Mike Williams.

The following suggestions do not have to be adhered to by anyone except those seeking official underground status. Violation of any of these rules will result in a two-year ban on any musicians seeking official underground status.

  1. Financial caps on recording budgets will be implemented. Two thousand dollar limit on full  lengths, One thousand dollar limit on EPs, Five hundred dollar limit on 7 inches. The mixing and mastering budget shall not exceed one thousand dollars.
  2. Limit the production of physical media. No band shall press more than 300 copies of ANY media, and all reprints will be outlawed.
  3. Provide eco tax credits to consumers who ONLY buy digital music.
  4. Create financial bonuses delivered to fans if a band earns more than $10,000 gross in one year. Any fan that has purchased music from a band in one fiscal year will receive a 2% payout of the total amount earned over $10,000.
  5. Limit a band’s release schedule to 1 full-length every 3 years, one ep every 5 years and splits/7 Inches/One-Offs every 6 years.
  6. Bands will be prohibited from reuniting.
  7. Ban any commercial or corporate involvement, funding, support or collusion.
  8. Ban all crowdfunding initiatives.
  9. Ban the production of all merch.
  10. Ban all cover art. Track listing and band name, white text on black is fine.
  11. Abolish all record labels.
  12. Abolish private ownership of vinyl manufacturers: each underground band will own a share of any vinyl manufacturing plant, and must work at a said plants on rotating schedules that must equal no less than 30 days in one calendar year.
  13. Ban any advertising, PR and/or marketing activities for any release.
  14. Make the export of any American-produced music illegal until Donald Trump is either impeached, or he resigns. It is no secret that most musicians and journalists are disgusted by the presidency of Donald Trump and consider it a stain on their country. By making it illegal to sell American-produced music, journalists and the music consumer will not have to worry they are supporting Trump’s regime by proxy through sales taxes collected on the sale an production of records. American music sales will skyrocket (patriots will rise to the occasion) and foreign music markets will once again be returned to regional-based systems.  The Mainstream music community will lobby the government for the removal of Trump. American produced records will become collectors items, and when Trump does go away, the ban will be lifted, and a new era of fruitful, musical consumerism will arrive.
  15. Ban the import of American-made music Globally.  (see above)
  16. Abolish all music journalism.
  17. Create a “Contract of Inclusivity” that all concert venues, concert attendees, live music spaces, concert promoters and bands must sign and adhere to. The Contract of Inclusivity will make illegal any discriminatory act or behaviour by anyone at live music events.
  18. Create and issue a standard uniform that all band members, concert attendees, venue staff and anyone attending a concert must wear. This uniform will cover all visible skin, and will include a mask. This will ensure a person’s race, gender and any physical traits will remain hidden. This anonymity will further ensure that no discriminatory actions or behaviour will ever occur.

By implementing and enforcing the above rules on underground musicians, the ethos and philosophy of true, underground music will remain untarnished and unmolested by outside interests. By enforcing inclusiveness, and holding bands and concert venues accountable for any discriminatory actions or behaviour, the social justice crusades of journalists and outside political interests will be rendered moot. By limiting the amount of profit and controlling the means of production, the underground will have no appeal to any corporate or commercial interests and therefore keep it pure.

The strict adherence to the above rules will ensure that the underground remains a fertile ground for the production of real music, and, once-and-for-all provide a clear definition of what the underground is.

The underground is broken, but it’s not too late – it can be fixed. Will you answer its call?

  • Are we still allowed to ask Corey Taylor to weigh in on things?

  • AndySynn

    Hell no, I’m selling out the first chance I get.

  • Count_Breznak

    You lost me at “rules”.

    • Joaquin Stick

      You mean you don’t want your underground metal to be super organized with insider perks and a board of directors? Preposterous.

      • Joaquin Stick

        Actually, what’s the opposite of insider perks? I’d love to be banned from that club.

      • Count_Breznak

        All this talk about underground and not a single meassure of how deep you actually have to go.

    • more beer

      They are made to be broken.

  • Megan Alexandra

    Oh boy oh boy

  • Señor Jefe El Rossover
  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    *tunes back into iHeart*

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    How to fix the underground
    1. Get rid of idiots who want to limiy atristic creation.
    3. Get rid of scammers.

  • Dental_Damnation

    Essentially become a “boutique metal band”

  • Bert Banana

    I really like rule #4. It’s about time the band pays me for my loyalty.

    • Elegant Gazing Globe

      even if the currency the underground trade in are monocles?

      • Bert Banana

        Especially if the currency the underground trade in are monocles

  • Iron Tarkus

    Didn’t think I could like this guy any less, then he wrote this.

  • This reads more like a wishlist than a how to fix. Sure there are some things that could be done to improve the underground, but a lot of what is suggested here realistically has no shot of happening.

    • Jeff Podoshen

      No way! Totally realistic. Totally realistic.

  • Stockhausen

    lolbuttz

    • The Arm(KJM)

      This x 10000

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    The underground is underground for a reason and that reason is because there’s a lot of shitty bands and not enough great ones.

    • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

      Not enough like Ghost

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        I just don’t like underground metal. It isn’t my thing.

    • ^^ i trust the janitor

    • Bert Banana

      Mr. In Your House is the rally beacon for the Underground

      • The Arm(KJM)

        Agreed.

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        MIYH4 was meant as a joke. It was never supposed to be anything more than a joke.

        • Bert Banana

          Joke’s on you, bub…MIYH4 is about to be David Hall’s Top Artist on his new label.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            If that’s the case MIYH4 is done. May it rest in peace.

          • Bert Banana

            Just because you’ve relabeled it MIYH5…doesn’t change anything

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    yu guise i fink vis mite bee satyre. Scout Niblett is great though.

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt

      LOL Our responses are satire! We troll u!!!1!

    • Joaquin Stick

      I usually like some humor with my satire. I mean I guess there are some pretty abstract chuckles here and there if you’re really looking, but it’s 2dry4me.

  • Be honest—Brennocide wrote this.

  • “16. Abolish all music journalism.”
    …you mean aside from lolbuttz articles rite?

  • sweetooth0

    ugh

  • The Arm(KJM)

    This is supposed to be satire, right?

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      I hope so.

    • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

      Gotta be. Pretty sure King Buzzo’s released stuff on major labels.

    • My thought exactly. But it’s not funny so I’m not sure what the point is?

      • The Arm(KJM)

        I’ve got no issues with making fun of “trver than thov” types but yeah, it should at least be funny.

  • The Arm(KJM)

    I could give 2 shits if music is “underground” or “mainstream”. If I like it, I like it.

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      Amen to this.

      • Óðinn

        Praise be to Allah.

        • Janitor Jim Duggan

          I’m Catholic. I respect their religion though.

          • Óðinn

            Respect the difference, JJD.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I do respect them.

          • Óðinn

            I know. And I respect your willingness to respect.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Yay!

  • Pagliacci is Kvlt
  • David Hall

    thank you for reading!!!

    • Thanks for the info! I foolishly missed your other article (referenced here) until today, and quite enjoyed it….

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      I may not agree with a lot of the stuff in this article but thank you.

  • “Ban all cover art”

    You don’t like metal

  • Butts4Gutts

    This is actually a good one.

    “Limit a band’s release schedule to 1 full-length every 3 years, one ep every 5 years and splits/7 Inches/One-Offs every 6 years.”

    • Joaquin Stick

      I’d probably chop a year off each one, but yeah, I wouldn’t mind that. Actually more so when talking about established bands than underground ones. I’m looking at you, Devin.

      • James

        an artists gotta art.

  • Jeff Podoshen

    OMG! I can’t believe you published this!! Cancel my subscription! First I read that the Borough of Brooklyn just passed an additional tax on food co-ops and now I have to read this!?

  • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

    All of those seminal underground bands in the late 80s & early 90s were just as image conscious as every other band today. And every band member you listed is super image conscious as well. Do you think Steve Austin would ever play a show in a pink button-downed shirt with khakis? Or walk into a venue with a soy latte? Every artist that makes commercially-available art, (regardless of medium or intent) is in some way image-conscious. Even when someone emphatically proclaims that they are not concerned with image…well, isn’t that in and of itself an image they are trying to project? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dfeb17569cb0038be93a514c5cb32a1ab9a8e1dcd5d455b444d24b9495a36990.gif

  • The Arm(KJM)

    If I had the chance to go back in time I wouldn’t kill Hitler. I’d shoot Lester Bangs.

    • The Arm(KJM)

      Mr Burns: Have Lester Bangs killed
      Smithers: But Sir, this isn’t…
      Mr Burns: DO AS I SAY!!!

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      I hate rock critics from that era. Jann Wenner should be executed for his crimes against music. How is Madonna in the Crock and Roll Hall of Fame but Dire Straits and Warren Zevon aren’t? Why isn’t Grand Funk there?

      • The Arm(KJM)

        I view the RNRHOF as illegitimate anyways. Also, Rap/Hip Hop deserves it’s own HOF.

      • The Arm(KJM)
        • Janitor Jim Duggan

          How he’s not in there is beyond me. He’s one of the greats. Same with GFR. They sold out Shea Stadium faster than the Beatles.

          • The Arm(KJM)

            It’s simple. Zevon really only has one hit song.

  • Maik Beninton™

    ‘By limiting the amount of profit and controlling the means of production, the underground will have no appeal to any corporate or commercial interests and therefore keep it pure.’
    Fuck you communist.

    • Sir Ukkometso The Based

      Fuck you bourgie

      • GoatForest

        A fucking for every economic system!

  • Defenestrator

    Just signed in to say this is the most retarded thing that I have read in perhaps my entire life. A quote from Billy Madison:

    “I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

    This guest writer knows nothing about the underground, this is purely a tasteless troll piece.

    By allowing this on your site, you are devaluing yourself from being a positive force for metal related news. This is an absolute joke. Fuck off to all involved. Go be a hipster somewhere else. This is the last time I will visit this website.

    R.I.P. Toilet ov Hell

    • Sir Ukkometso The Based

      Lol maybe overreacting a bit?

    • The Billy Madison quote is well placed … that being said the last half of your comment is on par for absurdity !

    • The Arm(KJM)

      On the one hand I do agree with your view on this piece, but I think you’re overreacting just a tad, and this is coming from someone who’s ragequit TOH twice.

    • Bye!

  • This is pretty strange. I guess satire ? If so, I missed the comedy .. and in any event, just some odd writing.

  • Pagliacci is Kvlt