It could be said that there is already enough music made that you could never run out of old stuff to listen to, never mind trying to catch up with all that is new. Devotion to old school or traditional metal has become a fascination for some who dislike the “flavor-of-the-week” attitude found among some music fans. But where can you turn for guidance about what’s already there and what’s any good?
Most metal fans are well aware of the infamous Darkthrone and its drummer/vocalist Fenriz. Fenriz eschews modern metal and promotes what he classifies as “good, old metal” free of performance enhancing trickery such as drum triggers or Pro Tools. He features this music on his blog, Band of the Week, which he maintains on a weekly basis on MySpace. Yes, MySpace and not even NEW MySpace. The Darkthrone profile on “classic” MySpace currently boasts 69,536 followers.
Instead of promoting Darkthrone’s work on the page, Fenriz focuses on sharing music that he likes to listen to. He states on the blog that he listens to more than 10 hours of music per day. Being chosen as a Band of the Week has become similar to earning the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Groups such as Ghost and Graveyard have been listed on BOTW and in some cases, the listing has helped bands land record deals. Washington, DC’s Ilsa has made the Fenriz list. Band of the Week is totally about promoting honest, raw, and underground music. As Fenriz states clearly on the blog, “THIS PAGE IS RUN BY MUSIC FREAKS –FOR music freaks.”
Fenriz is not on Facebook (or any other social media for that matter) and states he never will be. So what can be done to get the message of this metal guru out to the masses who no longer use MySpace? Clearly someone with that level of dedication to the “old ways” has to have a gentle liaison into the 21st century. And that person happens to be Arjan de Vries.
Arjan shares Fenriz’s passion for great old metal and also his enthusiasm for sharing that musical knowledge with other people. So Arjan established an official Facebook page for Band of the Week and essentially reblogs what Fenriz has posted on the MySpace page. He also adds other comments, posts videos, adds links to Darkthrone interviews and basically keeps the audience of more than 9,700 fans steadily engaged. I contacted Arjan through Facebook and sent him some questions about how he got involved in the Band of the Week project.
How did the blog come about, and how would you describe the overarching mission of Band of the Week?
Fenriz started Band of the Week in late 2009 after the discovery of a great new band. This gave him the idea to post a Band of the Week on the Darkthrone MySpace page, to which 56,000 people had already signed up. (A full history of Band of the Week, written by Fenriz, can be found at http://www.bandoftheweek.net/) It’s all about the good old sound. Bring the right music to the right people, and promote those bands who still play the old way with the old sound and use their typewriter just for typing. This blog should provide enough good old school metal for its followers, enough to ignore the mainstream from now on. It works for me. You name it, I haven’t heard it.
What is the story behind how you became acquainted with Fenriz and affiliated with Band of the Week?
Fenriz had already posted a lot about music on his MySpace blog so I noticed that he had good taste. When I hear something great, and I mean really great, I want everybody to hear it. This great thing was Jex Thoth so I decided to send him a YouTube video. He already knew that band and gave me some tips back, one of them was Evil Army. I had been doing an obscure old school metal playlist for some time with stuff like Brocas Helm, Fantom Warrior, Agent Steel and Trouble and some new bands such as Natur, Hessian and Ghost. I also mixed in lots of 70’s rock and proto-metal like Hard Stuff, Toad, High Tide, Bedemon, Gun, Jerusalem and Lucifer’s Friend. If I found something good, I would send it to him as a tip for Band of the Week. I began to do some more things for Band of the Week such as making a web page with all the band links on it. That way people could browse through the list of bands. A Facebook and YouTube channel followed later. It grew like that, there was no job advert that said: Help needed. Must have absolutely no knowledge of modern metal.
How do you or Fenriz decide who the Band of the Week will be? What happens if you disagree about the band?
Fenriz picks the bands. He asked me to pick a band two times now, but I usually just update the website and post on the Facebook page. I keep on promoting all the bands from the Band of the Week list by posting videos on our Facebook profile. I do that between Band of the Week posts to keep the profile active. When I find something good, I send him a tip about it. I usually listen to older music for pleasure instead of tons of new records. I don’t get stuff in the mail so I have to come across something during a YouTube browse session or from a tip by one of the many good people in my Facebook friend list.
There seems to be something of a “cult of Fenriz”—people really seem to look up to him and value his opinions about music. Other people, I have read, seem to think his views are off the mark. What do you have to say about this?
Truth is that I don’t visit forums etc., so I really don’t know what people say about his opinions. The Band of the Week followers I spoke with are all fans who just like the music he promotes. Good people with good taste who still buy records…
What three recordings are you listening to right now, and what do you think of them?
Just some good old stuff. I like to listen to many songs from many different bands/artists in one music listening session so it’s not really whole albums at the time usually, but here are three I’ve been listening to lately: Trouble-Psalm 9 (1984), Message-From Books and Dreams (1973); Scorpion-Scorpion (1969 psychedelic rock from Detroit).
Is there anything else you think people should know about Band of the Week?
The Live Evil festival in London: they pick the bands using the Band of the Week list.
HAPPY RECORD STORE DAY! Visit your local record store April 20, 2013 and every day.