Thank you very much for sitting down to answer a few questions real quick. Before we go on, how are you doing? Everything alright on your end?
Yeah, thanks – things are going fine. Right now half of the band is on summer vacation though, so we’re taking a bit of a break, haha… but we will be back in full force by fall, when our next live shows are coming up. But until then, we’re just recharging our batteries right now, which is really necessary after the eventful past year, with the album production, live shows and album release! At the moment, I’m really mostly occupied with doing some PR stuff for the band – so thank you very much for your detailed review of our album, and also for this interview opportunity!
First of all, why did Dragony decide to record and issue a full-length album independently instead of doing a traditional demo or two first? Was this a conscious decision, or was there some other reason that made you go this path?
Well, the thing is, I’ve been paying very close attention to the music scene for the past five years, as I’ve been writing for a rather large Austrian metal webzine myself since 2007, so I think I got a pretty good idea about the business side of things in the metal world. And my experiences in the past years have shown that especially with the situation for record labels becoming tougher and tougher in recent years, it’s really become difficult for a band to be “discovered”. Because I suppose what you are referring to is the “classical” process, where a band releases one or two more or less “raw” sounding demos or EPs, then they catch a label’s attention, and the label goes on to record the first full-length album with them? Now the thing is, while this procedure was definitely a viable option back in the day, with the current state of the music business in general, I think it’s really not the case anymore.
Labels understandably don’t really want to risk very much with new acts, and invest a lot of money in the recording of the first album of a relatively unknown band, not knowing when or if at all that investment will pay off. So nowadays, I feel it really just works this way: you as a band are asked to take initiative, and produce a decent record, and then see if you can manage to get a record label interested in you and maybe sign a deal for that album. That way, the label naturally has less risk to take into consideration, and that again raises your chances to get signed and thus get more exposure considerably.
Of course there are still bands out there that are being “discovered” and then pushed to the moon by (mostly bigger) record labels, but usually even those labels who have bigger budgets are hesitant to invest money in things where they are not 100% sure that they will pay off, so most of the bands that seem to appear “out of nowhere” on big labels these days, those are mostly bands who are very marketable for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s because the specific style is in high demand at a particular moment, as it was the case with the numerous Folk and Pagan Metal bands a few years ago; other times it’s just the image and look of the band – say, if they have a nice-looking female singer, it might be easier since there is quite a big market for that particular style – and other times it thankfully is still because they’re just that damn good.
But as you can tell, classic Power Metal like we play it isn’t exactly the “trendy” thing to do right now, and when last I looked, I also wasn’t a nice-looking female singer, haha – though sometimes I probably sound like one!- so we knew from the start that it wouldn’t be easy for us to get “out there” with our very traditional style of True Metal.
So as said, we took matters into our own hands, and tried to produce an album to the best of our abilities (and resources), and to be honest, we’re actually really happy with the result! Of course, we didn’t have the budget of bands like NIGHTWISH or EDGUY, but we really think that for a debut album of a young band, “Legends” has turned out really really well. Sure, there is still much room for improvement as well, and there are also things that we would do differently the second time around; but that’s just a matter of the experiences you make – and if we’re honest about it, it’s rarely been the case that a band’s first album was already THE perfect album. It’s a process, it’s development as artists and persons… but we think we had a real good start, and the deal with LIMB Music is helping us also to get the name out there, and increase interest in our stuff. So even if we might not have the production of bands like BLIND GUARDIAN or HAMMERFALL, I think “Legends” still sounds pretty nice, and I also think the songs speak for themselves – I think we managed to pack a nice set of tracks on that record with a lot of catchy hooks and great choruses, and we hope that fans of our genre will enjoy those songs as much as we do, and come back craving for more, haha!
Was this a valuable move the band overall, or did it wind up being somewhat detrimental? Please explain the outcome of issuing it yourselves.
I think it was a good move, and I usually recommend to other bands and artists to try going the same way. It’s really no use to just sit around, twiddle your thumbs and wait to be “discovered” because of your “musical genius”. If you want to be heard, then make yourself be heard! Sure, it’s risky, and you need to put some money on the table – but that’s just the way the business runs nowadays. You gotta spend money to make money, haha. But really, we’re not in it for financial reasons, trust me haha… you know, with our type of music that targets a very specific and comparatively small audience, we are all well aware that you won’t get “rich” by playing that music. But thankfully, that’s not why we do it. We just all sort of grew up listening to bands like HAMMERFALL, EDGUY, STRATOVARIUS, KAMELOT, GAMMA RAY, HELLOWEEN and so on, and it’s just a huge part of all our lives… so we just really want to play this music, and contribute in our own way to the music scene that has brought us so many great albums, great moments and great memories. You could say us being in a band and making this music is somehow our way of saying “Thank you!” to those artists that served as an inspiration for us, both musically and on a personal basis.
Now the original “issue” of the album wasn’t really an issue in the classic sense, as we didn’t enter into an distribution deals or anything with it, so the album wasn’t really available anywhere before we signed with LIMB and they released it now in June in Europe, and August in the US and Japan. We basically just produced a few copies of the album to send it to labels and magazines, to get some feedback and coverage, and to maybe get some labels interested in us and publishing the album. And we were lucky enough to meet the tase of LIMB Music, which we were really happy about as they are a very established and long-running label for our particular type of music. So all in all, we think the investment of time, money and effort really paid off and we are now having a good start with our debut album. It’s a great chance for us right now, and we’ll be working really hard on new songs to make the second album even better than “Legends”.
Sure, with a bigger budget we might have gotten an even better sound, but at some point, you just have to make a move. Standing still won’t get you anywhere, you have to make things happen yourself. And that’s what we tried. Not everything is perfect, but we are learning from all the new experiences, and we’ll do our very best to make those things that we are not so happy with better the next time around.
Given the age we live in, do you think putting out an album and ultimately bypassing the necessity of a label is something highly plausable to reach a similar audience?
Well, I think that both ways of releasing your stuff has advantages and disadvantages. A label helps you with its established distribution and promotion network, and of course everyone – from magazines to promoters to fans – will take you more “seriously” when you’re signed to a label; after all, a label has it’s own “brand value”. But this also means that if a label puts something out, fans will expect a certain quality standard, and they will also measure you by this – for better or worse.
On the other hand, if you handle everything yourself, you might not be able to reach such a big audience at first, but if you manage to sell some of your stuff, then the revenue margin might be a bit better – since there is no “intermediary” like a label between you and your customers that you would have to share your revenues with. So you might in fact get the money you spent on your production back more easily this way, even if you reach a smaller audience.
So I think it’s really up for every band to decide for themselves which way works better for them: either the one with support by a label, or the one without. For us, it was always pretty clear we would like to work with a label, since the Austrian metal scene is not exactly a fertile ground for our classic Power Metal stuff; people here seem to be more into the heavier and more extreme kinds of metal, haha. For us, we think our main audience just lies elsewhere – we think that the people in, say, Germany, Italy, Spain or Scandinavia, but also South America and Japan might be more receptive to our music. So naturally, we think it’s the best way to work with a label that has a solid distribution network that can actually get our music in stores in those regions. We just really want to entertain people and if they enjoy our music, then that’s a big success. But in order for them to be able to enjoy it, it first has to get there somehow! So the cooperation with a label is the best way to go for us, even if it might take longer to break even on the costs we’ve had for producing the album ourselves in the first place. But we have a long breath… I guess you could say, a dragon’s breath! Haha!
You guys signed up to issue Legends through Limb Music for July of 2012. How did this whole deal come about, and why Limb? Were there any other labels interested in reissuing the album, or just signing Dragony in general?
Yeah we sent our album as promo material to several labels of course, but LIMB just had the best offer at the end of the day. And since they are also a very established label that focuses on classic Heavy/Power/Symphonic Metal, it’s really a perfect fit for us. Some of my personal favorite bands, past and present, were or are signed to LIMB, so we’re really happy to be with them and to now have the chance to make a name for ourselves on the same label where bands like the great RHAPSODY or PAGAN’S MIND started out.
Is Dragony signed to Limb Music for a new full-length as well?
Well those are elements of the contracts between us and the label of course, so we can’t really speak about these details. But let’s just say we will work very hard over the next months to also get our second album released on a grand scale as well.
How has Limb Music releasing Legends been beneficial for Dragony? Has there been an increase in fans, or have things just been generally the same?
It has definitely been very beneficial thus far. First off, LIMB’s distribution partners are really great, so the album is available pretty much everywhere by now, also in digital media, which I think is really important in this day and age. Also, interest by the media has increased as well, we’ve gotten a lot more reviews on the album now… I think right now we’re at about 50 reviews, and still counting haha – I hope more will come in now that the album is out in the US, Canada and Japan as well. A very large percentage of those reviews have been really positive as well, with most of them coming in at around 7 or 8 out of 10 points, which we think is really, really amazing for the debut album of a young Austrian band in this genre, that is so totally un-trendy as can be haha. But really we’ve had all sorts of reviews, ranging from everything from “Oh my God, who are these guys, it’s so awesome, it’s the best Power Metal album of the year!” to “Oh my God, who are these guys, they suck so bad they should just lay down and die!”, hahaha. But so far, we’ve only really gotten 2 really negative reviews on the album, which – out of over 50 in total – is a pretty good average, I’d say! Haha… Now we hope of course that the people out there will also enjoy the album just like the journalists and writers did, and that they become interested in more DRAGONY stuff! All in all, we’re really amazed by the great reception so far, and never would have dreamed we’d get so much positive feedback – though you always hope for that, haha!
Given the amount of time that has passed from your first pressing of Legends compared to this one, do you have any new material ready to be recorded for another album? If so, what can the readers/fans expect?
To be honest, most of the time we had since the first album presentation and now was spent on rehearsing for and playing live shows. We had a few pretty nice ones early in 2012, like a show with PRIMAL FEAR and BRAINSTORM that we also promoted ourselves here in Vienna, and our first festival gig at METALFEST Austria, so we needed to be ready for that. So we focused more on playing our “old” stuff instead of writing new material. But this is our top priority on the agenda now, believe me!
We also have some ideas in mind already – and we will definitely continue in the same way we’ve started out. This means we will incorporate anything that we find interesting, from fantasy and fiction to “real” history or even just everyday issues. There will be more dragons and unicorns, and there will be fun again in the new songs… and who knows, maybe we’ll even have one or two more serious songs! Right now it’s still too early to tell which direction the album will finally go, but one thing is clear: We want to go bigger and better than with the first one, haha!
Listening to Legends, you can tell it was originally an independent recording. Was the band happy with the way the album turned out, or do you wish you had more money or had gone elsewhere for a richer sound?
Yeah as said before, we’re actually really happy with it. I think that especially in light of the fact that it IS an independent recording and that we produced it ourselves, it turned out really, really well. We didn’t have that much experience in recording a whole full length album, all I had done before for example was record an EP with a former band of mine several years back… and that wasn’t much more than a demo. So this was a whole new challenge for all of us, and despite a limited budget and not much experience, I think we really pulled off a nice job. And as also said already – there are certainly things that still need improvement or that we could build upon, but for a first release and debut album, we are really satisfied with the outcome, and we don’t think we have to be ashamed for anything. Sure, we will take some other options into consideration now for the second album as far as recording, mixing and mastering is concerned… but since we were really happy with a lot of the work our producer Frank Pitters and our sound engineer Jakob Grabmayr did at WildOneMusic studios, we will definitely also work with them again in some form or fashion.
Were there any songs that the band composed or even recorded in the studio that didn’t make the final cut?
No, we recorded everything we had. Actually, even more haha! Because the bonus track “Sparta”, which will only be available on the Japanese edition of the album, was only about 90% finished when we went into the studio to record the drums… so our drummer Frederic, our keyboard player Georg and our producer Franky just basically finished the track “on the fly” during the drum recordings… and well, they did a tremendous job, as the song turned out one of our best in the end, in my humble opinion! You should check it out if you have the opportunity – it even got its own intro, haha. Like we don’t have enough intros on the album already. But honestly… three intros isn’t that much, is it?
Mind going over who some of the musical inspirations for the album were, as well as any literary, or even real life ones that may have impacted the music found on Legends?
Oh well, where to start?! Haha… now of course we’re all big time fans of all things fantasy and also science fiction. We really love stuff like “Lord of the Rings”, “The Dark Tower” saga by Stephe King, or “A Song Of Ice and Fire” both in literature and film. And we’re also very much into role-playing games on the computer and gaming consoles, haha. So that’s where it all starts. Then, we’re very much into classic Power Metal as already mentioned: Everything from classic IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST over HELLOWEEN, GAMMA RAY and HAMMERFALL all the way to EDGUY, AVANTASIA, NIGHTWISH and KAMELOT. So all the tried-and-true clichés and traditions of True Metal and Power Metal just work perfectly for us. Not because we are that “uncreative” that we can’t come up with something new… but just because we love this classic stuff so much that we don’t even want to come up with anything new, haha. Why should we force ourselves to do anything different, if that’s exactly the thing we want to do? I guess that just wouldn’t be very “Metal”, if we just played some different still just because it’s the “more popular” thing right now and because it “sells more albums”. That’s not how we work, and I think that’s also not how metal works. Fans of our type of music I think will realise if something is real, or if something is “fake” and just being done because it’s the “in-thing” to do at a certain point in time. So how’s that quote again? “I’d rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not?” Haha, there you go… who would have thought I’d ever quote this line from André Gide, that was made so popular by Kurt Cobain!
So yeah, we’re definitely clichéd and we’re definitely playing around and having fun with all the traditional elements of classic Power Metal, and we surely make easy targets if you want to poke fun at us for doing that, haha… but truth be told, we do it because we love it and because we want to have some fun; and for us, these clichés are just part of the game – so if the people out there feel the same way: Join us, everyone is more than welcome! And I think our sense of humor also comes across through the music from time to time, and that’s really important for us. Also, you should come to one of our live shows and experience the “Wall of Unicorns”. It’s quite the unique thing, let me tell you!
I think especially in metal, it’s not so easy to “calculate success” as it is in the pop business. If you’re bullshitting people in the metal scene, they will notice. But if you’re honest about what you do, people will appreciate that. And I think that’s a big reason why the album has been so well received so far – simply because people realise we’re sincere about what we do, and that we love this type of music.
And in the end, that pays off. Actually, as an example, just today I heard that FIREWIND actually entered the Greek album charts at #1, knocking off Justin Bieber. And you know, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Now I’m not affiliated with FIREWIND in any way, though I had the pleasure of meeting the guys a couple of times and in 2008 we got the chance to play a show with them, which was freaking unbelievable… but they are just really nice guys in general, and they worked their asses off for many many years, and they’ve always been doing their thing, not compromising themselves or their music for the sake of “popularity” or “easy money”… people realised that, and now finally it’s paying off, and they managed to be #1 in the charts in their home country – on their own terms. And to me, that is a great achievement and I really would like to congratulate them for it – Gus, Bob, Apollo, Petros and Johan – well done!!! Now we just need more of these type of events happening, in order to spread the message of metal all over the world, haha!
Will there be any live shows or tours of any kind set in motion to promote the Limb Music pressing of Legends? If not, do you have any shows set up or in talks right now you can mention to the readers who would like to see you guys in person?
Well for this year, we’ve only got one live show confirmed at the moment, as we unfortunately had to cancel our support show in Vienna for TIM “RIPPER” OWENS in September due to scheduling conflicts. But we will definitely play what will actually be our five year anniversary show for the band on November 2nd 2012 in Vienna at the “AERA”, and we’ve invited a lot of friends and colleagues from other bands to celebrate with us! It will be a very unique and special show, and we even booked the great FREEDOM CALL from Germany to headline the evening. It’s gonna be a real Happy Metal Party!
And of course we’re already in the planning stages for some live and tour activities next year, but nothing’s set in stone just yet… but just check our website www.dragony.net or our profiles on Facebook, MySpace and Reverbnation for regular updates on live shows and tours!
Well thank you again for your time, but before I let you go, is there anything else you would like to mention that I didn’t get to touch on?
We just want to say “thank you” again for your coverage on DRAGONY, we’re happy you seemed to enjoy the album as well, and we’re very grateful for the support! Other than that… just keep on rockin’, stay heavy, and… Unicorns unite! Haha!
Interview conducted thanks to Limb Music via Freeman Promotions.