Written by: Philip Gray
In today’s world, technology and the advancements in computers have allowed anyone with the patience and know-how to record and sell their own music. This has lead to the rise of many, many indie labels, most of which are started to get out music that the mainstream labels are ignoring. This isn’t exactly a new trend, dating back as far as Victor and Gennett Records, but the thing to take away from this examination of indies is that while it is an extreme test in both the founders guts and his/her ability to reach out to and fill the niches, it’s really all about the music. Music is the driving force behind this industry and shouldn’t be an afterthought. Megaforce records are a perfect example of how a little elbow grease and some good old fashion metal can help create great things!
In 1983, Metallica were in talks with Metal Blade Records to record their debut album, but when the money wasn’t there, Metallica was forced to look elsewhere. Into the picture comes Johnny “Z” Zuzula. He had previously heard the band’s demos and said he would help the band find a deal in the New York area. No labels were interested in signing the band, but Johnny Z was persistent, borrowing the money to cover recording costs and signing the band to his newly formed label Megaforce Records. While Metallica’s debut album Kill Em All wasn’t a huge success, only breaking into the Billboard Top 200 at #120, it opened up the label to really spread out and sign more artists, some who are still influencing bands today. (Metallica Wiki)
“Johnny Z would come to our warehouse looking for import vinyl. One day he walked into our office and said he wanted to start a rock label and release this band Metallica. From that day, Megaforce Records and Metallica forever changed our lives, the music community, and set the stage for other underground artists and labels.” -Alan Becker (Megaforce.com)
The importance of this label doesn’t just spread over metal music, as the label is also responsible for hit albums, ranging from The Bad Brains latest album “Build a Nation” to Warren Haynes’ “Tales of Ordinary Madness” (Blues.About.com) among many other classic albums and bands.
Megaforce has a diverse roster of artists, ranging from the growling Ohio metal group Mushroomhead to the The Black Crowes and The Disco Biscuits. This has helped cement the label’s status of having music by bands they want to support, which brings up the point of this post. The point is that while it definitely doesn’t hurt to have exuberant financial backing, an elite team of inside players in the industry, or even a halfway decent friend who can produce a few good tracks, at the end of the day it’s the music that must stand on its own. No amount of effects or techniques can help music if it sucks. (I’m talking to you Lady Gaga.) What Megaforce continues to do right is to support and stand behind its artists, all while breaking the monotony of the majors and celebrating independent and (more importantly) DIFFERENT music.