Daniel Dismal on the State of the Underground in Los Angeles; closing of Knitting Factory Hollywood
Daniel Dismal of Church of the 8th Day shared his thoughts on the state of the metal underground in Los Angeles and elsewhere, the challenges his company faces, and a brighter future in a wide open interview with Los Angeles metal blog, www.cityofdevils.info. Here's an excerpt from that interview:
During the NATIONAL SUNDAY LAW set at Mountain Bar Wednesday night, guitarist Darin Tambascio told the crowd that "We are from Los Angeles...unfortunately." Maybe not the best comment to make at a show in Los Angeles, and sure enough it raised the ire of one guy in the audience who proceeded to heckle the band for a few songs. But as Darin explained to me after, his comment was not about the city in general - it was an expression of frustration with Los Angeles's support (or lack thereof) for underground music. That concern is justified. Over the last few months, the Knitting Factory has closed, the Black Castle has announced it is closing, the Relax Bar has reduced its schedule to just Saturday nights, Martin DePedro's warehouse venue was shut down, and even Metal Mondays is taking time off. People are just not turning out, even when the product being sold is of high quality. But it's not all bad news. Although the unemployment rate is at its highest point since 1983, that was a pretty good time for metal. Our concert calendar is looking might tasty. And the core people responsible for many of those shows, like Martin and Eddie Solis, have not given up. We reported a few weeks ago that the most prominent underground metal promoter, Church of the 8th Day ("CO8TD"), was forced to take the unusual step of directly soliciting support for its shows. We sent its leader, Daniel Dismal, a bunch of questions and we must say that his responses were more complete and honest than we ever expected.
COT8D's primary venue, the Knitting Factory in Hollywood, just closed. How did COT8D first get involved with the Knitting Factory?
It was through a series of a few events to be honest. The first event being that CREMATORIUM was on tour with RAG MEN, HOODS and DONNYBROOK. The tour was originally supposed to go through the Whisky but the club put a ban on our style of music at the time so it got moved to the Knitting Factory. At that time I was already promoting shows so it basically put my foot in the door. Then the old booking agent (who also plays drums for BRUTAL TRUTH) over at Relapse Records put a show together for ORIGIN at the Knit and he asked me to help book the support and promote the show. After that show itself was a success I was able to contact the club on my own about other shows that I was putting together on my own. At the time though I wasn't booking as many shows so my shows were somewhat far between each other until my main venue at the time, Studio S shut its doors for good. So, really three things got me involved with the Knitting Factory.
Why did the Knitting Factory close?
Money just wasn't being made and the property management company never made it easy for the club to stay open. A lot of the battles that the Knit had with the city were made public as the club was always trying to get people involved in keeping the club open but things just got to the point of being ridiculous sometimes. Whether it was the fire department showing up out of nowhere to check the occupancy load or the health department rolling through trying to shut the club down and fine it for the smallest of reasons, things just became too tough to keep going. If the club was actually accepted at the location it might have not shut down because losing money might have felt a little better. I know it sounds weird but when you're made to feel valued, losing money doesn't seem like such a bad thing but when you're made to feel unwanted, it makes you just want to pack up and move away. I am sure there are more official reasons as to why the club shut down but that's honestly the way I saw it. The club was built around an entertainment compound and as the "climate" or the "orientation" of the businesses changed so did the overall treatment to the club from the property management. The ironic thing is that the Knitting Factory was the only constant business for almost 6 years there which kept things going for the property owners so in all honesty, without the Knit that whole property would have been emptied out and making no money for anyone. Even when the new businesses rolled in, they pretty much owed a lot of their walk up business to the club patrons and now, it's just another empty shell of a building in Los Angeles. Like more of those are needed?!
The economy has hit the mainstream touring acts hard. How has the metal underground weathered the storm?
I wouldn't really say that the Metal underground has weathered the storm to be honest. The touring bands of course charge us guarantees and when show attendances are down the losses come out of our pockets and though we appear to be a full-on company, when the chips are cashed in those losses come out of my pocket as well as my partners pocket. Metal in itself though has a pretty loyal fan base, always has and always will. We book all styles of music though and will continue to do so, so our losses come from all over the place besides just Metal. I can say that working with other styles of music while putting on Metal shows has shown me that Metal is still bringing out the people even though there's less of them overall so I guess it does appear that Metal has some sort of immunity to economic climates. I guess the thing is that when things get tough in the world more extreme forms of music flourish. I think that's because people just want an escape from it all and it's easier to vent frustrations while listening to some Death Metal band over listening to some sort of easy listening band. That old saying of "take it out in the pit" becomes something a little more personal when you're unemployed and eating all sorts of crap just to survive.