2014 REVIEW: From the outside looking in

leifkringen_skallelogo_trådkorsversjon_litenSo, yet another year has passed, and it’s time to look back and reflect on what was. In this first of two parts where I look back at 2014, I will focus on Metal Squadron. Part 2 will dwell around the year in metal, with of course, my top 15 list for the year that is soon coming to an end. I would label 2014 as a decent year for Metal Squadron. Even though I am afraid of even trying to count the hours, I am not 100 percent satisfied with the amount of work I have been able to invest into the site. Especially towards the end of the year, I have found it difficult to do as many interviews and reviews that I would have liked. Last year, I was able to do extensive features on every band in my top 10-list, but this year I had to pass on a few interesting bands, like for instance Primordial and While Heaven Wept to pursue work- and family related matters. The fact that I’ve done at least two, maybe three, interviews with the bands in question earlier, also played its part. In the end it comes down to this: Doing this completely on my own (look out for a very rare guest appearance coming soon), I simply can’t cover everything of interest. All in all, I managed to do 32 interviews during 2014. It might not sound like a lot, but as most of them are long and in depth, and at least half of them are done by phone, I’ve spent countless hours working on them. Sometimes I have to settle for email interviews, as some artists prefer to have some time to think before they express themselves. Fair enough, but I’ve been in this game too long to accept something that simply isn’t good enough. I very seldom I publish an email interview as it is when it comes back to me the first round, very often I ask for some follow up questions, and fortunately most of the times the artists agree to do an extra round to make things worth reading. I’ve also asked bands to add something by mail to phone interviews that have been way too flat and boring. You really need some experience to do good interviews, and many of the new and upcoming acts have a lot to learn from the veterans of the game. It seems like some musicians simply don’t understand that people have an interest in the whereabouts of their band. Maybe it has to do with the fact that this new generation of musicians don’t have the same relationship to magazines and interviews as those of us who grew up reading Kerrang, Metal Forces, Metal Hammer and Rock Hard. I don’t know. In addition to the interviews, I also managed to write 67 reviews. I used to do around 150 (!) a year, when I wrote for Scream Magazine, but now that I write in English, I find it a lot harder to do reviews . For the coming year, I really need to be more structured and concise when I listen to music and write reviews. If featuring more reviews is important, that is. When I think about it, I could really use some feedback on whether I should write a bit shorter and rather feature more reviews than I’ve done so far. I am completely aware of the fact that www.metalsquadron.com never will be considered a major webzine. It isn’t important for me either. Right now I have about 700 people following the blog, either via Facebook, through WordPress or by mail. I have to say that I am pretty satisified with that, after all we’re talking underground metal here. Another thing is the fact that I am pretty sure that at least 95 percent of those are people devoted to this kind of music. Of course I would like to have more people supporting the hard work that I put into this blog, but I would rather have 100 dedicated followers than 10 000 lukewarm. That being said, if you know someone you think would appreciate Metal Squadron, please do me a favor and let them know about this page. If I had the resources (the knowledge mainly), I would publish on paper, as that is the format that I prefer and grew up with. On the other hand, don’t having to wait for three months to publish an interview, is one of the good things about being an online publication. My background from a paper publication helps me a lot though, and I still have a lot of contacts from my time with Scream magazine. Special thanks goes out to Wolf-Rüdiger at Sure Shot, Andreas at Metal Blade, Enrico at Cruz Del Sur and Iordan at Stormspell for always being very supportive. Also a couple of regular readers deserves a mention, for always being there and taking their time not only to “like” (which after all is done with a click), but to actually read and give feedback on the interviews. You know who you are, without you I simply wouldn’t, do this. So how does 2015 look for Metal Squadron? I admit having spent some time considering it, but at last I have decided to carry on with my blog. The driving force behind Metal Squadron is just being part of the scene, maybe helping some new and upcoming acts getting some exposure, and receiving positive feedback from both bands and fans. It doesn’t matter if I have to pay 500 dollars a year for having WordPress to host my blog and to do phone interviews instead of emailers. Doing this is a big part of who I am. I love to write about music, do research on bands I doesn’t know everything about and of course I love listening to music. With two small kids (2 and 3 years old), and a quite demanding job where it’s expected that I do quite a bit of work at home, I simply doesn’t have the time to listen to as much music as I like nowadays. I sometimes wonder how this blog would have looked like if I started it four or five years ago, at a point in time where I felt I had all the time in the world. So, how many people actually read what is published on my blog? I guess you‘ll never see an underground metal blog amongst the top 10 most visited blogs on the web. After all, I’ve never used the tags “silicone”, “lipstick” or “long, blonde hair”. My blog was never designed to get a high amount of clicks either, for instance you’ll find all reviews divided into three pages, and it will take you only three clicks to read all of them. Last year, I had approximately 22 000 views, with about 10 200 visitors. 2014 has been better. As I type this, I’ve had 31 842 views and 13 886 visitors this year. Even though the statistics hide the fact that I didn’t start promoting the the site until one or two months into 2013, I think the tendency is clear: Metal Squadron is slowly attracting more and more readers. It’s very important that this continues, and you can help me by spreading the word. Let me continue with a bit more statistics for you. It’s always interesting to see which features have generated the most interest. Once I decide to do an interview with an band, I always try to act fast and publish it before all the big guns enter the frame with their features on the same bands…Maybe that is one of the reasons why the interview I did with Ranger last year got as many views as it did? It was done at a time where very few, if any at all, interviews with the band existed. This is definitely something I will continue trying to do, act fast and be first. What surprises me, is that those best of lists are way more read (or should I say clicked on) than the most popular interviews. Don’t misunderstand me, I like lists, and there is no denying that other people do to. Just read the new German magazine “Deaf Forever” and see how they integrate different lists in their magazine. However, I hope it’s not a case of people again going for the fast and easy stuff and leaving out the bits that crave a bit of time and focus. The chat I had with Chris from Outcast (I believe this was also the first, or at least one of the very first, interviews he did) has had more than 600 views and is the most visited interview of 2015, followed closely by the one I did with Mike Scalzi from Slough Feg. In the other end of the scale, I am pretty surprised to see that the (in my opinion great interview) I did with Don Van Stavern from Riot (V) has had less than 180 clicks. It might strengthen the thing I just said, since a lot of other webzines also featured Riot, but it could also have to do with the fact that the band might be too much “overground” for the common Metal Squadron-follower. If you read this far, you deserve to know that part two of this round up, containing my best of 2014-list will be published during the next few days.

3 thoughts on “2014 REVIEW: From the outside looking in

  1. Great site, if I didn’t comment before. Turned me (and my record shop) on to Outcast. Just wondering, where’s part 2 of this, with your 2014 best of list?? Would love to see it. Thanks!

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