David Rodgers has been rolling around in the muck of the music industry for long enough to know better. Whether it’s playing in bands (Godhunter, Feral Tongue), organizing Southwest Terror Fest, working at 1709 Records, running and building things with Laconic Creations (which is some beautiful stuff) or working to get the best promotion possible for his bands, he’s not one that’s afraid to get his hands dirty. And, as you can see, as a guitarist, those hands are his livelihood. And with the upcoming release of Eight Bells on his Battleground Records label, what better time than the present to sit down and learn a bit more about the guy behind the guy behind the label.
How did you first get into being so involved in the music industry and have you achieved all your wildest dreams that you set out to achieve? How meteoric was your rise to the top?
If you ever heard that fable about how if you throw a frog into a boiling pot of water, it will jump out, but if you throw the frog in while the water is cold them slowly heat it, the frog will just swim around until he cooks himself then essentially that’s it. I’ve just been swimming around in it for a while and I think I’m starting to cook. As for a meteoric rise, aren’t meteors actually falling? That seems counter-productive.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get a site to review or interview a band on your label that you really cared about? If you feel that you have never debased yourself, I imagine there was a time when Battleground Records was a part time gig and you were struggling to get places to review your stuff. How has the adjustment to successful label been?
Battleground still is pretty much a part time gig, as I have a bunch of shit that I am currently involved with, but yes, pretty early on I learned that having a PR firm was a pretty necessary thing. That way I don’t have to keep begging the same people once a week to review an album. Now I have someone else beg for me. It’s much, much easier this way.
What’s your selection process for discovering and signing bands?
First and foremost, I have to like the music. Next, I try to do some research and see if I like the band as people. I have to put a lot of my personal time and resources into this so working with people that I enjoy being around is pretty important to me. I also look for bands that are proactive with their approach already. Believe me, that helps so goddamn much. Working with bands is like herding cats. Anything that makes that easier is a huge plus for me.
How important are issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and do you in any way insert those issues into your work? How do you feel about the semi-recent turn in the metal scene towards a larger and more pronounced social consciousness? Do you feel any of that turn has affected who or what you’re willing to sign and put out there?
I’d say those things are fairly important for me. I’m probably pretty well left of center when it comes to socio-economical views, so I tend to work with people that are somewhat similar in their views. I wouldn’t say it’s the end all-be all though, as there are plenty of people in the label with ideas that I might disagree with. But if they’re intelligent and insightful, then all I’m for it. The world would be boring ass place if we all believed that exact same thing. Metal has definitely turned more socially conscious and I’m sure it’s a good thing. The world is changing, like it or not. Music is one of the things that usually leads these types of social changes, so maybe it is time for metal to catch up to the rest of the world? I’m all for a more welcome and open society on every level.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you?
My family always had proto-metal around the house, like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, but later on I was living in a foster home in West Philadelphia when I was in junior high and my older foster sister got me into actual metal. I saw Metallica open for Ozzy in 1986 and I was ruined forever.
What’s the stickiest you have ever been?
Hands down, on tour in New Orleans in August. No contest.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a label owner?
I don’t have any idea other than spotlighting some of the smaller labels more. It seems a lot of the publications always push the same bands, regardless of output. And when you read these year End Best Of lists, they’re always the same bands. Seems like a lot of music gets missed until years after the fact. Maybe change that part a bit…
Any hobbies you’d like to share with us? Maybe you like sports or animals or possibly define yourself as a ‘foodie.’
To be honest, music is my hobby. I run Battleground Records. I am one of the guys that puts on Southwest Terror Fest, and I have a couple bands. When I’m not doing that, I help my wife run her record store in Vancouver, Washington. Anything else I do is decidedly normal like walking the dog or going camping and no one wants to hear about how many dog bombs I scoop up in a day.
Finally, what are some of your favorite albums of 2015 (feel free to include non-metal)?
Man, it’s hard to keep track of what came out in what year. I spun the shit out of the collab between Thou & The Body that came out recently and I really liked Absolution by Khemmis too. I think Czarface’s Every Hero Needs a Villain is pretty incredible. There was another band from Denver that I heard recently that was great, Spectral Voice, but I’m not sure when that came out either.
Thanks so much to Dave for his time. We look forward to more great things from Battleground Records!