How Not To Do It: Interview with Jack Fryer from Metal Recusants

Metal Recusants - Jack Fryer

Hello everybody! For the next couple of columns of How Not To Do It I decided to interview some bloggers to get their perspective on how to promote your band.
For this month’s installment, I decided to talk to Jack Fryer of Metal Recusants. I hope you enjoy it, as always if you’d like to get in touch with me please contact me at dewarpr.wordpress.com

Thank you for agreeing to do this interview! First of all can you tell us a bit about which sites you write for and for how long?

Hey Curtis, thanks for asking me to do this. After interviewing hundreds of bands it feels weird being the one interviewed. My main website I write for is Metal Recusants where I have written over 666 articles. I’ve been writing for it since May 2013 and it’s one of the things I am the most proud of. I got to interview and meet some of my favourite bands through it including The Melvins, Amon Amarth, Corrosion of Conformity, Karl Willetts of Bolt Thrower/Memoriam, Whitechapel, Watain, Orion from Behemoth/Vesania, Soil; I could go on forever!

I am eternally grateful to Dom for giving me the chance to write for the website and for his continued support and encouragement; as well as a thank you to Spencer and Dan for editing all my articles. Aside from Metal Recusants I also write the odd article for a website called Good Music Matters which I enjoy, I knew the editor Sam through a mate from college.

While you seem to be primarily a metal fan, you also have reviewed other styles as well. Is there anything specifically you wouldn’t cover?

I don’t think I’d review a pop album by a band like One Direction or Little Mix (who I am tormented to on a daily basis through the work office radio) as I feel it would detract from a band who deserves it. But never say never, I might do it one day. Actually, I knew someone who used to purposely review One Direction albums as an excuse to slag them off, it was a funny read even if it was incredibly biased.

Do you do any specific actions to promote your posts? What are they?

I post a lot of my reviews in fan groups on Facebook. My Bal-Sagoth interview received a lot of hits from posting it in there; the fans started discussing the contents of the interview and sharing it with their friends, which I found really touching. I also share them to genre specific Facebook groups and my own timeline which annoys a lot of people, but if you can’t share your work with your friends who can you share it with? I also message them to Donald Trump on Facebook, I’m yet to receive his feedback but he’s a busy man.

Are you happy with where you are presently with your writing? Are there any sites in particular that you would want to write for in the future?

I plan on writing for Metal Recusants for the foreseeable future, I don’t plan on going anywhere. Some people have suggested I quit Metal Recusants and start my own blog, but I feel that would be starting from square one again, I also love the idea that I’m working towards something great with Metal Recusants, it’s a lovely site run by some lovely people.

I’d love to write for Metal Hammer or Terrorizer in the future, that’s the dream I’ve had since I was a teenager. Regardless of what site I write for, I’d jump through flaming hoops to do this full time and I still hope to do that one day. As for my writing and interviewing, there’s obvious room for improvement and I’m always taking feedback and editing my work.

Are you more inclined to review a band if they have a publicist? Why or why not?

This is a hard one and it’s something I’ve put a lot of thought into as at the end of the day they both have their pros and cons. A publicist can sometimes push the band to get the questions done to a deadline as they have a bit of weight, publicists are also very good at giving extra info on the band and content for your interviews. However sending it direct to the band helps build a relationship with the band and helps you connect on a more personal level. That’s not to say you can’t build a relationship with the PR and I worked with a lot of cool PR people who became friends. Saying that, I’ve had cases where I’ve sent the questions off to PR and to the band direct and they never sent the answers back, which can be frustrating if you’ve spent ages doing research and thinking about the questions. But these things happen.

What makes you decide to review a band? Is there anything specific that a band/publicist should do to get your attention?

I often decide to review a band if I know of them for a start, there’s always a risk of bias with this but I feel that as a fan you can be more critical if you know the history and inner workings of a band. The band’s history and hype around them are also important, if a band is getting more popular and getting more coverage then it’s good to see what the fuss is about. Also I like to see comparisons to other artists, there’s this great band I’m listening to called Into the Storm who I discovered purely because they were compared to Baroness and Mastodon, who are two of my favourite bands.

For promo kits, what should bands include when submitting to you?

Tracklist, album artwork, photo of the band, band line up (with who plays what instrument), band history and upcoming tour dates are the major factors. These not only help structure a review, but can provide questions for an interview. It’s frustrating when you review a band and you don’t even know the names of the members and you have to dig for them.

What’s the best example of a band/publicist submitting an album to you the wrong way?

I’ve had a case where I was offered money to review an album, I had another case where I was offered money for a good review. Obviously I didn’t accept the bribe, even though free money is excellent. I had one case too where a publicist demanded the article be uploaded by a certain day “or else,” even though it was done I feel like demanded strict deadlines can be a bit unfair as most journalists have lives, careers and families and these often have to come first. If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans is a quote that comes to mind. I’d love to do more, but sometimes you just need to step away and come back to it fresh, the longest thing a reader wants to read or a band wants to answer is a half-hearted interview.

You are very active on social media, how has that helped you in growing the blog?

Social media is a necessity these days, any band, PR group, blog or artist needs a social media presence. I think it’s safe to say that most of our hits come from social media and it’s a tool you’d be foolish not to use. Whether you love it or loathe it, it’s such a huge part of the music industry and its here to stay. It’s helped us reach out to a lot more people and grow the site’s reputation, but then again, so has people stumbling across old articles through search engines and website links.

Thank you for your time, anything else you would like to say?

Metal media is in a weird place, print media is slowly dying as the industry goes digital. Bands, PR, journalists, we are all in this together so we’ve got to support each other. Go see a local band, buy a shirt or CD and read someone’s blog. Also listen to the new Wormrot album Voices, it’s my favourite grind release of the year. Thanks for the interview Curtis!

Many thanks to Jack for his time!

– Curtis

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