Interview – Whitechapel

Whitechapel are a 6-piece deathcore band from Knoxville, Tennesse, who have released 3 albums and toured across the world in the past 6 years. M3 grilled guitarist Zach Householder on the significance of album artwork, the dangers of filesharing and the benfits of social media…

M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Zach – My name is Zach, I play guitar for Whitechapel…or at least I try to.

What inspired you to form Whitechapel? What are your own musical backgrounds?
Well, Whitechapel was the brainchild of Ben Savage, Phil Bozeman and Brandon Cagle (former guitarist) but the idea behind what inspired it going somewhere was that we had all played in local bands together and finally decided to put together a band with people who were serious about trying to take a stab at the music industry and make a career out of it. As far as my musical background goes, that’s a loaded question man. It seems every time I try to narrow it down I leave out important parts of the puzzle. My music background was VERY eccentric as a younger kid and I’ll just leave it at that.

What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
I still own a record player but I hardly use it anymore even though I still like to collect Vinyls from bands I love. I love the sound of tapes but tape players are fewer and farther between now-a-days and with me always recording and wanting to hear music in other environments besides my studio, CD’s and MP3’s are ‘convenient” but that’s doesn’t mean it’s the best sounding. If I had to pick a medium to use 24/7 it’d be CD’s because it’s easy to put anything on them, reasonably priced and sounds better than MP3’s.

Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
I honestly feel that if you just download an album without seeing the artwork or understanding the theme of the band, it doesn’t deliver the same effect at all. When I was younger and trawling through the “heavy metal” section of our music store I was always intrigued by album artwork and band names. Amorphis has an album cover for the album “Tales from the Thousand Lakes” and just upon looking at it, I was intrigued and it seemed to give a theme for the album that made it so much better, BUT I wouldn’t have heard the tiny bit of them back then if it wasn’t for the internet… so I feel it still makes a difference when you have the physical copy of the album because a lot of why people like certain music is because a “theme” or an “idea” is implanted in there head and that makes the music all that much better.

Much has been made of the supposed death of the record store in recent years. Do you believe the digital age has killed the record store, and if so, do you think that this is a necessary part of progression, or a tragic loss?
I don’t think it’s “killed” it but honestly, I think the reason we got our start as a band was because of the digital age due to the fact that we could get our music out there to people who wouldn’t have ever heard it otherwise. BUT, on that note…it’s also flooded the market. There’s SOOOOOOOOO many freakin bands out there now-a-days and it’s lost a certain special touch that music used to have. I think part of the digital age is definitely necessary BUT it needs to be done in the proper proportions to where it would still benefit record stores…which honestly, would only happen in a perfect world.

Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
Honestly, I’d have to say it’s true. I’ve never really received a substantial amount from record sales. Maybe back in the day, when bands would sell 100-150K records, it would make sense. Now-a-days, with all the money it takes to produce an album, create it, distribute it, and sell it, bands (especially in our genre) just about break even.

Do you think traditional copyright laws are still enforceable in the digital age, or do you think we will have to rethink the concept of copyright itself?
I feel like if we EVER want the digital age to be honest and truthful when it comes to music and copyright laws, we will more than likely have to rethink it. Honestly, is there any other way around it?

How useful do you think social media sites are for new bands?
I feel like social media sites are the main form of advertisement and they’re very beneficial for bands today because we sure as HELL aren’t getting any advertisement on MTV or VH1 or any form of TV for that matter which between that and the radio, is probably still one of the biggest forms of advertisement.

What would you say are the main challenges facing an up-and-coming musician/band in today’s cultural climate?
As I stated before, the market is flooded. It’s hard to just make a point that your band is different or really has what it takes when you’re competing against tens of thousands of other bands in the same genre. Unless you have a lot of money to get off the ground, get out there, and start touring (which, sadly to say, is extremely expensive) its almost impossible.

Finally, what does the future hold for Whitechapel?
No one knows. We’ll keep doing what we’re doing as long as people still want us around and the drive is still there (which I think it always will be for us). We’ll keep trying to push the envelope with our music and not release the same album twice but still keep the theme and idea of Whitechapel alive.

For more information about Whitechapel you can visit their official website, and find the band on Facebook and Twitter.

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About M3 Event

The music industry is rapidly changing. The internet has enabled widespread piracy, as well as a variety of new business and distribution models. We want to offer an engaged audience in and around the Euregion an opportunity to develop a coherent and detailed picture of the future of music distribution. On the 31st of May 2012 a music conference in Maastricht, consisting of oppositional debates, creative workshops and lectures, will provoke opportunities for intellectual stimulation, debate, as well as networking. We hope to utilise the skills and ideas of some of most forward thinking minds and operators in the industry in order to highlight some promising new ideas and areas which can be improved upon.

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