Columns are a death metal/grindcore 4-piece from Charlotte/Winston Salem, NC, featuring ex-members of Glass Casket, Old Fashioned, and fondly remembered gore-grinders Hemdale. M3 had a word with the band about touring, copyright, and their new ‘pay-what-you-want’ album…
M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Coulmns – Columns is a 4-piece death metal/grindcore band. That’s the easiest way to describe us I think. We’re fans of all different kinds of music, so we have a lot of different influences, plenty outside of the metal world.
What inspired you to form Columns? What are your own musical backgrounds?
The drummer Jason, and myself (Jake, the bass player) were in a band together prior to Columns called Old Fashioned. In that band we dabbled with metal a bit, but were not a full-on metal band. Jason and I wanted to embrace the heavy and fast elements of that band and form a full-on metal band, so when Old Fashioned broke up, we formed Columns.
Adam, our vocalist, was in a metal/hardcore band before Columns called Glass Casket. They released a couple of albums; We are Gathered Here Today and A Desperate Man’s Diary.
Michael, our guitarist, was in a gore-grind band back in the ’90s called Hemdale. They released a few 7-inches and splits (one was with Exhumed, titled In the Name of Gore), and in 2002 Relapse released a career-encompassing CD titled Rad Jackson.
What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
My preferred medium is either CDs or vinyl. Putting on a tangible album is more fun than clicking on a song or plugging in an iPod. I’m also a collector, so that’s another reason why I prefer CDs and vinyl.
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 do believe that the idea of the album has been undermined by the digital age a bit. Because of outlets like iTunes, for example, where you can pick and choose what songs you want to listen to, the idea of the album is lost. It used to be, before MP3s, that you had no choice but to have the whole album (with the exception of mixtapes, etc.). One reason that’s good is because the listener can experience all the songs, as they were meant to be heard, and not just the singles or the popular tracks. And whether the listener liked the non-singles or not on first listen, they always had the chance to grow on them. There are plenty of albums that I love, that at first, I only liked a handful of songs. Then, after several listens, I fell in love with the whole thing.
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 think that bands have always made more money off merch sales from touring than from record sales. But now in the digital age, that holds even more truth.
Why did you decide to make “Just Another Species” available for free or ‘pay-what-you-want?’ download via Moshpit Tragedy?
We decided to have “Just Another Species” available for free or pay-what-you-want, because that’s the best way to get your music out there, and that is what is most important to us.
What benefits and/or disadvantages have arisen from this distribution method?
Only benefits have arisen from this method. I feel a lot more people know about us now because of Moshpit Tragedy. They help spread the word and the music, and listeners really have nothing to lose.
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 do believe that traditional copyright laws are still enforceable in the digital age. For example, not too long ago, I tried to upload a homemade video to YouTube that had a Replacements song in it, and YouTube wouldn’t let it go through.
What would you say are the main challenges facing an up-and-coming musician/band in today’s cultural climate?
I believe the main challenge facing an up-and-coming musician/band in today’s culture is touring. Especially without any label support, with gas prices like they are, there is a good chance the musician/band will lose money. Unless of course they are successful with merch sales, or they have good guarantees. Another challenge is the lack of a filter in the digital age. Now anyone can produce their own music and put it on the internet. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. But the truth is, out of all the people that can do this, how many of us know what we’re doing?
Finally, what does the future hold for Columns?
As for what the future holds for Columns, we’re gonna keep making fast/aggressive music, and see what happens.