Sleep Should be Making Money on Sleep’s Holy Mountain

Posted in The Debate Rages on December 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

sleep sleep's holy mountain

Riff legends and Iommic scholars Sleep launch an Australian tour this coming weekend. The other night, I saw they posted the following on their Thee Facebooks page. I guess they had been getting requests — probably daily, if not hourly — for a reissue of 1992’s ultra-classic Sleep’s Holy Mountain, and this was their response:

For those asking…

Sleep cannot re-issue Holy Mountain on vinyl. Or CD. Or MP3.

Nor can Sleep print t-shirts or posters, etc with the original Holy Mountain artwork.

All rights to that album (and any related art) are owned by Earache records. Forever.

…and no, Sleep doesn’t make a dime from that record and hasn’t since the early 90’s.

Bands: Please be very careful what you sign.

My immediate reaction is, “Really, Earache?” and that seems as good a place to begin as any.

With landmark back catalogs from Napalm DeathEntombedGodfleshCathedral and many, many others, UK imprint Earache Records has one of the most enviable discographies in heavy music. Formed in 1986, it’s seen trends come and go and like few others — Metal Blade comes to mind first as a comparison — it has managed to thrive. Is Earache well within its rights to hold onto Sleep’s Holy Mountain and use that property for all it’s worth? It would seem so. They reissued it on CD in 2009 (review here), still press t-shirts with the cover art (or at least they did last time I bought one), and the above indicates that Earache owns copyright on the music and art for the record into perpetuity and there’s nothing the band can do about it.

Not a great contract if you’re Sleep.

The answer for the trio — bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, guitarist Matt Pike and then drummer Chris Hakius (now drummer Jason Roeder) — at first seems like an easy one. Bootleg it. Fuck it. They’ve done it before, as the initial, unofficial self-release of Jerusalem with its righteous Arik Roper cover showed. Not as simple to do now as it was in 1998, however. Look at the response they got to the new single “The Clarity” (review here) this year. Granted, it wouldn’t be the same for a reissue as for the first new music to come from them in over a decade, but still. Sleep are a much higher-profile band than they were in the late ’90s, and if they were to just press up a bunch of copies of Sleep’s Holy Mountain, even to sell at shows, they’d probably catch hell for it one way or another, probably with litigation.

A pretty great contract if you’re Earache.

I won’t pretend to know the circumstances of the label’s wares, that is, how much of its back catalog it owns as thoroughly as it seems to own Sleep’s Holy Mountain, and neither will I give into some doomer-hippie impulse and say something like, “Oh man, they should just give Sleep the rights because it would be the cool thing to do and art for artists and whatever blah blah.” That’s naive as shit and not in any way reflective of the world in which we live. Earache has the rights, Sleep signed that deal. Bam. Done. The label is under no obligation to let the band have anything, so if they don’t want to, that’s their prerogative.

No question Sleep’s Holy Mountain is one of the most pivotal records in heavy rock and doom. What PikeCisneros and Hakius crafted has spread through influence the world over, to bands from Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia. They’re as close as an underground band can be to being a household name, and their work helped define a generation of heaviness. It is timeless, integral, and essential. They deserve to be making money from it.

People don’t like to talk about money and its effect on creativity, as though art and commerce are church and state, but in practice, they’re no more separate. Sleep probably do well at this point in terms of their take-home from shows, but it took them 20 years and success in other bands — OmHigh on Fire — to get there, and they don’t tour 100 gigs a year. I don’t know if they have dayjobs or not, and I highly doubt any income earned on Sleep’s Holy Mountain would be life-changing in that regard one way or another, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it.

But “deserve” is irrelevant. Sleep “should” earn money from Sleep’s Holy Mountain? So what?

It seems to me there’s some opportunity for middle ground somewhere between “label gets all” and “band gets all,” whether that’s a licensing fee Sleep pay to Earache or something like that — hell, I’m sure if Earache were to put the rights up for sale, the band could crowdfund just about any price named and not even have to go out-of-pocket — or like a rent-to-own deal on the publishing. I’m not going to call Earache dicks for not coming to the table if there’s been any discussion of a discussion, they’re a business acting like a business needs to act in order to survive, but if Sleep were able to work Sleep’s Holy Mountain again in some way mutually beneficial to themselves and the label, I don’t see where anyone loses.

Doesn’t matter if Earache doesn’t want to budge and if they’re still able to sell those shirts with the cover on it or repress the album every so often. An unfortunate situation for a band that have earned their place in the pantheon of heavy and managed to, like the label, remain vital where so many others haven’t, but as they say, be careful what you sign. Too bad that’s a lesson that had to be so harshly learned, and too bad a record so warmly loved by fans has to carry such baggage for the band themselves.

Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain (1992)

Sleep on Thee Facebooks

Sleep on Twitter

Sleep’s webstore

Earache Records

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Friday Full-Length: Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain (1993)

An obvious pick, maybe, but I’m thinking of it more as correcting the oversight of never having closed a week with it before than taking the easy way out, so if that’s how you want to roll with it as well, I’m cool with that. Or if you don’t give a crap and are happy to have an excuse to groove on Sleep’s Holy Mountain on this late Friday evening/early Saturday morning, that works too. Either way you want to slice it, Sleep‘s second album, released in the US in March 1993 — it’s almost legally old enough to drink, and who wouldn’t buy this record a beer on its birthday? — is among the most influential slabs of Sabbath-worship ever crafted. Not one week goes by that I don’t get hit up by some band playing essentially these riffs in a different order. Sometimes in the same order. It has made gods of Sleep, and helped solidify the second generation of heavy rock and roll in the ’90s, giving a true and loyal update on the potency of the band’s ’70s forebears.

Most importantly, it has earned every bit of the legend around it. To listen to “Evil Gypsy/Solomon’s Theme,” the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, guitarist Matt Pike and drummer Chris Hakius sound as blitzed out of their minds as they probably were, and as much of Sleep‘s legacy is tied to the legend of Dopesmoker and the band taking their major label advance and spending it on weed and amps and whatever, Sleep’s Holy Mountain is the right album to have come from its time and place, and more than 20 years on, I think we’re still in the process of understanding its impact.

Also it fucking rules. Please enjoy.

I’ve had “day” enough for three days, so I’m going to keep this brief, but please let me say how humbled I was and how heartwarming the response to the fifth anniversary post was. As it happened, I wrote that in a hospital waiting room while a member of my family was having surgery (all seems to be well), and it was a show of support that was even more appreciated in that context. Deeply, deeply appreciated. Again, more than I can say.

We came down to Jersey last night ahead of that procedure — that’s also why there weren’t so many posts today; that premiere for The Socks I wrote late last night to publish this morning — and tomorrow we’ll head back north to Massachusetts after breakfast. I’ve got a lot of email to answer and a lot of stuff to listen to, but I’m going to try to do another roundup this coming week like the one I did this past Monday — though I’m going to do it on Tuesday, because Monday is enough of a pain in the ass without it — and I know I’ll have a review of the Valley of the Sun record, but I’m honestly sure what else at the moment because I’m just not home. Maybe The Warlocks.

Oh, and I’ll have the Alcest interview, finally. Little late on that one, but still. Time to get it posted, so that’ll be up.

I said I was going to keep it short, so I am, since even though I’m not all the way through Sleep’s Holy Mountain yet my eyes are starting to close, but before I go, please, thank you again so much for all the support and encouragement and kind words and thoughts. Five years of this has been fantastic, and I know there’s a lot of really awesome stuff coming in the next few months, with the Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast tour — fuck I can. not. wait. to go on tour with those dudes — in February and more excellence on tap for the spring. Stay tuned, is what I’m saying.

Alright. Have a great and safe weekend, and please hit up the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

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Chad Davis Updates on Status of Hour of 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

No strangers over their years “together” to tumult, Hour of 13 seem to be entering into their next phase. Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Chad Davis provides a glimpse of where the band is at, its continued turbulent relationship with vocalist Phil Swanson (also Vestal Claret, Seamount, etc.) and what the future might hold for the band, which released its third album, 333, in 2012. For more from Davis, he’s interviewed here.

Here’s the latest:

Chad Davis / Hour Of 13 official press release 5-3-2013:

I am grateful for all of the support everyone has shown for Ho13, and honored to have been able to bring everyone quality music to a very thriving and revitalized movement. It has been extremely trying over the years, the constant interchanging of personnel, missing out on great opportunities to move the band further to all of you in a live setting, internal strife and conflicts of interest. But, in hindsight, things happened the way they have, and it is pointless to dwell on the past. The future is now…

I am glad to announce that new material will be created to carry the Ho13 namesake into the next phase of its existence. A much needed break and rest from all of it was a good source of medicine, healing the mind and allowing me to be able to refocus energy back into this musical force. Ho13 has always been an amazing outlet for me, a magnificent way to incorporate all of the influences that had helped me sharpen my craft.

A recent interview with Phil Swanson that was posted on a rather small blog, in which he made some very bold statements. I am not here to defend myself or counteract anything he may feel towards Ho13 or myself directly. His point of view is entirely his own prerogative. In an attempt to not discredit his persona, his ideas are quite far from reality. My reality. So, with that said, I wish him nothing but the best in any musical endeavor he may embark on. A talented vocalist he is, but he is NOT the be-all-end-all of Ho13.

In closing, the only thanks I can extend is once again to all of you. The fans. You have helped us more than anything. The music is for you. And I am extending to you guys the longevity of this band until the finality comes. Thank all of you!!

Regards,
Chad Davis

Hour of 13, “Who’s to Blame?” official video

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Hour of 13 Release New Video for “Who’s to Blame?”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

As it goes in December, there’s an awful lot of discussion around the interwebs lately about the best albums of the year. Well, as if to remind us all of their lurking presence, Hour of 13 have unveiled a new video for the track “Who’s to Blame?” from their 2012 third album, 333. Multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis (interview here) stripped the band down to its original parts for the latest outing, those being he and vocalist Phil Swanson, and the result was a collection of memorable cult doom right in line with the classic tenets of horror atmospheres and kickass riffs.

If you missed it, Davis‘ newest project Witchcoven premiered their first recorded track last Friday, so there’s even more to look forward to there, but Hour of 13 remain a constant shadow creeping behind, never quite there and never quite gone. Enjoy “Who’s to Blame?” on the player below:

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Hour of 13 Interview with Chad Davis: Naming the Threes

Posted in Features on August 24th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Last year when I conducted an Hour of 13 interview, it was with then-vocalist and Obelisk contributor Ben Hogg about having landed the singer spot as a replacement for Connecticut-based Phil Swanson. What changes a year can bring. This time, speaking with North Carolinian multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Chad Davis, it was about the band splitting with Hogg following a tour with Kylesa last summer and eventually having Swanson come back on board for the recording of the band’s appropriately named third album, 333.

Also Hour of 13‘s Earache Records debut, 333 marks the third time Swanson has joined the band — once for their 2007 self-titled debut and again for 2010’s The Ritualist before now — but Davis seems to take the tumult in stride. He’s uncomfortable talking about the situation with Hogg, I think the interview transcript shows that, but gives some sense of what led to the dissolution of Hour of 13 as a touring act. The live lineup also featured bassist John Mode and guitarist Brandon Munday, who’ll do a smattering of shows this October with the Swanson-fronted incarnation rounded out by a new drummer, but as to larger touring, Davis makes his position clear when he says, “To me, it’s not really a necessity.”

Nonetheless, the band has joined the growing roster of acts playing Roadburn 2013, and their cult-minded traditional doom continues to resonate with audiences around the world, who’ve responded with suitable clamor to 333, which Davis reveals was written both before going into Epiphonic Studios to record and after he got there, songs like “Who’s to Blame?” and the righteous closer “Lucky Bones” — also released on a limited Svart Records vinyl with Hour of 13’s earlier Razorrock Tapes recordings — given a sense of spontaneity for how freshly composed they were. The first two albums, Davis notes, took three days each. 333 took two weeks.

And maybe that’s the last of the three threes in the title. One for it being the band’s third album, one for it being Swanson‘s third return, and one for the three days it used to take Hour of 13 to make a record. Whatever the case, Davis‘ commitment to Hour of 13‘s bleak musical and conceptual aesthetic remains firm, and in the interview that follows, he discusses not only lineup shifts and live gigs, but what drives the project and the processes at work in Hour of 13 as opposed to his black metal outfits Anu and Set or the psychedelically jamming Tasha-Yar, who’ll reportedly add the recently-streamed “Casting Lots” to a series of other improv recordings for a new CD in the next month or so.

Including what got him into Epiphonic earlier than he intended and working long-distance with Swanson, Davis illuminates on a range of topics. You’ll find the complete Q&A after the jump.

Read more »

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