AMS Glasgow graduate Craig Law, founder of Goddamned Promotions and member of the death metal band ‘Dominicide’, sat down with us to shed some light on the growing extreme metal scene in Scotland. Often overseeing and playing shows on the same night, Craig is no stranger to juggling many roles in music, making him the perfect fit for the next instalment of Many Hats.
Craig shares his favourite parts of being a promoter, how metal music is the same as spicy food and the importance of keeping the joy in everything you do. Read on to find out more.
Tell me a little bit about your work, what does the day-to-day running of your promotions company look like?
It’s juggling a lot of things. This is my fifth gig in four weeks so it’s been pretty full on but there is a huge payoff that I don’t find anywhere else. With Goddamned Promotions, it’s just all about communication and knowing what’s going to happen ahead of time. It sounds cliche, but it’s all about preparation. What is that saying, someone who is preparing to fail, failed to prepare.
So, you’re thinking of all the stuff that could go wrong ahead of everybody else every time?
Yeah, so aye it’s just being in crisis mode 24/7. Trying to prepare for everything and anything, prepare for the worst essentially and hope for the best.
What gigs have you had on in the past couple weeks or so?
First one back with Drones EP launch we sold that out at The Garage Attic in
Glasgow. Then the next week after was Acid Reign at Audio got a few people in the door for that one. Then the Dominicide show which I was repping and playing and then the one on Saturday was Scordatura and Foetal Juice. We got about 150 people through the door, and we’ve got tomorrow which looks good already. It’s been a rather chaotic four weeks but we’re coming out the other side of it.
That sounds great! Well, I’m an undeniable pop fan myself and I’m curious to know, do you think the process for finding bands to play your shows is any different for mainstream shows and genres? Do you have a specific process or any specific places that you look for bands?
Through my time as a musician, I know the bands in this scene especially. I generally keep up with my network through Facebook, it’s practically LinkedIn for me now. Bands booking agents coming to me just makes my life so much easier too, otherwise, I’m competing for agent’s attention and trying to find who’s hot then attempting to secure them.
It’s quite hard to find bands through a Spotify playlist, they’re not so good for metal as they might be for pop. They’re not as on it, so I find that Facebook is quite a big platform for me.
“You’re always going to have people who have opinions about your opinions, so might as well enjoy the things that you enjoy”
Yeah. Do you think that’s a gap that streaming platforms are missing out on in terms of the metal side of things? Do you think it would be beneficial for them to pay more attention?
Yeah, well look at the metal UK playlist. That as such a microscopic view of the metal scene. It’s a lot more popular sub-genres like metal core, and very little extreme metal. Obviously, that may not sell as well as pop artists. But I think they are missing a lot of good UK metal bands. So yeah, Spotify isn’t where I would go. But I do come across bands there from time to time.
Do you feel you have to work harder to find the talent to put on, or is it beneficial to create shows that are more curated? There’s a dedicated audience within metal that loves it fiercely so they’re maybe more engaged. What do you think about that?
Obviously, when you’re working in niches it’s more limited so when it comes to working special and extreme metal genres, having those bands is very rare. Bands just get snapped up so quickly, so you really have to just be on there from the get-go. There are a couple of bands that I’m kind of got my hooks into in terms of the agents being loyal to me. I’ve put them on before so I’m hoping I can just keep those bonds and then we can move on, and you can move up the ladder with them if you know I mean.
Absolutely, do you think building those relationships is one of the most crucial parts of working as a promoter?
It’s about satisfaction as well. We’re just kind of watching an artist grow, not only in their craft but their audience as well. Scordatura on Saturday, there was a big crowd of just under 170 people there for them and they were really responding as well. I’ve seen them at previous gigs where they’ve been a support act, no one was there to really see them to now seeing them on a stage in front of people that wanted to see them and interact with their music. The contrast is what’s most satisfying to see, that you helped them achieve that.
I see on your website that you will take submissions. Is that something that you have a lot of connection with?
So, when it comes to local bands, they usually just submit through my Facebook page. The emails definitely there they just don’t use it [laughs]. So, it’s mainly the page if they wanted to get on a gig or something like that or through Facebook Messenger. Sometimes it’s even through personal messenger which I’m just going “Oh don’t!”
Trying to keep that work-life balance you know.
I don’t mind it! But if it’s like 10 o’clock at night and I’m just chilling, it a bit y’know.
So how did you get into those kinds of genres specifically in your personal and professional taste? I assume it wasn’t the case that you said, “this seems like a good business investment to go into this kind of music”, it was more to do with your personal taste?
The way I’d always put it to someone that’s maybe of the pop persuasion, is that metal is like spicy food. Bear with me.
So, you know those people that take like ghost peppers and eat them. You’re like “they’re insane!” That’s what an extreme metal person looks like to a pop artist. No one starts at extreme ghost jalapenos, burns your mouth off, a million degrees. Most of us always start off with a little spice and then some people go deeper, and everyone’s got their limits, not everyone’s just going to go straight to ghost pepper avenue. And that’s what happened so I started with the gateway bands. I started with Metallica and just moved all the way down until I’m listening to some band you wouldn’t be able to read the logo of or understand the lyrics. And that’s how I got into this type of music.
Getting involved in the scene was pretty much just loyalty to the music and it’s through that loyalty that I wanted to get on the stage and basically just converse with the band’s. The more gigs I played the more connections that I made and then I realized like I wanted to recreate the experiences that I had when I was going to gigs as a teenager. Those were great nights that were like holidays or getaways from myself. I wanted to provide that experience for someone else and help bring up bands while making the scene a better, healthy environment.
I absolutely get that.
Going to gigs like that, it’s part of you, it’s part of your growing up, your adolescence. Those gigs will represent a certain time in your life. And you wouldn’t really take it away. You’re always going to have people who have opinions about your opinions, so might as well enjoy the things that you enjoy and try and recreate the times that you enjoyed. So that’s the kind of main thing about music for me.
“Put the odds in your favour, But never let that overwhelm, the treatment of the artist”
With your taste always being on the heavier side I guess working in heavy metal and playing it, just felt like the most natural fit?
Yeah. Very well said in terms of that kind of natural jumping-off point. The first thing that I would have seen as a gigging musician would be someone that’s a good gig rep. So, I just became the rep.
You were like, “well, that looks like it looks like something I could do. I’m just going to go and do that.”
The thing is, I seen people doing it wrong. I’ve just seen gigs of past times just gone wrong, whether it be technical issues, whether it be the promoters fault and that’s why I’ve just kind of gone “I want to do it right”. Obviously not every time it’s possible to do it right and you’re going to make mistakes. But I like to think that I give bands the best of all the experiences and not be put on like a five-band or seven-band bill. You know, we want to give good experiences to bands as well as good experiences to my audiences, of what a show should be.
I take it those things are of equal importance to you as a promoter? It’s as important that the band have a good time as it is that the audience has a good time.
If you want them to come back! [laughs] You know when you get it right. Everyone’s happy. Everyone’s full of thank you’s for the whole time from when they started to see the place packed to after the show. So, you know when you’ve done it right.
What would be your biggest learning from putting on shows? Do you have any words of wisdom for people who think “maybe I could do that”? Or anything specific that you may have learned the hard way?
To promote, I would say put the odds in your favor. To not only try to get people through the door, and to make yourself money. But never let that overwhelm, the treatment of the artist. Don’t let that make it unfair, always do what’s fair. Make your money, get people through the door. But treat the artist right.
And what about from the band side of things? I guess we’ve not spoken about that so much. Is there any advice you would pass on?
Have fun. I’ve been in bands where the fun dries up. Everyone’s labored coming into the rehearsal room. It can really suck away a lot of your energy and a lot of time that you even normally dedicate to a band that’s on fire and having fun. So having fun is at the core of everything.
Yeah, making sure that the enjoyments there is the number one thing.
That will be your motivation. You don’t really make money [laughs] not at the beginning anyway! So may as well. No, that’s the one flame you’ve got. So, keep it stoked. Write that one down! [laughs]
Do you ever find that when you’re with the band, if you’re playing a show that’s being put on by another promoter, do you ever feel the need to remove yourself from your promoter role?
Aww it’s great when I’m not promoting. It’s a relief. When you’re not repping and playing at the same time that’s covered. I think I’m very hyper aware when I’m promoting. Of everything that’s happening, but when I’m not promoting, I’m very chill. I’m just trying to enjoy the night. Because if you don’t enjoy it, then what’s the point?
Exactly! Kind of leading on from that, do you have a favourite part of putting together shows?
Probably announcing. You know when you’ve got this beauty of a gig that’s filled with potential, and it’s scheduled all the posts and tagging the bands like “ohhh’ and then the reaction of the public. Seeing ticket number shift on those ticketing outlets, that has been a more recently satisfying thing because you can literally see the cause and effect of what you’re doing.
You can see it, you can physically see the ticket shift go out the door.
You’re an AMS graduate, do you think your time studying the industry has influenced your pathways?
The Academy of Music and Sound is just as good as anywhere else if not better. You’ve got a small class in which your tutors can pay attention to you and develop relationships with your class. I couldn’t ask for better to be honest. You get their expertise, which is so wide-reaching, they’ve got so much experience and knowledge to pass down for you. So that’s definitely a benefit of going to the Academy. Goddamned Promotions literally came from a module where I was challenged with making money with something music-related.
Not having musical parents or people that worked in music in my family, music was never a job. People were like “How do you make money with music?”. So, I was looking at all these different careers. I remember walking up to someone at a stall promoting careers in banking. They were like “are you interested in investment banking?” and that’s when I was like “…No? Why am I here? I know what I like. I know what I want to do and it’s music”.
So, I was like let’s take it [Goddamned Promotions] into 2019. That’s where I put on about 12/14 gigs and that year just kind of really learning the ropes and then moving on in 2020, put on a few bigger gigs and then coming back now in 2021 I’ve put on gigs that are 10 times the size of the ones I was putting in 2019 so that’s it’s where it all stemmed from. Academy of Music and Sound gave me the tools in order to push off from that starting point which is important to find. Because if you get to that jumping-off point, and you’ve got no tools, then it’s a lot more difficult.
My last question, to me and to other people who aren’t as familiar with metal, is there any bands that you would recommend as your gateway bands?
Well, I think the ones that would appeal to everyone would probably be like the likes of your Metallica’s, Bring Me the Horizons and Guns and Roses and stuff like that.
And what if you were looking for something more extreme? Like a really out there ghost chilli (as you’d say) band that you would recommend?
That’s like asking me to pick my favourite child. But I’d probably say Fit for An Autopsy. They just keep climbing the ladder and I know they’re going to be huge in a few years.
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Words & Interview: Hannah Campbell