Brian Russ has run the best metal site on the ‘net bnrmetal.com, since 1995 (which makes it older than bbc.co.uk). It recently ran a poll which found that Megadeth’s Rust In Peace was the greatest metal album of all time. I spoke to him about this, and much more.
Is Rust in Peace the greatest album of all time?
The voters have spoken, so that’s the only way I can answer that!
It was an interesting competition. Except for the final result, it played out very much as I thought it might. “Rust In Peace” is certainly a great album, and was one of about half dozen that I thought had a legitimate chance to win it all, though I (like many, I’m sure) predicted that “Master Of Puppets” would probably win. My personal favorite album of all time made it to the final 8 but didn’t win, and that’s ok of course. I was curious about how people would vote, and now I have my answer.
Do you think the fact that Megadeth were touring the US playing the album in it’s entirety while the tournament was going on effected the result? Do you think a lot of people voted for it to stop Metallica winning as one commenter on muchmoremetal did?
To answer the first question, I wouldn’t have thought that would have made a major difference. “Rust In Peace” is well known enough on its own so that people would have voted for it regardless. I just don’t see a lot of people leaning some other way, then happening to catch a Megadeth show, and then switching their allegiance. That’s just my opinion though.
As for the second question, that’s a possibility. Someone said something about Megadeth forum fans banding together to vote. If that’s what happened, there’s nothing wrong or illegal about that. If that’s not what happened, maybe there was some backlash. I like Metallica (at least, those early albums), and obviously many others do too, but perhaps some thought that voting for them would be too easy or two obvious, and so maybe some voted against them for that reason. I don’t think we’ll ever know the entire story there.
As just one man running an ad-free site for 15 years, what gives you the motivation to keep it going? Has the amount of time you’ve spent making it ever interfered with your day job?
No, it has never interfered with my day job. At a previous job, I had a cubicle and often listened to music in headphones while I worked, and so I was able to review stuff on the job, sort of. I don’t do that anymore, so at times it’s hard for me to find time to sit down and listen to new music. That’s the most time-consuming part of running the site, since the actual maintenance is pretty streamlined these days.
Why do I keep doing it? It’s fun. It keeps me in tune with both new metal and web development technologies (I’m a software developer by trade). But more than that … I know my site isn’t the biggest or the best, but I am proud of what I’ve accomplished and it gives me a sense of gratitude and accomplishment when someone writes me and says they’ve found new bands, or relived past experiences, from my site.
Does it annoy you when people message you asking why a certain band isn’t on there?
Yes. It is the bane of my existence. I really wish people would just stop asking such questions.
Why don’t you have a page for Sylosis? They are the most exciting thing on this side of the pond at the moment.
In case it wasn’t obvious, I was joking above. Of course it doesn’t annoy me. Many times people suggest bands I’ve never heard of, and that’s a good thing since I can go research and learn something. Over the years I’ve gotten all kinds of recommendations for bands that are established, but that might not be metal (rock bands, industrial bands, all sorts of bands), and I try to listen to people’s opinions when they ask. Of course, in the end, it’s my call whether I add a band, but I try to be fair and objective about it.
Sylosis — they are somewhere on my “I need to get them on my site” list, a list that is of course neverending and too long these days. I know a bit about them, but not enough — I’ll have to bump them up the list.
Have you had any contact with record companies or bands themselves as a result of doing the site?
On and off over the years, yes. Mostly up-and-coming bands that want to get their name out there, but also some more established labels, have sent me new releases. I am honored that they’d do that, it’s not like I put up a site just to see if I could get free stuff. I’ve also had band members contact me just to thank me for featuring them — for example, it was an extreme pleasure when the guitarist for Legend, one of my favorite bands from the 80’s, got in touch with me and thanked me for supporting his band.
In general, such contact has always been icing on the cake — I had no pretense that I’d have such contacts when I first put up the site, so it’s always nice when it happens, but even when it doesn’t, running the site is still worth it.
You’ve obviously been into metal for a long time, do you still get to go to as many live shows as you used to?
No. But even in my heyday, I wasn’t a huge live music fan, for several reasons. I did get to see Motorhead in Texas last year and that was great fun. But I’ve missed several shows here in Portland over the years. I should get out more.
In what ways have things changed for the better in metal over the years? And in what way have they changed for the worse?
For the better — better recording/production values have led to better sounding music. And there is more diversity now, more outside influences finding their way into metal albums. The Internet (via sites like MySpace, for example), make it easier to find out about new bands.
For the worse — this isn’t exactly new, but it seems there’s always some trend that pops up, and for a few years there are a hundred bands that have jumped on the latest bandwagon and thus sound exactly the same. I’d prefer to look for bands that are expanding the boundaries of metal, not just playing what’s in vogue. On a more personal note, I’m not a fan of ‘-core’ singing (hardcore, metalcore, deathcore), and that’s been a growing trend in metal for several years. That’s more of a personal pet peeve though — for me, I think that’s not good for metal in general, but there are clearly many who would disagree with me on that.
Last week’s interview was with: TesseracT’s Amos Townsend.