In a recent episode of The Jasta Show, a podcast that’s set up and hosted by Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta, the vocalist spoke with Sumerian Records label founder and CEO Ash Avildsen about the workings of a label, and the music industry as a whole, but also about progressive metal band, Periphery.
During the conversation that the two shared on the podcast, Avildsen confirmed that the band are no longer signed to Sumerian Records, who to date have put out all five of their full-length records to date, with the latest being 2016’s ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’.
The two arrive on the subject of Periphery at the latter end of the conversation, which began due discussing to an article published recently (read here) in which guitarist Misha Mansoor shared that he can’t make a living solely from the band, and as such brings income in from elsewhere.
Avildsen shares that, in his opinion, the band are “their own worst enemy” a lot of the time, and need to be open to promoting and boosting their more single-worthy tracks more often then they do.
“I mean, Periphery specifically, they’re incredibly talented and I love the band to death, and we’ve had great success together, but they’re their own worst enemy. They get in their own way… it’s the ‘too precious’ thing. They have a song called ‘Jet Packs Was Yes!’, which is like a hop-skip and a jump away from being a massive hit.
I would talk to Misha about this, and I would go, ‘Dude, your band should be so big. I know you can get the kid in the front row that’s air guitaring, that knows the riffs in and out. They know the drum kit from hell that you’re using. They know every little spec. But, how do you get the guy that’s in the back of the arena that’s got the nosebleeds seat to still feel that connection from your music when you’re on stage?’. Dude, we went through this – they were doing the Deftones tour, and I was like ‘Guys, this is a mainstream tour. You need to play ‘Jet Packs Was Yes!’. It’s gonna connect with these people’, and they didn’t want to do it. I finally convinced them to do it, and they’re like ‘Oh man, this song is going over great’, and it was like ‘Yeah, and you wrote it.’ It’s like these bands that get too precious for their own hits.
With Periphery – look they could tour more, there’s other things they can do to make money. I write them nice six figure checks–er, sorry I take that back, I write them nice checks every six months from their royalties, and they make good money on the road, and they reinvest in themselves, and they have side hustles. The drummer does the teacher, everyone is hustling their shit, but fundamentally, yeah, they need to have bigger streams and bigger ticket sales to really have the money they want to have. They could, but they don’t want to go… I look at a band like Tool or A Perfect Circle. You think anyone is worried about their cred? They don’t conform to some verse/chorus plug-in play format. They are incredibly artistic, they’re incredibly creative, and they still know, yeah, we have some singles, right? Periphery should – Periphery could be an arena band. They have the… Spencer has a voice, he can sing it, they did a great cover of Florence + The Machine, which really shows the depth of them if they did want to write songs that could get on radio and big playlists, but they only write for themselves. Period. Most artists will say that, ‘Oh, I’m just playing music for myself’, and what I say to that is, ‘Well, you can do that at home, but then don’t worry about making it a living. If it catches on, great.'”
The two returned to the aforementioned article which sparked the question, and Avildsen added the following.
“I saw the article, and it said like he can’t make – but he wasn’t bitching. Misha was just like ‘Yeah, this is just the lay of the land.’ They could if they toured more. That band, they could play a different city every day of the year, but I mean, who wants to live on the road?”
Jasta then queried Avilsden into whether or not he would contemplate giving Periphery a different kind of record deal which he feels would help push them into a position where they can live comfortable off the band alone.
“It doesn’t matter because it’s coming from me, and, no matter what I’m the label guy. To Misha, I’ll always be, ‘Oh, that’s Ash. He’s Hollywood. He’s the label guy. He doesn’t get it the way I get it.’ And Misha doesn’t get it the way I get it. We can disagree to disagree, and I’m comfortable saying that. I wish them the best, like, they’re going to self-release their next record, at least that’s what they told me. I don’t think this is me in the Whiskey backstage with animosity, I’m telling you right now on the podcast, Misha, I love all you guys, unless you write bonafide fucking hits and you’re rolling to radio, I don’t believe your new record will sell more than what you’ve done on Sumerian because I have pride in what we do, and I know the value we bring to any band, especially a band like that, with everything we do to promote and market and creative…
Misha, I love you to death, brother. You’re a super star, but you get in your own way. You should be making – if I could play guitar like Misha, and I had a singer like Spencer… again, Periphery was an instrumental band in helping grow Sumerian, and I’m so proud, so none of this is meant as a diss to them. They’re incredible, but this is me being candid record label guy talking about an artist I love who’s very hard to A&R, because they don’t want to hear it from anyone.”
Avilsden went on to talk more about the position of being the owner of a label, running his label Sumerian Records, and the unfair stigma that labels often get before returning to the subject of Periphery.
“Going back to Periphery, right, because I have a lot of pride in that project. This is an example of how Sumerian, you know, helped change things for the better with them. The first record, ‘Icarus Lives!’, which is the biggest song on the record, they didn’t want to put it on the album, because they were like ‘Ah, it’s an old song.’ I said ‘No, it’s old to you guys. It’s not old to everyone else that’s going to discover your band when we help get you on tours, and do music videos, and promote you, and market you, and publicity, and all this stuff.’ I remember I was sitting there with Misha and I think the guitar player’s name was Alex, he’s not in the band anymore, but we were at Islands and we’re eating fucking cheddar fries, and I’m like ‘Dude, we’ve gotta put the song on there’, and they finally said ‘Okay, we’re going to put it on’, and now that’s one of – a fan favorite song. Had the record label not fought tooth and nail, that song may have never gotten the love and respect that it deserves because it wouldn’t have had the exposure, which again goes back to why you want to be on a record label.
Again, I believe if you have the right songs there’s plenty of money to go around for everyone. It’s all about can it go the distance? Can you get all these different people to listen to it? Same thing when they did ‘Alpha’ and ‘Omega’. They turned in all this music, and I’m like ‘Guys, this is so much. People have short attention spans. Break this up, use your illusion one and two. I didn’t invent the idea, I’m just telling you it’s a great idea ’cause you have all these great songs, and it’s a concept record. You can do all these things. Your fans are going to love it, so split it up into two experiences.’
Me and the manager at the time, Mike Mowery, he was like, ‘Dude, this is going to be either the most tough conversations, or they are just going to’ – we both thought they were going to be ‘Yeah, shut up. Fucking labels, stupid idea. Alright, can we get off the phone now?’ We just thought Periphery was going to totally disregard it. To their credit, they looked at it objectively, and they’re like, ‘You know what? That’s an interesting idea, let us discuss.’ They talked and that creatively works for them ’cause they could make it ‘Alpha’ and ‘Omega’, and they have the artworks, and all these things. They did a brilliant layout for it. Spencer had an awesome storytelling concept for the records and they split it up, and the scans between the two are almost identical. So, going back to what you’re saying about the 3% of the fans, or whatever, if you feed them enough quality stuff they’ll eat it up, it’s just gotta be good. ‘Alpha’ and ‘Omega’ was 70+ minutes of great fucking music, so their fans appreciated it.”
If you want to listen to the full podcast, you can stream it via the embedded player below. The Periphery topic begins from the 1:51:58 mark.
From the context of the podcast, it seems that Periphery are expected to self-released their yet-to-be-announced sixth full-length album later this year.
The band have also recently shared a video of a compilation of clips of them writing and putting together the forthcoming album.
More details surrounding the record will be confirmed as and when it develops.