- You Need to Pay Attention
by Dave Schwartz
There are many challenges faced by young
bands. The eternal struggle to be noticed is the most obvious.
The finances of the industry are another part of the conversation.
Bands recoup the lion's share of their income through touring and
merch. Due to the music sharing culture online, album sales
amount to but a pittance of their revenue. These are known
challenges that every band negotiates and resolves to the best of
their own ability. It’s just an accepted part of the business
But, as we’re all aware, another variable
has been added to the mix. Add the Covid pandemic to the
already stated challenges and you have a what amounts to a witch’s
brew that has shut down music venues and taken bands of all levels
off the road.
The current (and justified) pandemic fears
that are prevalent in our society have socially distanced many bands
to the brink of bankruptcy. Most bands have continued to
produce music in a quest to maintain relevance, irrespective of
having little means to immediately recoup their investment.
Artusha is one of those bands.
Hailing from Richmond, VA, David Landers
(guitar/vocals), Brian Hase (bass) and Caylon Landers (drums) –
Artusha – are navigating the music industry during a Covid pandemic
and doing their best to find their way through this unexplored
musical wilderness. I recently had a chance to speak with
DB: I’m excited to have the chance to
speak with you and I do appreciate that you could share your time.
DB: Rumor has it that you’ve got a
couple singles out and that you’re working on an album. I
would love to hear all about it. Your two singles are
“Inquisition” and “Zero Label.” I gather that these are the
early rattles of a coming album. What can you tell me?
DL: We released “Zero Label” first and
“Inquisition” followed afterward. Basically, they were our
motivation to get my studio up and running and making sure we were
good to go. It worked out pretty well. We are up in the
air whether we would continue to just drop singles or do a full
album. The headline that came out was that we were going to do
a full album but it kind of feels like we’re just going to continue
dropping singles for the remainder of 2020. But we have joked
around that we might actually finish the entire record by the end of
DB: I think America as a whole is
discovering that we have some spare time on our hands!
DL: Yeah, that is pretty much it! Some
bands really aren’t doing a whole lot while others are doing some
stuff. We’ve been busy. We’ve been fortunate and blessed
to have our own studio here. I literally built a studio on my
property here. I’ve been recording music on and off since I
was a teenager and we’re finally opening that up to the public this
year. So that will be fun too.
DB: It sounds like you’re creating
some excellent opportunities. You mentioned that you were
faced with the dilemma of whether or not to do an album. It
seems that the industry to becoming more and more singles driven.
Bands are finding that the expense of putting together an album can
DL: Yeah, we’ve talked about that too.
I was telling my guys that there’s this magical thing about putting
an album out. It’s what every young band wants to do. If
you are a band signed to a major label, you’ll probably end up doing
that. But, for bands that don’t have major support like
ourselves, we are very much paying attention to the fact that there
are a lot of bands making money and doing really well without much
support and rolling pretty much just on singles. I think
that’s where we’re leaning but, me and my brother Caylon (Landers)
have joked that by the end of the year, we may have enough music for
a full album!
DB: It’s not a bad thing. But
even if you just take the singles route and find yourself with a
backlog of music to release as you want, it can all work.
Today’s reality is that bands recoup their investment on tour and as
long as you’ve got some product available for the fans you can tour.
DB: Your latest single is
“Inquisition.” I read that you’ve described the song as a
“socio-political reflection on the state of America.” Tell me
a little bit about that.
DL: Honestly, with that quote, I’ve
tried to be as down the middle as possible with it because I really
want people to understand that none of us in this band are trying to
promote any political agenda or publicly align with the left or
right. You’re here in the U.S. and can understand why I’m
saying this. But, it’s really cool because Brian (Hase) our
bass player is a really good songwriter and wrote most of that song.
He also wrote a good bit of the lyrics too. When he brought
the song to the table, I made some changes because, honestly, I’m
the one singing and I want the songs to come from my heart too.
But long story short, it really doesn’t matter if you have a
Facebook account, or you’re just walking down the street, the moment
you start talking about politics – if someone doesn’t immediately
agree with you it’s kind of like fighting words for most.
People want to go at it really fast. And you know what?
It’s just sad. We try not to get too political, but obviously
with an election coming up... During my last 8+ years of
watching politics, it just sucks to watch people get so consumed by
it. Especially the division of it. We have to remember
that we’re all in this together. And we did see that briefly
when the pandemic started. With the quarantine, we all kind of
pulled together trying to get through it. But somehow, we
always get back to the political end of it and we all start drawing
those lines really fast.
DB: I can appreciate your comments.
In the same spirit of keeping political commentary down the middle,
we certainly have bred a society that would rather be fed their
information than to go out and find information to feed upon.
We’re told what to think rather than developing our own opinions.
Irrespective of what side of the aisle we reside, we’re cheating
ourselves and it’s been devastating to our society.
DL: You are right. It really
does boil down to that. It is time that we all start thinking
for ourselves. These days, no matter what we watch, see or
read – there is an agenda. Opinion is injected to help push
you one way or the other. Whether it’s political or not, we
have to be smart and not let others dictate who we are. We
need to pay attention.
DB: Again, I can appreciate your
comments. Back to the music – your sound. Artusha is
very groove metal. It’s a style of music that transfers so
much energy to the fan. I know that you’ve been kicking around
Richmond, VA for a couple years. Talk a little about
developing your sound.
DL: Brian and I got back together a
couple years ago. This band has been on and off for a while,
we just haven’t made any serious pushes. Life gets in the way,
people start pursuing careers, and then all of a sudden, here we
are. Brian is more Black Sabbath / Motorhead and the grunge
stuff too. Me, I was born and bred in thrash. So, he
kind of slows me down you could say – in a good way. Because
I’ll always want to jump to playing fast. It’s funny with
groove because we really didn’t know what to call it. I know
that groove metal has been around. Like Pantera. I want
to say that we aren’t trying to be Pantera or sound like Pantera
even though I obviously I play a guitar that Dime had help design
before his death. I don’t want people to be confused or think
we’re just trying to copy anybody. When you listen our music
you know that we don’t really sound anything like Pantera and I’m
good with that. We’re trying to be ourselves and there isn’t a
single mold or idea that shaping us. We’re not trying to
follow any cookie-cutter stuff and I think that is what has set us
apart a little bit too. In metal in general, metalcore is
making a comeback there are a lot of people doing that. But I
don’t think I see or feel a ton of bands that are doing what we’re
doing. And that is good. It’s helping us carve out a
little bit of a niche. We’re happy with who we are and what
we’re doing. For us, that is what it’s all about. And if
anything comes from that, great.
DB: In the press releases I received
about your band, they mention your success on Spotify – 15k streams.
Are you excited by the warm response you’ve received?
DL: Very much so. We joked the
other day that we know that there’s some negativity waiting for us
around the corner. Somewhere, someone is going to hate on
something. But we joked and said, those who have disliked or
disagreed with our music have done so in a polite way. For the
most part, people have enjoyed the music. It’s been a really
cool thing to see the response from the video release and the
Spotify streams, it’s just nice to see. We spent a lot of time
into writing music and then recording it. Everything that
we’re doing has been ourselves. We record, we write, mix and
master all our own music. It’s time consuming because we want
it to sound good and be right. So, to receive this response
has been really nice.
DB: I have a complicated question.
It is with regards to where we are with the pandemic. I guess
I’m searching for a silver lining to this dark cloud that we all
have struggled with. This is a difficult time to release a
record. At the moment, bands can release their music but they
have little means of recouping their investment. All of the
tours have been shut down until September-ish. So, as a band
you are left casting your music out into the wind. But the
other side of that, there are a lot of people sitting home – looking
for something to do, looking for something new. They are
digging into Spotify and discovering new music like yours. Is
it possible that this pandemic has somehow been helpful to new bands
– the benefit being that the public has had the time to find you?
And the benefit to the public is that they have new music to
hopefully help brighten their day.
DL: I think that’s fair to say.
This subject has been part of our conversation. I mean, good
time – bad time, when do we do this or do we not. We felt like
we had a little bit of steam before the pandemic. We played
our first show of the year in January and that has been our only
show. We were happy because people were liking us. But
going forward into this pandemic, I definitely think that it has
helped people find us. But that’s not to suggest that we’re
happy that anyone is suffering from unemployment or is sick.
We chose to release because we had a little steam going and wanted
to build and give people more of what they wanted. We want
people to hear what we’re doing. We appreciate the people who
have sent money and bought merch and you name it. Right now,
we have two songs released. We want to keep feeding that.
We want people to keep coming back finding something new every
DB: So, looking toward the end of the
year and the world getting back to the new normal – whatever that
may be. Are there any thoughts with regards to touring?
DL: We don’t have much booked at the
moment. We had an East Coast tour booked in June but that’s
gone. It would’ve been really cool, kicking off with a
festival in West Virginia called Metal In The Mountains. The
festival wasn’t cancelled, just postponed. So, it’s possible
that we’re still on that later this year. Beyond that, we
don’t have anything booked. We’re definitely interested in
touring later this year and we hope to be out touring next year.
I want to thank David Landers for sharing a
moment with DaBelly. Artusha is a new band with a cool sound
and they deserve your ear. Please take the time to search out
new music and support the artists you love.