(Rev. Will continues with his Keyboard Warriors interview series, and today’s victims subjects are the creators and operators of Metal Injection.)
Before the well-known MetalSucks, there was and still is Metal Injection, a behemoth of a metal website that offers a cornucopia of metal-related content in a variety of formats. It’s like a virtual Swiss Army Knife of fixes for one’s metal cravings!
Metal Injection is more a Web TV site than a blog even though they do have an active blog section, and the main perpetrators behind this multimedia website are none other than Robert Pasbani and Frank Godla. Robert is generally the Pikachu of the site while Frank is generally the dude behind the scenes (literally) holding the camera filming Robert on-site covering insanely cool events such as the annual Revolver Golden Gods Awards show. But one most definitely wonders: how did they get to where they are today?
From across the cyber-void, Robert and Frank thought-spoke into the neural transcriptor and discussed the origins and workings of Metal Injection at the speed of a quark on steroids. By the time you see this, they are already light-years ahead in their busy schedules working on the next big thing for their little baby.
Rev. Will: Let’s start from the beginning. Was the name “Metal Injection” thought up like that to give off the feeling that metal music can be as addictive as drugs?
Robert Pasbani: That’s certainly part of it. I just tried to come up with a name that had the term “metal” in it and sounded cool, and including “Injection” evoked so much imagery that I thought it would be perfect.
Frank Godla: Well if you think about it, isn’t metal appreciation very much like a drug? Aren’t the metalheads you know absolutely hooked and passionate about it? Most people find metal through a gateway rock band, and before you know it, you’ve moved on to way harder and faster stuff even your friends don’t understand. You don’t often meet metalheads who drop it like a bad habit either, it’s just something that sticks with you. I can tell you metal music is the most important thing in my life, and because it’s a 25-year-old habit that isn’t going away, I really don’t mind referring to myself as a metal junkie.
Rev. Will: How did you guys meet?
Robert Pasbani: Frank and I went to high school together, and in the infancy of Metal Injection, became reacquainted through mutual friends; and also because Frank actually hired me at a shitty temp marketing job.
Frank Godla: I knew of Rob because of some of the plays from high school he was in, but never actually met him. Years later, I was managing a telecommunications company, and he came in with a friend for a job interview. I basically hired them both on the spot because I remember Rob from school, and his friend Greg was wearing an Opeth T-shirt at a time when barely anyone in NYC knew who they were yet. Rob was just getting into “legit” heavy metal at that time, and he’d take his breaks at my desk where I’d go off talking about extreme metal bands I love and share stories about all the crazy shows I’ve been to. Eventually, he came to me with this idea that we should make a metal TV show for fun, and seeing as TV production was always something I wanted to do, we partnered up and created Metal Injection the TV show in spring of 2003, featuring us and a bunch of our friends whom we still affectionately refer to as “The Metal Injection crew”. The website was actually launched on Jan 1, 2004, and it is the date we officially celebrate as the “birth” of what we do today.
Rev. Will: So, for all the talent I have in cyber-stalking, I only know that Rob is the facial hair barber of Metal Injection and Frank is the unofficial Head & Shoulders ambassador. Mind telling us your roles in running Metal Injection?
Robert Pasbani: Are you implying Frank has dandruff issues? Because that is a lie and slander and I will not stand for it! I wear many hats when it comes to Metal Injection. Besides being on-camera talent (talent being used very loosely), I am responsible for all the artwork and imagery you see on Metal Injection, the development of the infrastructure of the back-end, and overseeing web developers for things over my head in addition to spending a good chunk of the day blogging about the latest slur Dave Mustaine spouted as well as editing other contributors’ posts. I also spend a good amount of time dealing with advertisers and plugging banners into our ad system. I am also responsible for getting the word out whenever we release a new piece of content, whether it be social media promotion or sending out press releases. Needless to say, my day is one large multi-task. After all of that, I spend Sundays hanging out with friends going live for 2 hours making fart jokes for our weekly podcast, the Metal Injection Livecast.
Frank Godla: First off, Head & Shoulders ain’t all that it’s cracked up to be; I personally prefer Dove hair products buddy! To answer the real question at hand, both Robert and myself own 50% of the company and run the site and company from top to bottom. So while we have our own set of roles we do separately, there is also an entire bundle of behind-the-scenes work for both of us that goes into Metal Injection LLC on a daily basis that no one really ever hears about.
My day is anything but usual, and my focus is original content, be it writing, producing, directing, filming, or editing, with some hosting and blogging. Then of course label and PR correspondence, coordinating contributors and photographers, accounting and expense reporting, filing business documents, coverage arrangements and scheduling, coming up with new concepts, contests etc; basically all the boring, less glamorous things that need to be done when owning your own business.
All in all, we wear many different hats and everyday is a juggling act, but the one thing that’s always consistent is that we both constantly discuss and advance all the things that make up the Metal Injection brand. 8 years later, we still treat it very much like our little baby.
Rev. Will: Suppose Rob rebonded the tangled mess of hair on his head, do you reckon that his hair will be longer than yours?
Frank Godla: Doubt it, this is the 3rd time in my life I’ve had long hair and it’s currently the shortest of the 3. I personally think Rob looks better when he rocks the Medusa look, but hey what do I know. I stuff my mop into a hat half the time to avoid brushing through the day.
Rev. Will: So, you landed a gig as on-air host of the Liquid Metal show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio since last year November! Are you settling into the job well?
Robert Pasbani: It’s a dream job come true. My job is to talk about music, it’s insanely awesome; and just being in that building, in that atmosphere, is really special.
Rev. Will: Why didn’t you join Rob and Noa at Sirius XM Satellite radio?
Frank Godla: You mean acquire a position there? I’ve never even once considered it, and personally speaking, I barely find 3 hours to sleep each day dude. I don’t think I could fit in another job if I wanted to. I also don’t think the insubordinate punk rock attitude in me could ever live with hyping bands I don’t genuinely enjoy, or going back to corporate life. I’m happy for Noa and Rob though, they set out goals for themselves to obtain those positions and worked at it until they got what they wanted. My personal goals are more along the lines of being a performer, or creating new content the metal world can engage in (like my On The Record series) [Rev. Will’s intrusion: It’s a really insightful and juicy Internet TV series! Make sure to check it out.], but we’re all working toward what we want in life just the same. It’s important to understand that life is a ride, and others shouldn’t dictate or influence the way you enjoy it.
Rev. Will: Tell us how metal DJs spend their off-air moments in the studio.
Robert Pasbani: Lots of coughing and nose-picking.
Rev. Will: You are also the drummer for both Meek Is Murder and Empyreon, and the head of production at Metal Injection as well. Which is more difficult to do, juggling your two drumsticks or these roles?
Frank Godla: If I had to pick one, the most difficult would be Metal Injection I suppose. If you haven’t already noticed, I’m quite obsessed with music and genuinely love being a diehard metalhead, a person who works in the music industry, and of course, a touring musician as well. I do all 3 of those things on a daily basis, and it feels as though each one makes me better at the other. Still, at the end of the day, as much fun as Metal Injection provides in my life, it’s A TON of work and inhuman hours. Especially since I started touring in 2011 while maintaining work on the road, I can tell you it is definitely the hardest pressure I have ever put on myself, both mentally and physically; but luckily, I have the working and traveling gig down these days. Whether I’m in a moving van or plane, you’ll always find me plowing away through my work with a makeshift mini office. I know that probably sounds ridiculous, but you have to really give up any sort of comfort if you plan to have your cake and eat it too. The fact that I’m even able to have 2 dream gigs traveling in the name of metal and maintain them both is huge for me though, because I love what I do and wouldn’t trade my life with anyone.
Rev. Will: Do you agree with the view that the blast-beat is overhyped and overused in extreme metal music?
Frank Godla: I think blast beats are a good tool to have in your bag of tricks as a drummer, but depending on the style of music you’re playing, I don’t think it should be the crutch you rely on. I do think most metal drummers today are technically amazing, but lack a unique sense of style. I love an organic drummer with a sense of style and dynamics like Jon Theodore, Danny Walker, or Damon Che, to name a few. Don’t get me wrong though, I can name a buttload of metal drummers I adore. In fact, I think I already have on Metal Injection.
Rev. Will: How does it feel to be able to earn a living by talking and blogging about metal music?
Robert Pasbani: It’s surreal. I am fully aware of the absurdity of the situation and I am incredibly thankful for what I have. At the same time, it took a lot of time and work to get to this point. It didn’t happen overnight and, with the website at least, could end at any moment; especially with the instability of the music business. But I try to focus on the positive side of things.
Rev. Will: The current incarnation of Metal Injection is a metal website that provides content to its readers via a wide range of online media outlets (e.g. iPhone application, Podcast, video interviews). Why do you all see the need to reach your audience through such a variety of formats?
Robert Pasbani: Besides being a metalhead, I am a technology nerd and love using all forms of technology, so I figured since there are others like me (who happen to like Metal Injection too), why not bring Metal Injection to all these technologies? Before Metal Injection, I was a broadcasting major at my college, so I was always into media. When we initially started, the goal was always to have a TV show and a radio show, but we just updated that business model to fit the ever-changing environment of the Internet; so we changed it to weekly podcasts and video-on-demand clips. People seem to like it, so we keep moving forward.
Frank Godla: Simply put, that’s the nature of today’s market. Like any good competitive business structure out there, we need to fight for your attention and prove that we’re the brand you’re looking for. Admittedly, this job would be a hundred times easier if, say, we were simply just a blog or podcast or online photo gallery or just a 30-minute weekly TV show; but the original idea since the inception of the site was to be a “one stop shop of metal”. In web business, it’s one thing to have people visit your site, but the goal you strive for is to build a community of people who constantly engage in your site for hours looking through endless content. As to why we’re available on various outlets like the Web, iPhone, or ROKU, well that’s just common sense.
Rev. Will: Suppose we are all living in a fictional era in which the Internet has not yet come into existence, and all that’s spreading the word of metal are the good ol’ practices of black-and-white paper fanzines and underground tape-trading. How will you all make Metal Injection happen then? How will you all differentiate it from the other metal media outlets?
Robert Pasbani: Without the Internet, I don’t see Metal Injection happening. When we started the show, it was on local public access in Brooklyn, so perhaps we would’ve tried to go that route, stayed on public access, and then realized it was lame and called it a day.
Frank Godla: LOL, I actually lived in this “fictional era” called the 80’s and 90’s and was very involved with fanzines, tape-trading, and my personal favorite, VHS-trading [Rev. Will’s intrusion: Actually, I meant it in the sense of what if the Internet still didn’t exist today, in some parallel universe infested with Luddites?]. In fact, most of the music videos showcased on the local access TV days of Metal Injection came from my old VHS tape-trading collection.
Honestly, I miss those days, because the approach of discovering new music was so honest and less jaded than today’s standards. Things like “Thrash it or Trash it” would never be tolerated because if you were even lucky enough to find new music, you listened to it like it was the last thing you’d ever hear. I get it though, different times, different standards of music consumption and appreciation, over-saturation of bands, etc. However, since business was also very direct, I think if Metal Injection would have existed back in the day we’d basically be another “Death… Is Just The Beginning” set of volumes, but with some original content thrown in. It was fairly easy to mail order and really, it was the only way you got to see what your favorite bands from overseas looked like. Also, because it was one of the only official metal compilations shipped within the USA, it was fairly easy to get at the local record shops.
Rev. Will: As Metal Injection itself is a good testament to this phenomenon, do you guys think that reaching out to as wide an audience as possible these days is all about providing free content through online publishing rather than print publishing?
Robert Pasbani: It’s certainly more cost-effective. We reached whatever success we have with absolutely no marketing budgets, only word of mouth, and that was all thanks to the power of the Internet. It’s much harder to get people to read a publication, and obviously more costly to maintain too. But I love print media, and I’m sad to see it fade. One of the highlights of my month is getting a new issue of Decibel Magazine.
Frank Godla: I think each and every medium has its own advantages, but show me the person who doesn’t love free on-demand content that’s just a click away.
Rev. Will: But come to think of it, Metal Injection’s readership base is so huge that you guys could probably get a print publication started without too much trouble. Why hasn’t/won’t it happen?
Robert Pasbani: It would take a lot of trouble to start a publication. We’d have to hire an entirely separate staff just to maintain it (right now our staff is mainly Frank and I). Also, we’d have to worry about print costs, publishing, etc… and then having all these issues of our magazine that we’d need to sell. It’s too much of a risk and interferes with our current business model, which is all about the Internet.
Frank Godla: Dude, I’ve noticed a trend in this interview, I think you want us to work harder! Actually, what we’re wondering is why haven’t you printed out our blog section, collated and stapled our dailies together, and put out The Metal Injection Newspaper yet?
Print publication is actually a very expensive, very different process than our own. I hold our buds at Revolver and Decibel magazine in high regards and support the work they do. They got it covered.
Rev. Will: As fully grown adults, do you all feel that much of the teenage rebelliousness that fueled your hunger for metal music many years ago is gone now? What is the main reason why each of you are still devouring so much metal then?
Robert Pasbani: I am honestly much less hungry when it comes to metal music just because a good portion of my life has been spent devouring it. Not that I still don’t get excited about music, it just takes a little more for me to get there. Frank is much hungrier about it than I am, as he’s constantly looking for the next great demo, whereas I just let the music come to me. The main reason I am devouring so much metal is because it’s pretty much my job to do so. There are worse professions in the world.
Rev. Will: What do you think about the idea of metal blogs starting their own festivals (e.g. MetalSucks)? When will Metal Injection have its own festival?
Robert Pasbani: Seeing firsthand how much work my friends at MetalSucks put into their festival, I would not be interested in diverting my limited amounts of free time to make it happen. I’ll leave the festivals to the promoters, and we’ll just come out and cover the events. We do, however, team up with our MetalSucks friends, as well as promotion company 1000 Knives for a yearly show during the CMJ festival in NYC, and that’s always fun and enough show promotion to hold me over for a year.
Frank Godla: Oigh, I’ll answer this one with a story. Many years ago, I was back into playing music again after a long hiatus. I think at the time I was messing around with, like, 3 bands at shows every day, I booked a bunch of small shows in NYC and all that jazz. So one day I came up with this insane idea to throw a free metal fest at an outdoor public band shell in Brooklyn near the Coney Island area. Metal Injection wasn’t nearly as big a name as it is today, but it had a buzz going so I figured it could only help draw attention to the fest by associating the two.
Well to make a long story short, I quickly learned how incredibly hard the business of throwing a festival is, obtaining sound permits, meeting NYPD security requirements, bands, personnel, generators, PA, and sponsors put me into a living hell I wasn’t ready for. I’ll go on record and tell you it was pretty much the dumbest idea I ever managed to see through and lost money out of my own pocket, but people had some fun and that’s always cool.
More importantly, the greatest thing to come out of this really embarrassing day in my life was that this new website I never heard of called “MetalSucks” reached out to me about sponsorship opportunities. I tried to squeeze money out of them to cover the festival costs and they continuously declined, but Rob had told me later that he visited MetalSucks and they’re great writers. So instead we set up a meeting with Vince and Axl of MetalSucks a few weeks later and quickly became great friends with them. Eventually, this led to the inception of Blast Beat Network (which the 4 of us now own together). I suppose that’s a good example of “all things happen for a reason” no matter how twisted the order of events wind up being.
I’ve attempted a few bigger shows since that experiment and again, the business of booking is all stress and no play. These days, unless we’re partnering up with MetalSucks and 1000 Knives to create an event, I just don’t see the headaches being worth it. I don’t think there will ever be a Metal Injection solo festival in the works, but never say never [Rev. Will’s intrusion: He’s a Belieber!!!], right?
Rev. Will: Thanks for your time, guys. Say, did the lawyers of either Slayer or Tom Araya try to sue you guys regarding the TomArayaScream.com joke?
Robert Pasbani: We did get contacted. Some emails were exchanged, but I guess they forgot about me, so the site still lives! Allegedly, Tom Araya himself saw it and thought it was funny, so my job is done here!
Frank Godla: That web gem was the doing of Robert, but I’m happy to report that we’ve never been sued by anyone yet. If we do, we’re hoping for something really scandalous so that we can get on TMZ. 😉
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