(For the last 5 days we’ve been re-publishing an interview series by Rev. Will that originally appeared at now-defunct The Number of the Blog and that focused mainly on metal bloggers. Beginning today, the series continues here at NCS with new interviews, beginning, fittingly, with the creator of TNOTB — groverXIII.)
Classic metal albums + Metal blogging = ?
When one thinks of that, one will no doubt arrive at 2 answers: Reign In Blonde (the gals must have dyed their hair black, which would explain the inactiveness) and The Number Of The Blog (R.I.P.). When one thinks of anime and metal blogging, one will no doubt think of Full Metal Attorney, since it could possibly be a reference to the wildly popular Japanese anime, Full Metal Alchemist, but I digress.
Blogging about metal (or any other kind of) music is not as easy as many would like to think. If done properly, it can actually start to feel like homework once the commitment starts to kick in. Deadlines? Research? Being constantly “marked” and judged on your worth by others? The similarities are all there, but the big difference is that blogging about music doesn’t really get you anywhere in life like school does (or is supposed to), unless you can turn it into a career like Axl and Vince of MetalSucks.
Frontman and founder Dan Grover of ex-The Number Of The Blog may not like to toot his trumpet, but he sure did contribute a unique voice to the metal blogosphere while The Number Of The Blog was still alive and well. Labeled by some critics and even by themselves (probably in jest) as “hipsters”, the blog was really anything but that. It will always be remembered for its one-of-a-kind daily columns, which had humorous and catchy names, yet dealt with serious as well as playful topics. From underground black metal in “Wintermoon Wednesday” to random, everyday topics in “Sunday Shit Shoot”, there was literally something for everybody. Hell, there was even a Pokemon-obsessed Devin Townsend fanboy contributor called Ziltoid; needless to say, he posted about the vastly varied species of colorful critters on more than one occasion.
So read on folks, if you want to get inside the mind of a hipster metal blogger with a very big and secretive plan to launch something new in the near future. I’m hoping it will be a hydrogen bomb filled with confetti.
Rev. Will: I’m probably asking a stupid question, but I just want to hear it from the man himself: Was “The Number Of The Blog” so named as a tribute and reference to Iron Maiden’s landmark 1982 album, The Number Of The Beast?
Dan Grover: Yup. I was trying to come up with a good, metal-sounding blog name, and initially I was going to call the site Reign In Blog, but that was a little too close to the then-active Reign In Blonde, so I went with another iconic album title. Worked out pretty well.
Rev. Will: What roles did you play for the site back when it was still up?
Dan Grover: Admin, Editor-In-Chief, graphic designer, writer, reviewer, HR guy, press liaison… pretty much everything.
Rev. Will: Was it you who envisioned and designed the blog’s iconic banner displaying a shield (with “666” imprinted on it) with blood red wings spread out?
Dan Grover: Indeed. That was actually the fourth or fifth revision of the site banner. My original idea was to have the site name in the familiar Iron Maiden font, but that looked like shit; so for a few weeks back when the site was still a WordPress.com blog, it was just Old English text. Then I found a picture of the old US Route 666 road sign (which is now 491 because of superstitious idiots), which inspired the road sign font that TNOTB used up until its demise, the review images, and the various logos that followed. The wings came from a need to fill the empty space in the banner, and they looked pretty cool.
Rev. Will: Who were the people who made up the founding team? What were the founding principles and vision of the blog?
Dan Grover: The founding team was myself. That’s it. I started the site because I had some spare time and was inspired by MetalSucks, and I wanted to see how far I could take things. To say the least, it exceeded any expectations I could have possibly conceived.
As for the founding principles, it was always about listening to what you like and not giving a fuck about what other people think. I’ve always been a little sick of the elitism that runs rampant among metal fans, and so I decided to be the un-elitist. I still made fun of a lot of music, which I suppose was a little elitist, but it was all in the interest of entertaining people.
Rev. Will: What is your real job?
Dan Grover: I make the internets. All of them.
Rev. Will: TNOTB was a blog that didn’t seem to focus much on album reviews and interviews, which is the standard fare found on countless metal blogs out there on the Internet. Was this done on purpose as a unique trait for the blog?
Dan Grover: Not really. It was more out of laziness than anything else. We still did a decent number of reviews and interviews, but after a while, despite the number of writers we had, most of the legwork on everything was handled by Dave (better known as DemiGodRaven) and I. And after a while, I realized I was running out of good ways to say “I really like this album,” and so I was only really reviewing stuff I really liked. I listen to a lot of music, and unfortunately, if an album doesn’t grab me on the first few listens, it tends to fall by the wayside. To properly review an album, I need to listen to it enough to really get a feel for it, and I just don’t usually have the time.
Rev. Will: Instead, you guys had daily columns with attractive names that included the names of every day of the week, such as “Monday Massacre” and “Throwback Thursday”. I thought it was very unique and something that all the other notable metal blogs out there didn’t have. Which was the most popular column based on hits?
Dan Grover: I don’t know the exact numbers, because the site is a smoldering wreck now. Shitty Music Saturday was the original weekly column, and it seemed decently popular while it was running. Wintermoon Wednesday got some love, because DGR and I aren’t big into black metal, which is pretty popular these days. If we were going by pure numbers, I would guess that Stoner Sunday would win out, but that’s skewed because a while back one of the articles was linked by someone on StumbleUpon and so it managed to garner a fuckton of traffic.
Rev. Will: Since TNOTB is gone forever now, can you tell us briefly what were the names of all the daily columns, and what kind of content each one of them had dealt with?
Dan Grover: Um… hmmm… Shitty Music Saturday was the original, as I mentioned, and it featured me (usually; sometimes there were guest columnists) listening to an album and writing out my thoughts on it. Everyone voted upon the album in Trainwreck Tuesday, where two or three albums would be presented.
The Monday Massacre was Ziltoid’s column, and he usually dealt with old school death metal. Focus On Film ran on Tuesdays for a while when Quigs was still writing for us and dealt with movies. Wintermoon Wednesday was Tr00 Nate’s column and often dealt with black metal. Throwback Thursday was Snagon’s column and dealt with classic albums. Briefly, we also had Thunderground Thursdays, written by False Nate, but that lasted about three weeks before he got distracted by something shiny and moved on.
Hipster Friday was Sophus’ column, when he actually remembered to write it, and was almost always about Swans. Stoner Sunday was Gaia’s column and covered all things stoner, although it started as Witchcult Wednesday before the Wintermoon column. And we had Sumeriancore Sunday, originally started by TNOTB’s second-ever contributor, ECDEU, and then taken up by Heavy Blog Is Heavy’s Alkahest for a while before it was retired. After all, Sumeriancore is a pretty limited subject.
I think that covers everything. I may have forgotten some.
Rev. Will: Which reminds me, were you the one who designed all of the graphics found at the top of every one of those columns? I especially loved the one for “Wintermoon Wednesday” by the way.
Dan Grover: Yup. That was all me. I did all of the graphics for TNOTB, from the author images (back when we had them) to the post banners.
Rev. Will: Allow me to be shameless for a moment here. How did you find my column “Keyboard Warriors” (a homeless bastard given a new lease of life over at No Clean Singing now), and how was the response to it?
Dan Grover: I found it when you started writing for us a few months before the site died. It was pretty entertaining, just because it gave me some insight into how my blogging brethren out there operate.
Rev. Will: When a new metal blog decides to go dot-com, it doesn’t guarantee immediate fame. What factors led to TNOTB becoming one of the most “kvlt” metal blogs out there when you guys first started out?
Dan Grover: You know, I have no fucking clue. I just tried from the beginning to give it a unique voice, and I guess that resonated with people. I’m just hoping to continue that with our Next Stage project (not the real name, of course).
Rev. Will: Being one of those metal blogs that did not take itself too seriously, TNOTB must have gotten a decent amount of hate mail over its short, 2-year lifespan. Can you tell us some of the craziest, random shit you and your ex-TNOTB brethren once blogged about?
Dan Grover: Shitty Music Saturday always led to weirdness. I’ve listened to full albums by Nickelback, Brokencyde, Taylor Swift, Hellyeah, Hollywood Undead, Miley Cyrus, Creed, and too many other terrible artists to remember. That was always an adventure, but in the end I got pretty burned out from all the negativity.
Rev. Will: Which were the most memorable pieces of hate mail?
Dan Grover: You know, we never really got hate mail so much as hate comments. We tended to get a lot of hate any time we gave poor reviews to big bands like Korn, Linkin Park, or Limp Bizkit. A Shitty Music Saturday piece on a group of stoner rappers called Psycho Smokaz led to rage-filled comments and threats of bodily harm from (I believe) all three members and all seven of their fans. And then there was Gdubya/glezzery, who trolled us for months over a few subjects. He bitched, for three weeks, about my year-end list because it didn’t have enough metal on it, obviously missing the entire point that it was a) a list of my favorite albums of the year and b) not entirely a metal list. He was some crazy old dude with some hilarious political views, and he was a big fan of doing the same thing over at MetalReview. After a while he disappeared. Senility must have gotten him finally.
Rev. Will: Which were the most memorable pieces of fan mail?
Dan Grover: Didn’t get a lot of fan mail either, so much as comments. It always made my day when a member of a band would comment on something we posted about them, and such an occurrence led to my interview with Powerglove’s Chris Marchiel. I also got to know guys like Steve Henningsgard (Iron Thrones) and Arthur Von Nagel (Cormorant) because of comments.
Rev. Will: On to the sad part of TNOTB’s short life. Please do tell us how the Internet cruelly gobbled up and digested TNOTB’s ENTIRE archive of 5000+ posts when you tried to change hosts last month (December 2011)?
Dan Grover: Honestly, I’m not sure. If I had a better idea I probably would have been able to salvage the site.
Rev. Will: Here’s the question I ask everyone interviewed in this column. I have always thought of the metal music industry as a food chain starting with the rockstar/cult figure at the top, followed by record labels, then the press, the gig organizers, and then the merch retailers and metal stores all over the world. Do you agree with this view that the metal community is simply not as anti-establishment and homey as many prominent figures in the industry like to frequently make it out to be (with their politically correct stances)?
Dan Grover: Yes and no. There is that established hierarchy, especially when it comes to labels and bigger bands, but with the Internet, it’s become a lot easier for bands and artists to get their music directly to the people, thus circumventing a lot of that hierarchy. The label system is changing, whether labels recognize it or not.
Rev. Will: Do you think that musicians and bands who bash reviewers who write bad reviews about their albums are childish and utterly naïve for not expecting such a phenomenon when they decided to get into the whole music business?
Dan Grover: Yeah, probably. If you’re going to be making music, you have to expect that there are going to be people out there that don’t like it, and some of those people are going to make their opinions public. It seems like most artists have a pretty thick skin about that sort of thing, but every once in a while you get some hilarious results; like Five Finger Death Punch caring so little about their critics that they decided to write an entire song about how little they care; or Design The Skyline releasing a hilarious YouTube video about how different they are from all the other assholes with silly hair and makeup.
Rev. Will: Which interviewees have totally blown you away with unexpectedly chillout personalities or completely humbled you with their star power?
Dan Grover: I’ve enjoyed all of the interviews that I’ve done. I was pretty blown away that we got the chance to interview Cynic (something that we opened up to the fans), and guys like Chris Marchiel (Powerglove) and Canadian rapper Jesse Dangerously gave some fascinating, informative interviews.
Rev. Will: Thanks for your time, ex-boss. Can you please tell everyone what are your rates and the services you provide as a blogging mercenary at the moment?
Dan Grover: For the moment, I will write for anyone who asks, if I can find the motivation. And there’s no charge, although if you want to pay me, you’re more than welcome to. Thanks for listening to me babble, and remember, kids, it’s never too soon to be prepared for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.
Get all sniffly about TNOTB’s demise at: