Do you love poking fun at “sketchy” black metal as much as you (secretly) love listening to it? Danny and Eric of the new clothing company Scrap Metal sure do! With plenty of ammunition at their disposal, expect to see a lot more from this duo in the following year. In the mean time though, they already have an incredibly strong (and funny) stable of designs, and I had a great time chatting with them about the process of making the shirts and the state of black metal in general.
Indy Metal Vault: So to start things off, can you tell the readers what Scrap Metal is and how you came about starting it? Also, feel free to let them know about the other projects you are involved in and a little background about yourselves if you’d like!
Danny (Co-Owner): So thanks to Big Brother magazine doing a special on Norwegian Black Metal when I was an impressionable shitty teenager, I became pretty quickly obsessed with Black Metal, mainly because it was so “evil” and the aesthetic was just so appealing to me. Honestly, outside of Emperor and Burzum, a lot of the music didn’t click with me until I was a bit older. Anyway, fast forward about 20 years, and I’ve loved and poured a shit ton of time and money into this genre. But let’s not fool ourselves; there are some ridiculous fucking people in it. Whether or not I like their music is irrelevant. These people are, in fact, so ridiculous that perhaps the only way I can reconcile enjoying their art while finding them reprehensible is by using gallows humor. Scrap Metal was conceived as that; taking something I love, pointing out the ridiculousness of it (come on, dudes in gauntlets using code names? Don’t try to tell me that’s not ridiculous.), and going on with my life. Eric and I are both huge fans of the genre. This year alone, I’ve spent a used cars worth of money on black metal vinyl. Eric probably isn’t far behind me. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to make fun of it. Outside of this, I do a label called Dullest Records, which releases some black metal and honestly, I’d like to do more of it. Eric and I have known each other for over two decades and have always been “yo check this album out” friends. We’re easily responsible for a ton of each other’s taste in various ways, so collaboration on this made so much sense.
Eric (Co-Owner): I came into Black Metal a lot later than Dan. I generally gravitated towards hardcore and goth while growing up, but Dan definitely tried pushing black metal on me for years. Once I started digging into things beyond the run of the mill second wave bands, things started to click. Due to the inherent silliness of a lot of the genre, doing some like Scrap Metal just made so much sense to me, and luckily Dan agreed.
IMV: Do you come up with all the designs/concepts yourself? Who does the actual artwork that ends up getting printed?
Danny: We came up with all of the ideas, down to the “logos” we used, but Paul Granese at Cold Cuts Merch did the actual art. I’m company counsel there, and I pitched him the ideas, he loved it, and he ran with it. Dude killlllled it beyond my expectations!
IMV: Is it just a coincidence that the first three designs available are parodies of some of the more well-known “controversial” black metal bands, or is that kind of the general direction you wanted to go in for Scrap Metal? I am a little surprised to not see a Varg/Burzum design up right off the bat, or does he do too good of a job parodying himself?
Danny: HA! Well, Varg feels like low hanging fruit, and frankly, most Varg jokes are pretty played out. That said, we got a great idea for an idea involving him that doesn’t rely on the standard “Varg is a Nazi/murderer/nutcase” trope. We picked Graveland and Satanic Warmaster because, yup, they’re a bit…sketchy I guess? They both make me laugh in that they seem to be begging to be taken seriously while being ridiculous. That said, they both were pretty receptive and actually asked for copies of the shirts, so maybe the joke is on me and they have awesome senses of humor they use in between sieg heils. Mutiilation we picked because, dude, you’ve seen that album cover right? Holy shit, so funny. Plus, dude’s name is Willy, so it worked really well. That was all Eric. We generally plan to make fun of every dorky Nazi possible, and maybe even to get death threats out of it, which is fine because I’m pretty much the exact opposite of scared.
IMV: Have you had to scrap any ideas that you thought might be too extreme or too niche for the general public? I’d like to hear about some of the stuff that didn’t make the cut.
Danny: We didn’t scrap anything, but the whole “that’s a good looking Yeti” is a direct quote from our friend and muse Joey upon his first viewing of the infamous promo shots Graveland used that we based our design on. Also, Rob Darken would like you to know that “Yeti is ok, but is Krampus.” A lot of this stuff is super niche, and we were definitely mindful that the people who may get it could also turn around and think we’re disrespectful/posers/falses. That’s fine, because I know what I listen to, and I also know that taking shit too seriously is a quick path to an early grave. That said, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, and even people I figured would not find this shit funny have, which is cool. My issue with a lot of metal parody stuff is that it’s done with no sort of reverence for the genre; it’s made by tourists who don’t give a fuck. They just wanna make fun of it as some “dumb” thing people are into. They want to take a pop star, slap corpse paint on it, and make a shirt out of it. That’s fucking lazy, Family Guy-tier humor for people who probably find Dane Cook funny. Fuck that. We wanted to put thought and care into this because even though we’re making fun of black metal, it deserves the respect of having it done right. We’re not taking cheap shots. We’re not being lazy with any aspect of this. As corny and cliched as it sounds, metal has been there for me during really dark periods of my life and brought me so much joy that I have nothing but love and respect for it. But that doesn’t mean I won’t make fun of it. I bust my best friends’ balls. They do the same to me. That’s just how I work.
Eric: It’s only going to get worse.
IMV: I know you guys are lawyers, so how handy has that been when working with existing logos/images for your designs? I used to design parody shirts myself, and HBO was not very kind to me.
Danny: We feel pretty safe under the parody prong of Fair Use, and given how ridiculous our designs are, they’re clear parody. Maybe we’ll get some static down the line, but as of now, I feel ok.
Eric: As a fellow attorney, I agree with my co-counsel’s assessment of the copyright law. Bring it on.
IMV: In today’s social media landscape, it seems like it is getting harder and harder for people to publicly admit they actually like things and find jokes funny. This is especially true in a genre like black metal where everyone wants to be taken seriously. Has there been any blowback from the community about you making light of things that some fans hold sacred? Has Rob Darken challenged you to single combat yet?
Danny: Dude, Darken asked for a shirt! On our Instagram! Now, whether he gets that we’re mocking him…we’ll see, but if he can take a joke, right on. We’re still going to make fun of him anyway. I definitely thought we’d get blow back, but the worst we got was “why are you wasting your time on this?” to which the simple answer is “because we find it hilarious.”. Also, Rob, if you’re reading this, very down for single combat, but it has to be unarmed. I’m not half the swordsman you are, and Krampuses aren’t as large around here, so you’re clearly more experienced.
IMV: We’ve discussed this a bit outside of this interview, but I think to be a fan of black metal you have to have a certain level of self-awareness about the genre and all of its many trappings, and then be able to compartmentalize some of these issues. Where do you draw the line with your fandom and how did you end up there, if you don’t mind me asking?
Danny: Ok time to torpedo our cred; we both grew up in Jewish families. I won’t speak for Eric (feel free to jump in here man), but personally speaking, I make conscious choices with how I spend my money. I don’t directly support bands that would hate me or my family. That said, I will absolutely buy those records second hand. I reconcile all this as true separation of art and artist being possible if you’re careful with your money. You’ll never catch me rocking a m8l8th shirt or anything (I won’t wear shirts of these shitbags, that’s where I draw the line in no uncertain terms), but I won’t pretend like I don’t enjoy the music. You can’t even understand the lyrics anyway. I’ve always accepted this as fact, considering Burzum legitimately caught my ear as a teenager and hasn’t let go since. It sucks that people are hateful shitbags, but black metal musicians are the least concerning part of that problem for me. I’m not going to tell anyone what to listen to or how to spend their money, or any dumb shit like that, I’m just going to enjoy what I enjoy and not promote things that are hateful publicly. Like the blog I write for, I didn’t rank any NSBM/etc in my top albums of the year list, despite the fact that I can think of two that were easily top 20 material for me. It’s just a question of making a conscious choice to participate in black metal mindfully. I know this sounds like fence riding, and maybe it is, but I sleep fine at night… within arm’s reach of my Walknut record.
Eric: I’m definitely a little bit more critical than Dan when it comes to this stuff, or at least I try to be. I try to vet things off the bat, but some bands are bound to slip through the cracks. The most important thing to me is that I’m not giving my monetary support behind these bands with a scumbag message.
IMV: And as a follow up to that last question, what are your favorite Graveland, Mutiilation and Satanic Warmaster albums?
Danny: 1050 Years of Pagan Cult, Vampires of Black Imperial Blood, and the new White Death album.
Eric: Vampires of Black Imperial Blood.
IMV: To close things out, which design is your favorite (and why is it Satanic Warhamster)? Do you have any upcoming plans for 2018? Maybe some new designs or products you can let us know about?
Danny: I laugh every time I see the Free Willy one, and the fact that it’s an inside joke between me and Eric, who is one of my longest friends, makes it all the more perfect. In 2018, we’re going to make fun of more bands we like, more bands we don’t, probably get called SJWs or Nazi sympathizers or any name in between, but I see no reason to stop doing this. I’m enjoying myself, I laugh my ass off constantly. If in some small way I make someone who’s a fan of any of these bands think “Wow maybe this is totally ridiculous, but the music still rules,” that’s good enough for me. We’re not trying to be mean to anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings. Except NSBM bands. We hope we make them cry into their copies of Mein Kampf.
Eric: I agree with Dan about the Free Willy one being the funniest to me. The fact that we took such a ridiculous inside joke and printed it on shirts will never stop making me laugh. With that being said, it seems like the Warhamster is the biggest hit of the first batch. We’ve got some ridiculous ideas in the works for the next batch that I’m pretty excited for.
Danny: Oh and I’d like to add a huge thanks to Kate Lowe for our logo, she rules and did amazing and fast work!
You can purchase shirts from Scrap Metal HERE and if you mention this interview in the notes section when you are checking out, they will refund you $3!