Brand of Self-Release
Brand of Sacrifice have a new album Lifeblood out tomorrow (3/5). It's a ripper and it was completely self-published. I've started to notice more bands self-releasing their music outside of their demoes recently (namely Full of Hell), but it's still not all that common for bands of this caliber. So, we had some questions and Leo was kind enough to answer. Check it out!
First, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions. The "Demon King" music video was fantastic and I cannot wait for the new record.
So glad you’re enjoying it! That tune is definitely a great indicator of what to expect from Lifeblood. The record has something for everyone! The recently-released title track leans a bit more on the groovy, catchy side that “Demon King” hinted at in the chorus, but there are songs that make the blasting sections seem tame. We’ve gotten quite a few comments of people saying they don’t like deathcore but like our band, which is a huge compliment and really hammers home the “for everyone” bit.
It seems pretty uncommon for a band as popular as you to self-release. What was the deciding factor in doing that?
To be honest, we’ve taken a pretty heavy DIY approach to almost everything we’ve done over the years. We do the bulk of our marketing, designing & merchandise management in house (in tandem with our awesome partners around the globe), we’re completely self-managed and we even produce our own records by ourselves (with the exception of mastering - shoutout to Mike Kalajian for the exceptional job on the new record). With this new album cycle, we were feeling pretty comfortable diving into it independently considering the strides we’ve made so far and some of the knowledge we’ve gained over the years. Of course, our relationship with our former label was a great one and they definitely helped us starting out, but at this point we’re ready to take the next step forward in assembling the best team we can around us and really trying to make our mark on our own.
Has the pandemic and lockdown orders factored in at all to your self-releasing a new album?
Well believe it or not, musically it was actually a blessing since we spent so much time at home in 2020. We were truly able to put the time in. I can’t recall any compromises we made in the recording process this time and as such, we truly made the album we wanted to make. On the business front, the pandemic was a really big reason as to why we went indie; there’s a ton of volatility in the music industry right now, and we wanted the most control we could have over our future in uncertain times like these. I don’t think we would have been nearly as prepared to push forward in the way we have been if we didn’t make that move. That’s not to say that labels are bad for everyone because that’s definitely not the case. In fact, there are a ton of benefits, but it just no longer made sense for us.
How has the process in terms of recording through release changed from God Hand to Lifeblood? It hasn’t changed too much logistically - we’ve self-produced since our very first EP. The most significant difference is having control of our deadlines. In 2020 we had a ton of time to really hone in on the songwriting and storytelling for the new stuff. When producing a record, we like to think of your band as having a musical “toolkit.” You can try to do this exercise with any band to help define their “thing” in a few words: the key aspects of their sound. For BoS, our sound is a convergence of many unique “tools,” which can cross between genres. We can sort of pick and choose which ones to use in any given song, what to add, and what to take away, like a sitar part here or a children’s choir arrangement there... This was super helpful to think about when going into an album cycle because it allowed us see the full picture and flesh out the vision. Also we were touring a ton, so we had a really good idea how to refine our sound after gauging the reactions from our listeners. Rather than rushing an album out with a few quick bangers, we were able to focus on the record as a whole and put together tunes that take you for a ride. On God Hand, we didn’t put much effort into cutting any content or doing too many revisions solely due to the fact that we were preparing to be on the road so much and didn’t have a lot of time to dig deeper. That said, touring consistently really taught us a lot about how to write songs that translate on stage too, and the difference overall in terms of production quality is going to be really noticeable this time around.
Were there any aspects of self-releasing an album you didn't foresee or any that posed a larger problem than you had anticipated?
There’s definitely somewhat of a learning curve for sure. We really wanted to think about cultivating growth and appealing to more people, and I think there’s a ton of moving parts when it comes to trying to achieve that at scale and break out when your roots are in deathcore. Most of it is project management work: making sure you’re choosing the right people to help bring your creative vision to life during releases, making sure you’re investing budget into the right marketing channels (and that things go up on time), building and managing relationships with all of the awesome partners we work with to really just to keep the machine chugging along and do something special, and of course making sure our listeners are stoked. Even now, the challenge is really just getting used to having our hands in literally everything and always questioning if we’re doing our best. To be honest, a lot of it is just observing and taking in what the big guys are doing, and trying to do that with our own spin. We’re taking in feedback and learning new things every day. Luckily, we have an extremely talented team and amazing fans, and we couldn’t be more grateful for that. Truly the best of the best.
Is self-releasing something you want to do going forward?
Yes. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also extremely gratifying. It can be really hard to deal with the anxiety that comes along with it, but there’s nothing like seeing our tunes blow up more than ever before, seeing all kinds of reactions and thinking, “Wow, we did that. By ourselves.”
What kind of advice would you give to an up-and-coming band who wants to follow suit and self-release their material?
You know, it’s been nothing short of amazing for us, but we all also actually enjoy the business side of being in a metal band. If you don’t, or if you don’t have much experience right now, I’d say to do some research and really think about it. You should really give it a lot of thought because it’s truly not for everyone, especially if you’re at an earlier stage in your career. There are tons of bands that do exceptionally well on a label, and we learned a lot from being on one right out of the gate. I know not everyone is going to be in a position to solicit a record deal, but it’s helpful to know what the long-term goal is. If a traditional label will help you get there, that could be the path to take. That being said, everyone has access to more information about the industry than ever before, so the indie route is always worth a shot if you have a learning attitude!
Make sure you pick up a copy of Lifeblood if you haven't pre-ordered it. The first three singles are below.
Did you see that we launched a Discord server? If you love Lifeblood, and I'm sure you do, be sure to come hang out and tell us about what you think! Follow the link here to join!