No Weak Shit: The Maggot Stomp Records Interview
One of my favorite tropes in the extreme metal scene is a ubiquitous need for artists to one-up the English language on its ability to convey grotesque imagery. Words are skewered between oddly-chosen prefixes and suffixes to take the disgusting into new levels of abhorrence. Bands like Vulvodynia and Delusional Parasitosis apply this approach to their own name, and any extreme metal fan can rattle off a litany of song titles cut from the same linguistic cloth, strange new words woven into some pustulant prose. It’s all fun and I like it, but I’ve always found the more direct and succinct approach to be more effective. Something that invokes more than just esoteric interpretive imagery, creeping into other sensory memory. Something that can trigger a gag reflex or some audio memory. Something that uses simple language to convey the most impactful meaning.
Something like Maggot Stomp.
There’s some potent imagery for you. Just a fucking boot squishing a pulsating mass of larvae feeding on rot. That’s a lot more straightforward than something like Dehumanized Ontogenesis (Now I gotta check WebMD to see what ontogenesis means).
The do-it-yourself mentality has always been at the core of the extreme metal world. It has been and will always be essential for any band that wants to foray into the themes that are essential to the genre. It's never been an accessible subculture, and for inherent reasons. The subject matter, the literal sound, everything about extreme metal is against the norm. Lucky for all us abnormal metal nerds there are dudes out there like Scott Magrath, the one man powerhouse behind Los Angeles-based Maggot Stomp Records.
I, like many others, was made aware of Maggot Stomp Records by Trevor Strnad, vocalist of The Black Dahlia Murder. He is a very enthusiastic fan of many of Maggot Stomp artists and has shared his thoughts on them on various platforms, including his Instagram and his column The Obituarist. I remember immediately being drawn to the entire motif created by the label: chest-beating, club-slamming caveman jams for big dumb cavemen like me, no frills, just brutal death metal. Maggot Stomp touts slogans like “no weak shit” and “parking lot death metal supremacy,” both very concise ideals the label adheres to with ease.
I absolutely love what Scott does for the death metal scene. I’m a huge fan, and like any fan I had questions. Lucky for us, Scott was kind enough to answer some of our questions via email. Where his artists and label had earned my fandom, Scott’s candor, humility and sense of humor have earned my respect.
What inspired you to start Maggot Stomp?
My buddy Larry, he’s more of a ‘who’ than a ‘what’. But I wanted to make myself a couple pins (Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse) so I did. I had a 100 of each and Larry convinced me to start a big cartel page to try and sell some. That went pretty well for a bit and I made some other pins that did well but people were start to think of me as a ‘pin guy’ which was the last thing I wanted to be. Larry had always mentioned how he had wanted to start a death metal label, he had released a couple (non death metal) tapes for friends on his own little label (RIP Neck Noise), so I figured we should just give it a shot.
If there’s one record you could re-press, what record would it be?
Probably Cause of Death, that’s one of my favorite records ever. The cover art is rad, the Obituary logo is so sick. All the promo shit that was done for that record was great, the promo pics…. it’s just a great all around release.
What’s the deal with Pit Viper sunglasses? I see all your bands rocking them.
Fuck… well Dylan from Rotted was rocking Pit Vipers, my brother Chuck had some Pit Vipers and Chris from Encoffinized always had sick sunglasses and we talked about how PVs were just too expensive, so I just messaged them on facebook to see if they’d be into sponsoring a shitty death metal label full of a bunch of degenerates in sick bands. To my surprise they were into it and they didn’t hook us up with free sunglasses but they gave us a pretty solid discount on them. And quite frankly I feel we look way better in them than all the snow bros on their instagram page.
If you’re okay with divulging, what’s your methodology for seeking and signing new bands? What do you look for?
I don’t really have much of a method, I get sent a pretty good amount of Dropbox and Bandcamp links that I try and listen to and respond to everyone but sometimes I get pretty busy and forget. Mike from Frozen Soul sent me a DM one night while I was on the shitter to introduce himself and to send me some demo tracks and just a couple weeks ago late one night while I was taking a shit I got another DM from this other dude with some demo tracks and I liked that enough that I will be releasing it on tape in a few weeks. I’ll be announcing that in a week or so, but it’s some filthy shit.
So maybe my method is just taking lots of late night shits before bed and seeing who will drop some sick shit in my lap… otherwise it can be awkward for me to approach someone. I’ve done it but I really don't know what to say other than, “Dude I really like your shit would you like some help with releasing it?” That’s really my pitch. Hopefully it strikes up a little conversation and it can take off from there. I’m not about having people sign anything or making them feel obligated to doing stuff. I think if I do what I’m supposed to do and help as much as I can people will want to stick around.
And as far as what I look for… my tastes in music are pretty simple. I like filthy death metal, I am not fond of black metal or stuff that is ‘blackened’. Nothing against bands that play that stuff but it’s just not my bag. I like low to no IQ death metal.
How many bands on your label have reached out to you first?
The first band was Gutless. I am still in shock over that one. They released the demo tracks on my birthday and a couple days later hit me up out of the blue to do a cassette for them. It’s still one of my favorite demos. A few other reached out to me… Frozen Soul, Fluids, Malignant Altar. The Malignant Altar stuff is so good, I was a huge fan of Insect Warfare and when Dustin from Church of Disgust told me that Josh (the prettiest man in death metal) was in a band with Beau and Dobber from IW I couldnt wait to hear that shit, and I’m sure like most other people I was super interested in doing something for them without actually hearing anything. But Dustin said they were doing the demo on their own so I put it out of my head and just ordered the demo when they released it on their Bandcamp. But when they sold out of their initial press right away they reached out to ask if I would handle a repress. I think Beau was a bit shocked and overwhelmed at the response they got. The band is awesome and I was honored at the chance to help them out.
What’s your goal with Maggot Stomp?
Well since its a death metal label, I can’t look forward to cashing in so my only real goal is to stay caught up on mail orders and to continue helping good bands get their music out to more people. My main focus is obviously gross and filthy death metal but I also want to try and open some eyes and ears to some more brutal stuff. A lot of kids who are into old school death metal don’t want to give something labeled ‘brutal’ a chance. I think a lot of that is due to them being younger and their only exposure to brutal death metal is, without naming names, bands that play over the top techy fast shit with no riffs or terrible metalcore bands that call themselves brutal death. But in reality there are some great bands they play a style of death metal that take their influences from older bands like Suffocation, Pyrexia, Morpheus Descends and create some heavy fucking death metal. I hope I can start bringing some of that to the young filthy maggots out there.
Maggot Stomp seems as though it’s on a clear trajectory. How does that make you feel and did you ever expect this kind of recognition?
I’m overwhelmed with all of the positive responses from people. I didn’t really set out looking for any sort of recognition but I feel really lucky to be getting the love that I get. Honestly its more of a testament to the bands that are working hard, playing shows and putting out killer shit like Encoffinized, Frozen Soul, Mortal Wound, Malignant Altar, Church of Disgust.. just all of the bands really.
Did anything change for Maggot Stomp after Trevor Strnad (vocalist, The Black Dahlia Murder) posted about you on his Instagram?
Shit I got a ton of new IG followers.. Trevor is awesome, he supports everything we’ve done, always pre-ordering shit or ordering shirts or just giving us a shout. It means a lot and I’ll always be grateful. He’s not the only one though, Bradley from BangerTV has been incredible, he’s venturing out on his own writing career and pitched that piece to Bandcamp that came out last Friday. The response from that was great and I can’t thank him enough. The first time I got an order from Mark Riddick for the Mortal Wound demo I almost shit myself. So many people have been supportive it impossible to thank everyone.
We know Maggot Stomp is something of a side hustle for you. Can you tell us what you do outside of running the label?
I’ve been doing graphic design work for almost the last 20 years. Everything from movie posters to porn shit to working on kid’s titles for Warner Bros. and DC. And my wife and I just bought a house and had our first (and hopefully only) child less than two years ago. I was pretty stupid to start this label shit. hah
What was life like before Maggot Stomp and did you “dream” of having a successful label?
Life was the same as it is now. Going to shows, spending too much money on records, tapes and shirts, working too much, hanging out with friends, never growing up.
Have you always lived in Los Angeles? How active in the music scene have you been throughout your life?
I was born in raised in Connecticut and started going to shows in the late 80s. I went to all kinds of shows in CT, NYC, Rhode Island and Boston. Lots of NYHC shows. I had friends in hardcore bands that I would travel with at times and sell merch or I’d make flyers and stuff. I moved to California at the end of my 20s and continued doing the same here. I met and became friends with a group of dudes here that were in local bands and shit and eventually I started a hardcore label in the early 2000s. That lasted a little while but my main involvement with the music scene has always been doing record and merch designs for bands. I’ve done shit from bands like Deicide, Nails and Iron Age to tons of smaller hardcore and metal bans over the years.
How do you feel about the state of death metal and where do you think Maggot Stomp fits in?
Death Metal is awesome now. And it’s always been awesome since the beginning. I don’t know where I exactly fit in but I’m pretty happy with the tiny little cave I have carved out for myself.
Finally, outside of brutal slamming caveman death metal, what’s your guilty pleasure music? (Though it should be noted the wise Andrew WK alleges there are no guilty pleasures, only pleasures.) Like, Jake loves Gucci Mane and Nick loves butt rock like Three Days Grace.
Hahah, I’m with AWK on that… I think he sucks but I love me some fucking Goo Goo Dolls and I don’t care who wants to give me shit for that. I also get down with a lot of older country music like Waylon, Willie, Bill Joe Shaver to the newer guys/gals playing that traditional sounding shit like Whitey Morgan, Ward Davis, Colter Wall, Margo Price... And a couple other bands I get stoked on are the Turnpike Troubadors and American Aquarium.