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>>> BERRY | 2007-04-26 >>>

ZERO BUDGET PRODUCTIONS "Own Label at 18"
a n   i n t e r v i e w   w i t h   M a r t i n   B r Ú o v j Š k

The first entry in this countryís metal discography for this year was provided by Zero Budget Productions, Brno based label, namely by releasing the LP Absurd Conflict "s/t". The noteworthy record has become a topic for our early spring talk along with the previous releases, label itself, the bands See You In Hell and Absurd Conflict, where Martin BrÚovjŠk has been active, and naturally the vinyl collectorís passion.

Letís start in a somewhat non-traditional wayÖ Did you grow up in a family who owned a gramophone? What did the first records mean to you?

Unfortunately not. And I know I was very sorry we didnĎt have one, because I was a passionate music listener. My parents had plenty of recording on old tapes, so I used to sit around, listen to Elvis, Smokie, Abba, Boney M. But when my schoolmates started showing up at school with LPs of CITRON and TUBLATANKA, and recorded tapes of HELLOWEEN, JUDAS PRIEST etc., I was almost pissed I couldnít have these things at home. So it all came with time, gradually, by my own doing. For a long time vinyl records were something I could only look at in the shops or rather at the illegal marketplace, where the offer was more attractive and it had a kind of magic touch to it. Can you imagine the chat at school the Monday after: ĄDude, I saw the LP "Walls of Jericho" at the market!ď. All I could do was buy a crappy black and white miniphoto and stick it in my studentís book. Funny, thatís the way it really was.

Indeed, I used to have a colour miniature of "South Of Heaven", so I see what you mean. You do have the LP "Walls of Jericho" now, donít you?! When did the dream come true?

I do, indeed, but I acquired this one in the vinyl form much later, and it was more a part of completing my 80ís collection, so no breakthrough type of thing anymore. Speaking of buying vinyl, it started predominantly with underground items. But I do not remember which was the first one, and when exactly, really. I got stuck with tapes for a very long time; I started purchasing CDs and vinyls in about mid 90ís.

And then you got the idea of founding your own labelÖ How long did it take to believe it would materialize?

NI read somewhere, that every music fan wants to have his own band at 12, own magazine at 15 and own label at 18. Now, it took much longer in my case, I am definitely the fastest guy, but somehow I made it all. Praised be the amateur underground music scene, especially metal and punk, that allows anyone become active and even get some supportive response for like-minded people. Back in the day of copied tapes and xeroxed zines you didnít need any extensive assets, rather it was the dedication and the willingness to communicate and spend time doing it that counted. Thatís how Zero Budget Productions came to being. Eventually I had the chance to take part in releasing the SEE YOU IN HELL / THE PUBLIC split that meant the logical step to increase the labelís prestige. He, he.


This was the first vinyl effort of Zero Budget, correct? Itís not a secret that you played guitar with SEE YOU IN HELL at that time. Can you tell something about the coincidences of this experience?

There was a lot going on during my almost a year with SEE YOU IN HELL, and I really appreciate I had been offered this opportunity. They are a band that achieved a top with very limited resources and they still remain very modest. I had been in touch with Filip before and he had the idea to enrich the sound with the second guitar, I was around, so, good for me. Else, I wouldnít overestimate my contribution, as I say, it was rather and experience for me, among others the kick-off for my vinyl releasing efforts.

So what were the reasons that you quit with hardcore SEE YOU IN HELL? Did you prefer the melodic death metal of ABSURD CONFLICT that you joined immediately after?

That was a matter of coincidence. I just was not able to keep up with the requirements SEE YOU IN HELL had fully, that was it. I had been working with ABSURD CONFLICT long before that, so when they werenít successful finding a new singer while the dates for their tour with NEGLECTED FIELDS and the studio session were approaching, I simple decided to do my best and take the job. I mean, it was originally meant as helping out on the tour, really, but it developed into a full cooperation, which is fine. I didnít pay much attention to the style shift, both genres are on the top of my listening preferences, and what both of the bands had to offer was quality music and also quality relationships within the band, which is perhaps the most important.

Not perhaps, it is! Weíll take a look at ABSURD CONFLICT later. Right now, introduce your second release, that is 7ď EP of Czech thrash metal legend V.A.R.?

Another coincidence. I was running the bandís web pages and Jeny (drums) kept bringing me lots of stuff from the bandís archives. I found inspiration in a video footage of their show where they played new songs with no lyrics, so Berun was singing something like nonsense English phrases in it. So I thought, why not make a proper English version. I suggested some songs, we discussed it with the band, then I made the English lyrics, recorded it on a tape, so that Berun could follow the pronunciation and intonation, they took it to the studio and recorded the stuff anew. Then I also had the idea of the booklet to look more representative, once the band was not much known to foreign public. The graphic work was as usual done by Dalibor of PARASOPHISMA. I guess itís a great release. By the way, there was one more song from the studio session - "Dancing on the Edge", now as a special bonus on their new CD. I was aided by three more record labels, which was still a small number compared to the numerous cooperation on SEE YOU IN HELL / THE PUBLIC, anyway, another step to become a serious record label for me, he he.

Cooperation with three more labels - can you explain how this works? I noticed it has become common not only releasing 7ď EPs, but also LPs and other formatsÖ

Yes, sometimes itís the only way to handle the high cost of the initial investment. You of course have to pay everything at once, and itís just too much for oneís budget. You can take a loan, but given the long term to possible return, if any, makes this not very favourable option. So itís nice if more people can agree on putting their money together and have their share on records afterwards. Thatís actually also part of the initial distribution made. This type of record releasing practice is common on the punk/HC scene, which is mutually supportive. Itís not uncommon that the numbers of cooperating labels has two digits. And itís still more common with vinyls, not just because of the high costs, but I believe that the vinyl fans are more close to the underground thinking and thus more open to sharing with others.

So metal labels are more solo effortsÖ Your third and currently latest release is an LP ABSURD CONFLICT "s/t", solely on your own label. Was there no interest in cooperation or didnít you simply contact anyone?

Letís say I felt so ambitious I had to do this on my own. He, he. Of course itís about the situation again. It feels unpleasant, if you organize something and than had to wait for someone to do their deal while others are angry with you, because they already have done theirs and wait for resultsÖ So I took care of everything myself as felt convenient, no worries. Of course I had to find other ways to finance this, i.e. dig deep into my overdraftÖ

LP has been out for three months. How are the sales? Are there any individuals and distributors interested? At home, abroad? Can you give an overview Ö Do you also distribute other releases apart from your own?

Itís just very slow to say the truthÖ I mean, thatís the way I expected it. I donít need any stress, just when thereís time and I feel like it, I push it further. 100 copies are gone, mainly trades, and not counting home based distros, almost everything goes abroad. But the Czechs donít buy CDs either, so Iím not judging this. As distribution goes, I donít have time nor interest to keep busy with this. I of course have a full stock of stuff I got in trade, so I pass them further or just give them to my friends, he he. The biggest problem Iím actually facing now is the lack of space in my one bedroom flat. But I donít know what to release to make money for a big two floor houseÖ

Simple - get rid of your releasing activities and start building. Well! Why do we have so many releases when nobody buys them? Did you expect youíd send most LPs abroad in the beginning? Can you tell us who your distributors are? How do you contact them?

No, no detailed planning, no pre-orders nor contracts for distribution. At least, todayís communication facilities allow for talking to basically anyone anywhere, so I keep addressing my mates and people whom I think might be interested. Itís also nice if somebody gets in touch about the record, so thatís fine the underground spirit is still there. Of course almost everything goes abroad. IĎm not bothered with the Czech market, underground world is global anyway. Speaking of this, I should remind you that ABSURD CONFLICT are more respected abroad than in the Czech republic.

As you mention, I should ask about ABSURD CONFLICT as a band. I feel the band keeps going - perhaps slowly, but constantly - to its goal. What goal is it? To have fun, release a debut record under a major label, support some famous bands, get on an international tour? Are your thought unified in this? Can you introduce the people in the bandÖ

NI might find it hard to answer a question put this way. Personally, I am aware that people see the band as one whole, and itís not so important in the end, what each of us thinks, does, expects or how we individually contribute to the band, because itís all put and seen together afterwards. And to address the first half of the question - I do not think we aim at certain goal, letís say the way we go is the actual goal weíre constantly reaching. Including all its positive and negative aspects. The fact we go very slowly is also annoying for us, but in order to maintain its integrity the herd has to keep the pace of its slowest individuals...

Well answeredÖ One common question to follow - what do you prefer most: recording, releasing and all the marketing buzz or live playing, concerts anytime anywhere?

Concerts. Anytime anywhere. This is nothing to take away from all other activities involved. Personally I enjoy everything from hanging out in the rehearsal room, going out for drinks to answering e-mails and packing and sending records.

Band in the first place, all right. You have plenty of things at home, so the collectorís passion must be part of your life. Top five Czech and top five foreign rare items in your collectionÖ And donít tell me you do not collect rare stuff and donít want to name anything. He, he.

Music first, thatís correct. Of course, rare items and all kinds of special releases are my top interest. Still, it might be difficult to judge the most precious items. Right now I came back from the IRON MAIDEN show picking up a rare LP release of my beloved BIJELO DUGME - an excellent live recording from 5.4.1981. Thereís a sticker - limited edition only 20.000 copies. From the perspective of an underground record collector these words just donít come together. Metal related I could name the silver vinyl 7ď WITCHFINDER GENERAL "Music", then some less ancient stuff - DISSECTION "The Grief Prophecy" and IMPALED NAZARENE "The Oath of the Goat" - itís of course vice versa, but did you notice the typo on the sleeve? Some might appreciate the solo LP of JOE HASSELVANDER. Not that these are all rare things, they are also my favourite bands, the rarity itself is hardly enough to make me happy. I could easily pick up five different titles, like MAYHEM bootlegs, some of which are generally unknown, a good collection of Japanese SABBAT in all possible formats (although the best pick is the anniversary t-shirt!), an obscure CATHEDRAL 7ď, old vinyls from the beginnings of Swedish death metal, solo 2LP by Proscriptor of ABSU, with all kinds of music styles and moods presentedÖ Sometimes the rare aspect is given by acquiring the record from the bands and people personally Ö I could keep going on, itís not often you have a chance to introduce your achievements, he he. On the other hand Czech top five might be a problem. The vinyl scene is well documented and rather I realized thanks to your listings that Iím still missing some CITRON singles although I thought I had them all. So I might say what Iím missing instead, namely the LP by KRITICKŃ SITUACE, that I should have out of sheer respect for the band.

I got hold of the KRITICKŃ SITUACE LP just a few days agoÖ Do you have the CITRON singles in all possible versions sleeves or donít you go such lengths?

I do have some of it, but Iím not focused on it. At least not with CITRON. Honestly, sometimes I see the attempts at making some special limited editions a bit silly, especially underground bands donít need it. On the other hand, there are real delicacies like handmade covers, where each of them is unique. Respect for people like Radek of NAPALMED to give an example. I might not like their music so much, but I believe the guy really loves what he does.

Do you collect Czech classic rock or hardīnīheavy records systematically? Or what is your scope of collecting interest?

Eh, thatís a too systematising question for someone who prefers natural chaos. But of course I have some unified parts of my collection that are closely linked to my listening preferences. I have mentioned SABBAT, so I could extend it to the entire Japanese NWOBHM tribute scene (greetings to Pavel Tuöl of View Beyond ever busy looking for new stuff for me), I also love to get more original NWOBHM things from early 80ís England, todayís releases belong most often to the classical doom metal rank, and I have also piled up a bunch of American and Scandinavian crust bands in recent years. You mentioned hard and heavy, so of course, yes, especially eastern countries, but Iím not hunting for anything particular anymore, as I already have almost anything I wanted.

Do you monitor your local Ącompetitorsď? In a passive or active way? Are you more interested in Czech ones or foreign ones or is there no difference?

CompetitorsÖ He, he. Of course I try to be very active in supporting them! If for no other reasons, then you can easily calculate the cost of shipping within the country and from overseas! Else, not much difference to speak about, actually. There are not so many people and all of us must have hit in the head the same way when we young, so we think more or less alike. Ha, ha.

That must be definitely true! You also run some webpages. Your bands have great Ąe-serviceď - ABSURD CONFLICT, V.A.R. and SEE YOU IN HELL have their websites from you, constantly updated. Is it your hobby or do you want to have everything under control? And what about you and the Internet? A good servant and a bad master?

Internet is a great servant, yes ... Although we could speak of some impact on downgrading certain values. But I called for death to mp3s elsewhere already. The website - they are nothing special, I am not good at graphics, but I try to make us of the key function of the information technologies, that is passing the information. Else, to make it correct, the SEE YOU IN HELL web is maintained by Filip himself, although keeps my original design, which is fine, I love to see my things are useful.

By the way, you are a professional translator... Donít you want to take a stable place in the Vinyl Disk Musick? We need English speaking vinyl lovers! Ha, ha!

Well, I have to pay rent and live off something. Sometimes itís not fun not having a regular job, but on the other hand I am flexible to do the things I need at the moment. Thank you for your offer, I have to decline it (unless you replaced Ąstableď with Ąwell paid with all possible employment benefitsď), but I am available to help if necessary.

Yes, we could have provided you food tickets, great pay and you neednít be worried with bills. Now, your choice. What are your visions of the future of Zero Budget Productions? Is there any release plan or are you driven by your momentary feelings and considerations based on current factors around you?

No plans, no visions, actually I always only decide in the morning what to do each day based on my hangover and/or weather outside. So momentary decisions as conditioned by my faculties and facilities. I do have some ideas, of course, and I hope they will materialize.

Thanks for your time and interest! Long live vinyl!!!

I know of no way to say it better, so: Thanks for your time and interest! Long live vinyl!!!

 

Zero Budget Productions discography:

2003  THE PUBLIC | SEE YOU IN HELL  split 7" SP

2004  V.A.R. "Fifteen Years Fast Like Bikila"  7" EP

2007  ABSURD CONFLICT "s/t"  LP

 

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