By: Adam Van Thiel
Vancouver BC based label, Test Your Metal Records is a new label that stands to leave a positive impact and everlasting dynasty within the Canadian Rock and Metal music scene. The label has recently had their first signing, which is Brazilian Power Metal band, HIBRIA. We were able to ask the label owner, Grant Truesdell a few questions, making this our first interview with a Canadian record label.
Where did you get the name Test Your Metal?
It’s actually one of the song titles from my bands new album. Our singer Brittney Slayes came up with it when we were writing the new album. So when I had the idea to start a record label the name jumped right out at me. Luckily she supported it and was happy to endorse the name.
How long has the label been running?
Not very long! haha… We came public at the end of June. I’ve been working on it since about mid April.
What made you decide to start a label?
There were a lot of things that made me want to start a label… I’ve always been involved in the business end of playing in a band. Booking the tours, networking and being the big motivator. I also had the urge to serve our local music scene in a stronger way and really wanted to contribute to the global music scene. I mainly want to be able to bring bigger and better shows into North America, help bands of all styles further their career and bring together as many artists as I can.
Can you give me a brief run down on the events leading up to building a label?
Well, I was actually going through trade school for ‘Metal Fabricating’ just before I decided to start the label. Yes, Metal Fabricating, haha… Although I love building things, welding and working with my hands it left me very unfulfilled as an individual. I knew in my heart that I wanted to contribute in a bigger way. I wanted to do something that had the possibility to help thousands of people reach their dreams and create fulfillment in their own lives… Mainly I knew I had to focus my attention back on what I truly love…Heavy metal.
Is the label genre specific, or are you open to all genres?
Although Test Your Metal Records will be focusing on ‘Heavy Metal’, I am open to music styles of all genres… I personally love almost every style of music as long as it’s GOOD music. Truth cannot be denied.
What is your background, are you also a musician?
I am a musician, I’ve been playing guitar for about 15 years and currently play in ‘Unleash the Archers’ out of Vancouver, Canada. I also play in a Iron Maiden tribute band called ‘Powerclown’… But we only play special occasions. I’ve been touring, recording and writing music since I started at the age of 12… I even moved away from home when I was 16 to follow my dreams and have never looked back…
Who was your first signing?
The almighty HIBRIA from Brazil. Test Your Metal Records will be putting out their upcoming self titled album. It will be released in Canada, USA and Mexico on August 7th.
How did they catch your attention?
Hibria caught my attention back in about 2007 when I first discovered them through a mutual friend… It was just after they released their first album ‘Defying the Rules’ and just before they released their second album ‘The Skull Collectors”. I actually just messaged them out of the blue through myspace asking them if they ever come to Canada to make sure they come to the West coast… Little did I know, that message leaded into booking a coast to coast Canadian tour for them in 2009. We’ve stayed in contact ever since and I consider those guys as my brothers, I love them like family and would do anything for them. That goes to say with anyone I bring onto the label… I believe trust and sincerity should be priority when entering into a long term agreement. I want to make sure the bands I sign trust my intentions before we sign any contracts.
How many artists are currently on the Test You Metal roster?
At the moment we’ve announced 2 artists to the public, HIBRIA from Brazil and EVILHEART from Mexico. but I have another 5 that are confirmed and I am just waiting until things get finalized before unveiling to the public.
How should interested artists get in touch with you?
Why do you think record labels are still relevant?
Labels have teams set up to take care of marketing, distribution, tour booking, production, manufacturing, and so on… They also usually have a bigger budget to spend on these areas. Unless you can do that on your own by all means stay independent… Labels are here to help bands further their career by offering the networking outlets they’ve spent their careers developing. All I am here for is to help bands get to the next level, whichever level that may be.
Any advice you can share with others who might want to start a label of their own?
It takes a lot of self dedication, hard work and persistence… I’m not sure if I’m in the best position to be giving advice seeing how I’m still new to the game. But I always try to work on a Win/Win or No deal basis… I try to ensure that each party is happy with the deals and commitments or we don’t do the deal. There’s always a 3rd alternative that benefits both sides which I will always try to exercise. Other than that it’s like anything, a leap of faith… The hardest part is just doing it, believing in yourself so much that you’ll make it work no matter what. You have to realize that you’re going to make mistakes along the way – that’s natural – but those mistakes exist to be a lesson. I never consider anything a mistake, rather it’s a lesson on how not to do it again in the future.
Any plans for the near future, what’s next?
I always have a plan for the future! I believe that you need a vision of where you want to go before you can get there… As for concrete plans. Continue to build Test Your Metal Records. Our website is being developed as we speak and should be ready in early August. I’ll continue to sign outstanding bands, put out amazing albums and book extensive tours. Unleash the Archers will be touring our new record ‘Time Stands Still’ over the next year. We’ll be hitting some new territory including Asia, Europe and a huge North American tour coming up with Hibria. My long term goal is to open up an Academy of Art and Music here in Canada so we’ll start laying the foundation for that. Other than that, just try to live one day at a time, haha. Always trying my best to balance between pleasure, work and family.
What are you thoughts on the Canadian music scene?
I think the Canadian music scene has some of the best bands to offer at the moment! For years we were neglected for so long by the rest of the world that the bands who stuck around had to re-invent themselves, pushing their creativity and envelope just to get noticed. I truly believe we are coming into a new golden age for heavy metal and I am honored to serve the cause.
Any last words of wisdom you can share with us?
Trust your gut, follow your heart and live with passion. Continue to support underground music and art because I believe that is where true passion lies. I want to assure you that I will continue serving Heavy Metal until the day I die!
In the words of George Bernard Shaw,
“This is the true joy in life-that being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. That being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
Thanks for the interview Canadian Beats! And long live Heavy Metal!
Adam van Thiel was claimed by music journalism almost accidentally. He was invited to join the editoral staff at an online zine as a school project while studying Music Business. He is currently enrolled in Berklee School of Music Majoring in Music Business. He has been involved in the Canadian music scene for over 10 years. Adam has had the opportunity to conduct interviews with metal bands all over the world and spoken with some of the biggest name in Extreme music like Behemoth. In his free time Adam fronts a one-man black metal project releasing later this year, runs PoisonWood Music Group and presides over his very own record label.