The Crawling Chaos Records based in Germany specializes in the more extreme end of the heavy metal scene. The band has had several impressive releases recently and is promising more for the coming months. The German man speaks to Ali “The Metallian” about his company, reveals he turns his back on German beer in favour of Belgian ones, the impact of the pandemic, being a fan himself, the music and crucially on how to score free drinks from him. – 01.01.2022
METALLIAN: Thank-you for giving us your time and helping the readers get to know you and the company, Holger.
HOLGER: Hello, with pleasure. My name is Holger, my label Crawling Chaos was founded by me in Cologne, Germany in 2014. Until today I have released about 40 albums on CD, vinyl and tape, plus the usual merchandise, pins, patches, shirts, et cetra.. Currently, fourteen active bands are under contract with me.
METALLIAN: Would you add a few words about yourself so readers know you better personally?
HOLGER: I am 39 years old, living in Cologne being into metal for more than 27 years. Metal is my passion, I am an avid collector of CDs and vinyl. I always wear band shirts and I love going to concerts. Standard so to speak.
METALLIAN: So, how did you and metal become acquainted?
HOLGER: Through my older brother, very early, at about 11 or 12 years-old. The culprit was a mix tape with Metallica, Motörhead and Black Sabbath. Later, when my brother turned more to stoner, I started with death thrash and later black metal.
METALLIAN: Let us fast forward, Holger. Could you talk about Crawling Chaos and how it came to be? What is the philosophy, if any, behind the label?
HOLGER: Crawling Chaos was founded by me for several reasons. On the one hand, I wanted to create something in the musical field, but this failed because I couldn’t play an instrument and also don’t sing very well.
I completed my training as a businessman in the media sector, so unlike some others, I had certain basic knowledge.
METALLIAN: To clarify based on what you just said, were you actually a member of a band, or bands, for a time period?
HOLGER: No, I was never in a band. But between the age of 17 and 35 I was constantly active as a metal DJ in various clubs.
METALLIAN: Let us stick with Crawling Chaos then. Assuming the label’s name is inspired by Lovecraft talk about the choice of the monicker and whether it has any significance.
HOLGER: Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Yog Sototh, the Great Old Ones. Lovecraft has opened a door into a world of confusion, might and beings beyond our understanding of logic.
For many years I have been fascinated by his works and those of his spiritual successors. That’s why I based my choosing a name for the record company on these beings. Nyarlathotep is the crawling chaos. The unknown among us. The black man. He influences our being and our work, he is chaos. That has always impressed me very much about him.
METALLIAN: Since we are speaking about H.P. Lovecraft’s The Crawling Chaos what is your opinion of drugs, including alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, et cetra, and certainly opium?
HOLGER: I do not take drugs and I reject them completely. I smoked for a few years, but not anymore. I appreciate and enjoy alcohol. I am a great friend of Belgian beers and Scotch whisky.
METALLIAN: With that answered let us chat about the business side of things. It is conventional wisdom that it is improbable for bands and labels to make money nowadays. How do you see this situation and do you find this to be true?
HOLGER: Currently, this question is more important than ever because of Corona. That bands or labels don’t make money is wrong. It’s that you don’t make enough to sustain your life in my opinion.
Crawling Chaos has never been a money machine for me. I didn’t create the label for financial reasons. I try to make enough money with my releases to do more releases and have enough money to offer something to the fans. Of course, I am happy when there’s a little bit more left over, but especially in Corona times and without concerts and local sales it’s getting harder and harder. I understand the approach of bands to earn money with their work, but in reality this is unfortunately only very rarely possible. One should remain realistic.
METALLIAN: This rings sad, but true. Follow-up question is that despite the above there seems to be more bands and labels around than ever. The situation seems ironic.
HOLGER: In the course of the last two decades, there have been more and more opportunities for networking. Tape trading is no longer the source to get new music. Metal has more fans than ever before. We are no longer the fringe group we surely used to be. Accordingly, there are more and more bands and, of course, more labels although I can’t be sure about the latter. I certainly know many labels that have been added, but there are also older labels that are breaking up, again certainly because of Corona.
METALLIAN: Thanks for the perspective. You mention the pandemic. What is your take on it and how it is affecting both the art and the business of music and metal nowadays?
HOLGER: The pandemic has had us by the balls for over a year and a half. I myself haven’t been able to see a band live since March 2020. The last concert I attended was Saxon on their anniversary… and the bands played on!
I often try to be at my bands’ concerts too. What better way to be a fan than to go to a great concert possibly with a band you don’t know yet? Afterwards, you can invest the last of your money in beer and a shirt or an album or several at the merchandise stand. Hey, I’m a fan, I know that! This source of revenue has been gone ever since (the pandemic started) and you can feel it. What I find amazing is the backing of the fans who help us to keep going with their support. That has seriously moved and delighted me more than once! Thank-you at this point to all of you out there who remain loyal to Crawling Chaos. See you soon at the merchandise stand. The first drink’s on me!
METALLIAN: Free beer! That aside, the support Holger mentions bodes well for releases and bands. Changing topics again, congratulations on having a website. This simple and obvious tool is surely useful in the promotional effort and a unique identity for the label and it is amazing to see so many so-called labels not even have one. With that said, Crawling Chaos’ site is not updated. How do you see this state of affairs?
HOLGER: You should ask the question more precisely. I regularly update the shop page and add new items. What do you mean by “not updated”?
METALLIAN: I am referring to the ‘news’ section and a lack of content there, as well as general propaganda about the bands.
HOLGER: I don’t use the ‘news’ section because I am very active on social media, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But since this seems to be noticeable I should probably start updating here as well (smiles).
METALLIAN: Two items come to mind. Firstly, there is a ‘news’ section that, as mentioned, is left blank making it noticeable. More importantly, it is bewildering that many feed other websites instead of their own when we all know that content is king. Moreover, from a business and branding perspective why have your news and updates look like everyone else’s with the same colours and in the same format? So, next question that is somewhat website-related: Mystery Boxes: Could you elaborate?
HOLGER: For little money, the opportunity to discover new music. This solution enjoys great popularity and is gladly taken up.
METALLIAN: It does sound adventurous and original. On a related note, no one is perfect. No one is God even if there is one. In that context, which release would you say has been the label’s worst or alternatively a mistaken signing?
HOLGER: Especially in the first years of Crawling Chaos, there were one or two releases that I would no longer make as they are today. In general, however, I only publish what I personally like, that is a selection criterion. Therefore, there is certainly one release that could have been done differently in the handling or in the way of publishing. But there are rarely any regrets about having chosen a band.
METALLIAN: Speaking of which, let’s pick up on that point, what is Crawling Chaos’ signing policy and would you want to hear from bands? Either way, how do you find bands?
HOLGER: There are a few things to keep in mind if you want to give me a taste of your music. Firstly, copy and paste doesn’t stand a chance with me. I get many standard applications every week where the text is simply copied and then sent to different labels. So you should have informed yourself a bit about my label beforehand. Secondly, as mentioned before, you should be realistic. There are no millions to be made here and a demo of a band that has been around for three months and has no interest in playing live will have a very hard time obtaining a release for a fat gatefold vinyl with elaborate packaging, poster, et cetra. Vinyl, in particular, costs a lot to produce and, of course, has to be realised accordingly.
Many of my bands came to me by chance. Through acquaintances, through applications that triggered me, through music that impressed me from the start. So the safest way is: convince me (smiles).
METALLIAN: We have many upset Metallian visitors who are in three-month-old demo bands now. While we are here, would you update the readers on the label’s latest news and also what is coming next?
HOLGER: Currently, the new EP by Fiat Nox is already scheduled for January, as well as a new band from the thrash genre for February, which has not yet been announced. The vinyl of the doomers Beculted is in the works. Due to the current delays in vinyl production, I expect a release in the spring. Hexer has almost finished its next album, following the great Realm Of The Feathered Serpent, so that a release could be expected in the first half of the year. Äera is also working on its follow-up to Schein. So things remain exciting!
METALLIAN: It does sound so. Could you say a few more words about Beculted? For example, is this a new album and do you have a title?
HOLGER: It is a doom band from Germany with female vocals. The album is already finished and we are waiting for the results from the pressing plant. The album is called Arcane Manifestations.
METALLIAN: Holger, that is hopefully a release to which fans could look forward. To complete our conversation, as you know, Metallian is the best there is. Why do you also agree?
HOLGER: After several complaints about not press copies not arriving and the irrepressible will to review my releases I see here how important it is for you to keep an eye on new works. Luckily the albums are arriving by now! Besides, I am giving an international interview here for the first time, which is saying something (laughs).
Thanks go to Holger for his time.
The Crawling Chaos Records has a home on the Internet at https://thecrawlingchaos-records.de/.