“We don’t have a problem with Soma, but it seems like bands with no talent get to play [Soma’s] main stage. It’s all about who you know. It makes it difficult for bands that are actually going out and getting their own shows.”
That was what Scott Lewis, lead singer of Carnifex told the Reader eight years ago, a year after the Fallbrook-based extreme-metal band was formed.
- Friday, February 21, 2014, 7 p.m.
3350 Sports Arena Boulevard,
Things have changed. Carnifex headlines a 30-city, five-week, five-band U.S. tour February 21 at Soma. They’ve signed with Nuclear Blast Records, which releases their fifth full-length album, Die Without Hope, on March 4, although copies will be available at their Soma show.
Carnifex took a yearlong break starting in the summer of 2012. “We didn’t know what to expect when we came back,” says Lewis. “It’s a tough time in the record industry. The Roadrunner label, which has had a big connection with underground bands for years, is not signing any new bands. We were pleasantly surprised when we had offers to go with six different labels.”
They went with Nuclear Blast, an international label known for its promotion and distribution juice in metal-loving Europe.
“Metal has a larger reach in European countries. I have no answer as to why that is,” says Lewis.
Nuclear Blast will put together subsequent European tours for Carnifex. “Extreme music is big in, like, 60 different countries. They have offices in London, Germany, L.A., Australia, and Japan. Not many labels have that many boots on the ground in so many different countries.”
But Lewis admits that extreme metal, whether it be grindcore, death metal, or black metal, has never been appreciated as much in his own backyard.
“I have no idea of how we do in the local scene. I’m not sure it’s relatable to our big picture. I’m in a full-time touring band.” But he did admit metal “is still thriving” in U.S. cities such as Seattle, L.A., and Chicago.
“Satellite radio has some great metal channels. Ten years ago there was Another State of Mind on [local station] Rock 105 that just focused on metal. That show doesn’t exist anymore.”
Soma owner Len Paul says that right now electronic dance music and pop seems to be eclipsing metal among teens.
“Harder rock is not the rage it was a few years ago. But we still do all right [with metal] as long as we space out the shows. But what I’ve learned in 26 years of doing this is that everything in music is cyclical. Everything comes back around.”