Unless you live in a cave, which is admittedly totally metal… so maybe you do? But unless you are devoid of technology, you know the music biz is not what it used to be, from every angle: everyone from artists to labels are feeling the crunch. When we caught up with CKY’s straight-shooting frontman Deron Miller, that’s mainly what we discussed. Read on to see the dude’s opinions on the failing state of the once bustling industry, and his insight on signing with Roadrunner Records, who released CKY’s 4th studio album Carver City just this past Tuesday.
Do you feel bands need to tour to survive?
I have this argument a lot. My argument usually isn’t that touring sells records. I think that touring can sell records if you have records for sale at your show. But as far as people going to our show and then going to the store and buying your album? I don’t really think that happens anymore. I think that happened a lot more in the 70’s and 80’s. Maybe in the 90’s, but I don’t think that happens anymore because kids that come to the show probably had to save up money to go see the show, ya know? Kids these days, God bless ‘em, they don’t feel the need to go out and buy too many things. I had a job washing dishes when I was 14 so I could go out and buy everything I liked. That was important to me. Kids today have money for different things. I don’t know what, but it’s not for bubblegum and records.
It’s weird that saving up your allowance to go geek out at a record store is now a sign of a generation gap…
It sucks doesn’t it? I feel bad for anyone born in the last half of the eighties. It seems like they don’t have much ambition. I’m not speaking for everybody, I’m just speaking about what I’ve seen. Kids don’t go into the movie theaters, they just hang out outside because it’s free. But maybe that’s just because it’s hard times. That’s fine for them because I think it’s better to be brought up not feeling like you need to have everything. If they can have fun being in each other’s company because it’s free… But that’s not the way I was brought up. I wanted to have my own money and buy my own stuff. To each his own. Maybe we have to impress them more with our live shows to have them go out and buy our records. Who knows?
As a purveyor and collector of music, what are your thoughts on the digital age?
I have a million opinions on that stuff. My analogy for it is if you put two hundred honest people with good intentions in a room, all chewing bubblegum, turned off the lights and asked everyone not to put any gum under the table, I guarantee somebody will put some gum under the table. It’s like there’s always somebody who’s not gonna follow the rules, even though they have good intentions. Downloading music is one of those things when people just see themselves: “I’m just one person, it’s not gonna matter.” But it’s a million people saying that and then you’ve got yourself a problem with selling music. It adds up eventually, and it takes money away from the industry that used to sell music to survive. It’s hurting the record companies more than anything else, which a lot of people have no problem with, [but] it’s bad because bands that intend to go anywhere will still need record companies’ support for touring and promotions; for more than just printing up CD’s and shipping them out to stores.
How do you see it panning out?
It’s ultimately something that you can’t lose sleep over, there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s not possible to prevent somebody from sending songs to others. Everyone thought blank tapes would be the end of the industry –there was a big scare about that! I think it will just evolve into something else. I’m shocked on a personal level that some of the record companies didn’t want to use their money to somehow get rid of the free downloading websites. I guess they’re just happy with dying out? The bands will just keep touring and selling merchandise. It’s just the way it is. Our technology is killing us in a lot of different areas, but what can you do? That’s what the labels are saying too; they’re just waiting to show up and not have jobs anymore.
With everything we’ve been talking about, did any of the industry’s woes come into play when you were looking for a label?
We wouldn’t think about having to do it ourselves until there was no record industry left. Roadrunner is doing very well and there’s a lot of metal labels that are doing well. Century Media and Nuclear Blast – those two joined together are doing better than they ever have. I just signed to Nuclear Blast with a side-project of mine called World Under Blood so I’m really happy about that. It’s cool to be involved with two of the biggest labels in the industry.
How did you end up signing with Roadrunner Records?
Roadrunner feels that CKY is a band that has yet to be broken. We are not one of those bands that has had a huge single or a platinum record; we’ve always been on some sort of cusp of success, and I think [they] want to see what we can do with that. We’re lucky enough that we haven’t had to change anything about ourselves, our look, or we haven’t had anyone come in and say: “Guys, you gotta write this kinda song.” We just wanna see how far we can go. We set out to make our best album that we’ve ever made and we think that we did – we just wanna see where it goes.
What do you hope to achieve?
There’s nothing deadly serious, we know that chances are our record sales aren’t gonna be as good as they were; most bands see a 90% decrease in record sales compared to what they were selling five years ago. We’re just seeing if we can become a bigger record selling band in the age when people just don’t buy records. It’s all exciting stuff, it’s all fun.