Book Publisher Ian Christe Discusses His Upcoming Titles for 2010
Ian Christe is a heavy metal renaissance man. Not only has he written for everyone from Spin to Metal Maniacs, he’s also released music as Dark Noerd and in 2007 he launched his own book publishing house called Bazillion Points. Since then he released Daniel Ekeroth’s ‘Swedish Death Metal,’ the unofficial bible for the beloved scene. Christe has also released ‘Hellbent for Cooking: The Heavy Metal Cookbook’ by Annick Giroux, Andy McCoy’s ‘Sheriff McCoy: Outlaw Legend of Hanoi Rocks’ and an official biography on goth-metallers Nightwish.
Bazillion Points will have a busy 2010 with new titles on progressive metal, Swedish exploitation films, Touch & Go Records, the legendary metal zine Slayer Mag, and a new book on Hellhammer and Celtic Frost penned by Tom Gabriel Fischer and Martin Eric Ain. Noisecreep asked Christe about some of these releases and the work that went behind them.
You released Daniel Ekeroth’s ‘Swedish Death Metal’ book which garnered universal praise. Was there ever a point in the project where you worried about being able to sell your initial pressing?
Yes, I was pretty much worried about selling the initial printing all throughout the first year, until it did sell out. Now I’m worried about selling the second printing. But I think Daniel’s book is the best and most detailed account I’ve ever read of the natural, organic rise and fall of a musical movement, so my anxiety is balanced by a lot of pride.
Has anyone named in the book contacted you or Daniel in a negative way?
As you know from reading the book, Daniel does not hold back in assessing the hundreds of bands in his index. He can be a brutal critic, dismissing a band’s entire efforts in like five cold words. He told me somebody did confront him once about something he’d written. Daniel said, “Yeah, but your band did suck!” And the guy dropped his head and was like: “Yeah, we did.” But that’s Sweden! People are very frank and honest there, almost to the point of cruelty. Now that you mention it, I think that’s why they’re so successful as a country.
‘Swedish Death Metal’ is a love letter to that scene. Can we expect more of these kinds of titles coming from Bazillion Points? There are certainly other scenes worth exploring.
Sweden is almost unique in that it’s a small group of people who had a huge impact on the whole world of metal. Britain in 1982 was a similar story, Florida in the late ’80s, Brazil always, and San Francisco during the early thrash days. If the right author came along, it would be great to break more of these scenes wide open and see what other forces were happening beyond the gigs and rehearsal rooms. Eastern European metal during the 1980s would be fascinating, but really difficult — I don’t know if anyone has a birds eye view overlooking the various scenes behind the Iron Curtain.
You have former Metal Maniacs editor Jeff Wagner’s book on progressive metal coming out down the line. Are you a big fan of that genre and does that matter at all from where you are standing?
As anybody who has read ‘Sound of the Beast’ knows, I’m not deeply rooted in progressive rock or progressive metal. But I’ve always been into Voivod, Celtic Frost, Watchtower, Cynic and Atheist, so I’m halfway there. I love weird, creative music. Considering the amount of work it takes to get a book ready for publication, I have to be very motivated and inspired to contribute my share. Part of that is the discovery. I found out about the awesome Furbowl from ‘Swedish Death Metal,’ the great Funerot from ‘Hellbent for Cooking,’ and tons of kooky progressive metal bands and side projects from ‘Mean Deviation.’ And Jeff’s book fits in with our other books perfectly-we’re also releasing ‘Mellodrama: The Mellotron Movie’ on DVD, which features interviews with guys from Genesis, King Crimson, Yes, Goblin, Opeth and lots of other experimenters.
‘Hellbent for Cooking’ by Annick Giroux is your most current release. How did you hook up with her and which recipe would you recommend to a starving Noisecreep reader on a budget?
I knew Annick from the early days of her Morbid Tales zine, and when she put some recipes in her most recent zine I thought it could be something more. She’s a funny writer and a great designer. So we talked it over, and within six months she had contacted over 100 bands, cooked every recipe, photographed the food and laid out the book. The entire creation of ‘Hellbent for Cooking’ was a sustained blast of inspiration. Nobody will ever top that. And it was brutal on my side, looking at her photos of amazing food every afternoon! I recommend pizza cake, because it will feed twenty headbangers, but everyone has too see the book and decide for themselves.
You’re working with Daniel Ekeroth again on his ‘Swedish Sensationfilms: A Clandestine History of Sex, Thrillers and Kicker Cinema’ book. How versed were you on that stuff before Daniel pitched the idea of Bazillion Points releasing the book?
I knew about ‘Thriller: En Grym Film,’ because it’s a shock classic and the inspiration for ‘Kill Bill.’ Of course I’d seen some Bergman films, but the Swedish movies in Daniel’s book really take the cake. Beyond all the unique early ’70s softcore movies from Sweden, there are incredibly dry noir crime dramas, super stupid rock horror films, documentaries about drug-addled hippies and the totally unique ‘kicker’ epic ‘Stockholmsnatt.’ Daniel stayed at my house for a couple weeks during 2008 when At the Gates were doing their reunion shows in America, and he totally took me to school on the kicker phenomenon. Sounds like the Swedish government tried to ban everything, and they only succeeded in stoking the curiosity of young people about sex and violence. Swedes got into extreme movies and music. Now the book is done, and will be out in February and March.
In 2010 you’ll be releasing Jon ‘Metalion’ Kristiansen’s ‘Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries.’ For our readers who might not be as familiar with old school death and black metal, can you explain the background on this title?
Metalion’s book means a lot to me. We used to correspond back when Mayhem was still a demo band, and of course in the years after that Metalion himself was at the center of a lot of controversy. His anthology of Slayer Mag covers extreme metal back to 1984, when it was quaint and innocent, through the years when his friends were burning down churches and killing one another, up to now, when Metalion is truly a survivor and a veteran of 20 years of metal wars. The book also includes a memoir component put together by Jon and his editor Tara, and several color photo sections, including a new gallery of his latest portraits of musicians and subjects who have been “f—ed over by life.” I think ‘The Slayer Diaries’ will be the ultimate document of a headbanger’s life in metal, since he lived the life so deeply for so many years. In appreciation, I bought him a giant box of stuffed Garfields for Christmas.