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Interview with Facedown Records Founder Jason Dunn

Facedown RecordsFacedown Records is one the preeminent names in the Christian metal scene, so Noisecreep decided to talk to founder Jason Dunn about the label’s philosophies, key releases over the years, swimming with sharks — which isn’t a metaphor for the music industry feeding frenzy — and why the annual Facedown Fest was canceled this year.

How come there is no Facedown Fest this year?

There were quite a few scheduling conflicts with our bands and other festivals and tours that they were getting offers for. We looked into moving to a different venue or mixing it up in some way, but nothing seemed to feel quite right. Facedown Fest has always been about the entire roster being able to play at one fest over the course of one weekend. So when we couldn’t get a few of the bands locked in, I decided it was best to hold off for now. We might do it in the fall, or worst case, we’ll just pick it up next spring. We’ll make sure it’s as good as it can possibly be and the entire family can be there.

Give us the ‘Twitter bio’ of Facedown — 140 words or less!

Facedown started in 1997 when I was touring with No Innocent Victim. It grew from there and was home to bands like Overcome, Comeback Kid, Sinai Beach, Nodes of Ranvier, Seventh Star and now to great bands like Impending Doom, War of Ages, For Today, A Plea For Purging and more. We strive to find bands that focus heavily on their message as well as the music.

What are your two favorite Facedown releases of all time and why?

That’s a real tough question for me. We’ve released a good variety of music over the last 13 years, so it’s hard to pick just two. Some landmark albums for us have been Comeback Kid ‘Turn it Around,’ Impending Doom ‘The Serpent Servant,’ Overcome ‘Immortal Until Their Work Is Done’ and For Today ‘Portraits.’ The upcoming War of Ages album ‘Eternal’ is incredible, and I feel their strongest album yet. Hands‘ ‘Creator’ is up there in my all-time favorites. It’s very powerful and moving. Lyrically, I think My Epic‘s album ‘I Am Undone’ has been the most impactful on my personal life. The music is great, too!

One Facedown release you thought would be huge but wasn’t? And why?

That’s another tough question. We put a lot of effort into all of them and try to make as many opportunities happen as we can. The new A Hope for Home album ‘Realis’ came out this week, and I think that if that band got a chance to play in front of the right crowds, it would be a very successful album. It’s top notch from start to finish, but it doesn’t really go over real well with people that are just looking for heavy breakdowns.

What is your label’s philosophy, and how does it relate to serving a higher power?

All bands that we sign are made up of Christian members, and some are vocal and bold with their approach and others are a bit more reserved and focus on expressing their faith through their music and lyrics, but not as much on stage. My main goal is working with bands that want to glorify God through the music that they play, and at the same time, break stereotypes of what people have thought of Christians to be. Each band might do this in a different way from the next band, and that is perfectly fine by me. As a company, we strive to act and work with integrity and just be real with people. None of us are perfect, but we serve a perfect God and do our best to show people Him and not just ourselves.

What are your non-Facedown hobbies and interests?

I live in San Diego County, so I have the benefit of living in one of the best climates in the world. As soon as the summer comes around, my wife and I and the rest of the Facedown staff will be heading out to the beach a ton to relax, body board and swim with sharks. I’ve been obsessed with sharks for my whole life, and last summer we swam with dozens of leopard sharks when Hands was in town. I love traveling to tropical locations and have become a bit obsessed with turning my own yard into a tropical paradise. Whenever I’m not working on the label or at shows, I’m usually in the yard and working on the palm tree garden and increasing the chillness of our place here.

What are you most excited about in 2010 for Facedown?

The new War of Ages album ‘Eternal’ is an incredible 2010 release for us, and they have a tour with As I Lay Dying and Demon Hunter this spring that will be great for them. It’s very exciting to see the hard work of one of our veteran bands paying off. Other upcoming albums that I am excited about are the new albums from A Plea For Purging, My Epic, Call to Preserve, Impending Doom, For Today and In the Midst of Lions. The Onward to Olympas album is a great release. I am very thankful that in a time when a lot of the music industry is in a tough spot, we are doing very well — and as far as sales go, 2010 could quite possibly be our strongest year ever. I can only give the credit to God for all of that, and I think it’s a great testimony of what He can do regardless of recessions and industry problems.

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