Interview With Prosthetic Records Founder E.J. Johantgen
Prosthetic Records started with a seven inch and founder EJ Johantgen’s ambition. After “seeing how major labels didn’t care and continued to f— up metal, and music in general,” Johantgen put thought into action and the Los Angeles-based label was born. It continues to thrive, putting out quality, diverse records by everyone from All That Remains to 1349 and Landmine Marathon. Prosthetic has worked its way up to be a real player in the metal scene, and Johantgen submitted to a Noisecreep interrogation about all things Prosthetic, which is the label that gave liftoff to the now-almighty Lamb of God. Oh, and that seven-inch that kicked off the whole shebang? “A seven-inch from L.A. band Goatsnake that featured members of one of my all-time favorite bands, the Obsessed,” Johantgen said.
Prosthetic is putting out lots of diverse, great metal — everything from All That Remains to Ov Hell to Dew Scented. What’s your philosophy for signing bands or putting out records?
There is a thread between all of our releases and the artists. We release what we like. We never follow trends. If you listen to the first releases from Lamb of God, All That Remains, at the time — it’s pretty extreme and, in a way, ahead of its time. Same can be said for Through the Eyes of the Dead, the Acacia Strain, Beneath the Massacre. They created the trends.
What’s your favorite three releases that have come out on Prosthetic? And why?
Yikes. Kylesa, ‘Static Tensions.’ This is their finest hour. Pure brilliance. Animals as Leaders, ‘Animals as Leaders,’ because there is nothing else like it out. [Tosin Abasi] is probably one of the greatest guitarists of the past 20 years. Vai, Malmsteen, Tosin Abasi. I stand by that. And Skeletonwitch, ‘Breathing the Fire.’ It’s heavy metal godliness.
Given that most music industry folks, especially those who run their own labels, are often workaholics, what do you do as a hobby or for downtime?
All time, when not listening or working with metal, is spent with my family. After that, it’s reading.
What’s an album you’ve released that didn’t catch on like you hoped it would, and why? Any lost gems in the Prosthetic catalog?
Hmm, tough one. I love Yakuza, but that went over everyone’s heads.
What are some of the key things planned for 2010?
[We’ll] keep doing what we are doing: releasing what we think is great music. We are beyond excited about the release of the new Trap Them in September, but before that is the debut from L.A.’s Holy Grail. Both are going to be incredible releases that I can’t wait for people to hear!
Given the state of the music biz and the economic climate, what are some of the things you do to adjust and to continue to remain profitable/solvent?
Be smart how you market and where you market. Diversify and look for other opportunities, such as licensing.
Anything else you want to say, please do so here.
Heavy metal is the law!