2014 in Review: Savage Master's Stacey Savage - "If you have music to get out and you are having a hard time finding a label, put it out yourself, however you can!"

It's been an exciting and exhilarating first year for the Louisville metallians...

Welcome to Metal as Fuck! So glad you wanted to join us! Please, identify yourself, your band and your role in that band."I am Stacey Savage, vocalist of the heavy metal band Savage Master. We play satanic occult heavy metal with strong old school influences. We like a lot of classic heavy metal and NWoBHM. We make the music we stand for and perform it  in a particularly visual and hopefully memorable way".

To paraphrase the great Andrew WK -you do what you like and you like what you do! Has it been a good year for the band? What have you spent the year doing? "We have spent this, the first year of our existence, stretching then opening our wings, preparing for flight. This year has been nothing short of magical. We were contacted bySkol Records only hours after our first show and offered a very fair deal. We have been venturing out-of-state just a little to play shows, meeting with bands we have admired for years. Now we are about to embark on our first tour".

 When you look back on 2014 personally, what things stand out for you as highs and lows? Although I guess you just answered that question! "As mentioned before, a definite high is being signed to Skol Records and working with Bart Gabriel. Another high is recording our very first album in the lovely Wax & Tape Recording Studio. This is my first band so it was particularly monumental in my life. Just days ago I received the CDs and now I have one to keep to always remember the very first album of which I have been a part. Meeting Slough Feg, High Spirits and Acid Witch and many other great artists and heavy metal friends have also been great moments in this year and my life beyond what I dreamed could come to fruition in reality. I have realized that there is no difference between dreams and what is possible. This has been a great year of growth".

How was 2014 for you musically, aside from any projects you’re involved in? "This year has been a year of fortifying my roots and of branching out into new growths. I have spent a great deal of time really basking in the glory of some of the NWoBHM's biggest successes. This year I have spent a good chunk of time familiarizing myself with as many bands as possible from the movement as my passion for this favorite genre of mine has gained momentum this past year".

Although you've been researching the past, I'd like to know what you thought about new music this year - best albums of 2014? "There surely is a lot I have not listened to yet but my favourite records this year in no particular order, so far are: High Spirits – You Are Here,,  AmuletThe First,, Judas PriestRedeemer of Souls,  Riot VUnleash the Fire, Gamma RayEmpire of the Dead, Rigor MortisSlaves to the Grave and AcceptBlind Rage".

That's not a bad list at all! Now, we’re not going to ask for your worst album of the year, as people always say they try and stay away from bad music, but did you feel disappointed by any album that came out this year that you were looking forward to? "Actually, no. I was pleasantly surprised, not disappointed.  I was looking forward to the Judas Priest album most and I liked it although it's quite obviously not their strongest work. But fuck, to be in your 60s and still be putting out records that are better than what most put out in their prime is something to be truly proud of and something that I admire".

Looking ahead, what does 2015 have in prospect for Savage Master? "We plan on conquering more areas of the world with our metal and taking the spoils: more shows, more touring, more fans, more solid connections, etc.  We will be releasing some new material in 2015. Everything we do now but more, bigger and better for next year".

And on a wider note, how healthy do you think the extreme music  scene is where you are from, looking towards 2015? Any bands we should be looking out for next year that we might not already know about?"I think there are some youngsters out there getting into the right kind of music and I can't wait to see what the future brings. You can't rush these things".

That's certainly true enough. The last couple of years have seen almost every band from the eighties and nineties that were even half decent (and many not even that good) reforming for another go at stardom. Is this a reflection on the state of the music industry as it stands, with labels unable or unwilling to nurture young talent and punters forced into going out and watching something more tried and trusted? Or is it simply a reflection on the laziness of those same punters who’d rather watch a bunch of old blokes performing in their own tribute acts rather than risking a tenner on new music? "I'm sure each reforming band has their own story to tell. Though, I sense in general that a lot of bands have been encouraged to reform by the passion for music being  recently stirred by fans who are now able to share opinions and music faster than ever before, more than by personal goals of stardom, which is now seemingly more elusive than at any time in the past. Not being good is of course a matter of perspective and is never a reason to give up on something if it is your true passion as each mistake is a lesson learned. Our band is the first new band to be signed to Skol Records which before only released and re-released the works of old school heavy metal artists, so my experience happens to be exactly contrary to your suspicions about the music industry, but you can blame that on our old-school sound, I suppose. Movements of music and culture often occur in cycles or ripples of certain styles and things being popular- waxing. When everyone has had their fill of something it wanes until they are hungry for more-- if that ever happens again. The music industry has been headed toward a vastly different financial climate for the past 20ish years. We do not know what the future holds but I have discovered some new bands this year that rule so I am optimistic. If you have music to get out and it's good and you are having a hard time finding a label, put it out yourself, however you can".

Nowithstanding what you may have answered before is there a band which hasn't reformed that you might like a sly look at if they get back together? "Should any band who has released material that I am fond of get back together, I would definitely check it out. That would be too many bands to name. It seems like all of my fave bands are either still kickin em out, have deceased members, have gone into total obscurity or have gone downhill into some direction that I don't like musically, so I'm not even sure who to name. I guess if a band wants to be on the radar they will make a release and if it's some band I already like I will surely check it out".

And talking of old farts for a bit longer – what did you make of the U2/Apple business? Great piece of marketing or appalling imposition on individual privacy? "When you get a musical programme that already has music on it, the music preloaded is very much like the picture of unrecognizable models that comes preloaded into a picture frame when you buy it. If a band wishes to hold the world-record for people deleting their album, then I think this is a brilliant tactic. If a person wanted to have music fed to them that is suggested with not even the faintest basis in what the person would like to hear, then they would put the radio on rather than use music playing software. So it seems to be missing the target audience. If someone gives something that ends up being a waste of your time and energy and with no unselfish thoughts put into it, it really isn't a very positive gift is it? They cheapened themselves and their music in an irreparable way as a price to pay for attention, which ended up being overwhelmingly negative to my understanding. I assume this was a hastily made decision where U2 and affiliates were so focused on the prize of spreading their name and record that they were blinded to the fact that it would be a sour deal for all parties involved. In short, I view this as a fail at marketing AND as an act of blatant disregard of individual will".

A very well argued case if I might say so! Next up, an exceedingly important lifestyle question - Vinyl, CD, or MP3? "I was in love with both CDs and tapes as a kid. I honestly think I preferred tapes as I enjoyed listening to full albums and there is something special about tapes to me, I loved getting up to flip them, scanning over them with my eyes to see which songs were on which side, that I could record my own tapes, rewind or fast forward them and that sound, the way stretching or warping would affect the sound of the recording, the smell of the tape... anyway... You didn't ask about tapes. For the majority of my life, I have owned more CDs than any other type of physical media so they were very important to me. I loved the album booklets, often containing lyrics to help me when I practiced singing along and providing more images for my mind to chew on as I listened. Vinyl takes me back to this warmer, more organic, affected by dirt, damage & warping sound that I loved so much about tapes. As far as sound goes, vinyl is king. Vinyl also rules visually, although sometimes cds have more visual content, which is an excellent bonus. Mp3 loses in the sound category. Mp3 loses in the presentation category.  Mp3s are only good because of their non-physicality, which is also the worst thing about them. What I care about most is the music itself. If I can only find it in a digital format then that is what I will have. If I am lucky enough to get a cd I am happy to have art in my hands. If I am even more lucky to get a vinyl edition then I am excited to have something to appreciate in my most favorite way".

And finally, anything else you'd like to bring to the attention of the MaF readership? "Our debut album Mask of the Devil recorded at the Wax & Tape Recording studio in Louisville, Kentucky is available now through Skol Records in Europe. We hope it is available on Shadow Kingdom Records by the time your readers are reading this in the U.S. Thank you for reading and remember this Manowar lyric: “If you're not into metal, you are not my friend"!